Wednesday August 21
56 plus reasons to make you think about Tony Abbott.
In writing this diary, my format has been to chronologically list things as they occur, make some relative comment, and perhaps add a link for further information.
For example, since last writing, the International Panel for Climate Change has released its 5th assessment confirming that they are 95% certain that humans are responsible for global warming. I would usually add a comment about my faith in the science.
Then I might say something about Murdoch’s latest tweet and Rudd’s daughters’ brilliant reply, or I might raise the question of why Christopher Pyne didn’t show up for the Education Debate at the National Press Club. A large looming scandal.
Or the resignation of the candidate for Charlton, Kevin Baker and the fact that British MP Tom Watson will appear on Q & A next Monday.
Then I would have added some commentary on Wednesday’s debate.
I have decided to dispense with that format for this diary entry.
By their very nature diaries are a personal thing. Some write for purely personal reasons and never allow the light of outside eyes. Others, like me, share their innermost thoughts, and in doing so make ourselves vulnerable to condemnation.
I am not someone who has a natural emotional makeup for the hatred of another, but leadership and the characteristics required for leadership interest me enormously. This election is not only about policy, (as important as that is) but also about which person is best suited to lead us. There will be those will say that I am only looking at one side of the coin, that Rudd also requires critical examination. This is true, and I am open to anyone’s thoughts.
However, in this instance, I am asking the question ‘’who is Tony Abbott?’’
“Character is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life, governing moral choices and infusing personal and professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of an election campaign, but unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibres from which it is woven.”
I came across this assessment of Mr Abbott in an article titled ‘’Is Tony Abbott a Liberal’’ at macrobusiness.com.au
Abbott is socially conservative and there is little evidence to suggest he is economically liberal either. His carbon policies are based upon regulation, not markets, his parental leave plan is based upon tax and redistribute, his northern Australia development plan has all the hallmarks of central planning and favoured vested interests. He’s adopted the Labour Party’s overly restrictive industrial relations laws, education policies and disability insurance scheme. His current budget position is some $35 billion more generous than that of Labor so, at this stage, he looks more Keynesian than fiscal conservative.
There are a few tax cuts that suggest Tony has a penchant for miners and the wealthy which rudely approximates some kind of Thatcherite “trickle down” economics and maybe a bit of bastardised Lockean libertarianism.
When you digest these words you cannot help but be left with the impression of a man who is a contradiction in terms. A man who is not a true blue conservative in the traditional sense but someone who is able to dispose of his ideology if it stands in the way of power. So what motivates him?
David Marr in his quarterly Essay ‘’Political Animal’’ gives us the answer.
“An aggressive populist with a sharp tongue; a political animal with lots of charm; a born protégé with ambitions to lead; a big brain but no intellectual; a bluff guy who proved a more than competent minister; a politician with little idea of what he might do if he ever got to the top; and a man profoundly wary of change.
“He’s a worker. No doubt about that. But the point of it all is power. Without power, it’s been a waste of time.”
On the other hand, John Hewson described him as lazy and indolent.
Or consider my view the man.
‘’Tony Abbott if nothing else is a very colourful character. He is aggressive both physically and in the use of language. His negativity is legendary, and he has little consideration for any ideas other than his own and says NO to his opponents’ policies regardless of their worthiness. He is by evidence and his own admission a liar of some regularity. Added to that he has a political gutter mentality and little respect for the institution of parliament and its conventions.’’
When looked at in isolation the lies and indiscretions of Tony Abbott, his problems with women and even his negativity could perhaps all be written off as just Tony being Tony. Or that’s just politics. However, my focus here is on character and whether Mr Abbott has enough of it to be the leader of our nation. My contention is that because we are looking at a litany of instances of lying, deception and bad behaviour over a long period of time he simply doesn’t have the essence of character which is one of the main ingredients in the recipe of leadership.
The evidence for this assertion follows. None of these events are in chronological order. They are just as they come to mind, and are listed randomly in order to build a character profile.
1 When the President of the US visited he broke long-standing conventions by politicising his speech as opposition leader.
2 He did the same when the Indonesian president visited.
4 He did the same when the Queen visited.
6 He could not help but play politics with the death of an Australian icon in Margaret Whitlam.
8 He would not allow pairs (another long-standing convention) so that the minister for the arts could attend the funeral of painter Margaret Olley. Another Australian icon. Malcolm Turnbull, a personal friend was also prevented from attending. There have been other instances of not allowing pairs.
10 More recently he refused a pair whilst the then Prime Minister was on bereavement
leave following the death of her father.
11 Then there were the callous and inappropriate remarks he made to Bernie Banton.
12 At university, he kicked in a glass panel door when defeated in an election.
13 Referred to a women Chairperson as “Chairthing”
14 He was accused of assaulting women at University and later acquitted. He was defended by a QC and the girl defended herself.
15 Another woman accuses him of throwing punches at her. And hitting either side of a wall she was standing against. He says it never happened but others collaborate her story.
16 He threatens to punch the head in of Lindsay Foyle who disagreed
with him on a women’s right to an abortion.
17 In 1978 a young teacher by the name of Peter Woof bought assault charges against Abbott. He punched him in the face. It never went anywhere. Abbott was represented by a legal team of six and the young man could not afford to defend himself.
18 And he did punch out Joe Hockey’s lights during a rugby match.
19 He established a slush fund to bring down Pauline Hansen and then lied about its existence.
20 He was ejected from the House of reps once in obscure circumstances. Hansard is unclear why but it is alleged that he physically threatened Graham Edwards. Edwards lost both his legs in Vietnam.
21 In the year 2000, he was ejected from the House along with six others. Philip Coorey reports that he was headed toward the Labor back benches ready to thump a member who had heckled him.
22 Abused Nicola Roxon after turning up late for a debate.
23 Then there was the interview with Mark Riley where he had a brain fade that seemed like it would never end. I thought he was deciding between a right hook or a left cross. Something that I found mentally disturbing and worrying at the same time. After all, this was the man who could be our next Prime Minister.
24 Together with Pyne, he was seen running from the House of Reps to avoid embarrassment at being outwitted.
25 Being the first opposition leader to be ejected from the house in 26 years because he repeated an accusation of lying after withdrawing it.
26 The infamous “Sell my arse” statement verified by Tony Windsor. Will Windsor ever release the mobile phone transcript?
27 The interview with Kerry OBrien where he admitted
that unless it was in writing he didn’t always tell the truth.
28 And in another OBrien interview, he admitted lying about a meeting with the Catholic Archbishop George Pell.
29 During the Republic referendum, he told many outrageous untruths.
30 His famous “Climate change is crap” comment and later saying that he was speaking to an audience. This, of course, elicited the question. Is that what you always do?
31 His almost daily visits to businesses with messages of gloom and doom about the carbon tax. None of which have come to fruition. His blatant lying often repudiated by the management of the businesses. The most notable being the CEO of BHP and their decision not to proceed with the Olympic Dam mine. Whole towns were being closed down. Industries being forced to sack thousands. The end of the coal industry etc.
32 And of course, there is the now infamous Leigh Sales interview where beyond any doubt he lied three times and continued to do so the next day.
33 Then there was his statement that the Aboriginal embassy at parliament house be closed. To call his statement an error in judgement is too kind. It almost sounded like an incitement to riot.
34 He is quoted as saying in the Parliament that Prime Minister Gillard and Minister Albanese had targets on their heads. He later apologised.
35 And of course, there is also the lie about asylum seekers being illegal.
36 Added to that is his statement that the PM refused to lay down and die. His dying of shame comment.
37 His “lack of experience in raising children” comment.
38 His “make an honest woman of herself” comment.
39 His “no doesn’t mean no” comment.
40 ‘Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia.’
41 ‘These people aren’t so much seeking asylum, they’re seeking permanent residency. If they were happy with temporary protection visas, then they might be able to argue better that they were asylum seekers’
On rights at work:
42 ‘If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband … you find that he tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he’s employing someone while he is, in fact, a boss.’
43 ‘The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience.’
44 ‘I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities, and interests are different for physiological reasons’
45 ‘I think there does need to be, give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak’
46 ‘What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up, every year…’
On Julia Gillard:
47 ‘Gillard won’t lie down and die’
On climate change:
48 ‘If you want to put a price on carbon why not just do it with a simple tax.’
49 ‘I’d probably … I feel a bit threatened’
50 ‘If you’d asked me for advice I would have said to have – adopt a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about all of these things…’
On Indigenous Australia:
51 ‘Now, I know that there are some Aboriginal people who aren’t happy with Australia Day. For them, it remains Invasion Day. I think a better view is the view of Noel Pearson, who has said that Aboriginal people have much to celebrate in this country’s British Heritage’
52 ‘Western civilisation came to this country in 1788 and I’m proud of that…’
53 ‘There may not be a great job for them but whatever there is, they just have to do it, and if it’s picking up rubbish around the community, it just has to be done’
On Nicola Roxon:
54 ‘That’s bullshit. You’re being deliberately unpleasant. I suppose you can’t help yourself, can you?’
55 And we should not leave out his insensitive comments about the attempted suicide of John Brogden.
56 And the deliberate lie he told to the Australian Minerals Council that the Chinese intended increasing their emissions by 500 percent.
Add the finest judge’s comment.
Regretfully, the list is not up to date AND MY READERS MIGHT LIKE TO ADD TO IT
If politics is fundamentally about ideas, it is also about leadership. In these comments, I have deliberately steered clear of policy argument in order to concentrate on character. On three occasions I have invited people on Facebook to list five attributes of Tony Abbott that would warrant his election as Prime Minister of Australia. I have never received a reply. And when you look at the aforementioned list is it any wonder.
He is simply bereft of any character at all. He has been described as the mad monk and many other things, but essentially he is a repugnant gutter politician of the worst kind.
In following the American Republican parties example his shock and awe tactics associated with perpetual crisis has done nothing other than degenerate the standard of Australian politics, and the parliament generally. In the public eye, he is most effective in attack dog mode. However, he is found wanting when he needs to defend himself and simply reverts to stuttering hesitation and lies. Or just walking out on press conferences when he stumbles over tough questions. This is particularly noticeable when he tries to explain the complexity of policy detail.
The future of this country is of vital importance.
So much so that its leadership should never be entrusted to a politician of such little virtue and Character. A man who has failed to articulate a narrative for Australia’s future other than a personal desire to occupy the lodge. Given his performance of late, he would do well to consider these words. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. It’s easy to understand what Abbott says because he only speaks in slogans. The difficulty is knowing what he means.
I have used this line in one of my short stories and it aptly sums up the character of Honourable Leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.
As he spoke, the truth came from the beginning of a smile or was it just a sneer of deception.
Back to the usual diary format next week. I just wanted to get that off my chest.