The term ‘faceless men’ is thrown about pretty freely by Tony Abbott. This week for example he got it into one sentence three times.
The phrase was actually coined half a century ago by the then Liberal prime minister RG Menzies. He used a photo of Labor leader Arthur Calwell and Gough Whitlam kicking stones around outside a Canberra hotel while the ALP platform was being settled inside. The optics were awful and Menzies immediately capitalised, decrying Labor’s “thirty-six faceless men’‘.
It was a devastating critique which has also proved durable.
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There were always hints that Kevin Rudd might have had a bit of a problem when it came to dealing with women. When it emerged he blew his top at a RAAF hostie because he didn’t like the meal choice on his VIP jet people wondered if he would have acted that way if served the offending sandwich by a man.
Now in the torrent of revelations about what Kevin ‘07 was actually like to work with, it’s women Ministers who have been the most scathing (apart from Wayne Swan, who went totally off his ‘nana about Rudd). It’s also impossible to ignore the fact not a single female front-bencher has come out on his side.
In fact, the only two women publicly cheering on the Rudd spill are his wife and daughter. Perhaps sensing an uphill battle with the ladies, Jessica Rudd conscripted the most female-oriented website possible to the Rudd cause, urging Mamamia readers to “own this spill people”.
I’ve been dwelling a lot on parenting this week – not least because my eight-year-old son walked around with a badly broken arm for two days before I got him X-rayed.
In my defence, I was advised to delay the X-ray by nurses at a regional emergency department. But at the very least I could have refrained from suggesting he was the boy who cried wolf.
It was in this sort of mood that I heard the news about federal Finance Minister Penny Wong and her partner Sophie Allouache expecting a baby through IVF. The child’s father is known to the couple and will also be known to the child.
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The argument that much of Australia’s media and associated journalists are cultural-left in their leanings is proven by last week’s events involving Senator Penny Wong being insulted by the infamous ‘meow’ interjection and Bob Hawke’s very public description of Tony Abbott, the leader of the federal opposition, as ‘mad as a cut snake’.
If the Canberra-based media commissariat is fair and balanced, there’s no doubt that the ex-ALP Prime Minister’s snide and offensive description of Abbott would have received the same coverage and condemnation as Senator Bushby’s interjection.
Given the hue and cry against Senator Bushby’s catcall against Senator Wong, it only stands to reason that if critics are consistent they will also have to call old silver budgie to account.
Tony Abbott once said that his written words carried more weight than his off-the-cuff utterances. This week, words of both varieties played their part.
Barnaby Joyce’s unqualified promise that under the Coalition, income tax cuts and pension increases granted to sweeten the new carbon tax would be taken back, will probably haunt the Coalition later this term assuming the Government gets its tax through.
But the coldly re-stated promise, delivered this week with all the electoral sensitivity we’ve come to expect from senators, was lost for now in the furore over a cat-calling incident.
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Some might be wondering why two days of our national media cycle have included debate over a man miaowing like a cat and the appropriate level of offence it should or shouldn’t cause. While we’d like our parliament to set a standard for the rest of the community, the truth is we often fall well short - in terms of behaviour and sexism.
There has been progress but it is still a parliament dominated by men in suits. Women here, like women in any workplace, are entitled to enjoy equal treatment in all senses. No-one is asking for favours or complaining about the hustle and bustle that accompanies hard-fought debate but there is just one request - maybe we could treat members of both genders equally.
There were howls from the Opposition when the Government described the noise that was made towards Penny Wong as sexist. The reality is that not only was it sexist but it also pointed to a pretty unpleasant pattern of behaviour, which has flourished under the leadership of Tony Abbott.
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Welcome to this week’s I Call Bullshit. Nonsensical headline. Sorry. Now, to the point. Amid debate on trifling topics such as the future of the nation and the world, the most robust conversations at the moment are centering on a single “meow”.
More accurately it was a sort of “reeeeee-ow” that Liberal Senator David Bushby uttered when Finance Minister Penny Wong (justifiably) snapped at him for interrupting.
And so the crowd was heard to shout “sexism”! Well, I call bullshit. It wasn’t sexist.
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If Malcolm Turnbull achieved nothing else yesterday he may have at least shut Wilson Tuckey up for five minutes.
Yesterday’s five hour joint party room meeting was a victory for Malcolm Turnbull but it was one that doesn’t leave a great deal of time for basking in the afterglow.
Malcolm Turnbull and Ian MacFarlane now have the right to sit down and discuss a set of agreed amendments with Penny Wong and Turnbull’s leadership is safe until at least the end of the year. And while it’s not much Malcolm Turnbull will take any small mercies at the moment and they’re ones he has fought hard for.
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Over the years many have proclaimed the Kyoto Protocol “dead” and once again media reports are starting to suggest the imminent demise of this international climate change treaty and a new Australian compromise.
Clearly the protocol is not yet dead as its binding pollution reduction targets for most industrialised countries remain in force until the end of 2012. However as negotiations have intensified in the lead up to the Copenhagen climate summit in December, the treaty’s future has become increasingly uncertain.
Behind the headlines about targets, technology transfers and finance for developing countries, a profound discussion on the “legal form” of the new agreement is occurring. This dominated recent talks held in Washington D.C. attended by Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.
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In 21 days, the Senate will vote on the Government’s climate change legislation that will – for the first time ever – turn the corner on rising carbon pollution in Australia.
This means Malcolm Turnbull has 21 days to get his party into shape on climate change.
We have seen a diverse parade of positions from the Liberal Party on climate change this week, not to mention the views put forward by their coalition partners in the National Party.
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Climate change is real. Yes that’s right, contrary to the misreporting in the media, I do believe in climate change.
That might come as a shock to some of those on the left side of politics, but it’s the truth.
The question that concerns me, however, is what is driving it? Is it increasing levels of human made carbon dioxide emissions, variations in solar radiation or something else?
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