Aboriginal Tent Embassy
The two biggest stuff-ups of the political year to date have said little about the conduct of our politicians and everything about the judgment of the advisors they employ. Given that 2012 is not yet five weeks old, these two remarkably stupid episodes confirm the extent to which the black art of media management has become an unchecked cancer on modern politics.
The irony is that in both cases the very people who were hired to make life easier for our politicians, ostensibly with their capacity for crisis management and flair for finessing a message, have in one case created the crisis and in the other mangled the message.
This should not be of interest solely to political tragics and Canberra insiders. The punchline to the joke is that the mugs who are footing the bill are, of course, the taxpayers, who over the past two decades have funded an ever-increasing number of spin doctors, speech writers and media advisors for politicians of every hue at both the state and federal level.
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As murky details continue to emerge about the Australia Day ‘riot’, so do the murky conspiracy theories. In reaction to that shocking photo of a ruffled Prime Minister, people are positing grassy knolls on the lawns of Parliament House, eager to think that the whole debacle was a plot.
The startling picture of Julia Gillard being dragged along with furrowed brow was disturbing enough that people immediately wanted to find someone to blame, to find a greater lesson in the chaos. To convince themselves that it was ALL SOMEONE’S FAULT. Maybe a set up. The Opposition wants an investigation and to debate a no-confidence motion. People have called for the embassy to go, for Australia Day to be moved, for arrests to be made. Somebody must be made to pay!
It’s time to take the ranty pants off, fold them neatly and leave them on a chair in the corner for when they’re really needed.
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The Australia Day event at The Lobby in Canberra has become all about Tony Hodges, Kim Sattler, Barbara Shaw, Michael Anderson, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, the police and a bunch of idiots who saw fit to hijack the day. It wasn’t supposed to be about them.
Our political leaders had gathered at the restaurant to bestow the new National Emergency Medal on 26 Australians who, paid or unpaid, did extraordinary work during the Victorian Bushfires and Queensland floods.
In her speech before the event was hijacked by an appalling set of bad decisions the Prime Minister said: “Today we award these Medals to a group of Australians who inspired us with their courage and service during two of the most devastating summers of natural disaster Australia has ever witnessed: the Victorian bushfires of 2009 and the Queensland floods and cyclone of December 2010 and January 2011.”
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Those in the business of applying the defibrillators to Julia Gillard’s prime ministership have been quick to talk up her grace and decency during the tent embassy mayhem, while also pointing an accusatory finger at Tony Abbott for inciting the chaos.
Whatever sympathy Gillard may have received after her frightening ordeal will now be undermined by the resignation late Friday of a junior staffer who had stupidly worded up the protesters as to Abbott’s whereabouts. Nevertheless the PM clearly handled herself with courage and compassion.
The footage revealing her asking the security service to ensure Abbott would also be safely escorted from the restaurant was a credit to her. She didn’t know she was on camera, and there was nothing confected about her concern. Laudable, too, was her comment later that day that her only regret was the violence had disrupted an event recognising the courage of emergency services crews. At a more human level, Gillard simply looked terrified as she was rushed from the building. Only the most jaundiced critic would have felt for her as she was dragged to safety.
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Let’s not make any excuses for the morons associated with the Aboriginal tent embassy who sparked Thursday’s ugly events in the national capital. When they interrupted a medal ceremony for courageous emergency services personnel involved in the Queensland floods and Victorian bushfires, their behaviour was vile.
“Who f***ing cares? They’re not our heroes,” yelled one of the first protesters to arrive. Then, spotting the opposition leader, she screamed: “Tony Abbott, you f***ing big-eared Dumbo c***.”
This was followed by more obscenities directed at Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Things went downhill from there.
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So we now know who is responsible for putting Julia Gillard into the most peril she’s been in since she became Prime Minister - her own office.
A senior member of the Prime Minister’s team has tonight resigned after it emerged he was the one who tipped off an Aboriginal Tent Embassy contact that Tony Abbott was in the Lobby restaurant yesterday - information that led to the Prime Minister being dragged to her car in undignified scenes that are now world news.
Tony Hodges, who was the one trawling the Press Gallery yesterday afternoon trying to sheet home blame for the ugly scenes to the Opposition Leader, is tonight no longer working for the PM. If it wasn’t so disgusting it would be funny. This came a day after a member of senior Cabinet Minister Anthony Albanese’s staff saw fit to send his boss off to the Press Club armed with a raft of fantastic quotes from a Hollywood movie.
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Once upon a time, in a mythical kingdom called Canberra which most people don’t really believe exists, a lady called Cindergillard lost her shoe.
The lady didn’t lose her shoe at a big fancy schmancy ball, but what can you do? Ball, restaurant, same effect.
The hunt was on. Who would the shoe fit? In ye olde days, they settled this kind of issue door-to-door. On this occasion, the matter was handled in the mercenary manner of the interwebs.
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Julia Gillard should be congratulated for maintaining even a shred of dignity after being dragged minus a shoe through a crowd at a speed she couldn’t keep up with. Most Australians were horrified by the images from the steps of the Lobby restaurant, and in turn would have been relieved when a composed PM, with two fresh shoes on, reassured everyone from outside The Lodge that she was fine.
She should never have been placed in that terrible position in the first place, and there are many questions unanswered about how and why she was.
1. The location for yesterday’s inaugural emergency services medal presentation was poorly chosen.
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The Aboriginal Tent Embassy has never engendered any public respect. It has never done anything to bring black and white Australia together. It is sadly fitting then that the 40th anniversary of this illegal assortment of galvo humpies was celebrated with an unprecedented outburst of violence which saw our Prime Minister being dragged along the ground and our Opposition Leader behind a riot shield.
The scenes in Canberra represented a new low in the four-decade history of this politically useless eyesore. If it was the intention of its inhabitants to draw attention to the plight of black Australians, they instead invited nothing but scorn.
The irrational nature of their conduct was captured in a single quote from Tent Embassy founder Michael Anderson yesterday: “To hell with the government and the courts.”
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