Jan 9, 2014

Abbott the journo: what the Bulletin archives reveal about the PM

Tony Abbott isn't the first prime minister with a past in journalism, but his work for The Bulletin is more revealing than most. Crikey trawls through the archives.

Matthew Knott

Former Crikey media reporter

Tony Abbott is a member of an exclusive club: prime ministers with a former life as a professional journalist. Abbott’s journalistic career wasn’t as long as that of John Curtin — who started as a copy-boy at The Age before a long career editing left-wing newspapers — nor is he as associated with the trade as the Labor hero, who wore his Australian Journalists Union badge every day while in office. Journalism for Abbott was always more diversion than devotion. Yet his reporting offers a fascinating glimpse into Abbott’s personal story and the development of his political, social and spiritual views.

Abbott’s journalistic career began in the mid 1980s, when he was training to be a priest at St Patrick’s Seminary in Manly. A Rhodes scholar, former student politician and boxing champion, Abbott had always been a man of ideas. Journalism was an ideal forum for someone who relished kick-starting debates, challenging accepted wisdom and being at the centre of attention. After writing for the Catholic Weekly, Abbott came to the attention of The Bulletin which offered him a bigger audience and the chance to express his ideas more freely. Owned by Kerry Packer, the magazine was one of the most influential in the country, selling round 90,000 copies a week. It was a must-read among the political, media and academic elites.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

6 thoughts on “Abbott the journo: what the Bulletin archives reveal about the PM

  1. klewso

    A man of ideas – with little regard for the trivia of detail?

  2. klewso

    “Oh look! There’s something shiny over there …..!”?

    [….. and there’s that “worthless” ANC again?]

  3. drmick

    They keep saying he was a scholar? He was a journalist? He was a boxer? Sorry; a “Champion” boxer. So who is the illiterate dribbling impostor that has taken his place?
    This bloke appears to the casual observer as a “boxer” that lead with his chin, followed up with his nose and sold advertising space on the soles of his boots.
    They say he and “smokin” Joe Slackey broke from a rugby scrum locked in battle; the alleged oxford blue slapped the cigar smoker silly, and he has never recovered.
    The real reason they are having trouble diplomatically with every country they deal with is dialogue. No one can translate um, der and aah into another language.

  4. Iskandar

    Just a stale 1950’s conservative with a stale 1950’s vision. The only difference from Menzies, Santa Maria and Howard is that he’s not dead yet. We’ve really turned the clock back this time.

  5. Liamj

    Towback Tony achieving scholar label is a tribute to the catholic aptitude for gaming the system. These days he’s resorting to rhyme to remember policy jingles and can barely improvise ‘no comment’ on his own.

  6. Vincent O'Donnell

    I was at Sydney Uni. at much the same time as Tony Abbott. I recall a piece he wrote for Honi Soit, I think it was, railing against the debauchery and immorality he experienced at an AUS conference.

    It was about the same time that he believed he had fathered a child. Odd, isn’t it, the contradiction of belief and action that one individual can hold and prosper?

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details