My old enemy Tony Abbott will make a great PM


1994 … Me, far right, with Tony Abbott, John Hewson, John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop during Abbott’s 1994 election campaign / Pic: Supplied Source: News Limited

This article first appeared in The Daily Telegraph Thursday September 5, 2013.

BY 7:30 pm Saturday September 7, for all intents and purposes, Tony Abbott will be Prime Minister of Australia.

One must always be prepared for things to go badly wrong at any time during an election campaign, but it’ll need to be something quite exceptional for Tony Abbott not to comfortably have the numbers to form government.

The Tony I know is still kind of a mystery to most Australians – even those who think they’ve come to know him, probably don’t quite get it. Now it’s all actually happening and he’ll soon win, many will wonder what he’ll be like as PM?

Will Prime Minister Abbott be different to his predecessors? Will he in fact be different to Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition? Yes to both, and he’ll be different in many ways to anyone else we’ve seen as PM.

You should be very happy about that by the way, because the real fairdinkum Tony Abbott has the capacity to do great things for our Nation. One of his biggest challenges will be keeping on being himself, and we need him to do that.

My first contact with Tony was when he phoned me to discuss Liberal Party selection for the seat of Warringah. It was very early 1994 and he’d worked out he needed to neutralize my influence to have a fair chance of winning party selection.

He came to my office in Manly and made his pitch. It was simple – he wanted me to free up selectors to vote based on their own judgement. He wanted to be sure I wouldn’t influence selectors against him.

I went further than he requested. I was clear to those I could influence that they should vote for the best candidate – if they judged that to be Tony Abbott, then they shouldn’t allow anyone to persuade them otherwise. It made the difference – Tony became the Liberal candidate for Warringah through merit.

So what’s he like? Well Abbott is a bloke, a real bloke, not the latte sipping skinny jeans insipid type that commonly passes themselves off for that, but an actual man. He is as well educated as any PM Australia has had, but he’s without the refinements of the, ‘ruling class’.

He was a competent Rugby player and Boxer, he’s athletic, he’s a Rural Firey and he likes a beer. In many respects, Tony Abbott is what at one time was called, “a good style of a bloke”, and hence of a kind, ‘traditional’, Labor would’ve been proud to call their own.

Smart but not pompous, Tough but not a bully, Traditional and with values, but also pragmatic – for the Liberal Party, Tony Abbott is an Enigma, and they should be very glad they have him.

There’s been quite a bit of blood spilt between Tony and me – few have as much reason to dislike him as I have, but such is not the case, for I always understood and accepted what motivated his actions.

Despite this aggressive history Tony and I share, I have a great deal of admiration for his abilities. With the exception of odd moments, for nearly twenty years I’ve maintained the view he’d be Prime Minister one day.

In recent times, Tony has taken some king hits, all of them unfair and unfounded, but his opponents know perception is everything, even when utterly at odds with the truth, so there is a picture of Tony that isn’t accurate.

He has sometimes aided the knockers by not addressing matters as well as he could and on occasion, I’ve wondered if lies about him had so shattered his confidence that he’d not be able to bring his strengths to the job?

However, once in office, the experiences on the road to where he is now should return the strengths and self-confidence that could help make him our most successful PM this century.

There were big hurdles to stay Opposition Leader after the 2010 election and I’ve noted a loss of direction and confidence, but Tony will likely remember he came to where he is through a conservative driven rejection of the Carbon Tax and Left leader Malcolm Turnbull – such will help guide him.

I believe Tony Abbott will lead for Australia and in our peoples’ interests. He will not be overcome by international flattery, nor moved by criticism from those whose agenda does not serve Australia. Even if I’m only half right, he’ll do a better job than most who came before him.


  1. David, I think this is a very generous assessment of a former an “old enemy” and reflects at least as well on you as it does on Tony Abbott.

    Did your disagreements have their genesis in your co-operation with Pauline Hanson who, as I understand, was intensely disliked by Tony Abbott?

    1. Thank you Rita, most kind. It’s a long story, but in essence, yes, it was all about One Nation and its creation.

  2. Oldfield can always be trusted to be honest and brilliantly objective … the facts speak for themselves. Oldfield put our Country first when he decided to establish One Nation to successfully push the the Libs back to the Right. In doing so he sacrificed a prominent career in the Liberals. If I were Tony Abbott, I’d be on the phone to Oldfield tonight to ask him back … for our Country’s sake.

    1. Good God Stuart, I didn’t think anyone ever picked that! You are most kind thank you for taking the time to comment.

  3. Yes indeed Stuart, I concur. I loved listening to David on 2gb a few years back, I wish he was still there. You are a very forthright and engaging man Mr Oldfield.

    1. Thank you Sandy – much appreciated. I hope to one day return to radio – we’ll see.

  4. Great article David and also miss you on the radio. You could cure us all of that and rejoin politics. I wholeheartedly concur with all of the above comments and would like to add that I thought TA has never spoken so fluently, eloquently or confidently, as he did in his victory speech. My thought was that he no longer had to carefully and meticulously consider every word that he utters. How hard the last few years must have been and show how disciplined, professional and ready to govern he clearly is. I’m sure he will make a brilliant PM.

    1. Linda, thank you for your words of support, most appreciated. Glad you found the article worthwhile. We have good reason to expect great things of Tony – he is very capable and I’m hopeful he will be himself, that’s what we need him to be.

  5. Hi David

    A great read, but I’m not sure your “favourite” Listener ‘Mick from Bankstown’ would agree with you. LOL

    1. Thank you Terry. I expect you’re right about Mick’s view!

  6. While David would be an asset to any political leader who knows how to recognise and use outstanding talent, I think he is an even greater loss to the airwaves. He was absolutely perfect for talk-back. Strong views, no cowardly waffle waffle when it came to defend them, yet intelligently and courteously argued. If they go through the very contaminated ABC with a wire brush and dettol, David would be excellent there.

    PS: I just realise that I speak of David in the third person…but this was meant as an answer to some comments above re his radio career.

    1. Most kind of you Rita, Thank you.

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