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January 31st 2012 print

Michael Duffy

On Tony Abbott

He has become, at least to outward appearances, a man more ordinary.


Eight years after Michael Duffy published his joint biography Latham and Abbott he returned to interview the politician still standing.


The extraordinary rise of an ordinary man

by Michael Duffy

When I wrote Tony Abbott’s biography eight years ago it was clear there were two sides to his character. One was a blokey, sports-loving and typical Australian male, complete with an accent broader than you find in most people who grew up in Killara and went to Oxford University. The other was a highly educated man influenced by his time at Oxford and all it represented, including the monarchy, and a passionate supporter of conservatism in general and the traditional Catholic Church in particular.

I asked myself if this more exotic side of his nature would prevent him connecting with ordinary Australians deeply enough to have a chance of becoming prime minister. He himself had once expressed precisely that fear.

Last week I met and talked with Abbott for the first time since my book came out and I think there is an answer to the question. Abbott has connected – the last Nielsen poll ranked the Coalition’s two-party preferred vote at a whopping 57 per cent – and there is a reason for this. He has become, at least to outward appearances, a man more ordinary.

Read Michael Duffy on Tony Abbott at the Sydney Morning Herald