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Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Mad Monk who would be

Been promising this for a while and I've finally got around to writing something about Tony Abbott the Federal Liberal Government's Minister for Health, AKA the "Mad Monk". The blogsphere is full of entries about him so feel free to Google. In the meanwhile here is my contribution.

Tony Abbott is the pitt-bull of the right and seems to have trouble separating his politics and policy submissions from his Catholicism. This leads to him having a love-hate relationship with the public and the media. He grew up in one of the more affluent suburbs of Australia and as Mark Latham put it,

He's the son of a North Shore medical specialist. He's the product of an expensive private school and Oxford education. He's a former editorial writer for The Australian. He's a past press secretary for the Liberal leadership. He's a former head of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy

BTW, Latham was his former opponent and at first glance the opposite of Abbott in every possible way, however he seems to have self-destructed...more on him at another time.

In university in the mid-70s Abbott was involved heavily in right wing student politics. To quote the SMH on his uni days,

"...He was a very offensive, a particularly obnoxious sort of guy..."
"He was very aggressive, particularly towards women and homosexuals".
...after a narrow defeat in the university senate elections in 1976 - Mr Abbott's first year of an economics-law degree - he kicked in a glass panel door...
In the ensuing two years, he was repeatedly accused in the university paper of being a right-wing thug and bully who used sexist and racist tactics to intimidate his opponents.

Abbott went on to be a Rhodes Scholar and attend Oxford. However, as he let it be known in 1998, while at uni he was contemplating being a priest (thus the "Mad Monk"), practiced Vatican Roulette with his then girlfriend and fathered a child. In keeping with his faith he "helped" the girlfriend give the boy up for adoption. During the pregnancy they split up, he packed his bags and went overseas (Take a look at fluffy's funny take on this). To put a twist in the story. He found the long lost son in December 2004 but later DNA testing showed that he wasn’t the father. It turned out to be the GFs old flatmate. This has led to him being called a cuckold in the context of modern relationship dynamics. (more after the link).

This decision to adopt-out has been the cornerstone in his anti-abortionist Adopt-out not Abort mantra. In keeping with this belief, in the recent past he has made a number of attempts to limit funding for abortions and now he is attempting to limit the government's financial support for IVF (I don't think this is motivated by his faith but economics). The women in the government are not having a bar of it and poor Tony has taken a step back each time (may be sideways).

Abbott sees himself as the intellectual leader in the government. He is a political conservative but some of his views seem to clash with liberal-democratic traditional conservatism as discussed here. For a wider aspect of his views have a look at his speeches (I, II). Politically he is a skilled player. He gets legislations passed but afterwards it turns out that the policies were severely under-costed and needing extra funding. First it was the JobNetwork now it's Medicare (the latest election promise to be broken). He was instrumental in helping One Nation destroy itself into the grave of populist politics.

Abbott is ambitious and wants to be a future leader of Australia. Preferably in an Australia still governed under a monarchy. His arch enemy has always been Mark Latham of the opposition but he isn't in the picture now.

In my view he has two problems. The first, His overt religious activity and the tendency to link it with his policies. Australians tend not to like policies driven by religious agendas. A more detailed discussion over here. However, IMHO his biggest problem will be with female voters in these post- feminist times. I don't know if someone (read woman) hurt him as a child because he constantly gets on the wrong side of females across the political spectrum. Throughout is adult life he seems to have a problem with women. Why?

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