So I was thinking, as I so often do; I thought about Prime Minister Abbott, after my last entry about Prime Ministerial interviews – what will his legacy be?
I (over?) simplified John and Julia’s tenures into a series of bullet points as below:
John HOWARD (Lib.)
- An ‘insightful one-on-one with one of Australia’s most distinct and distinguished Prime Ministers’ – a private interview.
- Howard’s tenure has been glossed by hindsight.
- Pre-dominantly policy focused interview – Iraq War, Terrorism.
- Openly criticised and commented on successors.
- Completed tenure in 2007, released his memoir in 2010 – dust has settled – could be more candid.
- For the Interview, Visit: https://au.news.yahoo.com/sunday-night/video/#page1 and click “LOAD MORE” and do CTRL + F to search.
Julia GILLARD (ALP)
- Publicity in the wake of her published memoirs.
- Gillard’s tenure tarnished by issues of foresight.
- Significant issues: Leadership spill(s), Craig Thompson, Peter Slipper, Misogyny speech, NDIS, Gonski.
- Discussions and questions were centrally based on 2010 and the multiple leadership spills.
- Did not discuss her successor in any detail.
- Completed her tenure in 2013, releasing memoirs in October – dust has not settled, the events she discusses are still fresh in the minds of Australians.
- Attracted unprecedented waves of criticism, which in some cases would not have been subjected to a male in her position.
- Social media minimalist, wasn’t an avid personal user.
- For the interview, visit: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-01/the-drum-julia-gillard-interview-uncut/5783270
And I have decided to have a go at Kevin Rudd…….
Kevin RUDD (ALP)
- More likely to do an approved biography (maybe memoirs) than a series of interviews in the next 5 years.
- Rudd’s tenure tarnished by media reported ‘personality issues’ and subjectivity.
(Becuase very few people have actually met Kevin Rudd to prove this widely true, but there is certainly VERY strong evidence to suggest these claims have grounding).
- Significant issues: National Apology to the Stolen Generation, Kyoto Protocol, Carbon Tax/ETS, Bi-partisanship with Malcolm Turnbull, the NBN, being “Kevin 747“.
- Interview will anchor around the 2010, 2011 and 2012 leadership spills.
- Unsure if he will criticise or not talk about Julia (successor) at all (directly), but could very likely make a comment like “I did/said what I did because I thought the party was not going down the right path/following the “light on the hill” ethos”.
- ‘Talent’ for attracting the spotlight, first Prime Minister to embrace social media.
- Completed tenure in 2010 – Rudd is the only living PM to not complete a full first term in office. Harold Holt and John Curtin both died while in office in 1967 and 1945 repsectively.
And our current Prime Minister:
Tony ABBOTT (Lib.) (So far..)
- Polarising figure.
- Significant events: MH370, MH17/Putin and that “shirtfront” comment, Sydney Siege
- What was his attitude toward being Prime Minister? – post-Howard/the last of the Howard faithful, winning leadership over Turnbull (by 1 vote), delivering difficult budget(s), encountering high levels of public hate.
- Facing a hostile and complex Senate – imapct of minor and micro parties, and independents.
- Time in Opposition – “feral”, effective and agile Opposition leader. His time in Opposition will discussed in equal detail to his time as Prime Minister.
- Feminism – Impact of Julia’s Misogyny rant, His greatest achievement as Minister for Women’s Interests, Peta Credlin, Julie Bishop (only woman in his front bench – but not the whole wider ministry). This will be the defining topic of his leadership, and he will be repeatedly grilled on this, and his proclivity for verbal gaffes.
- Social media accounts managed predominantly by his office – insurance against any further gaffes?
- Family – Frances (and her scholarship debacle), Margie, the impact of his public life, on his family.
So far? Average.
It can be tricky to judge the effectiveness of a Prime Minister, because they are aligned to a party and a specific set of views – there will always be dissent. Depends on which side of the fence you sit!
To his credit, Abbott has fleeting goodness – MH370/17, Sydney Siege – he has been a good statesman. Being Prime Minister is a hard job, particularly in crises.
To his detriment, he is flailing domestically, and it cannot be blamed on a hostile Senate. He struggled to pass his first budget and ‘sell’ it to the public; he has found himself in the position of having to negotiate with minor parties etc. to get all his legisaltion and repeals through. The need to perpetuate positive press for the Liberal party has seen a more centralisied control of Ministers through the Prime Minister’s office – his Ministry are somewhat ‘stifled’ – but the true outcome of this remains to be seen.
His relationship with the media has changed – they do not necessarily support him universally now. His attempts to trim limbs from the ABC has left a bitter taste in a few mouths. When he was in Opposition, the 24 hour newscycle could be used to the attacking benefit of the Libs. , now it is biting back. Moreover, it is not biting as hard as it could because the ALP are not emulating Abbott’s “feral” approach to Opposition tactics. Will this work in their favour? Perhaps, perhaps not. By default they look positively latent – or they could just be picking their public battles carefully(!)
With regard to Feminism – he is not a misogynist. A misogynist hates women; Tony does not hate women. In my opinion a PROPER misogynist would not marry a woman, have three daughters, hire a woman as his Chief of Staff, promote a female to be his Deputy, or accept his homosexual sister. Yes, he is prone to verbal gaffes (I found his Carbon Tax/Minister for Women comment made me want to bang my head on my desk. Repeatedly.), but he is not a hater of women. He hasn’t tried to outlaw abortion, Emergecy Contraceptives or female contraception in general; nor has he actively tried to make any activities for women illegal. Some of his comments are cringeworthy, and should not be dismissed – yes, but he is not a textbook misogynist.
I’m sure his media advisers’ heads hit their desks when they have heard some of his quotes/gaffes live.
The hate for Tony has been overpowering. When he won Office in September 2013, he was criticised even before he was officially sworn in to office in November; which is unprecedented. Yes, his mandate was clear, but he hadn’t lifted a finger. This hatred has continued, and is highly disconcerting.
Finally, Australians are understanding the full impact of their vote because of Tony Abbott. It matters not just who you put number 1, but 2,3,4,5,6 etc. When the Liberals got elected, people seemed SHOCKED (cue me with my head in my hands) – but now the power of redistribution is starting to be understood. It has unfortunatley taken waves of hate for voters to develop an understanding of the system they participate in every 4 years.
Will Tony get re-elected? Yes.
If he doesn’t, then I hope the ALP have matured once again into a leading party – with all the poison sucked out once and for all!
What are your thoughts on Tony? Feel free to share with me below, via Facebook (The Tangible Blog), Twitter and Instagram (@thetangibleblog).