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Eye-witness describes behaviour of young Abbott

September 4, 2013

Comment, opinion, compilation

By Barry Tucker

Much has been written, including denials, about the behaviour of Tony Abbott during his college and university days. Almost without exception, Abbott has denied claims relating to misbehaviour, including sexual assault. What is not denied is his drinking, his aggressive campaigning against student unions and his dumping of his pregnant girlfriend, Kathy Donnelly, because he wanted to take up a Rhodes Scholarship (singles only need apply) and become a Catholic priest (celibacy implied).

I have been asked to read the material below and to consider whether it should be published. In view of Abbott’s denials of some allegations relating to his behaviour as a young man and the fact that he could be Australia’s Prime Minister within a few days, I have decided it is in the public interest to publish the information below.

I know some of the people who led to this information being presented to me. I am satisfied that the information is genuine and given sincerely. Its author is a lawyer, but the identity of the source will be protected. Minimal editing has been done, to ensure clarity only.

Abbott at Sydney University. ACP Library pic

Abbott at Sydney University.
ACP Library pic


The original email (part of a long email conversation with about 80 cousins, aunts and uncles, was a response to me saying that [Abbott] had too much of the swaggering bully about him for my liking. Her response:

Dear Cousins,

I have known Tony Abbott since school. Us St Vincent’s girls debating team went to Riverview for the normal debating night to find that the team from our year wasn’t there to debate us but the year above us was. Tony Abbott was in that team. I don’t remember the topic or the context but I remember that he said something so sexist we were outraged and we didn’t even know what sexism was at that stage. Then the adjudicator, a fellow student in their year, determined that the girls were better debaters but the boys won because it was his school.

So in my first meeting with him he was a sexist cheat and that didn’t change. At university he was a thug. He regularly smashed up (tore down posters and smashed furniture) [in] the women’s room in the SRC. He thought that was a great joke to show the women what idiots they were.

I don’t know if it was related but he ran the anti-abortion campaign. At the same time at least five girls from the Catholic girls’ college Sancta Sophia came to the women’s collective to say they were pregnant to him and didn’t know what to do. That was why years later he acknowledged that boy as his own* even though it turned out he wasn’t. He refused to help pay for an abortion (no one wanted to tell their parents and they were quite expensive for a student) or help them in any way. He told them they should have the child as the Christian thing to do. He took no responsibility and couldn’t even keep it in his pants or use a condom. **

He came down to the SRC one day with a group of his thugs from John’s college, armed with the usual weapons of bats, to beat me up. He thought I had done something to the cars of the boys of Johns [college]. He was wrong in that I hadn’t done anything to the cars. The secretary of the SRC managed to pull down the steel grate and lock the door and call the police. They refused to come because at that stage the police regarded university students in the same way as they regarded domestic violence. Tony and his fellow thugs eventually left swearing and threatening further violence.

After that he joined the seminary. A year or so later he wrote for the Bulletin and wrote that the seminary had rejected him because he lacked compassion. He didn’t see that as a bad thing. He actually wrote it himself.

You may excuse him as just young at the time but someone who sorts things out by violence and refuses to take responsibility for their actions shouldn’t be running the country. I would not be proud to have a man who tried to beat me up as the prime minister. What would he do about Syria? Would you trust him to make that judgment?

<Name withheld>

The cousin (a lawyer) gave me permission to post to FaceBook, after I’d warned her that my privacy settings were for ‘Friends’, but that my friends often reposted.

<Name withheld>

End of quoted email

* This is a reference to an ABC sound operator who had recorded news interviews with Abbott. In 2004 Abbott embraced him as Kathy’s son, who had been given for adoption. A blood test proved he was not Abbott’s love child. Kathy died in 2011. Source: IndependentAustralia

The above link will take you to a lengthy and detailed article on Abbott by Clint Howitt, a retired teacher of English and History. He also served as an officer in the RAAF and as a lecturer at the Queensland Police Academy.

** “I think I would say to my daughters if they were to ask me this question … their virginity is the greatest gift that you can give someone, the ultimate gift of giving and don’t give it to someone lightly. That’s what I would say.” — from David Marr’s Quarterly Essay. Political Animal: the making of Tony Abbott.

On 14 September, 2012, before Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp decided to rabidly support Tony Abbott,’s controversial Gemma Jones wrote an article about Abbott commenting on his “childish behaviour” at Sydney University.

On August 5, 2013, The Australian (News Corp) apologised to Ms Barbara Ramjan for articles it had written about her allegations that Abbott punched a wall on either side of her head at Sydney University. Take your pick from these stories.

The article referred to above quoted Liberal “power broker” Michael Kroger as saying Ms Ramjan was a serial liar and a ”nutter from the Left”. His accusations were repeated on The Bolt Report (Ch10 partly owned by Murdoch) and Alan Jones’ breakfast radio show on 2GB. Mr Kroger has so far refused to apologise to Ms Ramjan. ”I have not apologised and I do not intend to apologise,” the former president of the Victorian division of the Liberal party said.

Mungo MacCallum is a veteran of the Canberra Press Gallery. He knows Abbott from the period of the John Howard government. In Methinks Abbott’s wife doth protest too much, he highlights some aspects of the other campaign — to present Abbott as something acceptable to the broad electorate.

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