AT IT AGAIN: Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
AT IT AGAIN: Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Rick Rycroft

Spoiler up to old tricks on warming

I'M NOT a commentator, but...

The Federal Member for Warringah's at it again.

In London, addressing the Global Warming Policy Foundation (rather than being in his own electorate, serving his constituents), he made the mind-boggling claim that climate change could actually be to mankind's benefit.

Now, despite the name of that foundation, it's actually a group of sceptics and should possibly be subject to some kind of false advertising laws or something. So, old Tony was amongst friends. Especially when one considers that their past speakers included such esteemed Australians as George Pell.

What Abbott claimed was of course true. At present, more people globally succumb to cold than to heat factors. But you cannot take that factoid in isolation and completely disregard the evidence that also points to climate change possibly resulting in a four-fold increase in heated-related deaths in Australia alone by 2050. It is therefore only logical to assume that more people will eventually die from the effects of climate change and more severe weather events that such change will foster, than do currently freeze to death. That doesn't actually chalk up a "win" for society.

But of course, in true Tony form, he shaped his speech to appease a receptive audience. It's now got to the point where we have to really question what does he actually stand for?

As a member of the Howard Government, his role in the inquisition and subsequent gaoling of Pauline Hanson remains a rancid stain on the Australian political landscape. The irony hasn't escaped me that some of those most upset about the Turnbull coup are now amongst One Nation's new groupies.

As PM, Abbott was just as consistent in going back on his word as he was with keeping it.

Both as PM and since, he has repeatedly shot his mouth off without first putting his brain in gear. Threatening to "shirtfront" Vladimir Putin comes to mind.

As the self-appointed Minister for Women (yeah, clearly that was a really sick joke), he achieved absolutely nothing. No effective programs and no policies concerning domestic violence. He couldn't even let Rosie Batty have clean air, with his proclamation of Prince Phillip's knighthood on the very day the domestic violence campaigner received her award. Of course, one cannot actually accuse old Tony of deliberately obstructing the national focus on Rosie's campaign but it was such an ill-thought-through thing to do. And it really spoiled any immediate momentum to Rosie's year. But then again, that's what Tony Abbott does best. Spoil things.

Don't get me wrong. As Opposition Leader, he was brilliant at it. But Opposition Leaders don't always make for great nation builders.

Why is he still tolerated within the Liberal Party? Given the current government's tenuous grip on a majority, they can ill-afford either an Abbott on a really crossbench or a by-election.

He promised when he was dumped from the leadership (by a number greater than that with which he had previously deposed Turnbull, I might add) that there would be "no wrecking, no undermining and no sniping". Yet that's precisely what he continues to do. He's Rudd on steroids but with no chance of becoming PM again. Even the most strident members of Team Abbott could not be that seriously delusional.

Instead of doing the decent thing, as many past PM's have done, he has chosen not to travel the road to Statesmanship. Instead, everything carries that whiff of vindictiveness. He's intent on doing Turnbull slowly but without the style and panache of Keating.

Still. He provides regular fodder for the world's satirists. But not because he's funny. Like an amateur stand-up who never goes further than the pub talent quest, he's failed to know when the joke's over.