Mathieson hits out at first lady

Despite maintaining her part-time role as director of a Sydney childcare centre, Margie Abbott is not doing enough charity work, according to Tim Mathieson.

The partner of ex-Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who didn’t work while he held his supporting role, has attacked Tony Abbott’s wife. Speaking to Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Mr Mathieson said of Margie Abbott, “I’m disappointed that she is not doing any charity work.

“What is she doing? Because I did 60 charity events. She has not contributed to any of them.”

The Prime Minister’s office chose to hit back with a list of perks afforded to Mr Mathieson while in his role supporting Julia Gillard, but a spokeswoman for Mrs Abbott detailed the charity and community events she had attended and supported in the past few months. “Those familiar with Margie Abbott know her quiet and understated approach is part of her genuine desire to draw attention to the charities and organisations she is involved with rather than herself,” said the spokeswoman. Two of the organisations Mrs Abbott works closely with are the Girl Guides and the Royal Blind Society.

The Prime Minister’s office responded that, in the seven months since the election, Mrs Abbott had increased her work and listed several events she has attended in her own right. “These events are in addition to those she attends with the Prime Minister,” the spokeswoman said.


Opinion: Get back in your box, Tim

Tim Mathieson, it appears, is suffering from jealousy. He’s struggling to remain relevant now Julia has left politics and its perks behind and he has decided to hit out at the person who now holds his much beloved role.

As ‘first bloke’ Tim Mathieson may well have undertaken 60 charity events but given that he did very little else, 60 events doesn’t amount to very much over Julia’s three years in office. As the Prime Minister’s office has pointed out, he did enjoy his fair share of sporting hospitality over the same period, but as these invitations are commonly extended to all Prime Ministers and their partners, this is irrelevant – a little like Tim himself.

As first lady, Margie Abbott has the right to choose to work part-time. Therese Rein, as wife of Kevin Rudd, ran her own business. She also has the right to choose which charities and organisations she supports and to what level she can do so. She does not need to pick up where Tim Mathieson left off, as he has suggested.

There is an expectation on all partners of prime minsters to undertake charity work, as has been the case since the time of Edward Barton. And just as Mr Mathieson, the first male partner of a prime minister chose not to work, Mrs Abbott has the right to choose to continue to work and find the right balance for her and her family.

All too often women are criticised for trying to do it all and usually, this comes from men who have no idea what is entailed in running a family, a home and a job. Throw in the constant media interest in your every move and the task becomes all the more difficult.

So Mrs Abbott, keep doing what you’re doing and don’t let a disgruntled little man get to you.

Are these comments from Tim just sour grapes or do you agree with him? Should the Prime Minister’s partner be able to organise his/her life independently of the Prime Minister?

Written by Debbie McTaggart