By Darryl Mason
The Rudd government will move fast to a federal election - March 2010 - on the off chance that Tony Abbott will quickly find a comfortable zone of support to build on amongst the Australian public. That off chance is in fact a good chance.
We will now be introduced to Tony 'Reasonable Guy' Abbott. The humble man, a man who has faith in God and himself, but wants to Save This Country From The SmugRudd.
This is exactly how the Liberal Party will market Abbott through the election.
Tony The Reasonable Vs Rudd The Smug.
And that approach will work better than you might imagine.
* The Liberal Party will get a boost in the polls, thanks to Tony Abbott. And it will be big enough to shock the poll watchers and cause some nervous titters in the federal government. I say about a 10 point leap for the Libs.
* Tony Abbott, in his first press conference as leader of the Liberal Party, has clearly been practicising his "I'm A Reasonable Guy, I Am" face. Which probably means, at least for a few weeks, the end of those chilling Abbott Death Stare.
* The five key issues Abbott will fight the first quarter 2010 federal election on are those he hooked into at the start of his press conference : delaying the ETS/Carbn Tax, Rudd's Schools Refurbishment Program, The RuddNet, Interest Rates, WorkChoices/Industrial Relations.
* Abbott claims nobody will ever mention "the phrase 'WorkChoices'" again. Fat chance. Abbott will simply rename the reintroduction of Howard's WorkChoices 'Fuck The Workers' policy something else. But the Australian public won't forget.
* Abbott is reminded by journo that he has referred to the reality of climate change as "crap."
"It was a bit of hyperbole, it's not my considered position," he replied.
Does Tony Abbott believe in climate change now? Yes, yes he does.
"(saying climate change was "crap")....was in the context of a heated discussion, where I was trying to argue people around. I do think climate change is real, and that man does make a contribution. The essential point here...is the mechanism for dealing with climate change. We should not be rushing through a new tax so Kevin Rudd has something to take to Cophenhagen."Tony Abbott's position on the carbon tax yesterday, according to Annnabel Crabbe :
In the face of Mr Hockey's insistence that the matter be a conscience vote, Mr Abbott eventually lost his temper.
"So," he summarised bitterly.
"Malcolm Turnbull's for the ETS. I'm against the ETS. And Joe - nobody knows what the fuck you stand for."
Abbott : "I accept at times I have stuffed up. I also believe that when you become leader, you make a new start. The Australian public is very fair, and they are always ready to give the leader of a political party a fair go."
And they will. Watch the polls next week.
* Abbott The Apologist : "I should take this opportunity to apologise for all my mistakes of the past."
Abbott thinks reality is a confessional booth, and all sins are immediately absolved.
Andrew Bolt's verdict on Tony Abbott :
News.com.au PreNews Fail earlier today :
Not an unreasonable headline to drop into the system in preparation. The entire press gallery appeared to believe Hockey would win the leadership. I can't think of anyone who predicted Abbott would win. Let me know in comments if you find someone who did.
This is the first thing I wrote as a theme note for this post :
Welcome to the New Ugly Age of Liberal Party Religious Extremism.I don't think they will, after watching the Abbott press conference. They might get shouty, but I think Abbott really does believe, with a self-righteous fervour he appears to have learned to conceal overnight, that he can actually win an election against Kevin Rudd. But he won't win it by hammering Muslims and immigration and embracing, thankfully, nasty minority views.
Things are about to get very, very nasty indeed.
The truth is, the Rudd government has had a pretty easy time of it, as far as formidable attacks from the Opposition goes, these past two years.
Tony Abbott has polished up his People Skills, and has already debuted his Reasonable Guy persona for the media. We will now see the soft and cuddly Abbott, edged with just enough venom to batter and sometimes better Rudd and Gillard.
Abbott wants to win. And he thinks he can. He Believes He Can Do It.
Look, if anyone in Australia still believes in actual miracles, Tony Abbott is amongst their number.
Can he do it?
Note - The above was mostly written as events unfolded, that's why it reads like a bunch of notes. It is. I just hate the look of 'UPDATE' appearing all over a post. A little * is less intrusive. Something more coherent coming on my theory that Abbott will tone down his religious extremism, not ramp it up. Australians are clearly sick of that kind of crap, the polls show it, the Libs know it. So it will be Tony The Humble Vs Rudd The Smug.
This will be the real battle in parliament. Rudd Vs Gillard. They've been sparring and flirting for years :