Benighted Abbott must listen, or else
PM Tony Abbott confers with his chief of staff Peta Credlin. Source: News Limited
TONY Abbott has almost destroyed his leadership by making Prince Philip a knight.
This one decision -- as trivial as it is dumb -- hasn't just made Abbott a laughing stock.
It's also made it much more likely Abbott will eventually be replaced as prime minister by someone
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Result: Australia's future is now in danger.
Abbott has actually been a good prime minister, given the forces of madness ranged against him in
the media and the bloody-minded Senate.
He has certainly been better than Labor leader Bill Shorten promises to be, and I doubt rival
Malcolm Turnbull, so verbose and prone to warming alarmism, would be any improvement if the
Liberals were panicked into a switch.
See, on the big calls on which livelihoods and even lives depend, Abbott has actually been right.
He stopped the boats -- which Labor swore couldn't be done.
He scrapped the punishing carbon tax -- which Labor falsely claimed would save us from global
He started to rein in the exploding Budget deficit -- which Labor recklessly created and won't help
On other issues, too, Abbott has been ahead of almost everyone else likely to replace him.
He called out Russian President Vladimir Putin for backing the Russian separatists who shot down
He has helped lead the fight against Islamist extremism.
He is cutting red tape, trying to raise the pension age, and is starting to urge workplace reform.
Replace Abbott with Shorten and on almost every front this country is likely to go backwards.
Unlike Abbott, Shorten pretends there is no Budget crisis.
He pretends he can stop people smugglers without turning back boats.
Under Shorten, the country would unquestionably be more broke and more unsafe.
Yet this week Abbott make the election of Shorten a near certainty by giving Prince Philip a
knighthood on Australia Day.
Oh, dear. Abbott put his leadership in doubt for this?
True, this decision shouldn't count for much.
It's not like Labor's spending billions on a mad free insulation scheme that killed three people, or
opening our borders to people smugglers at a cost of more than 1200 lives and billions of dollars.
It's not like Labor's racking up record deficits.
No one will die, and no one will pay.
Still, Abbott's knighthood announcement isn't nothing.
Abbott did it to show the values he wanted this country to embrace, particularly on Australia Day.
Not surprisingly, many Australians laughed instead.
A British prince becomes our third knight under Abbott's new system, and for doing little more than
his privileged job? Abbott could not think of one Australian more deserving?
This decision is so odd that no ministers have wanted to risk their own reputations by defending it,
and no conservative commentators will, either.
This is not like other Abbott decisions that have offended conservatives -- such as dropping plans to
relax laws against free speech or calling for a change to the Constitution that will divide us by race --
where there were arguments on both sides.
But what's the argument for Philip's knighthood?
There is more to this blunder than Abbott simply making a patently bad call. It also shows he is
dangerously isolated and, worse, unpredictable.
Many critics are attacking Abbott's powerful chief of staff, Peta Credlin, for not killing off the
knighthood. But Abbott shouldn't have needed to be told it wouldn't fly.
Abbott suggests Credlin wasn't consulted, anyway. He says he instead discussed it with Governor-
General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Council of the Order of Australia chairman Sir Angus Houston.
But that's no consultation. Cosgrove, as Governor General, isn't in the business of giving advice on
political spin, and neither he nor Houston were likely to say the knighthoods they themselves have
accepted are seen by many as a bit silly, and would seem even more so when given to a British royal.
No, Abbott essentially made this call on his own, and for reasons almost impossible to understand.
That is politically dangerous. Voters hate prime ministers who seem beyond their control. They
hated Julia Gillard for tricking them with a no-carbon-tax lie, and hated Paul Keating for his stuff-you
Abbott now risks being seen as beyond the voters' control, too. His Catholicism already made many
suspect (unfairly) that he follows other orders, and his own broken promises have cost him more
And now this inexplicable decision ...
If Abbott is to survive this he must show he really does listen to something more than a voice in his
Pray he does, because more than his leadership is at