Saturday, 7 April 2012

Tony Abbott SPEAKS NOW (from both sides of his mouth)

Meanwhile, the Weekend Australian Magazine (April 07-08) carries a cover story revealing that Tony Abbott, leader of the Opposition, has a sister, Christine, who is gay, and that he and his wife and daughters are kindly disposed towards her partner, Virginia. 

Yet he maintains a hard (Catholic) line against same-sex marriage, and feature writer Kate Legge construes this as a plus. 'So, when his sister came out, did he waiver?' she asks.  Legge applauds Abbott's ability to play both sides of the fence as evidence of being 'true to his philosophy' and casts the sister as a 'huge fan' of her brother. 'Political integrity requires the Coalition to maintain its position', he is quoted as saying, after 'toying briefly' with allowing coalition MPs a conscience vote on same sex marriage.

With the help of the Weekend Australian Mr Abbott is trotting out a bogus new line which is as old as his toxic religion.  The hypocrisy of “I’m not a bigot, look! Some of my best friends (and my sister!) are gay” might sit comfortably with a politician used to speaking from both sides of his mouth.  But are we supposed to believe these alleged friends (and his sister) are happy with the implication “You’re my friend, so you won’t mind if I stab you in the back”?   

There are several points in her writing where Legge betrays her complicity in political spin.  Only a writer for The Australian, where the line between political spin and journalism was long ago lost, would promote this spurious makeover of Abbott as a kinder, gentler leader.

If Abbott gains power in Canberra, will he emulate the triumphant Campbell Newman, the new conservative Premier of Queensland, whose first fiat after gaining a landslide victory in the recent elections was to cancel the Premier's literary awards?  The cost of the Awards was a mere drop in the state budget, so the symbolism was striking.  Outgoing Premier Anna Bligh used to actually read all the finalists in each category of those awards, and she led the support for the change in the ALP's Party platform to allow same-sex unions equal status in law.  Newman doesn't need literature.

In the same edition of the Weekend Australian magazine (p. 40), Phillip Adams commented on 'private polling' showing that only 25% of men in Queensland were willing to vote for a woman. Abbott has the advantage of being the 'right' gender to lead the conservative forces and, aware that he will need at least some women to vote for him and his cohort, is rolling out the hypocritical makeover version as a kind family man, co-opting his feisty, non-conformist sister as an ally.  'The last thing she wants is to become a public spectacle', he protests lamely. 

Oh please! pass me the barf bag...

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