I was bemoaning our fate here in Britain recently as the political party conference season inflicted on us a string of our most senior politicians trying to seduce us with rhetoric, propaganda, eye wash, and, well, tosh. What a relief then to listen to the proceedings of the Australian parliament this morning where the very direct, wonderfully feisty and impressively eloquent Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister, spoke against a motion introduced by the Leader of the Opposition, the smoothly reactionary Tony Abbott who was seeking the dismissal of the Parliament’s Speaker, Peter Slipper, the MP for Fisher, who is currently being investigated over a case of sexual harassment. Rich coming from Mr Abbott, Julia Gillard thought before launching into one of the most impressive, passionate, heart-felt and devastating parliamentary speeches delivered anywhere in the World for a very long time.
To put it into context, in case you missed it, Tony Abbott, formerly a friend of this Peter Slipper, turned on him after he left his party to become Speaker and by doing so helping the survival of Julia Gillard’s minority government. Now, in Julia Gillard’s opinion, he has jumped on the band wagon of disapproval over Slipper’s sexism and misogyny as revealed recently in some offensively explicit text messages that Peter Slipper sent to James Ashby, his gay assistant, who is suing him for sexual harassment making derogatory comments about female genitalia. Tony Abbott was treading on dangerous ground after running a campaign against the Prime Minister that was coloured by his own sexism and misogyny. A famous example was his standing next to a placard proclaiming “Ditch the Witch.” and another that said “JuLiar….Bob Brown’s Bitch” (a reference to Julia Gillard’s partner Bob Brown). Australian politics has been set alight.
Tony Abbott unleashed this ferocious response by echoing another recent scandal when a well-known radio presenter made a tasteless remark about Julia Gillard’s recently deceased father:
“The old man recently died a few weeks ago of shame to think that he had a daughter who told lies every time she stood for parliament.”