Friday, December 5, 2014

The Day I Met Tony Abbott


Have you ever met a Prime Minister?

I want to tell you my story of the day I met Tony Abbott, and what I said to him.

Though first, I remember the former Australian Government, and the time I shook the hand of the then Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in the large foyer of Parliament House in Darwin. It was like getting a photo with Santa: A long line, lots of anticipation, a quick wry smile from Kevin '07, and then a slight drooping of the shoulders from my wife and I, as we realised, this was just a handshake and we were not going to be gifted with new toys or given an additional baby bonus. You could sense the body language of the Prime Minister: 'How long is this line, and how long am I going to have to stand here and shake the hands of people I don't even know?!' and 'How humid is it in Darwin?!'

I did also shake the hand of the Liberal Treasurer, Peter Costello, some years back. Again, it was a quick handshake, a smile and one sentence that made me feel good about myself.  I'm not sure what I have gained in life by such handshakes, but I digress.

The day I met Tony Abbott.

Well, what would you have said? Now, be nice. We have a growing dissatisfaction with politicians today (atleast in Australian culture, though I suggest it is not much different in other Western world contexts). The problem is we not only hold them to account, but we trample over their self-esteem and we yell at them like they're a piece of rubbish. Irrespective of your ideology, politicians should be treated with respect. That being said, what would you say?

If I had my chance again I would've asked him, how he would feel if he was fleeing violence from his country of origin, and was locked up in a jail in Nauru. Maybe I would've asked him to suggest that Christopher Pyne smile a little more. I could've asked him whether he was a little harsh on Julia Gillard during her time in office.

Though, the day I met Tony Abbott, this is what happened. Prime Minister Abbott asked if I had any thoughts on how to develop leaders.We spoke about leadership development for some time. I spoke about the importance of Emotional Intelligence and developing the capacity to deal with all sorts of criticism. I suggested the need to empower people, to develop just economic policies and tips on how to clearly articulate any future governmental policy decisions.

The problem was... This was a dream I had last night. We did in fact speak of such things, but only in the imagination of my pre-frontal cortext or whatever area my dreamy brain was using.

I do wonder though, if I did have a chance to meet another Australian Prime Minister, whether I would just shake a hand, and stand, curious and in awe of the office of the Prime Minister, or whether I would have the guts to ask something of significance that would be for the betterment of Australian culture.

God willing, one day I will have the chance.

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