It wasn’t hard to guess who were the sponsors of Greg Sheridan’s attack on the Prime Minister in today’s Australian, but the inanity and vulgarity are breathtaking even by our standards. The white-anting is said to reflect internal grief about the refusal of the PM ‘to campaign on key Liberal issues such as national security’.
The Prime Minister’s decision to tour a mattress factory on Thursday when the coffins carrying the remains of Australian soldiers killed in the Vietnam conflict were returned through the RAAF base at Richmond, in Sydney, has left some liberals astonished, confused. They regard the politics of this decision-making as bizarre.
The official line, that Turnbull and Bill Shorten stayed away so as not to detract from the occasion, is nonsensical. A respectful, non-campaigning prime ministerial presence would have underlined the nation’s gratitude to the fallen.
Without any overt politicising, the benefit to the PM of pictures of him welcoming home the coffins would have been very powerful. Many Liberals think that any recent previous Liberal PM would have been there as a matter of course.
This is worse than bullshit. It is revolting. Our politicians are on the nose because they lack decency, taste, and balls. The typical stunt that revolts us is a politician seeking to gain votes out of a sombre event, one that should never be tainted by politics. One such event is the public return of our war dead. Any politician who sought to make political capital of that would most politely be described as a jerk. Yet when the P M and the Leader of the Opposition reach accord on respecting this basic level of decency, Sheridan says they are being ‘nonsensical.’ He, and his spiteful backers in the party, think that Turnbull should have made capital out of this photo-op, but that he should have done so covertly, rather than overtly. Get out there and be political – but lie about it. It takes a disgusting level of chutzpah to seek votes for welcoming back coffins of young men that his political party sent to their deaths on false premises. The only thing that Sheridan is right about is that any recent previous Liberal PM would have been there as a matter of course. Of course they would – that is just why they are so much on the nose.
I had proposed to vote informal, but Mr Sheridan has persuaded that I should vote for Mr Turnbull. He is, I fear, our last best hope for any decency in Australian public life.
Poet of the month: Anna Akhmatova
They took you away at daybreak. Half wak-
ing, as though at a wake, I followed.
In the dark chamber children were crying,
In the image-case, candlelight guttered.
At your lips, the chill of an ikon,
A deathly sweat at your brow.
I shall go creep to our wailing wall,
Crawl to the Kremlin towers.