Australian Commentary (45) – So Then it Was Malcolm

In my view, Abbott’s greatest failing was to be clueless about what Australians were talking about around the dinner table each night. Abbott is a good and decent man who could not grow into the job.[1]

Politics is a tough game-just think of Julius Caesar. Those that participate in it have to be able to think on their feet, and take advice from those who know them and want them to succeed.

Tony Abbott was not good when it came to taking advice. Now, it’s too late. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for him, because he really destroyed himself.

Naturally, every one of us has a view about ourselves, and how we are travelling. We may be right, we may be wrong, but a leader of people has to consider the perceptions of others, especially when he’s in a position of public office. It could be argued that Jesus Himself did that, when He said to the disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Mat.16:13)

And there’s much more. You must maintain relational integrity with those near you, beginning with your spouse. Abbott made the mistake of letting Peta Credlin (his Personal Secretary), run not just his office, but his political decisions, even down to the colour of the ties he wore. She threatened Abbott’s relationship with his wife, but still she was kept on. Abbott’s colleagues resented the control she had over him. They rightly believed she detrimentally affected the performance of the government.

Ultimately, it was amazing how he let her dominate him, even when his colleagues pointed out to him how she was harming his government.

He was advised repeatedly by everyone from Rupert Murdoch to John Howard and the late Don Randall in the bluntest of terms to sack her, rein her in or expand his pool of advisers. Not only did he ­ignore them, they got short shrift, including Julie Bishop, who was treated disrespectfully by both ­Abbott and Credlin. When Bishop, spurred by backbenchers’ complaints, raised the problem with Abbott last year, he told her that without Credlin she (Bishop) would not be where she was today. He was oblivious to the insult he was delivering to a woman first elected to parliament in 1998, who had served as deputy since 2007.[2]

Every one of us has to take responsibility for relationships we have. In politics, those elected alongside you have entered this career with all the problems and challenges, and they have an interest in the team functioning properly. If the Team Leader sometimes makes mistakes, that’s one thing, because we all do that from time to time. But when he makes them and won’t accept the responsibility for them, and seeks to blame others, and keeps making the same stupid blunders, the whole team looks bad.

Team members think to themselves, “This bloke’s a loser. Going on like this, he’ll flame out. He’ll bring us all down, so he’s got to go.”

…he was the author of his own ­demise. Even Abbott’s friends and allies admit that he failed to learn the lessons of the February spill ­motion. He was told then to replace Hockey. He was told then that he would lose his job if he did not remove Peta Credlin, his divisive chief of staff. The warnings sounded like panic at the time. Now they look prophetic.[3]

The Bible says,

Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days (Prov.19:20).


You employ people who are going to help you, not hinder you. And if they aren’t willing to change when they are confronted over their mistakes, they have to go. Abbott couldn’t do this.

When his colleagues saw the writing on the wall, they warned him. When that proved insufficient they acted out of self-interest, which wasn’t evil, malicious or morally wrong. With an election a year away and their leader’s blunders still compounding, they knew their time for action had come.

You have to ensure your staff are really on your side and are helping you, or sentimentality or a misplaced sense of loyalty could bring you down, just like Abbott.



[1] Graham Richardson, “Malcolm Turnbull Shows Hypocrisy’s Alive and Well in Canberrra,” ‘The Australian,’ 18/9/2015.

[2] Nikki Savva, “Malcolm Turnbull will Succeed if He Remains True to His Word,” ‘The Australian,’ 17/9/2015

[3] David Crowe, “Tony Abbott Just Left Everything Too Late,” ‘The Australian,’ 18/9/2015.

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