Shiver Me Timbers, Abbott Style

On Insiders a few minutes ago Tony Abbott said, or he did not deny, that when he is Prime Minister he will order the navy to board boats approaching Australia and take their petrol away. As I understand it this is piracy and against the law of the sea. And the navy, which cannot defy the law of the sea, must, I think, refuse this government order on the Nuremberg precedent, and it sounds like they will. And I’m not sure what happens then. Governor-General Bryce sacks Prime Minister Abbott, I guess; and orders, as Commander in Chief, he be put in the brig.

You cannot damage a vehicle at sea in international waters. That is wrong. It was for centuries a capital crime, and folk heroes like Jack Sparrow were hanged for it. Submarines sinking civilian craft in World War 2 were frowned upon likewise. And adjacent ships neglecting the Titanic, and the SIEV-X. And so will this invasion of a private boat in international waters, the terrorising of the children and women on board, and the disabling of its capacity to sail on, or sail far.

It sounds pretty much like he is proposing to make Australia a terrorist state, like Ghadafi’s Libya, and Bush 2′s America. And he half knows this, he really does, and he doesn’t care.

And this is very, very worrying.

Worrying too is his promise to find eighty billion in savings while keeping all the Swan tax cuts and improving government services. Eighty billion in savings means sacking three hundred thousand people, paying them out, and not replacing them. And not having their taxes thereafter to buy fighter aircraft with, and improve and refurbish hospitals, roads and schools.

This means, must mean, he cannot add, or does not care to.

Which means he is a fantasist, or a liar.

I fear, and I fear greatly, knowing him, that he is the former.

He believes in the power of prayer.

He really, really does.

He thinks if he closes his eyes and prays, all the laws of arithmetic, and all the laws of the sea, will go away.

And it’s a pity.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Thanks for the laugh on Sunday morning Bob, but of all the hyperbowl in this piece I merely note that rather than “Submarines sinking civilian craft in World War 2 were frowned upon likewise”, it was totally unrestricted warfare.

    When Nimnitz can actually send evidence of support to Doenitz at Nuremburg he was stating the facts of the Pacific war.

  2. No, no, no. When the boats that were sunk had American women and children on board them in 1940, America not having then joined the war, it was frowned upon. Sinking boats and killing civilians was frowned upon. By Americans.

    Just as the sinking of the Lusitania was frowned upon, by Americans, after much American loss of life, in 1916, before America joined that war.

    Piracy is piracy. What else would you call it?

    Nuremberg says what it says.

    Or do you think it says something else?

  3. I think Tony Abbott should make a promise to do what he says he will do, I think he should put it in writing, put it on his website, enshrine it in Liberal Policy, and take out a full page advert in all the newspapers as well as TV commercial time, he should swear to it on a stack of Bibles at a televised mass overseen by Cardinal Pell, he should tattoo it on his forearm, and have the promise printed on his latex cycling outfit, he should have his Comcar number plate personalised in some witty way to reflect the turning back the boats mantra at all costs, he should have an aeroplane skywrite his promise over every capital city in Australia and hang a banner from the Sydney Harbour Bridge and across the Opera House. And we should hold him to his promise.

  4. With apologies to Rodgers & Hammerstein:
    ‘How do you solve a problem like
    Maria (Tony)?/How do you hold a sunbeam (or a dead political issue)in your hand?’, and why is so much dead air devoted to a man who will never be PM? “How so?”,
    you ask. Logic. If 60% of the electorate (according to The Polls) can’t stand the current PM,
    why on God’s earth would they replace her with a politician 60% of the electorate, according to the same Polls, can’t stand, whenout of The Issue of ‘carbon (pricing)tax’? Should Labor still be on the nose come next election and the LNP can’t whip up much enthusiasm on carbon (pricing) tax & the industrial/business sector believe there will be some character of carbon emission pricing (such as the current 300
    … why, shuffle someone into the leadership who has long flown the flag on said issue, one Malcolm Turnbull, after all, by the time of the next election, he will have made his position known on the contentious issues the prayerful current leader won’t have a bar of… gay marriage,
    boat people, and such, and who is not adverse to a conscience vote and some fair minded thinking in the ranks where others equally ‘tainted’ only require a party gatekeeper prepared to allow it
    opened for the moral worth of the country… what sweet irony for a man losing the leadership because of his ‘climate change’ wisdom to find himself back because of this same wisdom… of course, Tony can always seek answers from his bud, the Cardinal, “Why has God forsaken me?”

  5. Of course it would be an act of piracy. And it will never happen.

    Abbott has no chance of stopping a single boat and he knows it.

    Abbott has no chance of repealing the carbon price and he knows it.

    Abbott has no intention of honouring any election-type promise he may make between now and any election.

    A fantasist, or a Liar? I know which he is, and so do most of you.

    Draw your own conclusions.

  6. If Abbott is as he presents himself, his acting is terrible. His halting phrasing, constant head-nodding, and air-chopping gestures tell me that he is trying to convince himself that he really is resolute and forceful. There’s no doubt, however, that he is widely ignorant—take his weightless carbon dioxide, for example. His preference for arguing with empty rhetoric instead of fact is further evidence of this.

  7. With Labor heading for a stoush with the Greens, further splintering the party amongst the inner city latte set and threatening to weaken Labor further, Tony Abbott can flex a little muscle by preferencing the Greens last. He can also order the navy to take the people smuggler’s fuel away.

    The Navy should inspect the boats, declare them un-seaworthy and send them back to Indonesia. Especially if the Navy can do it very close to Indonesian waters. There will be no option but to turn the boats back.

    The Navy are doing something noble and saving lives you know! Little children are also on those boats. Do it repeatedly and watch the number of boats suddenly drop.

    Tony Abbott will be called a hero whose fervent prayers came true! Books and plays may be written about him like Joan of Arc who turned the hoardes back and a gleaming statue possibly erected in his honour in far away places like Palm Beach and Lismore.

    Given that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono respected John Howard’s stable leadership and given the live cattle export debacle to Indonesia created by the Gillard government and the disastrous Capt Emud affair where people smugglers were allowed to penetrate and live in the Auatralian nation’s capital unhindered, what must the Indonesian Government think of this present government?

    I think it was Greg Sheridan from The Australia who said recently that the Indonesians want above all regional stability from their neighbours. They saw that demonstrated ably under Howard.

    It is my belief come the next election, the Australian people will seek stability and maturity from a government and give the coalition a sizable mandate. It will be so immense, so huge, that Tony Abbott will have reason to wet himself. He will blush, cross himself several times and genuflect repeatedly as he rushes to seek confessional advice from Cardinal George Pell.

    His prayers will have been answered.

    • hudsongodfrey


      The premise is wrong if you mean to say that unseaworthy vessels once intercepted should be put back to sea as long as it is in a direction of which we approve. They should be escorted to the nearest safe harbour to ensure the safety of all on board.

      Sadly the issues of stopping the boats and stopping the refugees have become conflated. We could take the refugees directly as Palmer, Burnside and others suggest and this would obviate the need for boats to come, but this doesn’t get argued because it is not what really matters to our politicians.

    • “Tony Abbott will have reason to wet himself”


      He probably won’t need a reason soon enough, as Alzheimer’s sets in.

  8. Frank, I’ll be laughing at Oz antics all the way from Provence, when you all are trying to come to terms with having erred on Abbott/Howard/Pell combination in stead of something more progressive….

  9. “He believes in the power of prayer.”

    They say he is too negative. I doubt his religious conviction, I see him as more of a positive thinker. I see him as the kind of nutcase that believes that praying will only get you so far. He writes in his diary 200 times a night “I will be Prime Minister”.

    Lines for Albo:
    “What does turning the boats around have to do with Nauru?”

    The hacks might be worried, it just goes to show how deeply buried up some people keep their heads. Acts of desperation.

    I get more confused than anything else.

    Turnbull could be Opp. leader by Wednesday if he wanted it.

    • hudsongodfrey

      I suspect you’re right there William, but if Turnbull’s got any brains then he doesn’t want it. YET! Abbott’s just making him look far to palatable by comparison.

  10. Thanks everyone. I’m glad I stopped by again. You have cheered me up immensely. Turnbull as leader and so on. Bob does it for laughs, people. What’s your excuse?
    This is like the old Stan Freberg classic.
    1. “I am Stan Freberg”
    2. “No, I am Stan Freberg”
    ALL: “We’re ALL Stan Freberg”
    What’s the next act Bob?

  11. I should add for the uninitiated. Asian countries couldnt care less about safety of economic refugees.

    Malaysia flogs them (and used to tow them wherever they wanted), Hong Kong forcibly removed them and Indonesia? Well, since when did they care?

    It will be a new ball game when Abbott (or anyone with a brain and somne guts gets in)

    • Who?? Abbott has a somewhat damaged brain; and not so sure about his ‘guts’ as you put it. He is known as a weather-vane for good reason.

      What sort of a ball game it might be will owe less to any possible Australian leader and more to the political realities of the region.

  12. The more he rants, the more I am inclined to read Abbott as mentally unstable. Deeply so. Yesterday’s face-off with Cassidy on ‘Insiders’ was a zinger, the way he operated the mouth not quite in tune with the brain matter evading the truth of not having raised ‘turning the boats around with Indonesia’s leader and his ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ “I know nothing!” response to the Slipper
    should be in the hands of some serious shrinks. The parallel coming to mind is the Sterling Hayden U.S. military guy in ‘Dr, Strangelove’ convinced the commies were seeping precious bodily fluids from the good guys. Maybe another Committee needs to be set up to investigate Abbott’s mental state? Shouldn’t be much of a problem to put into place, after all. Of course, he won’t allow any of his mob to be party to any committee looking into matters of vital national interest.

  13. the boats will be set on fire, have holes punched in their hulls - there is just no way all the power in the world will work in a situation like this, even if the Navy were corrupt enough to try.

    Abbott, like most Christians (but in a follow-the-idea-off-the-cliff way) is a fantasist about force and regimentation, he just can’t stand the fact that the world is an extremely messy place where no matter how much he hates a person that person just won’t see things his way.

    The real psychological basis of Christianity is to clean up the mess of the world by inventing a super-cop to clean it up from outside the world. Then, illogically enough, to invoke that super-cop to excuse (or demand) killing and coercion to clean it up themselves anyhow!

    And it doesn’t work

  14. In Crikey today from the latest tips and rumours section:

    More ADF concerns about “turning back the boats”. A long-serving former naval officer has contacted Crikey to raise concerns that the Coalition’s policy of turning back asylum-seeker boats at sea may amount to an “illegal order” and could be contrary to international law.

    Crikey’s contact, who does not wish to be named, says he applauds recent comments by retired Defence Force chief Chris Barrie raising doubts about the Coalition’s policy. Our source says when he was in the Navy, “we had drilled into us the responsibilities of the International Law of the Sea”:

    “In my day comments such as Abbott’s about turning back the boats would have been contrary to all the provisions of the Law of the Sea and would have caused major morale problems within the Navy.

    “Also, contrary to his comment that the services are answerable to the government there is such a thing as an illegal order. Such an order should not or must not be obeyed.

    “An obvious situation is where a senior person in the military orders a junior to kill some non-combatant who is captive and no threat. Similarly I can envisage a situation under an Abbott government where a captain of a Navy ship could deem an order to be illegal and not carry it out.”

    The former naval officer has suggested the intersection of international law with the Coalition’s policy should be considered by experts in the field.

  15. Agree with almost all of this. It scares me that Abbott (and by extension the Coalition) may be sharing the delusion that if they believe/shout/pray hard enough then all the tax cuts and payments will come to pass with massively decreased revenue. They may spark the economic catastrophe that the country needs in order to wipe a lot of unproductive debt. This would still be a tragedy for many people, but something’s gotta give.

    Still, if they wreck the economy labor may decide to stop being the Coalition…

    The only thing I disagree with in your post is your assertion that sacking public servants denies the government tax revenue. It doesn’t, public servants don’t really pay tax. Oh, their payslips will show a tax component, but remember that all this money comes from funds the government obtains through taxation which is then spent on public servant wages. The tax witheld is not a net gain to the govt.

    That is not to say I agree with the sackings, far from it, by sacking public servants you decrease the quality of services, plus put someone out of work, plus that money no longer swirls through the economy. Terrible stuff.

  16. Should it come to pass the ‘Mad Monk’ is handed the keys to The Lodge, he is going to be faced with a whole lot of misery: consider one - he will have done such a fine job convincing the mugs delivering him unto the country that the root cause of their scandalous power bills is the carbon tax. Only it isn’t, and when he knocks off the tax
    (oh, it will happen: he has said so!), and their power bills stay just as high, he will have some explaining to do… and with the mining tax cactus also (it will happen: he has said so!), the tightening of the electorate belt
    will be such it may just strangle his Grand New World where success is not penalised (one of Sunday’s ‘Insiders’ declarations).

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