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Lord Abbott the Wrecker

Sally McManus

This May Day, we are facing off against a militant conservative government which holds Australians and Australia in deep contempt. And we are facing off against a militant conservative prime minister, who holds Australians and Australia in a deep and lasting contempt.

If we needed any further proof, it came in this week’s Commission of Audit, which represents – and let’s not mince words — the most comprehensive and savage attack on Australian workers, their living standards, their health care, their services, and the wages ever dared by a conservative government.

The contempt this government has for working Australians, springs from the prime minister’s own deep belief in his own superiority and the superiority of those like him. Superiority over working people.  Over women. Over our indigenous people. Gays and lesbians. Over refugees. Over anyone not part of Australia’s elite 1 per cent. 

Everything built by working people in this country – everything — Mr Tony Abbott holds in contempt. Our union movement. Our public institutions, our hospitals, our schools, our universities, even our childcare centres. Medicare. The pension, and now the minimum wage. Gains made by working people through their unions.

Tony Abbott does not even believe in the weekend for working people, which is why he is planning the aggressive abolition of penalty rates. It is the same deep contempt that makes the prime minister Lord Abbott the Wrecker. Mr Abbott sees it as his right — his privilege and his duty — to wreck everything not fashioned in the name of the people he represents. Even more than John Howard, Abbott wants to use his privilege and political might as a wrecking ball to crash through the institutions of modern Australia, to return it to a darker past. To a country where workers can’t pay the bills. To a country in deference to the English monarchy. To a country where public debate is reduced to zealotry, bigotry, ignorance, cheap and shallow one-liners.

I have been tracking the wreckage Abbott has caused. One by one, day by day. In seven months, Tony Abbott has hurt Australians and wrecked the country in the astounding 134 different ways.

And he has broken 10 promises. And that’s even before the budget wreckage which is to come.

His contempt-driven wreckage has predictable focuses. The first seven months have targeted:


He is destroying the science and research capacity of our country.

  • He failed to appoint a Minister for Science – first time in 50 years

  • He has abolished nearly every expert advisory committee. Why have experts when you have corporate lobbyists?

  • He is gutting the CSIRO

The environment

He has gone about dismantling every environmental protection he can:

  • Allowing dredging in the Great Barrier Reef

  • Moved to delist our Tasmanian forests from their World Heritage status

  • Allowed shark culling in WA

  • Destroying the Murray-Darling basin

  • Destroying anything to do with tackling climate change including of course pricing carbon

Workers and their unions

He has attacked workers and their unions at every single opportunity. Not once has he been on their side:

  • He took three months to destroy the car manufacturing industry

  • He is gutting the public service

  • He blames workers for his Governments inaction at SPC

  • He aims to destroy the reputation of our Union movement through politically motivated Royal Commission 

  • He has argues to the Fair Work Commission that penalty rates should go and Awards should be reduced

  • And don’t forget, his very first act was to take away the pay rises of childcare and aged care workers

And now, his Commission of Audit proposes 10 years of miserable of economy-wrecking austerity with its agenda to cut minimum wages by a third. The list goes on.He is wrecking the very fabric of the society we have built, or have dreamed to build: Medicare, Pensions, ABC, SBS, the NBN, Gonski, the NDIS. 

And finally, he has overseen the most inhuman treatment of other human beings in Nauru and Manus Island. This has destroyed even the spirit of our support for the Geneva convention. He has overseen the locking up of men, women and children in no hope concentration camps where you can be beaten to death. Much like another time.

  • A time of Lords and Ladies.

  • A time of convicts.

  • A time of red-coats.

Abbott the Wrecker is like a 21st century red-coat. He wants to take us to a time where social class determined your life’s chances in just about every forum – health, education, work and retirement. We must stop this wrecker of modern Australia! It is our job – and our duty – to stop him. He is a leader who has contempt for us and the vision of a country we hold dear – of an equal Australia of generosity, fairness and the fair go.

To stop him, we need unity amongst progressive forces across the country with one aim: the defeat of this government at the first opportunity. We have done it before and  – we can do it again. We built local groups of people who campaigned to defend our rights at work. We bought down Howard and his government. We campaigned in our workplaces and in our communities to defeat WorkChoices.

It is not just our rights at work that are under threat, although believe me, our rights at work are his main prize. Abbott will come after them after the Royal Commission and after he is well on the way to destroying and remaking his unequal, nasty Australia. We cannot let him get that far. We need to work together to always have him remembered in history not as the man who wrecked or remade Australia, but remembered by three simple words –

  • One term Tony.


Sally McManus is the Branch Secretary of the Australian Services Union, NSW & ACT. The ASU represents workers in NGOs, public transport, Sydney and Hunter Water, Airlines and the IT industry. Sally blogs at, is on Facebook at and you can find her on Twitter@sallymcmanus. This is the text of her May Day speech in Sydney on 5 May 2014.


Suggested citation

McManus, Sally, 'Lord Abbott the Wrecker', Evatt Journal, Vol. 13, No. 3, May 2014<>

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