Ok, this is one of those times when people are going to say that I just don’t get it!
They’re probably right. But if men like me don’t keep saying things that are wrong, who will be left to disagree with?
Anyway, I suddenly had this thought about the whole Michelle Landry and all those who marched out to support her after she was so upset that she left the chamber in tears.
Now, people who watched the interaction seemed a little confused because the footage seemed to show her laughing. And it was clear that Anthony Albanese was responding to Peter Dutton’s interjection and that he even said that he was sure that the Member for Capricornia (Landry) would know that there’s a difference between Yeppoon and Yeppen.
So we’re left wondering – given that this shouting and mocking was enough to reduce someone to tears – how we’d have reacted if it were Peter Dutton who left and said that he was reduced to tears.
Now, I want to make it quite clear that I’m not mocking a man who’s reduced to tears over something…
And I also want to make it quite clear that I’m not supporting the bullying of women…
So what am I left with?
The whole episode raises two important questions. The first relates to the idea that we’d be pretty shocked if Peter Dutton did tell us that the “bullying” by Anthony Albanese was so bad he was reduced to tears…
“Reduced to tears”. That’s a pretty interesting phrase when you think about it. It suggests that somehow tears reduce us to something lesser than we are.
Anyway, we’d be pretty surprised that what Albanese said was enough to have the Opposition leader in tears and we’d think that it was well a bit weak and we’d wonder about his fitness for the role. I mean compared to some of the actual behind the scenes bullying of Bridget Archer and others, Albanese’s mocking was fairly consistent with what’s considered robust debate. Maybe we should have less robust debate and more intelligent discussion, but if – for example – we compare it to Josh (Who?) Frydenberg’s attack on Jim Chalmers for suggesting a wellbeing measure, it was fairly mild.
So that raises the first question: Do we just accept that women should be treated differently because they’re women? Nobody said, “Harden up, princess!” which I’m sure would have been the response if Dutton had called the press conference to tell us all how upset he was…
Like I said, as a male, I’m not going to be able to understand what it’s like to be a woman in her position, and I certainly don’t support the bullying of women. But I don’t support the bullying of men either, so I’m just putting it out there that it’s strange that the issue was all around whether Albo was talking to Landry or Dutton and that nobody pointed out that mocking an inaccurate interjection was hardly the stuff that makes the public go, “Wow, this is far worse than Morrison getting stuck into Christina Holgate, or the way the Liberals attacked Gillian Triggs. We certainly understand why all the Coalition came out to condemn this after being silent so many other times.”
But there’s a second question that this whole issue raises:
Is the Opposition working on the theory that what worked in the past should be the template for the future?
It seems that they’ve taken a pinch of Tony Abbott where they blame Labor for everything and do as much as possible to make things worse so that everyone else will blame Labor too. When the Coalition say that if they were in government, they’d cut spending, but interviewers rarely ask them where exactly they’d do that. And when Labor does actually cut some, LNP MPs like Michelle Landry ask accusatory questions in Question Time that educate us all on the difference between Yeppen and Yeppoon.
Then they’ve looked at what worked for Labor so they’ve added the tactics that were employed against Scott Morrison:
- The PM is big on announcements but poor on delivery. (A little early in the term to try this on Labor. Even the $275 reduction in energy prices was by 2025. Ok, there’s probably no way they’ll get there, but it’s a bit early to be calling it a broken promise!)
- He always goes missing in a crisis. (Again, a bit hard to make this one stick because there’s a difference between taking Jenandthegirls on a Hawaiian holiday and attending the funerals of world leaders and attending conferences.)
- He doesn’t have a good understanding of the issues affecting women and there’s a culture of bullying in Parliament which he’s doing nothing to fix.
They might be tactics that eventually work but at the moment it seems like it’ll need more than fine-tuning. I mean, it could work to attack Kevin Rudd as a nerdy, academic type who’s spent too much time in Canberra, but I don’t think the same attack would work on Pauline Hanson… although she has spent a large part of her life in Canberra and I’d actually suggest that any time she’s spent in Canberra is too much!
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