Saturday, April 28, 2012

From the Archives - The Tiny Tony Abbott Tapes of 1979

(Cross-posted from TUNE!FM 106.9)

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
(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

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dirty, Sexy Politics - The Slipper Saga

If there's one guarantee about Australian politics, it's that there's always a stir going on that the public never sees, or that we refuse to see.
While the sexual harassment allegations made against Speaker Slipper over the weekend are nothing short of astounding, neither are they surprising. Between politicians having affairs with one another, Senators occasionally shoplifting and Party leaders making homophobic remarks while having closeted LGBT family members, things aren't always as clear cut as they may first appear within our nation's capital.

Take for example the situation surrounding James Ashby, who is the staffer who made the allegations against Slipper. Last month Ashby was caught up in a minor scandal, after he grabbed a reporter's iPhone at a news conference and threw it into scrubland. At the time I thought that this was pretty weird behaviour for a political staffer, so I decided to have a look at his online presence in order to get a feel for what the guy was like. Low and behold, I found that he had a modest number of tweets, a LinkedIn page and accounts on Facebook and Youtube, all of which seemed pretty tame at the time.

Due to the way that various politicians and Press Gallery reporters have reacted since the Slipper sex story broke, its pretty obvious that the general thought around Capital Hill is that Slipper has engaged in gay activities in the past. Given that more than a few politicians, journalists and bureaucrats in Canberra are closeted, it isn't surprising that Slipper's supposed sexual orientation has been kept quiet, on the risk that they could be “outted” themselves. For somebody who has been closeted in the workplace and at home for years, if not decades, the thought of being “outted” as being anything other than “normal” would be terrifying.

After the sex scandal allegations broke on Friday, I decided to have another look at Ashby's social media accounts in order to see if there was anything I'd missed about his online and offline personalities. To my immediate surprise, I noticed that somebody had made a considerable effort to make Ashby's online activities as non-controversial as possible. Not only had his Facebook page disappeared, but his LinkedIn profile had been changed and most of his posts on Twitter had been removed. As well as this, all of the cached content from these websites had been either wiped or made in-accessible to the general public. Strangely enough, his predominantly news-focused YouTube account had been left largely untouched.
(Read more after the jump)