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Tony Abbott on the republic

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Everyone is talking about Julia Gillard, but it's mostly Tony Abbott that I’m worried about. You remember him? The exercise crazy “mad monk” , who loves to parade his package, admits to bullshitting in interviews, can’t iron and who feels “confronted” by homosexuals. It scares me that this guy, peculiar and stuck in the past as he is, could somehow one day be our Prime Minister. It’s not that I'm against the Liberals, it’s just that Abbott is bad news for the country. Could the Libs do a Rudd on Abbott before the election? Hockey, anyone?

TAKE THE republic issue. Although Abbott has been fairly quiet on the issue recently (perhaps to keep moderates on his own side on side) he's staunchly opposed to Australia breaking ye olde colonial ties to the mother country. Tony Abbott’s views on the republic give a pretty good portrait of the man as a whole and, frankly, it doesn’t paint the picture of a man much in touch with the times.

Abbott was, in the early 1990s, the Executive Director of the leading monarchist faction, Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy. He also campaigned vigorously against republic in 1999 whilst an MP and cabinet minister in John Howard’s Coalition Government.

In 2007, Abbott launched himself again against the republic in The Age opinion pages, making some remarkable comments about the issue.

“For people anxious to be ‘modern’”, opined Abbott, “the real problem with the monarchy is that they didn’t think of it first.”

In Abbott’s world, republicans want to get rid of the monarchy just to do something different.

In the same article, Abbott declares that some of the issues republicans take exception to – little things like the monarchical system being hierarchical, foreign and shared with other countries –  are in fact positives. Sharing a head of state with 15 other countries is efficient, according to Abbott.

As for the fact the monarch is selected according to the ancient system of primogeniture, Abbott says: that’s okay, the crown is “…hereditary…like looks, intelligence, aptitudes and even property”.

In other words, when it comes to selecting our head of state, Abbott ascribes to the discredited principles of eugenics. It’s nonsense. Further than this, it says that Abbott has an elitist, hierarchical, view of society. Workers will stay workers and bosses will stay bosses, because genetics has got us to where we are today. This is not a vision of an egalitarian society where any child could rise to the top through hard work. It is no vision at all, worth mentioning.

Finally, on the ABC’s Q&A program a few weeks ago Abbott said that it will be “generations” before Australia becomes a republic.

Taking all this together, it is hard to escape the notion that the election of Tony Abbott as leader of the country could be one of the greatest disasters to befall the cause of Australian republicanism in modern times.

But beyond the republic issue, the question remains: how can he possibly lead this country effectively in the 21st century, when so many of his attitudes remain firmly mired in the 19th.

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