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The facets of Australian fascism: the Abbott Government experiment (Part 13)

By Dr George Venturini*

Grande finale

A person who goes under the nom de blog of ‘Winifredjay’, and probably lives in Tasmania, collected sixteen memorable quotations from Tony Abbott. S/he thought that they would have been useful to remember “why he shouldn’t be Prime Minister” – the date: 9 October 2012.

Well, yes, but many people do not have time, inclination, patience, perseverance and habit to collect such famous dicta. Most of them have already appeared in the preceding pages; some are worth perusing now, for completion.

Here they are:

On immigration:

  1. ‘Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia.’
  2. ‘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:

  1. ‘Bad bosses, like bad fathers and husbands, should be tolerated because they do more good than harm.’

On women:

  1. ‘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.’
  2. ‘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.’
  3. ‘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.’
  4. ‘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:

  1. ‘Gillard won’t lie down and die.’

On climate change:

  1. (already seen) ‘Climate change is absolute crap.’
  2. ‘If you want to put a price on carbon why not just do it with a simple tax.’

On homosexuality:

  1. (already seen) ‘I’d probably … I feel a bit threatened.’
  2. ‘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:

  1. ‘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.’
  2. ‘Western civilisation came to this country in 1788 and I’m proud of that…’
  3. ‘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:

16: ‘That’s bullshit. You’re being deliberately unpleasant. I suppose you can’t help yourself, can you ?’

Read this very carefully Australia, admonished Winifredjay. Unfortunately, most Australians, whether of the zero, mono or ‘multi’culture, read little and remember and care less.

Still, some will remember the article by a political scientist attached to the University of Western Australia. In an opinion piece published in The Australian on 4 May 2013, Professor Peter van Onselen wrote that Abbott was in danger of being a do-nothing Prime Minister. And the reason was this: “the policy goals Abbott has announced so far cut immediately across conservative and liberal principles.”

Abbott Prime Minister Abbott could not have succeed in both promising lower taxes and, simultaneously, pledge to support a Medicare levy to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme. (‘Tony Abbott in danger of being a do-nothing PM | The …’, accessible at…).

Abbott is the man who, before forming his government, stood in front of a poster that read “Ditch the Witch” and who addressed the public outside Parliament House under a placard on which the Prime Minister Ms. Gillard’s honour was sullied by the most outrageous slurs: “JuLIAR Bob Browns [sic] BITCH”. Bronwyn Bishop, Sophie Mirabella and Ken Wyatt, MPs and Warren Truss, then Leader of the National Party, are clearly recognisable behind Abbott. The date was 23 March 2011, as The Sydney Morning Herald reminded the readers on 23 June 2015. (‘Julia Gillard on the moment that should have killed Tony Abbott’s career’).

Abbott is the same man who did not ever utter a word as Prime Minister Gillard was derided as barren, frumpy, ugly… who ought to be “thrown out to sea in a chaff bag…” – and once more – with Clover Moore, the Mayor of Sydney, and Bob Brown, for good measure. (‘Alan Jones suggests throwing Julia Gillard “out to sea in chaff bag” ’).

Once in government, from 7 September 2013, Abbott’s policy-slogan ‘stop the boats’ was immediately, cruelly, savagely executed – an example of decisionism so dear to the Fascists. The ‘policy’ was warmly shared by the Opposition. In fact, it was a ‘returned’ Prime Minister Rudd – for a little while, anyway – who, on 19 July 2013, announced the reopening of a concentration camp in Papua New Guinea – under what was called for the occasion a Regional Resettlement Arrangement with that country.

Competing in cruelty with Abbott, Rudd declared that “From now on, any asylum seeker who arrives in Australia by boat will have no chance of being settled in Australia as refugees. Asylum seekers taken to Christmas Island will be sent to Manus and elsewhere in Papua New Guinea for assessment of their refugee status. If they are found to be genuine refugees they will be resettled in Papua New Guinea … If they are found not to be genuine refugees they may be repatriated to their country of origin or be sent to a safe third country other than Australia.”

In a distant 2006 Rudd had written praising Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the theologian, as the man he admired most from the twentieth century, and who during the Nazi nightmare had spoken up for Jewish refugees and helped smuggle some of them out of Nazi Germany into Switzerland.

It was for the new Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, in October 2013, to instruct departmental and detention centre staff publicly to refer to asylum seekers as ‘illegal arrivals’ and as ‘detainees’, rather than as ‘clients’.

Tomorrow: Grand finale (continued)

GeorgeVenturini* In memory of my friends, Professor Bertram Gross and Justice Lionel Murphy.

Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some sixty years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. In 1975 he left a law chair in Chicago to join the Trade Practices Commission in Canberra. He may be reached at

⬅️ Part 12

➡️ Part 14


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  1. paul walter

    I loved some of the Abbott quotes, fascinating evidence of what a strange place the inside of his head must be.

    Enjoyed Dr Venturini’s neat way of identifying and naming “decisionism”, that was really good writing, for this brownshirt Man of Destiny stuff was only ever an egregious self indulgence of Abbott toward himself, overt and blatant poseur so full of himself that even the likes of Leigh Sales were able to pick him off like ripe fruit, like the Emperor with No Clothes.

  2. SGB

    Aistralia – “what” have you become?

  3. Athena

    You’ve got Abbott all wrong. According to Margie he’s a good man and an honest man.

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