Thursday, January 10, 2013

Abusing their power is a long Labor tradition | Daily Telegraph Piers Akerman Blog

Abusing their power is a long Labor tradition | Daily Telegraph Piers Akerman Blog

FEDERAL Labor minister Brendan O’Connor on Wednesday rushed to label Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s volunteer fire fighting service a “stunt” - in a tweet which managed to offend almost every one of the more than 70,000 men and women who belong to NSW’s 2100 rural fire brigades.

When he reconsidered, or someone else reconsidered, O’Connor, the Minister for Housing, Homeless and Small Business, deleted his offensive message and tweeted an apology which said: “Apologies for any offence. I respect and acknowledge the critical work of all our volunteer firefighters including Tony Abbott.”

It was too late though - O’Connor’s words had already flashed around the Rural Fire Service on the same social networking tools he had used in his attempt to denigrate and politically damage Abbott by attacking his public service.

Members of the RFS, who cannot talk to the media unless they are cleared to by headquarters, would not comment on the record but a number said privately that O’Connor had insulted every person who put on a RFS uniform, every person who risked their life putting the public first.

“We downplay what we do, but this sort of attack goes beyond anything a decent bloke would do,” one said.

But as anyone who knows anything about Labor politics knows full well, this episode was far from the bottom of the barrel.

Labor has long resorted to making the most grossly offensive personal attacks on individuals it disagrees with, be they ordinary members of the public, figures in the business and mining communities, or politicians.

What’s more, as evidenced by the behaviour of the audience of the ABC’s Q&A program on occasion, these attacks are popular both with the taxpayer-funded broadcasters’ producers and on-air personalities and also with its hand-picked, partisan audiences.

Offensive language is a hallmark of Labor politics.

Indeed, some of the more aged members of the Canberra Press Gallery still recount with a sort of smirking pride the foul-mouthed utterances of former Labor prime minister Paul Keating.

He didn’t hesitate to label his opponent variously as “scumbags”, “gutless spivs”, “painted perfumed gigolos” and so on within the house. What he said in private in his office or on the telephone should not be repeated in a family newspaper.

Current Prime Minister Julia Gillard, no shrinking violet when it comes to offering a reeking serve of contumely, is recorded by Hansard accusing opposition members of being “the misogynist and the fat man”.

She reached the apex of her public utterances with her near-hysterical attack on Abbott as a misogynist in the speech she shrieked while defending her hand-picked Speaker, Peter Slipper.
Even the most ardent of old school feminists, Eva Cox, wrote recently on The Conversation website that Abbott was not “in my terms” a misogynist, as she noted that Gillard “has real flaws in her feminist credentials”.

The Labor Party has given the nation leaders like Keating, Gillard and the memorably quotable Mark Latham - who has made a career out of insulting his opponents and even those who helped him.
Count him as an equal opportunity offender.

Treasurer Wayne Swan, Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese, Family and Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin and Health Minister Tanya Plibersek have all distinguished themselves with their swoops into the gutter of political denigration.

Even Labor’s distinctively lesser lights, like parliamentary secretaries Mark Dreyfus and Richard Marles or backbenchers like Steve Jones and Steve Gibbons (who contributed the term “gutless douchebag” and “narcissistic bimbo” to the national debate) have eagerly followed the party leadership in its unrelenting jihad of negativity.

In Australia’s robust parliamentary democracy, such attacks and smears are defended by the Labor side, while they are delivering the garbage, as the common currency of free speech.

Historians can find little evidence that conservative MPs have been as abusive or discourteous.
Suck it up, the comrades from the left may well say of their offensive remarks, suck it up.

However Labor is now on the brink of taking an even more deeply offensive step with its plans to introduce sweeping changes to anti-discrimination legislation which threaten free discussion of political and religious topics.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, an amazon in the gender war against opposition, has offered the strangely frightening assurance that the “government is not seeking to regulate the type of language used privately between friends” but the very fact that she felt the need to address that concern is itself alarming.

Queues of critics have made more than 520 submissions to the government about its proposed legislation, the majority opposed to elements of the draft.

After the successful prosecution of my colleague Andrew Bolt under existing anti-discrimination legislation (which the government does not propose to alter) it is difficult to see the new draft as anything other than a further attack on freedom of speech and the imposition of an even greater degree of political correctness.

The draft is an admission of failure by this government.

Its own foul political attacks have failed to achieve their goal and the party now sees its only chance is to shut down the show completely or introduce a greater degree of control which will have the same effect.

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