Six weeks ago I was moved to respond to a poll the day after Tony Abbott was dislodged as Prime Minister by his own party, replacing him with Malcolm Turnbull.
The first question asked by the pollsters was to describe, in one word, what respondents thought about the change in leadership. Without any hesitation, I nominated “RELIEF” as my dominant reaction. Apparently that was the overwhelming response by most people who were happy to see Abbott go.
For me, Tony Abbott was a national embarrassment – a serial promise breaker; a blamer and an attacker; a fear monger and a purveyor of double-speak.
He is a denier of mankind’s influence on climate change. A strong advocate of fossil fuels as the best way of producing energy and, subsequently, a champion of coal mining.
In the tradition of many narrow-minded political leaders, he effectively used fear tactics to draw attention away from real issues, or to distort the facts as means to force through draconian policies. For example, the beat up of the evils of budget deficits in order to reduce benefits to the poor and needy. As well as the unconscionable drastic cutting of overseas aid.
And blatantly overstating the threat of terrorism in order to introduce laws that threatened the rights of all Australians. Also, his lack of compassion in the handling of asylum seekers by rejecting refugees and treating them as sub-humans was disgraceful. And the latter from a committed Christian, who once had aspirations to be a priest.
One should not overlook his gaffes, either. A classic was reinstating imperial honours and he even awarded a knight hood to the queen’s hubby, Prince Phillip! Another unfortunate “captain’s call”.
Not to mention a succession of ill-considered public utterances that created confusion and dismay.
As for his successor, Malcolm Turnbull, he seems to be a progressive, middle of the road conservative. Early days, but he comes across as a moderate, reasonable, open-minded and accommodating person. A breath of fresh air compared with his predecessor.
However, he’ll have his work cut out to work happily with the rampaging right-wing in his own party, as well as the ultra-conservatives in the National Party, the minority partner in the Liberal National Party Coalition.
It remains to be seen if he will weather the inevitable storms ahead.
Even though I am a cynically apolitical person, I hope for Australia’s sake, he succeeds where his predecessors, Abbott, Rudd and Gillard all failed.
Then again, I must keep reminding myself of the old joke/truism:
How can you tell when a politician is lying?
When his/her lips move!