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<p>AP Photo/Michel Euler</p>

AP Photo/Michel Euler

Abbott’s Davos Moment

You have one chance to speak to the world’s most powerful people. What do you say?

Picture the scene: A classroom in some little town, a bunch of kids in their middle years of schooling. A special visitor is coming today, the assistant manager of the local bank, to explain how the world economy works.

He speaks in short sentences and anodyne generalities.

An open-market economy is a good thing, he says, because “markets are the proven answer to the problem of scarcity”.

Markets mean trade, and trade requires profit, he says.

“And profit is not a dirty word – because success in business is something to be proud of,” says the assistant manager.

“A certain level of government spending is necessary and good,” he says.

But not too much, or you stifle economic growth.

“No country has ever taxed or subsidised its way to prosperity,” intones the assistant manager, parroting a line he heard sometime during an election campaign.

He goes on, stating the bleeding obvious: “You can’t spend what you haven’t got.”

Furthermore: “You don’t address debt and deficit with yet more debt and deficit.”

The assistant manager just keeps on rolling out the platitudes, albeit in an increasingly ideological vein.

“You can’t have strong communities without strong economies to sustain them, and you can’t have strong economies without profitable private businesses.

“Stronger economic growth is the key to addressing almost every global problem.

“Stronger growth requires lower, simpler and fairer taxes that don’t stifle business creativity.

“And stronger growth requires getting government spending under control so that taxes can come down; and reducing regulation so that productivity can rise.”

The point of the Economic Forum is to gather big people to consider big ideas. And Abbott’s audience in Davos heard not one thought-provoking utterance.

The class is now getting restive. Up the back a couple of the smarter kids, used to having more sophisticated conversation about politics and economics at the family dinner table, are whispering.

“Does this bloke think we’re simple or something?” says one.

“Either that, or he is,” snickers the other.

Now, let’s leave our imaginary scene, and go to the reality of this glib recitation. It was was not made to a group of Year Nine economics students by an assistant bank manager.

It was made to some of the world’s most important decision makers, gathered for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, by the Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott.

One can only guess at what the other attendees made of it.

Do you think Bill Gates, the world’s most successful entrepreneur, needed to hear the news that “profits are good”?

One doubts it. He might, however, have wondered at Abbott when he spoke about a “moral order” based on people learning “to honour their agreements and live in justice and charity with their neighbours”.

Charity? When Gates, the world’s biggest charitable giver, was in Australia in 2013, he lobbied for this rich country to increase its aid program to meet international benchmarks. Instead he has seen the Abbott government slash $650 million from this year’s aid budget.

As for honouring agreements, Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, another Davos attendee, might well have wondered at how that sits with the Australian government’s apparent contempt for the refugee convention.

One suspects that Roberto Azevêdo, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), was not bowled over by Abbott’s news that “trade between countries increases wealth.”

He might, however, be keener to hear from British PM David Cameron, who comes to the meeting intent on discussing remedies for one of the unwelcome consequences of free trade, the offshoring of jobs.

He might also have thought Abbott a more substantive person had he even mentioned the need, acknowledged by the WTO, OECD and others, to address the shortcomings of the dispute-resolution processes within free-trade agreements, and their increasing abuse by corporations and, in particular, tobacco companies. Australia is, after all, currently defending one such abusive claim, made by Philip Morris against our cigarette plain-packaging laws.

And the many and varied economists present, such as, say, Dani Rodrik, a professor of social sciences at Princeton University, might have liked to hear at least some acknowledgement of the downside of globalisation – such as increased income inequality.

Do you think Bill Gates, the world’s most successful entrepreneur, needed to hear the news that “profits are good”?

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, would no doubt have been alive to the subtext of Abbott’s boast that his government is “streamlining environmental approvals and have already ticked off new projects worth over $400 billion”.

That is to say, his government is facilitating the mining of vast new coal deposits, which will inevitably result in greater climate change, not to mention threaten the Great Barrier Reef.

Other guests who have concerns for the environment, for example, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the the United Nations Environment Program, might also have had qualms over Abbott’s categorical pronouncement that “stronger economic growth is the key to addressing almost every global problem”.

The many and varied econocrats present, who had observed Australia’s successful, Keynesian response to the Global Financial Crisis – and who overwhelmingly congratulated us on it – must have been bemused by Abbott’s sudden descent into party-political criticism of it.

And were probably puzzled by his spruiking of other purely domestic policy matters including his personal favourite: the exceedingly generous paid-parental-leave scheme.

The point of the annual Economic Forum is to gather big people to consider big ideas. More than 30 heads of state are there, among the more than 2,600 global movers and shakers. And this Davos audience heard not one thought-provoking utterance from Australia’s Prime Minister in his 20-minute speech (simultaneously interpreted “in all languages”, according to the program), which purported to set out Australia’s agenda for the upcoming G20 meeting, which we are hosting.

Then again, one should consider the likelihood that Abbott did not consider the Davos crowd to be his real audience, and that instead his address was directed at those parts of the domestic audience who, like this government, think in slogans.

I am trying hard not to envision Bill Gates listening to Abbott’s speech and nudging the guy next to him – the Davos seating plan shows that to be Joe Cerrell, managing director, global policy and advocacy for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – and whispering:

“Does this bloke think we’re simple or something?”

And Cerrell’s reply: “Either that, or he is.”

175 comments on this story
by Brett Hetherington

Well, every (theoretically) democratic country gets the leader they deserve. Australia chose Abbott ahead of someone who (despite his many faults) is at least a more intelligent, articulate individual and, in that sense, is a better national representative.

Every family needs leadership. Australia can be compared to a family that has elected their head of the family on a similar basis to Big Brother, that TV show where the winner is the most popular by the largest number of public hands-up.

January 24, 2014 @ 7:36pm
by Greg Alder

As an assistant bank manager, he would have done OK - but probably staid assistant.

As the leader of a country with ambitions to be considered a world leader, he is, sadly, proving to be a joke.

January 24, 2014 @ 8:04pm
by BSA Bob

But that's the thing isn't it? Abbott doesn't consider the Davos crowd to be his real audience. It's intended for us. Does this bloke think we're simple or something?

January 24, 2014 @ 8:04pm
by Sean J

I think it will attract a lot a business to Australia, every company that is on it's last legs and isn't worried about such trivial things as the environment, fairness and equity, now know where their new home is and they can do whatever they like, with no questions asked. You weren't really expecting anything different from Tone were you.

January 24, 2014 @ 8:09pm
by Chris

Fair Dinkum!

January 24, 2014 @ 8:21pm
by whatismore

The best article to date on Abbott's inane Davos key note address. A cowering ABC referred to Abbott's vision at Davos.

January 24, 2014 @ 8:50pm
by Phil

I would have thought that most of the audience stopped listing after 5 minutes realising that the bloke is a simpleton. The meeting in Brisbane is shaping up to be a fiasco.

January 24, 2014 @ 8:57pm
by SB Flora

It does make you more than somewhat depressed to be an Australian at this point ......

January 24, 2014 @ 9:06pm
by Davo

Abbotts speech was made to the dumbed down supporters in Oz,see i am a world leader.??????

January 24, 2014 @ 9:18pm
by Tony Falkner

I cried, I laughed. But Iostly cried. Great piece Secco.

January 24, 2014 @ 9:29pm
by Bill

Australia has become the village idiot. Thanks Tony!

January 24, 2014 @ 9:42pm
by Whyalla Wipeout

Among the many bizarre things in Abbott's speech was his misquote of Abraham Lincoln.

Here is what Lincoln said:

The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves - in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere. The desirable things which the individuals of a people can not do, or can not well do, for themselves, fall into two classes: those which have relation to wrongs, and those which have not. Each of these branch off into an infinite variety of subdivisions. The first - that in relation to wrongs - embraces all crimes, misdemeanors, and nonperformance of contracts. The other embraces all which, in its nature, and without wrong, requires combined action, as public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of government itself. From this it appears that if all men were just, there still would be some, though not so much, need for government.

And here is what Tony said:

"In Lincoln’s words, government should do for people what they can’t do for themselves – and no more"

January 24, 2014 @ 10:32pm
by Sam Quinlan

I cannot believe that Abbott actually studied economics and is a Rhode scholar. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of macroeconomic theory (let alone history, read: Great Depression) knows that the government is the only economic actor powerful enough to stimulate aggregate demand in times of recession/depression. The neoliberal era is coming to a decisive end people. Austerity and calls for small government are the catch cries of the sycophantic plutocrat. Australia deserves a leader, not this ridiculous clown.

January 24, 2014 @ 10:36pm
by Richard Chester

Abbott is completely and utterly out of his depth. I would be embarrassed to travel overseas at the moment and call myself Australian.

January 24, 2014 @ 10:56pm
by Stephen hollis

Dear world may I apologies for what we have unleashed apron you .

January 24, 2014 @ 10:58pm
by Constantine

Well told, Mike. I saw a number of news clips before I read your piece, and cringed every time. Please don't let up with your critical reviews of Abbott's idiocies, we need public utterances like yours, because the ABC seems to have been bullied into silence.

January 24, 2014 @ 11:03pm
by Heather

Thank you for telling it as it is. Complete embarassment

January 24, 2014 @ 11:05pm
by Rodney de Ville

Tony Abbott is not the only idiot here, it's the Australian people that, even now, proudly proclaim that they voted this government into power...

January 24, 2014 @ 11:13pm
by Colleen McGregor

love your stiff Mike,how terribly embarrassing Abbott continues to be,they would have been ready for his nonsense as the world knows his form,Aussies are appalled!

January 24, 2014 @ 11:16pm
by tms

as i watched various news footage i wondered where was the camera panning to the audience clapping and cheering for abbott.....instead i saw flickers of boredom..outright puzzlement and no wide shot taking in the view of the adoring room....

January 24, 2014 @ 11:16pm
by Jacqueline

Thank you, Mike. Great analysis. I just despair.

January 24, 2014 @ 11:34pm
by sharon

2 words "How embarrassing' . He must have picked up the wrong speech! This one was obviously meant for a 3rd grade school visit.

January 24, 2014 @ 11:56pm
by stuart

Spot on Mike! It was embarrassing to see this joker talk in primary school languages about highly complex topics to a group of world leaders. There are solid reasons why many countries do not have free trade agreements operating and the answer is not simple. Lets just hope the script writer is Abbott so that when he goes we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

January 25, 2014 @ 12:20am
by Linda

Even a class of nine-year-olds would be rolling their eyes at this.

And let's not even go into the Baddies vs Baddies.

Sorry world, I didn't vote for him

January 25, 2014 @ 12:27am
by Roy

Globalization causes wage inequality? How? Real globalization would all but abolish wage inequality as first world workers would have to directly compete for jobs with workers from the third world.

January 25, 2014 @ 12:32am
by Geraldine Brooks

Nailed it.

January 25, 2014 @ 12:55am
by Rasa

Keep up the good work Tony. There is still a lot of Policy Vomit left over from Gillard and Rudd.
I see the Boats have been Stopped. Of course we are waiting for the Apology from Shorten for the Rudd and Gillard Border Protection Policy. 50,000 uninvited illegal arrivals, upwards of 1,000 deaths at sea and more than $15 Billion of taxpayers money pissed up against the wall.......and that is just one of the Gillard/Rudd policies. Policy Vomit.

January 25, 2014 @ 1:19am
by Linda

I also became tearful during the speech in sheer embarrassment, surely we are more than this? I have to believe. The mainstream media in this country are doing a terrific job of dumbing down this everything, and our PM is teaching people to hate those dangerous asylum seekers. I am sad, but I still believe we are more than this and will return to a more respected position in the world. Now is the time to protest, talk to every person you meet about big ideas, in a thoughtful way. We must resist this.

January 25, 2014 @ 1:41am
by Kerri

He must be spending the rest of Davos knowing what feels like to be pork at a Bar Mitzvah!

January 25, 2014 @ 2:10am
by Mick Jenkins

This priminister is totally out of his depth. Not even going to bother to ask which fools voted for him, because the ones that do all lie. They are to embarrassed to say they did. Good on you all, thanks for that, now we have Tony running around the world representing Australia. We are fast becoming the laughing stock. Not only his foreign policy stinks. His domestic is worse he is treating us all with contempt. Sad thing is he is getting away with it.

January 25, 2014 @ 2:17am
by Kel

Excellent article. The thing that worries me about Abbott's insipid, dimwitted performance on the world stage is that he is probably the worst leader of any country in the world.

January 25, 2014 @ 2:25am
by Just William

All I can say is I firmly believe Australia has never had such an awful bunch of facile incompetent arrogant imbeciles who it would seem are impervious and unaware of their incredible stupidity.
There are no words to describe Abbott's drivel. When I heard it I was dumbfounded an Australian Prime Minister could so ingratiate himself and humiliate Australia.
I sent you an email earlier today (Friday) in which I noted an item from the ABC website:
“PM vows to promote free trade”
“Tony Abbott tells leaders in Switzerland that free trade is the key to solving almost every global problem.”
When I went to the site a couple of hours later it was gone and when I looked at “Just In” it didn't feature on the first 25 items the earliest being approx 9 hours previous.
When you let the family idiot out without a carer what was said is to be expected as the Copperhead gets carried away with his own importance and probably thinks the world is waiting for the pearls which drop from his lips? To hear what he said which was a repeat of several repeats which he must think carry weighty scholarly impact but they are so facile any person with any intellectual competency would be embarrassed in his company.

Am I a conspiracy freak because I have tracked items a day later and you can find them.

So why is it Seccombe appears to be the only one who fronts this repulsive excuse for the Principal National Representative. I thank him for it because if we are not vigilant this low grade exporter of sterile ideas will do irretrievable damage to the culture and fabric of the Nation.

January 25, 2014 @ 2:48am
by Roger


January 25, 2014 @ 2:55am
by Philip

Yes. We see it again and again. He's spent his entire life wanting to be prime minister but with not the foggiest notion of what he wants to achieve when he got there. Nowhere has the emptiness of the man been more exposed than at Davos. An audience of serious people with big brains and all he can do is roll out his old election speech. An embarrassment.

January 25, 2014 @ 7:11am
by Maureen

Oh help....Peter your article is spot on. Just another example, but on the world stage this time, of Tony Abbott living up to expectations and at the same time reflecting the people who voted for him.

January 25, 2014 @ 7:35am
by John Kelly

One can only lament mediocrity and dream of better days.

January 25, 2014 @ 7:38am
by gabrianga

Another Secco nocturnal emission? Talking to one's self could be another sign of a demented mind?

Perhaps you should have reminded your comrades when in Office 2007/13 of the bleeding obvious: “You can’t spend what you haven’t got.”

January 25, 2014 @ 7:55am
by Lorraine

Thanks Mike. Sad there are so few voices condemning Abbott for his dumbed down approach to this important forum. However, hopefully the International Media will shame a few more Aussie journos into joining the chorus so Australians start to hear the truth about Abbott! No vision, no leadership, and now no knowledge!

January 25, 2014 @ 8:06am
by lesbo

I was miffed that he didn't talk about Footy or sumthin interesting. He could have told them how much his new bike was worth and the skyrocketing costs of licra pedal suits.

January 25, 2014 @ 8:15am
by W.Brownlee

Another fatuous utterance by a rusted on member of the Ming dynasty

January 25, 2014 @ 8:27am
by Michael

Now we really are the backwater of the earth. Did this guy go to school? We need educational reform fast.

January 25, 2014 @ 8:30am
by Bill

What an embarrassment. George Bush the second!

January 25, 2014 @ 8:32am
by Margot

Eloquent explanation of an embarrassing event. Great work Secco.

January 25, 2014 @ 8:37am
by Vince

Abbott just showed what a complete fool he is. Australia has the lowest Debt and his audience have huge debt burdens as a proportion of GDP. And he was really telling them how stupid they are.

Good one Tony you economic fool.

January 25, 2014 @ 8:37am
by Lachlan McKenzie

Perhaps Abbott is a little confused and thought he was giving a speech at Davo's party....
Davo being a conservative racist Australian Bogan who is a major fan of Alan Jones and 2GB....
(Would make a great Moir or Pope cartoon. Or also a great Mark Knight cartoon if Rupert Murdoch allowed him to poke any fun about Abbott)

January 25, 2014 @ 8:38am
by helenO

How embarrassing! This spiteful, compulsive blue-tie wearing idiot was elected to lead our county!

January 25, 2014 @ 8:40am
by Lorraine

Positively cringe worthy... We haven't gone down the ladder, rather we have fallen completely off it!

January 25, 2014 @ 8:46am
by Dorothy Lascelles

Thanks Mike - is anyone surprised?

January 25, 2014 @ 8:49am
by Wayne

Who seriously voted for this guy? Really!!!

January 25, 2014 @ 8:50am
by Peter S

Clearly you are on your own here Mike. I have just finished reading reports from a number of other commentators and they are cheese to your chalk.
There is but a small gap between opinion and propaganda. You have crossed it. A pity really.

January 25, 2014 @ 8:51am
by Margret

I started to think that I was the only one hearing what Abbott really said, as the main stream media made the speech sound acceptable. Even channel 2 sounded as if Abbott's speech had been fine . ( I guess they have to be careful, or they get their funding cut). What is happening to our media????

January 25, 2014 @ 9:00am
by James Brown

Great piece Mike. Hit the nail on the head. People keep on saying he is more intelligent than he appears but I am seriously doubting this. I would have thought his advisers would have raised the bar and helped him with his speech but this then opens tony up to questions he may not be able to understand let alone answer. I am reminded of the saying "keep it simple, stupid" and so the slogans continue. Ahh where are you there was a PM to be proud of

January 25, 2014 @ 9:15am
by peterbayley

I'm increasingly of the opinion that Abbott is incapable of thought of any depth, of introspection, of empathy. This speech of his did two things in the minds of the audience. First it showed that Australia had elected a lightweight idiot which obviously reflects on the country as a whole - it reconfirms a bias that sees Australians as "none too bright". Secondly, there will have been a few in the Davis audience who saw a great opportunity to come down under and exploit this lucky but stupid country, buy up whatever is going safe in the knowledge there will be no environmental or social comebacks. Abbott is a dangerously simplistic fake using ridicule and attack to cover his own lack of depth and laziness of thought - a bovver-boy pugalist dismissed as such by his own party who think they're using him to their own ends. They should be very careful where this amoral opportunist leads them

January 25, 2014 @ 9:28am
by donald pelvin

a brilliant expose'e of the village idiot personally i was disgusted that the clown was on show julia gillard would have been far better recieved

January 25, 2014 @ 9:34am
by June

Why can I only get 3 comments instead of the whole 11 comments listed? Am I at fault?

January 25, 2014 @ 9:42am
by Peter Thompson

It's like the good old days of Menzies, Holt, McMahon and Howard. I feel deeply ashamed of being Australian. To the rest of the world, we look like infantile, self-indulgent morons.

January 25, 2014 @ 9:49am
by Chris Cullen

Will someone please hide the keys to the VIP jets to keep the PM at home and away from overseas high level meetings

January 25, 2014 @ 9:52am
by Serge

Our Prime Minister's speech at Davos was Monty Pythonesque in the extreme. A man called Brian? No. Unfortunately a man called Tony!

January 25, 2014 @ 9:52am
by tricia

I wonder does Abbott every hear any of this type of feedback, otherwise he is living in a bubble.

January 25, 2014 @ 9:55am
by Tony Grant

Ditto to the's back to 2001...Kiwi overseas! The Oz voting public are the true "neo-morts" don't seem to hear them to much these days?

January 25, 2014 @ 9:59am
by paul_42

"You're not saying anything Tony"

January 25, 2014 @ 9:59am
by Charles Burnside

Where was Peta? Tony should never be let out without supervision!

January 25, 2014 @ 10:05am
by warren

And one has to remember, either one or more advisors actually wrote and/or signed off on his speech!

January 25, 2014 @ 10:08am
by greg

this analysis of Mr Abbott's Davos presentation is as supine as Mr Abbott's Davos presentation, Mr Secombe

January 25, 2014 @ 10:13am
by Darren

I loved the analogy. My sentiments exactly and well written. Thanks.

January 25, 2014 @ 10:18am
by Jim van Ommen

We have reasons to be ashamed of our PM's performance, but of greater concern to me is that the nation elected him for the job. Four months down the track, so the polls indicate, he no longer has a majority support. This is nothing new about the man, he did what every other politician would do. But we as a nation really goofed. We did not have the discernment, the foresight, the nouse, the common sense even, to see through his ploys, his tactics, his lack of purpose or direction, let alone the fact that he lacks just about every quality you look for in a Statesman. We simply fell for his cunning to defame and create fear and disharmony. And many fell for his promises in spite of the fact that he himself said not to take any notice of them unless they were scripted.
Well, he literally netted the majority and it is possible that this needed to happen for that majority to realise its foolishness.

January 25, 2014 @ 10:26am
by chris

Where's your PPE from Oxford Mike? A bit jealous?

So he didn't stick to the UN agenda on everything. I see that as a good sign. It might not fit your cookie cutter nation leader full of hyperbole and low on delivery but it's a refreshing change after the grandstanders like Rudd/Obama.

January 25, 2014 @ 10:26am
by Jim van Ommen

In retro if I have been somewhat personal, please return it to me for some amendments. Jim.

January 25, 2014 @ 10:30am
by David

The Global Mail publishes some excellent analysis on tax avoidance linked to the highest levels of the Chinese communist Party and there are hardly any comments. Mike lampoons Abbott in a pretty lame attempt at humour and the comments gone into overdrive. I suppose it's providing the readership with what they most desire!

January 25, 2014 @ 10:39am
by Peter Nolan

Tony referred to my country Australia. What did he do, buy it. What about my title deed, Does he now own it.?

Have I been dispossed? This guy is a dangeroue worry.

January 25, 2014 @ 10:44am
by Pat

Our most public leader attempting to win the hearts and minds of the economic elite using the same saline rhetoric that won him the election. The sad thing is he can now boast of his economic prowess, ignoring the fact that his policies will inevitably run secondary to the real economic drivers such as the lowered $A and recovering foreign economies. I cant wait for the pretentious slogans and jingoism that will inevitably encrust itself on his next federal election campaign.

January 25, 2014 @ 11:02am
by Brett

As an Australian, I'm ashamed to admit it, but Abbott makes us as a nation, look like "idiots"!

January 25, 2014 @ 11:06am
by Alphonsealaluch

It's clear he went to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship (sponsored by catholic mullahs) mainly to box and play tight head prop.

I well recall first seeing him on TV. TDT introduced a conversation piece aimed at having a frank talk about the difficulties facing politicians - the straight jackets that limit the usefulness and candour of their discourse. Party line, being accused of flip flops when changing one's mind in response to new information, not broaching the topic of sacred cows, "art of the possible" etc. Problems common to both parties, indeed all pollies, about which any two pollies from any two parties could agree.

Two guests: Bob McMullen from Tony Abbott from the coalition. It was two minutes max into the discussion before McMullen was rightly asking the moderator whether there was any point in continuing with the premise of the discussion. Abbott was just being Abbott, point-scoring, sloganeering, utterly disingenuously combative.

Nothing has changed. Nothing ever will with this one dimensional moron who thinks that politics is just a jumped up 1970s university union debate, who thinks in the twenty teens that the prime struggle of our age is saving western christian civilisation from the hippies.

January 25, 2014 @ 11:28am
by jake

The parts of the speech outlined are the total opposite of what this moron has done.

"You can’t spend what you haven’t got.”
Furthermore: “You don’t address debt and deficit with yet more debt and deficit.”

Didn't this jackass let Hockey raise the debt sealing, creating more debt?

"Stronger growth requires lower, simpler and fairer taxes that don’t stifle business creativity"

So how does he intend to pay back this enormous unchecked debt?

Profit and Capitalism is the biggest threat to humanity and our ecosystem.
Even 9 year old's know that.
So what hell is going on inside the brains of these so called "smartest" people in the world beside the denial that they are cancerous, leeching, parasites? ....... And who the f@#ks this Tony Abbott clown?

January 25, 2014 @ 11:42am
by Julie

I wonder if any leader of any party whether Liberal or Labor can win an Australian election without the support of one Rupert Murdoch. Another question, surely there must be some people in the LNP that care about the environment and what this party is going to do to it. I believe they are looking at Old Growth Forests in Tasmania coming off the protected list. And there is the marine parks gone, the Barrier Reef under threat if a ship smashed into coral and leaks fuel. I also worry about Abbott's agenda for the workers in Australia. I know he believes in the trickle down affect but does that really help the workers. I am ashamed to be an Australian at the moment.

Unfortunately, the bogans in Australia love his policy of stopping the boats and that is the most pressing thing in Australia today.

January 25, 2014 @ 11:57am
by Rog

Chauncey the Gardener Lives!
Haven't laughed so much since Howard's attempt to write the constitutional pre-amable.

January 25, 2014 @ 11:58am
by John Armour

It's time to get Peter Seller's "Being There" from the dvd library again and see life imitating art.

Tony Abbott <i>is</i>Chauncey Gardiner !

January 25, 2014 @ 12:00pm
by Marcus

Oh look, Menzies House has sent its loyal drones out to defend Tony Abbott. Peter S, you clearly read too much Murdoch propaganda rags. I suggest you read the international media to get a genuine sense of how embarrasing Abbott's performance actually was. Secco is definitely not alone.

January 25, 2014 @ 12:37pm
by Anti-Nazi

This is the 21st century Australian equivalent of Ronald Reagan without the Bedtime with Bonzo credentials!
Has electing this guy to the highest office in Australia got anything to do with the fact that the only animals in Aus. are marsupials?

January 25, 2014 @ 12:57pm
by SusanE

Watching Abbott's speech live on ABC24, l so constantly cringed with horror and embarrassment that I missed some of the most patronizing bits! Thank you, Mike, for spelling it all out so clearly. And the ramifications.

I lived in Britain for a while during Pauline Hanson's heyday. I was forever explaining to appalled Brits that most of us were goodhearted, well meaning folk who were equally appalled. And that we were doing all we could to see that her visions never became reality.

Now, I can just imagine the experience of many Aussies in the UK and all over. However, I wonder if we will be doing all we can to see that Abbott's visions do not become Australia's reality? Having elected his government, we are somewhat on the back foot. Still, we need to get on and stand up to the man whenever he threatens to misstep. We need to let him know how many of us are not happy.

I agree that, unfortunately, much of the media is swallowing the visions and regurgitating them. Thank goodness for the Global Mail, and others similar, not afraid to speak the truth. (And not afraid to spell out the nature of this supposed emperor's many suits of new clothes.)

January 25, 2014 @ 1:01pm
by Craig

The speech was a shameful & domestic style election speech, nothing more. He was basically telling those countries, which are still screwed as a result of GFC, they got it right and we got it wrong despite evidence to the contrary. Dictating to the US by saying "you cannot address debt & deficit with more..." is just plain arrogance and frankly shows Mr. Abbott for a mindless and shortsighted fool.

To suggest the Howard Years were our Golden Years of economic greatness is totally inaccurate. Howard had surplus after surplus because he sold most of our Gold reserves, Telstra, and other valuable assets and then didn't spend any of that income on the people of Australia.

Any Government that puts surplus before infrastructure & people deserves to be recorded in the history books as reckless and dangerous.

He continues to embarrass Australia on the world stage with his narrow-minded, foolish and extreme views.

Suck it up Mr. Abbott and give up playing Prime Minister, a job you are obviously incapable of performing with any great success.

January 25, 2014 @ 1:28pm
by dec

it's not funny. and it far worse than embarassing.

January 25, 2014 @ 1:41pm
by John Fraser


"In Lincoln’s words, government should do for people what they can’t do for themselves – and no more"

Uh oh ! .... looks like Abbott has now declared war on the U.S.

Misquoting Lincoln will not endear us to the Americans.

Although the Tea Party probably gave a 21 fully automatic M16 salute.

January 25, 2014 @ 1:46pm
by Imagine

To those who love the quote Abbott's slogan; "You can’t spend what you haven’t got.”

I would remind you that this simply isn't true and is the basis of our entire economic system - it is called debt and is an amazingly useful tool because it allows you to buy or invest in things even if you don't have the money right now.

As long as you have a reliable source of income and/or are willing to give some surety or collateral to a lender - they will allow you to borrow the money you need as long as you agree to pay it back.

Amazingly many billions of people around the world use this same method to make large purchases or investments and overall it seems to work quite well. I actually did it myself to buy a house and amazingly, now I have somewhere to live. It will take me another 7-8 years to pay it off because the amount I borrowed was considerably greater than my yearly income, but the lender didn't seem to mind, nor did my family, my employer of my neighbours. In fact many of them congratulated me because the value of my house is now 4 times what I paid for it.
In case you didn't know even large businesses and even countries borrow money in pretty much the same way I did, although they pay a much lower interest rate than I do.

Hell, I even noticed Tony and Joey taking on even more debt in the last few months. If it was so bad for Kev and Julia to do it, why would Tones and Joe be so keen to follow suit?

January 25, 2014 @ 1:51pm

One wonders how the Lincoln principle applies to working mothers. Is it that they can't give themselves six months maternity leave on full pay so government should do it for them? Why then does the principle not apply on the same basis to the unemployed and the under-employed?

That's the problem with simplistic slogans: the devil is always in the detail.

January 25, 2014 @ 2:37pm
by MJR

TA is clearly still in election mode. But I find it difficult to believe that he wrote his Davos speech all by himself. He has been coached to deliver it without the customary humming and hawing. Quite a remarkable delivery transformation, even if the content is still the same old neo-con drivel.

Chris from the Tory Boys fan club asked Mike Seccombe where is his Oxford PPE, as if that is of any relevance to the author's views. I'm sure Chris doesn't realise that Abbott's second class Oxford degree was a shocker. Straight Bs, except for one solitary C. The official Oxford University transcript of Abbot's degrees is available at junkee dot com. Just type 'abbott' into the search box.

Abbott's Oxford degree was so bad he left it sitting in a drawer at Oxford University for 6 years before he claimed it. But he did get a couple of Blues for boxing while he was at Oxford. You've got to be good at something, don't you?

January 25, 2014 @ 2:49pm
by marek bakowsk

he is an empty tortise shell. man of the 50,s . tassies pin up boy in lavatories.

January 25, 2014 @ 3:08pm
by Jayne

Not just Abbott, but who the hell are his speech writers?
He doesn't just rock up to a World Economic Forum having written his own speech. Our taxes are paying speech writers to concoct this drivel & I've heard better from speakers at our weekly school assembly.
They are making us look like backward imbeciles, not the leaders in the world economy that we were after the GFC.

January 25, 2014 @ 3:35pm
by James

Still heads and shoulders above Gillards speech Ito the US congress . That was a true embarrassment.

January 25, 2014 @ 3:42pm
by PCPete

This is the same man who, while minister for health, said poor people are responsible for their own poverty and should just stop drinking, smoking and gambling. And in the same capacity, said obese kids should just get out and do more exercise.

Simple mind, simple solutions to everything.

January 25, 2014 @ 3:45pm
by roger

This speech could easily have been presented by G W Bush around ten years ago. We should have moved on from this type of neo-con simplistic delusion. I am sure TA's backers would be proud of his libertarian tone.

January 25, 2014 @ 4:02pm
by joyce

Thankfully I don't have to own him - decided to remain a kiwi

January 25, 2014 @ 4:02pm
by Rubens Camejo

Tony Abbott and his government have no concept of the world at large; theirs is a concern for the very few patrons of the Liberal party hell bent on making hay whilst this government rules. There is not one vision that they have been able to illustrate to us as to what Australia will look like in ten or twenty years time.

It is all about today for them and they don't give a thought to what might happen in the medium to long term or the near future consequences of their actions when dealing with foreign affairs issues such as demonstrated by their actions on Timor L'este's ICJ case against Australia and the total disrespect they have shown for Indonesia's territorial sovereignty or national sensitivities when dealing with asylum seekers.

They are basically saying to the rest of the world and to those of us that have raised many of these issues; 'talk to the hand', as they turn away showing you the palm of their hand.

Domestically, they tell us nothing of their plans or actions, especially those actions carried in our name by our navy against civilians and that is as insulting as it gets and as dangerous a precedent as a government has established in our history, when the military is used not to defend the nation but to defend a political party's ideology.

Externally, Indonesia will one day, sooner than some think, be an economic power likely to dwarf Australia. We are not making a great neighbour of a country that will have within its grasp, the power to make or break the economic future of our children.

All this for what?

My view is that there are people dictating policy TO, (not within}, the government that is designed solely for the benefit of billionaires in this country and for international corporations that would like to see us work and live as they do in the countries where these billionaires and companies make their biggest profits, impoverished one or ones with much lower standards of living.

We Australians have to wake up to this government or our children will pay a price.

January 25, 2014 @ 4:17pm
by Jules

Only seeing a couple of LNP supporters comment here. I think they must be just speechless and cringing silently and all they can mutter is 'Keep up the good work Tony'.

January 25, 2014 @ 4:35pm
by PeterM

I'd just take issue with one of the criticisms of Mr Abbott
"...... stating the bleeding obvious: You can’t spend what you haven’t got.”
Its not "bleeding obvious." It's wrong. Australian dollars only exist because they were created by the Australian government. They were, just like US dollars, Euros, Pounds etc, spent into existence from nothing.

January 25, 2014 @ 5:28pm
by Wilton Troop

Not one of us should feel ashamed to be Australian. What we should be ashamed of is that there are enough members of our proletariat, coached by shock jocks, spin doctors, The Australian, and the corporate sector, to elect this pack of poo tickets. This suppository of non-wisdom has to go... along with his lunatic fringe: Hunt, Hockey, Bishop, Andrews, et al...

January 25, 2014 @ 5:33pm
by Richard Butler

I cringe. I see in The Age today there is same piece by Don Watson promoted as "dreaming of the Prime Minister." It perhaps could be reworded as "dreaming of a Prime Minister". We still have a local deconstructionist opposition leader. Wrong bloke. Wrong time. Wrong job. Wrong place.

January 25, 2014 @ 5:41pm
by Poor fellow my country

I am an old, old woman - and I have never been so sad for my country and so fearful for its future and the future of my great-grand-children. I was always so proud of Australia, young and free, with golden soil and wealth for toil... but for the first time I am now thoroughly ashamed to see this man with his pugilistic swagger, his threatening hand shake, mouthing his inanities (his disloyal inanities) at a world forum - and so cocky, so pleased with himself.
I am not surprised, though I did not expect it to be as bad as it is - and we have almost three more years of this to endure... What harm will he do our wonderful country in that time?

January 25, 2014 @ 6:16pm
by Rod

Welcome back to the cultural cringe ... where's my cork festooned hat and collection of Chips Rafferty movies .... oh the shame ... the unmitigated shame of it all ... we are all judged by default thanks to this mumbling clown.

January 25, 2014 @ 6:47pm
by Barb

*blergh* as I reach. for. another bottle of.
I will never be an apologist for this ....person. He doesn't speak for me.
End Of.

January 25, 2014 @ 6:58pm
by George

I see one comment in this string that picked up on the fallacy "You can't spend what you haven't got". It is true at the micro level that people borrow money to spend what they haven't got. But missing from almost every popular discussion I have seen is that at the macro level of the economy, the statement is mostly nonsense. Banks lend what they haven't got all the time. It is called fractional reserve banking. Governments can easily spend money they haven't got by creating money. Mostly they don't, they allow banks to create new money, and profit from doing so. But it does not have to be this way.

I find it worrying that not only can people like Tony Abbott spout their populist nonsense and not get pulled up on it, but that journalists such as Mike Secombe describe an untruth as "the bleeding obvious".

January 25, 2014 @ 7:10pm
by simpleton

Simpletons don't usually come in the shapes and colours of a prime minister. We're not the first nor the last, but we're currently sitting in pole position.

January 25, 2014 @ 7:58pm
by Billdberg

Does he think he is addressing a group of primary school kids? I can't believe he is the Prime Minister of this Australia. This guy is supposed to be a Rhodes Scholar.

January 25, 2014 @ 9:37pm
by Emur Gancy

Has no one considered the possibility that, having won the election for the Coalition, Abbott is now being set up to fail? I can think of no other reason for his speech writers to provide the man with such drivel as was delivered to such an economically literate audience. Another example of "the end justifying the means". First get your party into power, then bring in a new leader - one who could properly represent the nation on the world stage.

January 25, 2014 @ 11:13pm
by Joe Whitcombe

This crap from a Rhodes scholar with a degree in economics....Help!

January 25, 2014 @ 11:15pm
by Rebecca

This is so embarrassing. I really want to be able to tell the rest of the world that not *all* of us were stupid enough to vote this guy in.

January 25, 2014 @ 11:30pm
by Douglas

Sounds like he thought he was addressing an audience of Liberal intellectual heavyweights.

January 25, 2014 @ 11:46pm
by Lou

So the quote at the end was real or drivel, like most of the story.

January 25, 2014 @ 11:54pm
by Dee

Klaus Schwab The executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum had an illuminating conversation with our leader.

Do take a few seconds to view the style of Tony Abbott.

January 26, 2014 @ 12:17am
by John kemp

He is trying to gain credit for what he inherited obviously this parrot had his speech written for him

January 26, 2014 @ 12:32am
by John kemp

Was written for him gaining credit for what he inherited

January 26, 2014 @ 12:33am
by MJR

The title of this article could have been "Abbott's Blue-tie Davos Moment".

Is he wearing the blue tie at Davos to get a subliminal message across to an old political foe? Is he saying "you guys went to a lot of trouble and expense to get Australia on to the Security Council and to get the G20 staged in Brisbane this year, but I'm in charge now. You talked to all those Africans, but nobody will remember your efforts. I'm the man! Eat my shorts, or my blue tie, take your pick"?

He hasn't worn a non-blue tie since he was elected PM. The symbols of victory mean a lot to Abbott. Is this 'grown up' behaviour, or what we would expect from a school-yard bully?

January 26, 2014 @ 12:48am
by Iain Chalmers

Australia... we have a problem.

January 26, 2014 @ 2:04am
by Bron

Gut-wrenchingly shameful. A pre-schooler on the international stage.

January 26, 2014 @ 6:37am
by Crowey

We have to put up with Abbott for 32 month, I cringe in despair for the future of this Nation.

January 26, 2014 @ 6:47am
by Philip

Would be helpful if you could get off the mantra that Keynesian economics is good, austerity is bad. All Wayne Swan's tenure did for us was increase the debt levels nothing more. And what is wrong, in an ultimately political forum, with a straightforward statement of politicial and policy intent.

January 26, 2014 @ 7:15am
by durmese

“No country has ever taxed or subsidised its way to prosperity,” ( PM Abbott's oft repeated Quote )

I believe that at least one group of countries have achieved this in spades...

Scandinavia .....

January 26, 2014 @ 7:50am
by Hotspringer

To Philip, Keynesian economics demonstrably worked, Friedmania demonstrably didn't.

January 26, 2014 @ 9:25am
by Ruth Lipscombe

It is time you received a Walkely for journalism!
It is hard to believe this man has still got supporters.
Labor at its worst ( and it was shocking for a good while) never ever approached the depths this mob have reached.

January 26, 2014 @ 9:43am
by Andrew

this man is so embarrassing that I still can't believe the nation voted for him .... i despair mainly for that reason, are we so blind ... apparently yes!

January 26, 2014 @ 10:04am
by K Spencer

We need to get used to understanding that Tony Abbott is our George W....Oh dear!

January 26, 2014 @ 10:45am
by PeterM


" Keynesian economics is good, austerity is bad." Sometimes there does need to be austerity. Even Keynes would agree if say, a harvest fails dramatically, or resources need to be diverted to a big war effort. But why now?

Keynes wasn't the first to suggest that, instead of looking at the millions of out of work as a problem to be solved why not look at them as a resource waiting to be utilised? Just think of all the things that need doing which supposedly 'can't be afforded' and work out what needs to happen to get those jobs done by those with the need to find a job doing them.

I hope he won't be the last either. I'd hope that even someone in the LNP may suggest the same thing to because its just common sense.

I thought you guys were supposed to be big on common sense?

January 26, 2014 @ 10:49am
by durmese

Even the late Sir William McMahon, former Tory PM of Australia, not being the
sharpest tool in the shed, was profoundly ahead of TA in oratory and statesmanship and not nearly as cringe worthy as our "punchy" Tony...

January 26, 2014 @ 11:31am
by durmese

What the Lieberal party really needs is a ginger group a la the Tea Party in the USA.. to really smarten their act up; a suggested name of such a group would be the "Billy" Tea Party to add an OZ flavour ( no pun intended ) oh yes and get Ms Sophie Mirabella a safe seat asap and back into the fold for a much needed political nouse injection ...

January 26, 2014 @ 11:45am
by Jen

Let's get rid of the moron. March in March Australia 2015

January 26, 2014 @ 11:45am
by Michael Creswell

Well written and observed, Mike Seccombe. Abbott's lamentable speech at the Davos forum is yet another example of the Peter principle that people rise to the level of their own incompetence . Expecting more than ill thought out platitudes from a shallow, thinker means that in giving Abbott a voice at the meeting, they'd got the wrong man.

January 26, 2014 @ 1:21pm
by Scottie D

Ahhht the Left masquerading as Independants!

January 26, 2014 @ 1:35pm
by Warren Ross

It might seem obvious but can someone prove this, "“And stronger growth requires getting government spending under control so that taxes can come down; and reducing regulation so that productivity can rise.” I am not sure what stronger growth has to government spending. This is the typical neoliberal crowding out line. When the private sector is not spending (saving not investing) and the foreign is in negative (importing more than exporting), then we need Government to invest otherwise employment rises (as it is) taxes drop and welfare payments increase. . Most of the article is fair to ridicule Abbott's comments as platitudes but this one is just wrong.

January 26, 2014 @ 2:18pm
by John Fraser


Ahhht the Right masquerading as intelligent !

January 26, 2014 @ 3:40pm
by Kelvin

Abbott us like a turtle someone had put on a post.
You know he didn't get up there himself
He doesn't belong up there
He doesn't know what to do up there
He is elevated above his station
We all wonder what kind of nodded put him up there

January 26, 2014 @ 5:20pm
by John of North Lakes

Did many people read the sycophantic rubbish written by Dennis Shanahan in The Australian about Abbott in Davos? It appears that The Oz has begun a systematic campaign in the new year, designed to bolster Abbott's credentials that have been so badly damaged so far in his Prime Ministership. If you (as I have done) dare to write a post in their blogs that is even mildly critical of Abbott, watch out for the firestorm of abuse from the usual daily suspects in the "we love Tony brigade" No room for dissenting views allowed in News Ltd publications.

January 26, 2014 @ 6:53pm
by ekb87

Ah, delicious ALP tears.

Keep up the hysteria guys.

January 26, 2014 @ 7:43pm
by David

Well John it's just like here then but in reverse then. Interesting that the articles portraying Abbott as a buffoon, generally written by MS, get loads of comments playing to prejudices of the general GM readership. The more interesting stuff, such as the corruption and tax avoidance in China seem a bit outside the interest of the "independent" readership. I've read numerous articles in the OZ criticizing Abbott. Yet to see a conservative penning an article here. Seems like GM readers love to pore over "Abbott is a moron" style articles. Seems "Secco" loves writing them too!

January 26, 2014 @ 8:33pm
by Julie

I feel that Tony Abbott is a protected species in the News Corpse press. Not that I read or buy it, but I sometimes glance at it at the coffee shop and there is never a critical comment on this present government. Why? Shouldn't governments be questioned about their policies, no always what a wonderful job Tony is doing. I wonder also why isn't there any newspolls out, like they were in Julia's time. Maybe, they aren't looking good for Tony. I hope people keep talking to other people all the time about the damage this government is going to do to things like the environment, the working poor and the poor animals exported overseas. Please Australia wake up, I hope thousands march in march to protest against this destructive government. I feel like it's a nightmare and I will wake up and it will be over. Maybe, just maybe, it will be a one term Tony government. If there is a God, then God willing.

I can't get over Piers Akermans rant about unions to do and how they betrayed our wonderful defence forces in wars. What about Robert Menzies selling steel to Japan and then using it to built things to use against our forces. Also, don't forget the AWB scandal. No, it's only the terrible labor party that does bad things, never the LNP.

January 26, 2014 @ 8:35pm
by supermundane

The problem is many of the critical decision-makers within the audience would applaud it. They are the ones promulgating this ideology. You only have to look at the decisions being made across the Eurozone for example.

In essence the speech was utterly consistent with what the World Economic Forum in Davos is all about at this article explains:

January 26, 2014 @ 8:57pm
by bobbyox

I don't know who wrote his speech but I find little substance in it and has only short sentences with no real flow between them. I call it "fairy floss"

January 27, 2014 @ 12:06am
by Howe Synnott

Mike Seccombe, no-one could ever accuse you of not being consistent - article after article, you stay on theme, never deviating from the mantra.
Full marks for predictability - but, not for objectivity. Those of us who remember your days at the SMH would be familiar with your mindset and language - and your antagonism towards all things Coalition.
You are a bookend to those journalists from the other end of the political spectrum - the very people you hold in such contempt.

January 27, 2014 @ 7:40am
by eugene grant

I thought Tony was very impressive, and that his audience were impressed and appreciative! Greg Sheridan told me so!

January 27, 2014 @ 11:07am
by Whyalla Wipeout

Howe, I expected better from you. What are your views on Abbott's speech? Do you think it was the right thing to say to the people assembled? Do you think it was relevant? And why? At the very least, please explain why you disagree with Mike Seccombe, rather than just damning him for being one-eyed.

For my part, I thought it was facile and irrelevant. Earlier I commented on how he had totally misrepresented Abraham Lincoln and I think this is emblematic of his approach. It sounded like a Harvey Norman sales pitch for Australia, rather than a thoughtful analysis of the direction in which the G20 should go, taking into account the varied membership.

Over to you.

January 27, 2014 @ 11:11am
by Saintly

OMG Howe, an actal opposing view to the mainstream... it used to be called balance.

January 27, 2014 @ 12:04pm
by Marcus

Oh look, here is Howe Synnott, well known Liberal Party staffer & full-time troll of the Fairfax Online Comments section. Mike Seccombe is well within his rights to point out what a policy vacuum the current Coalition are. What one-eyed, closed minded cheer-leaders like yourself have to do, Howe, is to give us EVIDENCE as to why Mike's position is wrong. We spent over 3 years listening to your lot tell us how awful the previous government was-again without evidence-but you've not been willing to even remotely question the policies of your beloved Librorts Party. Sounds to me like it is you-not Mike-who needs lessons in objectivity!

January 27, 2014 @ 3:26pm
by Marcus

Abbott appears determined to drag Australia down the UK route-a route that led to recession & even deeper debt. Who said that insanity is "doing the same thing, but expecting a different result"? Abbott certainly seems to fit the criteria of being insane....and incompetent.

January 27, 2014 @ 3:27pm
by Anaryl

A lot of quotes in this article didn't happen - how seriously should we take the author when he indulges in fiction?

None of the excellent coverage by the Economist @ Davos mentioned this. It's because the rest of the world doesn't give a flying shit what you think - The Australian Left isn't an effective force in Australia - why would Davos goers give a shit?

January 27, 2014 @ 6:14pm
by Howe Synnott

G'day WW, I enjoyed your reference to Lincoln - and 'catching out' Abbott on the misquoting of said president of the USA. I also read it in the SMH - nice one.
Yes , I was irritated by Mike Seccombe's piece - uncommonly so; obviously, it showed. I think it was related to the culmination of several things. See below.
Having followed him over the years (SMH, Insiders), I think Mike Seccombe is a captive of his particular political mindset; that certainly doesn't stop me reading his views - but, obviously not necessarily agreeing with him. He challenges me and makes me think - and I might have to admit that he is correct on occasions, as much as it pains me. That said, I think he is wrong this time.
He appears as set in his views as some of those often scorned journalists of the Right - that was the basis of my 'bookend' comment. Although I lean to the Right, I read the SMH (it is my preferred paper) - and here I am reading the GM. Also, I do criticise the Coalition.
How many of those criticising me here bother to regularly read a different source of political opinions - you know, something from the 'dark side'?
As I stated several days ago in the SMH, there are other reports on Abbott in Davos that paint a different picture - I thought Mike Seccombe was simply too keen to find fault with Abbott; not a jot of preparedness to admit there was an iota of worth in the Abbott speech. That, I think, said more about Seccombe than Abbott's speech - Seccombe's lack of generosity and sarcasm.
Too many people are simply not prepared to give any credit to the 'other side' of politics - even if it is due. Perhaps my comments today are a sign of my political 'blind spot' - I thought I was pointing out Seccombe's.
Fire at will.

January 27, 2014 @ 7:31pm
by Andrew

Oh please, give me a break, it's a networking talkfest, sorry he didn't parrot the usual praise for the failed European social democratic model to be lapped up by the guardian et al. The last bloke (ie pm) was such a 'statesmen' after all, lecturing everyone and then boring them literally to sleep. so please spare us the hypocrisy. Apparently Abbott was actually well received and there was lots of leader envy wishing they had one like him. He also covered transnational tax avoidance too, not that it got reported. outside the trendy leftie talk sphere he is seen to be doing a good job by lots of Australians. He has hardly been in power long enough to even do anything, i can only really attribute the level of hatred at this point to blind ideology. You realise he isn't even particularly free market, you will find some more pro market and pro deregulation labor mps than Abbott.. Anyway alp, seeing you just gave us the worst state and federal governments in 40 years, how about spending some time Getting some good candidates rather than the usual left wing lawyers and union hacks (or failing that social workers and teachers go in winnable seats only of course). And just as an aside, good government doesn't just consist of Legislating unfunded social welfare reforms, however worthy, running up the deficit and public servant numbers and then loosing government leaving the next mob to make unpopular cuts to pay for implementing it all. Next time you come up with an amazing idea, look up 'opportunity cost' in a high school text book.

January 27, 2014 @ 10:43pm
by Bertie Wooster

It's so disappointing when, despite the best intentions of the Greens/Labor/ABC triumvirate, the clearly stupid and untrustworthy electorate get it so wrong! Even with the evil Murdoch 'dark side' and fellow commercial media travellers brainwashing the electorate they still don't get it! We need Yonhap News to monopolise the media so we, the proletariat, can be guaranteed correct results forever.

January 27, 2014 @ 11:04pm
by Mervyn Slattery

I get the impression that the author of this article would have a problem with what the Prime Minister matter what he said.

January 27, 2014 @ 11:38pm
by Despairing

Thanks for your good work, Mike.

January 28, 2014 @ 10:32am
by Lee Monaghan

Mervyn Slattery, unfortunately you're correct. The author of the above article is clearly an intelligent person and, judging by every Prime Ministerial quote I've heard or read thus far into his term of office, it would seem that no matter what Mr Rabbit says, any intelligent person will have a problem with it.

January 28, 2014 @ 2:54pm
by Abuya, Willice

Sometimes big ideas are the outlandishly small ones. Economics 101 tells us that we shouldn't spend what we dont have, and isnt that would got the US, Italy and the rest into trouble? And arent developing nations incurring more debt to solve their debt problems. Sometimes its imporyant to be reminded about the fundamentals of economics

January 28, 2014 @ 3:20pm
by Whyalla Wipeout

Good afternoon Howe and thanks for your response. I am still somewhat perplexed as to what you found laudable about Abbott's speech at Davos, although I now understand why you seem to have a bee in your bonnet about Mike Seccombe.

I scanned the comments on this site and only one seemed to actually point out what the reader saw was positive in what Abbott said - that was 'Andrew', immediately below your response to me. In a 20-plus line screed about everything under the sun, this sentence was buried: "He also covered transnational tax avoidance too, not that it got reported."

I have yet to see an analysis of Abbott's presentation that was positive from any credible journalist. Can you point me to where any unbiased (I'll let you choose who you think merits that tag) journalist has explained why Abbott's speech was a good one, given the audience, the context and the purpose of the speech? Don't bother sending me behind a News Ltd paywall. I don't have access and nobody I consider unbiased writes there.

By the way, in regard to Lincoln, it was not merely a matter of 'catching out' Abbott. The full Lincoln quote is actually the opposite of what Abbott was suggesting in his speech - and actually seems to better reflect the way that Labor sees the role of Government than the Liberals do. For myself I see too much misrepresentation and misquotation on the right (none more so than in regard to climate change) not to challenge any alleged quote or statistic.

January 28, 2014 @ 4:10pm
by Eelboy

Abbott must think his audience at Davos were utter simpletons with about the same collective IQ as the Australian electorate. These people have seen the numbers - what country wouldn't swap their economic stats for ours?

January 28, 2014 @ 5:59pm
by Douglas

If Abbott was any stupider he would need watering twice a day.

January 28, 2014 @ 8:59pm
by John Fraser


@W W.

Not to worry mate.

The tide has turned and its all downhill for the Abbott gang.

January 28, 2014 @ 10:06pm
by VoterBentleigh

The article shows that Mr Abbott failed at Davos, but pointing out that Mr Abbott's speeches are daft will not make any difference. Whenever he is criticised, Mr Abbott makes a point of deliberately repeating the alleged misdemeanour, like some truculent, unruly child who responds to chastisement with defiance and rebellion. Mr Abbott seems incapable, of learning that as a man he needs to “put away childish things.”

Not one of Mr Abbott's supporters commenting here has pointed to anything in his Davos speech that was laudable, let alone provide any argument to justify the Prime Minister's comments. They can't, because there is nothing in his speech but his puerile, vindictive vacuity. So instead, they digress to issues irrelevant to the speech (boat people), attack his predecessors, the writer and “the Left”, making the fallacious argument that alleged partisanship means that what one is saying is wrong.

January 28, 2014 @ 11:58pm
by Andrew Pengilley

Tony, nor his party, actually know or care much about economics. Nor do they care much for anything other than electoral success. So they are preaching purely to big business in Australia. and saying the approved lines. Simple, yes.

January 29, 2014 @ 3:50am
by Martin Knox

Abbott's fundamental capitalism is familiar and cannot avoid sounding trite. Could those who favour an alternative system declare their allegiances and provide some constructive criticism here acknowledging that Davos was hardly the arena for internal debate. Perhaps they would have preferred Abbott to be less sure and tone it down. Somewhere we need to have a debate about changing his growth mantra. I am not optimistic that it is possible to debate anything objectively in Australia any more, given the counter-culture's use of anti-growth values for their cohesion. The term steady state economy needs translation into government activity caps, if someone has the courage of those convictions.

January 29, 2014 @ 6:57am
by Jim KABLE

I thank you Mr SECCOMBE for this article even if I feel it overly generous to TA. To think that hubris can so quickly and totally overwhelm a national leader of Australia - that in the world's leading economic forum he can so blatantly spruik his slogans as if it were normal. Tell me again who gave him the scholarship to Oxford - who nominated and seconded his application. And what was it he studied there? Was it learnt while hanging out in the boxing gym with one or two other misguided lads/thugs who thought boxing was creditable. I suspect he collected a couple of swipes to his head in any case - known as he was for his stupidity in not wearing a helmet. Is it not already past time for the Libs to do something about him. And did I not read that he was calling in on his mate RAJAPRAKSA in Sri Lanka en route back to Australia. There is not a thing this man does that inspires or lifts. It is all so depressing and fifth rate.

January 29, 2014 @ 8:54am
by Alex Neill

Jim Kables 11 lines of anger and name calling toward TA is misguided, petty and pointless. It is typical of so many people in this country, all blame and no suggestions. Not one alternative suggestion as to what may have taken place just anger. Most of the points TA made may sound simple and heard before, but isn't this type of debt and deficit political structure that has got the most powerful nations in the world in trouble over the last 30 years? What is wrong with wanting to create good conditions for business both import and export to thrive.

January 29, 2014 @ 11:03am
by Whyalla Wipeout

"It is typical of so many people in this country, all blame and no suggestions"

Alex Neill, I agree that there is too much of this culture. But it was entrenched by the most negative Opposition leader of my lifetime. Everything was opposed when he led the Opposition. He gave the word 'opposition' a purity of meaning that did not allow of any nuance, let alone backsliding to agreement on the then Government about anything of substance and not much of insubstantiality. He launched a thousand vessels of hatred, name calling and spite. And all in the name of achieving power.

If he is reaping what he has sown, is that not the great justice of his God in action?

January 29, 2014 @ 11:23pm
by rhyl dearden

Actually the present opposition is more rigidly negative now, even of their own policies when in government, than Abbott was because he was opposing really mad policies of spending when the government was amassing vast debts that take funding out of the system.

Howard's return of funding to the people was because he had a surplus and believed that people could spend their own money in ways they wanted rather than the government deciding.

January 30, 2014 @ 9:20am
by seriously

Not sure why anybody would have even bothered to listen. What does it say about our mighty leader that he was not able get past the waffle and speak to world leaders strategically about his vision for a return to the past and how that will improve the lives of Australians. How many attendees walked out?

January 30, 2014 @ 2:26pm
by Troy

Terrible article. It's quite obvious his statements are aimed at Australians, not in subject but in target. We still have a significant number of leftard labor supporters of whom none of seem to see the damage caused by the previous government. He knew the headlines and snap shots would get back to us. Do you really think anyone actually takes onboard any suggestions from these talks? The US turns around and shouts.. end off shoring jobs! On conclusion of David Cameron's speech? You missed the point entirely

January 30, 2014 @ 7:05pm
by Tony

A simple demonstration that Abbott is not a statesman, Not an original thinker and believes his own propaganda. I was wondering if he only became a Rhodes Scholar due to his sporting prowess. I note on WikiPedia that one criteria is "Energy to use one's talents to the fullest, as exemplified by fondness for and success in sports;" - not that I don't appreciate sports achievements, just they to not encompass the full spectrum needed to be an effective Prime Minister. Yet Abbott does seem to let others use his Rhodes Scholar status to lend him an air of intelligence he does not posses. However truthfully, no party, seems to present leaders any more only followers of tabloid popularisum. Everyday Abbott and his colleagues get scarier and appear more ideological and regressive. This article succeeds primarily buy using Abbott's own words on the world stage as evidence. Almost every word demonstrates ignorance of his audience, which reflects his ignorance at home of the electorate.

January 30, 2014 @ 11:43pm
by Marilyn

He is certainly no statesman , I think because he hasn't had much practice, his job in opposition was to do the hatchet work fancy using that forum to have another go at blaming the Labour party for our current woes , when is he going to come up with a plan to increase the work force here in Australia instead of cutting jobs, after all they are the only people paying tax here not the Corporations. We will never have a strong economy for our future whilst the confidence in doing business here is zero, We can't rely on the mining sector to keep us afloat because now that they will not be contributing the 128 million they paid when Labour was in instead of the 5 billion they were suppose to. Abbott will reduce that to zero , our natural wealth goes overseas

January 31, 2014 @ 9:16am
by Rightwhitetiger

Good article, Mike. I always wondered about Abbott's Rhodes Scholar credentials. Either there was nothing up top in the first place, or he has received a kick or punch too many to the head during his rugby/boxing days. Clearly the guy is a duffer and has the potential to be the dummest Aussie PM in history. Even Billy McMahon had some sort of brain.

January 31, 2014 @ 12:19pm
by David Baxter

Tony Abbott becomes PM after spending the last 5 years doing his utmost to wreck the Australian "brand" by talking down the Australian economy and the previous government's economic policies. Now that he's enjoying the rewards of this spadework, he is wrecking Australia - with unemployment steadily going through the roof; a widening divide between the extremely wealthy and the rest of us; a tumescent impoverished underclass which will soon be punished for their poverty through the re-introduction of Work-for-the-dole; and an obvious distrust of science and scientific evidence.
As for his perfomance in Davos - he most likely assumed that he would be addressing an audience of tea-party poodles who would hang off every word. But are we surprised that Tony Abbott humiliates himself, his office, and the nation he purports to represent, when he goes overseas and opens his mouth? I, for one, am not. He is not really very clever at all, and I suspect that if the LNP don't find a better leader by the next election they will find themselves buried under a landslide.

January 31, 2014 @ 2:13pm
by Ernest Griffin

This reads like a closed conversation among mates patting each other on the back.
Wake up. The years of labour indulgence have taken Australia to where its at. The current government is barely six months in and trying to deal with years of poor policy. This will be a two term Abbott government that returns Australia to prosperity. Maybe then voters will forget and vote for change. Who knows. Most likely.
As for the climate change moral panic denial. 15 years of nothing. No warming at all. Its hard but find a more rational, objective way to look at the world we live in.

January 31, 2014 @ 10:42pm
by Alister Smith

Sorry but this doesn't look like journalism to me - its an opinion piece not a news report - and maybe that is what is intended - perhaps the new view is that you have to entertain and offer witty opinions and sharp critiques to beat the bloggers and the commentators - unfortunately that's not what I want - what I would like is a source of news that reports the facts around a particular issue - and if there are opposing views then mentions those views and gives the alternate facts related to them - I would particularly like this from our natural broadcaster - but I don't want opinions, I don't want sparkling insults, I don't want to know if you think our PM is stupid or a buffoon (or in the case of the previous one an alleged backstabbing narcissist) - maybe the media (and I mean News Ltd as well as the Guardian and the Global Mail and the ABC) could return to just giving us the facts, telling us what actually happened and what is being considered and trusting that we a smart enough to come to a decision on our own without them telling us what we must think and how we must judge - and if this happened - if the media stopped trying to catch out politicians with gotcha moments, maybe they wouldn't have to spend half their time trying to be media savvy and manage their brands and they could spend that extra time trying to govern a little better - the media has to start to take responsibility for the fact that the current path it is following is not adding value to the debate and not adding to the democratic process

February 1, 2014 @ 10:02am
by Jim Astbury

Keep up the opinion pieces..........I'll decide whether I agree them or not. Hearing someone else's view in never a negative.

February 1, 2014 @ 2:20pm
by Craig Tudman

Thanks Mike - glad to read you unshackled - as someone on Q&A said - it really is our George Bush moment in the political cycle - let's hope we get an Obama moment very quickly!

February 1, 2014 @ 3:28pm
by John jeffery

Thanks Mike, after years of spinning Fairfield right wing spin.

February 2, 2014 @ 10:26am
Show previous 172 comments
by Peter Sommerville


February 2, 2014 @ 5:55pm
by Jeffrey Mellefont

A good analysis, thanks Mike Seccombe, of an incisiveness that's sadly lacking from my mainstream news commentary sources, SMH and ABC (in part, I suspect, because both are so sensitive to the usual claims of leftist bias that they dare not publish commentary that's TOO pungent!). Abbott's speech in Davos was a classic example of neo-con ideology at its most simplistic - shift wealth from the majority to the business elites while shouting obfuscatory lies about 'trickle-down' or 'lifting all boats', and stuff the environment while you're at it. Significantly our Catholic PM, who believes in an imaginary cosmic CEO, chants his entry-level economic mantras like a Hail Mary, with 'the market' taking on a supernatural role somewhere between god and the holy ghost. The crossover between ideology and religious dogma has been well-noted, however... did you hear his earlier comments on arriving in Davos, about his 'instincts' about the efficacy of the market? Bugger evidence-based economics! There's a curious congruence between Abbott and Gillard, ironically though: it's the stilted, kindergarden-class style of public rhetoric that political pressure seems to force them into, despite themselves. With Abbott, I suppose, it's the pressure to be relevant, to project something of more substance than oppositional attack-doggery. I wonder how that will go as he sinks further into the shadow of Hockey (who’s, curiously, the ‘Abbott’ of our Abbott & Costello comic PM/Treasurer duo)?

February 4, 2014 @ 1:41pm
by David Chaplin

This is the guy who previously said he didn't know much foreign policy, economics..... Let's faccan barely walk..... Looks like the houseboy in shoes for the first time in La Cage Au Folles. He is disappointing but why do we expect more?

February 7, 2014 @ 3:35pm
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