Tim Mathieson owes us all an apology. He should apologise for apologising for his remarks about prostate cancer this week. Instead of apologising, what Tim Mathieson should have done was make like a tiny-handed Asian lady bum doctor, and lift a defiant middle finger in the direction of the narcs, whingers, screwed-up ideologues and craven opportunists who felt or feigned such burning indignation at his completely innocent little gag.
I am still trying to work out who was meant to be offended by his remark. Was it Asians? Was it women? Was it people with small hands?
Was he making a slight against the big-handed – apologies in advance to any sufferers of gigantism who might be reading this – or was he poking fun, so to speak, at those many men who have had to suffer the ignominy of an Ansell-gloved digit up the date?
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You’d be hard pressed to find an opening news paragraph this week more ludicrous than “Tim Mathieson has apologised for making a joke about small Asian women and prostate examinations”.
It’s not quite up there with the classic “Gordon Ramsay’s porn dwarf double eaten to death by badgers” from 2011, but as far as news leads go it’s pretty much got everything going for it.
Well in 2013 it does, anyway. There used to be a time when a story about the Prime Minister’s boyfriend saying something stupid might have raised a few eyebrows on the gossip pages. (Actually, in years past the fact that the Prime Minister HAD a boyfriend was probably a more exciting story to begin with, but I digress).
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The campaign to get more men to engage in rubber glove love to check out the condition of their prostates has become the object of much political chatter.
The PM’s office, and Ms Gillard herself joined those not laughing at the joke. Not only did Mr Mathieson have to apologise in a written statement, he was instructed to front a pool TV camera to repeat his contrition for the evening bulletins. This is a similar type of public humiliation to that imposed on, say, a Treasurer who has a tax which doesn’t bring in any revenue.
The good news, fingers crossed, is the uproar has done much to promote that campaign and the importance of check-ups to mens’ health.
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‘First Bloke’ Tim Mathieson has been tried and found guilty of not living up to the manly stereotype, despite all his work in sheds.
You didn’t hear about Therese Rein running former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s baths, or about Janette Howard pouring the bubble bath after former Prime Minister John Howard had a hard day.
It’s all part of the novelty of having our first female Prime Minister.
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Are you shocked that tomorrow night’s episode of At Home with Julia shows ‘Prime Minister Julia Gillard’ tabling her man in Parliament*, with a post-coital cuddle under the Australian flag?
Monarchist David Flint was – he says it shows a lack of respect. Not to the PM, but to the flag. An ABC spokesman defended the skit, and said the flag was a “symbol of love” draped over the PM.
Ms Gillard, unsurprisingly, declined to comment. Here’s The Punch team’s take. What’s yours?
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Here I was, thinking that in this history-making era when we have our first female Governor General and our first woman Prime Minister, the genders may finally have laid down their arms.
But as the First Bloke himself highlighted yesterday, sadly it looks like business as usual. All of us guests at the national barbecue that is Aussie public life are still divided along traditional lines - men huddled together, stubby in hand poking at the snags, women at the other end of the yard, fussing with the salads.
Whether he was put up to it or not by Julia Gillard’s popularity paramedics, First Bloke Tim Mathieson made it seem that, unlike more enlightened nations, Australia is stuck in Jurassic Park when it comes to gender relations.
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Well may we say a wedding saved the monarchy, but would another one save the Prime Minister?
The recent post-Budget polls are dismal. A weekend Newspoll found Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s standing is worse than Kevin Rudd’s was before he got axed, and a Galaxy Poll suggests that it doesn’t matter what Labor does, people still hate them.
So is there anything that could turn this inexorable tide around? Australians have shown they have a soft and gooey spot for a ‘fairytale’ wedding, turning off a republic and back on to the monarchy with the marriage of Wills and Kate. And then First Bloke Tim Mathieson has hinted that he’d quite like to pop the question. What do you think? Could a garter belt be a lifesaver for Ms Gillard?
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It’s been a long time since I heard anyone bag Queensland the way they used to.
Wayne Goss (Queensland Premier 1989 to 1996) introduced a number of reforms to bring Queensland into line socially with the rest of the country and combined with a sudden growth spurt, largely from the interstate migration of people from New South Wales and Victoria over the past 10 years, the sophistication gap between north and south is disappearing.
We may not have a Mardi Gras, but froth isn’t spooned onto cappuccinos anymore and salads have moved on from crinkle cut carrots and snowpeas.
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It was a beautifully sunny spring day in Canberra when a jeans-clad Prime Minister Gillard and Tim Mathieson moved into the Lodge, but not everyone was happy about it.
M J Willcocks of Ashgrove Grove, Qld wrote to The Australian to express distaste with the couple’s “attire” and “demeanour”: “It is equally proper for a prime minister, as the national leader, to present herself or himself appropriately attired. The same goes for her or his consort.”
Casually dressed couples strolling through the garden seems perfectly acceptable behaviour for a Sunday morning in Canberra, but MJ Willcocks definitely got the terminology right.
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The visibility of Australian political partners in previous elections has largely been limited to a cursory podium-left guest appearance at a campaign launch or a glossy magazine photo spread that perhaps involved a Labrador.
Come election time, leaders’ wives have traditionally been wheeled out like ceremonial oxen. They were marketing props offered up to the electorate to assure voters that however brusque the candidate may seem, their devoted, polka-dot sporting frau’s visceral devotion would attest to their deep, inner, hitherto unseen, sensitivity.
But since Australia last went to the polls, there has been a sizable shift in the role which politicians’ partners assume in the wider political narrative.
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It is week two of the election campaign and we have hardly seen the prime minister’s partner, Tim Mathieson. I can’t remember an election campaign where voters have seen so little of the candidates’ better half. So what is going on?
Even the erratic Mark Latham travelled around Australia with the gorgeous Janine Lacy in tow. Yet, so far, apart from the odd appearance in Canberra, Ms Gillard’s boyfriend of four years has not been seen.
If Australia’s first female PM is formally elected by the people on August 21, she will make history by being the first person in the top job to be unmarried and living in The Lodge. (The only other PM not technically married while in office was the then recently widowed John McEwen, who held the top job from late 1967 to early 1968. He married soon after.)
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