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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tony Abbott, new Australian Prime Minister

After the Labor fiasco of the last six years, it wouldn't matter who was leader of the Opposition, they would still have won hands down, and they did. Tony Abbott didn't really win the election, the Labor Party lost it.

There are only two skeletons in Tony Abbott's closet that we know about. The first one involved Bernie Banton, a sick man in a wheelchair who was fighting for fellow asbestos sufferers.  He led the campaign against James Hardie that resulted in the establishment of a $4 billion compensation fund for sufferers of asbestos-related diseases.

Bernie went to Abbott's office when he was Health Minister in the Howard government with a petition pleading for the mesothelioma drug Alimta, to be put on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).   Abbott refused to see him. "It was a stunt" Abbott said. "I know Bernie is very sick, but just because a person is sick, doesn't necessarily mean that he is pure of heart in all things."  Realizing his mistake, he later rang Bernie, apologised, and gave him his private mobile phone number.

The other incident concerned Pauline Hanson.

In 1996, Pauline Hanson was the Liberal candidate for Oxley and was becoming a real concern for John Howard.  She said Aboriginal people were a protected species who received special welfare benefits that didn't apply to anyone else.  She also told many who agreed with her, that Australia was overrun with foreigners from Asian nations and multiculturalism would lead to the ultimate destruction of the country. These comments prompted John Howard to dis-endorse her from the Liberal Party but she ran as an independent and won. It was alleged that John Howard gave Tony Abbott the job of destroying her political career.

The morning after his election

Abbott established a "slush fund" called Australians for Honest Politics which collected $100,000 in donations for the purpose of fighting One Nation in court.  Pauline Hanson's destruction was complete when she was eventually jailed for three years with co-founder David Ettridge for election fraud.  She was later acquitted.

In 1960, Abbott and his family moved from Newcastle in the UK to Australia.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Law from Sydney University.  Then he went to the UK to study at The Queen's College Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar and graduated with a Master of Arts in Politics and Philosophy. In 1984 he came home and decided to dedicate his life to others by becoming a priest and joined St Patrick's Seminary in Manly but left after three years.  That's why he's called "the mad monk" by people who hate him.

When Abbott was 19, his girlfriend told him she was pregnant and they put the child up for adoption.  In 2004, the boy sought out his biological mother and it was revealed that his son was now a sound recordist who actually worked in Parliament House in Canberra. Abbott seemed pleased and welcomed him with open arms but DNA tests proved that he wasn't his father after all.  His girlfriend forgot to tell him about her sexual encounter with her flatmate who turned out to be the biological father.

When in Canberra, Abbott cycles up and down a hill near Parliament House four to six times around dawn every day and spends 40 minutes in the gym after Question Time.  Yesterday, he said that as Prime Minister, he would still keep up his workout schedule and his commitments as a volunteer firefighter.

So there we have it, the fickle finger of fate strikes again.  A rank outsider who was never considered a serious contender for the top job wins office.

During his election speech on Saturday night, he promised in three years time, the carbon tax would be gone, the asylum seeker boats would be stopped, the budget would be on track for surplus and the roads of the 21st Century would be under construction.  

Let's hope he can do it.