The ABC and the Fairfax Group are so shamelessly prejudiced in their reporting that it is embarrassing even to the conservative observer. The conservative prides himself on staying connected with the concrete multifarious circumstances of political issues and applying prudential judgement to their solution. So the sort of embarrassment we feel at people with their heads constantly in an ideological delirium mindlessly regurgitating the overdone rhetoric is the sort that we feel listening to someone singing horribly out of tune before a cringing audience.
Of course, any embarrassment the conservative expresses is of no account to the narrow-minded bigoted left. They keep at it, no matter what, doing and saying anything that is going to damage the people they judge out of line with their ideological dogma. Foremost among those out of line, their worst ideological nightmare, is Tony Abbott. They cannot bring to themselves ever to say anything good about him. No matter what the prime minister does, there will always be a way to cast it in a manner that will deliver the maximum damage to the man for whom they have an obsessive pathological hatred. It is the way of the mind infected with Marxism – whether of the Leninist, Frankfurt School or of the Gramsci sort. Tony Abbott is the objectification of all that the Marxist wants removed from society. There can be no compromise. He must be eliminated and the manner of assassination does not matter.
Listening each day to Labor leader Bill Shorten and his front bench team, you get the impression that he and they are handed a prompt sheet every morning with a list of clever Abbott putdowns to feed to a compliant ABC/Fairfax coalition. It appears not to bother them that they stupidly repeat the putdowns almost verbatim. Clearly Bill Shorten has hired a new John McTernan or a team of McTernans working tirelessly to distort, warp and misrepresent everything Tony Abbott says and does. (John McTernan was Julia Gillard’s expert nasty.)
The left have manufactured a public image of Tony Abbott that has had a measure of success. And it’s this image that Shorten’s spinners tirelessly exploit. They are to be congratulated for their striking success. Their creative efforts and expertise must be responsible at least in part for the polls indicating that the Australian electorate is prepared to put back into government a political rabble that just about wrecked the economy in government and if back in government will complete the wreckage.
The left are hopeless in government but expert in propaganda. But even experts need a break from their dedication to the task. They have been given a break. And great must be their joy and satisfaction to see some of Australia’s best known conservative commentators take over the abbottabbottabbott baton from the ABC/Fairfax coalition. Lisa Cox wrote a gleeful report about the conservative cannibalism in the Age edition of 28 November. On Thursday (18 Dec) Judith Ireland smugly reported that 2GB’s Ray Hadley ‘attacks Tony Abbott’s response to Martin Place siege during interview.’ Ray, she said, ‘has rated the Prime Minister’s performance a D-minus in the wake of the Martin Place siege,’ which is just what the Fairfax newspapers have been saying. Thanks very much, Ray.
How, we may ask, does Hadley justify that rating. The Age has audio of the 2GB radio compere’s interview with the prime minister on its website. So we have the opportunity to appreciate the incisive analysis that warrants the D-minus.
Alan Jones has recently spoken about a supposed ‘pub test’ which he claims is an accurate measure of government policy. If the pub crowd approve the policy, it is good, if not, it is bad. Jones omits to make a distinction between a pub test taken at 6 pm, one at 8 pm, one at 10 pm, and so on. Hadley may see the pub test as a confirmation of his views because he speaks as though he is interviewing the prime minister in a pub dominated by the cacophony of alcoholic addled voices – an 11 pm test. The prime minister obviously deserves no more respect than someone propped up against the bar after downing ten schooners. In that mode he rehearses two criticisms that warrant the D-minus. The first is about New South Wale’s bail laws. The Coalition government in New South Wales, he claims, ‘has stuffed up the bail laws for the second time.’
To this crude unthinking accusation, Tony Abbott makes a detailed answer giving just weight to the different elements in the bail laws, admitting that the problems created by the laws as they are and undertaking to launch a thorough investigation ‘to get to the bottom of a terrible situation’ that allowed someone like the Martin Place terrorist to go free. The prime minister could have added that executive government cannot intervene directly in the judiciary and that any change to the bail laws must come from the New South Wales legislature. The federal government could not wave a magical wand to shape the bail laws according to 2GB Hadley’s wishes. But he didn’t. He remained affable and willing to discuss the issue.
Hadley was clearly unimpressed with the prime minister’s reasonable response. He was waiting, fingers tapping, to jump in. The terrorist, Man Haron Monis, Hadley spluttered, ‘went to the High Court with silk beside him, funded by legal aid. What nincompoop made that decision? Is it one of your nincompoops or one of Mike Baird’s nincompoops?’
Again, the prime minister gave a patient detailed answer, admitting that it is an intolerable situation where someone uses taxpayer’s money to attack the state. He could have explained in simple words that the decision to grant legal aid to Monis was neither that of the prime minister or of Mike Baird. Hadley does not seem to understand that the prime minister of Australia and the premier of New South Wales are in executive government and according to our democratic system the executive arm may not intervene in the judiciary. Any attempt by Tony Abbott or Mike Baird to make a decision about a particular bail case would set up a howling by the left that would go right through 2015. If anyone was a nincompoop it was the magistrate who was authorised to make that decision, using his discretion. But the prime minister did not say that. He remained patient and affable.
Again, Hadley appeared unimpressed with the answer. To show he had no idea what he was talking about, he went on, ‘I’m not going to blame the magistrate this time. I am going to blame your party, your liberal Coalition.’ The Farrell government had weakened the laws, with the result that the terrorist Monis was let go on his merry way, he said. But it is not at all clear that the ‘weakened bail laws’ (even if Hadley is right and we must take on his say-so in this exchange) resulted in the magistrate’s decision, which might have been otherwise if they had not been ‘weakened.’
Furthermore, there is the question as to whether the Farrell government changed the bail laws so radically that the magistrate who handled the case could not have denied bail to Monis. Without further explanation, the onus comes back on the magistrate. These considerations are evidently beyond Hadley’s thinking. Would that political and legislative problems were so simple as Hadley seems to think.
I would recommend that he take the time to engage in some reading and study about our system of government, particularly on the separation of powers and who is entitled to do what. It’s a nonsense to hold Tony Abbott responsible for the bail laws of New South Wales.
Tony Abbott did not enter into this sort of discussion. He repeated that it was an appalling situation and an horrific wake-up call. He added that the Baird government was already addressing the issue of the present bail laws, to which Hadley showed no interest. He was determined to nail the prime minister by way of a fictitious report card.
‘You gave yourself somewhere between a C and a D for the last couple of months,’ he continued. ‘Are you hopeful of starting 2015 with a B-plus?’
Always cheerful, Tony Abbott said it was up to others to judge, rightly pointing out that ‘if I score myself high, people think I’m full of myself. If I score myself low, people think I’m lacking in self-confidence.’ He invited Ray to give his judgement, saying he would respond. Ray, oblivious to the true comment that Abbott would get a rocket no matter what he did, was all haste to respond in the manner of Abbott’s legions of political enemies.
But before considering his response, let’s just pause here a moment. How many politicians would leave themselves so open to the ill-intentioned sport of the media, and thus of their opponents. How many would even go so far as to openly admit their failure? The truth is that there has never been in my life-time anyone so open and honest about their thoughts and feelings in politics as Tony Abbott, no matter how much malice there is in his opponents and how determined they are to exploit whatever they think can be exploited. Bob Hawke comes close, but falls way short of Tony Abbott’s humility. Indeed, humility and Bob Hawke don’t go together. Hadley taking full advantage of the prime minister’s invitation opened up both barrels on him. Here is his speech to the prime minister explaining why he gave him a D-minus.
‘I thought until a month ago that you were going B-plus, but now I think a D-minus and one of the reasons that…and I have utmost respect for your authority and position…I thought it was a really bad call to continue with the mid-year [budget] review with Joe Hockey on the day of the siege. I just think it could have been put off until the next day. I know you said we need to go on, but we had at that time…we didn’t know how many we had…17 people in there whose lives were at risk and I just think that Joe Hockey sitting in a corner talking on another platform, not to the mainstream media about something that could have waited till today or tomorrow or next Monday…was a really poor call by you.’
The prime minister replied, as the normal reasonable person would expect, that Hadley was entitled to his opinion. Nevertheless, all things considered, the government considered it was important that the much expected and anticipated review go head. Some agreed with that, others disagreed.
This seems a perfectly reasonable answer. At the very worst the government’s decision was debatable. There were good arguments on both sides. It is not at all straightforward that the weight should go in favour of Hadley’s views. Indeed, I think the weightier arguments were in favour of going ahead with the review. The budget situation at the moment is the most pressing political and economic problem Australia has. Why should the deluded terrorist holding Australians hostage force Australia to come to a stop. That is to wilt pathetically in the face of violence as a political instrument. That is my view. As with Hadley’s it is debatable.
All this ignorance, arrogance, blindness, and triviality puffed Hadley up to look like Pittwater toadfish – so puffed up as to score Australia’s prime minister a D-minus. Let’s not be fooled by Hadley’s insincere expression of respect. His words and manner speak otherwise.
If I am allowed to score Hadley on this performance I would give the following:
A-triple plus for ham-fisted arrogance
A-triple plus for ignorance
A-triple plus for oafishness.
Hadley is my least favourite 2GB talkback host. He is at his best when led by the heart. He is at his worst when he attempts to use his brain. In this case where he has attempted to use his brain he has provided fodder for the Abbott-haters. Well done, Ray. On the brain performance he rates an F – a fail.