Election profile: Tony Abbott

Opposition leader Tony Abbott says he would keep some tax increases announced in the mini budget.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has long been a key political figure in the federal arena and if the polls are right he's about to become Australia's next Prime Minister.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has long been a key political figure in the federal arena and if the polls are right he's about to become Australia's next Prime Minister.

And as things stand Mr Abbott looks likely to benefit from a bizarre period of Australian politics with the scriptlines of a soap opera and the intrigue and brutality of a murder mystery.

But as the alternative Prime Minister of Australia, just who is Tony Abbott and what would he bring to the nation's top job?

(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

Tony Abbott's viewpoints on family, gay marriage and immigration and Indigenous affairs have cast him as a conservative politician.

Nicknamed the "mad monk" because of his time spent studying for the Catholic priesthood, he is sometimes unpredictable and a consummate performer in parliament.

After losing the previous election following a deal between Labor and the Greens and Independents in a hung parliament, Mr Abbott badly wants to be Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has set the election date as September 7 and Mr Abbott says the time has come for the Australian people to have their say.

"I am ready, my team is ready, you've watched us for three years, you've seen the unity, you've seen the stability, you've seen the strength. We won't let you down."

Tony Abbott was born in England, to Australian parents but in 1960, his family returned to Australia moving to Sydney.

He graduated from Sydney University with a double degree in Law and Economics and gained media attention for his political stance opposing the then dominant left-wing student leadership.

Mr Abbott received a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University where he obtained masters in Politics and Philosophy.

Tony Abbott is also an avid sportsman.

He took part in various boxing competitions during his time at Oxford, winning two prestigious Blue awards in the process.

Before his move into politics he worked as a journalist and was a feature writer for 'The Bulletin' and 'The Australian'.

In 1990, Mr Abbott became press secretary to the then Leader of the Opposition, John Hewson.

For a short period in 1994 he was the Executive Director of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy.

That was also the year he entered federal politics, being elected to the House of Representatives as the Member for the northern Sydney electorate of Warringah.

He went on to develop a reputation as a robust parliamentary debater and a shrewd political tactician.

When he was promoted to Cabinet in 2000, then Prime Minister John Howard described him as an effective performer with an endearing style.

However, the then Opposition described him as a "bomb thrower."

And Mr Abbott has admitted that he's not always perfect.

"I'm certainly not a perfect human being. I make mistakes as all of us do. Perhaps I make more than most people, Mr Speaker. But when I make a mistake I apologise and I attempt to make amends."

Over the years questions have been raised about Mr Abbott's ability to connect with Australian women and his personal political style.

As Health Minister in the Howard government Mr Abbott was involved in controversy in 2006 for opposing access to the abortion drug RU486 and was subject to immense criticism over his attitude towards women.

However, the Parliament subsequently voted to strip Health Ministers of the power to regulate this area of policy.

There is little doubt that Australia's precarious balance of political power has produced some of the most aggressive politicking in recent years.

Partly because Labor has clung to a minority government, but also as a result of Tony Abbott's personal and combative political style.

Mr Abbott has been accused of trying to paint Julia Gillard as untrustworthy, and as well as attacking her on policy he has repeatedly focused on her gender.

Julia Gillard says Tony Abbott is too negative, sexist and lightweight to run the country, something he denies.

"I have this piece of advice for the Prime Minister. This is not about gender. This is about character and Prime Minister you have failed the character test. // The leader of the Opposition is not a decent man and he is not a man who can be relied on to go to the facts of matters. Well the leader of the opposition has had his opportunity to put up. Having so frankly failed to put up, now he should be shutting up."

Mr Abbott has also alienated many gay and lesbian voters by opposing gay marriage and saying he did not feel comfortable with homosexuals.

But he says he's relaxed his views on homosexuality, although his opposition to same sex marriage remains.

Mr Abbott says he no longer has the strong views he held years ago.

"Faith is important to me. It's important to millions of Australians. It helps to shape who I am. It helps to shape my values. But it must never, never dictate my politics. Judge me by what the considered view today is, not by throw away lines and off-hand comments of 35 years ago."

Mr Abbott also takes a firm stance on potential asylum seekers.

He espouses a policy of temporary visas, overseas processing, and returning boats where possible.

Mr Abbott says the Howard Government was successful in stopping asylum seekers from arriving in Australia by boat and he is prepared to do it again.

"The Coalition is the only political party in the parliament which has had a border protection policy that has been proven to work. John Howard found a problem, he crafted a solution. Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd found a solution and they crafted a problem. A disaster on our borders."

Mr Abbott lives in the northern Sydney suburb of Forestville with his wife and his three daughters.

To hear this profile go to the World News Australia Radio website

Source SBS

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