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You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

Tony Abbott looking . . . stupid (image by ozpolotic.com)

Tony Abbott looking . . . stupid (image by ozpolotic.com)

As Tony Abbott once said, “politicians are gonna be judged on everything they say”, (May 2010), and goodness knows, Tony has said some rather controversial things in the past. We are told that many of his more outrageous statements were those of a callow youth in different times, that he has learned a great deal, and changed his views on many things (some of them several times).

Now it’s not as if I expect Tony to be an expert in all fields. After all, “No one, however smart, however well-educated, however experienced, is the suppository of all wisdom,” (August 2013), and I realise that “sometimes, in the heat of discussion, you go a little bit further than you would if it was an absolutely calm, considered, prepared, scripted remark”, but Tony is rapidly clocking up an impressive list of recent quotes that makes one question whether a sow’s ear can be made into a silk purse.

To be fair to the new Tony, I have only included a selection since he took over the leadership of the Liberal Party thus becoming a prospective Prime Minister. The first quote below is an exception to this in that is was made a few months before Tony became leader but I have included it as being relevant to today’s “toxic tax” chorus.

Here are some of Tony’s pearls of wisdom on a range of topics – I call it my cringe list:

Action on climate change

“If you want to put a price on carbon, why not do it with a simple tax?” – July 2009

“The argument is absolute crap. However, the politics of this are tough for us. Eighty per cent of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.” – December 2009

“”The carbon tax is socialism masquerading as environmentalism…” – May 2012

“It’s a market, a so-called market, in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no one,” – July 2013

”Well I think the official in question (head of the UN’s climate change negotiations, Christiana Figueres) is talking through her hat, if I may say so,” – October 2013

“We have quite enough national parks. We have quite enough locked up forests already. In fact, in an important respect, we have too much locked up forest….When I look out tonight at an audience of people who work with timber, who work in forests, I don’t see people who are environmental vandals; I see people who are the ultimate conservationists” – March 2014


“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…” – February 2010

“If we want women of that calibre to have families, and we should, well, we have to give them a fair dinkum chance to do so” – May 2013

“They’re young, they’re feisty and, I think I can probably say, have a bit of sex appeal,” – August 2013

”A bit of body contact never hurt anyone,” he told the teens, sounding less daggy dad than dodgy uncle. ”Nothing wrong with a bit of modest sweat” – August 2013

‘If you want to know who to vote for, I’m the guy with the not bad-looking daughters” – September 2013

“Ok, let’s have a bloke’s question.” – March 2014 to students from Newtown High

‘Where are the ladies, by the way?’ he asks. ‘There are some ladies in this delegation.’ – April 2014 in China

Foreign Affairs

“It’s not goodies versus baddies – it’s baddies versus baddies,” – September 2013 re Syria

“He knows that we play our politics very hard in our country. And I think he understood.” – October 2013 re apology to Malaysia

“People seeking to grandstand against Indonesia, please, don’t look to do it in Australia, you are not welcome. The second point is the situation in West Papua is getting better, not worse” – October 2013

“sometimes in difficult circumstances difficult things happen”. – November 2013 re human rights abuses and torture in Sri Lanka

Indonesia is in many respects Australia’s most important overall relationship.” – September 2013

“As far as I’m concerned, Japan is Australia’s best friend in Asia and we want to keep it a very strong friendship,” – October 2013

“New Zealand is Australia’s closest friend” – December 2013

“Australia and Papua New Guinea are more than friends – we are family” – March 2014

“Australia is not in China to do a deal, but to be a friend,” – April 2014

Economy and finance

“Mates help each other, they do not tax each other.” – Tony Abbott, February 23, 2011.

“We have always as a Coalition been against compulsory superannuation increases.” Press Conference, 23 March, 2012.

“Well, um, climbing mountains is a marvellous thing” – January 2014

“We do not want to clutter up the G20 agenda with every worthy and important cause, because if we do, we will squander the opportunity to make a difference in the vital area of economic growth,” – February 2014

“to get rich is indeed glorious” – April 2014


“Some of them will find it difficult, but many of them will probably be liberated to pursue new opportunities and to get on with their lives” – December 2013

Marriage equality

“I’m not someone who wants to see radical change based on the fashion of the moment” – August 2013

First people

“The first lot of Australians were chosen by the finest judges in England” – January 2013

Forced adoptions

”We honour the birth parents, including fathers, who have always loved their children.” – March 2013


Part of being a Head of State is to be able to think on your feet. Tony often does that by inserting his foot into his mouth. No wonder Credlin always sits within pinching distance.

Update: I forgot to include

“I was an opposition leader myself for four years; I know that that position has some exhilarations and some frustrations,”- November 2013 to Myanmar’s opposition leader, who spent 15 years under house arrest before she was freed in 2010



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  1. Lee

    Abbott makes George Dubya Bush look like an intelligent life form. What were the voters thinking? What are the Liberal Party thinking? It is truly disturbing if he is the best leader they can appoint.

  2. halsaul

    I think Abbott is on a downhill trajectory. Even the most L.N.P. biased person must be getting nervous about Abbott. Your articles are spot on.

    Keating said he was a nutter and fundamentally I think he is too. No depth, no vision, very flawed character.

    I feel he is the wrong man to be p.m. at this time. What is needed is a real leader to guide Australia into a sustainable future. Tony is not that person.

  3. Marie Lockyer

    Re Abbott and Free Trade Agreement with Japan…”Tokyo has vowed to lower its frozen beef tariff from 38.5% to 19.5% only after 18 years while chilled beef tariffs will fall to 23.5% over 15 years and only up to a certain quality” ( Page 15 Weekly Times, April 16 ). No wonder America is calling it a “dud deal”.

  4. diannaart

    Keep ’em coming Kaye Lee… I’ll admit I got no further than:

    ““We do not want to clutter up the G20 agenda with every worthy and important cause, because if we do, we will squander the opportunity to make a difference in the vital area of economic growth…”

    That the economy trumps all reason and common sense for the Abbottoir, tends to send me off to thrash my head against a wall minus the a heavy metal soundtrack, should be no reason to stop reading another worthy article, should it?

    Sad & Confused.

  5. FSM is coming.

    You can’t polish a turd. But you can roll it in glitter.

  6. paul walter

    You can further decode that to, “toucha my money, I busta your face”, diannaart.

  7. Kaye Lee

    I agree it’s a very aggravating article dianna. When I hear people saying Tony is doing well or being “statesmanlike” I just have to go NO HE’S NOT. People seem to have such short memories. I suppose there has been a lot to take in.

  8. Gordon Riley

    Tony Abbott has the intellectual capacity of an amoeba. And even that’s being nice.

  9. jasonblog


    What ‘we’ need to do is get over the Fuhrerprinzip – or to put it more delicately – THE NEED FOR A STRONG LEADER – apologies for shouting…
    The Abbott played the ‘strong leader’ card in the last election. It is a hallmark of ‘global fascism’ – or, for want of a better term, neoliberalism – that we play this brain-numblingly dumb game of wanting a comforting patriarch to manfully lead us into the future. From a historical and literary perspective the Bible is endlessly fascinating but can we leave our childish need for ‘Big Daddy’ behind. Can we perhaps stop falling into the News Corp driven ruse of believing in the chosen few that will paternalistically look over us lower-life-form plebs.

    I agree @halsaul that there are considerable challenges ahead for us. But, I don’t really see why those challenges can’t be addressed by intelligent people in a job share arrangement. Yes, this would involve overcoming ego… Anyhoo – I suggest we give it a crack.

    @Gordon Riley

    Tony Abbott is shitting his pants now that he realises you have discovered his secret. Congratulations. Well done.


    It’s curious this word ‘economy’. I suspect to defeat Abbott means waging battle over what the ‘economy’ is, what it should be & how we can transform it into something more than its narrowly ‘accepted’ definition.
    Tony Abbott’s use of the term ‘economic growth’ should be challenged. It should be questioned. It should be argued. It should be debated. We all know the reason why that doesn’t happen. News Corp is the leading cultural apparatus for global fascism in Australia. We, as a society, have been brain-f over the last 3-decades to just bobble-head our way through Australian politics. When we hear ‘economic growth’ a collective bobble-head, bobble-head, bobble-head, takes place.

    We reclaim Australia by reclaiming the words. An economy can be a multitude of things just as ‘economic growth’ can – and should – mean so much more than the reductionist vandalism and irresponsible bastardy that Abbott offers as a way of understanding Australian history and its possibilities for the future.

  10. Kaye Lee

    We need to change our parliamentary system. This one is archaic, wasteful, and non-productive. The two party system has led to corruption, and preferential rather than proportional voting has led to people being elected who most obviously do not have the skills necessary to govern a country with a $1.5 trillion GDP and a huge range of issues to be considered, not just mining, and not just Tasmania (that PUP senator scared me on Q&A). Factional power has corrupted the preselection process and personal ambition has made public service disappear from the reasons to enter politics.

    There are some good people there – they usually get screwed pretty quickly. Just ask Louise Pratt.


  11. Rod Hogno

    Who, as a person, would go down to the local pub on a friday afternoon and have a beer with this brain dead git …. I wouldn’t …..

  12. Rod Hogno

    we’ve also gotta recognise the cause ….. John Howard was the man responsible for letting, the two jokers in the pack run wild (ultimately his own undoing) … Abbott & Costello … one didn’t get the top job, the other did … and it’s been a comedy show ever since ….

  13. Graeme Rust

    you cannot make strawberry jam out of sh*t.

  14. Stephen Tardrew

    It really is quite an insult to intelligence if this narcissist is the best we can do. Oh Tony Boloney is just so in love with himself and his raging intellect and erudite verbal gymnastics. What an intellectual dynamo. I think he might have a rather substantial delusional short-circuit though.

    The economy is the issue however he is loading up unemployment while signing ineffective trade agreements. Lets see what happens when the jobs really start leaking. Austerity? What a brilliant idea. Has it been tried before say somewhere like the EU? The environment is given to us by God for our pleasure so piss off you feel good tree huggers.

    We live in one of the richest countries in the world and Cocky tells us were doomed. And Tony holds his little pudgy hands saying repeat after me the ALP, the unions the greedy workers, unemployed and those bloody pensioners have to give up our wealth and return it to those who know how to accumulate and offshore it.

    Pussy greedy little working class yobbos. Well shove the middle class back down there if it is the last thing we do.

    We are the Goose brothers and were on a mission from DogGod.

    Mummy I still say my prayers every night and they have come true.

    Now Tony I told you to Love your brothers and sisters as yourself (Only the ones that matter of course).

    I am so proud of you.

  15. olddavey

    @Graeme Rust
    But you CAN make shit out of strawberry jam!

  16. lawrencewinder

    It’s like watching a performance of “The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui” except this black comedy is happening here.
    I’m astounded how stupid this electorate is. I’m astounded that a person of “Rabbutt-the-Hun’s” lack of capacity, vision, humanity and seemingly, intelligence has got to “lead” this country.

  17. Phil

    nope … you cant make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear …very very true ….but damn ….look at what they made from its ass hole

  18. diannaart


    To remedial Economy 101, the full breadth and depth of ‘infrastructure’ must, needs be included.

    After which Abbott’s head will implode sucking all noxious gases with him… and we can all breathe easier.

  19. eagoodlife

    One Term Tony, let’s hope it’s not a long term.

  20. eagoodlife

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    Some of the best foot in mouth comments ever made by a Prime Minister.

  21. Jay Larke

    One Foreign Affairs quote that went completely under the radar was Abbott stereotyping Asylum Seekers as coming from “rotten horrible countries” when speaking to Newtown High Students

  22. eagoodlife

    Very tactful and statesmanlike or is that statespersonlike now?

  23. contriteshadow

    “changed his views on many things (some of them several times).” – Made me laugh, thank you:-)

    But, seriously, who voted for him? I’ve spoken to several Libs. Those I met face-to-face thought he was better than the alternatives and would keep his promises…oh, yeah; this was during the massive, nationwide protest against him. Those I’ve spoken to online laud his ability to keep promises; like axing NBN, mining tax, carbon tax, target welfare “cheats” (aged, infirm, disabled and military families?) and stopping asylum seekers from reaching the mainland. All of these I consider a reason to damn him, not praise him. It’s a weird, upside down Australia we live in today.

  24. MissPamela

    I find myself wondering if one can buy a Rhodes Scholarship?
    Is it awarded as a result of “not what you know bout who you know” ?
    Toxic certainly could not have received it any other way.

    Rhodes’ legacy specified four standards by which applicants were to be judged:
    Literary and scholastic attainments;
    Energy to use one’s talents to the fullest, as exemplified by fondness for and success in sports;
    Truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and
    Moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one’s fellow beings.

    I don’t actually believe he displays (or displayed when he received the scholarship) any of these qualities?

  25. mars08

    Nooooo! Good grief, Kaye Lee! Please, please, please, PLEASE tell me that the ABC News story is just a hoax. Please tell me it’s an unfortunate typo!!!

    Oh my goodness!! The buffoon’s lack of self-awareness is astounding… his lack of perspective is astounding! This moron has all the depth of an autumn shadow…

  26. xiaoecho

    Mars08…Tony doesn’t feel empathy, he couldn’t even if he wanted to. People who cannot feel empathy are forced to imitate it when it is required, hence his appalling statement to Aung and others.
    His awful speech to mothers of forced adoptions is another example of Tony’s inability to empathise. He could not put himself in a vulnerable mothers place so talked of what he knew; fathers…… outraging his audience.
    He knows he is required to empathise but often doesn’t quite hit the mark. Into the mix is his overweening egocentricity.
    When you look at Tony’s behaviour and speech knowing that he cannot feel empathy, his weird statements make sense (in that context)

  27. eagoodlife

    On Forced adoptions he said –

    ”We honour the birth parents, including fathers, who have always loved their children” was totally ill-informed, ill-researched rubbish! My father didn’t know I existed so had no opportunity to love me or not, he had no choice just as I had no choice in being adopted. He has bought into the myth that mothers all loved and wanted their babies. Many did but some did not although many like to think it was so because it is more comfortable. Not only is our Tone a lazy speech maker he is also responsible for perpetuating untruths.

  28. Kaye Lee

    Some people also found the adjective “birth” offensive. Tony cannot fathom the depth of emotion involved in such issues.

  29. Möbius Ecko

    Abbott’s lack of empathy extends to his immediate family. Who could forget his statements about his daughters both on Big Brother and to the Royals.

    This goes so far as to one daughter describing his insensitivity and brain farts as “daddy moments”, indicating they are common in the household.

  30. MissPamela

    This seems close to explaining his lack of empathy (and other things):
    “Machiavellianism is a term that some social and personality psychologists use to describe a person’s tendency to be unemotional, and therefore able to detach him or herself from conventional morality and hence to deceive and manipulate others.
    Machiavellian motivation as related to cold selfishness and pure instrumentality, and those high on the trait were assumed to pursue their motives (e.g. sex, achievement, sociality) in duplicitous ways. More recent research on the motivations of high Machs compared to low Machs found that they gave high priority to money, power, and competition and relatively low priority to community building, self-love, and family concerns. High Machs focus on unmitigated achievement and winning at any cost.
    Both empathy and emotion recognition have been shown to have negative correlations with Machiavellianism. Additionally, research has shown that Machiavellianism is unrelated to a more advanced theory of mind, that is, the ability to anticipate what others are thinking in social situations.
    Machiavellianism is one of the three personality traits referred to as the dark triad, along with narcissism and psychopathy. Some psychologists consider Machiavellianism to be essentially a subclinical form of psychopathy.”
    Thanks to Wikipedia for a quickly accessed and concise explanation.

  31. Kaye Lee

    Whilst I am most definitely not qualified to make mental health diagnoses, I have to say that description sums Tony up from this layperson’s observations.

  32. Eileen Dixon

    Where the hell is his wife? haven’t seen her since he got elected, has she abandoned the ship? and what about the daughters that he was holding hands with all through the election. Are they going to meet the royals? Strange, very strange

  33. alan taylor

    i keep thinking i’m dishearing him…

  34. Lee

    I have Asperger’s and I have more empathy in my little finger than Abbott has in his entire body. Even I find many of his comments to be offensive.

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