Broken Election Promise No. 48: Tony Abbott Didn't Stop The Boats After All


Well. That escalated quickly.

Tony Abbott came to power promising to ‘stop the boats’. And yet this evening, a small fleet of Russian warships is steaming towards Australia.

Not, it should be noted, to start a war. That would be quite silly. Their mission, we assume, is to simply send a clear message to our Prime Minister.

That message is something along the lines of, ‘That’s not a navy. Thiiiissss is a navy’.

That or, ‘So, how about that shirt fronting Tony? Still up for it?’

All of this, of course, is predicated on the notion that any of this is true. It has been reported in the Australian mainstream media, so, you know… it might not be.

But assuming it is, Russian president Vladimir Putin reportedly has, in the past, sent naval vessels to accompany him on overseas trips. It makes sense – he’s one of the world’s most powerful leaders, and having a bit of military might in the background is not always a bad idea.

But this is something else altogether. And while it may seem alarming – and let’s face it, it is alarming – the arrival of Russian warships in international waters just outside Australia is more embarrassing than anything else.

Because we’re not going to attack them, and they’re not going to attack us. And that’s simply because if we do, they’ll kick our arse.

Apparently, we’ve sent an Anzac Class Frigate to keep tabs on them. Awesome. That should go well. Shame about the billions we’ve spent on those Joint Strike Fighters which still aren’t ready.

And if all that doesn’t work, maybe Abbott could convince his mates at the Manly Surf Lifesaving Club to kit up and start heading north. Numbers count, even if they’re half naked.

The wash up is that tonight, Abbott looks like a meek fool. For all his strutting, his budgie smuggler wearing chest puffing, he’s been called out for what he is – a small-time bully with a big-time mouth. A minnow.

Thus, Abbott has several options before him.

The first is to do what he’s done to all the other boats that came since he took office – bully them into submission, and then ‘send them back where they came from’… or at the very least, jail the occupants of the boats without charge. For the rest of their lives.

Admittedly, beyond getting an awful lot of people killed, that might cause a bit of an international incident. It’s one thing to demonise people who can’t defend themselves. It’s another thing altogether to take on one of the world’s most powerful armies.

So option one is pretty much off the table.

Option two is to do nothing. We could just pretend they’re not there. Warships? What warships? That’s probably our safest option. Although Abbott has to spend several days with Putin in Brisbane this weekend. It’s going to be painfully awkward, but at least it might de-escalate things.

Option three is to apologise for his ‘shirt front comment’, and then shut his f**king mouth. There remains no evidence that Putin or Russia had anything to do with the downing of MH17. If you’re going to accuse people – in this case a world leader – of mass murder, best to have a bit more than American intelligence, given their shady past.

Option four is to let Tony Abbott speak, and just see what happens. That would be in-line with the great Australian passion for two-up and gambling. Of course, it’s what got us here in the first place, but if we’re in for a penny, we may as well be in for a pound.

Option five is for Abbott to try and use this to scare people. It's worked on lots of other stuff, although generally Abbott has only tried to ramp up fear and loathing against things that are unlilkely to actually hurt us, like Ebola, Muslims and asylum seekers. So not the best option.

Option six is to retreat to an area you know well, in this case three word slogans: 'Stop the Russians'. Or, if we choose to placate them, 'Vodka is awesome'.

The seventh and final option, of course, is for Abbott to resign before the weekend, so that he doesn’t have to wet himself in front of 19 other world leaders while trying to stare down a smug, smiling Putin.

That’s obviously not going to happen – there’s nothing Abbott, in his own words, wouldn’t do for the Prime Minister’s job, and now that he has it, putting an entire nation at risk, again, is unlikely to shame him.

Which doesn’t get us very far. So we’ll all just have to watch and wait and see how Tony gets himself out of his latest mess. Which on the upside, should be very entertaining. And on the downside, is no long-term solution at all.

For just as Tony Abbott was a wrecker in Opposition, he’s proved to be perhaps the greatest wrecker The Lodge has ever seen. And he’s only been in a year.

Imagine where we’ll all be in another two.

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Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.