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The facets of Australian fascism: the Abbott Government experiment (Part 6)

By Dr George Venturini*

Searching for Tony Abbott

Abbott was born in London, United Kingdom, on 4 November 1957, to an English father, Richard Henry ‘Dick’ Abbott and an Australian mother, who was born in Sydney. Abbott’s father arrived in Australia in 1940 and after the war returned to England, married Fay Peters, and fathered Tony. Towards the end of 1960 the Abbott family left England for Australia.

Tony Abbott is a product of 1950s England. He represents a narrow strand in Australian ‘culture’ which is in many ways more English than Australian, and that is part of the reason why he was unsuccessful.

He is not a modern Australian – whatever that means; try: more of an English soccer thug than of an Australian Football League fan. His father was a dentist and his mother had a science degree. A former pilot who, much to his disappointment, never flew in the war, his father had wanted to become a priest and always impressed on his son that it was better to be a good man than a successful one. There were four siblings, with Abbott the only boy. He was spoiled and, as one sister later remarked, “Tony was always the star”. His mother thought so highly of him that she predicted he would become either pope or prime minister. A favoured son in his own family, and raised in a cloistered world of male institutions, he has always been drawn to powerful mentors from his own caste – priests, zealots, and father figures. Perhaps this is why so many voters, especially women, dislike him: they sense in Abbott’s default aggressiveness and lack of balance a man not attuned to their centre-of-the-road, somewhat secular interests.

Tony Abbott attended primary school at St Aloysius’ College at Milson’s Point, before completing his secondary school education at St Ignatius’ College, Riverview, both Jesuit schools.

He found a mentor at Riverview in Emmet Costello, the chaplain, a worldly Jesuit from a wealthy background who was fascinated by politics. He knew many of the important political players and Abbott often sought him out.

Like Santamaria, Costello saw politics as a vocation, a way of giving glory to God in the human realm. Indeed, by the time he went to Sydney University, Abbott was convinced that he had a bright future, perhaps in politics.

His constant use of ‘mate’ or ‘fair dinkum’ made him seem more like a trade unionist than the usual Liberal supporter. His drinking, which would result in some minor acts of vandalism, and his ability at sport also seemed at odds with the stereotype of the socially cautious, nerdy young Liberal. He was never one to shy away from a stoush, and stated his opinions wherever he went. He gained a reputation for being a braggart, a blabbermouth, a larrikin, and in at least one notorious case a violent hooligan. In that case he might have shown his early propensity for misogyny. That is the case of Barbara Ramjan: it was born on 28 July 1977 and was still quite alive towards the end of 2015. Many persons from the ‘respectable’ Right-wing in the country took an interest in the process and were forced to one démarche or another.

The case gained notoriety through the diligent work by David Marr, writer and journalist. It originated from the competition between Ms. Ramjan and Tony Abbott, both students at the University of Sydney and both aspiring to the presidency of the Students’ Representative Council. Abbott lost heavily to Ramjan. “Her victory was declared on the evening of 28 July in the S.R.C.’s rooms in the basement of the Wentworth building. It was an especially dismal time for Abbott: his defeat came two days after the birth of the child he thought was his son.” What followed was witnessed by a politically non-committed student who “was using the cheap photocopier in the S.R.C. foyer when trouble erupted around him. … Now a professor of biomedical science, he told me: “Suddenly a flying squad of yahoos led by Abbott came down the stairs. Abbott is unmistakable. Everybody knew Tony Abbott. He was all over campus all the time. He walked past me quickly but his gang screamed ‘commie’ and ‘poofter’ and the guy behind him grabbed me by the shoulders and threw me against the wall. I was furious. I picked myself up and immediately followed these thugs down the corridor.”

Ramjan was in the corridor. As Abbott approached, she thought he was coming to offer his congratulations. “But no, that’s not what he wanted. He came up to within an inch of my nose and punched the wall on either side of my head.” She recalls with cold disdain: “It was done to intimidate.”

The witness “saw Barbara being helped up very ashen-faced.” He had no doubt who it was. “These two polarising figures on campus were unmistakable and here was Abbott acting as he did all the time. He was a bit of a thug and quite proud of it I think.” The witness never forgot the incident, and went on talking about it for a long time.

As Abbott and his ‘mates’ disappeared down the corridor, Ramjan looked about for her campaign manager, David Patch. In The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald of 13 September 2012 Mr. Patch would write: “Ramjan found me. She is a small woman, and Tony Abbott was (and is) a strong man. She was very shaken, scared and angry. She told me that Abbott had come up to her, put his face in her face, and punched the wall on either side of her head. So, I am a witness. Her immediate complaint to me about what Abbott had just done had the absolute ring of truth about it. I believed Ramjan at the time, and still do. Barbara Ramjan has been telling that story about Abbott ever since.”

Mr. Patch, a former judicial registrar of the Industrial Relations Court and of the Federal Court, and now a senior barrister in Sydney, was prepared to write because thirty-five years after the event Abbott decided to deny the punch ever happened. “I know what happened. I write not to land a blow on (or near) Mr. Abbott, but to ensure that the debate about the character and suitability of a potential Prime Minister is fully and accurately informed.”

Mr. Patch added: “The wall-punching event was not an isolated one.” As President of the S.R.C. Ms. Ramjan insisted on being addressed as chairperson, but “for an entire year Abbott called Ramjan ‘Chairthing’ whenever he addressed her at SRC meetings.

“The gender-based disrespect for her office and her person is remarkably similar to the disrespectful way that Abbott treats the Prime Minister, and her office, today.”

Mr. Patch said that he knew Abbott well at the time. “Although he was an active member of a fundamentalist political movement with a religious base (the DLP and the National Civic Council led by Bob Santamaria), it was his personally offensive behaviour which stood out.

He was always (verbally) attacking gays and feminists and lefties. You certainly knew what he was against – the trouble was that you couldn’t figure out what he was in favour of! Once again, the parallels with the way he operates today are, to those who knew him then, quite remarkable.” (‘Barrister backs woman’s claim of Abbott ‘intimidation’‘).

Mr. Patch was writing less than a month from the now famous speech by Prime Minister Gillard which made international headlines. (A. Lester, ‘Ladylike: Julia Gillard’s Misogyny Speech‘).

Tomorrow: Searching for Tony Abbott (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 George.Venturini@bigpond.com.au.

⬅️ Part 5

➡️ Part 7

 

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15 comments

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  1. Loz

    And he is still the same obnoxious Abbott.

  2. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Abbott’s punishment is being seen publicly attempting to hand out How To Vote cards in the rain and being ignored by his constituents.

    He’s a laughing stock and even his thick skin is not that thick.

  3. mark

    abbott, an english racist.mark

  4. King1394

    Still waiting for proof of his Australian citizenship

  5. Salstarat

    The whole Abbott family are a pack of disreputable LEANERS! The fact that Abbott’s father, Dick, was a well-heeled orthodontist who could have EASILY afforded to pay the total cost to cover the passage of himself and his family from England to Australia, BUT, instead, chose to bludge off Australian taxpayers and use (abuse) the Australian taxpayer subsidised “TEN POUND IMMIGRATION” system and get full subsidised passage to Australia would indicate that self-entitlement runs deep in the Abbott family going back generations! Having that bastard (Phony Tony) dragged to our shores was, indeed, the WORST, most damaging import that this country has ever seen. I would rather have boat loads of thousands of needy asylum seekers than this snivelling, thuggish, disreputably corrupt, homophobic misogynist (Abbott). What a savage, inhumane, pathological LIAR Abbott is – beyond any doubt, the absolute WORST PM in living memory (or, at least, since his mentor, the war criminal, John Howard)! Abbott has done more to damage EVERY facet of our egalitarian way of life, defunding our education into oblivion, vandalising our environment to cater to the whims of massive, amorphous multinational mining conglomerates. Abbott’s level of corruption and blatant, criminal NEPOTISM throughout his ignominious reign beggars belief. In rapid time Abbott destroyed Australia’s international reputation and made us a laughing stock around the world.

    Abbott has always been and will always be an unconscionable grub who ticks EVERY box as a self-serving psychopath without one iota of insight or remorse! If the gormless, dumbed down Libtards in the Warringah electorate are STUPID enough to vote this megalomaniacal narcissist back at the next election, they deserve more of the same which is Abbott completely IGNORING and NEGLECTING his electorate until the 11th hour of the election. WAKE UP WARRINGAH … now is your chance to get rid of this truly vile little sociopath for once and for all! JUST DO IT!

  6. babyjewels10

    Not in the least surprised by this: “He was spoiled and, as one sister later remarked, “Tony was always the star”. His mother thought so highly of him that she predicted he would become either pope or prime minister.” What a classic example he is of a spoiled rotten child, placed high on a pedestal his entire life and told that one day he’ll be God.

  7. John Lord

    Enlightened reading.

  8. diannaart

    Tony Abbott always knew what he hates, I wonder how that is working for him now his power is greatly reduced and, hopefully, neutered completely after July 2.

  9. Eelboy

    I was at Sydney University in 1977 & don’t know anyone who ever considered Abbott anything other than a loud-mouthed North Shore rich kid with Fascist tendencies. As he emigrated as a two year old, you are drawing a very long bow in calling him “more of an English soccer thug than an Australian football league fan”. He was GPS rugger-bugger @ St John’s College & a member of the DLP’s campus off shoot ‘The Democrat Club’. The Democrat’s opposed all the reforms of the Whitlam era; independent foreign policy, medibank (as it then was), free tertiary education, anti-cartel legislation, feminism & womens’ issues & anything to do with environment or population policy. He was totally immersed in Australian issues. Take it from someone who was there. I’ve got a million stories if anyone wants to hear them.

  10. Salstarat

    Eelboy, I would be very, very interested in hearing your stories!

  11. Möbius Ecko

    Eelboy you and Kaye Lee should get together. She was also at university when Abbott was there and talks of his group of stand over thugs.

  12. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I bet Rabid didn’t like all the ‘poor’ kids’ access to free university education introduced by Gough.

    It may have accounted for some of his standover tactics against people he deemed beneath important enough to be there.

  13. Salstarat

    I knew people that attended Sydney University at the same time as Baloney Tony and they told me that he used to swagger around the campus like a mutant cowboy in the company of a small group of thuggish bogan morons. It seems very strange that Abbott would choose to go to Sydney University at that time because it was considered a very left wing, progressive university. My brother did Law/Economics during the 1970’s at Sydney University and the overwhelming majority of students at the university (at that time) were die hard socialists. I was informed that Abbott also used to stand outside a Women’s Debating Room at the university screaming out homophobic and misogynistic “jokes” like a puerile, infantile and thoroughly immature little brat. Problem with this unpalatable creature is that he has NEVER grown up … still maintains his unspeakably arrogant, delusional sense of bloated self importance without one iota of insight into his appalling behaviour. How he managed to rise, like faeces in a pond, to the top of the LNP is beyond belief!

  14. Eelboy

    Since you asked… Mid 1977, on my way home across campus from the Forrest Lodge Hotel about 10.30 one week night, I caught three Democrat Club members ripping down Fretilin & ban uranium mining posters. They were about 50-60 metres from me & I shouted out the name of one of them whom I knew. He was instantly recognisable by his glasses, short back & sides haircut & straight legged slacks. He was a mature age student who was later exposed as a National Civic Council activist. Infuriated at their sneakiness I set off after them at a full gallop. They dropped the posters & ran. Sorry if this sounds too heroic, but it shows them up for the cowards they were. They only picked fights with people they thought they could ‘get over’.

  15. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    We need more heroes, Eelboy, who are prepared to call out under-handed behaviour when they see it.

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