Why is there
a sense of foreboding whenever Tony Abbott travels overseas? Probably
because one’s immediate reaction is, “Oh God, in what way will he
embarrass us this time.” I can’t help thinking that as they watched John
Oliver’s parody of Abbott
on his weekly satirical, “Last Week Tonight” show, members of the
American press were of a similar mind about his planned visit there next
week. Abbott’s poor media presence, his stilted speech, his fake laugh
are grist for the mill to a press corp. aware of his tendency to say
something incredibly stupid. My fervent wish would be that they ignore
him and give us all a break from the cringing and squirming we will have
to endure as we sit on our sofas, in front of our TV sets and follow
his movements across the Northern Hemisphere. The planned meeting with
US President Barack Obama will, no doubt, be particularly painful to
watch. One can only hope that Obama will take pity and shield him from
the US press or at least spring to his aid when Abbott inevitably sticks
his foot in his mouth.
In the meantime the Coalition government and particularly the Liberal
side of it appear to be imploding. Bolt on Turnbull, Bernadi on
Turnbull, all stirred up over a meal Turnbull had with Clive Palmer. And
the winner was….Clive Palmer. Even West Australian Liberal MP Dennis
Jensen, a former research scientist and defence analyst, was moved to criticise the
government for cutting funding to the CSIRO? It’s not hard to see that
the Liberals are running scared right now. Bad polling numbers, internal
criticisms of Hockey’s budget and the press popularity of Clive Palmer
who is clearly enjoying the road show and keeping everyone guessing as
to what he’ll do next, is taking its toll. Queensland Coalition MP’s in
particular are already starting to panic. Palmer’s popularity in
Queensland and the rising dissatisfaction with the Newman state
government is a genuine concern for them. As most MP’s know only too
well, when Queensland voters are upset they can be particularly savage
come election time.
wonders why Andrew Bolt raised the question of Turnbull’s activities on
his programme. Was he prompted to do so by the Abbott camp or was he
trying to gain some publicity for his show? Does he genuinely fear
Turnbull? Has he forgotten the devastating impact leadership speculation
had on the previous government? For all the commentary that has
appeared on this issue, it was Bolt who started it. He is the one making
the case for Turnbull’s so-called disloyalty.
Interestingly, several Coalition MP’s came out this week criticising
Turnbull and favouring Bolt, when the PM made it clear in parliament
that he favoured Turnbull over Bolt. That is hardly what you would call a
co-ordinated united front.
In the meantime, Hockey has gone strangely quiet and Scott Morrison
is in damage control. Two self immolations and one murder so far on
Scott Morrison’s watch. And that’s what we actually know. There are
claims of asylum seekers being lost at sea while being forcibly
repatriated to remote Indonesian Islands by the Royal Australian Navy.
But the Minister is warning his critics against making “assumptions”
about what led Sri Lankan man Leorsin Seemanpillai to take his life.
Does he not realise by saying that, he is drawing attention to the
a new problem has surfaced and it has gone viral. John Oliver’s ‘Last
Week Tonight’ skit made Abbott look like the village idiot. Anyone
familiar with the Comedy Channel who knows the threesome that is Jon
Stewart, Steven Colbert and John Oliver, would also know their
popularity worldwide via YouTube. And the Liberal party brains trust
would have noticed too that Oliver was careful not to alienate his
friends in Australia. He emphasised that only 30% supported Abbott.
Australian politics is hardly ever presented in satirical form overseas.
We are mostly ignored, criticised or praised depending on the
circumstances, but rarely satirised. And for an Australian Prime
Minister to be the subject of that satire, to be so jeered and made to
look so inept and just plain stupid must be a first, particularly on the
eve of an official visit. Will we be hearing accusations that this also
was planned by Turnbull?
Everything about this farcical situation has been of the
conservative’s side of politics own making. It might have been planned
but the more likely explanation is that they are all just so rattled and
dysfunctional these days, that it all came naturally. Did you see
Barnaby Joyce’s sexist gaffe on The Project during the week? On Peta Credlin,
he commented, “I’m on good information from her husband that she’s a
woman.” He explained the gaffe as a poor attempt at humour. Yes it was,
but it also validates the dysfunctional element infecting the
government. What a circus!