Australian politics has been a bit all over the shop since the downfall of John Howard – our longest serving Prime Minister in the last half century.
Australia had the possibility of a return to stability in the form of the Abbott government. Of course this was short lived with the quick switch-a-roo for his more moderate colleague Turnbull.
But was the switch a necessary one? The last election of 2016 brought a considerable swing back to Labor: it was a bad result for the Coalition.
So would the Coalition have fared better with Abbott at the helm? Would it have made much of a difference?
First we need to look at why the switch was made in the first place.
The truth is that Abbott had a bad standing with powerful media organisations. The ABC and Fairfax Media both gave him a hard time. Seemingly everyday the Sydney Morning Herald would run negative front page stories against Abbott. He was well out of favour with the ABC who he said ‘takes everyone’s side but our own’ – at one stage he even tried to boycott their popular show Q&A.
I remember the general feeling was quite anti-Abbott. There was the March of May in 2014 that drew thousands. His inability to court the media created a considerable backlash across the board. There was also his interesting relationship with Peta Credlin, his stance on gay marriage, the ill-received budget and his captain’s calls – like the Duke of Edinburgh knighthood which was downright bizarre. But was he still quite popular in the electorate?
We will never know for sure. His thumping victory in 2013 indicates that Abbott did have a certain appeal not shared with the media elite.
There is no doubt that Abbott at the time created a lot of uncertainty, uneasiness with sections of the population. He was viewed by many as being a rigid bully who gave voice and credence to oppressive structures of the past.
I believe what annoyed people the most was the fashion in which he went about everything. He just wasn’t properly tuned into the sensitivities of many people.
The way he lost his job also shows a lot about his character. Rejected by his own party and replaced by Turnbull – he didn’t lash out or have a go, he just pulled his head in and took what was given to him.
I think he would have gained a lot of respect from even his haters if his attitude was “well you don’t want me then stuff you”. But he didn’t raise his voice and now we are stuck with him in the parliament causing a stink.
It is his disposition as a person that really gets to a lot of people. He kind of says it as it is, but at the same time he doesn’t really reveal himself.
His strategy for gaining power was to pander to all the super conservatives. But he did this in a negative fashion that quickly created enemies.
As a country we know very well what he is against but we’re not sure what he truly stands for.
Turnbull on the other hand is much more tuned into the media elite. He is able to go about pleasing and appeasing their agenda with his selfies.
This acceptance however has not translated to success in the electorate.
This suggests that there could be more of a disconnect between the media and general Australian public sentiment than we thought existed.