News National Tony Abbott: what he said, what it really meant
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Tony Abbott: what he said, what it really meant

Tony Abbott
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LEADERSHIP

What Tony Abbott said: We were elected in 2013 because the Australian people rejected chaos and we are not going to take them back to that chaos. Party rooms or caucuses choose leaders, but once they’ve gone to an election things have changed – it’s the people that hire and, frankly, it’s the people that should fire.

What it meant: Cop that, you wannabe usurpers and lily-livered backbenchers. Did you really think the great pugilist would vacate the throne without a fight? I’ve got you by the short and curlies. Attempt a coup and it will turn bloody. We’ll look just like Labor and the Coalition brand will be further trashed. You’re stuck with me. So there.

THE FEAR FACTOR

What he said: The Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years cannot become the new normal lest Australia join the weak government club and become a second-rate country living off its luck. Australia deserves the stable government that you elected us to be just 16 months ago. You elected us. You elected me. Politicians pass the test when they do what’s best in the long term, not when they give in to short-term fear.

What it meant: For those colleagues who did not get the earlier message, this is Captain Obvious speaking. Yes, I know you’re frightened, but hang in there. Please.

'I believe I have Julie Bishop's full support.' Photo: Getty
‘I believe I have Julie Bishop’s full support.’ Photo: Getty

JULIE BISHOP, LOYAL DEPUTY?

What he said: Julie’s a friend of mine, Julie’s my deputy, she’s been a terrific deputy, she’s been a terrific minister. I believe I have her full support and I certainly look forward to continuing to have that.

What it meant: Believe: “Accept that (something) is true, especially without proof.”

PAID PARENTAL LEAVE

Parental leave was Tony Abbott's policy Everest. Photo: Getty
Parental leave was Tony Abbott’s policy Everest. Photo: Getty

What he said: Paid parental leave scheme was a captain’s call [but] what’s desirable is not always doable, especially when times are tough and budgets are tight. The focus really does have to be on childcare if we want higher participation and a stronger economy. So a bigger parental leave scheme is off the table. Values and beliefs are important but the most important consideration of all is what will best help families.

What it meant: Values and beliefs might be important, but not as important as my political skin. Funny thing is, of all my broken promises, this is the Everest, the signature policy I have clung to for five years and two elections in the face of hostility from my own side and indifference elsewhere. It was so unloved no one seems to care now that it’s gone. It goes to show – you try and do something for women and this is the thanks you get.

Sir Philip: a dud captain's call. Photo: Getty
Sir Philip: a dud captain’s call. Photo: Getty

THAT KNIGHTHOOD

What he said: I accept that I probably overdid it on awards and that’s why, as of today, I make it crystal clear that all awards in the Order of Australia will be wholly and solely the province of the Council of the Order of Australia. I have listened, I have learned, I have acted, and those particular captain’s picks which people have found difficult have been reversed.

What it meant: Ouch. That hurt. All these dud captain’s calls makes me sound like I’ve done something really atrocious, like send the Poms in to bat in Adelaide.

The captain dishes off one of his best shirtfronts. Photo: Getty
The captain dishes off one of his best shirtfronts to Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Photo: Getty

FLIGHT MH17: THE OTHER CAPTAIN’S CALL

What he said: I called it the way I saw it the morning of that particular atrocity. While nothing can bring those people back, nothing can undo the atrocity, nevertheless we handled it in ways which added to the strength and lustre of our country.

What he meant: There’s one captain’s call I got right. Never mind that the Putin shirtfront didn’t quite turn out as promised.

Joe Hockey listens attentively to his leader. Photo: Getty
Joe Hockey listens attentively to his leader’s address to the National Press Club on Monday. Photo: Getty

SECOND BUDGET

What he said: Because we have done much of the hard work already, we won’t need to protect the Commonwealth budget at the expense of the household budget.

What it meant: Joe is on notice. If he produces another hip pocket train wreck in May he is dead meat.

STUPID VOTERS

What he said: [The scrapping of the East-West Link in Victoria] is a classic example of what goes wrong when, in a fit of absent mindedness, people elect Labor governments.

What it meant: Do you see what I have done here? I have thrown out the political truism that the voter is always right. Strange, but since I have become Prime Minister there have been outbreaks of absent mindedness in SA, Victoria and Queensland. Can’t imagine what is behind it.

THE ECONOMY

What he said: The US is growing, but Europe is stagnating, and China – our economic locomotive – is now growing at its slowest rate in a quarter of a century. And the price of iron ore – our biggest export – has halved in just over a year. Sound economic management is in our DNA. We’ve done it before and we are doing it again. Just a few years back, under the Howard government, we were quite literally the envy of the world. In 2007, we had a $20 billion surplus and $50 billion in the bank.

Queensland voters lost Campbell Newman in an outbreak of absent mindedness. Phjoto: Getty
Queensland voters misplaced Campbell Newman in an outbreak of absent mindedness. Photo: Getty

What it meant: Playing to my strength here. Well, sort of. No point in reminding people that the bottom line has continued to go south under our management, that unemployment is tipped to rise, and that we won’t deliver a surplus until 2019-20. Hey, that will be in my third term.

LABOR’S DEBT

What he said: Under Labor, government was spending too much; borrowing too much; and paying out too much dead money in interest. We can’t wait for a crisis like Europe. Our problem is not that taxes are too low; our problem is that government spending is too high. We are writing cheques our children and grandchildren will have to meet through higher taxes, higher interest rates and poorer services. Right now, we’re borrowing $1 billion a month just to pay the interest on debt Labor ran up.

The Prime Minister with his second Cabinet minister, Susan Ley. Photo: Getty
The Prime Minister with his second Cabinet minister, Sussan Ley. Photo: Getty

What it meant: Ok. This really is my strength. Things might be grim, but they would be far worse under Labor. Only we can be trusted not to waste money on things like, er, extravagant parental leave schemes.

BROKEN PROMISES

What he said: I know that there are some commitments that we gave in the campaign that we have not been able to keep. I think the Australian public understand that when circumstances change sometimes governments have got to adjust to those changing circumstances.

What it meant: Awkward, given that I specifically said changed circumstances were not an excuse for breaking promises.

WOMEN

What he said: Women are our country’s most under-utilised source of skill and entrepreneurship, and if female participation in this country were six per cent higher – at Canada’s level – our GDP would also be higher- by $25 billion a year.

What it meant: Which is why I have doubled the number of women in Cabinet.

THE MANTRA

What he said: Waste – down. Boats – stopped. Carbon tax – gone.

What it meant: I wonder how long I can get away with this stuff.

THE ISLAMIC CARD

What he said: People are sick of Australian citizens – including people born and bred here – making excuses for Islamist fanatics. We have already made it an offence to advocate terrorism and made it easier to ban terrorist organisations. If cracking down on Hizb-ut-Tahrir and others who nurture extremism in our suburbs means further legislation, we will bring it on and I will demand that the Labor Party call it for Australia.

What it meant: So you saw straight through that one? The part where I shamelessly linked my political opponents to apologists for terrorism? Bully for you.

THE JOURNEY

What he said: It will certainly be the most consultative and the most collegial government this country has ever seen in the weeks and months and years ahead because we are on a journey, we are all on a journey, the journey to build a better Australia.

What it meant: Well, it works for My Kitchen Rules.

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