Back in September 2020, Tony Abbott was back in the news. This time he was in the U.K., where the Brits were about to make a monumental mistake. They wanted to appoint him as a ‘trade envoy’. This deal has now been done.
He will be advising them on matters of trade. This is something of a risk, as Mr Abbott is known for many things, but commercial deal making is not one of them. He is renowned as more of a head kicker, really.
It has been said that Boris Johnson just wants him ‘on board’, because he is a strong supporter of a ‘no-deal Brexit’. He is a supporter now, but as is often the case with Mr Abbott, he was a ‘remainer’ before he was a ‘leaver’.
The British are keen to get any sort of trade deal they can, as they are about to crash out of the EU, without a deal. In attempting to secure a trade deal for the British, Mr Abbott will be competing against us, (Australia) for the same types of deal. So is he loyal? And to whom? He was born in the U.K. but he gets his pension from us. Decisions, decisions.
One must question whether Australia should permit such behaviour, in a citizen, as it appears that he has been privy to uniquely privileged information. He would be in a position to use that information against Australia’s national interests. That does not sound in any way morally sustainable, let alone from a national security perspective. Should Mr Dutton be ‘on the job’ protecting us from potentially conflicted ex-Prime Ministers?
How did Abbott get to the U.K.?
He got a special exemption. Although many families have been unable to obtain an exemption to leave the country, mainly for compassionate or family reasons, Abbott was able to obtain one. Mr Abbott said his exemption from the ban on Australians travelling was obtained “in the normal way”.
He wanted to go for a job interview, it seems, and also to attend a golf tournament. He was also travelling on a diplomatic passport, which ex Prime Ministers can obtain, it seems. He also knew the Minister, which appears to be as unfair as it sounds.
And if you thought having him out of Australia at all was a bit of a win for us, think again. He is coming back. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, because so many Australians are stranded overseas, unable to return. But Tony can come back whenever he wants to. We do not know whether he is flying on Australia’s tab, but if he can get something for free, he will.
Is he travelling by a commercial flight, or will we send a VIP jet? The ramifications and costs of this jaunt are endless. Not to mention the trashing of Australia’s reputation. He is seen as a distinguished representative of our country, at the same time that the British opposition has called him out as, amongst other things: offensive, aggressive, leering, gaffe-prone, homophobic, misogynistic, climate denying and divisive.
Did Abbott need the work?
This was also at a time when hundreds of thousands of Australians were being laid off, or having their hours cut. Abbott receives around $300,000 per year already. It is the parliamentary pension he supposedly earned, while wrecking everything he touched, during twenty five years of public life. It seems that there are two sets of rules. Quelle surprise, as they say in the EU.
Any other developments?
Well, he did use the opportunity of a platform, at a right wing think tank, to sabotage both Britain’s future trade prospects, and Australia’s fight to contain the coronavirus. The Policy Exchange, where he made the speech, lapped it up, although even they were surprised by some of what Mr Abbott said.
He described himself as a man who got things done, and that he would essentially ignore any environmental and labour concerns when negotiating any trade deals. This of course contradicted Mr Johnson’s stated position on the environment and also labour relations. There seems to be very little upside to Britain’s plans to use Mr Abbott as a representative.
On the Australian side of the ledger, he attacked the Victorian Premier, describing the lock-down there as a health dictatorship at its worst. He went on to extol the virtues of letting your loved ones die. Their lives do actually have a monetary value, it seems, and sometimes the cure is more costly than the disease. He stated that, “some elderly Covid patients could be left to die naturally.”
That is the exact opposite of the argument Abbott used in 2009, when he actually spoke out against euthanasia. He even warned us about greedy and impatient relatives pulling the plug, in order to get the inheritance.
The Morrison Government said that his views are his own, ducking and weaving around the suggestion that they were enabling Abbott, or endorsing his views. This is awkward, because of their constant harping about throwing open our states’ borders. Many in the community consider such language as doublespeak for “put the economy first.”
“Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest“ is a quote attributed to Henry II of England preceding the death of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. I think I know how the King felt.