"It's time to move on for Tony Abbott, the Onion King."

Toby Halligan tries to unpack Tony Abbott’s last week in politics. And it only ends in tears.

Well, it’s happened. The Prime Minister has officially broken through the comedy barrier and become a political performance artist, bewildering the entire world and rendering all satire redundant.

Thank god he was touring an onion farm, not a cattle ranch.

MORE: Tony Abbott calls living in Indigenous communities a ‘lifestyle choice’.

With the chomp of a single onion Tony Abbott has made writing comedy about him pointless. Tony Abbott now is to politics what Puppetry of the Penis is to theatre.

At least when you’re performing the “hamburger” at a hens night you still have your dignity.

As a professional comedy writer typically my process is, when trying to find humour in the often dry business of the state, to unpack a particular moment and try to get inside the head of the person in question.

But understanding how Tony Abbott came to this particular decision is hard. Is it just campaign 101 for Tony? Babies are presented you kiss them, hands are presented you shake them, when an unpeeled, raw onion is presented, you eat it?

Remember this was a zero risk event. There was literally no pressure of any kind. Tony was presented with a scenario most 8 year olds are happy navigating. You’re presented with something in an inedible state and the question is: Do I Eat This?

Is it possible that the Prime Minister has simply never encounter an onion before? No. He apparently declared afterwards: “Better than any other onions I’ve eaten in a long time”.


Of course, our leaders have eaten strange things before. Who could forget a young Kevin supping on his own ear wax?

But Tony’s wasn’t an unguarded moment – it was a staged media event.

So how has the world responded? With bewilderment. There’s this from internationally renowned newspaper, the Washington Post, which contains this particular gem:

“Chomping into a raw onion as if it were an apple is an unusual thing to do.”

Hail the masters of understatement at the Post. That’s like saying: “Trying to eat a live raccoon is a bad idea” or “driving with your teeth is unsafe”.

And there’s this headline from the New Statesman: “Australia’s PM bit into an onion in the manner of an apple, skin and all, as if it’s a normal thing” with the sub heading: “Weird bloke, this bloke, isn’t he.”


READ MORE: Tony Abbott as Minister for Women: A Report Card.

While I enjoy a laugh, this comes off the back of a week when the Prime Minister responded to a United Nations report that characterised Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers as torture, by declaring “the UN would have a lot more credibility if they would give some credit to the Australian government” for stopping boat arrivals.

Tony Abbott’s “intemperate” response to the UN’s feedback went global. The BBC, International Business Times, and many, many other outlets carried the story of the stoush between our Glorious Leader and the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez. The quite horrifying, substance of the report aside, arguing with someone with a title like that is like kick boxing with the Tooth Fairy, or mugging the Easter Bunny.


Of course he also shocked the Indigenous community when he responded to a plan to withdraw funding for remote communities by saying: “What we can’t do is endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have”.

READ MORE: Tony Abbott makes a St Patrick’s Day video. Manages to offend almost everyone.

The Irish community were also mortified when he sent a message to two Irish business associations that included the line “the English made the laws, the Scots made the money, and the Irish made the songs”. Both declined to find room in their schedules for the PMs message.

And that’s just this week.

It’s been said by “serious” commentators that the Libs would be a laughing stock if they swapped leaders and that seems like a real barrier for some within the party to dumping Tony. But Tony’s gaffes are piling up so quickly he makes George W Bush look like Winston Churchill and he appears incapable of doing anything without provoking fury or ridicule.

The PM’s become one of those circus clowns you don’t know whether to laugh at or cringe from.

At least this guy knows to peel the damn onion

I used to hope Tony kept his job because he makes mine easier. But now I’m looking forward to a Prime Minister who isn’t a professional punch-line, whoever they might be (though I’d prefer the change happen after comedy festival).

The Onion King has left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth for long enough.

Toby writes for Channel 10’s The Project and runs Political Asylum, Melbourne’s best political comedy room. He’ll be performing his latest show ‘The Bad Gay’ in Canberra and Melbourne