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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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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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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