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Prick up your ears, Tony (A response to 'Against Roonism')

By Wayne Swan - posted Tuesday, 15 May 2001

God blessed Tony Abbott with ears. Why won’t he use them?

If he did, he wouldn’t revive an eighty-year-old comic verse that is out of touch with the reality of Australian family life and a patronising putdown of our rural communities to defend his Government’s record.

And what a way to launch your campaign for the leadership of the Liberal Party!


We’re all berated for knocking Australia, for talking our country down. But Mr Abbott forgets that only six months ago our nation was united in pride at running the best games ever. We were all on the edge of our seats, now we’re on the seat of our pants. Minister, if your Government gives the Australian people something to cheer about, we will!

It is not Australia that people have given up on…it’s the current Australian Government. It is the out of touch spruikers like the Minister that the Australian people have given up on, and his Sydney Institute address is a good example of why.

It is a strange twist when an Oxford Educated Minister who represents a very wealthy electorate labels the poor and struggling an ‘elite.’ Instead of ‘the poor’ he speaks of the ‘economically vulnerable.’ And he blames each and every victim of the Howard Government’s mismanagement for being negative.

It’s not the poor who have caused the Australian dollar to fall to record lows in recent times.

And its not struggling small businesses that have sent prices through the roof.

The fact is Mr Abbott is your classic bully. He can dish it out but he can’t take it.


When Mr Abbott chooses to knock the efforts of Australia’s 600,000 unemployed branding them ‘job snobs’ its somehow alright. But when Labor, groups like St Vincent De Paul or pensioners call the Government to account for the damaging impact of its policies on the living standards of ordinary Australians –we are dismissed as Roonists, pessimists or even theologically suspect.

Mr Abbott’s bizarre conspiracy theory in which Labor and the chattering classes have somehow ‘used the battlers against the Government’ is as extraordinary as it is delusional.

Mr Abbott is merely the worst example of a Government whose arrogance is just about to become terminal. What he is really saying in his Roonism speech is that far from blaming itself for the mess the GST is making of the economy, the Howard Government now basically wants to blame the Australian people.

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About the Author

Wayne Swan MP is the Member for Lilley (Qld). He is Federal Labor Shadow Treasurer and author of Postcode.

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