Daily BulletinHoliday Centre

The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation
imagePrime Minister Tony Abbott reminded cabinet members of their responsibilities and the consequences of leaking, after an unusually detailed leak from cabinet.AAP/Lukas Coch

Tony Abbott has told his party room that in cabinet on Monday there was a “come to Jesus moment” – by which he apparently meant a moment of collective clarity.

This was his take on the aftermath of the extraordinarily comprehensive leak of cabinet’s discussion, a week earlier, when the Prime Minister ambushed colleagues over the plan for stripping citizenship from those engaged in terrorist activities.

Abbott said cabinet members had been reminded of their responsibilities, and the personal and political consequences of destabilising cabinet processes.

When Nationals whip Mark Coulton talked about how damaging the leak was, Abbott opined that of course it was disappointing.

But while it might be an issue around Parliament House, out in “voter land” what mattered was national security and economic security, he said.

That’s the opinion of some backbenchers too. The counter view to Coulton’s is that the leak had the spin off of keeping the issue of national security in the headlines.

Maybe – but the blow-by-blow account of the cabinet debate also underlined what a big step Abbott wants to take in his latest initiative on terrorism. He hopes to remove citizenship not just from dual nationals – which will eventually be supported by Labor - but, if he can, from Australian-only citizens who could obtain citizenship elsewhere.

Abbott may be less concerned about the impact of the leak in ‘'voter land’‘ than what it signified for him personally.

Some sources say the Prime Minister’s Office believes it had to do with leadership, and that it identifies two ministers as the most likely source, with a third as a possibility.

Journalist Peter Hartcher, who got the story, has made clear that a prime motive behind the leak was Abbott’s flouting of cabinet process.

This was one of the main gripes of critics of Abbott early this year.

Since then Abbott has dug in and has the once-disgruntled backbench, which resented his lack of consultation with it, relatively solidly behind him.

One caveat should be inserted. Backbenchers in marginal seats are fickle creatures and can always turn if fear grips them again. They also know their own power – with Abbott now responsive they have scope to extract a good deal from him.

Abbott has this week formally asserted his authority over his ministers. But the evidence suggests the leak probably came from a single source and it is unlikely that the prime ministerial lecture will affect the attitude of that person.

Abbott finds himself in the classic position of a leader with enemies at court. His Office has long taken this view and hence its strategies to keep them at bay, which in turn have generated reactions against him.

These strategies are varied but they have included tight control of the information flow with “official leaks” (if that’s not a contradiction in terms) provided or sanctioned by the Office to the Daily Telegraph in particular.

Malcolm Turnbull is on record as being especially infuriated about this. At last week’s cabinet he asked whether the Telegraph had been briefed on the citizenship issue. He was told no, but a Telegraph story the following morning about the cabinet decision was taken, rightly or wrongly, by some ministers as an authorised leak (although the detail was wrong, written in anticipation of cabinet going further than it did).

Right now, Abbott is doing quite well in holding off the enemies at court, the leak notwithstanding.

Better polls, more consultation and the elevation of national security have made for a much happier backbench, so the numbers on which he depends are solid.

In the latest twist backbenchers are no longer turning on Abbott, as they were at the year’s start, but on ministers, and not just over the leak.

This week two Liberal backbenchers have got stuck into frontbenchers for speaking out on gay marriage – the issue itself and/or the desirability of a conscience vote for Liberals.

ACT senator Zed Seselja criticised Assistant Treasurer John Frydenberg for comments on Monday’s Q&A.

Senator Cory Bernardi told BuzzFeed News that the party had a position against gay marriage and “we now have frontbenchers who are actively undermining that policy position and publicly saying they would like something different. That breaks every rule of cabinet solidarity and ministerial responsibility.” He named Turnbull, Frydenberg, Simon Birmingham, and parliamentary secretary Kelly O’Dwyer, and suggested that people who wanted to buck current policy should go to the backbench.

There’s plenty of finger pointing everywhere in the government just now.

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/oh-lordy-what-a-sight-a-cabinet-room-come-to-jesus-moment-42690

The Conversation


Stepping up trade and cultural ties in the Pacific

Recognising the strong cultural and economic significance that kava has for Pacific communities, including those living in Australia, the Australian Government is stepping up its commitment to the P...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister - Statement on northeastern Syria

The Australian Government is deeply troubled by Turkey’s unilateral military operation into northeastern Syria.   Actions of this nature will have grave consequences for regional security and co...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

David Littleproud Interview with Fran Kelly ABC Insiders

FRAN KELLY: David Littleproud, welcome to Insiders. DAVID LITTLEPROUD: Thanks for having me, Fran. FRAN KELLY: You heard Joel Fitzgibbon there - "Just do something." What and where is the governme...

David Littleproud MP - avatar David Littleproud MP

Business News

How to select the most popular conference venues

Planning a conference isn’t always an easy task, but trying to find the most popular conference venues, can be even more difficult. There are so many different venues available that you can spend to...

Sara Joel - avatar Sara Joel

Advice for Designers when Branding Promotional Products

Over the last 20 years our Fresh Promotions has delivered more than 80,000 custom branded product orders for clients, totalling many millions of items. Every one has included a customised logo or me...

Bill McGrath - avatar Bill McGrath

Setting Up a Global Business in the 21st Century

In the modern era, there has never been a more globalized economy than what exists today. Nations from all across the world do business with one another, and private companies trade their goods and ...

News Company - avatar News Company


How to spend your 3 days in Hanoi (Vietnam)

The discovery of Hanoi is a must for all travelers! Soak up its overflowing atmosphere, the bustle of its streets, its succulent cuisine and warm Vietnamese smiles. If you want to visit Hanoi in 3...

News Company - avatar News Company

A First-Timer’s Guide to Whistler

Whistler ranks among the best skiing region in the world. Located in British Columbia in Canada, the resort attracts thousands of skiers and holidaymakers each year. Families bring their children fo...

Anees Saddique - avatar Anees Saddique

Top travel tips for Central and South America

Preparing for your trip to Latin America With tropical beaches to icy glaciers, ancient ruins to natural wonderlands, thick rainforest to wild Patagonian plains, a holiday to Latin American is th...

Digital 360 - avatar Digital 360