By MARGIE ABBOTT
During 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.
Tony and I made a decision that we would do everything we could to insulate the girls from the rough and tumble of political life. 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 firsthand, 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 child care 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. Sometimes that optimism has seen him undertake some home renovations and projects that I wish he had left to others, but that optimism has been a steadfast quality in my life and in the lives of our girls.
In recent weeks, it has become clear to me and the girls that there is a very deliberate campaign underway 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 and have decided to speak up in response to these personal and groundless attacks.
Tony gets women. He is surrounded by strong women. Tony grew up with three sisters, he has three daughters, he is supported by a female Deputy in Julie Bishop and he has always had a female chief of staff.
Our three daughters, Bridget, Louise and Frances are living the life that feminists aspire for every young woman. Bridget is studying radiology, Frances is studying design and Louise is now living and 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. They in their own way have influenced their father’s thinking.
Tony was the first political 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. He understands the pressures and joys families face, because we face them as a couple, and as a family, every day.
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 compete in 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 1,000kms this year raising $150,000 for the local women’s refuge raising much needed funds for a facility protecting women at risk? 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 every day and the challenges facing our country that 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 and the father my children adore, has some agenda against women – Bridget, Louise, Frances and I know it’s not true.
Margie Abbott is a mother, community child care operator and wife of the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Tony Abbott MP. This article was first published by News Limited here and has been republished with full permission.
Has there been a campaign to undermine Tony Abbott’s credibility with women voters? Do you think that Tony Abbott is popular with women voters? Does Margie’s writing change your view of Tony Abbott?