Opposition Leader Tony Abbott speaking
at the anti-carbon tax rally in Canberra, Wednesday, March 23, 2011.
More than 3,000 people attended the rally
to protest against the Government's proposed carbon tax.
(AAP: Alan Porritt)
My South African blogging friend, Steve Hayes, has been writing about the church and political and governmental 'relationships'. I have commented on his post along the theme of 'co-option'.
I then have gone on to find the picture accompanying Annabel Crabb's post on The Drum. What the picture does not tell you is who the two women are standing beside Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. The older woman with the blonde hair is Bronwyn Bishop. Standing between Bishop and Abbott (sorry for the clerical pun) is Sophie Mirabella.
Tony Abbott has been facing calls on commercial and ABC talk-back radio to-day for an apology to the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, for speaking under placards such as these above. There will be no apology except in a most general, back-handed form either from Tony or from the organisers of the rally.
I have not yet heard of any call from anybody for Bishop and Mirabella to explain to us why they were co-opted under such a banner which demeaned not only the status of the office of Prime Minister but also demeaned our most senior female in government and, in my view, such a sign demeaned the status and personae of women everywhere.
The questions that need to be addressed to Bishop and Mirabella is quite simply this:
Do you support the demeaning of women and of female leadership in this way?
Would you support the demeaning of your own female leadership in this way?
Abbott has tried to wriggle out of the contretemps by saying that it is democracy, free speech, and he had/has no control over people at a rally at which he is speaking.
Senator Christine Milne put paid to this argument in an interview on Radio 774 with Waleed Aly this morning. While she agreed with Abbott that one could not control who brought what placards/posters to a public rally, Milne maintains that one can always control one's personal space and be aware of how cameras are framing you within their picture. Milne said that Abbott could have refused to speak until such offensive material was removed from around him. From the photograph, it is clear that neither Bishop nor Mirabella - who are not known to be shy and retiring wallflowers - has any qualms about their own personal space and the framing of themselves within camera shots.
So, Bronwyn Bishop and Sophie Mirabella, please explain.