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Trying in vain to reimagine Tony Abbott

By Lyn Bender - posted Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Now that he is a winner, it seems that most commentators are rushing to unearth and acclaim the hidden depths of the 'enigmatic' Tony Abbott, who until now appeared to only have romped in the shallows of the collective imagination.

Australia now has a new Prime Minister, and we wait with some trepidation for his transformation into our new 'great leader'.A leader who in his own words will shed the skin of a junk yard dog and don the mantle of our PM. A new Tony will emerge with the hastily acquired gravitas of a great statesman.

To that end David Barnett in The Drum asks will Abbott the tiger in opposition be revealed as the leopard who cannot change its spots.


All of us must adapt and change and we do, albeit in increments so small that they are often barely perceptible. My work as a psychologist is predicated on the assumption of the possibility of change. But such change is not a road to Damascus moment or an instantly integrated new paradigm. It is often slowly and painfully mined for ,extracted resisted and replete with cyclic relapses to old ways. With hard work, old harmful habits can be changed and new constructive habits acquired

So given Abbott's form thus far, as the clichéd advise warns: don't hold your breath for this transformation. Furthermore , peoplemay have voted for Abbott, but many don't like him all that much. His popularity has remained consistently low, and he has won the election but not our hearts and minds. The people seem to have fallen in step with his espoused pragmatism and unembellished simplicity. The voters didn't like the others much, and Abbott's slogan messages were easy to grasp and remember, so he would do.

To be fair, projections onto a public personas can bely the inner man; however Tony Abbott has revealed an obdurate obtuseness regarding the big and complicated questions that confront Australians and the world today.

Greg Craven defends Abbott saying that he is complicated and paradoxical conundrum.

Tony has made it clear: he doesn't do, complicated, he only does simplistic. Or in the words of the minders, he has remained focused and on message. In his interviews he speaks slowly and hesitantly as though addressing one small child, rather than a grown up populace. As though collectively we would not be able to grasp the detail.

" We will release our costing in good time", he states, nods head and pauses, "unlike the government before us." As it turned out the costs, a puny 8 page summary, were only 'released' by the then shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey two days before the election.


Nor does Abbott frame his concerns morally or with a sense of the lives of others.

Tony Abbott has consistently denied the science of climate change, and his obsession to dismantle the carbon price rests on this personal obsession driven by willful ignorance.

"In three years time the carbon tax will be gone." But will the real problem of global warming be over?

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About the Author

Lyn Bender is a psychologist in private practice. She is a former manager of Lifeline Melbourne and is working on her first novel.

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