Sunday, 23 April 2017

Tony Abbott to Return as Prime Minister?

I caught up with a friend of 30 plus years yesterday.

We manage a coffee catch up every few weeks and on the occasions we connect on a weekend, it commonly extends for some hours and far too many coffees.

We share common interests including cricket, the industry we both work in, music and politics.

His move towards conservatism commenced with a very small step some 40 years ago when he ceased being a full time musician to join the then SGIO. His time as a professional musician was not without some success. His band recorded several records and achieved modest sales. He was the drummer in the Hoadley Battle of the Bands state winners and national runners up back in 1960something.

About 5 years ago he returned to music and is a member of a weekend warrior covers band.

We both wonder at the inability of modern day fast bowlers to achieve consistent line and length and ponder the benefits or otherwise of such strict coaching of young players often at the expense of natural flair and creativity.

The small step towards conservatism taken all those years ago has continued to gather momentum and this inevitably drives the more colourful content of our conversations.

He is of the view that Tony Abbott is one of our truly great Prime Ministers. I was amused when he said as Prime Minister he fulfilled his three key election promises and when I ask what they were, he could not name them. With some goading, he did recall “stop the boats”.

He cites the 2014 budget as being one of the most innovative of all time and is retrospectively being acknowledged as being so. He admits it was poorly sold but that is the medias fault, not Tony’s.

I put it to him that Malcolm Turnbull has managed to get more of the 2014 budget legislated than Abbott did and he went quiet when I supported my statement with evidence.

He believes in gaining information via what he swears is “balanced media” citing 4BC and Sky as evidence of reliable and balanced sources of information.

A report last week that Malcolm Turnbull stepped in to save Tony Abbott’s seat was addressed by him as being rubbish. He added that this story was leaked by Malcolm Turnbull. I suggested it could not be both rubbish and leaked.

As evidence of his view on the lack of validity of the report he referenced Tony’s 62% two party preferred result in his seat. I abandoned my attempt to discuss the preferential voting system when he admitted he did not know how it worked

However, it was this very story that had me thinking. Purely by accident, I heard analysis about the “saving of Tony Abbott” on the radio by two very different commentators. One was on Radio National where the commentator made the point that the Prime Minister wasn’t motivated by saving his predecessor as much as by saving himself; after all he achieved a one seat victory.

The second commentator was the 4BC breakfast host who was very clear that the entire story was a beat up.

If we consume our ‘balanced media’ from a single source, we are likely to be strongly influenced by that source. Also, we may well be inclined to select the media outlets that best supports what we fundamentally want to believe. This applies equally to the ‘left’ the ‘right’ and the ‘centre’.

We need a strong and diversified media across all medias. We need diversified ownership and diversified cultural influences. Above all, we need a strong, well-funded National Broadcaster.

My major concern is the latter, the National Broadcaster, is likely to be the first casualty. It is somewhat wounded right now, wounds inflicted by the current Prime Minister. However, the leader of the Opposition has been careful not to commit to restoring proper funding in Government.

Maybe Tony Abbott was a great Prime Minister and maybe he is set for a return to the job and maybe I am just listening and watching the wrong media. Perhaps the view so passionately held by my long term friend is representative of popular public opinion.
Is it?

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