Who wants to confront Alan Jones? Anyone But Abbott

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The grassroots campaign to oust Tony Abbott from his Sydney seat has issued a strongly worded condemnation of the Liberal leader for his weakness over Alan Jones, reports Dr Benjamin Thomas Jones.

"Did I hear you say something, Tony?". "Not me, sir!"

It is often said that silence speaks louder than words. Tony Abbott said yesterday that Alan Jones’ recent remarks at a University of Sydney Young Liberals function were ‘offensive’ and ‘wrong’, but it has been a virtually mute response compared to the outpouring of criticism that has come from across the political spectrum.

Jones told his young audience that Julia Gillard’s recently deceased father had ‘died of shame’ because of the lies his daughter told. At the same event a chaff bag jacket – a reference to Jones’ comment that the Prime Minister should be tied in a chaff bag and thrown to sea – was auctioned off (Jones was the winning bidder).

When the offensive comments were first reported on 29 September, they were roundly condemned.

Malcolm Turnbull tweeted early on 30 September:
‘Alan Jones’ comments about the late John Gillard were cruel and offensive. He should apologise to the PM and her family.’

Despite the outcry, despite his close personal friendship with Alan Jones, despite the fact Federal and State Liberal MPs were in the audience, Tony Abbott failed to respond. Yesterday, he said the comments were wrong, but insisted he will still appear as a guest on Alan Jones’ show noting that:
‘I am certainly not going to ignore an audience of half a million people in Sydney’.

Abbott has also rejected calls that Jones should be kicked out of the Liberal Party and banned from future events.

It appears that, for better or worse, Abbott and Jones are in it together and both seem to be banking on the outrage over the comments going away.

And so it may be that the door has opened just a little bit wider for the Anyone But Abbott campaign. This grass roots organisation is running an independent candidate in Abbott’s federal seat of Warringah, with a view to forcing leadership renewal upon the Liberals. Yesterday, they released an official press statement charging Abbott with a lack of leadership.

Will the ABA campaign take off? Will their candidate present a credible alternative to the 59 per cent Liberal voting electorate? Only time will tell. For now, they have certainly landed the first blow on the former pugilist with their strongly worded statement.

The Anyone But Abbott press release is repeated in full below:


Sydney, 1 October 2012 – Anyone But Abbott (ABA) condemns Tony Abbott for his failure to make a stand against the culture of negativity and the vitriol emanating from the Liberal Party and calls for an end to its close association with Alan Jones following comments made by Jones about Julia Gillard’s father.

Last week broadcaster Alan Jones spoke at the Sydney University Liberal Club function, stating that Julia Gillard’s father “died of shame” because his daughter “told lies every time she stood for parliament.”

“The language used by Tony Abbott’s mate Alan Jones was nothing short of hateful and should be condemned by any politician in the strongest possible terms, no matter what their political persuasion,” says ABA spokesperson Paul Foster.

“Tony Abbott has failed this test of leadership with his spineless response to the offensive behaviour. His belated two line statement on the issue lacks strength, merely painting Jones as unruly and praising him for his apology.”

“While Mr Abbott did not make Jones’ comments himself, his lack of leadership in this matter speaks volumes. Mr Abbott has made no effort to cut ties with his supporter and personal friend.”

“These comments are the latest in a series of gaffes made by Mr Abbott and his supporters, and demonstrate just how out-of-touch Mr Abbott is with the people of Australia. There is no place for this kind of vitriol in today’s political discourse, but by accepting such behaviour from Alan Jones without taking serious steps to distance himself and his party from such comments, Mr Abbott is putting his lack of compassion and his weakness of character on display.”

In another distasteful act, Jones also signed a chaff bag jacket, brazenly referencing past comments he has made about Julia Gillard (and others) needing to be put in a chaff bag and thrown out to sea.

Tony Abbott with Alan Jones at the "Convoy of no confidence" rally in Canberra.

(For further information visit the Anyone But Abbott website.)

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
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