australian politics and the #shitpoliticianssay
During any election time, we all become privy to the political world more than on a regular, day-to-day basis. Politicians from all sides hold basically nothing back in their desperate attempts to wrangle voters, fence-sitters, and special “demographics” with appealing policies, promises and one-liners.
Unfortunately, we also experience many cringe-worthy, God-awful, make-it-stop things that come out of politician’s mouths. The upcoming September 7 election has been no exception, and given that we still have a fortnight of campaigning left, the mind boggles to think of what they will say next considering some of the absolute pearlers that have come out so far.
It may be hard to believe that some of the things I’m about to list have come from some of the nation’s most powerful and influential people. These are the people at the head of running our country who make decisions that will affect all of our lives. Sadly, it is the truth. It is these kinds of things that have given rise to the Twitter hashtag #shitpoliticianssay – an always amusing search, for anybody who’s interested.
So now let’s take a look at what our election campaign has produced so far.
I am going to begin with the man – no, wait, this deserves capitals – The Man when it comes to political gaffes and ridiculous acts and phrases that do his campaign more harm than good. Yes, I’m talking about the Leader of the Opposition and federal Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia; the man who could potentially represent this country on the world stage (I shudder to think) – Mr. Tony Abbott.
Abbott has managed more political gaffes over his career than one could poke a stick at. But in the last few weeks, Abbott has really outdone himself. This is no mean feat, might I add, coming from the man responsible for this quote:
‘It would be folly to expect that women would ever approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, their abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.’
And there’s the linguistic mix-up in front of hundreds of the Liberal faithful where Tony declared that (and I quote), ‘No one, however smart, however well educated, however experienced, is the suppository of all wisdom.’ Once again, the Twitterverse exploded, this time with the hashtag #suppository. Another mere mix-up, only this time with the terms of the English language? Forgivable? I think so. Laughable? I also think so.
If you are keen for more Abbottisms (yes, there’s a name for them), check out this gem of a website.
The more highly publicised gaffes are to follow, which are, in my opinion, less forgivable, due to the fact that these were not mere misunderstandings or awkward scenarios. There are more deep-seated, contentious issues at play here. I am, of course, referring to his incident with Liberal candidate Fiona Scott, when he referred to her, in conjunction with MP Jackie Kelly, as being ‘young’, ‘feisty’ and ‘hav[ing] a bit of sex appeal.’ But, don’t worry everybody, Tony totally amended this moment more recently by wrapping his arm around Ms. Scott in front of the media, and informing them that she was ‘not just a pretty face’. So that’s made up for it, right? (Correct answer: wrong). And what about Tony’s recent radio interview where he declared his stance on marriage equality by stating that he is ‘not someone who wants to see radical change based on the fashion of the moment’? These two incidents have been so highly publicised that I hardly need to go into any detail but they do portray a serious prejudice that is harmful to the functioning of Australian society given the stances that they perpetuate.
Let’s look at not another quote, but a rather creepy action. Abbott tried to kiss the baby, but he missed, instead hitting the back of the mother’s head. We’re all familiar with the image now, but after seeing the video of the full incident, we can probably concede that this was merely a misunderstanding, a genuine political campaigning action gone horribly wrong.
Not to be outdone by the Liberals, the Labor party is responsible for its fair share of gaffes too. Former Labor leader Mark Latham responded to the “sex appeal” gaffe with an even worse statement; one that was downright degrading towards Fiona Scott, thus declaring himself and the men of Australia to be better judges of who is or who is not a “good sort”. When I first heard these comments, I almost couldn’t be in the same room as the television any more – the gaffes this election time just seem to be getting worse and worse. I remember thinking, ‘time to leave the country!’
Current Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has been the centre of many political gaffes in his time as well. Granted, Mr. Rudd’s gaffes have been less politically motivated and more just downright awkward and questionable behaviour. The most famous of these was being caught digging deep for, and then munching on, his own earwax in the background of a question time – questionable behaviour. Cracking hissy fits on airplanes, dropping the F-bomb in YouTube videos, and being accused of throwing office stationery – questionable behaviour. Being accused of having the potential for being a Chinese spy – questionable behaviour.
And it seems the election and campaign coverage is not limited to the Australian media. The American comedy television show The Daily Show aired a spotlight on the brevity of the Australian election campaign, and in the meantime highlighted many of the embarrassments that have cropped up so far. These include the what I’ve already mentioned, as well as the spectacular failure of a political career that was Stephanie Banister’s, with temporary Daily Show host John Oliver labelling her “Australia’s Sarah Palin”, even going a step further by deeming her “turbo-Palin.” Which is fair enough – she did think Islam was a country, after all. (Yikes).
Does the The Daily Show special mean that Australian politics is the laughing stock of the world? Or does it simply highlight the fact that politicians are just as bumbling and likely to err no matter their country? No matter what the view may be, I’m sure that our election campaign still has much more fodder to provide for both voters and for the world to contend.