Of late, the Australian Political system has become increasingly scandal prone. The most recent example is the accusation that the Federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, physically intimidated a political opponent in the 1970s. Mr. Abbott is accused of punching a wall next to the head of Barbara Ramjan after she beat him in an election for President of the University of Sydney Student Representative Council. The scandal broke a few weeks ago, and has intensified since the release of David Marr’s Quarterly Essay the Saturday before last (Marr’s essay is a brilliant piece, and I will write a review once my Grandpa returns my copy). Like the recent stoush over the past of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, much of this so-called scandal is bluster and much of it is irrelevant. However, the one point of difference between the two is that the Abbott “scandal” is hardly surprising.
If the media reported that former Australian Prime Minister John Howard had physically intimated a fellow classmate, I would probably have fallen off my chair in shock. If it were Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan, or former Federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull, it would probably have resulted in something similar. If it was former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, I might have to think about it for a while, but I probably would not believe it without some serious proof. However, when I heard the tale about Tony Abbott, and when I read the David Marr essay, I didn’t bat an eyelid. It is a believable story.
This is the kernel within the scandal. Whether Abbott did physically intimidate Barbara Ramjan or not is hardly relevant at this point in time. What is relevant, however, is that this story fits with what we know of Tony Abbott. It brings back into light, the reasons he was called a “bulldog” for so long. And, after all, it was only a few months ago that Abbott got into an altercation with the Billionaire mining magnate, Clive Palmer. And Palmer is a backer of Abbott!
When we are young, we are all stupid, and we all make mistakes. Hell, I am still young, still stupid, and still make mistakes. However, this should stop at some point, especially when the person in question has such lofty ambitions. Abbott has obviously craved power for some time. He has been a senior member of the Liberal Party for some time. He has been Opposition Leader for some time. Should he not have matured by now? Should he not have acquired the Howard Gravitas? Shouldn’t an accusation like this be laughable? Whether he actually did the act or not, we should question whether someone like this is electable. The Prime Minister of Australia should not have such a questionable personality. Abbott intimidating a Woman? I wouldn’t be surprised. He wants to be the Prime Minister of Australia? I should be surprised.
Originally posted @ Sakalabujan Magazine