Next year, Tony Abbott will rack up 25 years as an MP. And the best way for him to celebrate it -- for his party, for the government, and most of all for Australia -- would be to retire. 2019 should be the election at which he calls time.
Abbott said to one of his media friends on Monday that he still sees himself as a young man. In fact, Abbott has always been an old man; he is the classic example of Keating's "young fogey", from his days as a student politician through his stint as a seminarian and his devotion to BA Santamaria, through his entry into politics first as a staffer and then as an MP. Abbott has only ever seen the world through the eyes of an old man furious at the changes wrought by young people, determined to reverse the desecration of all that is sacred in his world where Christian white males hold unquestioned authority.
It has been said so often that Tony Abbott is at his most effective when destroying something. More accurately, he is only effective when doing so. His quarter century of public life is untainted by any hint of positive achievement, good governance or lasting legacy. His causes have all been negative ones: against an Australian being Australia's head of state, against women being able to control their own bodies, against government stimulus to prevent recession, against ending discrimination against same-sex couples, against mining companies paying a more rational level of tax, against climate action of any kind. And his record as an administrator is an abysmal one -- a poor minister in the Howard years whose indulgence by the then-prime minister annoyed more competent and economically and fiscally literate colleagues; a shockingly inept prime minister who oversaw a budget deficit blow out, a surge in unemployment and wage stagnation, constant bungles and routine cabinet leaks.