By MAMAMIA TEAM
During this election campaign, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s family have been front and centre. Two of his daughters, Bridget and Frances Abbott have, in particular, stepped firmly into the media spotlight.
These young women have spoken up in their father’s defence after embarrassing gaffes (‘sex appeal’, anyone?), had feature articles written about their lives in national newspapers, and today Bridget and Frances introduced the Opposition Leader to the stage, at the official launch of the Coalition’s election campaign.
Abbott’s daughters introduced their father to the stage, emphasising their close relationship with their dad: “Today we want to tell you about our dad. Like all dads, our dad has been known to embarrass us,” the pair said.
“Our dad is not just a politician, not just a Rhodes scholar, or an author, not just a volunteer firefighter or a lifesaver, not just a husband and a father. He’s something else as well,” they continued. “Tony Abbott is also a netball dad.”
The girls then shared anecdotes of their father watching them play from the sidelines at sports matches. “For us, he’s not just the guy on TV, he’s the man, along with our mum, who’s helped us become the women we are today.”
It was a genuinely lovely speech. Watching two girls who are clearly big fans of their dad, gush about a man who they so authentically want to see achieve his ambitions. But then again – is the endorsement of family members really all that relevant? After all, the Abbott girls aren’t exactly unbiased.
Here’s some video of the Coalition’s election campaign launch held earlier today:
Tony Abbott’s daughters are articulate, photogenic, and intelligent – and have undoubtedly played a role in softening their father’s image. Indeed, they seem to have played a large part (with a bit of help from mum, Margie and Abbott’s chief of staff Peta Credlin) in turning the public perception of their father’s attitude towards women around.
‘How could Abbott have a ‘women problem’, when he clearly loves his daughters so much?’ is what the spin doctors, no doubt, want you to be thinking.
The concept of a First Lady (or increasingly, a First Lad) is a common one in Western politics. Traditionally, spouses have often played a role in their politician partner’s election campaigns. Talking to the media, providing moral support, and standing on stage throughout many a speech announcing yet another policy change.
Hazel Hawke. Tim Mathieson. Michelle Obama. Hillary Clinton. Now Bill Clinton.
But this election campaign has seen the rise of new campaigners, hitting the road alongside our would-be Prime Ministers: their children. And it’s not just the Abbott clan.
Jessica Rudd – and her daughter Josephine, the Prime Minister granddaughter – has been seen alongside Mr Rudd at functions and events, as well an snapped in a number of selfies (Kevin is, after all, big on social media).
After the warm introduction from his daughters, Abbott started his speech by saying: “I am so proud of my girls. I am proud of my family that has given me so much. I am so proud of my team and I am so proud of our country.”
But should the children of politicians be spending so much time in the media spotlight? Is there a danger of, particularly young adults, being used for a particular political end?
Do you think the children of politicians should be playing such an active role in the election campaign?