So…48 hours after Australia Day, a few things have become very clear; this despicable episode has ultimately taken a disgraceful turn, and far from being the hero of the day on account of her conduct, Julia Gillard is ultimately responsible for what occurred.
And the Prime Minister is responsible: the staffer who thought it a good idea to tip a union official off, with the suggestion proceedings be given a “little liven up,” was an employee in her own ministerial office and as such, the responsibility of the Minister (in this case, the Prime Minister).
I’ve refrained from posting on this subject for a couple of days; partly to see what the factual fallout would be before commenting, but also because I am so outraged by what the reality of the situation has proven to be that there has been a need to cool off a bit before publishing anything.
I actually defended the Prime Minister on Thursday — I should have known better.
What a sham.
We now know that a junior advisor tipped off a union official, who in turn conveyed to willing protesters a) a doctored version of Tony Abbott’s remarks on the tent embassy which was almost guaranteed to incite a riot, and b) an urging to “give things a little liven up” or, to be frank, a direct incitement to riot, lest the doctored report of Abbott’s comments failed to achieve just that.
Presumably, these messages were delivered if not with the promise of Prime Ministerial imprimatur, then at the very least with identification they came from the PM’s office.
And that amounts to the same thing.
Aboriginal elders who were already distancing themselves from the Canberra riot on Thursday are now very angry, if the tone of comment from the incessant stream of Aboriginal leaders on talkback radio in the past 48 hours is anything to go by.
The message is uniform, and the upshot clear: they don’t want their people tarnished by what occurred on Thursday and they don’t have any truck with it.
The misrepresentation of Abbott’s remarks, incidentally, is now accepted by the leaders of Australia’s Aboriginal community to the point some of its elders have today called for the perpetrators to be handed over to them to be tried under “blackfella” law after their punishments under “whitefella” law have been observed.
(This is where I have to smile: real, true Aborigines have humour in their ways, even when it’s something serious; I don’t think anyone would have expected Thursday’s thugs to have exhibited such grace, what with their rocks and sticks and empty bottles).
Given traditional “blackfella” punishments feature spears through the shoulder and cutting tongues out and the like, I’m fairly sure they were joking, yet deadly serious in getting the expression of their displeasure across.
Anyway — back to what all of this means.
Tony Hodge — the media advisor to Julia Gillard who put the word around about Abbott’s location and the doctored version of his comments — has now resigned or been pushed; good riddance to him.
It seems from news reports that the go-to person was ACT union official Kim Sattler, but in advance of better information or more developments, I’m sceptical.
Why would Hodge need an intermediary, when the end recipients of the “information” would know whence it originated anyway?
And given precisely that consideration, if he had decided to leak the information, why would Hodge risk adding another layer of traceability?
I have no proof of course, but an immediate suspicion is that Sattler may (or may not, we’ll see), involuntarily or otherwise, be filling the role of patsy to cushion the impact of these revelations on the office of Julia Gillard.
Gillard says she has absolutely no knowledge of the fabricated version of Abbott’s remarks that Hodge leaked to someone that resulted in the riot in Canberra two days ago.
Maybe she’s telling the truth — maybe she really didn’t know.
But the problem the dear She has is that her track record in terms of honesty and integrity is not, in the past 18 months, exactly glittering.
In reality, Julia Gillard’s record in these areas more closely resembles a strip of used toilet paper.
And she has a further problem in that this sort of stunt is exactly the type of thing the ALP in the 21st century views as a rolled-gold opportunity to score “hard” political mileage.
Whilst it would be nice to believe she is telling the truth, her denials ring hollow.
And the simple fact is that this imbecile — Hodge — not only endangered the life of his boss, he also endangered the lives of Tony Abbott and the Police officers who got them away from the fracas.
Had someone been murdered on Thursday — purely as a result of a juvenile stunt — the consequences would have been unthinkable.
And let’s not mince words here: lives were endangered on Thursday.
And we are talking about murder. Pure and simple.
The angry crowd — largely disowned after the event by the Aboriginal community proper, and rightly so — wanted blood and acted accordingly.
Some maggot hiding in the PM’s office very nearly got someone, or some people, killed.
And that’s not the sort of thing that marks out a smart political operative; in fact, it simply marks out an absolute and utter fuckwit who ought to be permanently unemployable, on any level, in any vocation, at any time, and in any place.
Julia Gillard’s five-second denial of any knowledge of the background to this incident is, regrettably, simply insufficient.
And as Hodge’s employer, it is — at the very least — incumbent on her to make a full, comprehensive and complete disclosure to the Australian public of every detail of the issue from an employment relations perspective.
Bugger Hodge’s privacy in this matter, and bugger Gillard’s past as a partner at professional ambulance-chasing law firm Slater and Gordon.
I reiterate: her staff member almost got people murdered, and she was the boss.
It would appear that a prima facie case of criminally conspiratorial conduct involving a direct employee of Gillard’s office and a representative of an ALP-affiliated union body, with the objective of inflicting terminal political damage on Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party, was perpetrated on Thursday.
Abbott and the Aboriginal community are blameless.
For Gillard, though, the explanation required mandates more than a giggle and a flick of the hair on the Thursday night news.
And again — this was her employee, and this is the governance of Australia we are talking about, not some inconsequentially small enterprise in the boondocks; she is responsible for the actions of her staff and she must make the disclosure.
In closing, and ironically enough, this incident also reflects very poorly on Kevin Rudd.
Hodge was actually hired by Kevin Rudd when he was himself Prime Minister; for much of Rudd’s term as PM, disquiet abounded about his poor selection of advisory staff — their inexperience and immaturity, their insiderish and bovver-boy approach to their jobs, their general unsuitability for the roles he hired them for, and so on.
This in no way exonerates the demand on Gillard to provide a much more detailed account of what went on in her office and how much she knew, but it should also serve as a salutory warning to those ALP MPs flirting with returning Rudd to the Prime Ministership.
Just as Gillard is a completely unsuitable candidate for the Prime Ministership, Rudd is fundamentally unfit for the office, and this episode — germinating from one of the noxious little weeds he bestowed critical roles on that were and are clearly beyond their capacity — should serve as both a warning and an indictment on Rudd, just as they should, frankly, on Gillard.
If Gillard was “Cinderella” on Thursday night, surely she is the ugliest of sisters now.
Something tells me that the ugliest details of this scandalous episode are still to come.