Mockery deserved when self-inflicted

Anne Summers of The Sydney Morning Herald is one of Australia’s pre-eminent journalists but she is allowing her attachment to feminism to cloud her judgment of the commentariat’s view of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Summers complains that Gillard is being mocked to such an extent that it represents misogyny. But is the PM the cause of her own misfortune?

Summers rightly asserts that politics is a pitiless business. But she fails to address the issue of whether it should be equally pitiless for both males and females. Strident feminists would be insulted the question is even asked. And Summers comes across as a committed feminist which makes her defence of Gillard, Australia’s first female PM, intriguing.

At the outset I will acknowledge readily that a lot of the comment about Gillard has been unfair in that it has targeted her body shape, her unmarried status and her lack of children. None of these is a valid ground for criticism and most males subjected to similar condemnation would be either shell-shocked or pugilistic.

Summers quotes deposed Liberal Party leader, Malcolm Turnbull, as saying that politics is a terribly cruel and devastating business in which all your blunders and mistakes are on view and there is no place to hide. Should it not be so for females, Anne, or do we have one standard for men and another for women?

Summers protests that the media are mocking Gillard even “when she tries to communicate with the Australian people.” She refers to the recent week spent in Sydney’s western suburbs by the PM and her entourage and canes the media for daring to ask whether the PM was “campaigning” rather than “governing”.

Well, Anne, it’s like this. The other week, Gillard set a date for an election eight months hence and said this was so that campaigning by both sides of politics could wait until then and in the interim she would get on with governing.

Then she almost immediately announces she is spending a week touring her political heartland in what could not be described as anything other than an election campaign. If Gillard is mocked for this, whose fault is it? Workplace conversations make it abundantly clear that voters are of the same mind as the media: Gillard broke her own commitment within days and when preparations would have already been made for this electioneering stunt. So, she lied to us. Bit hard to complain about mockery on that basis.

Today it has been revealed that local authorities in the area have been urged to apply for hundreds of millions of dollars in regional development grants. Even those who had applications rejected earlier were emailed by a senior Gillard Minister urging them to resubmit. Further, 19 such applications in the western Sydney area have made it to the next round of approval compared to just three for the entire remainder of the nation. If it looks like pork-barrelling, smells like pork-barrelling and bloody well is pork-barrelling, should the PM not be mocked for doing so?

Regrettably, Ms Summers, our Prime Minister is such a confirmed liar, such a cynical manipulator and such an inept political player that she truly deserves to be mocked. But you can rest assured that when the electorate delivers its verdict in September, they won’t be laughing.