The Wheeler Centre
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Susan Mitchell on Tony Abbott: Too Dangerous to Lead
Ever since Tony Abbott assumed the leadership of the Liberal Party, bipartisanship has all but disappeared. The opposition leader’s combativeness seems to have helped create a national political discourse that is as aggressive as it is inflammatory. Why? Perhaps, suggests Susan Mitchell, ecause it suits his temperament. In this polemic, Dr Mitchell - author of Tony Abbott: A man’s man - examines the method and effect of the provocative politician.
Mitchell argues that throughout his life, Abbott has been drawn to a series of masculine and Catholic heroes and mentors. As a result, he is a relic of another time. Women are particularly distrustful of his macho image and his combative approach. Underpinning the values of this man’s man is his narrow worldview.
More importantly for the nation, she says, his approach to policy seems to contradict this fixed, rock-solid image. On many issues - climate change in particular - he constantly slips and slides. This tendency, says Mitchell, suggests an underlying political opportunism, as if he were less interested in formulating national policy than in playing divisive politics.