One can only be impressed by Tony Abbott‘s current goal in Parliament: to be as much of a pest as possible to literally everybody, including the Australian electorate. Though he might think that his backbench role is to advocate for forgotten conservative voters, what he is actually doing is having the world’s biggest sook about being booted from the prime ministership.
And look – fair enough. If I’d been ejected from the nation’s top job merely because I was widely hated and proposed a slew of policies that everyone thought were dumb as dogshit, I’d be pretty peeved too. Is not a man entitled to go mad with power and knight Prince Philip on a whim? Is it absurd to suggest that?
Well, Tony’s still harping on about his absolute favourite topic: marriage equality. Despite the fact that fellow Liberal MP Warren Entsch confirmed that the same-sex marriage plebiscite was Abbott’s idea alone and he didn’t even bother bringing it before the partyroom before going full steam ahead, the former prime minister has popped up in the esteemed pages of The Australian to claim that “the people want” the plebiscite.
Spitting hot fire from the first paragraph, Tony claims that – actually – it’s Bill Shorten who has caused all this drama.
The real villain in the same-sex marriage imbroglio is Bill Shorten. He is the one who’s playing politics with this issue and stopping it from being resolved in this term of parliament via the plebiscite that people want.
Tony argues that the five Liberal MPs who have rebelled from party orthodoxy to propose a free vote on a new marriage equality bill are sadly mistaken in trying to effect change from within, when they should actually be rubber-stamping Abbott’s moronic plebiscite and aiming their barbs at Shorten.
That’s why the determination of a handful of Liberal MPs to substitute a free vote in the parliament for the promised plebiscite is so fraught. Instead of pointing out to the gay community that it’s Shorten who’s blocking the possibility of change, they want the government to break its solemn pledge to ask the people before changing the law. It’s bad enough that the opposition-controlled senate has stopped the plebiscite from happening. But it would be even worse if government backbenchers used the senate’s intransigence as an excuse to drop the plebiscite altogether. It would dramatically deepen the trust deficit that plagues our public life.
Tones could have drastically shortened this column by writing “the Liberal Party should pursue my policies even though I was booted because people hated my policies and the way I talked about them”.
It’s also perhaps a little rich for Abbott to suddenly elevate the keeping of promises to the highest of political virtues, given that his first Budget in 2014 was so notoriously riddled with broken promises and middle fingers to the electorate that it arguably can be considered the biggest contribution to his eventual knifing. But, y’know. You do you, Tony.
Abbott goes on to argue that Liberal MPs who want marriage equality need to pipe down and suck it up and commit to the plebiscite as a team.
I respectfully suggest that the commitment that all Liberal MPs made to their electorates should tip the balance in favour of a position that they might not personally support but took to the election as part of a team.
Of course, Tony himself is only a team player when it suits him – he’s more than happy to wreak havoc and split the party over issues like immigration and climate change. And has done so repeatedly in the past. But on the plebiscite, which people either hate or are largely indifferent towards, there must be unity.
Also, in a particularly disingenuous point, Abbott says that he “[doesn’t] recall same-sex marriage advocates objecting to a plebiscite in Ireland in 2015 that went their way,” despite the fact the Irish vote was actually a referendum to alter the constitution – which Australia doesn’t require to change the Marriage Act.
With great respect, Tony: get fucked.