What next for Tony Abbott, PM 2013-1955?

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The Shovel coffee mugs are a big hit (Image via @The_Shovel_)

Wags on Twitter like to refer Tony Abbott's time at the lodge, as "Tony Abbott, Prime Minister 2013-1955". So does he have what it takes to be join the modern world? Mark Hipgrave looks at his options.

THIS WEEK, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, cuddled in Ray Hadley's warm embrace, indicated that he is unlikely to vacate his Warringah seat anytime soon — well at least until the next election, when voters might decide that having a lame duck former-prime-minister as their representative is not going to bring much pork to the electorate any more.

But what exactly would his options be if he became an ex-politician, either accidentally or on purpose?

A corporate role?

Would and major public company give him a board seat?  I doubt it. Former treasurer Peter Costello, who left politics with a much better legacy than Abbott, couldn't get one, and had to wait until he was parachuted into the Future Fund to give his post political career any relevance.  

One of the junior coal miners (are there any left?) might have a board seat for him in the expectation that he could open a few doors in Canberra, or perhaps Adani could engage him as a lobbyist.  

With his attitudes opposing climate change, renewable energy, gender equality and all other progressive  measures I can't imagine any of the banks or major industrial corporations wanting him. And besides, as Costello once pointed out and we have now discovered too, Abbott is an “economic illiterate”.

A media role?

As a former journalist, Tony could consider a return to the media. 

He was no friend, however, to the ABC and there would be an outcry if they allocated any funding to his employment. 

There might be opportunities in radio or current affairs TV, but his style of speaking v e r y  s l o w l y and repeating every second phrase, every second phrase, might cause problems. And of course he would need Peta C whispering into his ear to make it all work.

He would probably do fine as an election night commentator on one of the commercial TV networks, but three hours work every three years is not going to keep him in sunscreen and speedos.

What about News Corp? There are plenty of former Liberal Party staffers and sympathisers writing for The Australian to keep him company in the Surry Hills lunchroom. Tony would no doubt love the opportunity to critique the actions of his successor (without sniping, of course) but would they all be prepared to shuffle sideways to make room for him?

Now that Mark Latham has resigned, Fairfax needs another crazy-former-party-leader, perhaps this time from the right. Tony could amuse us all with regular rants on what might have been, if only ...

A diplomatic role?

Tony believes Australia's focus should be “more Jakarta, less Geneva'” so that rules out the London-Paris-Rome option, and Joe Hockey seems to have been promised Washington in exchange for promising to go quietly, so that destination is unavailable too. Tim Fisher's old posting to The Holy See would be suitable for Tony. But even more appropriate might be Jakarta, where he could repair the damage he caused there. Another might be Moscow — "Hello Vladimir.  Nice to see you again".  Or Port Moresby, where he could fix the Manus Island imbroglio.  Or how about Phnom Penh, for similar reasons?

The international speaking circuit?

Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and many other retired politicians have done well on the international speaking circuit, and Tony has lots offer. The Greeks would love to learn how to make a debt and deficit disaster disappear, and all the European nations would welcome Tony's advice on how to secure their borders and stop the boats. Perhaps the manufacturers of those orange plastic lifeboats could sponsor him too?

An academic role?

Former leaders Rudd, Gillard and Beattie have all taken academic positions at universities in the U.S. and each had something of substance to offer graduates and undergraduates. It's hard though to imagine anything that Tony could bring to academia from his years as an opposition leader or prime minister other than a course in Three Word Slogans 101.

A return to the seminary?

He was once a seminarian, and although a wife and three children might be an impediment, there have been precedents. Old pal, Pell, could find him a spot in a contemplative order like where he could spend his remaining years in quiet solitude, reflecting on his life, his deeds and his complicity in the shameful treatment of the refugees in his care.

On reflection, though, there is nothing in the above though that leaps out as being ideally suited for Our Tone, so perhaps he should stay with his “love mum” Bronwyn Bishop on the backbench, lie low and keep schtum.

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