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"Let's have a bloke's question"
March 18, 2014 3:42 PM   Subscribe

When Australian prime minister Tony Abbott paused on the lawn of Parliament House to engage a group of high school students in conversation, he may have been hoping to impress some future voters. However, the questions fired at him by the 14-year-olds - about asylum seekers, gay marriage and why he has appointed himself Minister for Women - seemed to take him aback (warning: camera is level with Abbott's crotch.) The students involved later participated in the March in March – a series of protests against current government policies which took place in 29 locations across Australia over three days. Despite over 100,000 turning out, the protests was little coverage by mainstream media – leading to criticism even from within the media’s own ranks.
posted by andraste (32 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
I attended March in March in Hobart (I wasn't going to but decided to abandon my cynicism at the last moment after watching a talentless hack get elected Premier of my state the night before) and it was great, and of course, nothing like how the media universally portrayed it.

From my experience, on the ground, it was not a rabble calling for the removal of an elected leader. It was a bunch of people putting the government on notice that they disapprove of their policies, and they will be there to call attention to them and fight against them for the next three years.

It was not people complaining about a disjointed and unconnected set of issues. This is the most popular complaint, and it just displays the willful ignorance of the commentariat. Asylum seeker abuses? Destruction of unions? Loosening of environmental regulations? Dismantling of the health and welfare systems? These are not disconnected issues. These are the product of a defined ideology - elite, old-boy nationalistic, uncaring neoliberalists that value ideological theory over evidence, history and reason. We shouldn't have to protest each issue one at a time, because the government isn't screwing shit up one thing at a time.

It was not a crowd of "union bullies", or "masked anarchists", or "bludging hippies", at all. Of course, that goes without saying.

It was not a crowd of irrational crazies. At the Hobart rally, the biggest, most spontaneous cheer from the crowd came - I'm not kidding - when one of the speakers said that "we need evidence-based policy". OMFG, "evidence-based policy"? Totally crazy loony lefties!

All this goes without saying, however, and I'm a little bit frustrated with attendees and organizers, in recent days, running around in circles complaining about the media coverage, complaining that the media are underestimating numbers, complaining that the media are focusing on the silly placards. You knew this was going to happen. This always happens. Always has. Stop looking to the media to validate your legitimate, democratic action. Shut up and enjoy the solidarity.
posted by Jimbob at 4:10 PM on March 18 [52 favorites]


Oh I'll also point out, for the conspiracy theorists trying to identify the dark forces behind March in March - many of the speakers at the rally I attended were quick to point out that many of the policies (for example, in regards to asylum seekers and environmental legislation) were kicked off by the former ALP government.
posted by Jimbob at 4:22 PM on March 18


Yeah, I was at the Melbourne march and there was a banner with pics of Rudd and Gillard as well as Abbott which said, "Same shit, different shovel".
posted by andraste at 4:31 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


It was not people complaining about a disjointed and unconnected set of issues. This is the most popular complaint, and it just displays the willful ignorance of the commentariat.

I went to the Sydney march. It was, in my view, about a number of complaints and issues. These were connected by the fact that the current Government has implemented bad policies on those issues. The speakers at the march dealt with the issues each in turn, in a logical and orderly way.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:41 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Here's the excellent political comedy outfit A Rational Fear's take on the media's failure to properly cover the March in March.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:43 PM on March 18


I actually woke up angry at about three in the morning a couple of nights ago, and I couldn't get back to sleep for over an hour. I could hear my heart beating in my ears, and I was both fearful and sad. Australia has had so many chances to set itself right, but never seems to want to: at every election the only choice we are given is which end of the turd to start eating from, and every time this vile, ugly man opens his mouth he sets us back another five years.

Paul Keating once said that Australia has no real power or influence in the world: a tiny population, a proportionately-tiny standing army, no unique resources, nothing much to offer in general. The only contribution we can honestly make to the international landscape is good ideas.

Well, we've demonstrated we don't have any good ideas. We don't even have any fresh ideas. We've got bad, stale ideas that are a century old. A country of frightened geriatrics, finally realising that the world is going to go on without them, and pulling it back as close as possible.

Fuck this place.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:48 PM on March 18 [14 favorites]


CBC Radio tonight played a snippet of 'Not Now, Not Ever' , Julia Gillard's famous speech transformed into a choral piece. From a great distance, it's both awful and hilarious that the target of her speech has since appointed himself 'Minister for Women.'
posted by Flashman at 4:55 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Fuck this place.

No. Fuck this transparently corrupt government (and the previous incompetent, dysfunctional one), and fuck the scared, racist, homophobic, ignorant morass that elected them. But there are plenty of people and things that are worth saving.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:16 PM on March 18 [21 favorites]


I just hope Harper can hold on long enough for a summit with Abbott and a Republican President in 2017. Maybe Nigel Farage will have scared Cameron sufficiently correct by then he'll be invited too!
posted by MattD at 5:24 PM on March 18


"Did you know it's a human right to seek asylum?"

"Why don't you actually answer a question?"

"Not saying that I don't trust you or anything, just wondering, just a simple question. Why is a man the Minister for Women?"

These kids are badass.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:30 PM on March 18 [25 favorites]


I'm extremely, extremely surprised I haven't read anything in the last week blaming these kids' questions on socialist-indoctrination in the corrupt union-thug-run public education system...
posted by Jimbob at 5:32 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


I'm extremely, extremely surprised I haven't read anything in the last week blaming these kids' question on socialist-indoctrination in the corrupt union-thug-run public education system...

Just look at the comments on the youtube video.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:35 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Just look at the comments on the youtube video.

Yeah no.
posted by Jimbob at 5:35 PM on March 18 [14 favorites]


I have to say, especially with this FPP, I'm really glad I installed the Stop Tony Meow extension.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:41 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Why is a man the Minister for Women?"


This was a style note sent out by one of the Herald's production managers this morning:

****

STYLE NOTE
The federal government does not have a Minister for Women.
Senator Michaelia Cash is the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women.

****

Just so you know.
posted by misterbee at 6:50 PM on March 18


STYLE NOTE
The federal government does not have a Minister for Women.
Senator Michaelia Cash is the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women.


Actually, they're wrong too. He's the Prime Minister for Woman. Just the one.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:57 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


It occurs to me that this is a good place to drop this: a choral remix of Julia Gillard now famous misogyny speech about Tony Abbott. Interview with the creator.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:16 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


hope Harper can hold on long enough

Take off, eh! ;)
I'm with the Australians chanting for evidence based policy... And all the evidence says harper (and abbot and all their ilk) must go!
posted by chapps at 7:18 PM on March 18


(And not to further canadereail but in the late 80s the secretary of state for the status of women responsible for cutting funds to women's centers across canada was an hon. Gary Weiner.)
posted by chapps at 7:20 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


The federal government does not have a Minister for Women.

Minister of Mansplaining?
posted by Pudhoho at 7:51 PM on March 18 [12 favorites]


Minister of Mansplaining?

Sounds about right. One of his responses to those 14 year olds was “If you think we need to have more women in decision making, you should join the Liberal party and work your way up”.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:09 PM on March 18


warning: camera is level with Abbott's crotch

This is surely the definitive argument against vertical video syndrome.
posted by dhartung at 12:03 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I got to say - despite the policies of the current government - look at our next gen from Newtown - they asked articulate, probing, important questions - maybe they prepared, but even so - shit man! I work in the field of education, and I'm so proud of what those guys asked. I think, on the whole, Australia is a nation filled with people with sympathies in the social justice arena. If our youth reflect us, well damn! Isn't that bloody fine? Isn't it?
posted by b33j at 12:37 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]


Those kids are amazing.

Abbott. "So, people are either men or women..."
Student. "Actually no, there are intersex people."

I just love the way the kids are so supportive of each other with all the clapping and cheering after the gay marriage question and the asylum seeker questions.
posted by lollusc at 12:50 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]


Oh, and I can't believe how crap Abbott's responses were. Did he seriously tell these smart, knowledgeable kids that the asylum seeker issue was too difficult for them to understand the importance of when they are so young and idealistic? And did he actually say, "Now for a bloke's question - ask me what my favourite football team is?"
posted by lollusc at 12:54 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]


Why is a man the Minister for Women?

Because that's the courteous way to do things. It's like other people buying you presents on your birthday. You could buy them yourself, but what's the point? Expecting a woman to be the Minister for Women would cheapen the gesture. No, you have a man be the Minister for Women and it's like saying "Thank you for all your hard work! We've got this! We'll be Minister for you!"

No point expecting Lefties to be grateful, though.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:57 AM on March 19 [10 favorites]


> Why is a man the Minister for Women?

Tony Abbott took the Women's portfolio into his office for one reason. He aims to oversee his paid parental leave scheme for women of calibre. He has nothing else in mind for women. Michaelia Cash-Price certainly doesn't have anything to add to that.


> We've got bad, stale ideas that are a century old. A country of frightened geriatrics, finally realising that the world is going to go on without them, and pulling it back as close as possible.

We have professional politicians, with safe seats and no fixed terms, is what we have. A nuclear bomb wouldn't shift some of them. How many of our politicians would even enter politics if they knew they had three and only three terms, maximum, to make a difference (and forget the costly package of benefits on retirement). Senators. Another story.
posted by de at 4:14 AM on March 19


Yes. Witness the former member for Indi's codfish-like expression when it became clear some undeserving upstart was going to take the cooshy seat she was set up in from her.
posted by Jimbob at 5:07 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


I do agree with the idea of term limits, though. There is definitely reason to respect institutional memory in the public service, but I can see no reason for it in the legislature.

Reminds me of an article by Graham Richardson I read on Monday, after the Tasmanian election. Most of it was a cynical, mean-spirited attack on the concession speeches of Lara Giddings and Nick McKim - Richardson seem to feel they were arrogant and egotistical and they should have been up there in sack cloth and ashes, begging forgiveness from the Tasmanian people for being so, well, Labor and Green. I thought they both did a pretty fine job, given the thrashing they'd just received. But the dickhead Richardson also said he thought parties should have a limit of having only 10 years in power. A ridiculous comment firstly because he failed to explain why, after their ten years were up, Tasmanians voted ALP/Green twice more, and secondly how he hopes to achieve this in practice. Ban parties from running candidates? Really? Psychotic.

So, no, limits on terms for governments or parties is ridiculous. But on individual members? Absolutely. My simple plan would be for two terms within each level of government. Two terms as a local councillor. Two terms in state parliament (upper or lower house). Two terms in federal, if your political desires drive you that far. I'll be generous for the senate - you're allowed two full senate terms, if you can really swing it. But I'll introduce Robson Rotation for the senate ballot. You're welcome.
posted by Jimbob at 5:19 AM on March 19


Fuck this place.

Judging from that first video, I think Australia's got a future.
posted by Grandysaur at 2:13 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


Comedy outfit A Rational Fear just put out a video on Tony Abbott's request for a 'bloke's question'. It's pretty great.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:38 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Personally I'm waiting for Blokesworld's take on this.
(I am sad to report: Blokesworld is still a thing on the telly).
posted by Mezentian at 10:38 PM on March 21


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