THE comments made by broadcaster Alan Jones about the death of Julia Gillard’s father John are more than an isolated — distasteful — incident.
They represent the culmination of an orchestrated campaign that Jones, other media commentators and the opposition leader have run since Gillard won the election.
Jones in particular has referred to the Prime Minister as ‘‘Jul-liar’’, suggested she be dumped at sea in a chaff bag and refuses to address her as Prime Minister. It doesn’t matter what side of politics you’re on, this last point is a tactic to undermine her position by failing to recognise the office she holds by referring to her by her first name.
What Jones, Abbott and company have failed to realise is that by undertaking a campaign that has so constantly attacked the Prime Minister with such vitriol on a personal level, they are undermining the office of the Prime Minister in the Australian psyche. They have also in turn established the benchmark for how future opposition leaders undertake their role. So should Abbott win the next election, the ALP will come at him, thus creating a continued downward spiral where Australians have less and less faith in our political leaders and institutions.
We’ll end up with less interested participants, less checks and balances and a remaining political class that views the parliament as nothing more than a game to be won and lost.
Australia is in grave need of strong leadership if it is going to turn this tide around. The problem is Abbott isn’t interested in doing so and Gillard is now too damaged to even try.
Is this really what we want?