Tony Abbott On 60 Minutes: A Polished Performance

60 MINUTES does not usually feature in my viewing schedule; even so, I watched last night’s interview between Liz Hayes and Tony Abbott with great interest. Abbott gave as good as he got, and the issue of his sister’s sexuality was convincingly handled; all of Abbott’s naysayers should watch this piece.

Even Liz Hayes herself was forced to admit after the event that Abbott is an extremely likeable fellow; it’s a point I have made in this column repeatedly — that a sizeable majority of the herd professing to “hate” Abbott, insisting he is a misogynistic, bigoted, woman-hating pig — would change their views in short order if they were to meet him.

In the absence of the opportunity to meet Abbott this is probably the next best thing, compiled from a clearly critical perspective as it is.

For those readers who have not seen the segment from last night’s episode of 60 Minutes, it can be viewed here; it is 15 minutes that will be very well spent.

This wasn’t an interview conducted with kid gloves, despite the suggestion to the contrary the first couple of questions may have given; interviewer Liz Hayes ensured every touchpoint for the personal campaign against Abbott was featured.

There was even footage from Julia Gillard’s despicably dishonest speech in the House of Representatives for good measure, including Gillard’s charge of “misogyny” against Abbott, and her railing against Abbott’s insinuated responsibility for being labelled “a man’s bitch” by demonstrators against her government.

(There was no mention, though, of the fact Gillard made the speech in defence of Peter Slipper and his disgusting utterances about female genitalia: to mention that would be to provide more balance than was intended, I think).

Hayes put Abbott on the spot on every one of these issues; it’s his responses — and the manner in which they were made — that are most instructive.

But I think the real ammunition that was intended to lie at the centre of this piece was the issue of his sister’s coming out as a lesbian; and rather than fall flat on his face (as many people would no doubt have hoped), his explanations and reasoning are sensible, logical, and certainly very, very human.

From a wider perspective, I’d make the observation that Abbott will of course have differences of opinion with some people at least some of the time; but in this he is no different at all to anyone else.

He’s certainly no different to Gillard in this sense; Gillard thinks the trade union movement, for example, should sit at the very centre of governance in this country, and this is a view vehemently opposed by millions of people in Australia (myself, rather vigorously, included).

But Abbott has been demonised to a large extent by subterranean interests taking some of his utterances, distorting and twisting them, and providing resultant public sound bites for his political opponents to deploy against him.

And they do.

I simply want to share this segment with readers, and — again — implore anyone who hasn’t seen it to spend the quarter of an hour to watch it.

I have always found Abbott to be very human, and very much a leader among his peers; it’s refreshing to find the quintessential Australian bloke standing for the Prime Ministership for a change — especially after the manipulative intellectual dishonesty of a Gillard, or the priggish, bombastic pomposity of a Rudd.

And many people conveniently overlook the fact that Abbott is an exceptionally intelligent individual, as a Rhodes scholar and, more recently, effective minister under John Howard.

I think Tony Abbott will make an outstanding Prime Minister.

And I make the point (which we will likely be revisiting both tonight with the release of Newspoll, and later in the week as ALP leadership ructions develop) that as we now approach a time at which virtually nobody can redeem Labor’s electoral fortunes, Abbott is — as Hayes put it to him — probably the only person who can cruel his election prospects.

It’s well worth a look if you haven’t already seen it.