News

Tony Abbott: a ‘sharp pencil’ or an economic dumbo?

WHEN you introduce politics into a column, 50% of readers will be with you, 50% against you.

So it was not surprising I got a few complaints that I was being too tough on Tony Abbott in last week's article.

One person pointed out he was a Rhodes Scholar and therefore must be a sharp pencil.

Fair enough, but he's a bit of an enigma.

In his recent address at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, Abbott became the darling of the rich and famous when he said governments should stay out of people's lives and leave things to private enterprise.

Immediately he got home to Australia he announced that he was putting aside $20 million to provide couples with relationship counselling.

How's that for consistency?

So just how apt is the comment that as a Rhodes Scholar Abbott must be sharp?

Abbott's history is remarkable, to say the least.

He left Sydney University with a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Economics.

In the early 1980s as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, he completed a Master of Arts in the philosophy, politics and economics course designed for people eyeing entry into political life or journalism.

He returned to Australia and jagged a journalism job at The Bulletin magazine, then The Australian before becoming Dr John Hewson's press secretary from 1990-1993.

In a 1994 by-election Abbott entered the Federal parliament.

Far from laying claim to being a proud economics graduate, Abbott can be judged by his comments to an assemblage of politicians, high flyers and prominent economists at a Melbourne Institute knees-up nearly three years ago.

In defence of his Direct Action scheme over the market-based approach to climate change favoured by the world's prominent economists he said: "Maybe that's a comment on the quality of our economists rather than the merits of argument."

In attendance was the now-boss of Treasury, senior economist Martin Parkinson.

In 2003 he said: "I have never been as excited about economics as some of my colleagues. I find economics is not for nothing known as the dismal science."

Clever words, but is there more to the man than a disdain for economists?

Celebrated academic economist, now Professor John Hewson, employed Abbott as his press secretary and speech writer in 1990.

Hewson later described Abbott as functionally "innumerate".

Former Treasurer Peter Costello described Abbott as a "DLP stooge and economic illiterate". Julia Gillard described Abbott as an "economic simpleton".

So what do you think? Sharp pencil or dumbo?

For the record, the DLP (Democratic Labor Party) was a Catholic party set up by the highly politicised Melbourne Archbishop Daniel Mannix and Catholic bigot Bob Santamaria in the 1950s.

What do you think about Tony Abbott?

This poll ended on 11 March 2014.

I think he's doing a good job under difficult circumstances - 18%

It's clear by now he has no idea - 66%

I'm still waiting to be pleasantly surprised - 5%

He's everything I expected, and then some - 9%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Topics:  bob lamont, economics, gladstone, opinion, tony abbott




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

THE EXPERT: Stop judging working mothers

SUPER MUMS: Being a working mums comes down to perfecting time management.

"WORKING for money is all right; so is working because you want to.”

OPINION: How to prepare your child for day care

Your kids will love childcare, but it may take some adjusting.

GETTING your child ready for day care is vital.

MUMS' TOP 5: 'Musts' to have on your childcare checklist

SOME FALL SHORT: Organisations that train childcare workers will be subjected to extra audits.

SENDING your child off to day care can be daunting and confusing.

Health and nutrition with kids - how do you balance it?

HOW important is health and nutrition in your household?

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Technology and kids: Do you ever cut their wi-fi?

Check out our new video series featuring mums having a chat

VIDEO: Van rolls on its side at Kirkwood Rd

A van has flipped on the corner of Kirkwood Rd and Harvey Rd.

A SUZUKI van has flipped onto its side in Gladstone.

‘Fashion boot camp’ for Gladstone models

Carla Jayne-Smith, owner of Runway7 Boutique.

“ETIQUETTE guru” and a fashion stylist to teach Gladstone models.

Jail for ‘hot’ cards

Gladstone Court House, Yarroon Street.

Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer

Officers found credit cards in different names

Latest deals and offers

Kirkwood Rd car crash

A Suzuki van crashed on Kirkwood Rd today, flipping on its side. Gladstone Fire and...

Van flips on Kirkwood Rd

A van has flipped on Kirkwood Rd, and police are diverting traffic.

Vivid timelapse

Screenshot from timelapse of Sydney's Vivid Festival

This timelapse shows Sydney's Vivid Festival

Three bedroom, 1100sqm block: Is this Qld's cheapest home?

BARGAIN BUY: Is this North Bundaberg property the cheapest home in Queensland?

Becoming a real estate mogul is all about risk and reward

PROPERTY BOOM: Coast prices set to skyrocket

Like other areas in south-east Queensland, the Sunshine Coast is at the start of the upturn on the property clock.

Values predicted to rise 25-33%