Tony Abbott

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Anthony John "Tony" Abbott (b. 4 November 1957) is a conservative Australian politician, who is the current Prime Minister of Australia and parliamentary leader of the center-right Liberal Party of Australia[1]. He has held a seat in parliament for the state of New South Wales since 1994. He rose to prominence under the government of John Howard, working as Minister for Health and Ageing from 2003-2007, where he was a vocal critic of abortion, describing the practice as 'a national tragedy' [2]. In terms of public perception, Abbott is generally seen as a devout Catholic, and the media has given him the nickname 'Mad Monk', as he once wanted to become a priest.

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Early Life & Education

Tony Abbott was born in London on November 4, 1957 to Australian parents. In 1960, the family returned to Australia, taking up residence in Sydney. He attended two private Catholic boys schools in Sydney.

He completed a Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Law at the University of Sydney, where he was an active student politician and keen boxer. Abbott then attended Queen's College at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and gained a Master of Arts. Upon his return to Australia, he entered the St Patrick's Seminary in Manly, where he studied to become a Catholic Priest; however he left before completion to take up a role as a journalist for the Bulletin (a now discontinued weekly political and cultural magazine) and The Australian (a Monday to Saturday conservative newspaper).

He is married to Margaret Abbott, together they have 3 daughters.

Politics

Elected to the Australian House of Representatives in 1994, Abbott has had various portfolios including Minister for Employment Services, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Health and Ageing. As Minister for Health and Ageing he was known for speaking out against both abortion and the use of embryonic stem cell research. He was always against the drug RU486 which is used for non-surgical abortions; only by a conscience vote in 2005 was the 1996 ban lifted [3] [4]. Like most conservatives in Australia, he supports the constitutional monarchy in Australia. Lately, Abbott has spoken on the issue of climate change in Australia, stating that it is 'absolute crap', however later he said this wasn't his 'considered position' on the subject. [5]

On 1 December 2009, after more than 15 years representing the Liberal Party of Australia, he became the party's leader after the popularity of previous leader Malcolm Turnbull began to fall. He fought against the Australian cap and trade equivalent "ETS" (emission trading scheme), which has been called 'the single worst piece of legislation to be foisted on the Australian public' by respected environmental scientist Professor Bob Carter, who acted as an expert witness on climate change before the U.S. Senate Committee of Environment & Public Works, the Australian and N.Z. parliamentary Select Committees into emissions trading and in a meeting in parliament house, Stockholm. He was also a primary science witness in the U.K. High Court case of Dimmock v. H.M.'s Secretary of State for Education, the 2007 judgement which identified nine major scientific errors in Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth. [6] [7] [8]. The ETS bill was later rejected by the Australian Senate and only 2 Liberal Party senators voted for the bill while even the Greens voted against it. [9] [10]

Popular culture & Polling

In the Australian public, Abbott is known for being socially conservative, as well as his passion for fitness [11] , his pro-Christian policies and his colorful language. [12] [13] Due to Abbott's arguably populist image he has struck a chord with many conservative suburban voters who previously supported John Howard and has closed the gap in the polls, with the Coalition overtaking Labor on primary votes for the first time since 24-26 November 2006. His climate change policy has also won over many moderates who previously thought that the coalition had no credentials, 45% of those polled preferred Mr Abbott's plan compared to 39% who supported Kevin Rudd's ETS. [14] [15]

References

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