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Tony Abbott: Fixing our broken national psyche

Image: AAP
Image: AAP

In the two-year anniversary of Tony Abbott taking office, TBS sees the true meaning behind his tenure – the rebirth of our nation.

Australia loves a battler. Or we used to.

This week, I glanced upon an extremely balanced poll on Twitter that queried the comfort levels apropos to Tony Abbott’s leadership in the two years to this point. After a well-run democratic race, the laurels of victory were laid upon the shoulders of the “Nays” who edged the “Yays” by the minorest (sic) of noses, 99% to 1%. Unsure if the administrators of the poll nasally hee-hawed at the lazy double-entendre of “The 1% versus the rest”, but it got me thinking.

What happened?

Not with Mr. Abbott, no. With us.

We as a nation (according to stereotype) are all to some degree “unwanted”, so in the past we’ve attached ourselves to the gritty battler, those educated by the scars earned from the fighting battles they were clearly unfit to fight. Those who did the best with what they had, got knocked down by their own mistakes and dragged themselves up from the mucky mire to make further mistakes, with the end goal of incremental progress in the face of impossible odds. Be it Vincent Lingiari, the Allied Expeditionary Force, Darryl Kerrigan or Mulga Bill, they all warmed the gas heaters within us, reinforcing our proud national identity.

But not Tony Abbott.

Which makes no sense. On the surface, he seems to meet the requirements; we love a good rogue, adore rule-breakers and gravitate toward those who rigidly follow their own compass.

But not Tony Abbott.

We loosely attach the “Worst PM” tag to whomever recently vacated the fibro house of influence, a label slung from behind whatever colour fence we hide behind, but with Tony I’m unsure. The term “Worst PM” seems prosaic. It doesn’t seem to fit. Something seems…different.

This begs the question – are we becoming more cynical? Is it our own doing or has Tony, by raising the wrong sail often enough, forever sunk the clipper of the National Psyche? I can offer no real evidence of this beyond a rigidly-backed feeling, upheld by Denutian law.

If he has, is it a negative?

Has Tony traversed the murky borders, venturing far beyond the black stump within us and found a new place where we no longer deem failure a worthy pursuit?

Is this who we are now? While we still call a spade a spade, do we no longer respect the spade’s struggle, instead complaining why we bought it in the first place?

If Mr Abbott has succeeded, his discovery should be honoured as a monumental achievement. One which deserves the highest honour. Stamp, Currency, Unofficial national holiday. The whole schmear.

Something seems iffy. There’s something amiss. There’s many variables, maybe the world of social media (and the people I surround myself with) are plagued by biasitis, or I’ve taken excessive liberties to make the above paragraph work. The point being, I’m not saying I could do better. I’d probably not last beyond lunch, but I used to believe I could.

By ways of an example, it’s been two years into his tenure now and I’ve seldom heard the antique, magic words “I can do a better job.”

Yes, while we criticise the man’s decisions, I haven’t heard someone nominate themselves as a preferable option. Now, I’m not refuting the possibility of an “Old Mate” candidate, but these hundredfold bar-side grass-root movements are for perhaps the first time, muffled into the foam.

I thought we were supposed to have a go. Or have we wisened up? If so, how?

Has Tony Abbott put respect back into the Prime Ministership?

He’s certainly demonstrated that mistakes can colour the progress it is possible to achieve. Has he, at great cost to himself, finally slain the common supposition that we’d be able to handle international diplomacy on our ear? Has Tony, selflessly directed our gaze beyond him (and ourselves) to pursue greener pastures? Has he taught us the value of not settling, thereby saving us from falling back into old habits? Ensuring that there’ll be no more lurking among the grinding political bodies in that Canberran dancefloor, waiting until the lights come on, grabbing the nearest “she’ll do” candidate and hope it’s still a dazzler in the pale morning?

That’s now the old us. Tony knows this. He doesn’t want that for the new Australia. He knows we can do better.

Perhaps it’s time we start believing too.

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