The many sides of Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott has a reputation as a hardline Catholic conservative which has tended to alienate enough people to keep him just out of leadership contention. In the last poll he ran 4th (with 10%) behind Peter Costello, Joe Hockey and Malcolm Turnbull as preferred Liberal leader. At least he made the poll question.

But what does he believe? Abbott’s book comes out today, and I haven’t read it. But I have been watching with interest as his various views on a range of issues have been edging their way into the media.

On the positive side, Abbott is calling for the Liberals to stick with labour market flexibility, and believes in the rights of people (at least, some people) to enter their own marriage contracts.

On the negative side, Abbott has said that the Liberals should just give up and pass the ETS (even though he’s previously suggested a carbon tax might be better), and he rejects the ideas of competitive federalism in favour of centralised government.

The last point especially is a big negative in my mind. While the idea of political decentralisation isn’t a sexy or popular idea, I think that jurisdictional competition is the only real hope we have of safeguarding our freedoms from the natural inclination of governments to grow. Competitive federalism also allows greater choice and diversity, and allows for more experimentation of new policy ideas and the quicker abandonment of bad policies.

But then… no leader is perfect. So the question I put to you, dear reader, is whether Tony Abbott would be a good leader for the Liberal Party. Would he be better than Malcolm Turnbull? If you don’t like either, then who is your preference? Joe Hockey? Julie Bishop? Wilson Tuckey? You tell me…

22 thoughts on “The many sides of Tony Abbott

  1. Daniel Hannan is just a shit-kicker in the overall Conservative party. I’m sure he’s not too busy to come over and help the Libs out.

    Will the average Liberal voter actually understand Hannan (as in the big words he uses)? That’s the question!

  2. Really though , what’s wrong with Turnbull? He was seen to have screwed up with the silly ute thing and called it a little to prematurely, however I really don’t see a large problem with Turnbull. He’s inexperienced a little but he could grow into the position.

    In the final analysis, I think Turnbull would be a better PM from a libertarian perspective than Abbott.

    Why is Abbott’s Catholicism an issue when Christian socialist Rudd’s isn’t? Seriously what is it with the f…king country and its knee jerk anti-Catholicism (I’m not one by the way). We have you questioning Abbott’s religious views oblivious to Rudd’s peculiar socialist protestant one.

    We have the superannunated old bigot, Harry Clarke attacking a blogger at his own blog suggesting he didn’t like some of art that contained child nudity an example of his repressed catholic upbringing. Clarke also asked if he felt guilty masturbating as a kid and was he locked up in a shed (all because he was a catholic).

    Obama spent 20 years in a church that taught the white man was a killer and only he descended from the apes (humorous) and his religion wasn’t an issue here, or barely discussed.

    Meanwhile Abbott’s brand of Christianity is. This is becoming really screwed up.

  3. I am not superannuated JC, I work for a living.

    Contrary to your assertions I have been a long-term supporter of Tony Abbott.

    In that statement I said:

    “Sadly, I cannot help thinking that prejudiced views on Tony Abbott’s Catholicism have hindered his prospects. We live in a secular society where people like Abbott who seek to live by a decent moral code are regarded suspiciously.

    I hope I am wrong but, if I am not, I think such prejudiced criticisms are entirely unjust and that Abbott, while arguing his moral positions – something as a non-religious person that even I respect -he has always respected the need for consensus”.

    Hardly opposition to someone on the grounds on being Catholic.

  4. Sorry not a fan of Abbott – while he’s a smart guy, I respect him for goping up and spending time woking with disadvantaged Aboriginal communities, but he’s just too much of a religious conservative for my liking. He nearly became a priest at one point, aqnd I just don’t think he’s capable of divorcing his strongly held religious beliefs from political decision making. The RU486 debate is an example – I cannot fogive him for that.

    Note this is not anti-Catholic specifically, it’s anti anyone who is a threat to the separation of church and state. I don’t normally defend Rudd on anything as I think he’s a terrible PM, but Rudd’s religion is not as in-your face as Abbott’s, and I haven’t seen evidence of it infulencing his decision-making.

    If Turnbull can’t turn things around, my money would be on Joe Hockey. Very likeable, capable, and at least seems to talk the libertarian talk.

  5. Abbott also believes in legislated paid maternity leave and has argued that it’s a case of market failure that justifies government intervention, which I can’t agree with him on, and I think symbolises a deeper flaw in his understanding of society.

    I am somewhat surprised though that someone on this blog would support Joe Hockey though – not only is he someone who opposed tax cuts etc, but he’s also someone who bungled every portfolio he held, esp. Finance and Tourism. And just a few weeks ago demonstrated he can’t even read a graph. Sure he’s likable, and probably a very nice guy, but libertarian? Capable? Hardly.

  6. I have to agree with Tim here. Hockey is undoubtedly a great parliamentary performer, and great to have on the Liberal team, but I don’t think he’d take the party in the right direction. A bit too soft for my liking. Same with Abbott, great for the team but I wouldn’t want his religious conservatism guiding policy too much.
    Turnbull may not be the greatest leader (although I think he’s fairly good still), but he’s not too bad on policy. Not as good as I would like, he’s done some things that have really disappointed me, but I think he’s still the best the Libs have got.

  7. Maybe the Liberal party is full of libertarian-type liberals, but they’re keeping quiet about it. We can hope that other people will make themselves prominent- I can’t but think that Abbott is making himself prominent because Costello has finally(?) quit, and Abbott does have plans for the Liberal lewadership. If Turnbull keeps goind down in the polls, Abbott could have a real chance!

  8. So why aren’t YOU writing for newspapers, Tim? And making a bigger name for yourself? Or, have you tried to do that, and the papers just haven’t printed your intelligent, thoughtful articles on Neo-Socialism?

  9. Still working on the ability to write intelligent thoughtful articles. When i’m able to do so, i’ll let you know :)

  10. No I am not stupid JC – I am smart enough, for example, to normally ignore everything you write. I certainly don’t seek to discuss anything with you.

    But in this case you made a personal attack on me and inferred that I was a anti-Catholic bigot (“I gave you as an example of a bigot”). I showed you that I was not and indeed that I had opposed the bigotry shown toward Tony Abbott’s Catholicism which is the subject of this post.

    That does not mean I feel anything but utter contempt for you and your ilk. But that is not bigotry – it is just exercising sound judgement of character.

  11. The problem the Liberals have is that you need someone respected enough with public acclaim in order to get in and cut back the government, before they get c**ted out by the media and those who feel threatened their welfare benefits will be lost.

    That leader must not have a personal proclivity to please but must have an ability to charm, because once they start pleasing, they give in on everything. Bush in the US let everyone know he was a ‘compassionate’ conservative so you knew that was gonna be a disaster. Malcolm Turnbull is quite willing to pull the carpet right out from under our cultural ties to Britain, I openly question the further distancing ourself from the land that brought us the Magna Carta Libertatum as a smart move. Especially since from my reading of history, becoming a more culturally Asianised land – due to geography and ‘our future destiny’ – will not bode well for individual liberty.

  12. The English ex pats don’t think England is close to the magna carta, but moving away.

    The Americans did the same thing in 1776, defend English liberal values against the increasingly statist British.

  13. The Americans did the same thing in 1776, defend English liberal values against the increasingly statist British.

    Our republican vision has no intention of doing it on behalf of classical liberalism. And since there are few democracies and constitutions that have worked throughout modern history, I fear giving the politicians of today any sort of broad mandate to change the one that came into being in 1901.

    The solutions are already there, in Western history, and culturally from Britain in its past, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

  14. [beep]

    ADMIN: FFS jc… stop being abusive to other people on this blog. I’ve asked this before several times and I really don’t think it’s a difficult request. Continuing to ignore repeated polite requests to be civil is an insult to me and all the people who want to engage in friendly debate.

  15. True, Jamie, but we do need to go on, and evolve. We need more ways to limit governments. Maybe a Charter would be a good idea, if we could fill it with limitations on governments and their powers, for instance.

  16. I think we should push republicanism to a republican form of Government, instead of merely letting ALP elites names themselves as head of State.

    There is opportunity in all of this.

  17. There is no harm to 12-13 year olds in getting their gear off in unthreatening situations and being photographed… You sound like the troubled Catholic kid who was given a beating for masturbating, who regarded sex as sinful, the human body itself as almost equally so and pleasure itself as something suspect. My sympathies CL but the rest of the world have moved on and thrown off what are by far the most significant sources of contemporary child abuse.

    And you intend to inflict on the world your views by seeking to ban sensitive, high quality art. Who are you to judge and who are you to seek a ban?

    – [beep] Harry Clarke launches a sectarian attack on me after I joined Tony Abbot (et alia) in criticising “artist” Bill Henson.

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