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31 October 2014
by Bob Ellis

Has Abbott Crossed the Shadow-Line?

I could be wrong about this, but it seems to me that Abbott has crossed, this week, a shadow-line, and nobody believes a thing he says any more, and nobody wants to hear his voice any more.

It may have been when he said the petrol price hike was not a new tax, it was an old tax, enlarged somewhat. It may have been when he said it was to bring the deficit down, then, correcting himself, admitted it was to build new roads with; not trains, roads. It may have been when, in a speech of no great subtlety, he gave the states a cruel choice of a bigger GST, imposed by themselves, or oblivion. It may have been the eight hundredth time he said ‘debt and deficit disaster’ in Question Time, or denied he had broken any promises, any promises at all, or when he refused to punish the big polluters, only reward them; including, it seemed, the coal billionaire Clive Palmer, co-author of his legislation.

But however it happened he’s hated now, as a creepy, malodorous, bride-deserting ashtray of mendacity and shiftiness, and the Victorian election, losing ten or fifteen seats, will speed a similar calamity in Queensland, and might in New South Wales, and keep Labor in office in South Australia for a hundred years.

I could be wrong. But I don’t sense any affection for him out there any more, even on Skynews, where his proposal to gaol for ten years any journalist with a good story about military incompetence (Keith Murdoch on Gallipoli, Oliver Stone on Vietnam, Julian Assange on Iraq) has bestirred even PVO to call him a fool.

I may be wrong. But it seems nothing is working for him: a Budget emergency; a search for corpses in Ukraine; a ‘shirtfront’ in Brisbane; a Red Alert in Parliament House; our own fighter-bombers targeting teenage Australians in Iraq. Climate change, against his wishes, will be discussed at SPEC, in Brisbane. Australian doctors, against his wishes, will go to Africa and not die there. His quarter-million-dollar university degrees will not be enacted. Not a penny will be paid by old women to their G.P.

And the long slide down to the sewer has begun.