The Good Emperor

Thank goodness we finally have a Prime Minister who respects our intelligence.

Just two months into the Pax Malcolma and the onioniverous antics of our erstwhile overlord seem a lifetime ago. I can barely even remember that time Tony Abbott said baby seals deserved to be clubbed. Or tried to legalise witch-burning on the grounds it would benefit small business. Or went to the NATO summit wearing nothing but a novelty Australian flag bucket hat because Barnaby Joyce dared him too.

That dark age is behind us and Australia now is in a safe pair of hands. Safe, supple, strong hands. Dry, warm, well-manicured hands. Hands that probably couldn’t strangle a man to death, but could pay an assassin to do it for them, but wouldn’t because they’re too gentlemanly.

And the great thing about having a Prime Minister attached to such hands is that he can do things that his reptilian predecessor couldn’t. Like string a coherent sentence together. Or talk to people without looking like he’s distracted thinking about what their flesh would taste like. Or guarantee carte blanche reign of the one percent for the next seven to ten years.

It doesn’t especially matter, but it might surprise you to hear that there are still voters who don’t intend to preference the Liberals at the next election. Three of them –  Tony Abbott, a GetUp! intern named Xavier and Bill Shorten’s mum. Since we’re now in a glorious summer of tolerance and reasonableness it’s only fair we listen to what they have to say. These hard-left leftovers are halfheartedly mewing the line that Malcolm Turnbull is just Tony Abbott with a nicer suit, better haircut, charming smile, sense of humour, impressive intellect, professional dignity, air of statesmanship and rudimentary sense of self-awareness.

This argument isn’t just politically ineffective, it’s obviously not true. So to help these stragglers understand the value of agile, twenty-first century government I’ve compiled a list of ways that Malcolm Turnbull is different to Tony Abbott.

• Abbott’s treasurer didn’t facilitate the rape of children.

• Abbott never came close to getting a cut to penalty rates through the Senate. Under Malcolm Turnbull, it’s “inevitable“.

• Abbott never described mandatory data retention as “an effort by the Gillard government to restrain freedom of speech” and “precisely the wrong direction” in 2012 before presiding over the introduction of the most invasive mass surveillance policy in Australia’s history three years later. It’s comforting to finally have a Prime Minister who doesn’t believe the insane myth that we need to build an unaccountable totalitarian regime in order to be safe. He just does it anyway because it’s convenient for his personal ambition.

• Abbott wasn’t popular enough to dare to increase the GST, explicitly redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich and driving the desperate even deeper into poverty.

• Abbott didn’t successfully negotiate the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Among other things, this “gigantic foundation stone” (Mal’s sonorous words) will enable pharmaceutical companies to be more profitable and dynamic by making it harder to legally manufacture cheap medicine. The only alleged downside is that hundreds of millions of people in the developing world will no longer be able to afford access to treatment for tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS. (But that’s just according to some disreputable little lobby group called Doctors Without Borders.) Another advantage of this exciting new paradigm are provisions for Investor-State Dispute Settlements, which will allow multinational corporations to sue Australia for policies that impact on their profits. A bit like the ones that allowed waste and energy giant Veolia to successfully sue Egypt for raising its minimum wage.

• Abbott never claimed credit for helping to prevent domestic violence while leading a government that has, on balance, stripped funding from services that helped to prevent domestic violence.

• Abbott wasn’t on track to secure the construction of the world’s biggest coal mine, which will produce more carbon emissions than New York City.

• Abbott wasn’t one of the richest people in Australia, and he wasn’t criticised by billionaire Dick Smith for planning to give the richest people in Australia exemption from having to reveal how much tax they pay.

• Abbott didn’t understand that climate change is real. Turnbull does, and has the same policy to do effectively nothing about it. There’s a difference in culpability between someone who worsens a problem he doesn’t believe exists and someone who is aware of a problem and worsens it anyway. When the problem will kill people, that’s the difference between negligence and malice aforethought. That’s the difference between manslaughter and murder. If there’s one thing I can say about the Prime Minister, it’s that he knows exactly what he’s doing.

No, it’s pretty clear that the silver fox will make a far better leader than the jackal he usurped. Tony Abbott was in power for two years, would have lost the next election and mostly failed to enact his intended policies. His charismatic successor, at this rate, will rule for a decade and is already bringing exactly those policies into effect. Mathematically speaking, that’s got to be at least five times better.


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