He is being labelled one of the most incompetent Prime Ministers of Australia in history. So bad is the Government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, that if an election had been held in the weekend just gone it is forecast his ruling Liberal-National coalition would suffer a 36 seat thrashing. So as his Government enters the final year of its first and possibly only term in office, what benefits has his Government brought New Zealand?
To understand this question we must first understand the nature of the Abbott-led Government, which is now about 24 months into a 36 (or thereabouts) month political term. He came to prominence when his party was in Opposition, and Australia had a female Prime Minister. Once installed as Leader of the Opposition, Mr Abbott had one primary goal which was to destroy Ms Gillard as Prime Minister. And then what, Australia wanted to know.
Nothing. Having committed an outstanding act of character assassination against Ms Gillard, using some of the most derogatory words, the key figures – Julie Bishop (Foreign Affairs), George Brandis (Attorney General), Peter Dutton and Christopher Pyne – had not a clue how to make Australia gain some key inroads. Its attempts to change the funding regime for tertiary education drew howls of rage that Mr Pyne has had no answer for. Its war on renewable energy goes against teh the evidence of accelerating growth in terms of financial value being added to the economy.
Further more the Tony Abbott Government of Australia has embarked on a xenophobic crusade against refugees and asylum seekers that would be hugely damaging to New Zealand’s reputation, were we to try anything vaguely similar to it. For Australia, the closure of its Its turning back of boats carrying asylum seekers is not only in contravention to international treatises that both New Zealand and Australia are party to, but contrary to the spirit of the A.N.Z.A.C.’s who fought so our respective nations could be free and not governed by fear. by using private security firms to police the detention centres, which appear in some respects to be almost a light form of concentration camp – not a term I use lightly – Australia is showing that there is a morally bankrupt financial gain to be had from detaining asylum seekers and contracting out their wellbeing.
I see no reason to believe that the Government of Mr Abbott has in any way been beneficial to New Zealand. It has steadfastly refused to address concerns amongst New Zealanders living in Australia that New Zealand nationals get a raw deal in terms of access to Australian social welfare services in comparison with other immigrant nationalities. Its increasingly close – almost (except when it comes to climate change)snug – relations with the United States and a distinct lack of interest in the South Pacific as evidenced by the funding cuts for aid programmes in this part of the world point to Mr Abbott seeing a brighter future engaging Washington, than helping deal with regional issues.
So, if Mr Abbott’s incompetent rabble, which looks worse by the day, were to somehow disintegrate tomorrow and cause Australia to go to an early election, it would be good for both nations.