Old-Time Tony Abbott and the New Age

Sensitive Tony, sexist Tony, misogynist Tony.

You’ve heard the debate, you’ve heard about our BAMF PM telling Tony Abbott off for his sexist views.

But, a point has been raised.

On Saturday Agenda which airs on Sky News, Cassandra Wilkinson  (Australian author, former public servant and former senior political advisor) raised the point that she doesn’t believe Tony Abbott is a sexist. Rather, he’s old fashioned. She says, the argument of Abbott as a sexist is distracting from the very real debate we should be having of whether Abbott is modern enough to lead? She made the comment that if he were to become Prime Minister of this country his old-fashioned views would impact on legislation across the board – not just relating to women.

It’s an interesting idea. And one I find more compelling then the sexist/misogynist cry.

An old-fashioned Prime Minister could have a more wide-reaching negative impact on Australia as a nation than a purely misogynist, sexist PM.

But let’s look at the proof.

In 2002, when Abbott was the Federal Employment and Workplace Relations Minister, he compared bad bosses to bad fathers:

‘If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband … you find that he tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he’s employing someone while he is in fact a boss.’ 

Sexist? No.

Old-fashioned? Definitely.

It simplifies what is a complex issue and suggests having a “bad” father present in your life is better then having no father figure. In our modern-age of many different family models, the nuclear family is no longer the norm and if Tony Abbott stills believes it is, then he’s a little behind the times.

In 2004, the then Minister for Health, wrote an article on the issue of abortion.

He wrote, “The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience.”

This could be argued as being sexist, but it could also be the result of very traditional values and an old-fashioned mindset.

During his uni student days, a young Tony Abbott made the following comment:

‘I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons…’

He must feel silly now, with a female in the top political job, a female is the Speaker of the House, and Australia’s first female Governor-General. Sexist, perhaps, living in the 1950s: definitely.

In 2010, Tony Abbott revealed his wife, Margie, did the ironing at home due to a desire for her husband to look neat. He told Macquarie Radio Network: “But I think in many households it is still much more common to see the woman of the house with an iron in her hand.”

I don’t think this comment is at all sexist, but it definitely is an out-dated view. Most of the modern-day women I know avoid ironing at all costs – and most certainly do not iron their partner’s work shirts.

When asked about homosexuality by Liz Hayes on 60 Minutes (March 2010), Abbott said, “I’d probably I feel a bit threatened.”

This is an extremely old-fashioned view, which comes down to his age and his Catholic conservative upbringing. You can argue, and I would say quite rightly, that his upbringing is  influencing his refusal to allow the coalition to have, at least, a conscience vote on gay marriage.

Tony Abbott’s comment on Q&A in April 2010 further demonstrates his old-fashioned perspective on marriage. He said, “I certainly want to see – just a general principle, I want to see stable, committed relationships, but I do think that a marriage, by definition, is between a man and a woman.”

In the same program, when asked about not all Australian’s being able to celebrate Australia Day, this was his response:

Now, I know that there are some Aboriginal people who aren’t happy with Australia Day. For them it remains Invasion Day. I think a better view is the view of Noel Pearson, who has said that Aboriginal people have much to celebrate in this country’s British Heritage…’

After being interrupted by the audience he continued:

‘I know not everyone agrees with him, but I think there’s much to be said for that view and I think that Aboriginal heritage – Australia’s Aboriginal heritage should be important to all of us and I think that Australia’s British and western heritage should also be important to all of us.’

Is this an old-fashioned stance? I don’t actually think so. To me, it seems like quite  a brave thing to say on television. It’s an acknowledgement that Australia’s Aboriginal heritage is important to all Australians, even non-indigenous Australians, but in the same vein, Australia’s British heritage should also be important.

And this idea of Abbott as an old-fashioned man isn’t a new one. In 1978, Malcolm Turnbull, the man Abbott ousted to become Leader of the Opposition, wrote in an article for The Bulletin:

“The leading light of the right wingers in New South Wales is twenty-year-old Tony Abbott. He has written a number of articles… (which have) given him a stature his rather boisterous and immature rhetoric doesn’t really deserve. Abbott is opposed to any legalisation of homosexuality and generally presents an old fashioned DLP image…”

But if you’re still undecided, let’s hear from Tony himself.

In March 2010, Tony Abbott told Liz Hayes on 60 Minutes: “I guess in some respects I’m old-fashioned, and, in some respects, that can jar with the zeitgeist, but I think that the people who know me think I’m fair-dinkum.”

Fair-dinkum or not, Tony Abbott’s old-fashioned views, mistaken for sexism, could have an extreme negative impact on the way Australia moves forward socially, economically and politically.

Let us know what you think about our current Opposition Leader – are you worried he could become the next Prime Minister or do you think he is what Australia’s future needs? Email us at cheaperthanrubies@gmail.com, tweet us at @Cheaper_Rubies or comment below.

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8 Comments

Filed under Politics in a Pinch

8 responses to “Old-Time Tony Abbott and the New Age

  1. I’d really love to be able to vote for Sexist AND Old-fashioned =P

  2. I think he is both sexist and old fashioned… but probably the sexism can stem from the old fashioned views…

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  5. Geoff

    I hardly think it is a crime or even negative to be “old fashioned” Miranda. I’d rather vote for a CONSERVATIVE than a Progressive. Do you think perhaps he is not so much “old fashioned” as Conservative? If so, then why not use the term? Not negative enough? After all you started off by saying it was worse to be “old fashioned” than misogynist?

    As much as I love Cassandra, I don’t always agree with her. Personally I think he is a Conservative Catholic male, who has Conservative Catholic values, is highly community minded, has a social conscience, is athletic and was a Rhodes scholar. I am not a fan nor would I agree with everything he says and does. But then we are all different are we not?

    Why would I vote for a Conservative? For several reasons;
    1/ I’m Australian and the majority of Australians are of a conservative nature.
    2/ I define CONSERVATISM as: a political philosophy advocating the preservation of the best of the established order in society and opposing radical change, or simply change for its own sake.
    3/ The current Progressive government have shown themselves to be incompetent and possibly the worse government/s I can remember.

    Unfortunately as we have no viable third alternative in Australian Politics at the moment, the only way to remove the current government is to vote in a Coalition government.

    Oh and I’m not sure it is ever fair or reasonable to quote people from their youth as their views usually change somewhat. Once more your political or personal (or both) bias shines through.

    • I have a couple of questions in regard to Conservatism:

      1) Your definition is pretty broad – who defines what is “change for its own sake” and what is “the best of the established order”?

      A personal example: I don’t believe in change for its own sake, but I don’t think the current marriage legislation is fair to those who want their relationships legally recognised in the same way as those around them (and I think it also restricts potential for growth in the retail and hospitality sectors, which were some of the areas hardest hit by the economic troubles); I am dismayed by the increasing gender pay gap for recent graduates (according to data released today by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency); I am concerned that our government thinks it’s okay to put children claiming asylum in detention centres in third-world countries for undeclared periods of time while their claims are processed, and for babies to be born into that detention environment.

      Then I look at what I have, and declare that yes, I would like to conserve “the best of the established order”, which has allowed me to access medical care at minimum cost, has locked me out of driving because of health problems (and potentially saved my life and those of others on the road), has allowed me to access a free public education, and allows me to vote and to wear whatever I like. Does this make me a Conservative? I would think not, but I also do not believe I stand for radical change.

      2) Considering that the current government has endorsed policies held by the previous Conservative government, especially in terms of its current asylum seeker policy, the continuing of Australian engagement in Afghanistan, the continuation of the Indigenous Intervention in the Northern Territory, the Baby Bonus (yes, cut back, but still in place), and continuing lack of concrete support for equal marriage rights, does this effect their position as being seen as a ‘Progressive’ government? Most moderate progressives seem just as frustrated by them as they were with the previous government.

      3) Okay, this final point isn’t linked to conservatism, but rather your personal arguing style, because it’s left me a little confused. You say here, “I’m not sure it is ever fair or reasonable to quote people from their youth as their views usually change somewhat,” yet on our post about Julia Gillard’s now infamous misogyny speech, you endorse a comment made on the Jezebel website that refers to comments she made during her university days. My confusion stems from the idea that you seem to accuse our writers of a double standard, yet hold one yourself?

      Unless there is a remarkable shift in fortunes for the ALP, the Coalition is sure to win the next election. That is not what I am concerned about. What I am concerned about is what Tony Abbott’s ‘my way or the highway’ attitudes will mean for Australia should he become Prime Minister. I would sleep a lot easier at night knowing somebody else was leading the Coalition.

  6. Geoff

    1/ I’m sorry you are confused about conservatism Noni. I’m not sure I can help there.

    Good grief, does everything here revert to same sex marriage?

    2/ The Labor Party now almost exclusively identifies as a “Progressive” Party, I suppose they will have to kick out all the Conservative Left Wingers then eh. Sorry if that confused you even more. But; Left/Right, Progressive/Conservative… are all different parts of the political spectrum.

    3/ I doubt very much that the misogyny speech can be attributed to Julia’s youth. Nor the Jezebel site’s article on it. As for the comment… I didn’t write it, nor do I recall it… my point was that there were lots of negative reaction to her speech which Miranda seemed to ignore. Feel free to ignore the part of the quote you are miffed by, it won’t change the meaning.

    I’m not a hypocrite nor a liar Noni, don’t try to paint me as one.

    Unlike you I don’t think the outcome is a sure thing. I’m concerned people say things about Abbott such as your “my way or the highway” line yet fail to provide proof of the slur. Where the misogyny lie is patently that but rusted-ons run with it. Whereas I can quote Julia on the Carbon Tax or on her deal with Wilkie or on the surplus.

    Then there’s Kevin if you really want to look at “my way or the highway”… on just about anything since his ALP colleagues have said just that about him many times over the years.

    Were you worried about him becoming PM? I was. Because being a student of Australian politics I’ve known about Kevin for a great many years. Were you worried about him considering how he worked for Goss? The lies he told re the AWB and about our troops being killed? His support for the war in Iraq? Did it surprise you that Garret was shafted by him? That he is a potty mouthed megalomaniac micro-manager? That Roxon refuses to ever work with him. That Wayne Swan basically despises him. That Crean hates him…? All these things can be verified. I’m sure you can google all the proof you need.

    Whom do you think should lead the Coalition? let me guess… labor supporters prefer Malcolm Turnbull a good Labor Progressive, if ever there was one.

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