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The Abbott government is running out of time to try to come up with new ideas and refresh its reason for being. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Lacking an agenda, the Abbott government’s time is running out

When it comes to producing a comprehensive, far-reaching policy regime – a coherent vision for Australia’s society and economy and how to turn it into reality – the government is only getting started.
Australian and Canadian prime ministers Tony Abbott and Stephen Harper operate in political cultures where all-out warfare is now the norm. AAP/Steve Christo

Canada and Australia share a political culture of conflict

In recent years, a political "state of nature" has replaced what had been the civilised practice of political life in Australia.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott confers with his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, during question time. AAP/Lukas Coch

Why Credlin is seen to have gone too far as PM’s right-hand woman

Peta Credlin is in the classic "double bind" of all women in power: if they take charge, they transgress the gendered expectations that "female qualities" are best suited to a supporting role.
The Abbott government’s expedited passage of national security laws in 2014 demonstrated an underlying disrespect for the legislative process. AAP/Nikki Short

‘Good government’ gets lost in the pursuit of national security

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made two key pledges in recent weeks – to begin “good government” and to no longer give “the benefit of doubt” to people suspected of planning terrorist activities in Australia…
Joe Hockey’s 2012 ‘age of entitlement’ speech was unusually candid, but as treasurer he has shied away from tackling the tax perks that burden the budget. AAP/Lukas Coch

Calls for clear political narratives ultimately demand greater honesty

Whenever an Australian government runs into trouble we hear calls for a clearer narrative. The latest contribution comes in a thoughtful article from Waleed Aly. Aly points to the similar undermining of…
Tony Abbott is offering logical evidence and emotional appeals, but the rhetorical problem is his own loss of credibility and authority. AAP/Mick Tsikas

The prime ministerial promise to change: can it work?

“Is it me?” That was the question John Howard reportedly asked his cabinet colleagues as his government remained stubbornly behind in the polls in 2007. One of those colleagues, Tony Abbott, now confronts…
John Howard sealed his fate by going too far with WorkChoices, but he got the balance right and succeeded with the GST reform. AAP/Andrew Brownbill

Why not listen to the people for a solution to the reform stalemate?

The distinction between the global and the local is collapsing under the pressure of climate change, economic restructuring, global migration and jihadism on the one hand and the populist and information…
Unlike in Queensland, NSW Premier Mike Baird will not be able to keep Tony Abbott away from the campaign trail. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Making Abbott invisible in NSW campaign will prove difficult

The major political parties are only days away from launching their campaigns for this year’s New South Wales state election, to be held on March 28. As state political issues that don’t involve the Independent…
The cost of leaving Tony Abbott in the prime ministership is to consign the government to limbo while the Liberals wait to judge his performance. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Abbott’s attempt to regroup means new policy uncertainty

Tony Abbott is precariously perched on icy slopes – deeply unpopular both in the community and with his backbench. More slips and/or continued disastrous polling would plunge him to political death, while…
When Queensland MP Tim Nicholls said the Newman government didn’t ‘communicate’ well enough, he cast the audience as passive, without views or values of their own. AAP/John Pryke

Talking loud, saying nothing: the old political pitch no longer works

Amid uncertainty over Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s future even if he survives a leadership spill on Monday, the fallout from the shock Queensland election result and political chaos in the Northern Territory…
Why is it that, in recent years, federal party MPs have reached the conclusion that the only way to deal with an unpopular leader is by deposing them? AAP/Nikki Short

Liberal leadership tensions give neglected backbenchers a voice

It is difficult to pinpoint a specific reason to explain the leadership crisis presently gripping the federal Liberal Party. Why is it that Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing a leadership spill only…
If the Liberal leadership comes to a crunch at some point, any “no challenge” promises from Julie Bishop become meaningless. AAP/Nikki Short

Cabinet ministers back Abbott while they wonder how events might change their fortunes

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was dispatched on Tuesday night to announce there’d been unanimous support for Tony Abbott in cabinet, which is meeting for two days. “That’s a strong message, not only…
Liberal backbencher Dennis Jensen said Tony Abbott ‘is not capable of making the transition to prime minister’ from opposition. AAP/Alan Porritt

Bring on a leadership vote next week: Liberal backbencher

West Australian Liberal backbencher Dennis Jensen has urged the Liberals to hold a leadership vote next week, declaring Tony…
Strong men with a strong message to promote: Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman in happier days at the Federal Liberal Party Council meeting, June 2014. AAP/David Crosling

‘Strong’ men in peril: PM hangs on amid NT and Qld shake-up

* Updated Tuesday 11pm AEDT: A state premier gone, a chief minister fighting off a coup, and a prime minister struggling to avoid the others' fate. Australian politics is suddenly all about consultative…
In the exact opposite to his election strategy, Tony Abbott has been making voters feel anxious and alarmed about his government. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Voters’ feelings of uncertainty have come back to bite Abbott

In 2012, then-opposition leader Tony Abbott gave a speech that set out his agenda for winning government and indicated the policies he intended to implement. He argued that one of his key aims was to make…
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s press club address was more pedestrian than inspiring. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Wounded Abbott casts his future as character test for colleagues

The Liberal Party remains volatile and Tony Abbott’s position precarious after a National Press Club performance that avoided disaster but did not convince the doubters among his followers. Abbott gave…
Tony Abbott’s Press Club speech was merely the first of a long series of tests that he will face every day from now on. AAP/Mick Tsikas

What ails Abbott is but a symptom of disease of government today

If a single speech is regarded as a make-or-break event for an Australian prime minister, then that prime minister faces an uncomfortable future. That’s because the “make” part is a fraud. Tony Abbott…
Tony Abbott promised a government of no surprises and no excuses. 2014 delivered anything but. AAP/Lukas Coch

2014, the year that was: Politics + Society

In 1996, John Howard offered this aspiration for Australians: I would like to see them comfortable and relaxed about their history; I would like to see them comfortable and relaxed about the present and…

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