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Quarterly Essay 47 Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Length: 140 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Details

  • File Size: 576 KB
  • Print Length: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Quarterly Essay (September 1, 2012)
  • Publication Date: September 1, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0093ISD4K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #665,568 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Firstly, a brief word about using Kindle to access "The Quarterly Essay." I found the experience to be entirely positive. I downloaded the journal while travelling overseas. Cheaper than a hard copy and, obviously, immediately available. Highly recommended.

As to the edition covering Tony Abbott, I found myself quite engrossed by David Marr's work. Arguably, little new about the man was revealed except the allegation of violence whilst Abbott was a student politician. However, the article paints the picture of a shallow man. Despite being a Rhodes Scholar, Abbott does not present as a man of intellect. He seems particularly unread and totally devoid of big ideas. Instead, we see a man simply grasping for power. While Abbott's lunge for power may come to pass, at the time of writing, there can be no guarantees. Abbott might yet still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

David Marr is to be commended for his efforts. He has sought to unravel some of the enigmatic characteristics of Tony Abbott. This is absolutely essentially. In any modern democracy, it is always positive that we gain a good understanding of those who seek to represent us. David Marr's work has revealed a man of little depth. It will be interesting to see how the forthcoming months pan out.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Last Sunday I had the pleasure of lunching with the former British treasurer, Norman Lamont. During the meal, he revealed that the current British Prime Minister, David Cameron, was his former speechwriter. Naturally, we asked what Lamont thought of Cameron. His reply was interesting. He said: "A British reporter recently asked me the same question on TV. I told him that David was very bright, very articulate and very keen to become prime minister. On the other hand, even though we worked together for some time, I still do not know what David's convictions are, and I don't think he knows either."

Lamont then went to say that shortly after speaking to the reporter, he met Cameron himself, who told Lamont his answer was spot-on and admitted he was not sure what his convictions were.

This got me thinking about Tony Abbott. He is intelligent and articulate and that necessary EQ component of all leaders, the desire to win (which in this case is becoming the prime minister) and spends much time putting down his opponent. And in case anyone thinks this only occurs in Australia, may I suggest they watch the US presidential debates.

However, Lamont raised an interesting idea: whether a prime minister (or any leader) can be deemed to be successful unless she or he has convictions. I have just finished reading journalist David Marr's recent essay The Making of Tony Abbott. Marr is bemused by Abbott - he tries to understand what makes him tick but fails.

His essay focuses on Abbott's nurture but spends little time on his nature. He spends an inordinate amount of time on Abbott's time at university. However what you do get from reading the essay is that Abbott is a conviction politician.
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His observation of the relationship which commenced between Abbott and the (to become) shock jock Alan Jones after Abbott's winning of the seat of Warringah in 1993 (p41, I'm not spoiling it) is an example of both the humour and, more importantly, the correctness without being politically correct that Marr can risk as a very open commentator. The transformation that he subtly charts in Abbott's choices, in particular the extent to which they are influenced by day-to-day politics or by his values, is reminiscent of many politicians, notably Kevin Rudd in Marr's earlier Quarterly Essay and the John Howard in the biography by Errington and Van Onselen. That Marr nominates Politics Abbott or Values Abbott as the author of various decisions is none too subtle, but the evolution of this dichotomy is the story Marr tracks skilfully. This is a strength of Marr as a biographer - that he achieves this in the brevity of a Quarterly Essay rather than in, say, the luxury of his tomely Patrick White bio, makes this essay all the more a rewarding read.

The Quarterly Essay series is the ideal medium for authors to tap the detail of the rough and tumble of the last few decades of Australian politics, as well as the many other diverse topics they chronicle. Previously, Laura Tingle and David Marr, as political correspondents for much of this period, exemplify this. Marr utilises his credentials to build this essay up to a political crescendo as the Politics and Values Abbotts alternatively seize the moment against a minority government. Alas, history has not revealed the denouement, so neither could Marr, even if Abbott's interview had allowed quotations.
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This is a very well written and researched book, presenting a balanced and thoughtful assessment of Tony Abbott. Although some reviewers and most members of the media who have read it have focussed largely on the revelations about Abbott's aggressive behavior during his days as a student, the most important insights seemed to me to be those about what drives him and who have most influenced his views on moral and political issues. These are the factors which will determine what he would do if he were to find himself to be Prime Minister next year.
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