I am so angry right now. The backlash by the Australian media over Julia Gillard’s speech against Tony Abbott in parliament a couple of days ago has made me positively livid. I’m not affecting a faux interest in the issue of feminism, in which as a man, I have no stake or claim. Rather, I am enraged by the continued efforts of the media to mislead the public on issues that have a huge negative impact on how our country is governed.
Articles in the mainstream media focused on how Gillard used her speech to vent her spleen at Tony Abbott’s expense, labelling the Prime Minister a hypocrite for “supporting” Peter Slipper, the Member for Fisher. In doing they they completely missed the context that the Opposition had recently tried to raise a motion to dismiss Slipper as the Speaker of the House – a particularly douchey move considering that parliament cannot simply vote to dismiss a member. It was a wedge tactic designed to force Gillard to be seen either as supporting Slipper by opposing the motion, or else having to concede that she made a mistake by installing Slipper as the Speaker in the first place by voting with it – ultimately forcing her into a no-win situation.
Hence it was a shocking surprise that the Prime Minister managed to pull a Jesus and the Adulterer on Abbott.
The Opposition has been using destabilising tactics on the already-shaky minority government through their acts of chaos in Parliament, as well as their constant undermining of Gillard’s authority using tactics that amount to “because she’s a woman” and causing the media to incite sexist and misogynistic sentiments from the electorate. At this point some of you are probably thinking “what a load of crap, Australians aren’t that small-minded!”, but as Anne Summers shows in graphic detail in a speech titled Her rights at work: The Political Persecution of Australia’s First Female Prime Minister, the point is undeniably true.
Therefore those who criticise Gillard of using her speech to gloss over the Peter Slipper issue are missing the point. It was calling attention to the dirty tactics that the Opposition use to ensure that this country continues to remain in turmoil. Every make-believe crisis of leadership and claim about a lack of personal integrity that the Liberal Party successfully perpetuates – followed along by their all-too-eager co-conspirators in mainstream media – reinforces the self-fulfilling prophecy that our country is in trouble. The government is therefore, constantly on the back foot as it tries to convince its cynical constituents that we are actually in a very good position (which we undeniably are).
The fact that the motion to dismiss the speaker lost by a vote of 69:70 is irrelevant since party members are required to vote with the party, so in a minority government this is an entirely unremarkable result.
Meanwhile, the Coalition have barely updated any of their policies since they lost the 2007 election and continue to campaign on making the other team lose, rather than winning on the merits of their own platform. Truly, if this country (and its politics) has descended into farce, Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party have the most to answer for.