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Tag Archives: Bernie Banton

Is George Pell a problem for Abbott?

George Pell: Image by The Daily Telegraph

George Pell: Image by The Daily Telegraph

Now that the dust has settled and Tony Abbott is our Prime Minister, there is renewed interest in his relationship with the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell and some speculation as to how that relationship will develop given that Pell is the man Tony Abbott regards as his spiritual advisor. It is entirely reasonable to suggest that George Pell would regard Abbott as a supporter of Catholic dogma and willing to uphold Catholic teaching across a range of sensitive, social issues. It is therefore reasonable to ask how we, the voters, can be assured that Cardinal George Pell is not going to become a silent partner in running the country and that Tony Abbott won’t become his lapdog.

The Church in Australia is desperate to regain some of its dwindling influence. Sixty years ago, in pre Vatican II times, 75% of Catholics attended church regularly. Today, that figure has slumped to just 13%.  Today, just 5% of Australians are practicing Catholics. That figure renders Cardinal Pell’s job of placing Catholic teaching high on the list of political issues almost impossible. Issues such as contraception, euthanasia and gay marriage are a matter of non-negotiable Catholic dogma, contrasting starkly with an increasingly secular Australia which has long since moved in the opposite direction. The forum of public opinion would suggest these issues are private and best decided by those involved. The Church, however, would have government uphold what it regards as Catholic teaching. Tony Abbott is a practicing Catholic and heavily influenced by Cardinal Pell.  So where does this leave Abbott?

Cardinal George Pell has clear and concise alternatives to the preferences of an increasingly secular world but he struggles to present then in a way that is palatable. His policies which come from the Vatican are not the policies that most Australians would tolerate. While we know Abbott takes political advice from another mentor, John Howard, what we don’t know, is how much spiritual advice he takes from George Pell. We accept that the advice he receives from John Howard is specific to the issues of political success. We can make a considered judgement about that. What we don’t know and therefore are unable to judge, is whether the advice he receives from George Pell is specific to our interests or to the temporal interests of the Catholic Church and the success of George Pell’s agenda for Australia.

Lately, Cardinal George Pell is showing all the signs of a man who just doesn’t get it. His press conference on November 15th 2012 following the announcement by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard of a Royal Commission into child sexual abuse was ample evidence of a man who had lost touch with reality. Pell’s main concern seemed to be that the Catholic Church was a victim of a media smear campaign. He seems to think that claims against paedophile priests are exaggerated. (Ref 6). His performance at that press conference was arrogant and half hearted to say the least.

Pell also has his detractors inside the church. Retired Bishop, Geoffrey Robinson recently said of him, “He’s not a team player, he never has been.” On the question of priests breaking the confessional seal to expose child sex abuse, Robinson added, “On this subject too, he’s not consulting with anyone else; he’s simply doing his own thing. I have to say, that on this subject, he’s a great embarrassment to me and to a lot of good Catholic people” (Ref 3). To his credit, Abbott distanced himself from Pell on the issue of the confessional seal when he made his position clear on priests’ responsibilities in this matter.  “If they become aware of sexual offences against children, those legal requirements must be adhered to. The law is no respecter of persons, everyone has to obey the law, regardless of what job they are doing, what position they hold,” he said. (Ref 6)

But now that Abbott is prime minister we are entitled to know on what side of the spiritual fence he sits. To say he is highly conservative and would not support gay marriage or drug law reform is obvious. But on what grounds does he not support these issues? To what extent are his views subject to Catholic teaching?  His plagiarising of old hat references such as Sir Robert Menzies’ “faceless men” and John Howard’s “ticker” and “who do you trust” and his call for the now Labor opposition to “repent” on the issue of the carbon tax demonstrate his lack of originality and his attachment, even reliance, on those he sees as his mentors and those to whom he looks for advice. Cardinal Pell is one such mentor. Pell’s conservative Catholic views are well known, not so Abbott’s. We are entitled to know what might be behind some of his policy preferences and in what way Pell has influence over him. When one looks closely one can detect some behavioural aspects that give us some clues.

Abbott’s callous comment ‘shit happens’ in reference to soldiers dying in Afghanistan (Ref 5) tells its own story. It demonstrates a lack of empathy with those about whom he makes such a reference.  Let us not forget that he did it once before in reference to the now deceased champion of the James Hardie asbestos campaign, Bernie Banton (Ref 4). The Catholic Church displays a staggering lack of empathy across a range of social issues, not the least of which has been its attitude to the victims of sexual abuse by the clergy and to the use of condoms in AIDS ravaged Africa.

In Parliament Abbott attempts to sound scholarly as does Pell when speaking from the pulpit, but when in the arena of the real world, Pell struggles when constantly interrupted and Abbott sounds robotic when reduced to the fifteen second time bite. He succumbs to metaphors and superficial comments that lack any real substance or meaning. Interestingly, both platforms have seen Abbott uttering some frightful gaffes about women.

Tony Abbott adds to the dilemma with his seemingly confused understanding of what is and is not, Christian. In one blunder concerning the boat people, Abbott said:

“I don’t think it’s a very Christian thing to come in by the back door rather than the front door . . . I think the people we accept should be coming the right way and not the wrong way . . . If you pay a people-smuggler, if you jump the queue, if you take yourself and your family on a leaky boat, that’s doing the wrong thing, not the right thing, and we shouldn’t encourage it.”

Human Rights activist, Julian Burnside commented:

“It is not surprising that Mr Abbott has a view about the moral dimension of refugee issues.

What is striking is that Mr Abbott could get the matter so spectacularly wrong, both as to the facts and as to the moral equation” (Ref 7).

Abbott’s comments that we are rolling out the red carpet for asylum seekers by releasing them into community detention (2), sends us a mixed message. Such comments appear, on the surface, to fly in the face of Christian compassion, therefore we can assume it is a political ploy; a vote winner. One might have thought that a devout Christian like Abbott would be more sympathetic. He conveniently fails to acknowledge the financial benefits that come with such a policy and appears to have no regard for the psychological damage done to those who remain in detention centres. However, all of that is secondary, it would seem, to the image that “rolling out the red carpet” conjures up in the minds of those who have been paralysed by the fear campaign his mentor John Howard began. Metaphorically speaking, the Catholic Church likes locking up people too; not their bodies but their minds. Their idea of a perfect world is to have everyone faithfully observing the teachings of ‘the one true church.’ One wonders if Tony Abbott’s liking for mandatory detention is the manifestation of a similar theology.

On the treatment of women there are other behavioural signs. It is easy to think the church has a fear of women especially if you were raised Catholic. Over many centuries of a male dominated hierarchy within the church, certain attitudes of superiority over women developed which church leaders conveniently allowed to be incorporated within its plethora of Mysteries. This eliminated the need for a detailed explanation. For them, the threat of women ever usurping the dominance of the male role was countered by excluding them, then de-valuing them. One could argue that they did this because they were afraid of them.

Tony Abbott’s foot-in-mouth tendency, his apparent brain-snap comments when dealing with women’s issues, might easily be accounted for when one factors in his close association with, and commitment to, Catholic Church teaching. The Church doesn’t teach fear of women, but it is implied in much of its dogma. It’s refusal to ordain women as priests and its refusal to permit priests to marry (unless you’re a married Anglican priest and want to defect to Rome) betray its attitude to women quite clearly. Its insistence that all sexual intercourse must be open to the creation of life is another put-down teaching that places the primary role of women as child bearers before anything else. Abbott’s foot-in-mouth comment about the previous Labor government’s lack of experience in raising children (Ref 8) also betrays this Catholic Church mindset.

So what is Tony Abbott’s theology? And what has shaped his Machiavellian view and perhaps we should ask who is encouraging him? Each one of us, particularly that twenty five percent of Australians who claim to be Atheist (Ref 1) need to know what drives him when deciding how his values and particularly his religious convictions will impact upon us.   And, should we also ask: does he view his own agenda within the corridors of power as more important than that of serving the best interests of the citizens of Australia.

John Kelly

References

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreligion_in_Australia

  2. Canberra Times, 18/02/2012, Kirsty Needham.

  3. http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2012/s3632475.htm

  4. http://www.news.com.au/news/abbott-phones-in-banton-apology/story-fna7dq6e-1111114764079

  5. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-02-08/shit-happens-abbott-grilled-over-digger-remark/1935128

6.  http://www.theglobalmail.org/feature/restoring-the-faith/477/

7.  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/abbott-slams-boatpeople-as-un-christian/story-fn9hm1gu-1226422034305#mm-premium

  1. http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2012/oct/23/julia-gillard-children-australia-video

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Defending my right to say what I did about Tony Abbott

I copped a bit of flak for referring to Tony Abbott as the ‘circus clown with the big ears’ in my previous post, and probably rightly so and I apologise to those who were genuinely offended. Under normal circumstances, I would have considered it indeed an offensive comment and would not have included it, however, these are not normal times.

They were before Tony Abbott seized leadership of his party over three years ago.

“But should have I deleted it?” I asked. I thought long and hard about that until I recalled the tone of political debate in this country and how Tony Abbott had engineered it.

Tony Abbott introduced the gutter politics of the American Tea Party into our fair country and the adoring media seized upon it with filthy lust. Both they and Tony Abbott, as a glaring example, denigrated former Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a manner that makes my “circus clown with the big ears” comment appear a very limp attack on the man by comparison.

During her term as Prime Minister, she was ruthlessly ridiculed for such menial things such as having red hair, a long nose, a big bum, a Welsh accent and her unmarried status.

We witnessed hatred inspired by the shock jocks, hatred inspired by Tony Abbott, and witnessed the denigration of Parliament by Tony Abbott’s Opposition.

We heard cries from either the Opposition or the media that she should be kicked to death or tossed overboard and saw placards littering the countryside that she’s a bitch or a witch.

Tony Abbott stood in front of those signs and smirked.

One media empire even fabricated a story that she engaged in criminal activity.

And don’t forget how tens of thousands of rabid right-wingers used to lap up Pickering’s pornographic portrayal of Julia Gillard.

Offensive and insulting not just to Julia Gillard, but to all women.

Now to Tony Abbott himself. I will use words that I’ve written before, so I apologise to those who are familiar with them.

I used to think that John Howard was a mean-spirited, nasty piece of work, but in comparison to Tony Abbott he appears as kind, caring and compassionate as Mother Teresa.

Tony Abbott is far, far more mean-spirited. He demonstrates this in the way he ignores human misery and the way he belittles those who are suffering from it. He is, in a nutshell, nasty to the core.

Stories surface that he’s been inherently nasty for as long as people have known him, but it wasn’t until 2005 that some of the public first took notice of his extreme level of nastiness and lack of compassion for human misery when it was hoisted onto the national stage.

It came only hours after the NSW Leader of the Opposition, John Brogden, had attempted suicide. The Age reported at the time that:

The day after Mr Brogden was found unconscious in his electorate office with self-inflicted wounds, Mr Abbott publicly joked at two separate Liberal Party functions about the disgraced leader’s career-wrecking behaviour . . . Mr Abbott was asked at a fund-raising lunch about a particular health reform proposal and reportedly answered: “If we did that, we would be as dead as the former Liberal leader’s political prospects.”

Nasty. To the core. And to a mate.

He also claimed that Bernie Banton was a mate. Not that he acted like one.

When Tony Abbott was the Minister for Health, the dying asbestos disease sufferer Bernie Banton obtained a petition containing 17,000 signatures of those who supported the listing of the mesothelioma drug Alimta on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

This petition was to be presented in person to Tony Abbott. If it wasn’t disrespectful enough to snub the petition, then his verbal response certainly was.

Yesterday, Mr Abbott was quick to dismiss the petition.  “It was a stunt,” Mr Abbott said on the Nine Network.

“I know Bernie is very sick, but just because a person is sick doesn’t necessarily mean that he is pure of heart in all things.”

He loves making fun of dying people. Does he expect we’ll all laugh along with him?

He even has a go at deceased people. Margaret Whitlam wasn’t even in the grave before Tony Abbott used her death to score cheap political points.

The death of Margaret Whitlam caused such an outpouring of saddened fondness that comments by the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, linking her passing with the sins of the Whitlam government appear to have struck an extremely wrong note.

He said she was a ”woman of style and substance” and ”a marvellous consort to a very significant Labor leader and an epochal Australian prime minister”.

”There was a lot wrong with the Whitlam government but nevertheless, it was a very significant episode in our history and Margaret Whitlam was a very significant element in the political success of Gough Whitlam,” Mr Abbott said.

Nasty. To the core.

And let’s not forget the role he played in the jailing of Pauline Hanson. After One Nation shocked the Coalition by winning 11 seats in Queensland in June 1998, Abbott was determined to dig up every piece of dirt he could on Hanson. In his own words, on her demise he boasts this was:

“All my doing, for better or for worse. It has got Tony Abbott’s fingerprints on it and no-one else’s.”

And of course, there’s the now famous Barbara Ramjan incident.

His nastiness was contagious to the Liberal Party and many of its members and supporters have been affected under his leadership. It is a point that I and many others have expressed, but I do like what Dave Horton had to say some time ago, which I often refer to:

“In effect all shock jocks and populist politicians are painting targets on people who do not share their views. In Australia the people who said the Prime Minister was a “witch” or a “cheap prostitute whoring herself” who should be “drowned in a sack” or “kicked to death” were inviting violence in a way that should not be permitted in a civilised society whether applied to the prime minister or the unfortunate woman who was the partner of Car Park Man.

Bullying, in home, school, workplace is rightly taken very seriously these days. And it is clearly recognised that verbal bullying can cause as much distress and psychological damage as physical actions.

Yet we facilitate, protect, applaud, the bullying and incitement to bullying that takes place every day in our media. Target after target of helpless and/or vulnerable groups (Aborigines, gays, single mothers, unemployed, refugees, public housing tenants, environmentalists, unions) are chosen day after day by bully boy and bully girl shock jocks and politicians. And day after day there are attempts by the same people to denigrate, delegitimise, degrade, political and philosophical opponents. Day after day words are twisted, lies told, rage consequently incited.”

If you need reminding of how hateful the media has been, here it is in an early article Pedlars of Hate.

Dave Horton summed up the landscape of the last three years and those of the right-wing have, as Dave notes, applauded it. Am I right to assume that it is those same people who now take offence at me referring to Tony Abbott as the “circus clown with the big ears”?

Yes, it was inappropriate for me to use those words, and although I won’t resort in future to such wording, I defend my right to have used them.

For over three years the left has been subject to the most hysterical attacks of personal abuse and if those of the right now object to such behaviour being fired back in return, then all I can say is . . . deal with it.

An Abbott in the Lodge “NEVER” – Part Two

Lodge

The Lodge, Canberra

Part Two – the evidence.

By John Lord and Michael Taylor

When looked 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. Alternatively, 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 behavior over a long period he simply does not have the essence of character, which is one of the main ingredients in the recipe of leadership.

None of these events is in chronological order. They are just as they come to mind and are listed randomly in order to build a character profile.

When the President of the US visited, he broke long-standing conventions by politicising his speech as Opposition leader.

He did the same when the Indonesian president visited.

He did the same when the Queen visited.

He would not allow pairs (another long-standing convention) so that the Minister for the Arts could attend the funeral of painter Margaret Olley; an Australian icon. Malcolm Turnbull, a personnel friend was also prevented from attending. There have been other instances of not allowing pairs.

More recently, he refused a pair whilst Prime Minister Gillard was on bereavement leave following the death of her father.

At university, he kicked in a glass panel door when defeated in an election.

Referred to a women Chairperson as “Chairthing”.

He was accused of assaulting a woman at university and later acquitted. A QC defended him and the girl defended herself.

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 corroborated her story.

He threatened to punch the head in of Lindsay Foyle who disagreed with him on a women’s right to an abortion.

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. A legal team of six represented Abbott and the young man could not afford to defend himself.

And he did punch out Joe Hockey’s lights during a rugby match? Yes, he did.

He established a slush fund to bring down Pauline Hansen and then lied about its existence.

And let us not forget the role he played also in the jailing of Pauline Hanson. After One Nation shocked the Coalition by winning 11 seats in Queensland in June 1998, Abbott was determined to dig up every piece of dirt he could on Hanson. In his own words, on her demise he boasts this was
“All my doing, for better or for worse”
It has got Tony Abbott’s fingerprints on it and no-one else’s.”

Yes, even after saying that, he still lies about the existence of the fund.

He was ejected from the House of Representatives 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.

In 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.

Abused Nicola Roxon after he had turned up late for a debate.

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.

Together with Christopher Pyne seen running from the House of Representatives to avoid embarrassment at being outwitted.

Being the first Opposition leader to be ejected from the house in 26 years because he repeated an accusation of lying after withdrawing it.

The infamous “Sell my arse” statement verified by Tony Windsor. Will Windsor ever release the mobile phone transcript?

The interview with Kerry O’Brien where he admitted that unless it was in writing he didn’t always tell the truth.

In addition, in another O’Brien interview he admitted lying about a meeting with the Catholic Archbishop George Pell.

During the Republic Referendum, he told many outrageous untruths.

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?”

His almost daily visits to businesses with messages of gloom and doom about the ‘carbon tax’ (a scare campaign best described as fraudulent). 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 being closed down. Industries being forced to sack thousands. The end of the coal industry etc.

Moreover, of course there is the now infamous Leigh Sales interview where beyond any doubt he lied three times and continued to do so in Parliament the next day.

Then there was his statement that the Aboriginal Tent Embassy near Old Parliament House be closed. To call his statement an error in judgement is too kind. It almost sounded like an incitement to riot.

He is quoted as saying in the Parliament that Prime Minister Gillard and Minister Albanese had targets on their heads. He later apologised.

And of course there is the lie about asylum seekers being illegal.

Added to that is his statement that the PM refused to lay down and die.

And the deliberate lie he told to the Australian Minerals Council that the Chinese intended increasing their emissions by 500 per cent.

I think I have exhausted it all but I cannot be sure. Oh, wait.

We should not leave out his insensitive comments about the attempted suicide of John Brogden. I used to think that John Howard was a mean-spirited, nasty piece of work, but in comparison to Tony Abbott, he appears as kind, caring and compassionate as Mother Teresa did. Tony Abbott is far, far more mean-spirited. He demonstrates this in the way he ignores human misery and the way he belittles those who are suffering from it. He is, in a nutshell, nasty to the core. Stories surface that he has been inherently nasty for as long as people have known him, but it was not until 2005 that I first took notice of his extreme level of nastiness and lack of compassion for human misery when it was hoisted onto the national stage. It came only hours after the NSW Leader of the Opposition, John Brogden, had attempted suicide. The Age reported at the time that:

The day after Mr. Brogden was found unconscious in his electorate office with self-inflicted wounds, Mr. Abbott publicly joked at two separate Liberal Party functions about the disgraced leader’s career-wrecking behavior . . . Mr. Abbott was asked at a fund-raising lunch about a particular health reform proposal and reportedly answered: “If we did that, we would be as dead as the former Liberal leader’s political prospects.”

Nasty. To the core. And to a mate.

He also claimed that Bernie Banton was a mate. Not that he acted like one.

When Abbott was the Minister for Health, the dying asbestos disease sufferer Bernie Banton obtained a petition containing 17,000 signatures of those who supported the listing of the mesothelioma drug Alimta on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. This petition was to be presented in person to Tony Abbott. If it was not disrespectful, enough to snub the petition, then his verbal response certainly was.

Yesterday, Mr. Abbott was quick to dismiss the petition. “It was a stunt,” Mr. Abbott said on the Nine Network.

“I know Bernie is very sick, but just because a person is sick doesn’t necessarily mean that he is pure of heart in all things.”

He loves making fun of dying people. Does he expect we will all laugh along with him?

He even has a go at deceased people. Margaret Whitlam was not even in the grave before Tony Abbott used her death to score cheap political points.

The death of Margaret Whitlam caused such an outpouring of saddened fondness that comments by the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, linking her passing with the sins of the Whitlam government appear to have struck an extremely wrong note.

He said she was a”woman of style and substance” and”a marvelous consort to a very significant Labor leader and an epochal Australian prime minister”.

”There was a lot wrong with the Whitlam Government but nevertheless, it was a very significant episode in our history and Margaret Whitlam was a very significant element in the political success of Gough Whitlam,” Mr. Abbott said.

Nasty. To the core.

If politics is fundamentally, about ideas it is also about leadership. In this piece, 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, party’s example his shock and awe tactics associated with perpetual crisis has done nothing but 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 Honorable Leader of Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition.

As he spoke, truth came from the beginning of a smile or was it just a sneer of deception.

Tomorrow in part three: “If you think that’s all think again”,

 

Tony Abbott’s mugging produces a one-sided affair

If I were to be asked which side of politics indulged in the practice of ‘playing the man, not the ball’, I’d reply that it’s a one-sided contest. The ‘right’ wins in a canter. By the ‘right’ I refer to not just the members of the Coalition but their supporters and the right-wing media.

I’m assured by many from the right that the left has its fair share of trolls, muggers and attack dogs, but I’m sorry, I can’t find them anywhere. At least not the places I frequent; the media – old and new.

The old media sets a bad example. Or I should say a good example of ‘playing the man (or woman)’. Some recent examples – of many available – come to mind.

  • After Senator Conroy announced proposed changes to media laws, who did we see attacked? The laws or Senator Conroy? Conroy, of course, and it got personal when he was likened to one of history’s greatest mass murderers, Joseph Stalin. We saw little dissection or even debate on the policy or its implications. The best the media and the Opposition could do was attack Senator Conroy the most vile they could legally do.
  • When refugees drowned off Christmas Island in 2010 who did we see attacked? Not the people smugglers, but Julia Gillard who according to one fanatical right-winged mouthpiece had blood on her hands. The attack was rabid.
  • When four people tragically died providing home insulation under the Rudd Government’s Home insulation Program, who did the media blame? The Minister, Peter Garrett of course. Were they interested to seek answers of why or how these people died, or how future deaths could be prevented? No, they weren’t. They preferred to play the man.

It contrasts to how the left react. Take recently, when the Opposition released their NBN policy – the details I needn’t go into – it was not well-received. But who or what was attacked? The policy was. Nobody played the man; they played the ball. Sure, people made fun of it because after all, it was a dud. But can we really expect those of the right to play the ball when the man who oversees the demise of political integrity in this country, Tony Abbott, has turned ‘playing the man’ into an art form?

I used to think that John Howard was a mean-spirited, nasty piece of work, but in comparison to Tony Abbott he appears as kind, caring and compassionate as Mother Teresa.

Tony Abbott is far, far more mean-spirited. He demonstrates this in the way he ignores human misery and the way he belittles those who are suffering from it. He is, in a nutshell, nasty to the core.

Stories surface that he’s been inherently nasty for as long as people have known him, but it wasn’t until 2005 that I first took notice of his extreme level of nastiness and lack of compassion for human misery when it was hoisted onto the national stage. It came only hours after the NSW Leader of the Opposition, John Brogden, had attempted suicide. The Age reported at the time that:

The day after Mr Brogden was found unconscious in his electorate office with self-inflicted wounds, Mr Abbott publicly joked at two separate Liberal Party functions about the disgraced leader’s career-wrecking behaviour . . . Mr Abbott was asked at a fund-raising lunch about a particular health reform proposal and reportedly answered: “If we did that, we would be as dead as the former Liberal leader’s political prospects.”

Nasty. Even to a mate.

He also claimed that Bernie Banton was a mate. Not that he acted like one.

When Tony Abbott was the Minister for Health, the dying asbestos disease sufferer Bernie Banton obtained a petition containing 17,000 signatures of those who supported the listing of the mesothelioma drug Alimta on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. This petition was to be presented in person to Tony Abbott. If it wasn’t disrespectful enough to snub the petition, then his verbal response certainly was.

Yesterday, Mr Abbott was quick to dismiss the petition.  “It was a stunt,” Mr Abbott said on the Nine Network.

“I know Bernie is very sick, but just because a person is sick doesn’t necessarily mean that he is pure of heart in all things.”

He loves making fun of dying people. Does he expect we’ll all laugh along with him?

He even has a go at deceased people. Margaret Whitlam wasn’t even in the grave before Tony Abbott used her death to score cheap political points.

The death of Margaret Whitlam caused such an outpouring of saddened fondness that comments by the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, linking her passing with the sins of the Whitlam government appear to have struck an extremely wrong note.

He said she was a ”woman of style and substance” and ”a marvellous consort to a very significant Labor leader and an epochal Australian prime minister”.

”There was a lot wrong with the Whitlam government but nevertheless, it was a very significant episode in our history and Margaret Whitlam was a very significant element in the political success of Gough Whitlam,” Mr Abbott said.

Nasty. As always. Just another person to mug.

And let’s not forget the role he played in the jailing of Pauline Hanson. After One Nation shocked the Coalition by winning 11 seats in Queensland in June 1998, Abbott was determined to dig up every piece of dirt he could on Hanson. In his own words, on her demise he boasts this was:

“All my doing, for better or for worse. It has got Tony Abbott’s fingerprints on it and no-one else’s.”

His nastiness is contagious to the Liberal Party and many of its members, supporters and the adoring media have been affected under his leadership. It is a point that I and many others have expressed, but I do like what Dave Horton has to say in summary:

In effect all shock jocks and populist politicians are painting targets on people who do not share their views. In Australia the people who said the Prime Minister was a “witch” or a “cheap prostitute whoring herself” who should be “drowned in a sack” or “kicked to death” were inviting violence in a way that should not be permitted in a civilised society whether applied to the prime minister or the unfortunate woman who was the partner of Car Park Man.

Bullying, in home, school, workplace is rightly taken very seriously these days. And it is clearly recognised that verbal bullying can cause as much distress and psychological damage as physical actions.

Yet we facilitate, protect, applaud, the bullying and incitement to bullying that takes place every day in out media. Target after target of helpless and/or vulnerable groups (Aborigines, gays, single mothers, unemployed, refugees, public housing tenants, environmentalists, unions) are chosen day after day by bully boy and bully girl shock jocks and politicians. And day after day there are attempts by the same people to denigrate, delegitimise, degrade, political and philosophical opponents. Day after day words are twisted, lies told, rage consequently incited.

And oh how that nastiness has filtered down into our media, old and new. If you need any further evidence of how nasty the right are then feast your eyes upon these two disgusting videos, courtesy of the rabid, vile right-wing shock jocks at 2GB:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hsaVpepMyA8]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ap0aPcstix0]

Do you see or hear that type of media trash from the left?

Last night I had the displeasure of witnessing such pathetic behaviour on social media.

We are often asked here why we only preach to the converted. I can assure people that we don’t. All of our articles are posted on Facebook sites, for example, where left/right followers have the opportunity to debate the articles. John Lord did this last night, and he was immediately subject to a barrage of personal attacks bordering on defamatory. I checked the profiles of those playing the man, and surprise surprise, they boasted on their Facebook pages as being Tony Abbott or LNP supporters. Not one of them showed any commitment to discussing the topic at hand, unlike the left supporters on the site.

It was pure filth. He was verbally mugged.

It’s their style. Play the man, not the ball. And when you catch him, make sure he gets a good mugging.

Tony Abbott in the Lodge: Never

David Marr’s quarterly essay “Political Animal” gives an engrossing, even gripping insight into the persona of the leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott. I made many observations as I read it and I cannot of course comment on everything. I must say though (given Tony Abbot’s statement that he finds gays intimidating) that I was a little bemused at how Marr even got to interview him. They apparently spent some time together which must have been excruciatingly uncomfortable for the Opposition leader. And given that Mr Abbott only allowed him to use one quote I should think he probably wasted his time. Another thing that took my attention was the influence of Catholicism in his private and political decision making. He apparently finds it difficult to make decisions without referral to his faith.

What did catch my eye was this short paragraph: “Josh Gordon of the Sunday Age saw the parallels early. Like the Republicans in the US the Coalition’s new strategy appears to be to block, discredit, confuse, attack and hamper at every opportunity.” Do we see any similarities here? Well of course. On a daily basis the negativity of Abbott spreads like rust through the community. He seeks to confuse with the most outlandish statements. Hardly a day passes without referring to the Prime minister as a liar while at the same time telling the most outrageous ones himself. And with a straight face I might add. He seeks to hamper (as do the Republicans) all legislation with a pre-determined NO. Often without even reading it. Abbott has (as have Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan) taken lying and the frequency of it to a level in political discourse we have never experienced.

In the US the Republicans with all this propaganda have sought to create a fictional President who is the opposite to the one known outside the States. Twenty five per cent of the population still believe he is a Muslim and a large percentage still believe he was born outside the States even though the facts prove otherwise. Such is the power of the right-wing media (Fox News) and an accumulation of feral shock jocks. The GOP (the Republicans – the “Grand Old Party”) is even accused of deliberately not passing bills in order to make the economy worse.

In Australia, for two years the Prime Minister has been demonised by a right wing (Murdoch) news media pack intent on creating a false profile and bringing her down at the first opportunity. She has had thrown at her the most vile misogynist ravings un-befitting of the fourth estate but the tabloids and the shock jocks seem to thrive on it.

At this point (since we are talking in part about truth) let me say that I would describe myself as progressive social democrat. Centre-left on some issues and further left on others. I confess this so as not to be accused later of any preconceived bias. I am the originator of this quote “to be a true democrat one has to concede that your opponents have as much right to win as does your side”; I wrote that prior to the advent of this nefarious thing called neo conservatism or neo capitalism. I wrote it at a time when the political divide (despite the ideological differences) had some respect for the common good; when we in Australia admired America’s bi-partisan approach to its politics. The decline of bi-partisan politics and the rise of neo conservatism can be traced back to a third rate actor and a women with a bad hair-do. And in time respect for public office has gone out the window.

Regardless of what political persuasion you are I believe we like to see character in our leaders. Now how do we describe character. I came across this in the New York Times; it is a direct reference to Mitt Romney, however, it suffices as a general observation:

“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 a presidential campaign, but unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibers from which it is woven.”

When looked 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.

When the President of the US visited he broke long standing conventions by politicising his speech as Opposition leader.

He did the same when the Indonesian president visited.

He did the same when the Queen visited.

He would not allow pairs (another long standing convention) so that the Minister for the Arts could attend the funeral of painter Margaret Olley; an Australian icon. Malcolm Turnbull, a personnel friend was also prevented from attending. There have been other instances of not allowing pairs.

More recently he refused a pair whilst the Prime Minister was on bereavement leave following the death of her father.

At university he kicked in a glass panel door when defeated in an election.

Referred to a women Chairperson as “Chairthing”.

He was accused of assaulting a women at university and later acquitted. He was defended by a QC and the girl defended herself.

Another women 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 corroborated her story.

He threatens to punch the head in of Lindsay Foyle who disagreed with him on a women’s right to an abortion.

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.

And he did punch out Joe Hockey’s lights during a rugby match? Yes, he did.

He established a slush fund to bring down Pauline Hansen and then lied about its existence.

And let’s not forget the role he played also in the jailing of Pauline Hanson. After One Nation shocked the Coalition by winning 11 seats in Queensland in June 1998, Abbott was determined to dig up every piece of dirt he could on Hanson. In his own words, on her demise he boasts this was:

“All my doing, for better or for worse. It has got Tony Abbott’s fingerprints on it and no-one else’s.”

Yes, even after saying that, he still lies about its existence.

He was ejected from the House of Representatives 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.

In 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.

Abused Nicola Roxon after he had turned up late for a debate.

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.

Together with Christopher Pyne seen running from the House of Representatives to avoid embarrassment at being outwitted.

Being the first Opposition leader to be ejected from the house in 26 years because he repeated an accusation of lying after withdrawing it.

The infamous “Sell my arse” statement verified by Tony Windsor. Will Windsor ever release the mobile phone transcript?

The interview with Kerry O’Brien where he admitted that unless it was in writing he didn’t always tell the truth.

And in another O’Brien interview he admitted lying about a meeting with the Catholic Archbishop George Pell.

During the Republic Referendum he told many outrageous untruths.

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?”

His almost daily visits to businesses with messages of gloom and doom about the ‘carbon tax’ (a scare campaign best described as fraudulent). 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 being closed down. Industries being forced to sack thousands. The end of the coal industry etc.

And of course there is the now infamous Leigh Sales interview where beyond any doubt he lied three times and continued to do so in Parliament the next day.

Then there was his statement that the Aboriginal Tent Embassy near Old Parliament House be closed. To call his statement an error in judgement is too kind. It almost sounded like an incitement to riot.

He is quoted as saying in the Parliament that Prime Minister Gillard and Minister Albanese had targets on their heads. He later apologised.

And of course there is also the lie about asylum seekers being illegal.

Added to that is his statement that the PM refused to lay down and die.

And the deliberate lie he told to the Australian Minerals Council that the Chinese intended increasing their emissions by 500 per cent.

I think I have exhausted it all but I cannot be sure. Oh wait.

We should not leave out his insensitive comments about the attempted suicide of John Brogden. I used to think that John Howard was a mean-spirited, nasty piece of work, but in comparison to Tony Abbott he appears as kind, caring and compassionate as Mother Teresa. Tony Abbott is far, far more mean-spirited. He demonstrates this in the way he ignores human misery and the way he belittles those who are suffering from it. He is, in a nutshell, nasty to the core. Stories surface that he’s been inherently nasty for as long as people have known him, but it wasn’t until 2005 that I first took notice of his extreme level of nastiness and lack of compassion for human misery when it was hoisted onto the national stage. It came only hours after the NSW Leader of the Opposition, John Brogden, had attempted suicide. The Age reported at the time that:

The day after Mr Brogden was found unconscious in his electorate office with self-inflicted wounds, Mr Abbott publicly joked at two separate Liberal Party functions about the disgraced leader’s career-wrecking behaviour . . . Mr Abbott was asked at a fund-raising lunch about a particular health reform proposal and reportedly answered: “If we did that, we would be as dead as the former Liberal leader’s political prospects.”

Nasty. To the core. And to a mate.

He also claimed that Bernie Banton was a mate. Not that he acted like one.

When Abbott was the Minister for Health, the dying asbestos disease sufferer Bernie Banton obtained a petition containing 17,000 signatures of those who supported the listing of the mesothelioma drug Alimta on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. This petition was to be presented in person to Tony Abbott. If it wasn’t disrespectful enough to snub the petition, then his verbal response certainly was.

Yesterday, Mr Abbott was quick to dismiss the petition.  “It was a stunt,” Mr Abbott said on the Nine Network.

“I know Bernie is very sick, but just because a person is sick doesn’t necessarily mean that he is pure of heart in all things.”

He loves making fun of dying people. Does he expect we’ll all laugh along with him?

He even has a go at deceased people. Margaret Whitlam wasn’t even in the grave before Tony Abbott used her death to score cheap political points.

The death of Margaret Whitlam caused such an outpouring of saddened fondness that comments by the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, linking her passing with the sins of the Whitlam government appear to have struck an extremely wrong note.

He said she was a ”woman of style and substance” and ”a marvellous consort to a very significant Labor leader and an epochal Australian prime minister”.

”There was a lot wrong with the Whitlam Government but nevertheless, it was a very significant episode in our history and Margaret Whitlam was a very significant element in the political success of Gough Whitlam,” Mr Abbott said.

Nasty. To the core.

If politics is fundamentally about ideas it is also about leadership. In this piece 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 party’s example his shock and awe tactics associated with perpetual crisis has done nothing but 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, truth came from the beginning of a smile or was it just a sneer of deception.

Please note, this was written prior to the Prime Minister’s now famous ‘sexist speech’ and does not include these snippets of Tonyisms.

His dying of shame comment.

His “lack of experience in raising children” comment.

His “make an honest women of herself ” comment.

His “no doesn’t mean no” comment.

  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. “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”.

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. “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. “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?”

I could go on. History is filled with examples of how low this man is; of how nasty he is.

I fear that we may not yet have seen the full extent of his nastiness. We might have to wait – God forbid – for the day he ever becomes Prime Minister.

It’ll be nasty for all of us.

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