Cartoon: By Pickering.
As Labor tries to distance itself from the embarrassment of the botched attempt by party functionaries to paint Opposition Leader Tony Abbott as a racist with a riot aimed at him, the spin becomes more obvious, even to journalists and the parties statements raise more questions.
Sacked media advisor Tony Hodges admits that he was attempting to have a couple of tent embassy personal confront Abbott over a statement earlier in the day. What seems clear is that Labor attempted to embarrass him by creating a situation where he was to be accused of racism by Aborigines at an Australia Day function in the presence of the PM. So much for Bipartisanship. After this things got out of hand:
The statement by Abbott was innocuous in response to an ABC journalist asking him on the 40th anniversary of the tent embassy if it was still relevant:
“Look, I can understand why the Tent Embassy was established all those years ago. I think a lot has changed for the better since then. We had the historic apology just a few years ago, one of the genuine achievements of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. We had the proposal, which is currently for national consideration to recognize indigenous people in the Constitution. I think the indigenous people of Australia can be very proud of the respect in which they are held by every Australian and yes, I think a lot has changed since then and I think it probably is time to move on from that.”Gillard maintains that Hodges did not embellish the story and did nothing wrong, but this does not explain his sacking nor why Abbott’s statement somehow got misconstrued to mean he wanted the tent embassy bulldozed into the ground and the inhabitants dispersed.
The Aboriginal community has suffered a serious setback from the PR perspective over this issue and has good reason to believe that they were set up on this issue. This does not excuse the behavior on display here. The correct response would have been to contact Abbott’s office and request a meeting to discuss the issue rather than confront him en masse.
The type of conduct during this event will lose the Aboriginal cause a lot of public sympathy. Intemperate conduct is generally not tolerated other than on the left of the divide, where it is encouraged owing to the apparent belief in those circles that the people they pay lip service to are brainless to the point where they are only capable of acting according to the emotion of the moment and are incapable of coherent thought.
Advice to Aboriginal people; stop proving them right.