Sandwich-“Gate?” Eat It

THE THROWING of a sandwich at Prime Minister Julia Gillard at a Brisbane school today really is small bier; it wasn’t an egg or something really capable of making a mark, and in any case — it missed. Yet this beat-up is even being reported in London tonight, and people should move on to worthier issues.

Marsden State High School, in Brisbane’s south — deep in the remnants of Labor’s heartland in Queensland — isn’t the sort of place you’d expect a Labor Prime Minister to run into trouble.

Indeed, all reports to the contrary; the hundreds of students who clamoured to get autographs from, and pictures with, Gillard are said to have been vociferous in the support they expressed.

The fact that one enterprising individual opted to throw half of his/her lunch at the Prime Minister is not something this column would endorse, even though we are relentless in our criticism of Gillard and resolute in our belief that her departure from office will be in the very best interests of this country.

There are appropriate standards of conduct and decorum, and throwing half-eaten food at the Prime Minister of Australia — irrespective of who it is — doesn’t meet them.

Even so, it is to be hoped the miscreant responsible escapes with no more than a smack on the wrist.

After all, the stunt failed; even then, certain allowances need to be made for youthful indiscretion, especially at a state-run school in such a low socio-economic area, where the student in question probably faces enough challenges without wearing the stigma of today’s misdeed as a mark on his/her name for all time.

That said, it comes as no surprise that indications of Gillard’s unpopularity can even be found in a place like Marsden; and it says something that amid the hysteria, and despite the best efforts of some associated with school curricula, it is evidence — however dubious — that independent thought among youth in political matters is alive and well.

This whole matter has had all the attention it deserves and — as usual, since 1974 — it has been accorded “gate” status; I have to say that the bar for events to qualify as comparable to the Watergate scandal that brought former US President Richard Nixon down has been much lowered indeed in the mainstream press’ wild reporting of “sandwich-gate.”

Unbelievably, the story has even made the pages of at least one of London’s daily newspapers, with the Telegraph carrying a report on today’s “high jinks” from its Sydney-based Australia correspondent.

Forget about the sandwich folks; at the risk of mixing metaphors, it’s a red herring.

The real scrutiny deserves to fall upon the performance of Gillard’s government, disgraceful as it is; and that is precisely where our comments will focus when we next post later this evening.