Tony Abbott’s book Battlelines is part personal memoir, part Howard goverment history, part conservative philosophy, part analysis of current politics. I don’t think the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but the parts are interesting enough.
For me, its main value is in being a relatively detailed statement of ‘big government conservatism’, from the perspective of a supporter.
Even coming after the big-spending Howard years, there are several proposals for more spending still, including teacher salaries, dental care, and yet more family spending (I laughed out loud at the sub-heading ‘how families have been forgotten’). Luckily there are also some proposed cuts, from a higher retirement age and to superannuation concessions.
Though there is an ideological element to the family spending idea, Abbott’s plausible claim that the Howard government was a problem-solving government rather than one that was highly ideologically driven also helps explain why government grew under Howard.
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