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Maintaining privilege and hierarchy doesn’t allow for truth and empathy

In an article titled Inside the terrifying mind of Tony Abbott, Bernard Keane quotes a study from 2015 which looks into the psychological basis for climate change denial and why one particular demographic — older white males — tends to dominate the ranks of climate denialists.

The study identified that “denial is driven partly by dominant personality and low empathy, and partly by motivation to justify and promote existing social and human-nature hierarchies.”

I was immediately reminded of an article that Tony Abbott wrote in the Bulletin in 1987, six months after he left St Patrick’s seminary, in which he blames the church for not living up to his ideals, and the response written a week later by Father Bill Wright, a priest and church historian, who was vice-rector at St Patrick’s whilst Tony was there.

Father Bill said Tony was a controversial figure at the seminary. Whilst some seemed to admire him, others found him “just too formidable to talk to unless to agree; overbearing and opiniated”. After the heady days of university, “Tony was not, on the whole, impressed by his companions”.

“I do not recall that he ever talked about theology while at Manly. His concern was with churchmanship.”

Tony confirms this in his own article. He wanted hierarchical power but had no interest in empathy and pastoral care.

“Looking back, it seems that I was seeking a spiritual and human excellence to which the Church is no longer sure she aspires. My feeble attempts to recall her to her duty — as I saw it — betrayed a fathomless disappointment at the collapse of a cherished ideal.

In addition, a “cooperative” style of management ran counter to the Church’s age-old hierarchical structure.

The more they played up lay ministry and ecumenism and played down the unique role of the priest in the one true Church, the more the struggle seemed pointless.

l felt “had” by a seminary that so stressed ”empathy” with sinners and “dialogue” with the Church’s enemies that the priesthood seemed to have lost its point.”

Fr Wright goes on to say “Tony is inclined to score points, to skate over or hold back any reservations he might have about his case.”

This lack of empathy and desire to maintain the privileged status quo manifests itself in so many areas of Abbott’s thinking and public life.

In 2007, on the tenth anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report about the Stolen Generation (and before Kevin Rudd delivered his historic Apology), then Health Minister Abbott gave a speech in which he said “the debate on indigenous affairs had moved on from the issue of an apology”. What’s there to be sorry for after all.

Tony speaks of welfare “cheats” and “leaners” who rip off decent workers. The only reason they aren’t working is because they are lazy. Best way to deal with it? Starve them.

After he was assaulted by a man who “just wanted to nut the c#nt” because he had “always hated him”, Abbott immediately engaged in cynical political opportunism, saying “The love is love brigade aren’t showing a lot of love” and the “ugliness” and “intolerance” is coming from “those who tell us, in the name of decency and fair-mindedness and freedom, we’ve got to allow same-sex marriage”.

As Bernard Keane points out

he sees LGBTI people as threatening — not, of course, to his physical self, but to his social status. He put it even better when he explained his “threatened” comments by saying homosexuality “challenges orthodox notions of the right order of things”, revealing how LGBTI people conflicted with his hierarchical, “right order” view of the world.

We see the same lack of empathy when it comes to dealing with the humanitarian crisis of refugees. Abbott’s response about settling supposedly “illegal” asylum seekers here was a heartless simplistic “Nope, nope, nope.”

Abbott is a monarchist who sees any push for a republic as “the latest instalment in the green-left’s war on our way of life”.

He does not support quotas for female political representation saying “It’s up to every pre-selection panel to choose the best candidate regardless of gender.” Obviously he didn’t think much of the women in his party when handing out Cabinet jobs.

Keane sums up Abbott well when he says

through a prism of hierarchy, it becomes easier to understand why Abbott clings to the heterosexual, coal-fired, monarchical Australia he believes he grew up in, because that delivered him, as he sees it, to the top of the “right order of things” and anything that contradicts it must be fought as a kind of existential threat.

Abbott and his mates are happy with the status quo and they sure don’t want anyone upsetting the apple cart on their privileged advantage.


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  1. Lee

    What you should have added was entitlement . Abbott being born the fourth and only male child in a family of girls, raise as the crown prince of the family . determined by his own words to be pope or Prime minister. It is always about Abbotts toxic ego and his believe he is special. Delusions of grandeur if he went to far. With everything he does you always ask. Primarily whats in it for Tony. Tony’s fantasy is to divide and conquer the LNP so badly that they will beg to have him back for stability. The is a thug. A verbally violence thug. he has traits similar to those of a DV perpetrator . In his younger days at uni he used violence, some physical the rest non physical to get what he wanted. His only interest in being a priest was power that came with it. he has no empathy. He is a parasite.He will use abuse and bully to get what he wants. The best way to deal with a parasite is to deny it that which it needs to live. With Abbott its attention. Until. he is publicly humiliated beyond reasonable doubt of his darkest secret. Or he is put in the corner and told not to move, he will never stop.

  2. stephengb2014

    Kaye – always a pleasure to read your work.

    Every time I hear about Abbott from people who know him I cringe, when I read his words from his commentary or his publications it reminds just how sick this man is truely.

    What saddens me more than anything else is that people like Abbott exist and and then I know there has to be enough of them to vote these selfpromoted born to rule nasties, into power.

    Thank you for the great work.

    S G B

  3. Shutterbug

    “After he was assaulted by a man who “just wanted to nut the c#nt” because he had “always hated him”,”
    I can assure you Kaye, that many decent Australian’s patience is wearing VERY thin with Abbott’s imbecilic antics and there would most certainly be a l-o-n-g line wanting to do the very same thing. Not only that, there is red hot anger at Fizza for his total and complete lack of urge to shut Abbott up. It is obvious to even Blind Freddie that Abbott has some serious heavy duty dirt on Fizza otherwise Abbott would have been put in his box soon after the leadership rolling. And it is that issue – Abbott white anting – which will be the funeral tune Fizza’s political career will march to. And I really don’t think too many will respond to the RSVP.

  4. stephengb2014

    Good comment Lee

    I am just watching the conservativesreach their sense of entitlement.

    S G B

  5. darrel nay

    Abbott isn’t running around head-butting people or throwing acid at innocent people, so I hope you lefties can find some perspective when it comes to ‘what saddens me more than anything else’..


  6. Kaye Lee

    Lindsay Foyle, a former deputy editor of The Bulletin and a past president of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association, revealed that Tony Abbott once threatened to punch him because of a disagreement over abortion.

    “Greg Sheridan, the education writer on The Bulletin, arrived with some people who did not work with us. The interlopers were soon identified as radicals involved in student politics at the University of Sydney.

    They quickly explained how the world went around and why they had to extinguish their opposition at the university and the rest of the country. Unfortunately, I did not agree with everything that was said and a few feathers got ruffled. The main point of contention was a woman’s right to control pregnancy, either via contraception or abortion. My view was that it was something those involved should settle on, not people like me who didn’t have to live with the consequences of the decision. To the activists that view was just as unacceptable as abortion.

    The largest of the lot was a person named Tony Abbott. He decided the quickest way to settle our differences was to take me downstairs and demonstrate how I was wrong by punching my head in.”

    Abbott Threatened Me Too

    TONY ABBOTT: “At university the need to defend Catholicism in a hostile environment had led me to an extremely naturalistic defence of traditional beliefs and disciplines. Abortion was wrong, because it violated instinctive respect for life; contraception, because it was usually part of a “me now” mentality.”

    That didn’t stop him rooting of course. He wasn’t the one who would get pregnant.


    danny lim got it right. Abbott is just a ‘cun’t’.

  8. Kaye Lee

    Another example of Abbott’s lack of empathy or principles or anything remotely resembling humanity whilst happily enjoying the opportunities that came his way…..

    Upon the death of Nelson Mandela in December 2013, Prime Minister Tony Abbott had this to say of his legacy:

    “The world mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela will forever be remembered as more than a political leader, he was a moral leader. He spent much of his life standing against the injustice of apartheid.”


    “In April 1979, when Abbott was President of our own Students’ Representative Council, he wrote in the pages of this publication that Voluntary Student Unionism “would finally stop all students being taxed so the SRC can fund groups such as International Socialists, South African Terrorists, the Spartacists, Lidcombe Health Workers Collective etc. which are quite irrelevant, not to say obnoxious, to student purposes.”

    Abbott’s “South African Terrorists” were the members of Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) political party, to whom the SRC had previously been giving money.

    Many Australians supported fundraising efforts for the ANC, and participated in anti-Apartheid demonstrations throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The racially exclusive Springboks were banned from playing in Australia between 1974 and the end of Apartheid in 1994. In 1981, the Fraser government refused permission for the aircraft carrying the Springboks to a tour of New Zealand to refuel on Australian territory. Abbott, however, accepted a rugby scholarship to tour South Africa in what former Federal Labor Minister Barry Cohen described as a “universally acknowledged… promotional tour of Apartheid”.

    Platitudes regarding lionised figures like Mandela are to be expected from Western leaders of any political leaning. But there was a time when Apartheid was a live issue, one whose endurance depended to some significant degree on the actions of states like Australia, which shared ties of trade, commonwealth and geostrategy with South Africa. For some, the possibility of communist influence was a preoccupation that outweighed concern for a system of racial totalitarianism practiced by a major allied state. Abbott’s record on the issue is riddled with sins of omission and commission.”

    Abbott, 1979: “South African terrorists”

  9. Wayne

    Abbott. The Dunning-Kruger Effect in extremis.

  10. Glenn Barry

    I reckon I could raise tens, possibly hundreds of thousands by running a lottery, available to pacifists exclusively, with the winner getting the opportunity to belt Abbott in the mouth – which charity would receive the benefits is the only open question

  11. Peter F

    Kaye,Thanks again for all your work.I had read some of the Bulletin story. I find it credible for this simple reason: a friend who was in the Seminary at the same time as Abbott has mentioned on several occasions that he believed the people of Australia deserve to know the circumstances surrounding Abbott’s time there.
    Great work Kaye

  12. Lee

    Where do you find this stuff. I feel like starting about Abbott the thug. I wish I could find stuff on Dutton too. theya re of the same ilk

  13. Frank Smith

    Kaye Lee and Lee,
    I recently read Nelson Mandela’s mammoth autobiography “Long Road To Freedom” in an attempt to try and ascertain what leadership and statesmenship traits are missing among almost all political leaders throughout the world at present. But, as I did so, another striking revelation emerged. That was the parallels between the tactics used by the apartheid South African Government to dehumanise, isolate, villify and intimidate the political prisoners held on the off-shore Robbens Island prison and the tactics used by Dutton, Abbott, Border Force and the contractors running our own off-shore island gulags on Manus and Nauru. Such parallels should bring shame on all Australians.

  14. Lee

    Hey Frank., There are many examples of this world wide. Look at the slave trade. The LNP could have been legends, but instead they are sadists by their own ideology and their delusions of grandeur and omnipotence.They could have brought the centres back here and still stopped boats. But they didnt. What is exceptionally offensive is that we are paying for the cost in tax. The problem is that with Abbott is a belief system rather than psychosis. Dutton has the same personality. You do not have to physically hit someone to be a violent thug and a bully. Abbott still has his raw beliefs and behaviours intuitively. he has learned tho to modify his behaviour. When pushed how ever i believe he would be physical. And they craziness of their core belief system of power and control of those they deem not worthy is the money they will throw to preserve it.

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