The launch of Women For Gillard united the nation unexpectedly. Jooolya’s friends and foes were both left asking Prime Minister, wtf?
On that day, 14 September, we are going to make a big decision as a nation. It’s a decision about whether, once again, we will banish women’s voices from our political life.
Banish women’s voices? Julie Bishop, deputy leader of the parliamentary Liberals, is a woman and an intelligent politician. Women are prominent throughout the Liberal Party. But when Jooolya’s on a roll she prefers boogeymen to facts. Under a Liberal government, she warned, abortion would become the plaything of men. A very particular breed of men – sartorially speaking.
I invite you to imagine it. A prime minister – a man in a blue tie – who goes on holidays to be replaced by a man in a blue tie.
A treasurer, who delivers a budget wearing a blue tie, to be supported by a finance minister – another man in a blue tie.
I am not making this up. Those words were actually uttered by Australia’s Worst Prime Minister Ever.
This does at least explain why at least some of those girls standing behind Jooolya look so glum. Their school uniform includes a blue tie, and these young ladies have just realised that they’re actually men. A very difficult conversation with their boyfriends is inevitable. That’s my theory and I’ll stick with it unless the truth is even more ridiculous. But I digress.
Mockery from the right; bemusement on the left. Prominent members of the sisterhood were moved to question Jooolya’s judgment. The call to arms was a flop. The Circus of Ineptitude threw the switch on Plan B. Wednesday morning delivered a whole new story. Here, here in black and white, was the evidence at last of conservative misogyny. A menu had been prepared for a fundraising dinner for Mal Brough (Brough, minister for Aboriginal Affairs under John Howard, is hoping to re-enter Parliament in September). The menu made reference to Jooolya in derogatory terms. Damning proof that a Liberal government would send women back to the days of barefoot and pregnant.
News reports ran wild with the story. Widespread condemnation, and calls for Brough to be disendorsed. My initial reaction was, how bloody stupid of the Liberals to do this. But I remained dubious. Odd that the government brought the menu to light only now, when the event was held back in March.
The story raised too many questions, and as details accumulated it became obvious that this was another Labor stunt in the process of backfiring. Hour by hour the story fell apart. The restaurant’s owner had made up the menu as a private amusement; it never used at the dinner. And the comment about Jooolya wasn’t even original. It used a joke which had been circulating on the internet for more than a year.
Where was the outrage in 2012? Why had the government, having known of the menu for three months, kept quiet until now? Finance Minister Penny Wong said the timing was oddly convenient – but she was referring to the restaurant owner’s apology, not the story itself. The minister’s definition of convenient is, well, convenient.
Jooolya inevitably took centre stage to reveal again the depth of her disconnect. The menu was ‘grossly offensive’, but no more than she has come to expect of her opponent.
This is Tony Abbott’s Liberals, this is what they’re like. We’d see this lack of respect for women littered throughout all of his government policy documents.
Our PM misunderstands. Respect is lacking not for women, but for her and her party.
Even if the menu had been used, most outside Jooolya’s dwindling circle of friends would have shrugged. Tit for tat. Labor celebrated former PM Bob Hawke’s 80th birthday with a stripper wearing a John Howard mask. A comedian made a derogatory reference to one of Tony Abbot’s female staff at a party function last year – a male comedian at that. Filthy misogynist. And AWPME is herself no shy maiden. Jooolya is on record as having mocked one member of the opposition for his weight and labeling another a ‘mincing poodle’. Her fury over the menu counted for little against her own collection of jibes.
As its end approaches this government sinks deeper into hypocrisy and stupidity. And this Prime Minister is the most stupid hypocrite among them, constantly leaping forward to accuse and then tripping herself up. She is unable to think beyond immediate results, seeing only that A will lead to B but never that B might in turn trigger C, D, and E. There is no advantage so small or fleeting that Jooolya cannot misuse it to her own detriment. Napoleon was displaying more intelligence when he invaded Russia.
By Wednesday evening the menu scandal had collapsed – a 12-hour wonder. There was backpedaling, and a few rather lame apologies to Brough. And then the story was gone. Thursday’s papers carried a whole new scandal: sexist emails in the Army.
Wave goodbye to any prospect of an apology from Jooolya. There’s bigger issues demanding her attention.
She’s moved on.
She refuses to dwell on the past.
We have an Army that has lost its way.