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Thu, 30 Apr, 2020

What Barack Obama’s team did whenever they were "really annoyed” at Tony Abbott

What Barack Obama’s team did whenever they were "really annoyed” at Tony Abbott

Barack Obama’s team watched Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech whenever they were “really annoyed” with Tony Abbott, one of the former president’s senior advisers has shared.

Former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said his team had often been frustrated at Abbott’s “tone-deafness” on the climate issue.

In an interview with news and politics comedy podcast A Rational Fear, Rhodes said he and others at the White House had regularly watched the 2012 clip of Gillard declaring she would “not be lectured about sexism and misogyny” by Abbott.

“I will tell you that whenever we were really annoyed with Tony Abbott, we would watch the video of that speech by Julia Gillard,” Rhodes said.

“That speech got watched a lot in the Obama White House, let me just put it that way.”

Rhodes said Obama had been able to work well with other centre-right leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Britain’s David Cameron, but Abbott was “far from his favourite leader to begin with”.

“What was frustrating with Abbott, you know, is he was kind of very sure of himself without really knowing what he was talking about,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes revealed Obama “went way off the script” to criticise the Abbott government for climate inaction at the 2014 G20 Brisbane summit after Australia reportedly resisted including the message encouraging countries to make pledges to the UN-backed Green Climate Fund.

In his speech, Obama abandoned a prepared paragraph about climate change and “went way off the text, and was just basically blasting the Abbott government in ways that he almost never did on foreign soil and pointing out the Great Barrier Reef disappearing”, Rhodes said.

“Abbott was upset,” Rhodes said.

“You know, this was supposed to be this big stage for him hosting the G20.

“But it’s like, well, look, if you want to host a G20, you’ve got to step up and be an international leader. And we’ve got everybody else kind of rallying around this effort to get to an ambitious climate agreement the next year in Paris, and Abbott was really one of the last holdouts dragging his feet.”

Abbott repealed the carbon tax legislation in the same year, a move denounced by environmental groups.