Federal Politics


Abbott's greatest hits in book form is 50 shades of free

Provided you have an internet connection and a capacity to type, anyone can be an author these days.

E.L. James certainly did it with 50 Shades of Grey. The world-famous ''mummy porn'' trilogy started life as a self-published e-book and has gone on to sell more than 60 million copies. Daring to dream, yesterday Tony Abbott got in on the act.

Gathering Coalition MPs and staffers in the opposition party room, Abbott launched A Strong Australia, a best-of collection of his speeches this year.

The Opposition Leader wasn't shy about the achievement, noting the vast amounts of ''intellectual toil'' involved in producing the ''landmark book''. Granted, the 146-page tome may not contain much new content, but it did have some glossy pictures of a pensive Abbott on a plane and a caring Abbott reading to a child.

It was also his first e-book.

Available free on the Liberal Party website, within hours of the launch some 2000 copies of A Strong Australia had been downloaded. Surely the film adaptation can't be far away.


Elsewhere in Parliament House, others weren't having quite as much success in the self-publication department. Yesterday morning, Labor MP Steve Gibbons tweeted that the Liberal leadership team comprised of a ''gutless douchebag'' and a ''narcissistic bimbo''. The Bendigo backbencher then concluded that both Abbott and Julie Bishop should be sacked. However, soon Coalition MPs were calling for Gibbons to be booted from his deputy chair position on a parliamentary committee.

Amid the outrage and re-energised concerns about misogyny, Gibbons backtracked a tad: ''Apologies to those offended by my use of the word Bimbo. I'll replace that word with 'Fool'.'' He later tweeted that he apologised ''unreservedly''. Julia Gillard had also been in touch; sometimes its pays to have an editor.

In question time, a rather glum-looking Gibbons sat with his hand on his chin as Bishop resumed her cross-examination of Gillard over the AWU affair.

For a brief moment it appeared that the House would be spared the 1990s fixation, as Abbott asked the first question on matters Israel and the Prime Minister's authority within caucus.

However, Bishop was soon back, wondering if the PM had written to WA authorities, vouching for the AWU Workplace Reform Association (aka the fund o' slush). Gillard was more concerned that Abbott appeared to be reading along to ''every word'' of the question, ventriloquist style. ''Get up and ask it yourself and then I'll answer it,'' the Prime Minister dared the Opposition Leader.

In the end, it was up to Bob Katter to diversify proceedings, with a surprise bid to suspend standing orders, so his Murray Darling Basin motion could be debated.

''Read my history book!'' he declared, telling members to go and buy a copy of An Incredible Race of People for $35. ''One of the chapters in it is about the Thiess brothers, who built the Snowy Mountains project.'' No one really understood what he was on about, but at least it wasn't the AWU. And hey, good on the guy for writing a book you have to pay for.