In A Lather: It’s Time For Tim Mathieson To Just Shut Up

BACKING UP from his entry to the political fray — launching an unsolicited, unwarranted and malicious attack on Tony Abbott’s wife — former “First Bloke” Tim Mathieson has struck again, threatening a lawsuit against Victorian Premier Denis Napthine for likening his misuse of Julia Gillard’s car to notorious state MP Geoff Shaw. Mathieson, an irrelevance, wasn’t worth a can of beans when Gillard was Prime Minister. Now it is time for him to shut up.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve given readers something to listen to while they read, although right here is something that fits the bill perfectly; I first heard it, horrified, walking through the staff kitchen whilst running the dinner shift in a Brisbane restaurant in late 1994 and never imagined I’d be using it in an article about politics.

Yet here it is: it’s irritating, puerile, and downright tasteless — just like Tim Mathieson, partner of Julia Gillard, the sometime “First Bloke” thrust upon an unreceptive public — and as readers will see, there is a clear connection to shampoo, which has made Mathieson a figure of some infamy in his own right since his girlfriend was ejected from the Prime Ministership. Rather fittingly, its banal lyrics retell, in idiot-simple terms, a story that it’s a shame hasn’t as yet befallen Mathieson. Still, we live in hope…

“Idiot-simple” is an apt term to describe Mathieson, who has unwisely seen fit to leave a message on an answering machine (that also recorded his mobile number) in the Warrnambool electorate office of Victorian Premier Denis Napthine, threatening “legal action against Denis the Vet” if Napthine again mentions him in the Victorian Parliament in relation to the miscreant state MP for Frankston, Geoff Shaw.

And I say that because first and foremost, any idiot with half a clue about how Parliaments in this country work knows that whatever members say inside the chamber, during parliamentary sittings, is subject to parliamentary privilege — and is thus immune from legal proceedings for defamation.

It is clear that Mathieson doesn’t even know this much.

And before I go further (assuming readers have by now listened to the little gem I linked to the second paragraph), those unfamiliar to date with the story can read about it here — and listen to the imbecilic message Mathieson left for “Denis the Vet.”

The problem Mathieson faces at first blush is that there are valid and compelling comparisons to be drawn between Shaw, who was suspended and fined by the Victorian Parliament last week over the misuse of a taxpayer-funded vehicle that he used to drive all over the state and beyond in his private business, and himself — who did practically the same thing in Gillard’s taxpayer-funded vehicle all over Victoria selling shampoo in his job as a sales representative for a haircare products company.

We discussed this at the time, when Geoff Shaw was facing 24 criminal charges — subsequently dropped — over the misuse of his car despite making reimbursing taxpayers for his misdeeds, and when a 10-month fight by then-Prime Minister Gillard to stop the Department of Finance from complying with a decision by the Information Commissioner that certain material should be released under a Freedom of Information request granted in favour of the applicant was finally defeated.

What did this material reveal? That Mathieson had not only been up to the same thing Shaw had, but that Gillard — like Shaw — had repaid monies to the taxpayer in what can only be construed by anyone with a brain as tacit acknowledgement that the breach had been committed.

As I said at the time, for Shaw to face charges over a breach of regulations similar to that which Mathieson appeared to have gotten away scot-free with was eyebrow-raising, to say the least; and as much as Gillard’s standard tactic of attempting to bludgeon unpleasant revelations about herself and those around her into non-existence under the threat of legal proceedings, the public had a right to know what Mathieson had been doing: a contention the Information Commissioner clearly agreed with.

Now, Mathieson appears to be recycling the strategy, and despite the suggestion some of the Premier’s staff might have been shocked to hear him threaten to have Napthine hauled before the law, the fact remains that this is laughable — and it is Mathieson who is the joke.

This boofhead has, since Gillard was removed from office, shown a propensity for attracting headlines for all the wrong reasons; only last month he tried to damage the reputation of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s wife, Margie, in a vicious and disgusting personal attack that was as lacking in decency as it was in any basis in fact or reason.

At the time, I suggested that Mathieson might have been used as a cat’s paw for forces elsewhere in the ALP, and that he might have been put up to it; with this latest episode involving Denis Napthine, however, it’s difficult to give Mathieson the benefit of the doubt in such a way: after all, in this case, there is nobody else to handball the responsibility to.

This time, Mathieson is on his own.

We’re talking about an individual who is well-known for being “seen” at the “right” events, and getting himself invited to make a slew of public appearances at functions during Gillard’s Prime Ministership — often flying solo — that serve little more purpose than to pander to some weird cult of celebrity that, to be frank, is scraping the dregs of the barrel for “stars” where the likes of Tim Mathieson is concerned.

And whilst I acknowledge he spent a lot of his time on worthy causes whilst “First Bloke,” the merit of those activities really has to be weighed against both his propensity to turn up to the opening of an envelope and these past couple of appearances in the public eyeline, in which he has behaved as nothing more than a thug.

Julia Gillard was a dreadful Prime Minister, and one of the worst specimens to ever hold that office; we could talk about that particular subject for days (and probably will in the next week or so 🙂   ) but if nothing else, she was an elected member of Parliament made leader of her party by her colleagues, and thus Prime Minister — irrespective of the tastelessness of the circumstances in which those events occurred, or her fitness or otherwise to hold the office of Prime Minister at all.

Mathieson, by contrast, is nothing: a loud-mouthed boorish thug of absolutely no standing whatsoever, and his five minutes in the public spotlight as “First Bloke” did and does nothing to alter the fact that in the bigger scheme of things, he isn’t worth a can of beans in the context of public affairs in this country — and, perhaps despite delusions to the contrary, never will be.

He should crawl away and hide behind whatever rock Gillard is using for shelter; in so doing this obsequious, obnoxious toad will find himself in good company, and the rest of us can be thankful not to see or hear from him ever, ever again.

Simply stated, Tim Mathieson should get lost. The world will continue to turn without him. It is time, belatedly, for him to just shut up.



All In The Family: Now Labor Attacks Abbott’s Wife

APPARENTLY NOT CONTENT with its despicable attack on Tony Abbott’s daughter over a scholarship she won — nor, it seems, with savaging the employment of her sister in a job a Labor government appointed her to — Labor has charted new depths of moral nihilism today, with reports Margie Abbott has been castigated for “not doing charity work.” Labor’s hunger to destroy Abbott is boundless. Its use of his family shows just how unfit for office it is.

With the exception of demanding to know why he should be allowed to use a government vehicle for private business without consequence, when the likes of renegade Victorian MP Geoff Shaw faced prosecution* — cheered on by the ALP — for doing the same thing, this column has had very little to say about the so-called former “first bloke,” Tim Mathieson.

Whilst I went to pains at times to point out that Julia Gillard deserved to be treated with a few basic human decencies — despite the fact I absolutely detest the former Prime Minister, her politics, and pretty much everything she stands for — I would never have dreamed of using her family as political ammunition, and have been emphatic that the private lives of politicians, and their families in particular, should be regarded by all comers as strictly off-limits when it comes to such endeavours.

I’m yet to meet a genuinely decent individual on either side of the political divide who disagrees with that assessment: the pollies are fair game, but when it comes to their (unelected) families, trying to load them into the gun is an absolute no-no.

Yet once again, the Labor Party has thumbed its nose at decency and principle, choosing instead to engage in one of the lowest forms of gutter politics imaginable; this time Mathieson is the instrument it has used to engage in a vile personal attack on the Prime Minister’s wife, which is as contemptible as it is misplaced.

Readers can access the article being carried in today’s editions of Murdoch publications here, and it’s actually rather sad to note that a spokesperson from the Prime Minister’s office has seen fit to have to provide an account of Mrs Abbott’s charitable activities, or to have been placed in a position where one is required at all.

This comes a matter of days after the Abbotts’ 22-year-old daughter, Frances, was hauled through the media over a scholarship she had won in the course of studying for her career; there has not been, to date, a shred of evidence to suggest the attack on her was based on any impropriety, and knowing too well what the Labor Party is like, if any such evidence existed at all, it would have been used the instant Frances was first targeted.

The ink had barely dried on those reports when another attack — aimed at Frances’ older sister, Louise — sprang into public view; claims that (unnamed) Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade staff were “annoyed” that Louise Abbott was working at the Australian embassy in Geneva can really only have emanated from once source: the guttersnipes and dirt shovellers of the ALP.

It’s ironic, given Louise was appointed to her job during the tenure of the Labor government her father subsequently defeated, but never mind that — Labor has shown repeatedly in recent years that it doesn’t allow facts or hypocrisy to interfere with the kind of vicious personal onslaught it is clearly conducting against the Abbott family.

Some readers will recall that back in 2012, Abbott’s youngest daughter, Bridget, served as the Face of Sydney’s Autumn Racing Carnival, and even with a role as seemingly innocuous as that, there were suggestions of nepotism and political interference levelled at Tony Abbott by his opponents: there was no way Bridget could have secured a gig like that without her father pulling a few strings, they sneered.

Now — with Margie Abbott apparently falling foul of the Labor attack for being “uncharitable” — the Abbotts have set a dubious new record in Australian politics; for the first time in this country’s history, every member of the first family has been deliberately and explicitly targeted by the ALP on a personal level in furtherance of its political objectives.

The lack of any acceptable standards should surprise nobody. After all, this is the same Labor Party that attempted to salvage its prospects prior to the 2012 state election in Queensland by publicly defaming the wife of LNP leader Campbell Newman, yet was happy to accommodate convicted fraudster Craig Thomson and filthy misogynistic grub Peter Slipper when it suited its purposes.

Mathieson, no doubt, would plead that his remarks against Margie Abbott were made of his own volition. He would. But such a claim is disingenuous, and in light of the rapid succession of Abbott daughters being subjected to similar attacks from other sections of the ALP, to suggest the anti-Abbott vendetta is unco-ordinated defies credulity.

But even if such a claim by Mathieson were true, it would be tantamount to an admission that he’s simply behaving like a Ritalin-starved attention addict, denied the publicity and attention that went with being the Prime Minister’s companion, and lashing out just because he can out of spite. Such a reality would be little better, and at the very least reveal Mathieson to be an unmitigated liability.

So which is it?

As far as I’m concerned, all roads lead to Labor on this; it’s too much of a coincidence to suggest that brutal attacks against three members of the Prime Minister’s family, in the same week, are anything other than a systemic and deliberate campaign.

What it does raise is a telling question: if Labor is so sure of its political strategies against Abbott the Prime Minister — and if it’s so sure its wilful obfuscation of the federal budget, and newfound creativity over its own record of managerial competence, are solid — why does it need to resort to the kind of savagery these personal attacks are tantamount to?

From a purely political perspective, I know there’s a way for the government to turn its budget — warts and all — to its advantage, even if present indications are that its own advisors don’t. Perhaps the ALP realises it too. Whether it does or not, this consideration in no way justifies what it is doing, and it certainly doesn’t make such abominable tactics acceptable or palatable.

The families of politicians should be left alone; if they put their head above the parapet of public life they’re fair game, of course.

But Tony Abbott’s daughters are simply going about their business and have done nothing to warrant the scrutiny the ALP has maliciously focused on them, and his wife — a worthier claimant to a record of solid community service than a midget like Mathieson will ever be — is almost beyond reproach in the context of the accusations Mathieson, by proxy, has levelled against her at some greasy spiv’s behest.

The reality, very simply, is that Labor is an amoral machine; it cares about power, not people; and to the extent the ALP has any genuine interest in people at all, it’s to ascertain how they might serve the party’s ruthless pursuit of political muscle, and then to abandon them.

If I were Mathieson, I’d be feeling a bit miffed to have been gullible enough to have been used as a cat’s paw in an enterprise that is inexcusable, but then again, I wouldn’t be stupid enough to go along with such a ridiculous scheme that so clearly leaps the fence into the realm of what is completely unacceptable political practice.

Bill Shorten — as “leader” of the ALP — owes Mrs Abbott an apology on behalf of his party; the fact she won’t get one is as much a mark of the man as it is an indictment on the God-forsaken outfit he “leads.”

As for Mathieson, the less said the better; we can treat him, and his words, with the contempt they deserve.

But ordinary Australians would do well to remember the events of this week, and to mark them down as an illustration of why Labor cannot be trusted to put people ahead of its addiction to power. There will be plenty of other examples to dispel any doubts over whether this week might have been an isolated misjudgement.

It wasn’t. And that I can assure readers with absolute certainty.


*Charges against Geoff Shaw were ultimately withdrawn.


Questions: Geoff Shaw, Tim Mathieson, Craig Thomson

WITH CERTAIN MATTERS now before the Courts, it’s inadvisable to comment on specific details of individual cases; even so, two sets of facts concerning two different gentlemen bear a striking similarity, and beg a rather obvious question. And then, of course, there is Craig Thomson.

Geoff Shaw was a knockabout kind of fellow, with no obvious driving ideological inclination toward politics or a career in public life; prior to his election in November 2010 to the state seat of Frankston, on Melbourne’s southern outskirts, he was a small businessman operating a hardware store.

Tim Mathieson was a knockabout kind of fellow, and was never an MP; he began dating opposition frontbencher Julia Gillard in early 2006, becoming the country’s so-called “First Bloke” when the latter became Prime Minister in 2010: and throughout, whether practising or not, Mathieson was a hairdresser.

Soon after his election as the MP for Frankston it emerged publicly (and with thanks to the state ALP in Victoria) that Shaw and his staff had been using his taxpayer-funded car to run deliveries — some interstate — and other activities for his hardware business.

Unbeknown to the general public in any way, at some point prior to March 2007, Tim Mathieson had been using Gillard’s taxpayer-funded car for his activities as a sales representative for a company called PPS Hairwear, clocking up more than 6,000km in the car before the Department of Finance was alerted to it.

Ostracised in State Parliament following his decision to resign from the Liberal Party over what he claimed was a lack of leadership by then-Premier Ted Baillieu — precipitating Baillieu’s demise as Premier — Shaw has been the subject of multiple investigations into his conduct, and recently repaid $1,250 to the Victorian taxpayer over the use of the vehicle.

Hidden from public view, a staffer in Gillard’s office contacted the Department of Finance in March 2007 in relation to Mathieson’s use of her car; a personal cheque from Gillard, in the sum of $4,243.58, was tendered in a quiet endeavour to see the Commonwealth right.

Since the allegations surrounding Shaw became public in 2011, the Victorian ALP has tried to raise merry hell over the issue; its leader, Daniel Andrews, has repeatedly and consistently sought to tar the state Liberals (and Premier Denis Napthine specifically) by pointing to a supposed link to allegedly corrupt and potentially criminal misconduct.

Meanwhile, the Mathieson matter and details of the quiet repayment of monies to remedy a potential breach were hidden from public scrutiny; The Australian reported on all of these matters yesterday after fighting a 10-month battle to win access to documents relating to the Mathieson issue under Freedom of Information laws.

That fight to access those documents occurred because the former Prime Minister and her office sought to block the Department of Finance from complying with the decision of the Information Commissioner that the material should be released.

Something else happened yesterday, too: Shaw was hit with 24 criminal charges over the alleged misuse of his taxpayer-funded vehicle.

Today, the child leader of the Victorian ALP, Andrews, continued with his filthy little smear, demanding that Napthine explain “why Victorians (should) be confident in a Premier and a government propped up by a bloke facing 24 serious criminal charges.”

It is tawdry, grubby politics from an immature specimen of the most contemptible variety, and undertaken without a scintilla of evidence on which to base the smear against Napthine or, indeed, any other Victorian MP apart from Shaw.

It goes without saying, of course, that not one Labor voice across the length and breadth of Australia was today raised in questioning the revelations about Mathieson.

Would somebody like to explain, in simple English and without histrionics, exactly what the difference between the Shaw allegations and the Mathieson matter is?

AND ANOTHER THING: Former member for Dobell, HSU boss and all-round grub Craig Thomson seems to be inching closer to his day in Court to answer dozens of fraud charges.

Apparently the last hurdle before the case is heard is a spat between prosecutors and counsel for Thomson over whether Thomson is required to be party to a list of “undisputed facts” or whether he is to simply admit to using his notorious union credit card to pay for prostitutes, unauthorised airfares, adult movie rentals in hotels, and cigarettes.

The general public is fed up with Thomson and his antics, and we question whether the semantic games presently being played out in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court are simply a further waste of taxpayer money and Crown resources.

There are even said to be over 100 prostitutes willing and ready to testify as witnesses, which probably says much about the diligence of the investigation conducted by Victoria Police, if anything else.

If Thomson is contemplating owning up after the event — especially given his political career has now ended — perhaps he could simply hurry up and do so, face the music, and get on with being the discredited footnote to Australian politics he is destined to become.


The Dismissal Of Howard Sattler: We Approve

IN THE WAKE of a provocative radio interview yesterday with the Prime Minister, veteran 6PR shock jock Howard Sattler has been fired for asking Julia Gillard on air whether the so-called “first bloke,” Tim Mathieson, was a closet homosexual. The Red And The Blue notes its approval.

On one level, who cares if the guy is in the cupboard. And does it matter if he is?

The interview Sattler described as “candid” featured perhaps a little too much suggestion and not enough candour; the climate of politics in this country is febrile as it is without stunts like this.

I intend to keep my remarks very general, given Sattler has indicated he will sue Fairfax Radio over the terms of his dismissal, and I do not wish to say anything prejudicial to any proceedings that arise from today’s events.

I would simply like to minute this column’s approval of Sattler’s dismissal; to be opposed to Gillard politically is one thing, but to question her partner’s sexuality publicly and without warning is another matter altogether.

Sattler alluded to “rumours” as the basis for his question; it is certainly true that rumours abound about famous people — not just politicians — of which many are false, mischievous, and malicious.

But in the absence of any evidence — which he did not, in fact, produce — Sattler may have been better served keeping his musings on such questions to himself.

There is a lot to criticise Gillard for, and much that she stands for and/or has done in public office is at odds, arguably, with what might be considered to be in the national interest.

But this column does not believe she should be subjected to idle innuendo and gossip about her partner’s sexuality, and — were there, hypothetically, any substance to Sattler’s insinuations — it would be a private matter for the two of them until or unless it could be proven to be damaging to the country’s interests.

Clearly, this is not the case.

This column, politically, is implacably opposed to Julia Gillard, and with good, sound reason.

And we note that considerations of common decency and courtesy have to a degree been abandoned by Gillard in her dealings with others as Prime Minister (as misogynists of Australia generally — and all male opponents of the Prime Minister particularly — know).

But the line of questioning to which she was subjected yesterday was a disgrace, and one which should not be inflicted on any public figure by a media identity in Australia, be they political friend or foe alike.

We endorse the 6PR decision to sack Sattler and express a hope that publicly at least, the matter is closed, and that others who would engage in similar conduct might think twice as a result of the Sattler incident.

As I said yesterday, the atmosphere of Australian politics is adolescent and puerile enough as it is, without this sort of thing adding fuel to the fire — and encouraging ordinary, decent people to emulate their political leaders in the less attractive facets of their public lives.

Julia’s Dog Of A 50th Birthday

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.

Others aren’t.

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?

In Bed With Julia…

There has been scathing criticism in the media today of the ABC’s political satire, At Home With Julia, and not least on account of a certain sex scene involving the characterisations of the First Couple, the Prime Minister’s office, and an Australian flag.

Frankly, some people need to take a load off, and lighten up a bit.

At Home With Julia — a four-episode satirical parody of what life might be like at The Lodge when the doors close — has, in the two weeks it has screened, won its timeslot both times; 1.07 million viewers the first week, and about 850,000 the second.

It’s a light-hearted, comical (and fictitious) look at, primarily, the dynamic between the Prime Minister and her de facto husband Tim Mathieson (variously presented as T-bone, T-shirt, T-Rex and so forth).

An almighty brouhaha has erupted today in advance of tomorrow night’s screening, which apparently features a sex scene between the Prime Minister and “T-bone,” and this occurs on the floor of the Prime Ministerial office with the participants covered with an Australian flag.

Ever since At Home With Julia commenced screening a fortnight ago, there has been persistent and ever-louder complaint from the usual quarters: ALP politicians, journalists sympathetic to the ALP, and other Labor-aligned sycophants and vested interests careful to make the right outraged noises.

Indeed, ten days ago I sent Therese Rein — Kevin Rudd’s wife — a tweet that she should lighten up, in response to some infuriated outburst she’d had over this programme.

Today, however, some Coalition MPs have leapt into the fray, and I just have to scratch my head.


This is a comedy, a parody, a satire. Is it necessary to take it so seriously?

In the case of the Coalition MPs who are fuming over tomorrow night’s episode, I would say: let it go.

There’s a difference between being a Conservative and being a humourless prick.

Indeed, it’s entirely possible to be a Conservative and not be a prude. I should know.

I don’t think the material covered — whilst questions of taste are an individual judgement — is disrespectful to the Office of Prime Minister.

There’s no violence, no criminal damage, and remember this is meant to be a look inside — even if a fictitious one.

Bronwyn Bishop summed it up beautifully this afternoon, in saying that whilst some people might find At Home With Julia to be in poor taste, they could always change the channel.

And that’s the point: we live in a free country where people have choices (and, increasingly, Foxtel). If they don’t want to watch what’s on the ABC there are plenty of alternatives.

Some members of the Coalition apparently wish to use this programme as a justification to review the ABC’s funding. Well, boys and girls, you may or may not be right, but at the end of the day, a satirical comedy (irrespective of its merits or otherwise) about your political opponents is hardly, on its own, a justification for such a review.

At Home With Julia may — or may not — be in poor taste, but it isn’t obscene, it isn’t treason, it isn’t seditious and it isn’t subversive. Bishop was right: far worse was rendered against John Howard; it just didn’t include (thankfully) any sex scenes. The Liberals didn’t squawk then over that, and they shouldn’t do so now.

And as for the Labor/general leftists who are also fuming, just remember that it was you people who laughed the loudest whenever fun was made of John Howard, his ministers, or anyone remotely connected with the Liberal and National Parties.

Lighten up.

All of you, on both sides of the fence.

There has to be room for a laugh, and there has to be room for us as Australians to poke fun at ourselves — irrespective of the level in society we are at.

After all, humour is one of our national characteristics.

I just think people ought to take a big breath. There’s no doubt that At Home With Julia isn’t everyone’s cup of tea; some people probably do find it offensive.

But there’s the option to watch something else, or at the very least, not to watch the ABC for half an hour.

And irrespective of which of those options one might take, it’s reasonable to accept that other people might want to watch something you don’t necessarily choose to.

For the record, I think At Home With Julia is hilarious — and it has nothing to do with my political allegiances.

I simply think it’s a quick, clever and cutting parody; of course the scenarios are ridiculous, but they’re meant to be.

The terrier called Bill Shorten and the incessant yabbering voice down the phone line that was “Bob Katter” are brilliant examples of what’s great about it.

And the real Bob Katter Jr playfully threatened to sue because he wasn’t invited to play himself in the programme.


Here’s a thought though: in real life — certainly as presented to millions of Australians every day, who will never meet her — Julia Gillard behaves like a cartoon cut-out.

Someone devoid of anything remotely natural or authentic.

At Home With Julia, ironically enough, does more to humanise Gillard by poking fun at her than she could ever achieve by behaving the way she does, daily, in front of a camera.

I think the ruckus over this programme is a storm in a tea cup.

What do other people think?

Julia Gillard on 60 Minutes, and Beavis and Butt-head

Tonight I saw the most nauseating interview on 60 Minutes since…well, since the nauseating interview on 60 Minutes back in 2004 when Mark Latham and his family entreated the country to the most nauseatingly saccharine version of “normal” Australian family life ever seen on Australian television.

“Our” Prime Minister (she’s not mine, I didn’t vote for her) and the so-called “First Bloke,” squirming around in their seats in the studio, giggling like silly schoolkids, and describing the particulars of their love for each other.

Indeed, 60 minutes presented it through the prism of “a love story unlike any other.”

Please, spare me…

I remarked to my wife in the middle of it that if there were to be a punchline, it would likely be a proposal from Mr Mathieson at the end of the interview, and not least given his public musings on the subject a couple of weeks earlier.

Fortunately, nothing so crass eventuated, but this was a tacky little interview, with its mixture of fairy-floss and grubby politics.

Amongst the mirth and undying love, and hidden between the type of giggling that would humble Beavis and Butt-head, was a half-arsed attempt to sell the carbon tax Gillard solemnly and resolutely pledged, prior to last year’s election, that she would not introduce.

“Oh, I’ve always believed this, I’ve always believed that,” fluttered the electorally illegitimate Prime Minister between guffaws.

And then, on the circus trundled to something else.

Well, quite.

An increasing number of people don’t care any more, Prime Minister, what you believe or you don’t; they see only what you lied to them about and how deeply it might hurt them personally.

Further, they do not see it as a change of mind, or of heart, or of priorities; they see it as an outright abuse of trust and they want their chance to pass judgement on it — read, an ELECTION — before it becomes law.

Laugh and jape all you like, Prime Minister; hide in a friendly interview until the cows come home, and carry on with all the lovey-dovey crap in the world as you see fit (and the lovey-dovey stuff only seems to come out around bad poll ratings…do you know in advance, perchance, what this week’s polls herald, Prime Minister?)

Gillard is not going to sell her tax policy on 60 Minutes any more or better than she has already sold it elsewhere. And that hasn’t been well.

So spare us the schoolkid carry-on. The policy isn’t saleable to the Australian public and they are not going to buy it at this time.

Dress as conservatively as you like and giggle as much as you want, but it won’t change a thing.

As Butt-head might say…”tax sucks…”

Enough said.