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Sep 10, 2012

Marr on Abbott: nine things you didn't know about Tony

From David Marr's Quarterly Essay, "Political Animal, The Making of Tony Abbott", here are nine things we didn't know about the man ...

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From David Marr’s Quarterly Essay, “Political Animal, The Making of Tony Abbott”, here are nine things we didn’t know about the man …

Tony’s Catholicism is of a recent vintage. His grandfather, Marr explains, “had made a bargain with God that were his family to survive a voyage to Australia in the early months of World War II they would go over to Rome. Untouched by torpedoes, the Abbotts converted with some fervour”. This may explain why he burns with the zeal of the newly converted, unlike “cultural Catholics” who believe that if several generations of their family have regularly attended Mass then they don’t have to (my husband).

As a teenager, he had a very odd attitude to sex. “I was sorta wrestling with this idea of the bloody priesthood, and I kept saying, ‘No, no! No sex! Against the rules! Then I’d say, ‘Oh, all right’.” And this was in the 1970s?

When his girlfriend, Kathy McDonald, became pregnant, 19-year-old Tony was unwilling to marry her as it would rule out the priesthood. It would also mean he could not apply for a Rhodes Scholarship, as it was then open only to single applicants. The  relationship broke down when she was seven months pregnant but he came to the hospital when the baby was born and held him for a few minutes, before he was adopted out. (Thirty-five years later, the son was found not to have been Abbott’s.)

He is alleged to have physically intimidated and punched the wall next to Barbara Ramjan after she defeated him in the election for the president of the Students’ Representative Council at Sydney University. Asked by Marr about it, Abbott said he had no memory of the incident, but put out a statement on Saturday saying that it had never happened. He said, she said …

His views about homos-xuality are scarier than we think. At university, writing in uni paper Honi Soit, he takes the reader into the SRC Women’s Collective, full of women who are “grim faced, overall-clad, hard, strident, often lustfully embracing in a counterfeit of love”. Marr also quotes Abbott as writing to High Court judge Michael Kirby that he had trouble with the idea that homosexuality should be regarded as acceptable, rather than simply accepted; “especially when the overwhelming weight of tradition holds that it is in some sense sinful”.

Abbott’s sister, Christine Forster, has recently come out as gay, a decision Abbott is reported to have accepted. This may be an example of another Catholic trait — “to hate the sin but love the sinner”.

On the first date with his now-wife Margaret Aitken, he explained to her the history of the Democratic Labor Party split. And she still married him! (Was this a way of ensuring there would never be s-x on a first date?)

His handwriting is appalling. Even his numbers are illegible. When he was health minister, someone on his personal staff had to tell public servants what was actually scrawled on their submissions.

He is engaged in a strange war with his body. Marr writes: “He walks as though he has to will each leg forward. It’s curious in a man who is so obviously fit. His face is skin and bone. He smiles but his eyes are hooded. The overall effect is faintly menacing, as if he’s about to climb into the ring.

I’ve noticed that when talking to Tony, he often leans forward and bounces slightly on the balls of his feet, a bit like a kangaroo. Maybe he just has poor circulation and his toes are numb. For a few years, we saw a great deal of his taut torso, often clad in a pair of red budgie-smugglers. But no longer.

“His minders — and perhaps his wife — have said no to Speedos and Lycra,” writes Marr. “Even so it can be said that never in the political annals of this country have so many seen so much of so little.” All of this may explain why…

He loves physical deprivation. The essay contains an excellent anecdote from writer Peter Fitzsimons, who played rugby with him in the 1980s:

“Abbo never saw a scrum that he didn’t like … what he most loved, and I mean this, was doing it when the conditions were appalling. One night in June, 1989, it all came together. A howling wind, screaming imprecations at the devil. Sheets of rain without end. A whole quagmire of mud to work with. Situation perfect … as we maddened muddy wombats staggered after him. Forty minutes in, as our eyeballs rolled with exhaustion, I dinkum remember looking at his own beatific countenance, all grin and ears, the rain pouring off his uncovered head and having this distinct thought: ‘I think he’s a little bit insane — in a hugely likeable way.'”

In private, he opposed WorkChoices. According to Marr: “He thought WorkChoices harsh and bad politics: ‘A catastrophic political blunder because it undermined the Howard battlers’ faith in the prime minister’s goodwill.’ He and another Catholic warrior in the government, Kevin Andrews, contested the proposals in cabinet. Abbott was particularly concerned with the abolition of the no-disadvantage test, which had set a safety net under earlier workplace reform.”

At the end of this excellent essay, Marr sums up Tony the politician in a paragraph:

“An aggressive populist with a sharp tongue; a political animal with lots of charm; a born protege with ambitions to lead; a big brain but no intellectual; a bluff guy who proved a more than competent minister; a politician with little idea of what he might do if he ever got to the top; and a man profoundly wary of change.

“He’s a worker. No doubt about that. But the point of it all is power. Without power it’s been a waste of time.”

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110 thoughts on “Marr on Abbott: nine things you didn’t know about Tony

  1. archibald

    Interesting. Loved the first date story.

    Just on TA’s locomotion:
    They say that professional cyclists aren’t very comfortable walking and avoid doing much of it. With all those road miles in their legs, they are much better adapted to riding than walking. Perhaps Tony’s gait reflects this — and whatever training he did that morning. The pugilistic nature of his body language is plain to see.

  2. Kevin Tyerman

    How very “New Idea” of Crikey….

    Leading the title of the daily email “Marr on Abbott” instead of “Saville on Marr on Abbott” has an inference that David Marr, having very recently left the Fairfax stable, is actually writing for Crikey…

  3. Venise Alstergren

    ARCHIBALD: Perhaps it’s the same action as developed by many Hollywood actors to depict cow hands and/or quarter-horse riders. An action which seems to be remarkably free amongst conventional riders/show jumpers/eventers, etc.

    You don’t think he walks like an ape, acts like an ape, etc, etc?

  4. Venise Alstergren

    Clarification. Conventional riders/show jumpers/eventers, aren’t given to walking like apes.

  5. David Hand

    Well there you go. The one policy insight Marr can produce is that he was and remains opposed to Workchoices.

    All the other fluff will play well down here in the Crikey Crypt.

  6. mikeb

    “I dinkum remember looking at his own beatific countenance, all grin and ears, the rain pouring off his uncovered head and having this distinct thought: ‘I think he’s a little bit insane — in a hugely likeable way.’”

    What a great description. Alfred E Newman from MAD magazine?

  7. Arty

    I consider him to be an unlovely person of no consequence to me until the disclosure of his role in the imprisonment of the unlovable Pauline Hanson.

  8. Recalcitrant.Rick

    I don’t like playing to personal types and mannerisms, but to me, that slightly delayed rolling gate seems to smack of indecision, slight shyness even, not the striding confidence of a real leader. I’m afraid the thought of him on the world stage makes me a bit queasy. ( which it would do anyway, even if he didn’t walk funny!) Imagine he and Barack Obama walking towards each other on stage or something? Who would you vote for?

  9. Recalcitrant.Rick

    In other words, DAVID HAND, he has no policies.

  10. Zac Evans

    @David Hand, have you read Marr’s essay or are you just basing your claims on the snippets posted here? (ie. “Hand on Saville on Marr on Abbott”)

  11. Steve Carey

    Quite an achievement. I don’t like what Abbott stands for, yet all this featherweight huffery and puffery makes me dislike him a little less. It’s like trying to land a punch with a duster – is that the best you can do to assassinate his character… he WALKS A BIT FUNNY?

    He may not have been alone in the 1970s in being anti-gay. If he’s come to think differently from personal experience, good for him.

    And one of Peter Fitzsimons’s trademark blokey you-shoulda-been-there stories (an “excellent anecdote”?) reveals he MIGHT HAVE ENJOYED RUGBY TRAINING WHEN IT WAS RAINING. Heavens above, let’s break out the straitjacket right away, shall we?

    Thin stuff, Crikey, very thin indeed.

  12. rossco

    “Without power it’s been a waste of time.”
    It is how that power will be exercised that is the great unknown and concern. I don’t think even knows what he aims to achieve with the power if he ever becomes PM. Where is the vision beyond getting into the Lodge?

  13. geomac62

    David Hand
    Perhaps you didn,t notice the DLP reference which is not fluff but in Abbotts DNA . Santamaria all over again with the attack style innuendo but lacking the flow , too many ahhs and that ridiculous laugh . Apart from a few liberals the party is actually the DLP rebadged . Even Joyce is DLP in National dress which is why Abbott gives him full rein to mouth off without rebuke .

  14. cairns50

    one of the many concerns i have regarding abbott is the fact which is quite ofter quoted was that he was a boxer at school and from some accounts was quite good at it

    whiilst boxing is regarded as a sport the main aim of the boxer is to belt his opposition into submission in order to win the fight

    some people could even regard the sport as condoning physical violence

    perhaps this explains abbotts supposed threats to the lady after the universaty unions elections ?

  15. Ronson Dalby

    It’s worth having a look at this 20″ minute interview of Marr speaking about Abbott:

    theglobalmail.org/feature/judging-abbott-at-face-value-but-which-one/373/

  16. Venise Alstergren

    STEVE CAREY: If you had been around in the 1950s, 1960s, you would know that thanks to the DLP there was a blanket on any social development which we would consider to be normal behaviour today. The fact that Tony Abbott worships the thought processes of the late Bartholomew Augustine Michael (call me Bob) Santamaria is a clear indication of the former wanting to drag this country back to that era.

    Should the possibility of Tony Abbott becoming PM eventuate, the first thing will be to deny all forms of birth control-please refer to his record as health minister in the Howard government-to women. Backed by a cabinet of ultra conservative Catholics, and with some sympathy amongst Labor Catholics, this country will be headed for our own dark ages.

    The above scenario is too horrible to contemplate. Therefore mocking his walk is a least risible.

  17. archibald

    @ Venise
    We’re all apes really, aren’t we? Watch the great apes even for a few minutes at the Zoo and we find their mannerisms are all too familiar. Apes sometimes posture to make themselves look larger and more dangerous than they really are. This threating behaviour is undoubtably better than any excercise of their true destructive potential.

    Comparing politicians to their fellows is more worthwhile. Comparing and contrasting Abbott with one of his local contemporaries like Latham (“I’m just a guy having a go” – at single mothers for a start.) or some of the other contenders for office these days like Romney’s new ultra-lean ulta-conservative “running” mate, Paul Ryan, is more instructive. A disproportionate focus on physical activity is a form of the manic defense. The story about the rugby practice suggests a hunger to find something transcendental in physical striving. He doesn’t apparently put that energy into preparing to govern – developing policy or getting across the key portfolios. In this time, where the media have all but abandoned holding him to account, he hasn’t needed to – thus far at any rate. His private personality – where he was frank about the fatal errors of JWH’s WC or dealing with the independents after the last election – is more interesting than his public persona which seems like the same sort of masquerade we saw on display in Tampa recently.

    Before his tilt at the leadership, Abbott used to be quite blunt about his unacceptability to the majority of the electorate due to his particular kind of conservatism. He has to pretend to be otherwise to sell himself to the swinging vote – and so, pretty much, to most politicians these days. The lack of room for those in the current government to pursue any sensible accomodation with the obvious hot potato issues reflects the same sort of compromises. Some of these guys must wonder why they ever got into politics but, I’m guessing, not TA. His path in the priesthood was toward being the top guy – Archbishop of Sydney. He still wants to be the top guy. Where to from there?

  18. drmick

    The head damage from getting hit too many times shows; maybe even the reason for his simian like gait and attitude?
    The article in the weekend papers most frightening point was that he wrecked everything he touched to please his master Santamaria. Everything evil in his bizarre cloistered world had to be destroyed and he did that with single purpose. He has not created one thing other than a human life, and even then he managed to wreck that; No humanity, no grace no charm and absolutely no regret.
    Well no effing way should he be let any where the leadership of this country. No way. He should remain the loser he is. He has already cost the liberals any credibility they had and is well on his way to wrecking them too.

  19. Peter Ormonde

    Many thanks for this revealing insight. As a lad attempting to sowing my wild oat I would routinely take along a copy of Bob’s News Weekly and read my intending victim some of the racier snippets. This strategy left me an ideal candidate for Holy Orders (which was no doubt the intent).

    Folks who have read my comments here know that I rarely “play the man” where Tony is concerned, but I recall that TV doorstop of 18 months or so ago when he was asked a direct question and lapsed into a strange sort of brain freeze – a bit like Max Headroom or a scratched CD. I suspect there’s more than just curious walking involved in Tony’s wiring issues.

  20. mikeb

    @!DRMICK – “He has not created one thing other than a human life, and even then he managed to wreck that;” – What???

  21. klewso

    Who knows what Abbott thinks, or are his convictions – those sort of matters seem to depend on who he’s talking to at any particular moment, and how much he wants their vote.
    He is, if anything, “flexible” and a “whatever it takes” political animal .
    To me his “Banton” attitude pigeon-holed him for me – it takes a certain personality to think like that.

  22. Venise Alstergren

    MIKEB: I think DRMICK might be referring to the apparent discovery of the child of this union. All the TV stations were informed about Tony Abbott’s discovery/rediscovery of his long lost son. Ditto the print media. At the height of this love in it was discovered that A) The lad wasn’t his, and B) He worked for the ABC TV. As you know, the irrepressible Rabbott regards the ABC as a communist organisation. It all turned out to be a PR disaster for the mad monk, even better I think it all coincided with a huge Christian gymkhana being held-at the tax-payers’ expense-in Sydney. I’ve forgotten the year it occurred.

  23. mikeb

    @Venise – yes I knew that but thanks anyway. How did Abbott “wreck” a human life from this episode? He has three daughters who I assume he hasn’t “wrecked”. Jeez i can’t stand his politics but this sort of attack is not fair.

  24. Patriot

    “He had a very odd attitude to sex”. Heh, that’s rich coming from a lefty, who probably thinks that men shoving their fists up each other should be celebrated as heralds of enlightenment and progress . Anyway, who cares what Marr says. The guy’s on drugs.

  25. Peter Ormonde

    Well done Cr*key … another triumph of mechanised moderation.

  26. gautillard dellron

    tony abbott’s daughters are hot.
    (i’m allowed to say that cos it’s true)

  27. beachcomber

    The part about intimidating a woman who defeated him in an election makes complete sense. It is easy to imagine a testosterone charged young Abbott not coping with defat by a woman, especially when you remember how he dealth with Niciola Roxon besting him at the Health Debate, and Julia Gillard beating him at an election. He swore at Roxon on national TV, and has spent the last 2 years intimidating Gillard at every opportunity. The guy clearly has both anger management issues and problems with women. Neither are great qualities in a PM.

  28. Steve Carey

    VENISE ALSTERGREN – let me get this right. You’re saying that Tony Abbott’s very first act as Prime Minister would be to ban birth control? (“Should the possibility of Tony Abbott becoming PM eventuate, the first thing will be to deny all forms of birth control.”) That’s absolute nonsense.

    I’d be happy to bet you $100 that on the first anniversary of the sad day on which he becomes Prime Minister (I dread the day) birth control will still be legal in Australia.

    Further, that no legislation in any way restricting or limiting any form of birth control will have been passed in that year. You up for that? Willing to put your money to this statement? Or perhaps it was just a rhetorical flourish, and you don’t really believe what you’re saying?

  29. Steve777

    Being anti gay was pretty widespread back in the 70’s, particularly for blokey, sporty types. Fortunately community attitudes have moved on since then, although some still remain mired in the past. As for strange attitudes to sx, I think they was pretty widespread back then among young people who had emerged from 13 years in the Catholic school system. Most of us managed to grow out of them.

    The story about his allegedly intimidating his SRC opponent is a bit of a worry. It’s “he said she said” and it’s probably impossible to establish the truth after all these years, so I’d have to give Tony the benefit of the doubt on that one. If the story was that he decked a male environmentalist or Labor supporter in the course of a robust political discussion (and I have no knowledge of anything like that), I think I’d believe it.

  30. izatso?

    of course David Hand read the entire article …. at (altogether ! ) …… 3.45 !

  31. John64

    Just so that I have this clear: On one hand, everyone is decrying the state of journalism in this country and on the other… This is the best you’ve got? Riiiight. You could’ve torn Abbott apart with his contradictory positions on climate change, for his recent interview on the ABC, gone through his school years in-depth to find out if there’s anything there that proves he has even an ounce of sense…

    And instead, oh, his hand-writing’s appalling! Well, if that’s bad, you should see my Doctor’s.

    As for the Speedo’s… Isn’t it interesting. We have a female Prime Minister which another female comments on her jackets – to great shock and outrage. Yet here we have a male who’s constantly criticised for his…. wait for it… swimwear and that’s ok.

    If Tony Abbott was female, there would be high holy outrage unleashed at those comments.

  32. Peter Ormonde

    John,

    If Tony Abbott was female, she would not be leading the Liberal Party.

  33. Elizabeth Thornton

    Interesting. I stood as a candidate for the Greens in Tony Abbott’s electorate. The quality of the voters was outstanding !

    So many with anti Green venom which sounded just like Alan Jones.

    One person even asked me why the Greens had done nothing about Coal Seam gas ?

    The stench is there Tony Abbott is loved by the unloveables.

  34. Mark

    The only thing Abbott is good at is throwing punches. If you vote for him you need your head examined. WAKE UP AUSTRALIA HE IS EVIL

  35. David Hand

    Zac and Izatso,
    Of course you’ve got “Hand on Saville on Marr on Abbott”. What else is required on a fluffy -nothing – spiteful- lefty diatribe dished up for the faithful.

    This is just more sheep from Animal Farm bleating “Four legs good, two legs bad, four legs good, two legs bad”. Crikey’s version is “Tony is evil, Tony is evil”. I expect a daily uncomplimentary story about him right up to the election.

    Talk about a campaigning journal. I suppose it’s more comforting than talking about Saturday’s local elections.

  36. John64

    @PETER ORMONDE: Yes, yes and the Liberal’s would never let an Aboriginal get into the Federal lower house, while the Labor party would *never* vote for a White Australia Policy, or implement mandatory detention or send Asylum Seekers off-shore…

    … oh wait.

  37. Peter Ormonde

    John,

    Its interesting actually this “catholicisation” of the Libs of late. Used to be a bit of a closed shop actually – Anglicans only thanks. Phil Lynch was the first tyke to win a cabinet slot as Treasurer, that was under Fraser. And my goodness did that cause rumblings amongst the propertied classes (especially in Melbourne) … they knew that papists would be hammering down the doors once the lily-livered Liberal Fraser gave them a toehold.

    George Pell for Governor General!

  38. Corbett Marian

    I agree with David Hand that there’s nothing in the Marr article to inform readers about Abbot’s policies. We’ve got Marr’s psychoanalytic take on Abbot, but lets have the policy detail. Abbot is a social conservative for sure. What does that actually mean for his policy agenda? We don’t know. That’s the sneaky thing about Abbot- he’ll run around everywhere giving his dog whistles – then plead innocence like a catholic in a confessional box. He says he’s gunna ditch the mining tax. At least he’s straight on that. Personally I think he’ll be a conservative wrecking ball. Mr Marr – people need to know the detail of what is a stake. Gonski?Disability insurance? Mining tax? Overseas workers? Environment policy? I fear Abbot is more conservative than the public realize.

  39. Juggler

    I dislike Tony Abbott’s politics as much as the next sane person, but please, Crikey, keep the stories focussed on the man’s policies rather than his past. Articles like this are shameful ad hominem attacks that contribute nothing to the national discussion of politics. The Left should be above this sort of counter-productive tabloid drivel.

    There used to be a general principle within reputable media outlets of not discussing aspects of an individual politician’s private life in public. I am ashamed of David Marr for stooping to such vindictive, gutter writing, and even more ashamed of Crikey for taking up the story. Truly pathetic.

  40. Jeremy Williams

    I thought it was interesting that in the leigh sales interview, Tony had a disrespect vibe toward Leigh. I’ve seen him challenged by male interviewers on the ABC and he doesn’t come across so disrespecting. I also think a big part of the attraction of politics for him is the sport of it rather than an idealism to make australia better.

  41. khtagh

    @Juggler
    Where were your concerns when everyone gets stuck into Julia’s past?? total bloody hypocrisy from another lieberal troll.

  42. Peter Ormonde

    Jeremy,

    I think a lot of women pick up on this, explaining some of has unpopularity in that quarter – that an a degree of common sense. Not so much what he says, but how he says it. Can;t help being patronising and awkward. It’s built-in.

  43. Terrence Burns

    Like the Liberals who turfed out Gough, they were bastards then – they are bastatrds now.

  44. Hamis Hill

    On that “Catholic” thing, the disproportionate representation of same across all the elected governments is a problem, and on this point as a “staunch” member of this religious minority Abbott simply cannot be representative of all Australians. He could actually be a saint but he has chosen to remain partisan to a minority extreme. The Liberals can do better and did have a better, more representative leader in Malcolm Turnbull. And who can ignore the complaints of Malcolm Fraser about his own former party? Well most of the present liberals! Gerard Henderson’s Menzies Child
    might explain this phenomenon of “Catholic” dominance, especially his SMH article “How Menzies Child Has Changed”, where he exlained how a burgeoning “catholic” midddle class abandoned their down trodden working class Labor roots and aspired to ape their betters.
    “Catholic” is in inverted commas because there is no typical “Catholic” stereotype.
    Mary Mackillop was, for example of Scottish, not Irish heritage.
    Abbott, like Santamaria, comes across as a caricature, as a fake, and lacks that roundness of authenticity that people tend to detect subliminally. Hence his unpopularity IMHO.
    And we know that some like Santamaria believed that attack was the best form of defence.
    In his case he was defending the war criminals of his religion who escaped to Australia, post WWII, along the infamous Vatican organised “Ratlines”. What is Abbott defending?

  45. beachcomber

    I find his refusal to marry a woman he throught he impregnated, because it would intefere with his option of becoming a priest, the most damning.

  46. AR

    I’ve only read the SMH extracts & this teaser from Margot but, thus far, it seems that MM is a good example of a ‘hollow man’, without intrinsic values and desperate for someone/something to fill the void, no matter how bizarre, bashing other blokes, or tumbling them in the mud and let’s not even mention the definition of a scrum…
    But, onto higher thing, he’s… err… umm, sorry, it’s Tony Abbott, all surface, no centre, hard but brittle.
    Can’t recall chapter & verse (possibly, Corinthians 13:1?), something about “If I become a sounding brass… but do not have love, I am nothing..“. Yeah that’s MM.

  47. Peter Ormonde

    AR

    So we’re reduced to trading biblical bits…. no shortage of material….how’s this then:

    “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

    Proverbs 6:16-19

  48. Peter Ormonde

    AR

    This time the Mother of Moderation has gone too far in her pursuit of naughty words – even finding the very Good Book itself is not beyond her eagle-eyed scrutiny and suspicion.

    In other words, I’ve sent you a quote for the bible but it has been gathered up in the Cr*key net of propriety and niceness.

    These Cr*key nuns make the Spanish Inquisition look like agents of Gomorrah!

  49. Malcolm Street

    Beachcomber – it’s worse than that – the other reason was that it meant he wouldn’t be eligible to be a Rhodes scholar!

  50. Damotron

    Sounds like he should be playing NRL.

  51. izatso?

    @David Hand …… more fun at your expense, simple. no Spite. leave that for your reduction. it was a very slow weekend, so thank you…..

  52. Patriot

    Illegals to be deported to Nauru by the end of the week. I’m going to throw a going away party for them.

  53. Frank Campbell

    A handful of fragments about a piece written by someone else somewhere else- this is the lead article on Crikey?

    Crikey is often thin, but this is anorexic…

  54. Alfonse

    Possibly the most boring article that has appeared on Crikey. (oh, except the one that referred briefly to someone in the Labor party having a good idea)………couldn’t you have at least inferred that Abbott hates kittens or once cut a piece of timber and then realised it was not long enough ? Damn you Crikey for publishing the truth !!

  55. klewso

    So, he was right about Rudd and wrong about Abbott?
    Personally I find Marr to be a bit too dogmatic, too focused on his own celebrity and views.
    As for Abbott, he opposed WorkChoices because it was “bad politics and unfair (to workers)” – one more than the other? So Marr thinks that sort of IR is behind him – so how did he play the Howard government’s Building Industry reform, as minister in ’03?
    I reckon he feeds on grudges.

    [And the Barbara Ramjan incident ……. with a “woman”?]

  56. Juggler

    @khtagh
    I rarely comment on Crikey articles, but this one really got my goat and I had to say something. As regards the relentless attacks on Gillard, of course I deplore them. Wanting to get away from ad hominem rubbish is why I read Crikey in the first place! But just because the Right is attacking Gillard in the nastiest and dirtiest way possible, that doesn’t mean we should lower ourselves to their level — which seems to be your implication. (I’m not sure you really understand the meaning of the word hypocrisy …!)

    Unfortunately, articles like this justify the attacks being made upon Gillard by suggesting that mocking a politician’s private life is fair game for all. And worse, they trivialise the case against Abbott. Whether or not Abbott discussed the formation of the DLP on a first date (something which I’d be inclined to do myself, incidentally, as I suspect would any true political junkie) it’s not a reason for not electing him. Policy is the reason, and the only reason, the man and his party shouldn’t govern.

  57. Liamj

    @ Juggler – if our media featured only smears and hate against Labour, the daily work of An al Jones and the Murdochrats, then the Torys would win every time, thats why the uber-rich pay big to keep the hate flowing. They do it cos it works, and must giggle themselves silly over (some on) the Lefts pretensions to more elevated tastes.

  58. Malcolm Street

    “Patriot
    Posted Monday, 10 September 2012 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Illegals to be deported to Nauru by the end of the week. I’m going to throw a going away party for them.”

    Is that the best you can do?

  59. mikeb

    @beachcomber – “I find his refusal to marry a woman he throught he impregnated, because it would intefere with his option of becoming a priest, the most damning.” Maybe – but probably just as well as he’d have been bringing up someone else’s kid with a “wife” who was obviously not so commited.

    This would be one of the worst articles in Crikey for a while. The last time I defended Abbott was the “sh*t happens” episode which was again a deliberate beat-up just for the sake of salacious tut-tutting and ratings. Can’t we just leave this rubbish to the tabloids and shock-jocks?

  60. Peter Ormonde

    Now now Mr B,

    Why should the intelligent left be denied a small morsel of tabloid trash every now and again?

    I know we are as a rule above this sort of smut but a little lapse is surely understandable. Especially when discussing this grinning simian nutjob.

  61. The Pav

    Abbott is accused of something many years ago & flat out denies it

    The relevance of it may be debatable but what isn’t is his denial

    He is either lying or his accuser is.

    There must have been others around to confirm which version is true.

    Given Abbott has mounted a Gillard lies campaign he must prove the truth of his denial

  62. Venise Alstergren

    STEVE CAREY: I believe that Tony Abbott, together with all the Catholic fundamentalists in the Coalition; Kevin Andrews, Scott Morrison, Cori Bernardi, Eric Abetz, David Clarke, Peter Ryan (Nats Vic), Barnaby Joyce (Nats), George Brandis, Christopher Pyne, and a cast of dozens, will be leaning on him to do just that. However, if you saw the David Marr interview you will notice that he thinks the birth control issue is so far out of the bottle it would be impossible to put the stopper back. Personally, I disagree. Also, states like Victoria where legislation legalising abortion passed through a Catholic dominated state parliament by one vote, will come under threat of having this law overturned. Precisely in the manner that shortly after the NT passed a law allowing euthanasia, John Winston Howard came into power and promptly overturned it.

    If you did as I suggested and looked up Tony Abbott’s tenure as health Minister in the Howard government, you would have found his performance over the RU486
    drug and his concomitant banning of it, revealing his ice cold determination to put women back into the 1940s. What on earth makes you think hardline fundamentalist Catholics ever change their spots?

    Marr states the real issue with Abbott as a future PM is euthanasia, I agree with him on this issue, and with anti-euthanasia stalwarts like Kevin Andrews and Barnaby Joyce urging him on, Abbott will make sure any prospective law fails to get off the starting line.

    Anyone voting for the Liberal Party, or the National Country Party at the next election will have no one to blame, except themselves, if this next election is won by them.

  63. Venise Alstergren

    ARCHIBALD: “”suggests a hunger to find something transcendental in physical striving.”” If he feels that deeply I’m sure someone could organise to have him crucified. It doesn’t become more transcendental than that.

  64. Venise Alstergren

    MIKEB: That was the only reason I could think of-unless he meant Abbott’s anti-abortion stance?

  65. Hamis Hill

    Marr never discussed the possibility that as a boy, the object of our fear and hate, may himself have been the object of unwanted lusts that many of his fellow religionists have had to endure.
    Amateur psychologists might detect a cause for homophobia, confusion over women and the over-compensatory behaviour in “macho” sports.
    All mere speculation, but until we establish a nation-wide poll of such victims we will never know the extent to which this speculation may be accurate.
    In the meantime the behaviour is remarkable and gives rise to reasonable speculation.

  66. Graeme Harrison

    Abbott’s problems run deeper than the ‘simian swagger’ – though this way of seeking to appear as a ‘strong man’, supported by ‘action photos’ in a whole variety of situations is straight from the Vladimir Putin ‘leader must have strong man image’ school of thought.

    The biggest issue not dealt with in the article, was Abbott’s overnight conversion from being supportive of the ETS and real climate action, to drop all such thoughts the moment he saw a ‘break-through tactic’ would be to get Minchin’s denialist team behind Abbott by becoming a denialist in the blink of an eye. It was the opportunity to win power that mattered, not whether a free-market mechanism would be most efficient at achieving the necessary change in our carbon footprint. Australia and the world simply did not matter when it came to the issue of personal power.

    This ‘change tactics/ethics as necessary’ is a trait of all good debaters. [I graduated from the same top-debating high school as Tony, but a few years ahead.] After sufficient debating, you can easily dump all of your ethical beliefs to argue ‘the opposite position’… with a view to simply winning! Debating teaches valuable oratory skills, but the downside is being able to shed ethics in an instant.

    The other ‘hidden driver’ for Abbott is that leaving the seminary must be psychologically troubling. You have abandoned your commitment to God. I feel certain that Abbott is driven by a sub-conscious drive to prove to the Church (and his God) that he can do more for the Church from his new profession. That is why Abbott was prepared to overturn the professional ministerial medical advice and refuse (when Health Minister) the approval of RU486, the abortion drug. The parliament had to take the power to approve drugs away from him, because he was not prepared to do the functions required of the minister. Abbott preferred (as earlier documented in Honi Soit) to still impose his personal moral code on all others, rather than allow democracy (decisions of the majority to rule).

    In this way, Abbott would be dangerous for democracy, because he believes in game-saying, undermining institutions/protocols, not keeping to his word (unless it was written down and he meant it), etc…. in that a personal win or a favour for the Church will always outrank following democratic principles. Many high-functioning sociopaths in political positions in the past have espoused a commitment to democracy to gain power, but then not kept to democratic principles once in power, seeing that winning/retaining power was more important. A local example was the Liberal Party’s decision to overturn our democratic conventions by having two Liberal states replace retiring Labor senators with non-Labor replacements to enable the Senate to deny ‘supply’ in the lead-up to Whitlam’s removal. Of course Fraser later became a thoughtful, reasoned force for good, but when he was planning to remove Whitlam, winning was everything. Abbott would explain (in similar circumstances) that not replacing senators with like-party ones, or refusing to pass ‘supply’ bills were not prohibited by the Constitution or explicit laws – they were ‘only’ accepted conventions. So was the fact that the Health Minister should approve drugs determined appropriate for approval by the independent committee of medical specialists. With Abbott as leader we would need to expect complete upheaval in all matters not written down as ‘L-A-W law’. And an awful lot of what makes our democracy run is not codified in law.

    Turnbull does not need the ‘simian swagger’, as his pride is derived from his intellectual capabilities, not his physical ones. All Turnbull needs is a speech-writer from Bob Hawke’s team (‘man of the people’ etc)… But the fact that Turnbull advocates debating the actual issues (not slogans/denials), and then working to find common ground within the whole parliament to implement policies is the powerful difference.
    Graeme Harrison (prof at-symbol post.harvard.edu)
    Sydney

  67. Venise Alstergren

    GRAEME HARRISON: Excellent comment. Thank you.

  68. Peter Ormonde

    Agree with much of the above Graeme, but I suspect that Turnbull’s intellectualism puts him well out of step with the Liberal Party room and some its more frothing private sector supporters.

    In short while Turnbull might seek to develop policies, common ground and debate issues, this is far too difficult and nuanced for the “outraged robbed” Libs . They are committed to reliving 1975 and forcing the collapse of an “illegitimate” minority government. They are on a mission.

    It is not about standing for anything – having a set of alternative strategies or policies – it is about fighting the 2010 election – again and again – and restoring the “proper order of things”.

    This is why I think Malcolm’s message will fall on deaf ears in the party room… not enough anger and resentment – he wants to treat them like the Guvvermint or something!!!

    I don’t think this will change until the oppositional strategy fails again.

    Curiously they do not seem to understand that the critical factor that kept the Libs from office in 2010 was Abbott himself and his well-earned reputation with those who know and work with him as untrustworthy and unprincipled. Abbott cost them Government last time. I reckon he will do it again.

  69. mikeb

    Before the comments get too hysterical can we remind ourself that TA & his cabal of Catholic conspirators is not about to declare a dictatorship if he gets to the lodge. Or do you think he is? Since I’m a baptised Catholic hopefully I’ll escape exile to a gulag in Nauru (or elswhere) following that eventuality.

  70. Steve Carey

    VENISE ALSTERGREN: Maybe I missed your comment, but I can’t see whether you’re committing to your previous extravagant claim that an Abbott government would “ban all forms of birth control” as their first action. To be on the safe side I’ve given you a year, and bet you after a year it wouldn’t have happened. To be on the safer side, I’ve bet you that no legislation at all pertaining to birth control would be passed in the first year. And I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is: $100 says you’re flat out wrong.

    Up for it? Or would you prefer to just keep on flinging assertions around and then not backing them up? – Which is fine by me. Just wondering whether you actually mean any of what you say, that’s all.

  71. David Hand

    I’d just like to say how much I’m enjoying this thread as it journeys into the X-files style alternate universe of left wing fear and loathing.

    It’s like an online Rorschach test for left elite pseudo-intellectuals.

    Thankyou Mr Marr for your head-shrinking essay and thankyou Crikey for publishing an article on it.

  72. Peter Ormonde

    The Troof is out there, David

  73. klewso

    … heh heh, and they reckon “opposites attract”?

  74. Steve Carey

    VENISE ALSTERGREN: As I thought. See ya!

  75. Ingerson Stephanie

    The anecdote on physical deprivation: “…Abbo never saw a scrum that he didn’t like…” reminds me of Richard the Third who made no secret that he was well and truly into war. Richard was personally brave in battle and extremely cruel as well so both character traits can cohabit easily. Like Richard, Tony Abbott does seem to be at war with himself as well as others a lot of the time.

    But I wouldn’t call the alleged aggression towards Barbara Ramdan brave.. Many of us in our uni days in the seventies were over the top, but we weren’t all misogynists physically intimidating women when they happened to get in the way of our political ambitions. You have to ask yourself would Tony Abbott have punched the wall either side of a man’s face. This is the basis of all hatred towards women; i.e. cowardice. In his denial, Christopher Pyne carefully avoided this reason for the cover up of what Abbott allegedly did, putting a different spin on it.

  76. Karen

    @MikeB – the State elections in Vic, NSW and Qld, in particular, have shown that voters seem to think that the Libs are more benign than they really are – benign only because when the Libs are in opposition, they can’t wield power and only rely on 3-word slogans and their rhetoric to capture attention.

    However, once in office, they become the malignant forces they really are: overseeing whole-scale sackings, destruction of entitlements (the classic ripping of money out of people’s pockets), diminished and destroyed services, which are never advertised or even out-right misrepresented before an election. And then, the transfer payments begin streaming into the wealthy: the corporates; high net worths; familes who have three children in elite private schools. Just today, in NSW, the govt has massive cuts to the public school sector but has backed off doing the same to Catholic and independent schools.

    And whilst this is being done, the Tories and the MSN keep the punters distracted by keeping the spot light on poor Julia’s sole pork pie about the carbon tax. A pork pie that the punters haven’t actually suffered from. How pathetic is it they will vote Julia out because of it and because the Tories appeal to their prejudices over refugees.

    The punters fall for Lib rhetoric every time, until they become so abused by these Tories, they eventually vote in Labor or a combination of other progressives. And the cycle starts again…

    The Libs truly don’t give the proverbial about ordinary punters’; they’re just useful fodder to get them into office. And the punters keep getting sucked in, time and time again. As Peter says, “the Troof is out there”, if you want to look for it.

    @Graeme Harrison – great post. Its depressing to think that Abbott is Labor’s best electoral weapon because the polls would be even worse for Labor without him at the Lib helm.

  77. Peter Ormonde

    G’day Ms K,

    Don’t go writing off Gillard and the Australian public so far out. Give Tony more scope to demonstrate his ineptitude… start leaving an empty chair at the desk in Q&A … give Barnaby Joyce a regular slot on the 7.30 show…. let the yapping Christopher Pyne have unlimited air space.

    It’s not just Abbott that is Gillard’s strongest asset – there’s a whole deck of them – and the Liberals and Nationals are bolted onto Abbott and his approach.

    I reckon the next 15 months will be fun to watch myself. No more of this despairing pessimism Ms K … Australians are not dills – despite all evidence to the contrary.

  78. Patriot

    “poor Julia’s sole pork pie about the carbon tax.”

    Karen, Tuesday 14 August 2012:

    “@ Patriot – its not a tax, its a price signal… So, no lіe.”

    Putting that aside but, it’s not her only lіe:

    Leadership challenge lіe.
    Carbon tax lіe.
    Pokie reform lіe.
    AWU slush fund lіe.

    She is an habitual lіar.

  79. Hamis Hill

    Just speculating, but Patriot seems to fit the Abbott pathology.
    An extended session with “Dr Marr” may be in order.
    Little boy with a grievance leads to “Negative attention seeking”.

  80. geomac62

    Abbott urged Reith to contest the liberals presidency promising his support but when it came to the vote voted against him . Reith lost by one vote which ironically is the same as Abbott gained the leadership one vote . Abbott advocated for a carbon tax as being the most efficient way to reduce carbon , still on youtube . What kind of human being says of a dying man that being ill doesn,t mean he may be pure of heart ? All I can think of is that a person saying that has no heart because he uses a stupid remark to deflect criticism of himself . He falsely told Jones he had no meeting with Pell and the look of barely subdued rage on his face when outed was television gold . What I couldn,t understand was why he just didn,t tell the truth . What is wrong with meeting Pell ? I guess it goes back to Santamaria and Mannix type thing . Its surprising Marr didn,t raise the court action from his uni days regarding touching up a female speaker from behind on the behind . Case dismissed by judge because too many claims and counter claims . Leopard never changes its spots .

  81. geomac62

    HH
    Patrat is the skid mark on Y front 50s underdaks . Irrelevant and dated .

  82. Karen

    @ Patriot – its a tax; its a price signal – same diff – particularly when the emissions trading system starts in 2015, which talks about prices on carbon as being a ‘signal’.

    On leadership – JG wasn’t out there seeking to challenge at the time Rudd was trying to find out if she was. Apparently, she spat the dummy when she found out about what he was doing behind her back and decided that she’d go for it, after she realised the relationship was broken and firmly held belief that Rudd would lose the election.

    On pokies – there is pokie reform, unfortunately, not of the type Wilkie wants. I’m personally disappointed about the compromise and the fact that this Parliament is so g*tless, but then Labor is entitled to think politically as well, if it wants to win the next election.

    On AWU slush fund – what are you insinuating? JG knew her then boyfriend was going to be using the funds corruptly? All smear, no substance.

    Gee, Patriot, I didn’t realise you kept all my posts…imagine if you knew my full name – poison letters in the mail next, hey?

  83. Steve Fleay

    At least David Marr’s article puts some focus on the danger of the influence of religious conservatives
    in the Liberal Party, (the brand of religion is immaterial).

    Leading up to the next election I would like to see an ad with Tony Abbott’s image and “Do you want this man in charge of social policy?” along with Joe Hockey “Do you want this person in charge of finances?” I thought of adding a third with Julie Bishop “Do you want this person in charge of anything” but maybe that was going a bit far.

  84. Patriot

    A skid mark is irrelevant? My good man, you are the person I’d like to see running the laundry service for Nauru. Your kind of no-nonsense frugality is needed there.

  85. Karen

    @ Patriot – on JG’s leadership – I left out an important bit, JG also didn’t canvass supporters, she was tapped on the shoulder. This fact, together with her anger, and the fact that she thought Rudd was going to lose the election, motivated her to stand. And fair enough. She was actually running the country, even when Rudd was PM. The man couldn’t run a government and was always out of the bleeding country.

  86. geomac62

    Patrat
    The Yfronts are irrelevant and outdated . The skid mark refers to you but I thought the better of elaborating .

  87. Karen

    @ Stephanie Ingerson – well said!

  88. Ingerson Stephanie

    Oh and BTW, Richard III was a compulsive liar. Sound familiar?

  89. Owen Gary

    What they only mentioned “Phoney Habit” look at the rest of their front bench, there’s a crowd of rightartd plebs just like him.

  90. Schnappi

    Rather obvious tony wallbanger is an arrogant hollow,and shallow excuse for a politician.

    Thomson got it right , when he said abbott was unfit to be LOTO, and unfit to even be an MP.

  91. Karen

    Hi Peter, those clucking, tsk tsking ‘moderation’ nuns must have held up your 2.02pm comment, as I didn’t see it back then. I hope you are right. I agree that voters are beginning to wake up about Tony about the ‘wit that he is, and his bolted on attack dogs – that awful Pyne, in particular. However, will it be too late? I’d feel better if the 2pp split shifts to 52: 48 before the end of the year…

  92. Karen

    Hi Peter, reply in moderation…

  93. Peter Ormonde

    G’day Ms K

    Of course I would expect nothing less – of your good self or of the Holy Sisters of Virtual Virtue here at Cr*key.

  94. Graeme Harrison

    Peter Ormonde has replied to my earlier long post:
    “Agree with much of the above Graeme, but I suspect that Turnbull’s intellectualism puts him well out of step with the Liberal Party room and some its more frothing private sector supporters.”

    As someone else put it so succinctly in Fairfax in 2011:
    “In any election, Tony beats Julia, Kevin beats Tony, but Malcolm beats Kevin.”

    What BOTH major parties forget is that you don’t want a leader who appeals to your most ardent existing supporters, but one who will appeal most to the swinging voter in the middle. Hawke may have come from a union background but he kept expressing that his major concern was for how the economy was being run… and he kept getting re-elected. Rudd won his election because he was seen as ‘outside’ union control. By comparison, Julia is seen as a union puppet (chosen by the ‘faceless men’). Malcolm is seen as preferable to Tony by all those in the middle. The climate denialists and evangelicals might prefer Tony, but they would vote Liberal, no matter who the leader was.

    Each party needs to realise that their electoral chances would go up significantly if they could elect a leader who looks like he joined the wrong party! Instead the internal voting mechanisms lead inevitably to the wrong result – electing a leader who has no appeal to the other side (or swing voters). The only time parties make the right decision is when they become truly desperate – as happened when Tony Blair was elected to spearhead New Labour in the UK, after decades in opposition.

    If voters vote Julia out, it will not be because they want Tony. Tony can last only one term. An ultra-right leader will be the surest way to quickly return control to a Labor-Green coalition in just four years. Labor cannot lead again on their own, but a left-coalition would easily be formed if the alternative was more of Abbott.

    We already provide from the public purse two-thirds of the cost of running an election campaign. It would be ‘cheap’ to provide the other third, then index it to CPI and throw in proportional coverage on state-owned media (ABC, SBS, and government-purchased newspaper spreads/inserts etc). Then we could stipulate that, just as we don’t allow those who implement the laws (judges) to accept money from any person, those who make the laws (politicians) will be subject to the same provisions (loss of office, loss of superannuation and jail time) for accepting money from anyone. That way people could still offer to door-knock, leaflet-distribute etc, but not pay $22m to change the PM – as the mining lobby did to remove Rudd. With the current move to follow the USA, if money trumps one-man-one-vote, we simply get the government that Rupert+Gina decide for us.

    With a complete outlawing of political donations, the types running for parliament would be more genuinely public-minded (not there for perks). Plus the parties would have policies that reflected the views of their supporters, not of their donors. Money is so important for buying votes now, that the parties ignore the desires of their traditional supporters to ‘do whatever’ for their donors. We need to break that link. If the US founding fathers returned now to see how money dominates US politics and policies, they would be shocked, proclaiming “that is not what we intended at all”. Australia should not follow suit.

    With such a change, you would still get strong personality/power types aspiring to lead their party, but they would be selected for genuine appeal, not because they are crawling to the Ginas of the world for policy input.

  95. Peter Ormonde

    Ah put not your faith in polls Ms Karen .. at least not these quick dirty market surveys of Essential Meeja … they are invariably wrong – invariably. Even three days from polling day. No one is quite sure why – but any suggestion that these devices actually give us an idea of voting intention is disproved decisively by history. They don’t like to talk about that much.

    Far better to talk to one’s mates and get the feel of what they are thinking – this will give you a much better idea of the broad public mood. Any half decent politician does that and doesn’t need polls at all. Trouble is these back room grinders of cogs in our political machinery don’t actually know anyone real – have no one other than clones of themselves to discuss things with.

    It is one of the reasons our political discussion, reportage and debate has gone so far off the rails over the last few decades … too many polls telling us what we all think. Utter rubbish.

  96. Peter Ormonde

    Strewth – one got through… the good sisters must have been off at the 11 o’clock vespers. Damnation – I didn’t even use any naughty words when I had the chance!!!!

  97. Peter Ormonde

    Graeme – agree entirely re public funding and banning all political donations … critical for democracy in my view – not just in the electorate but also within the various parties where the capacity to haul in the cash seems to convey more merit that having a sharp head and eye.

    Yes I suspect Turnbull is significantly more “marketable” than Abbott can ever hope to be – in the electorate but not with his colleagues in the Parliament. They are a dull lacklustre bunch and seem to be relying on the current leader and his tactics to drag them over the line. Very frightened by ideas, policies and issues.

    Bring out the coalition’s Big Guns – like Barnaby Joyce – I say … show us what you’ve got!

  98. Venise Alstergren

    GRAEME HARRISON: What about the lobby groups? They are rolling in money and can buy anything. If we could delete these båstards the public might have a real chance.

  99. Graeme Harrison

    Venise questioned what should happen to lobby groups. When I suggested that those who make the laws should be subject to the same rules as those who only implement the laws (judges) re not accepting money or favours, directly or indirectly from ANYONE, under any circumstances, I meant just that.

    So, in the same way that a judge would never enter into some ‘access for sale’ arrangement in an attempt to defeat the rule of judicial independence, we would have ‘the same’ rules and mechanism apply to politicians. So all politicians could attend local dinners in his electorate etc, on the same basis as any normal person. But if any politician was given reason to suspect that ‘access’ was being sold with tickets more expensive than a regular dinner (other than bona fide charity benefit events), they should be required to ask a multi-party ethics sub-committee for a determination before attending. So a politician should feel free to attend a Cancer Council dinner which was raising money for cancer research, but not for some dodgy commercial interest, even if it sought to gain charity status.

    The trick is to have the consequences of breaches so dire, that people will not risk breaking them. A judge simply would not want his good name ruined in some scandal. Actually accepting a benefit would mean a judge losing office, benefits, etc and a possible prison term. There is no reason why the same rules cannot apply to those who draft the laws.

    As to ads by lobby groups, we already have rules to decide if TV ads are “of a political nature”. Those ones need to state who authorised the ad etc at the conclusion. In the same way, we would have laws which allowed any company to advertise its products, relative to competitive products, but if the ad (by a person, partnership, corporation, industry grouping, lobby group) goes into the area of seeking to change existing policy or existing laws, or influence new policy or laws, then it would be deemed inappropriate to be run, unless it was paid for out of the limited formulaic budget allowed for political parties/candidates under the federal funding model.

    Unlike the US, we would thus be enforcing that corporations are NOT citizens, do not have a right to vote, nor do they have a right to influence political decision-making – rather they are entities which are subject to the laws of the land which is set by a parliament determined by strict adherence to one-man-one-vote.

    So, instead of allowing the mining executives to spend $22m to change the PM, ALL of the circa 500,000 people employed in the mining industry would have the right to send letters to their elected representatives, or opposition candidates for an up-coming election, and could offer to speak at events and conferences (which could happen to be televised, if televised as a result of a broadcaster independently deciding that it was in the public interest to do so, without commercial consideration paid by anyone – ie much as TV news teams could cover a mining industry forum, but the forum could not ‘pay’ to have such coverage televised). We would thus also need anyone holding more than a 10% interest in a broadcaster to pass a ‘fit and proper’ person test.

    By allowing people to offer their personal services, to write letters, to door-knock etc, we are allowing ALL of the citizens the full right to free speech, without that free speech being trampled by allowing others to spend $22m to ‘sell’ (market) a particular personal or interest group’s message as a way of ‘defeating’ the one-man-one-decision principle.

    I understand that this is a radical departure from the US Supreme Court decision that corporations can be viewed as citizens, and hence under US first amendment they too now have the right to ‘buy’ as much ‘free speech’ as they want. I suspect that later more-enlightened benches will determine that allowing unlimited advertising is actually an undermining of free speech, as it drowns out the views of individual voters/citizens, in favour of giving what amount to supra-voting rights to corporations, in a move that is distinctly away from the one-man-one-vote ideal of democracy. But of course that move to unlimited purchasing of votes is happening in a USA that is concurrently disenfranchising large swathes of its citizens by seeking to put restrictions on who can vote. So over the past two decades (possibly in a reaction to the Civil Rights movement’s achievement of a broader franchise), the US has actually been seeking to move away from democratic ideals. We should not follow that lead, but rather remain true to the principles of democracy, both to safeguard our own democracy, and so that our US friends have a less ‘sold-out’ model to compare.

  100. Peter Ormonde

    How’d you get that HUGE post past the nuns? Anything longer than three pars and Mother Censorious usually swoops down talons extended with a banshee screeching and you’re whisked off into the Limbo of scrutiny. I’m very suspicious.

    Agree totally regarding the need to restrict the influence that corporations and other lobbyists seek to exert. The US system is offering us more than ample warning of what can go seriously wrong when we effectively extend the franchise to corporations… you get the best governments and representatives that money can buy.

    An associated issue is the regulation of campaign advertising which is complex but necessary if we are to avoid the incessant personalised attack ads that characterise the US political “debate”. Actually I don’t think is is nearly as difficult or controversial as the media and advertising industry would have us believe. Used to be called manners and good taste.

    I suspect that by simply banning political donations and providing a legal framework that more easily protects individual politicians from malicious libels and imposes statutory penalties would be adequate in the first instance.

  101. Venise Alstergren

    GRAEME HARRISON: Very idealistic. However, may I suggest a scenario which obviously happens every week. The Christian Lobby Group sends unmitigated garbage out to its parishioners and priests and the local padres pass on said information during their sermons. These same priests would die of gratitude if someone tried to prevent them for so disseminating this news; think of the photo ops!

    Never the less I enjoy reading your posts.

  102. Venise Alstergren

    PETER ORMONDE: The Godwin Grech affair probably killed Malcolm Turnbull’s chances of ever being able to shoot for the top job in the Liberal Party. That, and the monumental arrogance with which he pïssed off members of his own party. In all other respects his obvious intelligence, and his obvious suitability for becoming PM would be enough to make all the other coalition goons beside themselves with hate and envy. IMHO he’s got Buckley’s.

  103. Venise Alstergren

    PETER O: Line one should have said “re-shoot” for the top job…..

  104. Peter Ormonde

    Yes Ms Venise,

    Puts me in mind of the souffle resurrection issue. Might have a shot if he can transform himself into a scone or somesuch – perhaps an iced vo-vo.

    Too smart for his own good – not smart enough to hide it.

  105. klewso

    “Pseudo-intellectuals”?
    Is that like “people who can’t accept that you’re always Right”?
    And who can actually see fault on both sides of the fence, worth admitting?

  106. howard jeff

    Was there mention of student sexual assault, hushed by his cronies who intimidated the lady in question.
    i’m not sure voters could get past that.

  107. Peter Ormonde

    My goodness the Lib’s polling and focus groups on Abbott must be just shocking. He sacked Cory Bernardi today – again – for his obscene comments on gay marriage. Tony is trying to get all warm and cuddly. Desperate stuff…. like watching someone struggling in quicksand this … more wriggling and squirming Tony – try harder. More sackings.

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