The Australian December 01, 2009 – Drew Warne-Smith and Natasha Robinson

A WEEK ago, when Tony Abbott determined to run for the opposition leadership, he did what he has always done at a critical juncture in his life: he rang Emmet Costello.

A “somewhat retired” 85-year-old Jesuit priest, Costello was formerly the chaplain at St Ignatius College Riverview, on Sydney’s north shore, where Abbott was schooled.

And for the past 35 years he has remained Abbott’s mentor and closest confidant; a man he credits as “the most important male influence on my life” apart from his father.

“Tony rang and said, I’m going for it; I’m going for the leadership, and could you remember me in your prayers,” Costello told The Australian yesterday.

“I said, don’t worry about that, I’ll storm Heaven for you. God can’t say no to me!”

After Abbott’s stunning one-vote victory in yesterday’s leadership ballot, Costello jokes that “I’m to blame for a lot”.

He is not alone in rejoicing in the accession, either.

Abbott’s father, Dick Abbott, was overwhelmed by calls of congratulations yesterday.

He says that even when Tony was a young child, it was clear that he was destined for great things.

“A priest asked my wife (Fay) one day: what will Tony do with his life?” Dick Abbott told The Australian. “She said: `Well, he’ll either be the pope or prime minister.’

“It was clear to us that two ordinary people had produced something out of the box.”

Abbott’s wife Margaret, currently bedridden with a disc problem in her back and on leave from her childcare job at St Ives Occasional Care, says she and their three daughters — Louise, 20, Frances, 18, and Bridget, 16 — are immensely proud of his elevation.

“It’s very exciting. This is something that Tony has obviously thought about from time to time. He’s been in politics for 16 years and here we are. We look forward to a very challenging year ahead,” she says.

“People go into politics with vision and ideas and he certainly has both of those.”

According to Costello, such vision and ideas have been apparent ever since they forged a bond when Abbott was in Year 11 at school, where the priest taught him history as well as religious instruction.

After Riverview, Abbott moved on to Sydney university, where he earned degrees in law and economics as well a reputation for his strident voice in student politics.

Costello then wrote Abbott’s reference when he applied, successfully, for a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford in Britain, where he won two Blues in boxing and added a Masters in politics and philosophy to an impressive CV.

And in the years since, even in politics, he has regularly proffered his advice over dinner: mostly, he says, to urge the arch conservative and monarchist to mitigate his views, to become less dogmatic and more reflective.

But he says Abbott’s desire — and ability — to be a leader is “in his blood”.

“Deep down, I think Tony has always wanted to be leader. Even as a boy, in his sport, you could see it,” says Costello, who has also known Malcolm Turnbull for many years through Lucy Turnbull’s father, Tom Hughes QC.

“He’s a very gifted guy, he’s a man of outstanding integrity and depth of intellect.

“And he’s realistic too, he knew didn’t have the numbers. But it’s come to him in full measure now.”

But if Abbott has received some wise counsel throughout his adult life, it has been his wanderings from the teachings of the church that have garnered much of the attention he has attracted during his 16 years in the federal parliament, as well as the nickname the Mad Monk.

On returning to Australia at 24 with designs on becoming a Catholic priest, Abbott lasted in the seminary just three years. The vow of celibacy got the better of him.

“I saw the dark, so to speak,” Abbott told The Australian’s editor-at-large, Paul Kelly, in 2003.

“I did not have the life of prayer. I did not have the sense of a direct relationship with Jesus. I was too interested in politics. It just wasn’t going to work.”Abbott’s high calling

A WEEK ago, when Tony Abbott determined to run for the opposition leadership, he did what he has always done at a critical juncture in his life: he rang Emmet Costello.

A “somewhat retired” 85-year-old Jesuit priest,Costello was formerly the chaplain at St Ignatius College Riverview, on Sydney’s north shore, where Abbott was schooled.

And for the past 35 years he has remained Abbott’s mentor and closest confidant; a man he credits as “the most important male influence on my life” apart from his father.

“Tony rang and said, I’m going for it; I’m going for the leadership, and could you remember me in your prayers,” Costello told The Australian yesterday.

“I said, don’t worry about that, I’ll storm Heaven for you. God can’t say no to me!”

After Abbott’s stunning one-vote victory in yesterday’s leadership ballot, Costello jokes that “I’m to blame for a lot”.

He is not alone in rejoicing in the accession, either.

Abbott’s father, Dick Abbott, was overwhelmed by calls of congratulations yesterday.

He says that even when Tony was a young child, it was clear that he was destined for great things.

“A priest asked my wife (Fay) one day: what will Tony do with his life?” Dick Abbott told The Australian. “She said: `Well, he’ll either be the pope or prime minister.’

“It was clear to us that two ordinary people had produced something out of the box.”

Abbott’s wife Margaret, currently bedridden with a disc problem in her back and on leave from her childcare job at St Ives Occasional Care, says she and their three daughters — Louise, 20, Frances, 18, and Bridget, 16 — are immensely proud of his elevation.

“It’s very exciting. This is something that Tony has obviously thought about from time to time. He’s been in politics for 16 years and here we are. We look forward to a very challenging year ahead,” she says.

“People go into politics with vision and ideas and he certainly has both of those.”

According to Costello, such vision and ideas have been apparent ever since they forged a bond when Abbott was in Year 11 at school, where the priest taught him history as well as religious instruction.

After Riverview, Abbott moved on to Sydney university, where he earned degrees in law and economics as well a reputation for his strident voice in student politics.

Costello then wrote Abbott’s reference when he applied, successfully, for a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford in Britain, where he won two Blues in boxing and added a Masters in politics and philosophy to an impressive CV.

And in the years since, even in politics, he has regularly proffered his advice over dinner: mostly, he says, to urge the arch conservative and monarchist to mitigate his views, to become less dogmatic and more reflective.

But he says Abbott’s desire — and ability — to be a leader is “in his blood”.

“Deep down, I think Tony has always wanted to be leader. Even as a boy, in his sport, you could see it,” says Costello, who has also known Malcolm Turnbull for many years through Lucy Turnbull’s father, Tom Hughes QC.

“He’s a very gifted guy, he’s a man of outstanding integrity and depth of intellect.

“And he’s realistic too, he knew didn’t have the numbers. But it’s come to him in full measure now.”

But if Abbott has received some wise counsel throughout his adult life, it has been his wanderings from the teachings of the church that have garnered much of the attention he has attracted during his 16 years in the federal parliament, as well as the nickname the Mad Monk.

On returning to Australia at 24 with designs on becoming a Catholic priest, Abbott lasted in the seminary just three years. The vow of celibacy got the better of him.

“I saw the dark, so to speak,” Abbott told The Australian’s editor-at-large, Paul Kelly, in 2003.

“I did not have the life of prayer. I did not have the sense of a direct relationship with Jesus. I was too interested in politics. It just wasn’t going to work.”

Link to full story: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/abbotts-high-calling/story-e6frg6z6-1225805934853

 


5 Responses to “Abbott and another Costello – Abbott’s high calling”

  1. 1 Sean

    Dear Tony,

    Once again, congratulations on your new and challenging role as Leader of the Opposition.

    May I encourage you to make every effort to get DEBATE happening on the science of GW? I appreciate the restraints you are placed under in your need to maintain party unity, but if while maintaining your position of moderacy you can provoke debate, then more people will be able to make more informed decisions come election time. And that can only be good for the Libs, its party unity and bad for Labor.

    I strongly blelieve that the more Australians are informed about the truth behind alleged man-made global warming the more chance you will have of winning the next election.

    Ignorance on this and other issues is Labor’s biggest weapon, I believe, whilst knowledge and understanding is yours.

    Australia needs leadership – strong leadership. Please do what you were called to do.

    I want to see your party, with your leadership, win government, possibly in March, and I will be praying for that.

    Please use your influence to get debate happening.

    Blessings and favour!

    Sean

  2. 2 Senator Chris Back

    I want to thank you again for the interest you have shown in the ETS debate and the events occurring in Canberra in recent days.

    In the Chamber on 1st December I addressed the issue of risk management. The risk was in getting the ETS legislation wrong.

    The likelihood of that was, in my view, HIGH and the impact on Australia if Labor got it wrong was also HIGH.

    …I make this point as a person who has come out of the emergency services industry: the Australian and New Zealand standard on risk management is pertinent to this debate. What is that? It simply looks at the question of what the risk is in this particular issue. The risk is that we make a mistake; that we get it wrong. That is why I have sat here for four days, because I am concerned about the risk of us getting wrong. This is legislation that, if passed, can never be revoked. We cannot get it back. With every other piece of legislation that has come before this parliament, however long it has been debated, it is always possible for a future parliament to reverse it. This one, because it relates to international carbon trading permits, can never be reversed once passed. Remember that: we cannot reverse it…

    The fact that a future Parliament could never reverse this legislation once passed had a significant influence on me. This would have been a “first” for legislation before the Australian Parliament.

    We had to consider our action very carefully. The Senators needed more information before an informed decision could be made.

    It is interesting that respected company director Mr Dick Warburton picked up on the same theme in an ABC Lateline Business interview the same evening. It makes for interesting reading. The link is: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/12/02/2759460.htm

    In speeches in the Senate since June, I have urged, begged and demanded that the Labor Government provide more information to the Senate and the community. Minister Wong has consistently refused.

    We had the nonsensical situation that she would not release Treasury modelling nor allow the release of economic analysis by CSIRO economist Dr Clive Spash. Nor did we get access to Frontier Economics advice on the impact of the proposed amendments.

    …There is information required in two areas. The first is in the science. We could have argued up until some time ago that the science was not decided and that there was as many for as there were against. Only in the last week and a half have we had the acknowledgment of a complete fraud out of the Climate Research Unit at Hadley. I have spoken to the people in regard to this. I understand that the director, Dr Philip Jones, has not refuted that range of emails that have now been circulated round the world and that show clearly that the data that has come out of that institution has been filtered, doctored, changed or poorly reviewed. Why does it matter? Because it is the outcome from Hadley upon which the IPCC has based so much of its science. That is now questionable…

    The widespread ignorance of the ETS and the climate issue generally within the community is unacceptable. If the events in our Party over the last fortnight have done one thing, it has been to focus the attention of the wider community for the first time on climate and the flawed ETS.

    I could not vote for legislation when information was denied us, in a timeframe for which there simply was no justification before the Copenhagen conference.

    Be under no illusion: federal Liberal parliamentarians are UNANIMOUS in our resolve to put forward a strong policy to address climate issues.

    But it will not be a flawed energy taxing scheme which would have made NOT ONE iota of difference to the environment but would have affected families, workers, businesses and the Australian economy.

    I have and will continue to urge for policies towards a sustainable environment, assisting the development of new technologies and moving in synch with our trading competitors and regional neighbours to ensure competitive neutrality for business.

    I wish you all the best for the festive season and thank you again for your interest.

    If you would like to receive regular updates on activities in the Senate, please send your name, email address and the state you live to Linda.back@aph.gov.au

    Yours sincerely

    Senator Chris Back

  3. 3 Kim

    Hi Pastor Danny & team

    Thank-you for continuing to fight for our nation, and to inspire us to wake up and do the same. I’m enjoying what I am calling ‘the manifestation of the war’ we are seeing in the government at the moment. We may be in a battle – but He’s already won the war!
    Keep the faith, fight the good fight. My family is another, standing with Christ, and with you for the Kingdom.

    In Jesus

    Kim

  4. 4 Ian

    Hello!

    I have a good feeling in my heart about Tony Abbott, I hope the desire for prayer continues until the next election as I can feel I can trust Tony to represent my views as a christian in Government

    Ian

  5. 5 Tan Kan Ku

    Thank you Ps Jason. The Lord was telling me something when Tony won by one vote. You just never know he may be the next PM. Stand up for GOD. Labour had lost all the money left by John Howard’s Liberal government.

    Tan Kan Ku

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