Category: Books

Why I owe our Parliamentarians (including Tony Abbott) an apology….

By Kate Doak.
By Kate Doak.

As many of you would know, during the last election I wrote an article about The Honourable Tony Abbott MP and some audio that I found of him from his tenure at the University of Sydney during the late 1970’s.

Tony Abbott photographed in 1977 (Left) and 1985 (Right). Photo courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald

Within that article, I asked Mr Abbott and all of his colleagues in parliament to describe how they’ve changed as individuals, for better and worse, since their youth.  From Mr Abbott and his UNE audio, Prime Minister Gillard climbing her Barricades through to Senator Brown on the banks of the Franklin River, it was a question worth asking, as it highlighted the challenges, experiences and emotions that have made the politicians of our time into the people that they are.  While it was a good and honest question, on reflection it was probably a little cheekier than I’d intended at the time towards all of the politicians involved.

Here’s a defining grab from that particular article.

Election 2010 – An Abbott Interview… from 1979

By Kate Doak.
5th August 2010

Tony Abbott has always been a magnet for controversy, so you can imagine my surprise when an interview from his studies in 1979 at the University of Sydney was found within TUNE! FM’s archives early last week. Given that I’m a sucker for history (even though I hate politics), I fired up the old Reel-to-Reel Tape machine and settled down for some aural pleasure. As an amateur Historian, what I heard didn’t disappoint.

Radio UNE – “Campus-Wide” Interview with Tony Abbott from 1979 – Click here to listen

With a level of charm that only old Tape and Vinyl can deliver, I was whisked away to a time where Tony Abbott was way less recognizable than what he is now. Starting the interview off with the trials and tribulations of student politics and a healthy smattering of inter-university rivalry, Tony proceeds to take a firm swipe against both  Trade and Student Unions alike while recognizing their differences. Changing tact, he then switches topics to education, injects a streak of Christianity and sexism into the discussion and gets slightly put off when ambushed on the topic of Feminists, Gays, Migrants and Aboriginals forming their own supportive communities.

While I never received a definitive response to my question in regards to Same-Sex and Gender Diverse perspectives (from any of the politicians within Federal Parliament), I never lost hope that I’d finally receive an answer to something that had been provoking my driving sense of professional curiosity since before the last election.  To borrow a quote from Peter Allen though, “time is a traveller” and nothing can ever beat it as a teacher.

Now since that article was published online in 2010, I’ve met Prime Minister Gillard and her Ministers at the NBN Launch in Armidale, interviewed Chief Opposition Whips, received a first-hand perspective on modern history, had coffee with various Ministers, MP’s and Senators, been surprised by one of the most beautiful, inspiring and touching functions that a person could ever hope to be invited to, while bearing witness to one of the most accurate and extraordinary acts of honesty, kindness and acceptance that I’ve ever had the privilege of being privy to.  While it might’ve taken a while, I’ve most certainly learned the answer to my question, though in the most unexpected and joyful of ways.

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