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Tony Abbott: not a serious man

By Jennifer Wilson - posted Monday, 22 February 2010

He held Peter Garrett personally responsible for the tragic deaths of insulation installers. He suggests that the Rudd Government is engaged in election year bribery of free-to-air television stations. Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, pushes it to the brink. He drops in the outrageous statements, and then he backs off. His mission is to sow the seeds of doubt and to erode confidence in government.

This is undoubtedly an aspect of every opposition’s task. However, Abbott does this with no evidence at all for his stunning claims. He feels free to malign Garrett as a potential serial killer, and the Rudd government as fundamentally corrupt, with no evidence to back up his allegations. He’s a scaremonger, a fear-monger, and dedicated nurturer of the public’s catastrophic expectations, and he always has been.

If you had him in your family or as one of your friends, you’d quickly learn to ignore him. You’d laugh at him, write him off as a hysterical drop kick, or both. Oh, you’d say, there goes Tony again, with his lunatic conspiracy theories. Don’t take any notice of him he’s over-the top.


But he’s the leader of the opposition, not some loveable family nutcase, and it appears that he has decided to put his considerable intelligence to work discrediting and maligning the government through unsubstantiated slander, rather than to the serious and much more difficult task of tackling the issues faced by this country and the world. He’s not alone in choosing this path. Many politicians are on it with him. Think of his colleague Barnaby Joyce’s recent allegation that we are about to default on our sovereign debt, for example.

It doesn’t take genius to see Abbott’s modus operandi. He makes his far-out statements in the hope that some mud will stick. He then backs off and resumes a more reasonable demeanour. In short, he is toying with us. Like a two-year-old child, he’s testing out how far he can go before the adults impose limits on him. Unlike the child, he’s fully cognisant of what he’s doing and the consequences. His hope is that we are so thick we’ll take his comments seriously, or at least factor them in as possibilities, and begin to see the Rudd government’s apparently inexhaustible and dangerous potential for nothing less than absolute evil.

Garrett must be punished, Tony brayed. Punished? This from a politician whose government took us into an illegal war against Iraq, justified by non-existent weapons of mass destruction, and the carefully constructed lie that the 9-11 terrorists originated from that country.

This from a politician whose government invaded Iraq without any clear plans as to what would take place after the invasion.

This from a politician whose government falsely claimed that asylum seekers threw their children overboard in the hope of gaining entry to Australia.

This from a politician whose government wilfully disregarded the international law of the sea, and the international refugee conventions to which our country is signatory.


How many deaths have resulted as a consequence of those actions by the coalition government of which Tony Abbott was a prominent member?

What help or comfort did Abbott’s cynical political appropriation of their tragedy bring to the families, friends and fellow workers of those killed in the insulation debacle? Yes, there are many accusations Garrett and the Rudd government must be required to publicly answer, but personal responsibility for serial manslaughter is not one of them.

It would be reassuring and refreshing to have an opposition led by a serious person. That is, a person who makes reasoned and considered criticism of the incumbent government. A person who offers intelligent alternatives without the compulsive white-anting. I recently confessed to my daughters-in-law that I didn’t think Grandma could manage many more two-year-old grandchildren. It seems to me that this country cannot manage many more politicians behaving like two-year-olds either, and neither can world.

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About the Author

Dr Jennifer Wilson worked with adult survivors of child abuse for 20 years. On leaving clinical practice she returned to academia, where she taught critical theory and creative writing, and pursued her interest in human rights, popular cultural representations of death and dying, and forgiveness. Dr Wilson has presented papers on human rights and other issues at Oxford, Barcelona, and East London Universities, as well as at several international human rights conferences. Her academic work has been published in national and international journals. Her fiction has also appeared in several anthologies. She is currently working on a secular exploration of forgiveness, and a collection of essays. She blogs at

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