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Whose side are you on, Tony?


Ten flags now, is it? Really!

Tony Abbott’s lack of diplomatic skills and his limited vocabulary are the main reason he gets himself into so much trouble when he opens his mouth. Both shortcomings came to the fore this week.

His many gaffes, some just plain stupid (suppository of wisdom), others utterly thoughtless (lifestyle choices), are the product of someone not sufficiently mature enough to grasp the nuances of the moment. And ten flags won’t help him with that.

His latest foray was directed at the ABC in the aftermath of this week’s Q&A program. “Whose side are you on,” he asked. His love affair…not, with the ABC is well known. Which makes his question/comment all too expected,unfortunately.

It is another one of those occasions when his political skills and experience were compromised, this time by his confusion over who is entitled to speak freely in our country and who is not.

It wasn’t that long ago when he was keen to amend Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act that makes it unlawful for anyone to publicly offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate a person or group of persons. It was during that debate Attorney General Senator George Brandis told parliament that people had a right to be bigots.

Given that Section 18C was not amended, it might be reasonable to ask if both Steve Ciobi and Zaky Mallah have broken the law? Ciobi’s inflammatory comment, “I’m happy to look you straight in the eye and say that I would be pleased to be part of a government that would say you’re out of the country,” was followed shortly after by Mallah’s equally inflammatory reply, “The Liberals now have just justified to many Australian Muslims in the community tonight to leave and go to Syria and join ISIL because of ministers like him.”

ciobi Ciobi should have known better. His comment could be construed as offending and intimidating, while Mallah’s could be seen as insulting. Putting the law to one side, it might be reasonable to dismiss this as no more than a robust discussion between opposing points of view. It is a matter of opinion as to which comment was the more inflammatory.

So, for Abbott to ask which side is the ABC on, seems to miss the point. The ABC should not be on any one’s side. It is a public broadcaster. In this particular case it may have an editorial problem to deal with but that is another matter.

The ABC is also a forum for public comment across all issues of public interest. It is not a tool of government; it is independent of government. And, it is funded, not by government, but by the people.

Abbott has seemingly overlooked that point. His question also reduces the matter to the base level of a contest; as if one side is more deserving and should be supported more than the other. He has reduced it to another ‘Team Australia’ moment. I would have thought the subject of national security was far more serious than that.

qa Clearly, the prime minister is on the side of national security; to the point of being annoyingly so. Ten flags says it all. But because he is the prime minister, surely we are entitled to expect something better than, ‘whose side are they on’? Are we not entitled to expect that, in the case of the Q&A episode, he might first acknowledge that this was an example of free speech in play?

He might then have been entitled to question the editorial wisdom of having Zaky Mallah on the program in the first place. He might then have asked why was a more responsible and authoritative member of the Islamic community not invited. That would have fitted perfectly into his current obsession with national security.

But his actions suggest he is more interested in having a box-on with the ABC rather than address the real issue. His actions not only call into question his diplomatic skills but just how genuine is his concern for national security beyond its ten flags status and using it to try and wedge the opposition.


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  1. Kaye Lee

    Tony is on the side of the camera crew. This morning Mark Dreyfuss moved a censure motion because our fool of a PM went into the ASIO building with entourage in tow and did his usual trick of posing for the cameras with maps in front of him. Turns out the maps were classified as they showed the location of suspected terrorists here. Anything for a photo op. Makes Credlin’s hissy fit about being photographed in a “secure area” at a police station sound kinda ridiculous doesn’t it. Enough with the photo shoots you moron.

  2. Yvonne Cunningham

    Its simple, Abbott is a bully. He has a compulsion to score points and he does it robotically, I don’t think his brain connects with his mouth.

  3. kerri

    I agree with most of what you say here John Kelly but for one point!!!
    It is not a matter of opinion whose comments were more inflammatory.
    Ciobo is allegedly a “Professional” politician and the immediacy with which he sought to use Mallah as a political pawn in a false and unprofessional war against the due course of law was by far the more offensive.
    Mallah, as a private citizen is entitled in a public forum to voice his opinion.
    Ciobo as a representative of the Government and by extension all Australians should have moderated his reaction in a more professional and measured manner.
    Ciobo is a shining example o much that is wrong with this government, perpetually telling Australia what “most Australians” want without ever bothering to establish the truth behind their commentary.
    It is a Government of opinion and self opinionated self worth!

  4. brickbob

    Your first few opening words says it all,”” Tony Abbott’s lack of diplomatic skills and his limited vocabulary,”” brilliant.””

  5. Morpheus Being

    Abbott’s remarks and his proposed investigation into the ABC are a waste of space, time, effort and money. The ABC has a duty to present both sides of an argument for the public good, and is not the propaganda arm of the CMOI attempting to govern/manage this country.

    And previous comments are correct – Abbott is a real bully – one only has to watch/listen to his antics in question time. If he was in public, he would be charged. I look forward to the time, when he can be exported back to whence he came under the changes to the citizenship act, as his allegiance is not to this country.

  6. Kaye Lee

    Imagine if Ciobo had responded differently. Imagine if he had said “We need to understand why our young people are being drawn to this horror. You seem to be well-placed to help us understand and help save our children from this seduction. You admit you have made mistakes and you have been punished for them. You have seen the violence – are you willing to help us show our young people that IS is not the way of Islam?”

  7. diannaart

    Fun, but little known fact, about the small African antelope the <bDik-Dik

    Latin name is Antonius Abbuttus.

    When threatened by a predator, a dik-dik … usually choose to freeze or hide rather than run from a predator.

    Here’s a rare shot of a scared little Dik Dik:

  8. Graeme Henchel

    Have we reached Peak Flags yet?
    Somehow I think we’ve not
    As the scoundrel taking refuge
    Parlays a patriotic plot

    There’s nothing like a fear campaign
    to scare the public shitless
    And wedge out your opponents
    So they run around quite witless

    But with each rhetorical escalation
    as more flags go by his side
    the public nose can start to sense
    they’re being taken for a ride

    A heated exchange on Q and A
    draws attack on the ABC
    The Murdoch press join in the fray
    More flags than the eye can see

    Have we reached Peak Flags yet?
    Somehow I think we’ve not
    For the scoundrel taking refuge
    It’s the only thing he’s got.

  9. Trevor

    John Kelly, Great article as usual. The first part of your final paragraph says all that needs to be said about Lord Scumsucker from Sydenee aka Abbott the Glib.”But his actions suggest he is more interested in having a box-on…….” Ten Flag Abbott is caught in his own wedge as far as politics of any day are concerned. Abbott governs(masquerades) in continual battle mode with wedges for friend and foe but especially for Labor and Bill. Abbott even wedges his own team Abbott to prove some point that evades most. His appointment of whip after his “near death” at the hands of his backbench has proven to be just another media stunt with the Whip marshalling the back bench to become an effective shadow cabinet for the purpose of flushing out Abbott’s opposition in Turncoat Turnbull, and reminding all and sundry that Abbott takes no prisoners. Ten Flag Tony, the Joke that keeps on giving, but will the voters see through the bluff and bluster at the forthcoming election? We shall see.

  10. Harquebus

    If Zaky Mallah was branded a bigot instead of a terrorist, everything would have been okay.

  11. kerri

    Kaye Lee you have struck paydirt there! Mallah was offering a personal story of a life changed and mistakes made in the passion of youth but all Ciobo saw was an opportunity to raise political capital!
    Yes! Imagine if Ciobo had said……… Imagine if the adults REALLY were in charge????
    Imagine if the goal was peace rather than war????

  12. FreeThinker

    From a position of privilege and power, Ciobo’s response was despicable, bullying, goading and disrespectful. Must have thought he was in Question Time, rather than speaking to a member of the Australian community. He could have responded much more moderately than he did to this young Islamic man.

    As you point out Kaye, Ciobo desperately needs coaching in being respectful, in active listening and in crafting diplomatic language.

    With Abbott as his leader it won’t happen.

  13. Keith

    Abbott wants to shackle the ABC, just looking for any excuse. Also, Abbott is pushing terrorism hard as he appears to be getting traction from it; anybody or Agency, that gets in the way will be attacked. Turnbull was on the 7.30 Report tonight and stated governments need to look after the safety of citizens. If that is the case what are they doing about domestic violence and climate change?

    The question is, how many people have actually been killed by terrorists in Australia?

  14. Ned

    defacing Government property is an egomaniac grandstanding like a pompous self important dick in front of 20 flag treating them as his bling,and not the country’s symbol for his own look at me. Thats what defacing Commonwealth property is. Not even malign Menzies who got voted out for his red under the beds policy witch hunt, defaced the flag by standing in front of 20, and he’s the guy that these Neoliberal hacks hold up in high esteem with their Emperor Menzies institute. Obviously Menzies was a humble man compared to these raging Narcissus.

  15. Pingback: Whose side are you on, Tony? – » The Australian Independent Media Network | olddogthoughts

  16. abbienoiraude

    In The New Daily a comment writer, Colin Martin Fulton made these important points:

    “With regards to the person in question let’s look at a few facts instead of relying on Phoney Tony.
    1) He was a very young man when he made these threats for which he has been punished.
    2) He has admitted that it was a stupid mistake.
    3) In the 10 years since he has had no offences.
    4) He actively campaigns to stop young people joining ISIS.
    5) If Abbott and his bosses in the Murdoch press hadn’t made such a song and dance of this matter hardly anyone would know about it. ”

    These should be pointed out by the ABC AND Tony Jones!!!

  17. Jaia Brunt

    Well said John. Another storm in a tea cup and an excuse for the Abbott Government to initiate fear tactics to stiffle healthy debate. I am being radicalized into action and have already called a few politicians – we all need to defend our democracy.

  18. Pingback: Tony Abbott’s Zombie Apocalypse – Written by TURNLEFT2016 | winstonclose

  19. kevinherbert1

    Colin Martin Fulton’s above referencing of his post on the NW Daily site, under the name of abbienoiraude takes the cake for cyber narcissism…..stop it’ll go blind.

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