Flat White

Wherein Tony Abbott answers some questions…

26 February 2017

1:28 PM

26 February 2017

1:28 PM

Well, well, well. Just the other week, I was crying out for someone to tell us how Burkeans within the Liberal Party intends to save the day for their fellow conservative travellers. We had heard almost every appropriately credentialed Liberal member come out and say we ought to stick with them. But no one could tell us why.

And this despite the antics and treachery of Cory Bernardi. And despite the haemorrhaging of primary votes to One Nation. I was, we all were, looking for someone to come out tell everyone why the once great party of Menzies remains the best vehicle for those wanting to effect change in right-wing politics Australia. And all along, Tony Abbott was planning on dropping a carefully worded hint.

But the plan didn’t work out. The carefully worded hint was as subtle as a bowling ball to the face. It wasn’t a suggestion in a text message. It wasn’t even a brief doorstop comment to a journalist. It was an eighteen-minute interview on the Bolt Report one night, and then an election campaign-style stump speech at a book launch. Not only that, but it was a book launch on fixing the right side of politics in Australia. For goodness sake, it contained a policy platform. And a sensible one!


Malcolm Turnbull was decidedly exercised, and had the rare humility to admit that Abbott might actually “[know] what he’s doing”. Christopher Pyne, never one to deal with decent policy suggestions very well, almost lost his mind over Abbott’s ideas. And even the measured and solidly conservative Muscles from Brussels, Mathias Cormann, found the veins in his neck and forehead bulging. And not from straining under a bench-press.

There seems to be only one prominent commentator in Australia who seriously thinks Tony Abbott could plausibly make a decent comeback as Prime Minister. Other than Andrew Bolt, people think he’s damaged goods and unelectable. The trouble is, everyone said the same thing back when he won the party leadership from Malcolm Turnbull in 2009.

Bowling balls don’t generally fit up sleeves. But if Abbott has any more stored in his, he should let them rip. And maybe former and tottering Liberal voters will start taking some notice. Perhaps the backbench will as well. What say you, Tony? And if it’s not Abbott, someone else needs to take the bowling ball mantle and run. And, preferably, win. Off you go, then!

J.P. Tulkinghorn is the pseudonym of a public policy researcher and freelance writer.

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