Dear Mr Abbott
There’s been a lot of discussion of late about the behaviour of politicians and a lot of chest beating about why no one wants to go into politics anymore. Despite my political beliefs, my feeling is that both sides are as bad as each other. The Right Honourable Senator Brown was the only leader who displayed – well – leadership, amongst other admirable qualities. He will always have a place in my heart for having the courage to stand up in parliament and ask, no demand an answer from President Bush about David Hicks, long before he became a cause célèbre. It is heartbreaking to now watch the Greens descend into what looks like university politics, and I’m afraid their inability to grasp that politics is the art of compromise, means they won’t be a force for good, for much longer. But I digress.
Anyone considering a life dedicated to the greater good, a life of public service, would be forgiven for taking one look at Canberra and running a mile. Politics has become a cesspit. And who wants shit on their shoes?
But the Gillard Government did something pretty spectacular this week. They ate humble pie. When Angus Houston released his report into Asylum Seekers, according to the ABC News tonight “the Labor Caucus didn’t blink”. Prime Minister Gillard stood up, stood in front of the nation and said the time for politicing on this issue was over. It was time to deliver what the people wanted – action – and she set about enacting a policy that she campaigned against, that she must in her heart of hearts believe to be wrong. She sucked it up for the greater good and got on with the job of leading.
I think Prime Minister Gillard is one hell of a woman, she’s stood tall when I would have taken my bat and ball and gone home, bawling. But what she did this week is a measure of the woman she is, a measure of the leader she is and I will be exceptionally proud to vote for her in the next election. And I know I’m not alone. Prime Minister Gillard reminds me of the lyric from the Everything but the Girl song, whose name escapes me right now, but goes like this:
“When we meet what we’re afraid of, we find out what we’re made of.”
I’m afraid the same lyric came to mind this evening watching your and your colleagues performance in parliament today. You had the opportunity to put politics aside and stand up and behave in a decent fashion. You had the opportunity to show yourself to be the leader you proclaim yourself to be. You could have taken the high ground Mr Abbott, and scored some incredible political points in the process. But you didn’t did you. You and your mates couldn’t wait to run to the low ground and sling mud. And what a political opportunity you missed.
It’s that sort of behaviour that I think will ensure you never become Prime Minister of this country. Nobody I talk to, not even the most died in the wool blue ribbon Liberal supporters can bring themselves to vote for you. They don’t trust you. And today you showed them and the nation, exactly why. You showed us all what you are made of. Today, you could have been gracious. Today, you were anything but.
It takes courage to admit you were wrong. It also takes courage to make decisions that you might not necessarily like, but need to be made for the broader community. It does not take courage to say “I told you so.”