Tony Abbott, the member for Warringah, currently on a working holiday with wife Margie, Peta Credlin and some other advisers, has made his debut on the rubber chicken circuit. During a speech to the Margaret Thatcher Centre in London this morning, the former PM celebrated the Iron Lady’s virtues and noted that the Abbott government had “at least a hint” of Thatcherism about it.

Thatcher was a success with the occasional failure, and there was a success or two among Abbott’s failures, so a hint is correct.

The speech, in which he warned Europe against following Jesus’ advice to “love your neighbour as yourself” and said compassion towards refugees would lead to “catastrophic error”, gave the UK a chance to see what Australians long ago realised: that Tony Abbott is a very strange man indeed, self-absorbed, wrapped up in a narrative of his own glory. His attempt to reverse-engineer a legacy by using the desperation of Europe’s refugees is a case in point. That attitude was a disaster for him as PM, but it may serve him well on the conservative speaking circuit.

Meanwhile, back in Australia, the rebuilding begins. Malcolm Turnbull has, in three days, appointed a government scientist who believes in a zero fossil fuel society and released the $1.5 billion owed to Victorians for transport infrastructure — and held back by the Abbott government to punish them for voting against the East West link.

So we wish our Lizard of Oz, and his various Totos, well on their travels. Perhaps he might consider returning to the land of Oz for a while, to, you know, serve his constituents in his taxpayer-funded role.

Peter Fray

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