Friday, July 12, 2013
Storm in a teacup (1)
The two reports below concern the Federal leader of Australia's Left (Rudd) and the Federal leader of Australia's conservatives (Abbott). In both cases, normal words and actions have been blown up as something outrageous.
The current tendency to seize on trivia as cause for criticism would seem to inhibit all spontaneity. No wonder politicians get a reputation for not saying what they really think or really intend to do. Anything but meaningless bromides could well "offend" someone
OPPOSITION leader Tony Abbott has come under fire after telling a female journalist to calm down when questioned on claims for travel expenses he was asked to repay following his Battlelines book tour.
Guardian Australia journalist Bridie Jabour was seeking a comment from Mr Abbott at a pie factory press conference this morning when the incident occurred.
Mr Abbott, who was accompanied by Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey, was more than happy to don a cap and white coat in one of his trademark shopfloor photo ops but he was less willing to answer questions on the expenses he was forced to repay that were incurred while promoting his book Battlelines.
Ms Jabour's response on Twitter later was short and sweet. All i have to say is: Calmer than you are. #biglebowski #calmdownbridie
The hashtag created by Ms Jabour in response, #calmdownbridie, was Tweeted almost 2000 times over the course of the day. The episode culminated in globally renowned ‘God’ account @TheTweetOfGod tweeting Abbott: “Attention @TonyAbbottMHR: this is God. Calm down, sweetie.”
The God user has 833,000 followers on Twitter while Abbott struggles along with 140,000 followers. Kevin Rudd? He has more followers than God, with almost 1.3 million.
Storm in a teacup (2)
FOOTAGE of Kevin Rudd patting the head of a disabled woman has left a disability advocate "shaking with rage".
Comedian Stella Young, who is also a disability campaigner, said the PM's behaviour showed Australians had a long way to go to change patronising and disrespectful attitudes.
The clip, part of a story on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) on ABC's 7.30 Report on Tuesday night, showed Mr Rudd posing for a photo with a woman in a wheelchair before patting or ruffling her hair.
Ms Young says disabled and short-statured people are considered cute or a novelty and aren't treated with the dignity and respect afforded to others. "When you face those attitudes on the bus or on the train or at the supermarket, it's pretty awful," Ms Young said. "But when you're faced with these attitudes by the prime minister of the nation, it's absolutely gobsmacking."
She said Mr Rudd's actions were probably unintentional, but was surprised he hadn't been briefed on how to interact with disabled people. "If you could show me video evidence of Kevin Rudd patting the head of an adult non-disabled woman, I'll eat my words," Ms Young said.
"(But) can you imagine him patting one of his female parliamentary colleagues on the head? Absolutely not. A woman in his local community? I don't think so."
Changing patronising and condescending attitudes is as important as improving physical access for disabled people, Ms Young says.