Let us judge Tony Windsor on his own words. Here is his latest attack on Tony Abbott:
"He begged for the job, and he made the point, not only to me but to others who were in that negotiating period, that he would do anything to get that job. Anything to get that job.
”You would well remember, and your colleagues should be aware, that the only codicil you put on that was, ‘I will do anything, Tony, to get this job. The only thing I won’t do is sell my arse‘.
Yet back on October 11, 2010, we had an article in The Drum entitled, Abbott didn’t want the job, Windsor. In it, Glenn Milne reported on an interview with Windsor as follows:
Tony Windsor has revealed for the first time why Tony Abbott is not prime minister today.
Remarkably it was because in the crucial early days of negotiations over the formation of a minority government Abbott didn’t want the job.
In his first extended interview since the day he and fellow country independent Rob Oakeshott decided to back Julia Gillard over Abbott in a hung parliament, 17 excruciating days after the election, Windsor says the Liberal leader lost him because the formation of government seemed to come a clear second to Abbott’s rush to get back to the polls and re-run the August 21 election…
“I got the sense that during the first week of negotiations that Tony Abbott probably was more interested in another election. I think that was being reinforced from outside. I got a number of phone calls. There was a lot of noise about.”
Tony Windsor had rationalised his decision to back Gillard with the following argument:
Mr. Windsor later said he has favoured Labor because he thought Mr Abbott would want to rush back to the polls "because I think he would win".
"They (Labor) are more likely to be here for a longer period of time if they can’t go back to the polls in a hurry. They’ve got more to lose."
By September 2011, Windsor’s narrative had changed. After describing Tony Abbott as a “redneck” whose aggressive tactics had driven the independents ever closer to the Prime Minister, we read that:
Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor were critical of Mr Abbott for changing his position on the term of the Parliament. They said they asked him during negotiations to form government whether he wanted another election.
"He was offered an election and he refused and instead he begged for the job," Mr Windsor said. "Now he’s begging the constituency for another election."
Well, what are we to believe? The Windsor narrative is consistent only in its inconsistency. Returning to Glenn Milne’s interview in October 2010:
What Abbott signalled was a fundamental disinterest in the independents. He took them for granted as part of a larger power play, precisely at the moment they wanted the opposite to an election. Windsor, and to a lesser extent Oakeshott, made it clear from the start they were looking for the candidate who could best assure them they had the best chance of serving out a full three-year term.
Yet two years on, Windsor asserts that Abbott was a grovelling supplicant to the independents. Is Windsor fantasising or losing his memory? You be the judge.
Christopher Carr is an occasional contributer to Quadrant Online. Now retired, his interests include share trading, history, and bushwalking