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The year is 1994, and in an alternate universe where women rule supreme, Belinda Marsh interviews newly elected member for Warringah, one Tony Abbott.
As he snips off some fresh parsley from one of the many pots resting on the kitchen windowsill, Tony Abbott explains how he loves to use fresh herbs on the food he cooks for his family whenever he can.
‘Now that I’m, ahhh, a member of parliament, I know life’s going to get busier, but I’m, ahhh, sure that Margie will, ahhh, help where she can. She has been pitching in recently. She even, ahhh, stacked the dishwasher the other night.’
Tony looks radiant in a Vivienne Westwood apron – the perfect match for his Zegna blue tie – as he sprinkles organic Himalayan salt into the pasta sauce he’s made that’s bubbling away happily on the stove. He busily makes a Vegemite sandwich for his daughter Louise, who has just turned five.
‘She won’t, ahhh, eat the pasta. She’s a bit fussy about her food, so when I make her a sandwich, I, ahhh, at least ensure she has organic wholegrain bread instead of white.’
So how do you juggle it all, Tony?
‘Ahhh, well it just won’t lie down and die, will it? I have a lot of, ahhh, support systems in place. Our family and friends help out if necessary, but we also have a nanny, which is, ahhh, a bonus. In my vision for Australia, every working family should have one.’
Do your children think that the nanny is their real father?
Tony’s laugh tinkles merrily off the kitchen tiles.
‘Well, ahhh, shit happens. It’s, ahhh, every working father’s concern, but I think it’s important for my daughters to see that men can, ahhh, indeed work and raise a family at the same time. I want to raise, ahhh, non-sexist women who will understand their future husbands.’
Tony is excited about becoming the Member for Warringah. He knows that his family life may suffer, but is positive that with regular exercise for stress release (he cycles at four every morning before the children wake up), he’ll manage just fine.
‘Margie occasionally has to, ahhh, get up to Bridget if I’m not back in time,’ Tony says. ‘Margie’s my rock. She took a half-day to take Frances to the doctor last month.’
Margie Abbott, Tony’s wife, is the CEO of ‘Yet Another Big Bank’.
‘She has said she’ll help out even more now that I’m in, ahhh, Parliament, and has offered to pay for a cleaner to, ahhh, scrub the bathroom from now on.’
He keeps slim and stunning through his regular cycling routine, and is ultimately very careful with his diet.
‘I like to eat well, but, ahhh, not too much. I fuel myself with good, ahhh, fresh food, because it’s important for me to be on the ball both at work and at home, and also make sure that I still fit into my, ahhh, lycra cycling pants and budgie smugglers. I should cut back a bit on extra-curricular cardio activity, like, ahhh, wall-punching, for example.’
Tony especially loves competing in charity bike rides. ‘I like to, ahhh, raise money for those in need. Jesus blessed the poor and believed in helping them, so I do too. Anyway, now that I’m an MP, I will be able to, ahhh, claim back the money I spend on inner tubes, hotel stays and whatnot, no questions asked.’
Do you have any messages for other working fathers out there?
‘Be prepared to delegate. Also, being super-organised helps. Lists are a lifesaver!’