Laurie Atlas

S&M: Whitehouse Scholarship – Abbott’s daughter could be yours

whitehouse scholarship
Image: AAP

Remember when your child was born, it was a love like no other.

“I will protect you, I will take a bullet for you, and I will walk in front of a car for you.”

But if you’re Prime Minister Tony Abbott, add one more:

“I will try and stop those who hate me from hating you.”

Recently news broke that Frances Abbott was the beneficiary of a Whitehouse scholarship at the Whitehouse Institute to complete a design degree. There are some unproven and since denied allegations out there thatPrime Minister Abbott’s daughter Frances received a scholarship not on merit but on the basis that she was then the daughter of a prominent politician who was soon to be Prime minister.

With regards to the disclosure of the scholarship, Claressa Surtees, who acts as the registrar of the Parliamentary Pecuniary Interests registers, says that there are only “general statements” about what is declared and nothing in regards to scholarships. However, in the same register there are declarations such as Mr Abbott’s and his daughters involvement in 2013’s Myer Fashion launch in Melbourne despite their own personal finances funding the travel and accommodation expenses. Tony Abbott claims he has fully complied with the disclosure rules and I agreed when he said recently that “family should be off-limit when it comes to political contention” and the Guardian are most certainly “obsessed” with dirt digging.

This may be a rare scholarship but I believe there has been a massive over-reaction by both the media and public, which serves as nothing more than a red herring to discuss the real issues concerning the Australian public.

I don’t see as many hateful images and articles written about the recent accusations that a slush fund paid for ex-PM Julia Gillard’s property renovations. Education-focused nepotism is unfair, sure, but so is having union money to fund your personal household needs.

Allegations floating around media and especially on social media, containing fragments of half truths which would not stand up in a court of law is simply subjecting an unelected individual to cruel ridicule so haters of Tony Abbott can get their daily jollies. Whitehouse school of design’s Ian Tudor announced on ABC’s The Drum that in the 10 years he has worked with the college, “various types of scholarships” have been awarded by both the Institute itself and entities associated with the Institute. Frances Abbott has been the second recipient of this Whitehouse scholarship, Ian Tudor announced.

I would ask Abbott haters who would not have to put up with this for one minute if it involved former Prime Minister Gillard or a member of her family, to grab a mirror and some perspective.

Laurie Atlas

Laurie Atlas is a radio host and has a daily afternoon talk show called ‘The Daily Agenda’ that goes out every afternoon on stations right across Queensland. And just a little piece of quiet advice for the Prime minister before the next election. Go to a store by 3 pairs of socks and gently insert them into the mouths of Joe Hockey, Eric Abetz and George Brandis just as a little safeguard between now and the next election….better to be safe than sorry.....

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8 Comments

  1. Jelly Bean said:

    I think the issue is that family is off limits for which I agree with the article. I also agree with you bobw and can see that Tony is doing some dodgy dealings but I think the hatred towards his daughter is uncalled for. Politicians can be scrutinized but not their offspring its really wrong and you guys wouldn’t be doing this with so much scrutiny (guardian or not the guardian if it was any other pollie. It has nothing to do with the publication who prints it the big smoke prints heaps of anti-abbott stuff this is about not attacking kids

  2. bobw said:

    With all due respect, the author has either failed to familiarise himself with the facts that have emerged, or is ignoring their implications. Those facts would seem to be as follows:

    1. The “scholarship” was not advertised; there was no formal application or selection process; and funding was offered to Frances on the personal initiative of Leanne Whitehouse – prompted, it would seem, by Les Taylor, an Abbott donor and family friend, and Whitehouse board member. The award of the “scholarship” was never announced or publicised by Whitehouse. None of these things have been denied by Whitehouse, Taylor, or any of the Abbotts.

    2. It is arguable that Abbott should have noted the “scholarship” on the Parliamentary register of pecuniary interests. He did not.

    3. In 2013, Whitehouse sought the approval of TEQSA, the federal government regulator, to offer a Master’s level course for the first time. One of the students profiled in its application was none other than Frances Abbott.

    4. While the accreditation process was still ongoing, and after Abbott had been elected Prime Minister, he and his wife attended a function at Whitehouse at which he was publicly “teased” by Leanne Whitehouse about the difficulty involved in obtaining TEQSA approval for a course. Later in the evening, the Abbotts were taken away to a VIP room where they shared Dom Perignon with Leanne Whitehouse, Taylor and others. Other relatives and friends of Whitehouse students were charged $60 for the privilege of attending the function; the Abbotts paid nothing.

    5. Whitehouse was subsequently granted TEQSA accreditation for its Master’s course.

    6. Whitehouse stands to benefit significantly from the Abbott government’s policy of extending public subsidies to private higher education providers.

    7. These details have emerged as the Abbott government attempts to implement a policy that will leave most university students facing significantly increased post-graduation debt.

    8. Frances Abbott’s relationship with Whitehouse continues – she is currently employed by Whitehouse, and will be one of the first students to commence Whitehouse’s Master’s course.

    If you think that the issues raised by these facts are wholly out of bounds because discussing them would involve nothing more than an “attack” on Frances Abbott then you have a very strange view of what is in the public interest. Whether Frances was fully aware of the way she was being used by Whitehouse at the relevant time is unclear, but that is a side issue. The problems here are bigger than Frances Abbott.

    Claiming that anyone who is concerned about such things must be motivated by “hatred” is vacuous and does nothing to advance discussion of the “real issues concerning the Australian public” – quite the opposite, in fact. It is a needlessly reductive attempt to shut down debate.

    Incidentally, the suggestion (borrowed from Abbott himself) that The Guardian has been driving the story is wrong. Most of the spadework has been done by New Matilda.

  3. SundayGirl2 said:

    It’s completely different! He is the PM, she received a scholarship because he is the PM, no other reason.

  4. DUBIOUS said:

    I agree with this article and I also agree with you Vanessa. Thank you for contributing intelligently.

  5. DUBIOUS said:

    LOL Rabblerouser where do I begin. First of all, Gillard has copped hardly any ‘pasting’ over the AWU slush fund. It is barely mentioned. Newsfeeds are not inundated with hateful memes. Bombarded with smears and allegations? Sounds to me like you are trying to make it sound like as you call it ‘right-wing’ press are as violently irrational as you lot. I actually don’t even like Tony Abbott but come on mate don’t be so clouded by your own political beliefs that you can’t see a completely unfair personal attack on Abbott for weeks now which is just pouring out to his family. Protesting a school is a ‘reality check’ to you? There are a lot of scholarships available at whitehouse you lot are just picking hairs now. It suits you too because anger and irrational behaviour seems to be all the left are capable of at the moment. Which is a real shame, I was hoping for a better comment like the one below by Vanessa. I actually agree with her!

  6. rabblerouser said:

    I agree that the daughter should not bear the sins of the father but…

    There are several aspects of this article that disturb me, the primary ones being that the author has glossed over the fact that the scholarship is not advertised to the general student body and that the only two recipients of it so far have been the daughter of the then Leader of the Opposition heading into an election he couldn’t lose…and the daughter of the owner of the College. Put the pieces together people.

    Also to talk of Gillard not copping a pasting over AWU slush fund is nonsense. She has been bombarded with smears and allegations over this, mostly from the right-wing press, and to a far greater degree than in this situation.

    #realitycheck

  7. DUBIOUS said:

    Finally someone has the guts to say this. I know why people are angry re education cuts but come on it’s his bloody daughter. If your daughter had the opportunity to get a scholarship ‘easier’ because of who you were would you really say no? Come on be real people. Australian’s can be bloody hypocritical!

  8. Vanessa said:

    if you want to protect your child, don’t allow them to be courted by a private education institution for a scholarship that has only been once given before (to the founder’s son) while slashing university funding on the other hand. That’s just rubbing salt into wounds. Australia hates nepotism, it hates elitism, it hates when those that are hard up are kicked in the teeth.

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