Highlights from Tony Abbott’s book ‘Battlelines’

Based on quotes from Tony Abbott’s book: “Battlelines” ($34.99, published by Melbourne University Press, 2009)

On ‘Conservative’ vs ‘Liberal’
On Religion
On Why Liberals lost in 2007
On Work Choices
On Fair Work Australia
On Guiding Liberal Policies
On One Nation’s Pauline Hanson
On John Howard’s Influence
On Fairness
On Welfare Reform
On Taxation Reform
On Middle Class Welfare
On Importance of Families
On Raising Retirement Age
On State–Federal Blame Game
On making the States do better
On Improving Hospitals
On Aged Care funding
On Value of Medicare
On Health Reform
On Better Dental Health
On Improving Schools
On Australia’s into 2020
On Economic Reform
On Foreign Affairs
On Islamist terrorism
On Multiculturalism
On The Republic
On Indigenous Affairs
On Environmentalism/ Climate Change
On Improving Transport System
On Importance of Family
On reducing Abortion rates
On Liberal Party direction

On ‘Conservative’ vs ‘Liberal’ vs ‘Socialist’ Governments:

Tony Abbott quotes Roger Scrutton: “…[the first maxim of conservative politics] our own self respect requires us to respect our culture and its institutions… The second task of the conservatives, he says is to ‘give up this breast-beating, gilt desire to throw away our inheritance.”  P6

“I am a Liberal because I believe that government’s role is to give people a hand up, not a handout. I believe in a limited government and unlimited opportunity.” P19

“as John Howard once quipped, ‘a conservative is someone who doesn’t think he is morally superior to his grandfather.” P21

Quotes: “…conservatives have not been infected with the spirit of improvement…Conservative feel no particular need to justify the status quo.”  P56

“The adage ‘If its not necessary to change, it necessary not to change.’ perhaps best captures this spirit.” P56

“In political shorthand, ‘socialist’ parties might stand for government control of the economy, ‘liberal’ parties for individual freedom and ‘conservative’ parties for traditional institutions.” P57

“…in this country the Liberal Party is the political custodian of both the liberal and conservative traditions.” P59

Quotes: “ Oakshott notes that conservatism is at odds with the modern mindset which, he says, ‘is in love with change’.  ..’the fascination with what is new is felt more keenly than the comfort of what is familiar… There is a positive prejudice in favour of the yet untried… ‘ .“  P67

Tony Abbot describes Conservative categories:

“1. ‘Activist’ conservative: “..include Ronald Ragan, Margaret Thatcher and John Howard.”

2. ‘Incremental’ conservatives:  “..perhaps Menzies and Frazer”

3, ‘Mind the shop’ conservatives: “Lord Salisbury seems to have been..”  P71

“Unlike Liberalism and socialism, conservatism does not start with an idea and construct a huge superstructure based on one insight or preference. … Conservatism starts with an appreciation of what is and what has been and tries to discern the good from patterns of conduct. Conservatism prefers facts to theory; practical demonstration to metaphysical abstraction, what works to what’s in the mind’s eye. To a conservative intuition is as important as reasoning; instinct as important as intellect…Conservatives are not optimists or pessimists but realists” P72

“Conservatism prefers facts to theory, practical demonstration to metaphysical abstraction; what works to what’s in the mind’s eye…Conservatives are not optimists or pessimists but realists.” P72

“John Howard … demonstrated that conservatives could be vigorous reformers themselves rather than mere obstacles to obstruct the reforms of others.” P73

“Parties to the left are thought to be focused on better government services.  Because the Labor Party established Medicare and abolished university fees, they ‘own’ health and education….Advocates of smaller government can give the impression that they oppose government service delivery, even though they normally want services more effectively delivered.  The Liberal Party’s reluctance to trespass on the traditional responsibilities of the states can easily be mistaken for a reluctance to provide ‘national leadership’ on the issues that matter to voters.” P148-9

“If I ever proposed new spending measures or had a good word for the unions, …Peter Costello would jocularly inquire whether I was “channeling Santa [BA Santamaria] again.”  Top

On Religion:

Tony Abbott says “For me, the message was that God preferred big-hearted people who might sometimes make mistakes rather than robotic rule worshipers. In the hands of the Jesuits, to be Catholic meant to ‘have life and have it to the full’. They seemed to have worked out that fire and brimstone was more likely to cut off people from the church than to frighten them into better behaviour. Their message was that you can’t condone sin, but you can usually understand why it happens.” P10

“Love thy neighbour as you love yourself. That second commandment is rightly the whole basis of human ethics.” P10

“..I wasn’t ‘naturally devout’, at least in the way necessary to sustain the life of a priest. Not consoled by heartfelt prayer, I couldn’t imagine being celibate for the rest of my life.” P17  Top

On why Liberals lost in 2007:

Tony Abbott: “…Work Choices was a catastrophic political blunder.” P25

“In a sense, the former government was a victim of its own success….voters inevitably took good times for granted. People with no memories of strikes weren’t scared of unions. People with no experience of unemployment didn’t see why further economic reform was necessary.“ P25

“As the Commonwealth government progressively tackled issues that were its responsibility, voters increasingly expected it to address problems that were the responsibility of the states.” P25  Top

On Work Choices:

Tony Abbott: “Work Choices Wasn’t All Bad”. p87

“There were mistakes too…Work Choices was a catastrophic political blunder…Even though Work Choices coincided with the fastest jobs growth in Australia’s history … an impression was created that the government no longer cared about the vulnerable workers.” P25/26

“…with Work Choices, policy seemed to have become a solution in search of a problem.” P75

Work Choices was a political mistake, but may not have been an economic one. The legislation was highly complex, for all the government’s deregulatory intent. Its chief fault, though, was to abolish the ‘no disadvantage rule’ that had previously applied to Australian Workplace Agreements. As John Stone pointed out, during the 18-month period it was fully operational ‘499,000 jobs were added, of which 91 per cent were full time (compared to only 51 per cent during the previous decade…”  P87   Top

On Fair Work Australia:

Tony Abbott: “The new [Rudd] system requires business to engage in ‘good faith bargaining’ – a misnomer – with potentially, all unions that have workers at an enterprise. A new industrial regulator-cum-arbiter, Fair Work Australiam, is to make binding rulings in the event parties can’t agree. This is compulsory arbitration by the back door.  It means that decisions vital to the survival of businesses and their employees will be made by officials rather than by people in the workplace.” P87

“As Michael Costa said recently: ‘… Fair Work Australia can not be allowed to replace enterprise management in developing business strategy, This would be an unmitigated economic disaster.’ “ P88   Top

On Guiding Liberal Policies:

“…Liberal Party is concerned about the rights, responsibilities, opportunities and place in society of each person. We want each person to be empowered, as far as reasonably possible, to live the life he or she thinks best.” pXII.

“According to Howard at the time, policy should meet three criteria: does it strengthen the family, give individuals more incentive and hope, and give preference to private over government enterprise?” P41

“The test he applied was: ‘How could this particular measure help make Australia a freer, stronger better nation?’” P77

“In this speech, he [Howard] nominated ‘self-reliance’, ‘a fair go’, ‘pulling together’ and ‘having a go’ as elements of the ‘Australian Way’.” P77   Top

On One Nation and Pauline Hanson Affair:

Tony Abbott: “The impact of the Hanson party had been to take votes away from the only conservatives who were ever likely to be in power.” P50

“One Nation was a company owned by three directors rather than a political party democratically controlled by its members.” P50

“Subsequently I helped a disgruntled former One Nation candidate to take legal action to recover $500,000 in public funding improperly given to the private company masquerading as a political party.” P51

“She certainly didn’t deserve to be jailed for what was a political rather than a criminal scam.” P51   Top

On John Howard’s Influence:

“The next successful Liberal prime minister will no more be a clone of John Howard than John Howard was himself a clone of Bob Menzies or Malcolm Frazer.” P55   Top

On fairness:

Tony Abbott: “…conservative side of politics normally has to overcome the popular impression that the Labor Party believes in fairness while the Liberal Party just believes in good economic management. In my experience, the Liberals are hardly less passionate about fairness than members of the Labor Party.  The key difference is Liberals’ instinctive sense that a wealthier society is more likely to be fair than a poorer one.” .. Wealth creation means that there can be for everyone rather than an ugly fight to take away what some people already have.” P81

Quotes “Tony Blair: ’fairness begins with the chance of a job’.” p81

“Liberal Party has a sunnier view of human nature than the passionately idealistic Labor Party.” P82   Top

On Welfare Reform:

Tony Abbott: “Rudd government is slowly turning Work for the Dole into a training program. The idea that ‘the world owes people a living’ is strong inside the Labor Party. .. The Labor Party is also eroding the principle of mutual obligation” P89

“After a month in on benefits, people should participate in job-search training, and after three months they should begin in regular Work for the Dole.” P90

“More use should be made of systems for assessing degrees of impairment and then expecting more of a disability pensioner with a bad back, for instance, than one who’s a paraplegic.” P90

“Another important reform would be generally subjecting welfare dependent families with children under sixteen to automatic income management…of course there are many families who spend their money responsibly… already spend 50 per cent of their welfare income on the necessities of life, so they would not be affected…[this] would send the clearest possible message that people on welfare have obligations as well as entitlements.” p91   Top

On Taxation Reform:

“In the employment portfolio between 1998 and 2003, one of my main missions was to highlight the importance of improving incentives to work.. I pointed out the high effective marginal tax rate faced by people moving from welfare to work.” P92

“I had described middle income families with children as Australia’s new poor. And called for (non-means tested family wage, perhaps of $100 a week to be paid to the principal carer of dependent children A family wage, I said: is quite different to welfare. It is a recognition of responsibilities, not need…. It would take just one public servant, just one, and a computer to administer. ” P93   Top

On Middle Class Welfare:

Tony Abbott: “Middle income families with children are Australia’s new poor.” P93

“The means test ensures that people are penalised just as they start to achieve. …ends up subsidizing need and, perversely, risks producing more of it.”  P94

“Remove the Rudd Government’s Baby Bonus means test which saves only 3% of the total program spending but which has turned this payment from a recognition of the cost of motherhood into a welfare payment.” P104.

“Over time, means testing family benefits has significantly worsened the financial position of the middle-income families, with far reaching social and economic consequences.” P95

“Ideally welfare would give households a minimum level of income. Beyond that, earned income would not be taxed up to a further level depending on household size. After that earned income would could be taxed but not at a rate likely to destroy incentive.” P105   Top

On Importance of Families:

Tony Abbott: “The problem is that most Western nations have privatised the next generation. Having children is tends to be regarded as a personal choice rather than a social good. Perhaps for the first time in human history, large families are not seen as a sign of faith in the future or even as a provision against its perils but as a kind of trespass on the environment. …As Malcolm Turnbull declared in 2003… ‘ there is no greater threat to Western society than the decline in fertility…’ A society which cannot reproduce itself has surely embraced a cultural death wish’.” P97

“What’s missing is a universal system of family assistance to support ‘home cantered’  and ‘adaptive’ women who have more children and also a comprehensive maternity leave system to support ‘work centred’ mothers who want to have more children.” P97

“Rudd government’s proposed parental leave scheme…its not long enough to allow women fully to breast feed their babies …minimum wage it’s inadequate for most families that depend on a mother’s income.”  P102   Top

On Raising Retirement Age:

“One way to pay for universal benefits for dependent children might be to further and more quickly raise the age of pension eligibility. ..eligibility for the old age pension at sixty-five was introduced in the early 1900’s when life expectancy at birth was under sixty. Today life expectancy at birth is over eighty.”  P106

“In fact about 80 per cent of people who move onto full age pension do so from other benefits. Raising the pension would leave few conscripts in the work force but would make it much easier for older people who want to keep their jobs to do so.” P108

“It could be simpler and fairer for the revenue forgone in superannuation concessions to be provided as a pension instead.” P108

“Giving everyone over a certain age the pension (as was briefly the case for those over seventy-five under the Whitlam government) could ultimately mean a simpler and therefore a fairer system.” P109  Top

On Ending the State–Commonwealth Blame Game:

Tony Abbott: “There are few problems in contemporary Australia that dysfunctional federation does not make worse.” P113

“Australia has states because it was the price of becoming a nation, not because the federation fathers thought an intermediate level of government was necessary to avoid tyranny or that some services were inherently better delivered by states.” P113

“Since the 1940s, in response to problems or opportunities that the states had neglected, the Commonwealth has become successively involved in funding pharmaceutical drugs, universities. Nursing homes, schools. Medical services, hospitals, public housing, disability services and infrastructure. The commonwealth is now expected to keep funding these services, even though it often has little or no say over how they’re actually run.  Constant bickering is the inevitable consequence…” P115

“Undoubtedly, the most far-fetched arguments for the states is that they form a supposed bulwark against the potential tyranny of the national government.  It’s very hard to find any recent examples of bad Commonwealth policy that the states have stopped…” P118

“In contemporary Australia, there is a gulf between classic federalism and governmental practice and voter expectations.  Health, education and the environment are the clear constitutional responsibility of the states, but also the areas of government policy that voters typically nominate as most important.  This is why leaders such as Menzies (universities) and Fraser (environment) have increased the size and importance of the national government.” P118

“On gun laws, workplace-relations change, the development of an academically rigorous national curriculum and protecting the Murray-Darling basin, to name only the most obvious instances of policy tension with the States, John Howard was more interested in solving problems than in constitutional niceties.” P118

“The Commonwealth and states first agreed to support a national school curriculum in 1986 and established a national curriculum corporation in 1990.   In 2007, a report found that only physics and chemistry had a high degree of national consistency.  If the National Curriculum Board can meet its latest timeline, it will have taken 25 years to complete.” P121

“Kevin Rudd said he would work with the states for 18 months, then proceed to take over public hospitals if their performance didn’t improve.  The commitment generated much support, even though it is highly unlikely ever to be carried out and now seems to have been abandoned.”  P122

“By contrast, a striking example of what can be achieved when one level of government is clearly in charge was the Howard Government’s intervention into remote NT townships.  This is was not only a potential watershed in Aboriginal policy but a good illustration of what national governments can do when not subjected to state-government vetos. In this case, the Commonwealth was able to mobilize NT government personnel and co-opt NT institutions because the Territory is a subordinate legislature subject ultimately the Commonwealth parliament.” P123

“The Little Children are Sacred report was not the first to detail horrific violence in Aboriginal families.  It was though, the first report that dealt just with a territory. It was the first report confined to places where Canberra could, if necessary, ‘pull rank’ and call the shots. “ P123

“Mal Brough [Indigenous Affairs Minister] had offered to fund and organise similar measures in the remote townships of the Kimberley – which had Australia’s highest reported rates of sexual infection among minors – but was brushed off by the WA government.” P123

“…most Australians thought it was self-evidently necessary to deal with such serious and entrenched problems.   Indeed with 20/20 hindsight, many thought that the intervention measures should have been taken years earlier and extended to all remote Aboriginal settlements, not just in the Territory.”  P123

“The intervention was a dramatic illustration of the Commonwealth’s capacity to make change for the better where it’s the sovereign level of Government.  What could be done in the Territory contrasts with what couldn’t be done in the states. When a state government sits on its hands in an area of its constitutional responsibility (as the NT government had hitherto done with the Little Children are Sacred report), [currently] the national government can try to buy a solution but it can’t actually make one happen.” P123

“If, as Australians seem to want, the national government is to resolve problems that the states can’t handle, the simplest way is for a constitutional amendment to provide that the Commonwealth parliament can make laws generally for the peace, order and good government of the country.”  P124

“A Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution to enable a more effective exercise of Commonwealth power in areas of responsibility shared with the States.” P188 Top

On the Council of Australian Governments (COAG):

Tony Abbott: “The problem with the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is that its processes have no authority of their own and its decisions are not binding.  European institutions have more authority over Britain  and France than COAG has over NSW and Victoria.”  P126

“ANU’s Professor John Wanna suggested that meetings of commonwealth and state chief ministers and ministers should operate like a cabinet.  This would require the states to accept Commonwealth leadership – which is precisely what they won’t do under current constitutional arrangements….” P126

“Preserving the states in their current role theoretically makes it harder for misguided national governments to implement poor policy….In any event, states had nothing to do with thwarting either [Fraser’s retrospective tax and Hawke’s Australia card] policies. In reality, states have been unsuccessful at thwarting Commonwealth policies.” P126

“Giving more authority to the national government is not the same as supporting bug government over small. Unlike the states, which typically provide services through giant state-run organizations…the Commonwealth usually provides services through non-government bodies….what might be described a s ‘conservative centralism’ is likely to reduce total size of government.” P127-8

“Fixing the federation is a policy that a revitalised Liberal Party should adopt.  As long as eight out of ten Australians think that the Commonwealth should be able to resolve problems that the states can’t handle, a proposal to give the national government the authority to do so is the kind of pragmatism they should like.” P131  Top

On making the States do better:

“To voters, health and education outrank unemployment, the environment, national security, tax, workplace relations and immigration (as important as they are).  Voters seem to consider health and education more important than economic management, despite good economic management being a precondition for better hospitals and schools.  This is why the Commonwealth has become increasingly involved in these areas.” P132

“Whenever enough voters think that the state governments are neglecting an important issue, the Commonwealth ends up becoming involved….Commonwealth spending on health and education now approach $90 billion per annum, or about a quarter of it’s total spending. Its all in areas that were once the wholly preserve of the states.  Most of it is not directly authorised by the constitution, other than via specific purpose grands under section 96.” P133

“Meaningful reform is unlikely until one level of government can call the shots.  As long as reform involves negotiations with the states, reform proposals will nearly always mean that the Commonwealth pays for changes that the states then have to deliver – a recipe for buck passing and blame shifting – or that an unwieldy state bureaucracy is replaced by an equally unwieldy and possibly even less accountable joint Commonwealth-state bureaucracy.” P133

“The states will gladly take the Commonwealth’s money, but are most unlikely ever to change their bureaucratic structures as long as problems can plausibly be attributed to the Commonwealth’s parsimony rather than to their own addiction to bureaucracy. “ P134   Top

On improving Hospitals:

Tony Abbott: “The Commonwealth has become increasingly responsible for all health services not provided to public patients in public hospitals.  Even the public hospital systems have come to be about half funded by the Commonwealth, in return for the states continuing to provide free treatment to public patients in public hospitals.  The Commonwealth has also funded the states’ population health services such as immunisation.” P135

“In the lead up to the 2007 election, the Howard Government announced as a condition of access to new Commonwealth funding for local hospital infrastructure projects, that hospitals with more than 50 beds should have their own board.  The board would appoint the local CEO and together with the CEO, manage the hospital’s budget. Another condition was that  the hospital would itself keep any private income or donations…” P138

“Without a substantial measure of local autonomy and the consequent sense of local ‘ownership’, public hospitals are unlikely to regain the team spirit that they need to function at their best.  Because there will be no serious revival of morale among hospital staff without these changes, this should continue to be Liberal Party policy.” P138 Top

On Aged Care funding:

“Through aged care funding, the Commonwealth supports independent institutions to deliver services that individuals or their families choose to use.  By contrast, except for a handful of privately owned public hospitals (e.g. St Vincents in Sydney and Melbourne) state health departments directly provide public hospital services.”

“The argument for making public hospitals a Commonwealth responsibility is not based on the greater wisdom of Commonwealth public servants but on the Commonwealth’s confirmed predisposition to run health services in a different way.”   Top

On Value of Medicare:

“In the 1980s, the Liberal Party opposed Medicare because it thought it meant ‘socialised medicine’.  In practice, private medical practice has flourished because it is a system for paying doctors’ bills, not employing them.  Medicare has kept medical treatment affordable, but it hasn’t turned doctors into public servants as it was then feared.  Because there is no guarantee of bulk billing, there are still significant price signals in the system….It took some time for the Liberal Party to appreciate the marriage of affordability and choice – to realise that it was almost the embodiment of Liberal values – but late converts can be the truest believers.”  P140   Top

On Health Reform:

“The argument for making public hospitals a Commonwealth responsibility is not based on the inherent greater wisdom of the Commonwealth public servants, but on the Commonwealth’s confirmed predisposition to run health services in a very different way.” P139.

“Because it funds specific services or individual patients, the Commonwealth’s approach to health is fundamentally different from that of the states. Through Medicare, the Commonwealth funds patients to buy medical services or directly funds bulk-billing doctors. Through PBS…funds pharmacies…Through aged care funding …supports independent institutions to deliver services that individuals or families choose to use.” P139

“The problem with health ‘reform’ proposals is that they usually propose to fix one problem by tacking another. Because public hospital problems are allegedly caused by inadequate services outside hospitals, health ‘reform’ ends up proposing to tinker with private medical practice rather than deal with over-stressed hospitals. … By contrast, the re-establishment of hospital …means local that local doctors and nurses may have reasonable access to to someone who might actually be able to address their problem.” P141

“The health system does not need fundamental restructuring or gargantuan amounts of additional funding.  Hospital boards with clout are the change it needs because that change addresses the disconnect between patients and public hospital decision-makers which is the system’s biggest problem.” P142   Top

On Better Dental Health:

“The states have long provided free dental services to pensioners or other low-income people who choose to use them.  In 2007, there were said to be 650,000 people on public dental waiting lists around Australia.  Because dental treatment is hard to access or hard to afford, about a third of country people and more than a fifth of city people have ‘untreated decay’ according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.” P143

“I always intended to make dentistry more affordable under Medicare to all people with dental problems, perhaps on referral from a GP.  It had struck me as odd that Medicare should subsidise health treatment for all parts of the body except the mouth.” P143

“Putting dentistry on Medicare to allow substantial bulk billing would be very expensive; health officials estimated the cost at up to $4 billion a year in 2007.  Unfunded new spending of this magnitude could not be contemplated until the budget returns to surplus.  It would be the best means of ensuring that people don’t miss out on essential dental treatment and is a logical development to the Medicare system.” P144   Top

On Improving  Schools:

“Public schools could benefit from being less subject to large and unwieldy bureaucracy.  Most teachers are hard working and highly committed and there are many excellent public schools.  Kevin Donnelly said, “instead of having a robust education system committed to excellence and the highest standards of learning, we are faced with an inflexible school system suffering from a provider capture, protected from competition, steeped in mediocrity and the belief that education should be used for social engineering and the promotion of political correctness.” P144

“Better public schools are likely to emerge where local teachers and parents have more say over how their schools are run.  Solutions involve trusting people more and relying on officials less.” P145

“Perhaps the biggest problem is that public education is undervalued.  Classroom teachers’ salaries in NSW start at about $53,000 and finish on $79,000 per year.  High salaries for new graduates but low for outstanding teachers who have been inspiring their students for decades.  ‘Teacher quality’ salary distinctions are made on time served and additional qualifications obtained.”  P145

“Over the past 20 years, public-school parents and citizens groups have become increasingly sophisticated, mostly under the pressure of fund raising for facilities that would once have been provided via state governments.  Parents are precisely the people who should be involved in choosing the school’s principal and its teachers. These parents should be more involved in making decisions about their childrens’ education.  Not to involve them because ‘officials know best’ is a form of snobbery that has long lost any plausible justification. “P146

“The Howard Government sought to empower local schools and their communities by paying substantial infrastructure grants directly to them on their application.  These Investing in Our Schools grants typically paid for library extensions, school halls and playground refurbishments. The next Coalition Government could build on this precedent by making additional Commonwealth assistance to public schools dependent upon the establishment of school councils with the right to appoint the principal and to set priorities for the school budget.” P147

“Unless educational conservatives such as Bob Carr can reassert their influence within the ALP, it is almost inevitable that this critique [for less phonics and literature] from the left will be accommodated.” P147

“A proposal to give the best teachers much higher salaries could transform the education debate.  An extra $1 billion a year could add $50,000 a year more to the pay packets of Australia’s 20,000 best teachers.” P149   Top

On Australia’s Future Direction into 2020:

“A successful society such as Australia is unlikely to be improved by radical change.“ P152

“Despite greater ethnic and cultural diversity, longer working hours, ‘blended’ families, and a narrower consensus about values, Australia’s social fabric remains strong.  Australians try hard to be fair, especially to people they fear that they might be prejudiced against.” P152

“Australians are entitled to take at least a measure of pride in our country’s achievements.“ P152

“What political leaders ought to know is what to try to preserve, what to change and how change should be brought about.  Australia’s natural advantages and human accomplishments should make our future secure and bright. P153

Tony Abbott: Come 2020, I’m confident that:

  • Australia will have one of the world’s strongest economies
  • The US will remain the world’s strongest country
  • We will still be a ‘crowned republic
  • We will be more cosmopolitan but less multicultural – because there will be more stress on unity
  • Some progress will have been made towards ‘closing the gap’ between Aboriginal and other Australian’s standards of living
  • Families won’t break up any more often, because old fashioned notions about making the most of imperfect situations will have made something of a comeback
  • There will have been bigger fires, extensive floods and more ferocious storms because records are always being broken P154

“But sea levels will be much the same, desert boundaries will not have changed much and technology rather than economic self–denial will be starting to cut down atmospheric pollution.”   Top

On Economic Reform:

“Because a strong economy requires highly educated people in good health, better schools and hospitals, and better systems for running them are an important component of economic reform. Because successful business requires good infrastructure, better roads and telecommunications [and competitive markets]… are also part of economic reform.” P83

“The public will come to appreciate British Prime Minister’s words “you can’t spend your way out of a recession. It might be possible, though, to reform your way through a recession, avoiding its worst ravages by setting up a burst of future prosperity…Even the Hawke Government used the recession of the early ‘80s to justify floating the dollar, deregulating the banks and lowering tariff. “ P154

“…nor the Rudd Government’s union-centred industrial legislation will arrest the long term decline in union membership. Well educated, capable people won’t subcontract to union officials the management of their economic future, especially if that means more workplace confrontation.” P154

“The most pervasive economic lesson of the past 30 years is not that market capitalism has failed, but that is actually the only way to succeed in the long run, whatever short term difficulties there may be…”P155

“The global financial crisis will make the quest for lower, simpler taxes more urgent, not less.  There will be more toll roads, more congestion charges, more user pays services and more contributions in the future.” P155

“The attitude so brilliantly satirised in Michael Costa’s refrain ‘ I’m fat, ugly and stupid. What’s the government going to do about it?’ should become less prevalent.” P156   Top

On Foreign Affairs:

“In an international version of the tall poppy syndrome, right around the world, people are inclined to revel in the problems facing America. Some left-wing commentators have almost cheered the Taliban and al Qaeda because the cusses of its enemies will, they think, ‘teach America a lesson’.” P156

“If American leadership is bad, its absence would be worse.  The alternative to American leadership would not turn out to be more enlightened leadership, but no leadership at all.”  P156

“It’s odd that the Iraq war should still trumpeted as a monumental moral failure just when the country looks to be recovering.”  P157

“Although a safer world is in everyone’s long term interest, there’s little immediate reward in being its policeman. The invasion of Iraq, for instance, certainly didn’t give America or its allies access to cheap oil…” p158

“Australia’s intervention to secure the independence of East Timor had many of the same characteristics [of being a policeman]. There was nothing in it for Australia…. It would have been easier to drive a hard bargain with Indonesia than with a more obviously needy fledgling state over oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea.” P158

“Former general Jim Molan observed that Australia hasn’t really pulled its weight in either Iraq or Afghanistan, despite the credit we’ve received in Washington and London. Its wrong to expect America to be the world’s policeman with only a token assistance from its allies. If Australia is to matter in the wider world, Australians should expect more, not less, future involvement in international security issues.” P159

“It is often thought of America in its dealing with the wider world, that its knowledge is scant, its attention span short, its judgment flawed and its actions frequently counter-productive. What can’t be questioned is Americans’ collective desire to be a force for good.” P159

“The absence of tribalism is one of the key characteristics of English-speaking cultures….It’s a solidarity based on ideas and even mutually shared differences of opinion, rather than race, religion or economic self-interest.” P159

“Despite its caste system, India has some key advantages – democracy and the rule of law besides the English language and already looks as though it will become an important member of the anglosphere.” P160

“Although China has had to become less repressive to accommodate more economic freedom, the long term ability of what’s still a communist government to maintain legitimacy and satisfy aspirations is far from clear.” P160

“Led by the US, most of the world would reject any attempt by China forcibly to reclaim Taiwan.  In Australia’s case, this would not be choosing America over China, but democracy over dictatorship.“ P160   Top

On Islamist terrorism:

“Its hard to imagine that security forces in the West will permanently be able to prevent nuclear terrorism in a large city…” P160

On Multiculturalism:

Tony Abbott: “As a Journalist in the 1980, I had attacked multiculturalism for eroding Australia’s distinctive identity. In fact, along with other contemporary critics, I had made the mistake of underestimating the gravitational pull of the Australian way of life. I was too defensive about western values, which have turned out to have near-universal appeal.” P162

“The strongest and most resilient culture will turn out to be that which has emerged from the most vigorous interaction of ideas, attitudes and practices…These days, multiculturalism has largely ceased to be a battlefield in the ‘culture wars’.” P162   Top

On the Republic:

“In fact, monarchy in Australia is quite different from the monarchy in Britain. Here it also means [besides the Queen] governors-general and state governors. These are now always Australians who have distinguished themselves in some significant way…It gives the Australian crown a decidedly local flavour.

“The result of a republic with an elected president would be another politician in an key job.” P163

“The republican’s fundamental problem, though, is that change undramatic enough to succeed is too dull to bother with. “ P164 Top

On Indigenous Affairs:

“For a long time, Australians collectively failed to extend to Aboriginal people the kind of sympathetic understanding that was readily extended to, say, the Irish and their predicament…. Of itself, though, the Rudd Government apology was a feel good gesture.”  P165-6

“Aboriginal people’s high incidence of chronic disease, substance abuse and domestic violence are a function of unemployment, lack of education and very isolated living, not official neglect.” P166

“Government’s job is to try to equip Aboriginal people to participate in wider Australian society. Building more aboriginal housing in places where there are no jobs…traps them in welfare villages.” P167

“Its important to ensure that the native title land can serve as an economic asset as well as a spiritual one….individual rather than collective title…essential that rents are realistic and payment is enforced so that moving to seek employment can start to make more economic sense.” P168

“Of course Aboriginal children should be expected to attend school….adults should attend work programs and lose social security benefits if they don’t. “ P169

“Senior officials [should] live in these towns. If these places are not good enough for officials to live in and to raise their families in, they’re unlikely to be very satisfactory for anyone else.” P169 Top

On Environmentalism:

Tony Abbott: “Environmentalism might hurt the environment” P169

“Climate change…has been happening since the earth’s beginning…In Roman times grapes were widely grown in Britain. In medieval times, Greenland supported agriculture. During the mini-ice age, from 1500 to 1800’s people skated and ice fairs were held on the river Thames.” P170.

“It’s quite likely that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has had some effect on the climate, but debate rages amongst scientists over its extent and relative impact given all other factors at work. It sounds like common sense to minimize human impact on the environment and to reduce human contribution to increased atmospheric-gas concentrations. It doesn’t make sense, though, to impose certain and substantial costs on the economy now in order to avoid unknown and perhaps even benign changes in the future.” P170-1

“Many climate change protagonists are also committed to ending what they see as wasteful consumerism That’s a perfectly legitimate point of view. Still the correlation between what’s presented as scientific consensuses for the need for lower emissions and standard new left prejudice against economic growth is suspiciously neat….For many, reducing emissions is a means to achieving a political objective they could not otherwise gain” P171

“…artificially created [carbon] markets could be especially open to manipulation….many now think that a carbon charge scheme directed at the least environmentally efficient producers would be simpler and fairer than an emissions trading scheme.” P172

“Malcom Turnbull has said that re-vegetation, more energy efficient buildings, and further research into geothermal and tidal power could lead to greater carbon dioxide reduction than the proposed ETS.” P172.

“Direct measures that improve the efficiency of cars, encourage the use of renewable energy, such as domestic solar power, promote recycling with urban rainwater tank, create carbon sinks on grazing land…they don’t do damage to export industries…” P172 Top

On Improving Transport System:

“In Australia’s biggest cities, public transport is generally slow, expensive, not especially reliable and still hideous drain on the public purse. Part of the problem is inefficient, overmanned, union-dominated government run train and bus systems. Mostly though, …there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car, and cars need roads.” P174

“They underestimate the sense of mastery that many people gain from their car. The humblest person is a king in his own car….For people whose lives otherwise run largely at the beck and call of others, that’s no small freedom.” P174.

“For too long, policymakers have ranked motorists just above heavy drinkers or smokers as social pariahs….They’re citizens going to work, doing the shopping, taking the kids to school…” P174

“Sydney for instance, should fill the gas between the CBD and the M4 at Strathfield, the expressway at Hornsby and the M2, and the M5 and the expressway at Heatcote.”  P175

“New roads would provide space for dedicated bus lanes… It should be a standard condition for new roads  that they make space for bikes …and new commercial buildings that they have lockers and showers for people who walk or ride to work.” P175 Top

On Importance of Family:

“People frequently live together before making a formal commitment to each other. It reflects the social changes of the past century more than it signifies a collapse of moral standards. Young people reach sexual maturity earlier but leave school much later…it takes time to establish independent households that most newly married people now  expect.” P176

These days, people typically marry their or fourth love at about age thirty and live to about eighty. It’s not realistic to expect most young adults in this hyper-sexualised age to live chastely for many years outside marriage. P176

If marriage is making the life of a spouse or a child wretched, it may best be ended. Still, many marriages are entered into with an unrealistic expectation of future bliss.

“Explosion in the number of children growing up in fatherless or motherless households. Most children are pretty resilient…still only the most starry-eyed member of the Woodstock generation would maintain that a parent’s self-fulfilment readily justifies depriving children of living with both a mother and a father, especially when the children are young.” P177

“…these centres taught some couples the skills necessary to stay together….society should not be indifferent to the fate of marriages. Some American states have created a new category of marriage. As well as a marriage that can be ended after a brief separation, thse states now allow couples who chose to do so, to enter into a marriage that’s harder to end. It’s often called a ‘covenant’ marriage…The last thing that anyone should want is to chain people together who are bringing the worst in each other. On the other hand, if the law is to be the moral teacher that the advocates of ‘better-behaviour’ legislation think it should be, why not establish another type of marriage ” P177 Top

On reducing Abortion rates:

Tony Abbott: “As an ambitious politician, I had never had the slightest intension of becoming a morals campaigner. Shortly after becoming the health minister, though, I’d been asked to justify Medicare funding for up to 75,000 abortions every year. It was a question that compelled an answer. The first installment, delivered in March 2004 as a speech entitled “The Ethical Responsibilities of a Christian Politician” distinguished between deploring the frequency of abortion and trying to re-criminalize it. In a speech shortly after the 2004 election, I had even endorsed, at least as an improvement on the current situation, Bill Clinton’s observation that abortion should be ‘safe, legal and rare’.” P180.

“Instead, at my instigation, the Howard government had introduced a new help line to give more support to women facing an unexpected pregnancy. It seemed to be the best way to nudge the abortion rate down without affecting women’s right to choose.”  P181 Top

On Liberal Party direction:

Tony Abbott: “Its time for battlelines to be drawn. The Liberal Party certainly has to maintain its credibility as the best party to manage the economy, but also has to be clear about the society it wants. A society where politicians can less easily make excuses for railing to address problems; where more responsive health and education services are available to everyone, where government is in sympathy with the individual and families trying to get ahead; and where the values and the institutions that have stood the test of time are respected should always be the goal to which our party is committed.” P182 Top

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