Tony Abbott: university bigot and bully — and still one today

David Donovan 13 September 2012, 10:57am

Fairfax reports today a leading barrister confirming Barbara Ramjan's claim about Tony Abbott's violence, aggression and intimidation of her at Sydney University. What they don't report is that Tony Abbott's misogyny bigotry and bullying has continued to the current day. Managing editor David Donovan fills in the gaps.

FAIRFAX reports today that a Sydney barrister has confirmed claims Tony Abbott put his head within an inch of her and punched a wall on either side of Barbara Ramjan's head, when she defeated him for the Sydney University student union presidency in 1975.

From Michelle Grattan's report, entitled 'New support for allegations against Abbott':

A SYDNEY barrister, David Patch, has corroborated a woman's claim that Tony Abbott behaved in an intimidatory fashion when she beat him in a vote for Sydney University Student Representative Council president in 1977.

Mr Abbott has denied the account from Barbara Ramjan - published in David Marr's Quarterly Essay, ''Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott'' - that he came within an inch of her nose and punched the wall on either side of her head.

But Mr Patch, who won the SRC presidency in 1975, said he had been Ms Ramjan's campaign manager in 1977, and she had told him about the Abbott incident immediately after it happened.

Sydney barrister David Patch has corroborated a woman's claim that Tony Abbott behaved in an intimidatory fashion.

He writes in today's Age: ''I did not see the incident, but I was nearby. The count had just finished. Barbara found me. She is a small woman, and Tony Abbott was (and is) a strong man. She was very shaken, scared and angry. She told me that Tony Abbott had come up to her, put his face in her face, and punched the wall on either side of her head.

In the report, Patch details more disquieting information about Abbott's underlying misogyny and bigotry:

The wall-punching event was not an isolated one, he writes. ''As President, Ramjan chaired SRC meetings. She did not want to be called 'Mr Chairman', but preferred 'Chairperson'. But for an entire year Abbott called Ramjan 'Chairthing' whenever he addressed her at SRC meetings.

''The gender-based disrespect for her office and her person is remarkably similar to the disrespectful way that Abbott treats the Prime Minister, and her office, today.''

Mr Patch says he knew Mr Abbott well at the time, beating him for an election for student member of the University Senate. ''Although he was an active member of a fundamentalist political movement with a religious base (the DLP and the National Civic Council led by Bob Santamaria), it was his personally offensive behaviour which stood out.

''He was always (verbally) attacking gays and feminists and lefties. You certainly knew what he was against - the trouble was that you couldn't figure out what he was in favour of! Once again, the parallels with the way he operates today are, to those who knew him then, quite remarkable.''

For Independent Australia readers, none of this information will have come as a surprise, as we have been investigating all these aspects of Tony Abbott's character for some time; only now does it seem that the starstruck mainstream press is finally catching up.

Of course, his bullying and bigotry have continued to the current day. The following is a report we first published on this topic on 23 December 2010:

Tony Abbott: a relic from the 1950s

Tony Abbott is an elitist, a homophobe and a misogynist — Australians must not allow him to take this country back to the 1950s. David Donovan reports.

Tony Abbott is not fit to be Australian Prime Minister and there are many reasons for this, some of which I have previously written about. For example, he is untrustworthy — by his own admission, you can't believe anything he says unless his comments come from a carefully scripted statement. He is arrogant, ideological and prone to errors of judgement — like his decision to, and excuse for, going to a British Conservative Party Conference in preference to visiting Australian troops in Afghanistan in 2010.

But perhaps the major reason Abbott should never be allowed to be Australian Prime Minister is that he will not govern fairly for all Australians. Fundamentally, he does not believe all people are equal. He believes royalty are inherently better than “commoners”, is threatenened by homosexuals and is bigoted towards women.

Elitist Abbott

His attitude towards royalty is well-known and is a good example of his fundamentally inegalitarian nature. Despite being a Catholic himself – a religion specifically excluded from ever being the monarch (and therefore Australian head of state) by the 1701 Act of Settlement – Abbott is a fanatical royalist. Most Australians see the principles of selective hereditary succession for our head of state as being discriminatory, but Abbott sees no problem with the archiac principles of primogeniture.

It’s fine, Abbott wrote in 2007, because the Crown is '…hereditary…like looks, intelligence, aptitudes and even property'.

The Nazis in Germany believed that certain people were more favoured genetically than others and they, amongst others, used this as an excuse for their treatment of so-called "inferior" races.

Abbott should know that the principles of eugenics were discredited at around the same time Nazi Germany was defeated and discovered to be trying to breed a master race. Furthermore, it says that Abbott has an elitist, hierarchical, view of society. Workers will stay workers and bosses will stay bosses, he seems to say, because genetics has got us to where we are today. This is not a vision of an egalitarian society where any child could rise to the top through hard work. It is no vision at all.

Homophobic Abbott

Abbott has a strongly questionable attitude towards homosexuals. In March 2010, when questioned about his attitude towards gays, he said he felt “threatened” by them.

If he feels threatened by them, it seems likely that he will avoid confronting their issues? We already know that he doesn’t believe in gay marriage – the touchstone issue of homosexual equality – despite the overwhelming majority of the Australian population being in favour of this reform. And, moreover, when someone is threatened aren’t they more likely to strike out in anger? Abbott seems more than likely to attempt to punish homosexuals by punitive legislation if he becomes Prime Minister, particularly when his strong religious beliefs are taken into account.

Bullying mysogynist Abbott

Most disturbing of all, arguably, is the fact that Abbott is bigoted against 50 per cent of the population—women.

We were reminded of this during an ABC Four Corners programme screened in the aftermath of the Independents decision to side with the Labor Party after this year’s federal flection. In the documentary, after a meeting with the Independents in which Abbott attempted to placate the three over a massive black hole just discovered by Treasury in the Coalition’s election costings, a glowering Abbott emerged. The reporter, Sophie Ferguson, immediately asked Abbott the question that any credible journalist would, or should, ask under these circumstances: was this black-hole the reason the Coalition did not want to give the Independents their costings?

“That is a very offensive question” he snarled, twice, before looming up to the petite Ferguson, scowling. It was a scene reminiscent of the Mark Latham’s handshake with John Howard at the 2004 Federal election that had so cruelled Latham’s chances. It showed an Abbott that, when under pressure – when the fake charm is wiped away – is something of a bully and a misogynist.

Abbott has shown this several times before

For example, in a public debate with the shadow health minister Julia Roxon during the 2007 election campaign, Abbott was an almost unforgivable half-an-hour late, leaving Roxon to make her address and field questions on her own. Roxon began her address, rather understandably, by referring to Mr Abbott’s absence as a lack of respect for the importance of the debate. After the debate was concluded, in comments accidentally picked up by the microphones, Abbott shook Roxon’s hand and moved close to her before whispering that she was speaking “bullshit” and calling her “unpleasant”. The typical actions of a bully.

Even worse was his conduct towards Julia Gillard just over a year ago. On September 10, 2009, before becoming Opposition Leader, Abbott confronted Julia Gillard during Question Time in Federal Parliament, aggressively telling her to stop wearing a “shit-eating grin”.

Abbott again revealed his misogynistic side after becoming Opposition leader. In February, he caused something of a stir when he said that the greatest gift a woman could give a man was her virginity. Soon after, in March, he revealed that he considered ironing to be woman’s work. He continued:

“What housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price, and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up.”

In Australia, we must demand better from our leaders. Abbott is a politician stuck in the 1950s—when homosexuals stayed in the closet, women stayed at home and cleaned, and people revered the royal family like deities. Australia has moved on, greatly for the better. Allowing someone like Tony Abbott to try to put Australia back to those times is a risk to our way of life and Australia’s culture as a modern egalitarian nation. It cannot be.



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