Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The Abbot Experiment

By Simon Grose

A political career is different to any other in the highs and lows it offers, and it almost always ends badly.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

One theory affirmed by the failure of Tony Abbot’s prime ministership is that all political careers end in failure, a rule affirmed by the fates of predecessors Julia, Kevin, John, Paul, Bob, Malcolm, Gough, Billy, and John. (Bob Brown is the exception that proves it).

Anyone engaged in scientific research knows that more experiments fail than are successful, and you often learn more from the failures than the successes. Abbot’s failure is a window into the potential for greatness and desolation in a political life.

Consider the (true) story of a man who boarded a Qantas plane in New York early last year for the haul back to Sydney. After settling into his Economy seat, he received the kind of invitation that can inspire belief in a gratuitously beneficient almighty: “Would you like to move up to Business, sir?”.

Padding up the aisle past the luckless 99%, who does he find behind the hallowed drapes but (then) Treasurer Joe Hockey heading for the same seat. Joe was coming down from First because it’s a bad look for pollies to fly at the front of the plane where the wine is finer and the food diviner.

The stewards deferred to the Treasurer’s imperative. But rather than sharing the joy by upgrading a real Business passenger, they ushered our man further forward to Joe’s seat in First. As he looked around he found himself sharing the elite...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.