Life on the land in Australia


Leaders see red

as debate on carbon price

gets personal

Phillip Coorey

March 25, 2011

Personal slugging match

The fight over carbon tax is plumbing dangerous new depths. Parliament has seen some of the most vitriolic personal insults ever uttered.

TONY ABBOTT says Julia Gillard is a multi-faceted liar who lacks integrity and is being precious about ”a few nasty placards”.

The Prime Minister believes Mr Abbott to be a disgusting and revolting individual who has displayed flawed judgment by associating himself with extremism and gross sexism.

”For going out to a rally and associating himself with One Nation, with the League of Rights, with anti-Semitic groups and with grossly sexist signs,” she said.

Fierce ... the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, criticised Tony Abbott for attending a rally with "grossly sexist signs".Fierce … the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, criticised Tony Abbott for attending a rally with “grossly sexist signs”. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

With a hung parliament, a government holding power by the barest of margins, and both leaders locked in a fight for their political lives over the carbon tax, tensions are as high as they have been for years and the attacks are becoming increasingly personal.

One MP expressed her shame after question time yesterday because a group of school children from her electorate had been in the gallery watching.

Things heated up this week when Mr Abbott took a shot at Ms Gillard’s atheism and unmarried status during the party-room meeting on Tuesday, and on Wednesday when he attended a rally outside Parliament to protest the carbon tax.

The attendees were mainly climate change sceptics angry at Ms Gillard’s broken promise. Pauline Hanson was there, as were many fringe groups such as the League of Rights.

Mr Abbott landed in trouble by being framed as he spoke by ”nasty placards”, one of which described Ms Gillard as ”Bob Browns [sic] bitch”.

Many Liberals were unimpressed yesterday that Mr Abbott had gone to the rally. The government branded the protesters ”extremists”.

Mr Abbott branded them a snapshot of middle Australia. He expressed regret at the placards, but nothing more. John Howard had put up with insults just as bad and Ms Gillard was being precious.

”We have seen real Julia, we have seen fake Julia. We have seen wooden Julia, we have seen teary Julia. We have seen all the way with LBJ Julia, we have seen Bible expert Julia. We have seen George Washington ‘I will never tell a lie’ Julia. The fact is: the one thing we have never seen is truthful Julia,” he said. ”Today, we saw precious Julia, very precious Julia, complaining about a few nasty placards.”

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Harry Jenkins, like many members of the public, is growing increasingly critical of the rapid decline in political discourse.

”I’m happy for you to have a robust debate, but to carry on the way the House carries on is ridiculous,” he said during one of his many interventions.

March 27th, 2011

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