Self-belief is a powerful tool in achieving success and there is no question that Tony Abbott has it in spades. But does he have the substance to justify it?
After average results at university and an uninspiring football career, with the help of the Jesuit network, Tony headed off to Oxford to take up his Rhodes Scholarship. It only took a couple of games for him to be dropped from the rugby team with suggestions that his prowess had been somewhat exaggerated. Tony was strong on physicality but short on speed or finesse.
Student politics at Sydney University saw Tony, a callow youth straight from a Catholic boys’ school, given a platform to preach loud and long in his opposition to homosexuality and feminism. Further, he denounced contraception, labelling it part of the “me now” mentality. Ironically, whilst eschewing the use of contraception, Tony was an avid partaker of “me now” activities, if not the responsibility that went with them.
Tony has displayed this absolute certainty that he is right all his life so, when he was elected leader of the Liberal Party in return for becoming a climate change denier, I started getting concerned. When he became Prime Minister I felt alarmed. Twelve months in and I am horrified. I am afraid for the present and for the future.
Tony Abbott is only one man, but this man’s unwavering belief in his own judgemnt has seen him surround himself with advisers who tell him what he wants to hear. Experts are sacked, independent advisory panels disbanded, oversight and freedom of information curtailed, journalists and the National Broadcaster threatened.
In the space of a year we have gone from world leaders in action on climate change to being called the “Saudi Arabia of the Pacific”.
‘In the year since they took office, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Liberal-led coalition have already dismantled the country’s key environmental policies. Now they’ve begun systematically ransacking its natural resources. In the process, they’ve transformed Australia from an international innovator on environmental issues into quite possibly the dirtiest country in the developed world.’
Instead of looking forward to every home being connected to the NBN and school funding bridging the gap of disadvantage and inequity, we have record numbers of new coal mines to enjoy. Instead of universal healthcare and unemployment benefits, we see people on pensions feeling very afraid about their future. Instead of affordable tertiary education and housing, we see places being sold to the highest bidder.
We have moved from bringing our troops home from Afghanistan, to a war in Iraq and Syria that will inevitably lead to civilian casualties and destruction of homes and infrastructure, a move that has seen us specifically named for revenge attacks. The “humanitarian mission” line has been exposed for the lie it always was.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who formerly worked in intelligence, has accused the federal government of exploiting fears about terrorism to rush through new national security laws that push Australia towards a “police state“.
“It is clearly overreach by the security services who have basically been invited to write an open cheque. And the government, which wants to beat its chest and look tough on national security, said, ‘We’ll sign that’.”
The laws include jail terms of up to 10 years for journalists who disclose details of ASIO “special intelligence operations” and provide immunity from criminal prosecution for intelligence officers who commit a crime in the course of their duties.
“The government of a democracy is accountable to the people. It must fulfil its end of the social contract. And, in a practical sense, government must be accountable because of the severe consequences that may result from its failure. As the outcomes of fighting unjust wars and inadequately responding to critical threats such as global warming illustrate, great power implies great responsibility.”
Tony has great power but no sense of responsibility. He has confidence but no conscience. He has determination but no commitment. He is willing but lacks the skills. He attacks and blames but resents oversight and has never accepted accountability, and this is what scares me most.
The consequences of being wrong could/will be catastrophic and I don’t share Tony’s confidence that he, Maurice Newman and Cardinal Pell have all the answers.
“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.”
― Thomas Paine