Boat load of barnacles

What is a Captain to do with a ship
full of barnacles? By Rocco Fazzari and Denis Carnahan with apologies to
drunken sailors everywhere.
Conservative commentators appear to be growing increasingly
frustrated with the Abbott government, as it struggles to present a
coherent message leading into the final parliamentary sitting week for
the year.

The Prime Minister said this week he wanted to clear a
few policy "barnacles", but by the end of the week it remained unclear
which barnacles he was speaking of.

It was a difficult week for the government, which faced criticism over mixed messages about the future of its GP co-payment, its broken promise not to cut the ABC or SBS and comments from the Defence Minister mocking the government shipbuilder.

Failing the pub test? Tony Abbott with Alan Jones in 2011.
Failing the pub test? Tony Abbott with Alan Jones in 2011. Photo: Andrew Meares

Janet Albrechtsen, Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt are among the
prominent conservative voices to criticise the Abbott government this
week for its struggles. All three commentators were among conservative
supporters of Tony Abbott who were invited to Kirribilli House last year for a private function.

But in light of the government's difficulties they have switched their aim. 

week. Another wasted opportunity by the Abbott government to score a
political win. And another reminder of one of the simplest lessons in
politics and life: respect is a two-way street. On that critical front,
the Abbott government has failed time and again," Albrechtsen wrote in
her column for The Australian on Tuesday.

"What should have been an effortless political win this week turned into yet another political disaster.

"But instead of working through that initial error, the government played condescending word games."

Janet Albrechtsen
Janet Albrechtsen Photo: Robert Pearce

On Thursday, Bolt wrote for News Corporation that the government
was making "the same blunders that killed Julia Gillard" when it came to
the ABC.

"What is so frustrating for those who wish Abbott well
is that this disaster was utterly predictable - and, indeed, predicted,"
Bolt wrote.

"In April, even though it killed me, I warned through gritted teeth that the government should honour its promise to the ABC."

Andrew Bolt
Andrew Bolt Photo: Louie Douvis and Jesse Marlow

Earlier in the week, Bolt argued the government had developed a
habit of apologising, "But apologising just signals another mistake was
made. And this government apologises an awful lot, lacking confidence in
its ability to prosecute an argument in the media."

In an editorial last weekend, before the government became entangled over the $7 GP fee and ABC job losses, The Australian argued that "Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey appear tongue-tied" and had to "reboot their sales job."
"Without a clear narrative, the task will be beyond him; his communications strategy is in disarray."

And in an interview after the G20 summit a fortnight ago, Jones attacked the Prime Minister over the renewable energy target and for "failing the pub test" with elements of the free trade deal with China.

win an election – and you're not worth two bob in opposition – to win
an election, you've got to pass the pub test," he said.

"PM, you don't have a mandate for this."

"The people who vote are the masters, aren't they? They have given you
whatever authority you've got – they don't agree with this."

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