Niceties first: our “dear” leader Gillard turns 50 today; bully for her, and many happy returns, PM. But a present from the so-called first bloke — a “cavoodle” puppy — is entirely inappropriate and a bloody outrage to boot, all things considered.
I think about it all the time, that birthday ten years after the one I’m staring down the barrel of next August. 50! What a milestone! But let’s be generous; this post tonight is part-political only, and part comment.
And so I would like to wish Prime Minister Gillard a very happy 50th birthday; I have always been insistent that politicians be recognised as people first and politicians second, and in that spirit I trust that Julia has had a really nice day.
And I hope one of her presents was a voucher to a shrink so her “first bloke” could get his head read.
What the hell was Tim Mathieson thinking?
It’s all very nice to buy someone a pet as a present — until they realise it’s for life.
I have a two-year-old daughter and we have two cats, but recently I took her to Southland and she was craning her neck to see puppies in a cage at the pet shop, saying “Doggie! Doggie!” and pointing and giggling, all excited.
We weren’t actually at the pet shop, but on the travelator going up a level and the pet shop — unfortunately — was in her line of sight.
It’s bad enough with a little kid foreshadowing trouble on that count, let alone a 50-year-old.
Yet the pet shop story is a nice segue to part of my point.
It’s emerged this afternoon on 3AW’s Drive program — featuring Tom Elliott filling in for Derryn Hinch — that the puppy was sourced from a puppy farm.
Not a reputable, independent breeder, but a puppy farm.
And the problem with puppy farms is this: some are very ethical, very clean, scrupulous in their treatment of their animals, their breeding practices and the attention paid to things like veterinary health, pedigrees, and so forth.
And irrespective of which of the two categories into which the particular puppy farm in question falls, Mathieson — politically — has done Julia Gillard no favours.
The issue of puppy farms — much like battery hens — is one increasingly under the spotlight, with calls to outlaw them altogether growing louder.
And so, Mathieson’s gift potentially dumps Gillard into a political storm around animal cruelty, the ethics of factory-farming pets, and puts her on a collision course with respected bodies such as the RSPCA.
The other part of my point comes to what on Earth the Prime Minister is going to do with a dog at all.
It’s true US Presidents like to keep dogs; these are however usually (but not always) for show, and mostly have more of a relationship with Presidential aides than they do with Presidents themselves.
(That fact, at the minimum, ought to have sounded a warning note to Mathieson).
It’s also true that former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tried to make his cat — Jasper — a Prime Ministerial feature; indeed, Jasper the cat was mercilessly put about by Rudd for years before he ever led the ALP. Before Rudd led it, that is…
But Jasper had already been a family pet of the Rudds; very different to this.
I know that other Prime Ministerial families have kept pets; my problem on this occasion is partly the puppy farm aspect, and partly the present PM’s lifestyle.
In a comment bound to enrage owners of “cavoodles” who may be reading and for which I make no apology, Mathieson didn’t even buy a real dog: he went for one of these trendy inter-bred designer things that frankly shouldn’t even exist.
What about a Labrador, or a German Shepherd, or (my favourite) a Bernese Mountain Dog? All real breeds, all unswervingly loyal, all very well-natured if raised correctly, and all available from extremely reputable purebred breeders across the country.
But the real cruelty — if we accept that this puppy has been sourced from a farm that is good to its animals — lies in the life it can expect.
Elliott on 3AW today was right: Gillard will never be home.
Her life involves extensive trips overseas and extensive domestic travel; and in the absence of those considerations, it involves long, irregular and unpredictable hours in Canberra.
It also involves periods when she must of course be in Melbourne to hold surgeries for her local constituents in Lalor.
How is the poor dog to ever develop a routine?
Or to even bond with its mistress?
I wish the Prime Minister the very best for her birthday; on this one occasion, it’s not her politics that’s in question, but the judgement of her partner.
And I really don’t like the idea of puppies from puppy farms: I hope all such animals find happy lives in loving homes, but there are too many questions around that “industry” for me to give it any overall sanction whatsoever.
I’ve been accused of a lot of things over the years: conservative troglodyte, dry as biscuits, too old-school, old-style Tory. Oh, and arrogant, belligerent, and the labels the Left throws at people on my side because they think they should — Fascist, that type of thing.
You name it and I’ve heard it: and half the time at least, I’ll wear it as a badge of honour on account of an impervious hide and an utter confidence in my convictions. 🙂
But when it comes to our friends on four legs, they too need to be treated with dignity and respect; THAT is why I am outraged that such a prominent individual as Tim Mathieson should buy a farmed puppy as a gift for the Prime Minister; and THAT is why I am outraged that this dog will probably end up being a consolation pet gifted to some staffer at The Lodge charged with its immediate needs of upkeep.
Unless, of course, Gillard already knows she’s moving back to Melbourne soon…
Happy birthday, Prime Minister.
What do you think?