We all have memories of a child bawling its eyes out after being clobbered by another kid. We also have memories of the offender’s customary excuse: ‘He hit me first!’. We tend to label such behaviour as ‘kids stuff’.
But how many of you expected grown-up politicians to ape them?
Yet they do. How sickening is it to see those who ask for our vote, who ask that we trust them to manage our nation, exhibiting such ‘kid’s stuff’.
When the Coalition appointed Simon Birmingham as its spokesman, I wonder if they expected him to so often use the ‘He hit me first!’ excuse? I suspect they might be disappointed with such childish behaviour. Let me explain what I mean.
In the run-up to the election we have been astonished at the number of candidates who have been found to be unsuitable because of past behaviour: guilty of foul insults, racism, anti-Muslim rhetoric, anti-Semitism, white supremacist language and behaviour, homophobia, misogyny, sexism, crude references to female anatomy, vile ’jokes’ about women, dirty language and unseemly behaviour. These behaviours seem to have been stock in trade for countless candidates, whose pasts have caught up with them courtesy of the social media, where misdemeanors are meticulously stored, only to be unearthed at the most inconvenient time.
Every ‘exposure’ of the behaviour of these would-be politicians, selected mainly for unwinnable seats, has been seized upon by opponents and shouted from the rooftops. Every day we have seen politicians confronted by opponents calling for the disendorsement of their offending candidates. The response is always the same: ‘He hit me first!’. Translated into the vernacular of politics, this deciphers into: ‘You have candidates who are as shonky as ours’.
To illustrate this, I offer this transcript of a recent dialogue between Sabra Lane of the ABC’s AM and Simon Birmingham:
SABRA LANE: Two Liberal candidates were dumped or jumped yesterday. Do they match the criticism attributed to Kelly O'Dwyer, that the Liberal party in Victoria is perceived as "homophobic, anti-women, and climate change deniers"?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I think there's a lesson for both the Labor and the Coalition parties out of yesterday. We saw, and have seen, candidates now disendorsed from both Labor and Liberal ranks. The Labor party's lost a couple of candidates in the course of this election for anti-Semitic issues. There's another candidate under some pressure in relation to making light of rape. [‘He hit me first!’ excuse]. In the end, this is a reminder to all parties to make sure that the vetting of candidates, even those running in unwinnable positions, is thorough.
SABRA LANE: But how worried are you that in Victoria in particular, where your own colleagues admit it's more progressive and not tolerant of these kind of views, that it further damages the Liberal brand?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Sabra, I just think that there are lessons here that the Labor Party, the Liberal and National parties, all of us need to heed in terms of making sure that our vetting processes are thorough. [‘He hit me first!’ again]. We are the parties of government, and people expect us to have thorough vetting processes.
We do that for candidates, especially in all of the winnable seats. Clearly, some have slipped through the net on both sides of politics in relation to those unwinnable seats.
Let’s leave Birmingham; I’m sure you’ve had enough of his persistently defensive rhetoric.
The Second Leaders’ debate on Sky News
gave us another example of childish behaviour.
In what columnists are describing as his ‘Mark Latham handshake moment’,
PM Morrison tried to get under Shorten’s guard onstage after tensions flared when Shorten questioned him about the LNP’s big tax cuts for high-income earners in 2024. As Morrison dodged his questions, Shorten scrawled “$77 billion” on a piece of paper and held it up to the audience. Morrison’s retort: “I wouldn’t trust your maths in a heartbeat”
, and Shorten’s response: “$77 billion to the top 3 per cent of earners, that’s nice money if you can get it”
evoked an encircling move towards Shorten.
Morrison then accused Shorten of having been shifty with a blue-collar worker who wanted to know if he would get a tax cut when he earned over $200,000 a year working in the mines. “You couldn’t look him in the eye and tell him you were going to increase his taxes”
, Morrison said as he stepped closer to Shorten, who smilingly responded: “You’re a classic space invader”.
The audience and moderator David Speers saw the joke. Morrison didn’t!
Morrison hated being challenged so publically before a TV audience of many thousands. His aggressive response – invading Shorten’s space – was yet another example of ‘He hit me first! So I’m going after him.’
It’s all rather depressing isn’t it? On May 18 we are required to vote for our local candidates and senators, to whom we entrust the governance of our nation. Yet so many of them show so little aptitude for their parliamentary role, so little understanding of the issues that ordinary folk consider important, so out of touch with existential environmental threats, so unaware of the social inequity that afflicts our nation, so indifferent to the sheer unfairness that debases our society, and so shonky to boot!
To cap that catalogue of ineptitude, too many candidates are self-centred, focussed solely on gaining the prize of election, aggressively antagonistic to their opponents, and disparaging towards those with different views.
Most distressing though is that every day they exhibit the behaviour we censure in our children: ‘He hit me first!’
To me, Ad Astra, “Time to say goodbye” are among the saddest words in our language. Yet say them now we must.
I chose Ad Astra as my moniker because my secondary school’s motto is ‘sic itur ad astra’, which can be liberally interpreted as: “Here is the way to the stars”. How inspiring these word...
There is a conspiracy theory that suggests that birds (in the USA at least) aren’t real. The claim is that all the birds in the USA were hunted down by the government between the late 50’s and early 70s and replaced with bird like drones to spy on you. According to the theory President John F. Kenne...
You may not have heard of Mike Rinder. A Scientologist for most of his life, at the age of 52 he walked out, and as a result lost his family, friends, employment and pretty well everything else in his life. RInder has written a book on his time in Scientology, runs a website that questions Scientolo...
Prior to becoming President, Joe Biden was a US Senator for around 36 years. He is known as Amtrak Joe as he routinely took the daily 90 minute each way train trip (on the USA’s national passenger train network — Amtrak) from his home in Delaware to Washington DC to represent his state. If you liste...
Last September, you might have seen Qantas CEO Alan Joyce received a pay increase of $278,000 per annum. It seems that Joyce has met or exceeded the performance goals set by his employers and contractually has earned the reward. It does, however, raise a larger question.
Joyce's pay increase for t...
In his recent Budget reply speech, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton laboured (pun intended) on the increasingly difficult to achieve promise by Prime Minister Albanese that power bills will be $275 less in 2025. While the government is claiming the modelling done in 2021 supports the accuracy of the p...
Wellbeing and politics have collided in the past couple of weeks. Federal Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers has started a conversation about measuring the ‘wellbeing’ of the nation as a result of the measures in the budget. The Opposition, as you would expect, has poured scorn on the idea.
On a purely lo...
Recently, in what could be described as an epic fail in recruiting practices, the Essendon Football Club hired and accepted the resignation of the same CEO within a day. The issue was that the CEO was also the Chairman of ‘City on the Hill’, a church that seems to promote some conservative views on ...
It was probably co-incidental that the Australian Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was held in Sydney around the time the NRL and AFL finals were occurring. CPAC originally advertised the conference would be at Luna Park — until Luna Park claimed they had never had a booking. The Conf...
Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong recently addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Accompanying Wong on the trip was Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen and ‘Special Envoy for Reconciliation’ Pat Dodson. Wong told the General Assembly that Australia believed the UN an...
You’re probably aware of some who don't see the need to reduce emissions. They have a lot of different reasons or excuses for the position, including the current systems have served us well in the past, we’re only a small population so our changes won’t mean much or just a general reluctance to cons...
A local real estate agent rings me every couple of months asking if I am willing to sell my house. So far he's tried the 'look how much you could get' strategy, 'the market is moving, you don’t want to miss out’ strategy and telling me he could help me buy another house if I did sell; to which my re...
Current rating: 4.8 / 5 | Rated 18 times