Perceptions of Tony Abbott

One of the earliest lessons I learnt in polling public opinion was that the public wanted politicians to be honest, but didn't expect them to be, and that describing a politician as honest was a contradiction in terms. Against this is the strange case of  Tony Abbott where "honesty" is a core characteristic that is one of the two that define him - fitness being the other.

The Leximancer map shows "honesty" as a theme which overlaps with "seems" which is the largest theme. "Seems" indicates some level of doubt, but is linked with phrases like "seems to have some standards", "seems like an ordinary guy", or "seems more authentic than many politicians".


Unlike Gillard there are a number of terms which indicate emotional warmth. Abbott's occasional verbal stumblings are also mentioned approvingly. At the same time he also invokes great hatred in some respondents, so even while they were asked to nominate what they liked about him, many said there was nothing to like. Most of those are collected under the theme "Abbott". The Liberal Party name also cuts both ways. Some are approving, perhaps reflecting a weakness in the ALP brand. And others can't stand the Liberal Party.

The hate factor comes into stronger play when we ask respondents what makes them hesitate in thinking of voting for Abbott.



Interestingly the theme which is most closely associated with Liberal voters is "Needs". This is a general sense that Abbott needs to improve in a number of respects, often to do with "thinking before he speaks" or a variation on that. Many respondents don't like him because he is right wing ("Wing"), or "Conservative". Trust is also an issue for Labor voters. So, while his positive characteristics include honesty, his detractors accuse him of a lack of honesty.


"I think he says what he thinks without fear or favour."

"His honesty, straight forwardedness and I think humanity and a sense of some benign ability, that is not pushed to the forefront."

"He has strong core beliefs and you know what sort of policy and direction he will take."

"He is fit and young."

"Abbott is a far-right nutcase. I will emigrate if he becomes PM."

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0 #11 Popularity Polls looks as though it willKenneth Acushla 2010-07-19 18:52
Popularity Polls looks as though it will win the election. The real issues are not paramount in the minds of the media as to be politically correct is to be information incorrect.
0 #12 The unfortunate thing about speaking to wayne barnett 2010-07-19 22:22
The unfortunate thing about speaking to the media is that when it is put into writing we don't get to hear how it is said,the tone of voice ect.As such the reporters can then put their spin on it and make it out for something that it is not.We hear sound bites and rarely see or hear the full statement.We are led by what the media wants us to see and hear.
Therefore we see people like Mr Abbott and Ms Gillard speaking very very carefully.Measu ring every word they say because they know that they will be misquoted and taken out of context.
I believe that almost all elected pollies go into the job with only the best of intentions.Unfo rtunatly we have been fed the perception that all of them are liars and thieves whose only aim in politics is to get everything they can out of it for themselves.
This is far from the truth.
0 #13 I am dumb founded to hear that so many pKirsty 2010-07-21 11:55
I am dumb founded to hear that so many people are willing to vote a PM in simply because of her hair colour or gender!! Or people not willing to vote for someone because they have religious morals. So this means we have many Australians willing to vote for an incompetent party who have proved that they can't (or won't) hold to any of their promises and who feels no obligation to even try to tell the truth. Mr Rudd apoligised to the stolen generation but would not apologise to the 4 families who lost loved ones in the botched insulation scheme. THIS DOES NOT MAKE SENSE!
As for the complaint that the LNP supports big businesses/indu stries/the rich and only wants to tax the poor- look at the figures. Most Australians pay what
$15 000 or so in income tax a year- they are entitled to health care rebates, the stimulis packages, rebates for solar electricity/wat er tanks/home insulation etc. Whereas businesses and the rich pay millions in tax and are not entitled to those things- ah yes but they don't need it people say.. so they should pay taxes so everyone else can benefit but not themselves. Considering most businesses, entrepenuers and industry take huge risks and work hard for their money why should they keep footing the bill to run the country. People grumble that the GST may go up 5% but think it's fair to tax industry an extra 40%. It is the rich (individuals, businesses and industries) who keep this country alive. They should pay their taxes and should support the country BUT if the Gov't does not look after them then they will move elsewhere and then watch the GST rise!! It was our great economy and the safety measure put in place by the coalition that got us through the GFC.
0 #14 I find it difficult to understand why thElizabeth 2010-07-23 11:36
I find it difficult to understand why the benign Mr. Abbott - he of strong community spirit, he of strong values, which are not force fed to people - he of above average intelligence can be seen so negatively, by so many.

Clearly the above says I find Tony Abbott to be likeable, honest and highly likely to be a very good PM should he win the election.

Why do I think this? He actually cares more about Australia, Australians and their future than his opposite number who seems to care more about power than for honesty or Australia's best interests, no matter how much she attempts to show otherwise.

She is hollow, Abbott is not. He has depth and decency.
What is it someone wrote about two Queensland politicians recently?

One was a mile wide and an inch deep, the other an inch wide and a mile deep. In my mind Abbott is the latter.
0 #15 Tony thinks he is smuggling a turkey, whJohn Ward 2010-07-23 12:51
Tony thinks he is smuggling a turkey, when he is the turkey.
0 #16 I think the Liberal party should fight bdenise 2010-07-23 14:52
I think the Liberal party should fight back re budgie smugglers. After all Tony Abbott is a surf lifesaver and as such wears speedos. Are these people really making fun of sich an institution
0 #17 Too many of you seem to put faith in AbbSam 2010-07-23 15:48
Too many of you seem to put faith in Abbott's faith. Bear in mind, hundreds of catholic priests have tons of faith, yet are pedafiles. No reflection on Tony, just saying the the 'moral highound' often covers up atrocious sins, therefore one's belief or lack thereof should be ignored.
0 #18 My opinion is that I would prefer a compFrancis McGrath 2010-07-23 17:08
My opinion is that I would prefer a competent thief with integrity to an honest incompetent.
Lord save us all from well meaning men. Why are all the competent men dumped from positions of responsibility?
0 #19 Conservatives try to support people who Chris Phillips 2010-07-23 17:29
Conservatives try to support people who create wealth while socialists just tend to distribute it to those that make little contribution
0 #20 Oh Kristy, I had the opportunity to flyJohn Ward 2010-07-23 17:37
Oh Kristy,
I had the opportunity to fly for two days in 1979 in a 747 on the 'Lang Hanckock 70th birthday flight'. On that flight the captains of industry, in particular the mining industry and John Singleton, Joh Bjelke and Flo, International press etc.
We flew up the east coast over Fraser Island inland over coal fields of Qld, at each point we were addressed by the miners shown video promotional material and collected handouts. The emphasis on the enormity of the country and the opportunity before us of the wealth we are now beginning to see.
We then went across the NT uranium deposits out over the NW shelf Oil rigs, then down over the Pilbara.
At that point Gina Hanckock made this astonishing claim "My father and I have the potential wealth one hundred times greater than all the Arab Oil Sheiks potential wealth put together". And she went on to say" It will take one thousand years to extract the deposits we own at the rate we are mining".

How is that for resource security?? Some risk eh?

If anyone really thinks these corporates will walk away from that sort of wealth after they just raised the price to china by 100% over the last year to eighteen months, you will have to think again.
These types of people will still be mining when the planet is no longer livable.
I think the only thing today's miners will pull out is a sharp pencils to trim back profits on paper to avoid paying tax.

Menzies talked about ‘faceless men’ in the ACTU. Now our Tony uses the same slur. Yet, corporations are set up in such a way that the cowards behind them can snipe, lie and destroy lives and reputations with impunity.
Corporations are able to use the shareholder’s money to as we saw lately, defeat climate science at Copenhagen to reverse President Obama’s decision to suspend deep water oil exploration, to defeat mining taxes and ultimately use the Nazi infiltrated political system in this country to bring down a Prime Minister.

Kirsty, having truth on your side and science on your side is not enough when the laws of Limited by Guarantee allow directors to hide behind corporate ‘person hood’ to avoid responsibility for the harm that the do. The Chinese have the right idea; they do not recognise this legal fiction. They slam the crooks in jail and hold those that harm others to account, as the only way to combat the sociopaths that they are.

On asylum seekers; Egon Kisch was a Jewish communist and anti-war activist he was a vocal critic of Adolf Hitler’s regime.
When Kisch wanted to come to visit Australia in 1934, Menzies pointed out that “every civilized country had the right to determine who should or should not be allowed in”, and that “since Kisch was a revolutionary and that revolution involved violence, he was not to be permitted entry”.

Did you notice that nothing has changed?

As for Safety in roof spaces.Tony Abbott was Minister for Health in 2005 when 1,790 people died at work for the year and 39,510 people were fully incapacitated on his watch. He now has the gall to use the recent tragedies of 4 deaths at work for his political purposes.
This man has no shame.

If we suffered 34 killed in Afghanistan and 780 fully incapacitated each week, it would be a national tragedy.
The dollar cost to Australia of 2005 workplace losses was $Billion 57.5. ..

The Queensland workplace watchdog has refused to comment on the progress of the investigations or which, if any, charges it may consider in the insulation deaths.
It has also refused to name the companies involved.

In the case of Ruben Barnes, it refers to an apparent electrical fault in the ceiling cavity.
"A cable supplying the stove circuit was damaged by a ceiling fixing screw causing the supporting metal ceiling batten to become energised at approximately 240 volts."
The charge killed the Rockhampton 16-year-old on November 18 last year, despite desperate attempts by two of his workmates to resuscitate him. The roof space was a death trap before the poor kid went in there!