One of the constant slanders of Tony Abbott is that he is misogynist, doesn’t understand women, and works against their interests. This is despite the evidence speaking against this slander. As my book on Tony Abbott in which I refute this slander, is ready for publication, it is useful to include here the testimony of someone who knows Tony better than anyone else, his wife Margie. The following is an intervention Margie thought necessary during the 2013 federal election when the abuse reached its peak.
DURING my husband Tony’s 18 years as a Member of Parliament, I have never sought to enter the political fray or to publicly comment on issues.
As the girls were growing up, Tony and I worked hard to keep politics out of our home.
It was only at the last election, with the girls old enough to make their own decisions, we decided as a family to get involved and get out and campaign with Tony.
We wanted to get involved because we are very proud of Tony and we know first-hand the type of man he is really is.
Tony has always supported me in everything I have done from working at different times while the children were growing up, going back to study as a mature student and then working as a director of a community childcare centre.
As a father, he has always been the softest touch and has a gentle manner that has not changed as our girls have grown up.
He is, in my life and theirs, the most optimistic person you could meet. Obstacles are simply seen as challenges to overcome.
In recent weeks, it has become clear to me and the girls that there is a deliberate campaign under way trying to raise doubts about Tony and his relationship with women. As the woman who knows him best and who has lived with Tony Abbott for over 24 years, I know these distortions are not true.
Tony gets women. He is surrounded by strong women. He grew up with three sisters, has three daughters, is supported by a female deputy in Julie Bishop and has always had a female chief of staff.
Our daughters are living the life that feminists aspire for every woman. Bridget is studying radiology, Frances is studying design and Louise is now working in Europe.
Our girls are educated, confident, grounded and happy young women making their own way in the world and the love and support of their father has played a big part in that.
Tony was the first leader of a major political party to put the case for a paid parental leave scheme – and not a paid parental leave scheme based on a minimum wage, but a paid parental leave scheme based on a replacement wage. Tony gets these issues because we face the challenges most families face.
We’ve raised three children, been paying off a mortgage, battled traffic, juggled work and family, and have always tried to give something back to the family, friends and community that have given us so much.
The people who run the negative arguments about Tony do women a disservice to suggest that somehow, because a man has the cauliflower ears of a rugby player, continues to play sport and spends a fair number of weekends volunteering as a firefighter or lifesaver, that somehow it is all proof that he is a boofy bloke who is anti-women.
If Tony was anti-women why did he cycle 1000km this year raising $150,000 for the local women’s refuge? That same ride also raised over $500,000 for Carers Australia.
Tony does get women, he just doesn’t get bad policy and a bad government. He was a minister for nine years, so he can debate issues on their merits.
It is issues that face families daily and the challenges facing our nation should be debated and not untrue, personal attacks.
I’m not a politician and I enjoy a private life, but I won’t stand by and let others claim that the man I love has some agenda against women. Bridget, Louise, Frances and I know it’s not true.