Friday, March 20, 2015

How low can Aussie politics go?

That's a rhetorical question by the way. I'm guessing I already know the answer.

You don't need to know who these people are, or their positions in society to see that they're having a grand old time! The body language is full of bonhomie, humour, good will and smiling togetherness, perhaps responding to a mutually amusing joke. No signs of disagreement or dissent.

You certainly wouldn't entertain the possibility that a particularly offensive comment had just been made would you? There's nothing in the body language of any of the people to hint at anything other than something delightfully lighthearted and humourous. Shared with the people out of view, but being looked at. It's as if they're saying, 'This is funny isn't it, you're laughing with me!' Along with a jocular nudge in the ribs.

Here, however is footage of the shameful episode: PM Abbott likens Opposition Leader Shorten to Dr Goebbels and some further information (here).

How did it get to the stage that a comment likening the leader of the opposition to one of the most vile men and regimes in modern history, is treated as a joke, a source of humour, supported and encouraged by those members of parliament we're able to see?

Not only is the pm not sanctioned by the speaker, those who've rightly objected are evicted. I know parliament rarely seems to be a place of measured, insightful, mature or wise discussion, however imho, this piece of footage could be used to highlight so much that is unhealthy about Australian politics. Highly offensive comments and mock apologies, complete with smirking laughter. Anything can be said and laughed off, and it's all fine! It's a joke. No care, no responsibility.

In addition, not only is abbott not cautioned by the speaker, there's no encouragement for him to think before he speaks, no encouragement to contemplate the inappropriateness of the comment. No reminder to take responsibility for his words or actions. No expectation that he could, indeed should behave like an adult (as if there should ever be a need to be reminded when you hold the highest office in the land). In fact it's quite the opposite, we see that an objection results in the demand for the objector to leave.

Without some call to reflect, as a mature adult would, or to be responsible, there is precious little for the viewing public to respect. No wonder so many people have turned off, disillusioned, disgusted, distressed at how low our highly paid parliamentarians have stooped. Employed to represent us, with the hope that the country will be wisely governed and cared for, they are instead acting more like a feral year 9 class where students vie to outdo each other with raucous, irresponsible behaviour, and foul comments.

I'd love someone to assure me that the toxicity in parliament can't get any worse, but I'm not sure I'd believe them.