Coffee House

Live from Tony Abbott’s private suite: his election victory, as it happened.

7 September 2013

Tom Switzer, editor of the Spectator Australia in Sydney, from Tony Abbott’s private suite:

3.20am (Sydney) 6.20pm (London)

Off home to call it quits. I’ll probably have a slight hangover, but at least I know that, for a clear majority of voters, it will be morning again in Australia. Which happens to be the Spectator’s cover and a variation of Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign motto (‘It’s morning again in America.’)

At this stage, it’s the conservative Coalition 53.2 per cent (91 house seats) to 46.8 percent Labor (54 seats) with two undecided seats and three independent seats. It should be stressed that margins and seats could change with postal voting counted in come days, but the message is clear: an emphatic victory for conservatives tonight, but perhaps not as big as many of us had expected.

The senate, meanwhile, remains uncertain, but it’s safe to say the Coalition won’t control it.

10.27pm (Sydney) 1.27pm (London)

I know I’m a Conservative and a Speccie editor, but it’s really clear that Abbott’s speech is far more dignified and decent than his predecessor’s concession speech a few moments ago. ‘A government of no surprises’ is the mantra. Dabbled with some Sir Robert Menzies. And policy: carbon tax will repealed, boats will be stopped, — and frankly normal programming has been resumed.

Now for more drinks with the new PM! Let the party well and truly begin.


Left-to-right: Spectator Australia, its editor Tom Switzer and Australia’s new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott

10.20pm (Sydney) 1.20pm (London)

And now Tony Abbott’s victory speech before a very excited crowd. The Labor party’s primary vote, he says, is at the lowest level in more than 100 years.

10.09pm (Sydney) 1.09pm (London)

Victoria — which is bit like Wales and Scotland in that it is a stronghold of the Labor party — has seen a swing of more than 8 per cent against labor. That’s unprecedented. Even in the Howard landslide of 1996, Victoria remained static in net seat terms.

10.01pm (Sydney) 1.01pm (London)

Rudd announces he won’t re-contest the leadership after all, but will he leave parliament?

9.55pm (Sydney) 12.55pm (London)

Warren Mundine — a leading indigenous figure, former Labor president and now Tony Abbott confidante — just told me that Rudd’s concession speech sounds like it could be his first opposition leader speech. Wow! Perhaps Rudd really does think he’s the next Menzies (Australia’s longest serving prime minister 1939-41 and 1949-66 who lost his premiership in 1941 who bounced back from oblivion).

Btw this is a dreadful concession speech. Forced, unnatural and at times a little nasty (he rebuked his LNP opponent: ‘eat your heart out’) and typically long and boring. Sounds like the Speccie will need to put a number on this bloke (again).


9.48pm (Sydney) 12.48pm (London)

Rudd: ‘I know that Labor hearts are heavy.’ But he’s taking solace in knowing that every cabinet minister has been returned (that is, the ones who have not resigned since he toppled Gillard) and that Labor has not lost any seats in Queensland. (To be confirmed).

9.45pm (Sydney) 12.45pm (London)

Now for Rudd’s concession speech. I have known Rudd about as long as I have known Abbott: since mid 1999. I have always had mixed feelings about the bloke: he is highly ambitious, disciplined and well read. But he is also, as many of his Labor colleagues know all too well, a complete and utter fraud.

When Rudd returned to the Labor leadership in June, the media consensus was that he would turn around Labor’s fortunes. He may even beat Abbott, some people said. But we at the Spectator always knew that Rudd would crash and burn. See our editorial which attracted a record number of hits.

Vindication is sweet.

9.26pm (Sydney) 12.26pm (London)

At last, the man in the moment arrives at the hotel. He will soon be here to greet family and close friends, before giving his speech before finally letting his hair down. Photos to come.

9.21pm (Sydney) 12.21pm (London)

The drinks are flowing. Just been chatting to close tony Abbott friends Greg Sheridan, warren Mundine and Peter Coleman (a Speccie columnist). A consensus is emerging that this will be a victory with a vengeance, but not the kind of Fraser vs Whitlam 1975 or Holt vs Calwell 1966 landslide many of us had hoped. Perhaps Kevin Rudd has avoided the kind of defeat that his predecessor Julia Gillard would have delivered. To the extent this is true, then the transition from Gillard to Rudd has worked….

Mr Abbott, Tony’s dad, just told Janet Albrechtsen, 46, that my wife Sarah, 37, must be her daughter!

9.10pm (Sydney) 12.10pm (London)

Former Spectator columnist Chris Bowen appears safe in his western Sydney seat of McMahon. Chris left the magazine in late June after Kevin Rudd toppled Julia Gillard and made him treasurer. Chris is a personal friend and a future leader. A real talent. I’m happy for him, but I dare not say so in front of this highly partisan Liberal gathering!

8.35pm (Sydney) 11.35am (London)

A Liberal win, but the talk about a thumping may have been overstated. Still, it is already clear Australians are delivering a rebuke to the ruling Labor party by 53-47.

It was widely anticipated that the state of NSW would be a disaster for Labor. Already, we’ve witnessed Coalition gains in the two regional seats vacated by discredited Independent MPs Tony Windsor and Tony Windsor, who stupidly gave their support to Julia Gillard’s minority government. (I say stupidly, because both represented conservative electorates, which had no truck for Australian Labor Party.) Gone. Gone.

Then there are the two central coast seats of Dobell and Robinson. At this stage: Gone. Gone.

And now there are the seats around western Sydney, once the Labor heartland. It is now home to an increasingly aspirational and mobile electorate that is mortgaged to the hilt. Tough border protection and the economy are the two main issues here; and the Coalition leads Labor as better manager on both red-hot issues by double digit figures.

Lindsay – the Labor seat that was challenged by Liberal Fiona Scott, whom Abbott drew international gasps when he said she had ‘political sex appeal’. At the time, the metropolitan sophisticates ranted and railed at Abbott’s ‘misogynist’ remark. (Who would have thought it was sexist to admire a lady’s looks?) But the ‘gaffe’ hardly upset the good people of the western suburbs of Sydney, who have voted for the local gal in huge numbers!

8.11pm (Sydney) 11.11am (London):

Here is our cover for this week. We’ve long been calling it for Abbott.

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 11.09.24

See our latest issue on our new app or in news agents around Australia Monday morning.

7.45pm (Sydney) 10.45am (London):

Just been chatting to the lovely Mrs Abbott, who is naturally very proud of her son. She’s also a fan of the Speccie, which has run — how shall I put it — two sympathetic cover portraits of her son on our cover in the past week. We pay tribute to Christopher Pearson, a friend and mentor of Tony’s who died only three months ago. Somewhere, he is smiling. Meanwhile, Tony and his immediate family are still in transit.

7.20pm (Sydney) 10.20am (London):

The polls have been closed on the east coast of Australia for more than an hour and the counting has been well underway. The swing is on! As The Spectator Australia has consistently predicted since Julia Gillard’s backflip on the carbon tax in early 2011 — and as the opinion polls and betting markets have indicated in recent weeks — tonight the Australian people will sweep aside the six-year Labor government and install Tony Abbott and his conservatives into government.

That means the centre-right Liberal-National Coalition will gain more than enough seats in the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of parliament, to form a working majority in government.

But two questions remain unanswered. First, to what extent will the Coalition win the House of Representatives? Will it be a gain of merely 10 seats? Or a gain of 20 or more seats? A landslide in Australia’s two-party preferential system of voting would amount to around a 54-46 per cent result and a 20-or-more seat gain in the House.

Second, will the Coalition gain enough seats to control the Senate, the upper house of government, which determines the outcome of a government’s legislative agenda. This is crucial: Abbott’s victory tonight may be soured if his coalition parties don’t win enough senate seats in order to pass his legislation, such as repealing the widely unpopular carbon tax. He will rightly claim a mandate, but will he be able to pass his legislation if the senate’s balance of power is controlled by minor parties?

7pm Sydney (10am London):

I’m about to start writing from inside Tony Abbott’s private suite at the Four Seasons Hotel near Sydney Harbour, home of the centre-right Liberal Party’s post-election party. The man widely dubbed as the prime minister-in-waiting kindly invited me to join him, his family and close friends to watch the Australian federal election returns tonight and hopefully celebrate the dawn of a new era in Australian politics. I am deeply honoured. As we joke this morning, it will be a ‘gathering of the clan.’

The Speccie is Abbott’s favourite magazine. He reads us every week. He has been a loyal reader of The Spectator since he was an Oxford boxing blue 30 years ago. He has penned many features, diaries and book reviews for The Spectator Australia since our creation five years ago. And whenever he is in London, he always wants to say ‘g’day’ to our editor Fraser Nelson and team!

Abbott and I have known each other well since the late columnist Christopher Pearson introduced us in the late 1990s. And notwithstanding a few policy disagreements (paid paternity leave, Iraq, Afghanistan all of which I’ve opposed), I have long thought Abbott would emerge as the best bet for the Liberal future.

I guess Abbott’s invitation to join him tonight on this very special occasion is his way of thanking me for my support, especially during the dark days. After the inglorious downfall of John Howard in late 2007, I took a depressed Abbott to a couple of pub lunches to boost his spirits. And in the lead-up to the party-room showdown over the then-leader Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to support Labor’s emissions trading scheme in late 2009, I encouraged Abbott to both oppose the legislation and run for the Liberal leadership.

Remember these were the days when the high priests and priestesses of the media (Oakes, Hartcher, Grattan, Bongiorno, Cassidy, Kelly et al) had marked Abbott as an apostate. The ‘mad monk’, we were told, was ‘unelectable’ and his ‘crazy,’ ‘stupid’ and ‘ill-advised’ opposition to carbon taxes would destroy the Opposition and the conservative cause down under. As it happens, however, the Liberal party’s decision to oppose Labor’s climate regulations was a political godsend and Abbott, as we will soon find out, is very electable.

So I’m in like-minded company here. And some of us are already drinking beers, wine, champagne (but not Bloody Marys).

Let’s get started.

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  • Roy

    At last a world leader has shown that conservative policies matter to the public. They can show disdain to forever taking in the immigrants that other countries encourage to flee. That much of the carbon taxes is an hoax for what it is achieving. That free enterprise is not a dirty word, but a fix-it for countries to follow. Perhaps it has not come too late for the PM to take note; you don’t have to follow the leanings of the left to work for the benefit of the majority. In fact you have to ignore their blatant ignorance.

  • Tory Totty Online

    Good on TA for vowing to scrap carbon tax. It’s ridiculous – same as global warming. One big con. (And agree with anyfool – Britain shd follow suit!) Glad the Coalition got in….sanity will once agin be restored.

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    That Tom Watson fella did a good job, didn’t he?

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      They are still complaining in Australia about all the pies he ate.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    “Tokyo gets the nod for 2020 Olympics”
    Come on, Specie, get on the case.

  • David Lindsay

    Some very striking Senate results. Western Australia has returned a member of the Australian Sports Party, and Victoria a member of the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party.

  • David Lindsay

    His apparently winning recipe has turned toxic this week.

    He had thought that he had united three of Australia’s once-warring tribes: the Anglophile Tories, the Catholic traditionalists, and the pro-American capitalists.

    One word, Tony.


    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Yeah that is going to have him shaking in his shoes you insignificant little bore.

  • telemachus

    The revanchists take Australia
    This man reminds us what a caring leder of the Tories we actually have here

  • John Robertson

    Living Brilliantly 8

    I am too old to be an MP but have won the Election for
    Governor General: just need a High Court
    Judge to agree with my Reasons!

    The Decision turns on a few words in the Constitution.

    44 (i) Disqualification

    Any person who is under any acknowledgment of adherence to a
    foreign power (Rupert Murdoch), shall be incapable of being chosen or of
    sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

    It appears that the
    Liberals believed Murdoch is an Australian when he has not been an Australian
    for 28 years.

    A week ago, I alerted the Liberals by email of their
    problem. Every Liberal who went ahead is
    now liable for damages arising out of “injurious falsehood.” Any of the 14.6 million voters can work out
    their damages and make a claim.

    Opposing Candidates have lost a lot of money. If the Liberal Candidates try to claim
    against Murdoch his simple defence is that his citizenship is plainly on public

    Each Liberal Candidate signed to say they are eligible for
    Parliament when they are not. To become
    an MP they have deceived many people. If
    they accept their “win” and start gaining money they move into fraud.

    Unfortunately for the Liberals, it is their opponents who
    have good cause to celebrate.

    If Voters are not satisfied, they have the right to file a
    Petition within 40 days. I think every
    Liberal Candidate will be wise to withdraw forthwith.

  • JabbaTheCat

    Australian election victory demonstrates that sorting out the budget, getting rid of ecomentalist taxes and cutting down public sector and welfare parasite costs to the tax payer are measures very popular with the electorate. The Tories should take heed…

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …too late, They’re dead meat.

      ALP got whacked as much for their braindead decision to go into coalition as anything else. Call Me Dave and company made that same braindead decision, and the outcome will be the same.

  • rollahardsix

    Thank God for that. Well done Tony Abbott!

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    How did Julian do?

  • anyfool

    The first party in Britain to promise to scrap all carbon taxes in this country will also win by a landslide, it is mainly the metropolitan elites that set great store by this nonsense, the rest of us will vote with our wallets.

    • dalai guevara

      Levelised ROCs in Britain £0.0087/kWh (period 04/13-04/14)
      German renewables subsidies 7.0p/kWh
      Note the difference in scale, then think again.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Perception is everything -as with immigration and as with the EU.

        Labour can build a presentational perception based on little more than lies but other parties must present strictly to the “facts”, even where they are infinitely debatable?

        • dalai guevara

          not a level playing field? how so?

          • Colonel Mustard

            It hasn’t been a level playing field for years! Not least the constituency size issue.

            • dalai guevara

              You know my line on this.
              I would go much further to declare the FPTP system unfit for democratic purposes.
              I understand the stability issue – the stability of what?

              • telemackus

                Well if you declare it is unfit then we must all agree I suppose cos you are so clever and we are all so fick.

                • dalai guevara

                  Eddie, we all realise you have issues.
                  You’re not overcome with positive feelings of selfworth that often. Tant pis.

                • telemackus

                  I know not this Eddie whom you refer to. I know you are a troll of the worst kind and fick with it.

                • dalai guevara

                  Wilhelm Eddie der Zweite.
                  Dumm wie Brot. Fick dich ins Knie.

                • telemackus

                  Sorry boyo, you’ve lost me. Who dis Wilhelm? No kraut me – they would have put me in one of their camps due to my tan.

      • AnotherDaveB

        “… large users incur environmental taxes of more than €6/MWh in Britain versus less than €1 in Germany and nothing in the US Gulf. ”

        • dalai guevara

          that, my friend, will be challenged in the courts.
          nb. I note you ignored my top rated comment on that article 😉

    • telemachus

      You little minded man
      Folks are dying daily from the pollution caused by fossil fuels directly
      And if you had not noticed more British folks are having their houses flooded by the freak weather induced by climate change
      Abbott is an ignorant misogynist who should have them removed

      • telemackus

        This is a stunning result and points to a similar victory by our hero against the odious Miliband in 2015. The good people of Australia have seen the error of their previous election of the useless Rudd and that awful Gilliard women.

        • David Lindsay

          This is a stunning result and points to a similar victory by our hero against the odious Miliband in 2015

          Cameron and Abbott have absolutely nothing in common politically.

          But then, nor have Britain and Australia. Australia has AV and compulsory voting, and, as in America, her rural areas expect next to nothing from government.

          Whereas Britain has First Past The Post and voluntary voting, and the more rural an area is here, the more it expects from the State.

          But both parties that have hitherto done well in rural areas and assumed that no one else ever would are cutting public provision there with gay abandon. They will reap the whirlwind a mere year and a half from now.

          • telemackus

            You are becoming quite tedious. Do you really think anyone here is impressed by your outpourings? Like all failed authors, you don’t seem to appreciate we are just not interested.

            • telemachus

              David speaks sound common sense

              • telemackus

                Nonsense. You are idiots the pair of you and would not know sense if it was beaten into you.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …but we should keep trying. You never know.

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                No he talks incoherent socialist bollucks.

          • Colonel Mustard

            We’ll see.

            • David Lindsay

              See what? All of these are just facts.

              If this election has any message for Britain, then it is that the political culture of any of the Old Dominions is as alien to our own as that of the United States or that of any country on the Continent.

              First Lynton Crosby. Or Mark Carney, for that matter. And now, this. Simply not like us at all. Not even when, as in the case of Abbott, the winner is a British-born Rhodes Scholar, although I am not entirely sure how he got away with that.

              Anyway, it illustrates the point: even that long ago, even Oxford regarded even an Australian national who had been born in the United Kingdom as no less foreign than an American.

              • Span Ows

                “They will reap the whirlwind a mere year and a half from now.”

                “All of these are just facts.”

                Wow, David, are you a time traveler?

              • Colonel Mustard

                We’ll see what happens. A week is a long time in politics and if Labour win it won’t be because a majority of Englishmen want them in government.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            As if none of us were aware of these obvious differences. The fact is that contrary to all your totalitarian, single party state and dictatorial ambitions, the World has taken a look at socialism and decided that financial incompetence, serial dishonesty, mediocrity and failure is not for them.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Up to your usual tricks. Abbot was elected democratically by a people sick of socialist lies and failure so you are the little minded one. It can’t come here soon enough so that we can get rid of the whole filthy house of cards you bolsheviks have built.

        • telemachus

          Socialism did not enter into it
          The Aussies did not like Julia and Kevin making them a laughing stock
          Read OzPolitic
          “Tony Abbott is worse than a fascist—he is a weakling, unable to resist pressure, unable to tell the truth to people, so tells them what they want to hear. Deadly in a PM”

          • realfish

            A bit of projection there, tele? Or are you confusing him with Ed Miliband?

          • Colonel Mustard

            The Salisbury Review
            Has the measure of you

            • telemachus

              I am always willing to learn and Matthew Walther seems a sensible chap. I am attracted to those who understand that the people have to speak

              Britain has become a mass democracy without any extra-party engines for promoting the will, such as it is, of the electorate. (It has been some time since Fleet Street was of much use in this area: its always close relationship with Westminister has now become incestuous.) Because nothing like the – admittedly far from perfect – American primary system for the selection of candidates exists, every five years Britons are made to choose from a line-up of stale political hacks who, almost by definition, hold no views about substantive issues that in any significant way differ from the left-of-centre metropolitan consensus. If candidates are deselected from a particular constituency, it is almost invariably at the behest not of voters but of either party grandees or journalists whose refined sensibilities have been offended by off-the-cuff remarks made by the candidate about race or some other ‘sensitive’ issue

              • Colonel Mustard

                Try quotation marks and a link when next you do a cut’n’paste:-


                And again, your Labour party and its fellow travellers are not “the people”. If England was a free country with a fair system of election Labour would never sit in government ever again.

                • telemachus

                  So what about the alternative?
                  I don’t think Cameron is a very good leader at all – not in the truest sense of the word. A good leader does not alienate supporters or split his team, he does not burn bridges with potential allies or lose sight of what really matters in terms of team goals.

                  His economic policy is incoherent. The steps might be correct but the message is dire. The narrative has been surrendered to the left by some very odd decisions. Preserve overseas aid but be seen to attack the vulnerable? Ok it might not really be like that but that’s how it looks.

                  His foolishly intemperate words have alienated and sowed discord – to what benefit? How has pursuing his hobby horse of gay marriage brought the country together? The man arrogantly compared himself to Thatcher but he doesn’t have an ounce of her courage or determination on behalf of us. He is slippery and blows with the wind. His values are those of a rich and privileged, bien pensant, metrosexual, trendy soft lefty – not mine. He has no common touch. I fell for his spiel once. Never again.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Most of that, save for all the metrosexual drivel, perfectly encapsulates the failed leadership of Gordon Scum Brown.

              • Two Bob

                Copy and paste skills pushed to the limit!

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            I think that quote relates to Ed Milliband. It sums that duplicitous, weak, cowardly wretch to perfection.

            • telemachus

              All the backbiting this weekend from McCluskey and apologists will come to naught

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                You are a pathetic, imbecilic fantasist. I suspect that the public recognises that Milliband is a weak, duplicitous incompetent wretch as is every other scumbag associated with the Labour Party.

        • Greybeard Chieftain

          I marvel at the sheer quantity of hatred, frustration and ignorance that defines the right wing mind. Like a creature who each day worries about his own little slice of life, entirely oblivious to the way in which it connects with those of other pople, his faith in violence and the fatherland above that of peace and the people rendering him an inviolable sanctuary of petty minded insults, superficial slurs and the insistent projection of all his own fears and defects onto others.

          Tell me this colonel, how many Australians are the descendants of immigrants? Most of them. What happened to most of the original natives there? They were exterminated for their land. History has already healed most of the wounds of this abhorrent chapter in imperialism, but the audacity of Abbott to stand on a platform and capitalise on the influx of immigrants as an ill to be quashed out is beyond ludicrous.

          Australia has had consistent and sustained growth under social progressive rule, and weathered the economic crisis in a valiant manner. The Liberals would simply have abandoned the people to their economic fate. You probably don’t even understand the meaning of the insults you use, you just enjoy the vehement nature in which you utter them. Without socialists or social progressives, people like you(unless of course if you are a noble) wouldn’t even have the vote.

          • telemackus

            I marvel at how fick you social progressives (lefties in common parlance) are, but I suppose that’s what happens after 30 odd years of your lot ruining our state schools. I also marvel at your tenuous relationship with truth – if you don’t like the result you make up the facts to suit your worthless ideology.

          • Colonel Mustard

            I marvel at the sheer quantity of hatred, frustration and ignorance that defines the left wing mind too. I am not alone and however much you and your kind attempt to demonise me and those like me the lessons of history tell – and will tell – a very different story. And yes, I understand the meaning of the “insults” (ha!) very well, just as you do when you play the same game on behalf of your socialist and “social progressive” comrades.

            You think detesting the political opposition as a legitimate point of view is exclusive to the left?


          • DGStuart

            I marvel at your stunning inability to reason and spout drivel. It’s still a salutatory lesson to see people that can do joined up writing fall for bogus defunct political junk.

      • chan chan

        Not bad, but you really must try harder.

      • Two Bob

        Why do you bother trolling here? What to you aim to gain? Just write the opposite to everyone else and bask in the attention?

      • Two Bob

        Stick to Diane! I guess houses being built on floodplains don’t count then? Dont mess with what you dont understand. Bloomin metrosexuals!

      • DGStuart

        You really are a bear of very little brain, spouting your junior Guardian reader boilerplate like some whining schoolgirl about non-issues like ‘climate change’ – the updated more expansive term to replace the clearly risible ‘Global Warming’.

        Dry your eyes numb nuts, the ‘folks’ that you don’t really give a flying wank about anyway, will be safe. Certainly from your made up Chicken Little scenarios.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Well said and well done Australia for removing the rancid, tyranny of Labour from your shoulders. As in Britain, Labour is the party of lies, lying and liars.

  • Boo80

    This updating every minute business is anoying and disruptive.
    Also since you are only updating every 20minute so far it is not necessary.
    Please either turn it off, turn it to every 5 minutes, or find a way of implementing it more seamlessly.

    Writing this comment while it have been refreshing has been a pain.

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