Peta Principle: Abbott Must Bid Credlin Farewell

AS THE DUST SETTLES on Monday’s attempt by Liberal backbenchers to terminate Tony Abbott’s tenure as their leader and Prime Minister, worryingly little has been offered up publicly by Abbott as evidence of his bona fides in making good assurances he has learnt, listened, and would change. The required adjustments are clear, and the most urgent one is obvious: where Chief of Staff Peta Credlin is concerned, it is time for Abbott to say goodbye.

Some criticism may be made of the fact that just three days after the attempted coup against Prime Minister Tony Abbott failed, I am again demanding the removal of his Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, although I would note in response that three days is two days longer than it took deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop to implicitly indicate a demand for precisely the same thing.

I am providing something for readers to listen to as they read today, as I am occasionally wont to do; and in case I get accused of jingoism I should point out that today’s audio track is not only perfectly suited to the central thesis of today’s article, but also probably my favourite song ever (and I am, in truth, loath to attach its dignified grace to anything to do with Credlin*).

It is no accident Bishop swung immediately into action once Monday’s goings-on had been finalised; this column has nominated the first and second most damaging influences on the Abbott government and its political fortunes and prospects as Credlin and Treasurer Joe Hockey respectively.

And in his pitch to Liberal MPs to be allowed to remain in the leadership, Abbott explicitly nominated a six-month period in which he, in return, would deliver all the change and reformation to redress everything that had so unsettled such a significant chunk of the parliamentary Liberal Party.

The clock is running; and three days in, Abbott has already cooked up almost 2% of that time. Viewed this way, it adds a potentially lethal new dimension to the notion of a week being a long time in politics.

Prior to the spill (and very clearly sensitive to the problem Credlin by then posed) it was seen to that she did not attend the National Press Club event Abbott addressed last week, nor the two-day meeting of federal Cabinet.

In the time since, Abbott has offered up a number of “crucial concessions” to dilute the influence of his divisive and inflammatory confidante: she will no longer vet most ministerial staff applications; will no longer pre-vet ministers’ Cabinet submissions; and she was noticeably absent from the advisers’ box in the House of Representatives during Question Time yesterday — a station at which she has long been an almost permanent fixture.

Liberal backbencher Don Randall sought and obtained an assurance from Abbott yesterday that ministerial staffers who leak against ministers or MPs would be committing a “sackable offence:” and whilst Ms Credlin was not mentioned by name, there was consensus among insiders and media correspondents in Canberra yesterday that the assurance had been demanded specifically with Credlin in mind.

In offering up these (and other) gestures, it seems that even Abbott knows, somewhere deep down, that Credlin must go; there is a limit to the number of “crucial concessions” he is able to make before her role is effectively gutted anyway.

And as Greg Sheridan — himself one of Abbott’s oldest and closest friends — writes in The Australian today, whilst she is a “good person,” Credlin has “failed utterly in her core task of managing relations within the government and between the government and the business community.”

The list of aggrieved persons and groups either demanding Credlin’s head openly or privately awaiting the sight of it rolling with satisfied anticipation is not inconsiderable, for Credlin has managed to galvanise a bitterly hostile coalition in opposition to herself that is unprecedented for a government staffer in Australia.

It includes large numbers of government ministers, including senior members of Cabinet; a significant proportion of the Coalition’s backbench MPs; influential figures from Australian industry who have been on the receiving end of insultingly patronising and dismissive treatment from the Prime Minister’s Office; long-suffering staff, both in that office and elsewhere in the government, who have been subjected to bullying and other treatment from the PMO designed to drive them into either submission or resignation; the countless number of serious professionals — collectively possessed of a vast array of expertise in their fields that would add lustre and depth to the government — who were arbitrarily spurned and dismissed from consideration under Credlin’s notorious “star chamber” and the veto panel anecdotally dominated by her whims, and prejudices, and preferences (in many cases with no apparent reason, and without even the courtesy of a telephone conversation); and not inconsiderably, a growing number of ordinary Coalition voters, whose initial inclination to give Credlin the benefit of the doubt has given way to great anger that a single lackey is not only controlling every aspect of the government they elected, but making a spectacular mess of it in so doing.

For Abbott to be fiddling around the edges of what is a malignant tumour at the heart of his government is simply unacceptable, especially after a political near-death experience just days ago, and deserves to be called out as such.

I have opined in this column previously that whilst Abbott’s famous sense of loyalty is admirable, and increasingly rare in politics, taken to its extreme this noble virtue can become blind; and in Ms Credlin’s case, he has allowed that sense of loyalty to prioritise her above his obligations to his government, to the Liberal Party, and to the Australian community it was elected to serve.

Almost every aspect of this government that has proven so troublesome — and every political problem it must now resolve as a consequence — can be traced, directly or indirectly, to the Prime Minister’s Office, for which in the end Peta Credlin as Chief of Staff is responsible.

And Tony Abbott, for better or for worse, is responsible for her.

It is why, having survived in his leadership by what most observers agree is a relatively precarious margin, taking three days to fail to render a satisfactory resolution of the Credlin issue is three days too long; neither Julie Bishop, nor myself, nor any of the other voices calling for her removal are at all raised in undue haste on the subject.

Credlin, if the success of the Prime Minister and the good of the government really does underpin her outlook, should look to her reputed judgement and acumen and decide her resignation is unavoidable, and deliver it forthwith.

And it is why, if it is not forthcoming by the end of the week, Abbott will have no alternative but to sack her: and sack her he must.

Failure to do so will be a big, black mark against him in the minds of his MPs who even now continue to weigh the wisdom of retaining his services. Abbott must not squib this critical test of the sincerity of his promises to his colleagues. Another such test — the future of Treasurer Joe Hockey — is already starting to be played out in newsprint and over the airwaves across Australia.

As regrettable as it may be to some, where Peta Credlin is concerned, it is now time for Abbott to say goodbye.


*I was hard pressed to think of an alternative that would be as well suited. This, however, would come extremely close, in dispensing with the problem that has emerged in the period since the federal election in September 2013. It is clear that the passions and tempers that have been inflamed over the Credlin issue run as strongly as that.



14 thoughts on “Peta Principle: Abbott Must Bid Credlin Farewell

  1. “Fight with the devil” is the more appropriate. But the devil isn’t Peta Credlin, or Brian Loughnane, or any of the players on the stage. The devil is behind the curtain, pulling the strings, and there is far more riding on this than winning or losing an election. It seems to me that the caucus, as well as the Liberal electorate, are dead set against Turnbull ever becoming leader again, but just recall that it was Julie Bishop that skipped over to Lima to hand over $200M to the UN. Just have a listen to what the real stakes are, and bear in mind that the Conservative governemtn n Canada has currently only a slight lead over the opposition lead by Justin Trudeau. (son of the flamboyant Communist PM of the ’70’s)

  2. Just for commenters such as BobD, just have a look at this admission from the head of the UNFCCC.

    “The Top UN Climate Change Official is optimistic that a new international treaty will be adopted at Paris Climate Change conference at the end of the year. However the official, Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, warns that the fight against climate change is a process and that the necessary transformation of the world economy will not be decided at one conference or in one agreement.”

    • “Commentator” might be too strong a word, karabar. Whilst I’m sure BobD is a good bloke I have responded to very little of what he has had to say. It seems to me that in place of reasoned discussion he simply want to poke those on the Right in the eye.

      Whatever floats the boat of those on the Left will be as it is, but I’m not really interested in responding to childish insults and taunts. I doubt he’d be much interested in your article, but you never know, karabar. You never know. 🙂

      • Yale, you’ve shown remarkable restraint in not responding to my outrageous slurs on your beloved party and should be commended for your never wavering view that Credlin is the root of all Abbott’s problems.
        However it seems Abbott and Credlin are joined at the hip and so while he is PM, she’s there in the PMO. The not so subtle dig by Bishop, Rupert’s call for her patriotic resignation and Greg Sheridan’s analysis of her failings all seem to have fallen on Tony’s tin ears – so what’s next?

        • Probably Tony will go.

          If Credlin is perceived as the problem and the only way to get rid of her influence is to get rid of him, then the writing’s pretty much on the walls.

          Personally I’m glad to see the subject come up. The Chief of Staff in the PMO has tremendous power, with the ability to allow or block access to the PM. I like that a light is being shone into an area where unelected and yet extremely influential people exist. There should be more of it. 😉

          PS. Welcome to the conversation.

      • Abbott has just been called the most incompetent leader of an industrialised democracy by a US think thank, and that was before his thoughtful “holocaust” comment – this good government which started this week feels very much like the last 17 months of hamfisted autocracy from Anbott.
        Please explain why the Libs should persevere with such a lame duck?

        • Burwood, the US does not get a vote in Australian elections nor the leadership of our political parties — it might disappoint the conspiracy theorists who think the CIA runs the Western world but the opinions you cite are little more than the commentary of distant onlookers.

          That said, the question of whether Abbott is a “lame duck” or not is also highly subjective, and you will find an ample catalogue of discussion and analysis in this regard if you take the time to explore this site.

          I must say that the situation regarding Abbott’s tenure as Liberal leader is highly fluid and, whilst I will be providing further comment on it over the weekend, I would observe for now that his actions and utterances in the five days since narrowly fending off an assault on his leadership hardly seem contrived in the interests of its longevity. My own continuing support for Abbott is explicitly contingent on the removal of Peta Credlin from his office and her complete excision from any capacity of influence over the government, and this has not occurred despite the suggestion some MPs were led to believe that it would.

          Beyond the Credlin issue, other factors are obviously at play, as you note. I think in the circumstances you should form your judgements on Abbott’s viability as leader on what he is doing if my comments are inadequate as a guide.

        • There’s the usual stench of double standards over that “holocaust” comment. Abbott gets slammed by the media but where was the outrage when the term was used before?

          [Former Labor Prime Minister Paul] Keating said the Rudd government deserved to be re-elected on its reaction to the global recession alone, saving Australia from an ”economic holocaust” that had massively crunched the US and UK.

          Australian Greens leader Bob Brown, describing Mr O’Connor as a logging extremist, called on Labor to end the policy of clearfell logging and burning in Tasmania. “It is an environmental holocaust, no different to the Sumatran clearfelling and burning which so appalled (climate change economist) Sir Nicholas Stern a fortnight ago,” Senator Brown said in a statement.

          John Howard: Because the strength of the Australian economy has shown in the face of the Asian economic holocaust has been absolutely remarkable.

          Scott Ludlam: Solar Reserve builds solar thermal power stations—utility-scale power stations that can run 24/7, after dark… These clean technology companies have the ability to offset the kind of holocaust that we are driving our economy, our society and our environment towards.

          Apparently it’s only wrong if Abbott says it. The hypocrisy in the Australian media (and especially “our” ABC) beggars belief.

        • BTW, Burwod. It wasn’t a think tank. It was a blogger who works there and has a page on their site. A page with the disclaimer that the opinions are the authors own and do not reflect the opinion of the think tank.

    • Wow, this climate change nonsense has gone on long enough, I’m convinced….now I just have to change the minds of 99% of the world’s population, where do I start?

      • That is precisely the problem the UN has. Nobody believes the hype anymore, so they have to ramp it up with more and more scary stories, and the more ridiculous the stories the more they look like chumps.
        People are catching on that the “97%” spread far and wide by the media was a joke. In fact, the proportion of scientists that think global warming is an issue caused by man is ZERO POINT FIVE PERCENT.
        The UN did a huge survey of a million people in 38 countries to determine the extent to which “global warming” concerns people. Of 17 issues, to the dismay of the UN, “global warming” is dead last.
        In the USA, a survey reveals that only 41% believe that it is even in issue. That is about the proportion of Americans that derive an income from the climate scam.
        In Australia, if you don’t realise that it is nonsense, you are only one of 40% of the population.
        In the USA, where the “experts” gobble up billions of tax dollars a year from the teat of the federal government, there is a huge gap between what the people believe and what the experts would like them to believe.
        Anyone who has studied and understands the process called science is aware the “if it’s consensus, it isn’t science, and if it is science, it isn’t consensus” ( Michael Crichton).
        Unless a person lives under a rock or has the IQ of a turnip, they are aware that:
        a) the temperature datasets of the GHCN are nonsense, because the data from Australia, New Zealand, South America, the Arctic, the continental USA, Canada, and Europe are all manipulated to make the past appear cooler and the present warmer. There is a senate investigation into this matter in Australia, and the NOAA in the US has been caught red-handed and admitted the manipulation.
        b) The amount of atmospheric CO2 has increased about 25% (from natural sources) in the past 25 years while the atmosphere has been in stasis. This is even using the temperature data that has been corrupted through manipulation. A pre-schooler can realise that CO2 is not a cause.
        c) The data from NASA’s new OCO2 (Orbiting Carbon Observation satellite) satellite clearly shows that atmospheric CO2 is not homogenous, and higher concentrations are found above the rain forests in South America, Africa, and Asia. It is nowhere near industrial activity.
        Over the past thirty years NONE of the ludicrous predictions issued by the supposed “experts” were even close.
        d) If you have studied applied science and you are familiar with the Navier-Stokes equations, Maxwell’s equations, Stephen-Boltzman, and the laws of thermodynamics, you would be aware that the mechanism claimed for the imaginary “greenhouse effect” is an impossibility that would violate the laws of nature.

      • Not nonsense, no. More a misinterpretation of data due to an old perspective.

        Aside from Karabars reading list you might want to consider these two points concerning the starting point of modern warming and CO2 rise;
        1/ The pre industrial CO2 level of circa 280 ppm is the lowest this reading has been in some 400 million years and is barely about the “Starvation level” of plants. (c180ppm) In fact, the Carboniferous/Permian and the Modern Era are the only times in the history of the planet when CO2 was this low. The Jurassic Era for example was around 2,500 ppm. I’m sure you’ve seen this graph of CO2 before, Al Gore made a version famous, it shows the last 400,000 years

        But are you familiar with the long term history of the planet? (Those pushing the AGW scenario don’t tend to show this one)

        2/ The beginning of the “Instrumental Period” where we were first able to accurately record temperature was the coldest the planet has been in some 8,000 years. The temperature graph that you are used to seeing looks something like this;

        But when put into perspective by the last 15,000 years, that “unprecedented” rise in temperature is the little uptick at the right hand end.

        For a longer perspective here are the temperature changes for the last 500,000 years as measured by GISP in Greenland. Again the modern warming is the uptick at the right;

        The kerfuffle today is over a .8 degree warming in 150 years, that last graph shows warming and cooling of over 15 degrees in under 70 years in the past. I’m way more scared of what nature can do all be itself than anything we can do. (Short of an all out nuclear war)

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