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Tony Abbott: a relic from the 1950s

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Tony Abbott is an elitist, a homophobe and a misogynist — Australians must not allow him to take this country back to the 1950s. David Donovan reports.

TONY ABBOTT is not fit to be Australian prime minister and there are many reasons for this, some of which I have written about before.

He is, for example, untrustworthy. By his own admission, you can only believe anything he says when he reads from a carefully scripted statement. He is arrogant, ideological and prone to errors of judgement — like his decision to, and excuse for, going to a British Conservative Party Conference in preference to visiting Australian troops in Afghanistan earlier this year.

But perhaps the major reason Abbott should never be allowed to be Australian Prime Minister is that he will not govern fairly for all Australians. Fundamentally, he does not believe all people are equal. He believes royalty are inherently better than "commoners", is threatenened by homosexuals and is bigoted towards women.

His attitude towards royalty is well-known and is a good example of his fundamentally inegalitarian nature. Despite being a Catholic himself – a religion specifically excluded from ever being the monarch (and therefore Australian head of state) by the 1701 Act of Settlement – Abbott is a fanatical royalist. Most Australians see the principles of selective hereditary succession for our head of state as being discriminatory, but Abbott sees no problem with the archaic principles of primogeniture.

It's fine, Abbott said in 2007, because the Crown is

“…hereditary…like looks, intelligence, aptitudes and even property”.

The Nazis in Germany believed that certain people were more favoured genetically than others, and used this as an excuse for their treatment of so-called "inferior" races.

Abbott should know that the principles of eugenics were discredited at around the same time Nazi Germany was defeated and discovered to be trying to breed a master race. Furthermore, it says that Abbott has an elitist, hierarchical, view of society. Workers will stay workers and bosses will stay bosses, he seems to say, 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.

Abbott has a strongly questionable attitude towards homosexuals. In March this year, when questioned about his attitude towards gays, he said he felt "threatened" by them. If he feels threatened by them, it seems likely that he will avoid confronting their issues? We already know that he doesn't believe in gay marriage – the touchstone issue of homosexual equality – despite the overwhelming majority of the Australian population being in favour of this reform. And, moreover, when someone is threatened aren't they more likely to strike out in anger? Abbott seems more than likely to attempt to punish homosexuals by punitive legislation if he becomes Prime Minister, particularly when his strong religious beliefs are taken into account.

Most disturbing of all, arguably, is the fact that Abbott is bigoted against 50 per cent of the population—women.

We were reminded of this during an ABC Four Corners programme screened in the aftermath of the Independents decision to side with the Labor Party after this year's federal election. In the documentary, after a meeting with the Independents in which Abbott attempted to placate the three over a massive black hole just discovered by Treasury in the Coalition's election costings, a glowering Abbott emerged. The reporter, Sophie Ferguson, immediately asked Abbott the question that any credible journalist would, or should, ask under these circumstances: was this black-hole the reason the Coalition did not want to give the Independents their costings?

"That is a very offensive question" he snarled, twice, before looming up to the petite Ferguson, scowling. It was a scene reminiscent of the Mark Latham's handshake with John Howard at the 2004 Federal election that had so cruelled Latham’s chances. It showed an Abbott that, when under pressure – when the fake charm is wiped away – is something of a bully and a misogynist.
 
Tony Abbott and Nicola Roxon after the 2007 health debate

Abbott has shown this several times before. For example, in a public debate with the shadow health minister Julia Roxon during the 2007 election campaign, Abbott was an almost unforgivable half-an-hour late, leaving Roxon to make her address and field questions on her own. Roxon began her address, rather understandably, by referring to Mr Abbott's absence as a lack of respect for the importance of the debate. After the debate was concluded, in comments accidentally picked up by the microphones, Abbott shook Roxon's hand and moved close to her before whispering that she was speaking "bullshit" and calling her "unpleasant". The typical actions of a bully.

Even worse was his conduct towards Julia Gillard just over a year ago. On September 10, 2009, before becoming Opposition Leader, Abbott confronted Julia Gillard during Question Time in Federal Parliament, aggressively telling her to stop wearing a "shit-eating grin".

Abbott again revealed his misogynistic side after becoming Opposition leader. In February, he caused something of a stir when he said that the greatest gift a woman could give a man was her virginity. Soon after, in March, he revealed that he considered ironing to be woman's work. He continued:
"What housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it's going to go up in price, and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up."

In Australia, we must demand better from our leaders.

Abbott is a politician stuck in the 1950s—when homosexuals stayed in the closet, women stayed at home and cleaned, and people revered the royal family like deities. Australia has moved on, greatly for the better. Allowing someone like Tony Abbott to try to put Australia back to those times is a risk to our way of life and Australia's culture as a modern egalitarian nation. It cannot be.

 
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