I have spent a bit of time with Tony Abbott, I know him reasonably well. I think he's a decent bloke who gets his kicks out of service to others. My Aunt taught him at the Jesuit school St Aloysius - I'm told he was like that as a boy. One feature I don't see in him is paranoia or Machiavellian plotting against competitors that so many politicians seem to be driven by.
I have an opinion about him because I know him and I follow what he's up to - so I'm regularly surprised to hear reasonable people who don't know him rip into him as a misogynist, liar, incompetent, old-fashioned etc etc etc.
I always ask why they feel that way. Very rarely I'll hear a personal story or observation as to how that person arrived at that opinion. But a considered, informed opinion is rare - I almost always hear the well-used ALP slogans delivered with that insider smirk and a bit of a superior, informed laugh. You know, the Abbott thing - you know what he's like?
Many of you have sent me notes about this story by Paula Matthewson published on the ABC's website The Drum yesterday.
Ministry reshuffle built on paranoia, not progress
Tony Abbott's ministry reshuffle may appear to be a reset in preparation for 2015, but in reality it is more about the PM's paranoia and tenuous leadership than it is about his Government's rejuvenation, writes Paula Matthewson.
Prime ministers usually reshuffle their ministry to provide a fresh aspect on their government while hopefully also evoking a sense of stability through the regeneration. But with one or two exceptions, like the promotion of Ley, Abbott's reshuffle is characterised by concessions to antagonists, throwing competitors in the deep end, and leaving the deadwood to atrophy.
Abbott's reshuffle may superficially appear to be a reset in preparation for 2015, but in reality it is more about the PM's paranoia and tenuous leadership than it is about his Government's rejuvenation.
Paula Matthewson is a freelance communications adviser and corporate writer. She was media advisor to John Howard in the early 1990s. She tweets and blogs as @Drag0nista. View her full profile here.
You can find Paula's bio here. This week Paula's into the Prime Minister for changing his Cabinet. Just 7 days ago she was into him for not doing it:
Does the ministry 'stability' border on stagnation?
In an effort to display stability Tony Abbott has resisted calls to reshuffle his cabinet, but that has meant keeping some deadwood from the Howard years and stifling ambitious backbenchers, writes Paula Matthewson.
During the Howard government years, the prime minister often took the opportunity to refresh his ministry by reshuffling it just before or after the Christmas break.
When done before Christmas, the reshuffle gave new ministers time to familiarise themselves with their portfolios and reduce the chance of newbie mistakes once the Parliament resumed in February.
Reshuffles conducted in January helped give a sense of renewal without upheaval, using the dawning of the new year as a way of drawing a line under the previous year and looking ahead to new and fresh perspectives and approaches.
This of course presupposes that Abbott is still in a position to do so. It's too early to gauge the true extent of combined party room angst over Peta Credlin's management style and the unshuffled ministry. Ultimately, it will be a different concern - that over the Government's poor electoral standing - that leads to the most destructive type of party room unrest.
Tony Abbott generally resists pushing himself into the limelight. He doesn't do as many press conferences as did the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd "team" and he tends to ignore campaigns against him rather than taking on the people behind them.
Paula's two articles, just 7 days apart, are a good insight into the problem Tony Abbott faces. At the ABC and other leftest refuges "something I think is good" immediately becomes "something I think is bad" when I find out it was done by Tony Abbott.
A Labor mate of mine says the problem for Labor is that the more you get to know Tony Abbott the more you like him - whereas the more you get to know Bill Shorten........
Tony Abbott would do a lot better if more people knew him.