Australia (almost) has a new Prime Minister: Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott
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Last week I wrote about my personal perspective on Australian politics and the upcoming election.  As I write, it’s Saturday evening in The Netherlands and I’m watching and listening to Australia’s soon-to-be new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, give his victory speech on ABC News online.

As someone who isn’t enrolled to vote in this particular election and didn’t, I’m not sure I am even entitled to an opinion.  I’m living in The Netherlands at the moment and didn’t feel strongly enough about any of the candidates to vote.  However as I mentioned in my previous post, I am challenging myself – and others like me who have “sat back” for a long time – to take a more active role and interest.  I was born in Australia, spent the majority of my life there, am an Australian citizen (if not current resident).  I have a dual national (Dutch Australian) husband and two dual national children.  So here’s just a few of my thoughts as I try to work out how I feel about this, and how it will affect me, my friends and family.

One emotion is concern.  I’ve had enough “anti-Abbott” posts flooding my Facebook feed  in the last few days to make me aware of the fact that there will be several people I know – and probably a lot of others – who are not at all happy with this outcome. I’m concerned about why some people were so strongly against him to begin with and if their fears are truly founded.  Another concern is that there may be some “bad loser” type attitudes, with people ready to attempt to tear down a new leader before he’s even properly begun.

Another is curiosity.  I’m wondering what this change will mean for my family and friends in Australia.  How it will affect their day to day life.  How it might affect mine – a dual national Australian living overseas.  Also curiosity about this man I know quite little about who will now become the “face of Australia”.  To “get to know” someone in the public eye objectively, I think the Tony Abbott entry on Wikipedia is a good place to start.  I’ve only just scanned it but see he was born in London!  That kind of surprised me actually.  I would be no means object to someone not Australian-born rising to this level of leadership, so long as they fulfilled other requirements, but it was just not something I was expecting.  Actually as I read a little further, it’s an interesting life he’s led!  It’s late now and I’m tired so I’ll discontinue the “getting to know Tony Abbott via Wikipedia” session, however I am keen to keep an open mind.  He has now been elected and I respect that and will continue to aim to observe objectively.

My third emotion at the moment is resignation.  I have to say, the 9 minute speech I’ve just watched on the ABC news report doesn’t particularly move me or warm me to him personally and I’ve felt this way the few other times I’ve seen Tony Abbott in the news.  In fact, I was more emotionally involved by the Obama Victory Speech in 2008 – even though I have no real connections to America!  As I commented in my previous blog post on Australian politics though – whether we like someone or not, or even whether we voted for them or not, once they are put into power by a democratic election, he has an important job to do and I strongly believe deserves our support.

Interesting, actually, that I find myself writing “our” support.  Though I am writing this in The Hague, The Netherlands and have no idea when I will actually be an Australian resident again, I (obviously!) still consider myself an Australian.  I certainly hope there will be no new legislations that will threaten my dual nationality, or that of my husband and children. Certain circumstances have led me to live away from Australia right now but Peter Allen sure hit the nail on the head all those years ago with “I Still Call Australia Home”!  I have lived between Australia & The Netherlands for the last decade and am sure I will continue to have strong ties to both countries for the rest of my life (hence founding this website & community!)

So to close this blog post, here are the closing sentences of Tony Abbott’s speech.

“I thank you the people of Australia, who have just given me the greatest honour and the heaviest responsibility any member of parliament can have.  I am both proud and humble as I shoulder the duties of government.  The time for campaigning has passed and the time for governing has arrived.  I pledge myself to the service of our country.”

Regardless of who is the current Prime Minister, Australia is a wonderful country and will remain so.  There will always be major issues on which people disagree, but I am glad that the democratic system of government allows a chance for regular new leadership. The previous 27 Australian Prime Ministers have all brought both strengths and weaknesses to this position of power, and I know Tony Abbott will do the same.  I wish him every success.

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