Any fears that the Tony Abbott Testimonial Dinner on Sydney’s north shore last week would be a rather maudlin or depressing affair were quickly scuppered, as the former prime minister arrived to something akin to a rock star greeting. With well over a thousand paying fans packed into the Miramare Gardens lavish dining room (where it should be pointed out both the food and the service were exemplary) the atmosphere was upbeat and celebratory in an event that was a fitting tribute to our 28th prime minister.
Superbly MC’d by 2GB’s Alan Jones, who took to the stage armed with his trademark passion, wit and acute observations, the evening featured glowing speeches from Prime Minister Scott Morrison as well as former prime minister John Howard and former deputy PM Warren Truss. Along with a short film produced by Sky News and Mr Abbott’s former chief-of-staff and now formidable TV personality Peta Credlin, the fans were treated to a packed show of Tony Abbott’s greatest hits, including such perennial favourites as: ‘Defeating Labor not once but nearly twice’ (wild applause), ‘Three free trade deals’ (hearty applause), ‘ The response to the downing of MH17’, (sustained applause), ‘Early recognition of the threat of Da’esh’ (cheers), ‘Record infrastructure spending’ neatly segueing into ‘Badgerys Creek’, (polite applause), ‘The 2014 budget putting us back on a road to surplus’ (loud applause) and of course his number one smash hits ‘Scrapping the carbon and mining taxes’ and ‘Stopping the boats’ (foot stomping, cheering, standing ovation, ‘encore!’, etc.)
Of course, no honest testimonials about Tony Abbott can ever be complete without discussing the minnow in the room (who mercifully wasn’t in the room), Malcom Turnbull, and despite all the speakers referring obliquely to the disgraceful actions that terminated Mr Abbott’s prime ministership many years before the electorate would have, it wasn’t until Peter Dutton took to the stage that that particular boil was finally lanced, to the relief of all. In this week’s cover story (see page ix), we reproduce Mr Dutton’s excellent speech, delivered with humour and affection and received rapturously. Mention of the events of 2015, although done tastefully and obliquely, nonetheless elicited hisses and murmurings of disdain from the crowd. Sensing the mood of the room, Mr Jones bluntly chastised those present who had been party to the betrayal of Mr Abbott, and who no doubt were squirming uncomfortably.
But in a clear indication of how history will view those events, the response to mention of the Turnbull coup was less one of anger as of profound disappointment and regret: what a tragic waste of Mr Abbott’s formidable talents and extraordinary track record of achievement that he was sacrificed a mere two years into the job purely to satisfy the jealous rage and ambition of a talentless narcissist and his grubby, toadying acolytes, nearly all of whom have now disappeared into well-deserved obscurity and infamy.
But as usual, it was Tony Abbott and his self-deprecation that provided the climax of the evening, as he congratulated Scott Morrison on his election victory. As Mr Abbott pointed out, not only was it a ‘miracle’ in its own right, but the 2019 win transformed what history would have recorded as an embarrassing government (the Abbott-Tumbull years) into a powerful, successful Liberal achievement (the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison years), and for that Mr Abbott wittily expressed his gratitude.
A fitting farewell. Or could it be that, as with John Farnham, Crowded House, Dame Edna and others who play their ‘farewell’ tour, that we haven’t seen the last of Tony Abbott, rock star, quite yet?
The horrrific scale of the current bushfires sweeping across much of New South Wales and Queensland is in and of itself a tragedy, but it is compounded by the stupidity and arrogance of the very people who shoulder the majority of the blame for this disaster: the Greens. There is more than ample evidence to show that the religion of environmentalism (so closely related to the cult of climate change) has for decades now quite literally fuelled the current bushfires. The severity, scale and ferocity of these bushfires is clearly the result of a failure of leftist authorities to manage appropriately our vast bushlands, where, for example, some have made it illegal for landowners to collect the ‘firewood’ – ie dead scrub – from bushland areas during the winter months in order to ‘protect animals that make homes there’. To then blame ‘climate change’ for the ensuing maelstrom is as obscene as it is factually incorrect.