Posted by: jkirkby8712 | February 1, 2012

Tuesday, 31st January 2012 –politics back on the agenda [it never left!!]

Over the past few days, we have being inundated with images of Prime Minister Julia Gillard being swiftly ushered away by security on Australia Day, and these images have been broadcast across the world. According to one commentator I read, we Australians were polarised by the incident and many different views have been expressed at dinner tables, in bars and at office water coolers. That viewpoint goes on to say that just when we thought the issue had run its course, the Opposition is now calling for a full Australian Federal Police investigation.

One media outlet noted that ‘Australia Day ceremonies are usually the dullest of events. But not when Australia’s political leaders are together just walking distance from a gathering at the contentious Aboriginal Tent Embassy. When the crowd there heard a report that earlier in the day Opposition leader Tony Abbott had suggested its removal, a spontaneous protest  took place at the Lobby restaurant where Prime Minister Julia Gillard was awarding emergency medals.

The fracas quickly turned to farce. Developments have included: that Mr Abbott’s remarks were misreported; the original tip-off came via Tony Hodges, one of the PM’s media advisors (who has since resigned); accusations of a media beat-up of violence; a shoe lost by Ms Gillard was returned after suggestions of an ebay auction; a go-between was named followed by strong denials. At least that’s the best guess at the moment.

This photo of Prime Minister Julia Gillard ‘escaping’ from protesters has gone viral

My take on it was that it  all come about when both the PM and the Opposition Leader were at an awards ceremony last Thursday when tent embassy members arrived to protest against Tony Abbott. The Opposition Leader claims that members of the PM’s staff alerted the protesters to his whereabouts, after earlier comments from him seemingly calling for the tent embassy to be removed.  The PM’s now former press advisor Tony Hodges resigned after he revealed that he was the one who told a Union ACT official that Tony Abbott was at the awards ceremony.  However, the Australian Federal Police has released a statement saying it has “evaluated the information and no evidence of a criminal act was identified”.  One question which arose was that Tony Abbott was accused of claiming the tent embassy should be torn down and eliminated, a complete fabrication of what he actually said. The protestors presumably on the basis on the incorrect interpretation [presumably again, deliberately made] of Abbott’s words.

Another view  on the issue, was that many of us have  become a little bit tired of the photo of Prime Minister Julia Gillard being ushered away by her security guard from those Australia Day protests. It certainly didn’t look very much like an encouraging long term image of our PM, and as that view further expressed, the annoying thing about the depiction was  how our PM has been painted as the “damsel in distress”. Some feel that she has being made the subject of sexist views as our first female PM and this image merely adds fuel to the fire.  Some people even suggested that this was her chance to leave her legacy and perhaps even show us what she was made of, i.e., rather than allow herself to be hustled out of the building in such an unflattering, that she and Abbott should have been permitted a more controlled and calmer exit.  Well of course, not having been there in the situation as it was, that’s easy to say from an external viewpoint, although I must admit that the idea of taking that approach did occur to me as been more appropriate.  Or in reality, a  ridiculous approach, and I guess one has to respect the judgment of those who job was to protect the PM, and they obviously saw a very real danger to her safety, if any other approach than the one taken had been followed.  In that respect, I’d agree with the view that a more important legacy would be the type of policy and long-term changes that she can bring to our country [rather than a hasty decision to stand and face potentially violent protestors, who seemed already to be out of control].  Also, as pointed out, how exactly would John Howard or Kevin Rudd have responded to such a moment?  For most, it would be difficult to picture them making a heroic exit, walking calmly and unflinching through a hectic throng of people [though in my own view, I can somehow see John Howard attempting to do just that, subject to the efforts of his ‘minders’ to prevent him from doing so].  In any case, the writer that prompted the above comments, expresses a hope that the media outlets will start to ration the use of the photo referred to, and also that the  people will forget about our PM’s gender and let her get on with the job of running our country.

Meanwhile, this afternoon I received an email from the Liberal Party, expressing the following:-

Dear Bill

Today at the National Press Club I spoke about the Coalition’s plans to restore Hope, Reward and Opportunity for all Australians. The only foundation for a successful country is a strong economy. The only way to take the pressure off family budgets, to increase job opportunities, and to have the better services and infrastructure that every Australian wants is to build a stronger economy.  That’s why the Coalition’s plans for a stronger economy is to scrap unnecessary taxes, cut government spending and reduce the red tape burden on business. The Coalition’s plan to reduce the cost of living pressures on families is to take the carbon tax off their power and transport and make government live within its means. That way, there can be lower taxes and less upward pressure on interest rates.

Regards,  Tony Abbott.  Leader of the Opposition

Now, I actually watched that address by Mr Abbott, at the National Press Club today, and I was to be honest, disappointed at the content and nature of what he said. What was a looking for?  Difficult to say, but hopefully, some degree of optimism about a change in the Abbott/Opposition style tactics of attack and negatism that have dominated the parliamentary scene over the past year or so. Some form of inspiration for 2012 that would leave us Liberal supporters feeling a little more confident about what the Party stood for, and the manner in which it was going to approach the role of Opposition and presenting a viable alternative government. But I didn’t feel Mr Abbott gave that to us, but instead, simply stood at the rostrum making a Policy Speech, and continuing with the same format of attack and negativity.  His speech consisted of an extension of the above paragraph that has been emailed, but where I would have liked those ‘plans’ promises, inspirations, etc, to have been detailed in more substance, we found instead so much time again devoted to criticism and ridicule of the government.  Some, maybe most of it is justified, but we all know what has happened, the mistakes made, and so on – I would like to see parliament move on a little to what can be done, in the future in the absence of the spin and rhetoric of times past. But on the basis of the Press Club speech, that is a forlorn hope, I fear!

As for myself, this last day of January was unsatisfactory – still feeling unwell, lethargic, and the ongoing works out in the street becoming just a bit of a headache.  Gave Susie my car to use to get to her work today, so I restricted myself [perhaps deliberately] from going anywhere.  In fact, decided after a light evening meal that I didn’t have the energy to do anything of value, even reading and/or computer work was proving tiring, so simply adjourned for the night, and actually slept in patches off and on between then and just before 3am Wednesday morning, at which point, much more sleep proved difficult.

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