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.
(Note – This Podcast is now being hosted by the University of New England. All audio-downloading issues should now be rectified)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.
Now throughout his career as a Journalist and Politician, Tony Abbott hasn’t been afraid to say what he thinks. So given his past record on issues such as Education, Unionism and Women in the Workplace, the contents of this recording aren’t all that surprising. What is extremely remarkable however is that Tony was able to present himself in such a manner at such a young age, and that his positions were soo deeply entrenched at the time. Normally it takes years for student politicians to mature regardless of the University that they are studying at, so it’s extremely surprising that Tony was able to show political experience beyond his years at that time.
That begs the question, has Mr Abbott really changed over the past thirty-one years since this interview was recorded? While he’s certainly gained more than a few grey hairs, has he really changed with the times or has he become a modern day dinosaur, changing only when he really has to?
This is a question that only Tony can answer, as even though the media, his colleagues and enemies alike have closely followed his media and political careers over the course of the past 30 years, only he can say “Yes, my personal views have changed, and this is why”. It is also a question that he has been trying to answer with his actions over the course of the past couple of weeks, otherwise he wouldn’t have declared “WorkChoices” dead, or showcased his three daughters as being exceptional young women and his wife as a bastion of childcare.
It is crucial that this question is answered, because regardless of who wins the election on the 21st of August, Tony Abbott is going to be faced with challenges that he has never faced before. Tony’s ability to react to these challenges will influence the state of the Coalition and therefore Australia, for better or worse. If he can’t adapt quickly or make a snap decision that is correct even though it might go against his values, then Australian Politics is in for a rocky road ahead.
Therefore I challenge Mr Abbott to make a return to TUNE! FM via a phone interview, before the 21st of August. As Australia’s future hangs in the balance, Tony must be able to show that he has changed both as a person and a politician since his days at the University of Sydney. I also extend this invitation to all other Federal Politicians as well, as Australians need to know that their Politicians, whether they be Liberal, National, Labor, Independent or Green have changed since the 1970′s. Given that the University of New England is one of Australia’s core Universities and has engaged Politicians such as Tony Abbott, Julia Gillard, John Howard and Bob Brown in the past with the Earle Page College Annual Politics Lecture, a more fitting setting could not be found, particularly as education becomes a key issue in this election.
Kate Doak is a young Trans-woman who just happens to be the Operations Manager of TUNE! FM, as well as a fulltime Postgraduate Arts and Social Sciences student at the University of New England. In her spare time, she listens to some of the funkiest Dance, Trance and Progressive music that the world has to offer. She can be contacted via twitter – @katedoak