Barack Obama famously got on well with Australian leaders. There was only one he didn’t like.
Barack Obama famously got on well with Australian leaders. There was only one he didn’t like.

Aussie PM Obama couldn’t stand

BARACK Obama famously got along well with several Australian prime ministers.

Being a nation where leadership spills are now a bloodthirsty sport, Mr Obama met four Aussie leaders during his time in the White House.

Between 2009 and 2016, he got to know former Labor leaders Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, and former Liberal leaders Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull.

Apparently Mr Abbott was the only one he didn't warm to.

 

Of the four prime ministers Barack Obama met during his two terms in the White House, Tony Abbott was the only one he reportedly didn’t get on with.
Of the four prime ministers Barack Obama met during his two terms in the White House, Tony Abbott was the only one he reportedly didn’t get on with.

Ben Rhodes, who spent eight years in the White House serving as Mr Obama's deputy national security adviser and foreign policy speechwriter, knew more about his boss than almost anyone.

In an interview with The Australian, promoting his new book The World as It Is, Rhodes admitted Mr Obama had a "very difficult" relationship with Mr Abbott due to their opposing world views.

He said he found his successor Mr Turnbull, who he described as part of "the mainstream of Centre-Right" leaders, more palatable.

 

Barack Obama and Julia Gillard had a well-documented warm relationship.
Barack Obama and Julia Gillard had a well-documented warm relationship.

 

Obama described Gillard as a ‘quick study’, praising her for getting her carbon price through Parliament.
Obama described Gillard as a ‘quick study’, praising her for getting her carbon price through Parliament.

Of the four prime ministers, Mr Obama arguably had the best relationship with Ms Gillard.

They immediately struck up a rapport when they first met in the White House back in 2011. He described her as a "quick study", praising her for getting her carbon price through parliament.

Political commentator Michelle Grattan noted in the Sydney Morning Herald that, while John Howard and George W. Bush had a more solemn, "emotionally based" relationship, Ms Gillard's and Mr Obama's was one of "professional easiness".

In photos they were genuinely physically affectionate, and they're said to still be in touch.

Mr Obama also enjoyed an amicable relationship with former Labor leader Kevin Rudd, with Grattan noting the two "connected at an intellectual level".

She also said Mr Obama had "considerable interest in (Mr Rudd's) China expertise".

 

Mr Obama also enjoyed an amicable relationship with former Labor leader Kevin Rudd.
Mr Obama also enjoyed an amicable relationship with former Labor leader Kevin Rudd.

 

Former Liberal prime minister Mr Turnbull also enjoyed a spot near the top of Mr Obama's besties list.

Just six months into Mr Turnbull's leadership, The Atlantic magazine published an article ranking world leaders "on a continuum reflecting the state of their relations with Obama".

Mr Turnbull came in second place for world leaders, behind only German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"Obama has apparently formed a good impression of the new Australian prime minister," the magazine said, quoting a White House official who said: "Our allies all give us headaches, except for Australia.

"You can always count on Australia."

 

Former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull also enjoyed a spot near the top of Mr Obama’s besties list.
Former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull also enjoyed a spot near the top of Mr Obama’s besties list.

We don't know all the details about why Mr Obama didn't get along with Mr Abbott.

news.com.au scoured Rhodes' book for clues, but other than a fleeting reference to a US military base in Darwin, Australia barely received a mention.

But there's plenty of grounds for speculation.

It may have been their opposing views on climate change. Grattan noted that Mr Obama admired - "even envied" - Ms Gillard for getting the carbon tax through Parliament during her time as leader, saying he would have liked to legislate a cap-and-trade scheme, but was restricted by America's political system.

Mr Abbott, on the other hand, railed against the carbon tax as opposition leader, more recently gave a speech urging Australia to abandon the Paris climate agreement, and once described climate science as "absolute crap".

Or perhaps it was the issue of marriage equality. Mr Obama was dubbed America's "First Gay President" by Newsweek for his decision to openly support same-sex marriage, which was then passed under his leadership.

Mr Abbott has long been a staunch opponent of it, having led the charge for the "No" vote in Australia last year, and - during his time as Opposition Leader - saying he would "probably feel a bit threatened … as most people do" when asked how he felt about homosexuality during a 60 Minutes interview.

Look, it could have been anything. Alas, we may never know.

So instead, we'll just leave this photo here and slink away.

 

Well. That says it all.
Well. That says it all.

'Zombie' Cyclone Owen is back with a vengeance

'Zombie' Cyclone Owen is back with a vengeance

'Zombie' cyclone back from the dead.

Farewell to loved dad

Farewell to loved dad

Beloved father and husband farewelled.

Crunch time is here

Crunch time is here

Queensland Year 12 graduates eagerly awaiting their results.

Local Partners