Felicitations, Sympathy and Utter Loathing
Firstly, that unpredictable political genus ‘Queenslander’ has done it again. It has elevated the improbable into the impossible. From telephone box to government the Queensland Branch of the Australian Labor Party is to be congratulated for its victory and Mordechai extends his felicitations to new Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. I wish her well and she has my sympathy in trying to deal with the basket case that is the political, economic and ungovernable entity that is Queensland. The next few months will prove entertaining.
But let’s move upwards and onwards to the broader national scale. There seems to come a defining moment in my observations of federal politics that fill me with unredeemable contempt and changes my perception of an individual or a party completely. I have mentioned elsewhere in these columns that when Prime Minister Whitlam told the Speaker of the House to ‘shut up and do as he was told’. That was my lightbulb moment about Whitlam. I was never fond of Howard and I remember reminding people ad nausea that he was for quite some time Malcolm Fraser’s cup bearer; I detested Fraser because of his cowardice and I loathed the guttersnipe Keating because of his foul mouth behind Parliamentary privilege. But all that is history.
My most recent defining moment came last night watching the GayBC telly news, not something I am wont to do regularly, and was witness to one of the most disgraceful buck-passing exercises I have seen in my many years of working in and observing politics.
I watched, in complete disbelief, as our Prime Minister explained to the viewer’s his reasons for his sacking of Phillip Ruddock MP as government Whip – his reasons – said the news reader: That Ruddock “had failed to warn him of the extent of back bench anger”.
Abbott then went on to say: “Plainly I wasn’t as aware as I should have been of all this – I never want to find myself this position ever again” [Source ABC TV news transcript Qld 15 February 2015.]
On Friday, the lonely, grey-haired figure of Phillip Ruddock walking away from the Prime Ministerial Offices was a pungent and sad sight. Phillip Ruddock, age 71, Federal Liberal MP since 1993, Party Whip, one of the most loyal and highly respected elders and genuinely decent man of the Liberal Party to be treated thus brought a lump to my throat. His response on last night’s telly was dignified but showed signs of obvious hurt.
So returning to the mad monk. [For my English readers this was a sobriquet he earned in his early days of politics for being a rabid head kicker]. He had no idea of what the back bench were feeling! Bullshit! Did he need a Whip to tell him that. Doesn’t he read the papers? Couldn't he hear the whispers in the gallery? Couldn't he see the averted eyes? Didn’t he know what blind Freddy knew for months – that he was so much the nose that the entire laboratories of L’Oreal wouldn’t be able to help him.
This was a man I thought was going to be a saviour of Australia. After the chaos, mismanagement and economic mayhem of the Rudd Gillard years here was going to be a safe pair of hands. A moral man. A decent man. How wrong I was!
What have we? A coward looking for a scapegoat. A man who, had he been a gentleman, would at least have offered his resignation after three consecutive state election losses. A micromanager in the same mould as Rudd. A man that lets his mouth run away with him. A fool that, having spent much time in trying to repair relations with Indonesia has just angered that country by presuming to hector them about their judicial code.
A former Seminarian he might have been – he obviously left before they reached the part about Christian humility; an Oxford Blue Boxer – jolly hockey sticks. Marathon bike rider – good oh! Get on your bike, piss off and don’t come back.