Our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, deserves respect. Guest blogger: Chris Geraghty

Jun 15, 2013

The leader of the opposition addressing a protest crowd in Canberra and a team of colleagues all standing in front of a large sign – “DITCH THE WITCH”

Anthony Abbott continuing to grace the commercial radio station and be softly questioned by the commentator who refers to our prime minister as “JU-LIAR”, or who opined that “they (women) are destroying the place”, or who thought it might be a good idea to put our prime minister in a bag and leave her out at sea, or who had the appalling taste to state publicly at a Liberal Party function, that the prime minister’s recently deceased father had died of shame.

Have you had a listen to her horrible voice? How long do we have to put up with her terribly Australian drawl? Seen her big bum? And her clothes? As if we haven’t been used to bald politicians, plain to ugly looking male members of parliament, badly dressed, with rasping, scratchy voices – and boring. All of these men able to pass under the radar because they belong to the club. This is what we expect from men – ordinariness. But a female prime minister cannot just be an ordinary member of the human race.

She was hounded from pillar to post about some supposed and unethical impropriety she had been involved in years ago, as a young female solicitor. Day in and day out. But nothing emerged after all the huffing and puffing, all the digging. No substance to the allegations. No charges laid. Nothing proven. Just smear and innuendos. And in the end, no apology. Everything just left in the air to fester, to resonate with the public.

A menu prepared for a political fundraising dinner. A menu announcing that the Liberal supporters present, together with Joe Hockey and Mal Brough, would be served “Moroccan Quail – Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail – small breasts, huge thighs and a big red box”.

Gross and offensive. An insult to any woman. Disgraceful, bad taste.

And the proprietor of the restaurant, Joe Richards, would have us believe that this was only an in-house, no, an in-kitchen joke, and that the exclusively invited guests did not see the offending menu. The joke was never shared.

Yes, pull the other one, Joe. The menu was printed just like any other standard menu. It contained other political references and other dishes. We do not yet know the identities of the other guests, what they saw, what they are prepared to say, what they were all served on the night in question. Were there any women on the guest-list, or was it an exclusively male night out? And after a false start, Malcolm Brough pleads ignorance and innocence. But he is not any longer a man who can be trusted after his prevarications about his involvement in the Slipper/Ashby affair. Justice Rares found he was not a trustworthy witness. His reputation for being loose with the truth where his future is involved has gone before him.

Has any of our former prime ministers, or for that matter, any of our parliamentarians or public figures, been subjected to such abuse and humiliation?

And now – is our prime minister’s partner gay? After all, it’s obvious. He’s a hair-dresser. What more need be said? I rest my case.

Do you mind? Are there words to describe the grub who came up with this line of questioning? Has John Howard ever been questioned whether he was having a sexual relationship with his wife, or whether she might be frigid? Or Robert Hawke pressed to provide details of his private endowment? One only has to ask the question to understand how grossly indecent and offensive, how despicable such a line of interrogation really is.

The whole unraveling scene is outrageous, undignified and clearly misogynistic. Commentators and colleagues of the opposition leader have continually crossed the line with impunity, and entered the world of sleaze. There was a time until quite recently when family and partners, personal beliefs, the private lives of public figures were off limits. No more.

It is not good enough for Mal or Joe Hockey to claim they didn’t know. We’re not stupid.  Gullible members of the public. Not on your life. Nor is it good enough for the leader of the opposition to piously proclaim that we should all be better, that we should all abide by a higher standard, as if all politicians, on both sides of the divide, have been somehow grouped together with the abusers and offenders. I want Anthony to look Alan Jones, Malcolm Thomas Brough and the others right in the face and say – “You’re got to be better. You’re a grub, a low life. You are a disgrace. You offend my basic sense of what is right and proper. Until you can prove yourself better, much better that you are, I don’t want to be associated with you.”

And don’t try and tell me that all this started when our prime minister promised not to tax carbon pollution and then, after establishing a stable minority government, broke her promise.

The beginning of this descent into the gutter was when she was wrongfully, consistently accused by Anthony and his colleagues, of lying, just as they wrongfully persist in describing the boat people as “illegal” arrivals. The oppositional antiphon was taken up and enthusiastically chanted by the shock-jocks and peddlers of one-liners, and the untruth spread throughout the community at large.

To accuse the prime minister of lying was nothing but a cynical distortion of the truth – in short, a lie. Abbott knew her broken promise was not a lie, yet he continued to proclaim the message. Unethical. Immoral behavior. He had studied moral theology in the seminary. He had attended Catholic schools, the nuns and the Jesuits. He had learnt his catechism. He knew what constituted a lie. One does not have to be an Einstein to know what a lie is. It’s wrong.  A sin. Saying something which, at the time you say it, you know to be false. Knowingly saying something which is untrue – that’s what a lie is.

Our prime minister did not lie. She broke a promise, a promise which, in hindsight, she shouldn’t have made. But politicians do that often, and will continue to do so. Sometimes it is the only responsible thing to do.

Julia Gillard, while working in a minority government for the welfare of the nation, has been the object of constant and vicious abuse, heaped on her like no other before her. How about a focus on policy, on substance, on the common good and a fair-go for all, on the Australian community and its future – on Gonski and education, on the NBN, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the scourge of gambling, on refugees and their honourable treatment, on jobs and the economy, on a proper taxation regime, balanced and fair, on regulation of the mass media to make it more responsible and sensitive to the truth. Let’s lift our game out of the gutter, give our prime minister the credit and the respect she deserves, insist on the truth being spoken and reported, the whole truth and not just the trite one-liners, ignore the smartly crafted but empty slogans and begin to reflect on who can we entrust the future of our country to. Get the bottom-feeders out of Parliament, off the radio, out of the newspapers and the army and give us all a blast of clean air.

As for me, the recent events have only gone to demonstrate how strong and classy our prime minister really is.

Chris Geraghty

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