Tony Abbott

Drive-in movie shows ‘Marty McFly’ from Back to the Future

Mr Abbott has been dubbed ‘Marty McFly’ for his decision to reinstitute the titles of knights and dames in Australia

By Jamie Smyth

“Welcome to Abbott’s bunyip aristocracy”, screamed the headline on the front page of Wednesday’s Sydney Morning Herald.

This was the newspaper’s satirical take on Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s surprise decision to reintroduce an honours system Down Under based on the regal titles of knights and dames.

Twitter provided a stream of satirical comments, while the Sydney Morning Herald’s reference to the “bunyip aristocracy” invoked the mythological aboriginal devil creature that was used to ridicule conservatives’ 19th century attempts to develop an aristocracy.

Outgoing Governor General Quentin Bryce and her successor Peter Cosgrove – who takes over as Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Australia on Friday – will be the first to receive the titles. As many as four new awards will be recommended by the prime minister and approved by the Queen each year, with the governor general occupying the position of “principle knight or dame in the Order of Australia”. Read more

Tony Abbott, Australian prime minister©Getty

The Group of 20 must stop being merely a “talkfest”, the Australian prime minister said on Thursday at Davos, committing his country’s ambition to securing concrete agreements during its chairmanship this year.

Tony Abbott sought to refocus the group, which has lost its way since the crisis, targeting financial measures, global taxation and trade and infrastructure financing.

The chairman of the G20 has significant influence in shaping the global economic debate every year, but little has been achieved at the G20 since the Korean presidency of 2010. Subsequently, France, Mexico and Russia found co-operation and meaningful agreements on global economic matters difficult to achieve.

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By Richard McGregor

When the US and Australia hold their annual top-level security consultations in Washington on Wednesday, they will doubtless exchange the usual bromides about the enduring value and strength of their alliance.

But the Australia defence and foreign ministers might also want to vent a little as well to their counterparts about the diplomatic mess that the former US intelligence contractor, Edward Snowden, has landed them in.

The revelation that the National Security Agency, America’s eavesdropping body, had bugged the mobile phone of German’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, provoked a crisis in Washington’s ties with Berlin. Mr Snowden has given Australia its own “Merkel moment” this week, with the publication of leaked documents detailing how Australia’s Defence Signals Directorate bugged the phones of top Indonesian leaders. Read more

Tony Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition yesterday won a commanding lower house majority, ending six years of Labor party rule. However, the makeup of the senate is yet to be decided. Senate votes take days, if not weeks, to tally, but early figures from the Australian Electoral commission suggest that several new minority parties might hold the balance of power.

In this case, the Australian senate could look decidedly more colourful in July 2014, when the newly elected senators would take their seats.

Clive Palmer (Getty)

Glenn Lazarus, a Palmer United senate candidate, was nicknamed “the brick with eyes” when he played rugby, and once posed naked with only a brick to promote a brick company.

Clive Palmer, who started the Palmer United party, has himself claimed a seat in the house of representatives. He is the multimillionaire owner of coal, iron ore and nickel assets, with plans to build a working replica of the Titanic and put mechanical dinosaurs on a luxury golf resortRead more

Opposition leader Tony Abbott with his two daughers (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Earlier this year Australia’s prime minister couldn’t catch a break.

From the Australia Day “riot” to the scandal that enveloped the speaker of the House and the nocturnal activities of a backbench MP, Julia Gillard seemed to stumble from one omnishambles to another.

But the tables have turned, and it’s opposition leader Tony Abbott who is under the kosh.

On Tuesday Mr Abbott managed to single-handily undermine his party’s attack on the Labor government’s mid-year budget with some ill-chosen words that reignited Australia’s now infamous misogyny debate.

It all started when Treasurer Wayne Swan attempted to explain the government’s decision to cut the baby bonus from A$5,000 to A$3,000 for the second and each subsequent child.

“We believe that these changes to the baby bonus will bring it more into line with the actual costs of having children. After the first child you’ve already bought the cot, the pram and other items you can use again,” he said.

Enter Mr Abbott, a proud father of three girls. He attacked the move on breakfast TV with the following logic: Read more

Esther Bintliff

In parliament on Tuesday, Australia’s prime minister, Julia Gillard, launched into a lacerating tirade against the leader of the opposition, accusing him of misogyny and hypocrisy.  Read more