When this new Tony Abbott biography by Susan Mitchell landed on my desk with a press release recently, I was slightly taken aback to read my name at the top of the back cover and featuring prominently at the top of the press release.
“If he’s elected as our PM in the future I would be very scared for women everywhere.”
– Mia Freedman
I’m often asked to write quotes for books and if I believe in the book and its author, I often agree.
However permission to publish this one was neither sought nor given. Technically, I guess can’t complain, the words were originally mine, indeed they appeared right here on Mamamia but the context was not.
I have never read the book, never met the author and had no contact with the publisher, Scribe Publications.
So did I write that sentence? Yes, I did. In a post here almost two years ago.
The day Tony Abbott became Opposition leader in December 2009, I wrote this strongly worded post about my concerns for women based on his history of opposing fertility choices such as abortion. This included his past attempts as Health Minister to over-rule medical authorities when the legalisation of the abortion drug RU486 was being introduced into Australia.
A bid that was only overturned when the women of Emily’s List came together from all sides of politics to defeat his proposed legislation.
I knew he was a deeply religious man and I worried that his religious views would inform his political policies.
Some of what I wrote turned out not to be true. Tony Abbott is not against contraception nor fertility treatment. I ammeded the post and refused all interviews with media who wanted me to ‘speak on behalf of women’ about what his new role meant. I couldn’t possibly be a mouthpiece for ‘women’ and I didn’t want to become a spokesperson for or against any political party or leader.
Soon after that, the editor of the Women’s Weekly, Helen McCabe who knew us both, brokered a breakfast meeting. She’d discussed my comments with him in a wide-ranging interview for AWW (the one where he spoke about his view on virginity as it pertained to his daughters) and he was keen to meet me.
I was initially wary because I had extremely strong views about Tony Abbott and I was disappointed that the Coalition had dumped Malcolm Turnbull for him. But how could I say no?