The response was fascinating. For much of it was dripping vitriol, along the lines of: “How dare you sit next to that man!”; “Why are consorting with denialist monsters?”; “I am so disappointed in you! I will have to reassess everything you’ve ever written.”
These were the printable ones.
And this, friends, was simply for sitting next to Tony Abbott. As to how he copes with the vitriol that comes his way from actually being Tony Abbott, I’ll never know.
One of the twitterati charged that the photo of me sitting next to him would help him win the next election. I think not. In the first place he took as much flak from his supporters for sitting next to me. And in the second place, I frankly suspect the push for Zali Steggall is so strong it is beyond my own capacity to alter it a jot. Photos have emerged last week of Abbott handing out brochures at Spit Junction to a crowd of no one while, not far away, and not long before, at Bridgepoint shopping centre, Steggall was being mobbed. She was meant to stay for an hour-and-a-half but couldn’t get away in less than three.
Take it to the Banks
Speaking, however, of being mobbed in public, my wife Lisa Wilkinson spent some time with Liberal defector Julia Banks this week as the now Independent candidate seeks to take on her former colleague, Health Minister Greg Hunt, for the seat of Flinders in the upcoming federal election.
When Lisa took her on a stroll through the shopping district with cameras in tow, Banks supporters came from everywhere, avowing their support, and she and the crew seriously struggled to find anyone to go on camera to say they supported Hunt. None of that, however, will make the headlines.
What will be are the quotes from Banks about bullying within the Liberal party that she witnessed, and experienced. Yes, to a certain extent old news, but in this interview she goes much further than ever before.
Of course, there is a tedious embargo on the quotes, but I am sure that doesn’t apply to those who know the password to their wife’s personal computer, and one scene I have seen has Scott Morrison in the party room when the leadership struggle is underway, pointing to photos of former Liberal leaders up on the wall and saying words to effect of, these may all be men but one day there will be a woman, at which point Julie Bishop breaks in and, by Banks’ account says these exact words: “Which century?”
Far more damaging are allegations of Liberal parliamentarians being threatened with damage to their pre-selection if they didn’t vote for Peter Dutton, while other are alleged to have been offered sweet deals and party promotions if they didn’t raise a ruckus.
By Banks’ account, those making the offers included the now Prime Minister. Stand by sports fans, it’s about to get very ugly once more.
The interview will screen 6.30 tonight on The Sunday Project on Channel Ten.
No knockout in debate
As to the debate on Friday evening on the ABC between Gladys Berejiklian and Opposition Leader Michael Daley, I watched it closely as I was on an ABC panel immediately afterwards dissecting it. By and large it was a good performance by both, though the Premier’s frustration at being in the fight of her life while presiding over a generally strong economy showed through, while Daley was at his strongest – as expected – over the #StadiumSplurge.
His strongest line was that the ludicrous indulgence of knocking down and rebuilding modern stadiums was “emblematic” of all that is wrong with this government perpetually bowing to the Big End of town, starting with Alan Jones. Her strongest line was pointing to her regime’s good record on the economy and low unemployment. As to who is going to win, I’d call it 60/40 Daley’s way, after the standing ovation he received from near everybody this week, for boxing Alan Jones about the ears.
The stadium debacle? Me neither. Never seen anything like it. It has been a shemozzle from the start and the response to Opposition leader Michael Daley telling Alan Jones to get back in his box on the subject, even while boxing the broadcaster’s ears, proves just how politically powerful it is. Oh, the people cheered. And yes, now that yet another legal obstacle has been removed, the government can send in the bulldozers to do the heavy demolition. They say they will. Could anything more enrage those huge swathes of the population who are against it, this close to the election, while they are in caretaker mode? Madness, my friends, political madness. Watch this space.
Tweet of the Week
“If only the SCG Trust was in charge of NSW public hospitals. They’d be empty, well resourced and re built every 30 years.”
Quote of the Week
“It’s a peculiarly Australian form of madness … Basically you could argue that their concern was not that I would lose the election but rather that I would win it.” – Malcolm Turnbull to a British interviewer on the August coup.
“When people smugglers see me, they see a brick wall.” – Scott Morrison on Christmas Island. Perhaps President Trump could hire him to stand on the Mexican border?
“I have long lost faith in the institution of the Catholic Church. And I mourn the loss of my faith community. But I made a decision a few years ago that I could not, as a lay person, continue to prop up a family and decaying institution with my voluntary labour and my money.
“And I would say to the women of Australia, the Catholic women of Australia, let’s consider what would happen if all Catholic women withdrew their voluntary labour from the Catholic Church which really does prop up the system.” – Senator Kristina Keneally.
‘“There is no virus there that we can measure. We can’t detect anything.” – Ravindra Gupta, a professor and HIV biologist who co-led a team of doctors treating a man in England with a bone-marrow transplant from a man with a rare genetic resistance to AIDS. More than 18 months after he came off antiretroviral drugs, highly sensitive tests still show no trace of the man’s previous HIV infection.
“It will make the Franklin Dam campaign look like a Sunday picnic. We just had our hottest summer on record. If Labor or Liberal [parties] give this project the tick of approval then you will see civil disobedience in Australia on a scale never seen before.” – Greens energy spokesman Adam Bandt promising a fight about Chinese-backed plans to build a massive new coal-fired power plant in NSW.
“We’ve long been concerned about the safety of the stadium.” – Alan Jones. Really, Alan? Why then, as Michael Daley points out, does the last financial report of the SCG Trust have $12 million spent tarting up private suites, and NOTHING on safety?
Joke of the Week
Back in the 1980s, Spanish singer Julio Iglesias was on UK television with British TV host Anne Diamond. He used the word mañana. Diamond asked him to explain what it meant. He said the term means: “Maybe the job will be done tomorrow; maybe the next day; maybe the day after that, or perhaps next week, next month, next year. Who really cares?” The host turned to other guest on the show, Australian country singer, Mudruck Flatlands. She asked him if there was an equivalent term in his home country. “Nah,” he replied. “In Australia, we don’t have a word to describe that degree of urgency.”
Peter FitzSimons is a journalist and columnist with The Sydney Morning Herald.