A Leopard in the Political Jungle

20 / 04 / 2015

Running with us for the first time as a News Feature, we’ve got our Bonza Sheila Susan Mitchell, author of Tony Abbott: A Man’s Man (Scribe 2011)  giving us the low down on why this leopard will never change his spots, regardless of the faith his dwindling supporters and colleagues continue to bestow in him.

“Leopards never change their spots” is an old saying but a true one. Spots are crucial to their survival. They act as a form of camouflage when they are stalking their enemies.

Tony Abbott is a leopard. His spots are there for all to see and he has no ability to change them.

From his earliest days in student politics it was evident that his main aim was to stalk, fight and kill his prey. He honed his skills by executing vicious verbal attacks on feminists, gays, lesbians, anti- royalists; indeed anyone who wished to change the traditional male conservative Catholic DLP values he held most dear. For him politics was always aggressive; just another form of war. He loved the male rituals, the sanctioned aggression, the respect for fixed rules and the closed society of the team. Even his years at Oxford University were noted for his boxing not his academic skills.

His enemies are still not only his political opponents but those people who are  pro-Republic, pro-abortion , pro-euthanasia, pro-stem cell research, pro-a-belief in climate change, pro-equality in marriage and employment opportunity.

Like all leopards, he is very capable of camouflage. He is very skilled at blending into the environment if the situation demands it.

Like all leopards he is stealthy, cunning and adaptable when in pursuit of his goal.

Why else when he was caught out lying to the ABC about his involvement in the slush fund to destroy Pauline Hanson, did he smile and say that wasn’t the same as misleading parliament.

Why else did he  attack a dying man, Bernie Banton,  for not being “pure in heart” because he was attempting to get an expensive drug onto the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and then  when attacked by the media, call him a “good bloke?”

Why else did he promise no changes or cuts to health, education, pensions and the ABC before the last election? His motto and his camouflage has always been that it is better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.

And yet, despite his history, there are many Australians who still believe that he can change. His colleagues, having called a spill motion on his leadership want desperately to believe he can change.

If the situation is tough enough, he can certainly appear to have changed. He is very skilled at blending into the environment of change and consultation.

Never forget the South Australian Senator Sean Edwards to whom Abbott promised a revision of the process awarding submarine contracts in order to get his leadership vote.  Never forget how the Senator was publicly humiliated only 24 hours later when it was clear that he had falsely believed in his leader’s word.

All those people who changed their vote in Abbott’s favour at the last election know they have been conned. The disapproval polls reveal the extent of his betrayal.

Those rusted on voters and pundits who excuse his behaviour by saying that he has had difficulty “transitioning from Opposition leader to Prime Minister” should face up to the fact that he will never be any different. Why else would he continue to impose his long held adoration for the British royals by making Prince Philip an Australian knight?  He never dreamt that it would make him a national laughing stock. He is a 58 year old man.  His spots are deeply ideological and part of his essential nature.

Some argue that he has already shown us that he can change by agreeing to drop many of his policies and rid himself of certain budget barnacles like paying for visits to the GP or deregulating the Universities. That is not change. He has not been persuaded that these policies are wrong. Or unfair. He has simply faced up to the fact that they are not going to be passed in the current Senate.

Political pragmatism and survival instincts have demanded that he assume his camouflage and bide his time. Make no mistake. He will always be ready to reintroduce them when the enemy is weak.

Leopards are furtive by nature and a powerful force to be reckoned with. Their jaws are so strong that they can take on prey much larger than themselves.

Tony Abbott has proved what a devious strategist he is in the political jungle and should never, ever, be underestimated.

When he is caught out and responds with a cheeky grin or a stubborn, stony stare, his behaviour is typical of an experienced political animal who expects to get away with whatever he does. He assumes that any errors of judgement or policy will either be forgotten or forgiven especially if he appears to have changed. His previous constant backtracking over an emissions trading scheme is proof that he will say and do whatever he chooses if it suits his political purposes.

Now that he is sweating under the shackles of neighbourhood watch, his policies are subject to constant slipping and sliding according to wherever the political wind blows him. This pattern of deception is one that he has repeated on countless occasions and will continue to follow.

Every day he survives as Prime Minister is a victory for him. He lives on to stalk and trap and eventually kill his prey. These are his defining spots and they will never change. His opponents both inside and outside his party should never forget this.


Click here to read our Bonza Sheila interview with Susan Mitchell.

Susan Mitchell’s most recent books are:

“Tony Abbott: A Man’s Man” Scribe 2011

“Margaret & Gough: The love story that shaped a nation” Hachette 2014

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