Very few things in life truly make me want to vomit, however yesterday morning’s breakfast interview with Christopher Pyne very nearly inspired such a violent physical reaction.
According to the latest polls, Gillard is preferred PM over Tony Abbott by a long shot. But it’s not her party’s recent policy announcements that have gotten her over the line, nor is it Abbott’s spectacular floundering during Leigh Sales’s spectacular and devastating interview on the ABC 7.30 Program or even on the Today show… no. It’s been Labor’s cheap shots on Abbott’s character that have reduced the public’s faith in him.
So, because the party can’t trust him to be on the ABC ever again, Abbott didn’t go on TV to defend himself, the woefully obnoxious Christopher Pyne did. And how Michael Rowland of Breakfast News managed to keep a straight face throughout the interview is absolutely beyond me.
Let’s have a look at how this played out, blow by blow.
Michael Rowland: The Opposition's education spokesman Christopher Pyne joins us now from Parliament House. Mr Pyne, good morning to you. As you would have already seen, Labor gaining small rises in the primary vote in both polls but in both polls as well Julia Gillard out rates Tony Abbott as preferred Prime Minister. In the Newspoll she has a 14-point lead, the biggest lead she's had in more than a year. How do you read those polls?
All good so far, but that would be because Christopher Pyne hasn’t opened his mouth. Here he is now:
Christopher Pyne: Good morning Michael. Well what we're seeing is the politics of personal denigration writ large in Australia. The Labor Party has spent the last two weeks and the better part of the last few months demonising Tony Abbott in the same way as they did Campbell Newman before the Queensland State election.
At this point, I know what you’re thinking. Abbott never stood in front of a sign that said ‘Ditch the Witch’, nor did he repeatedly call her a liar/untrustworthy/backstabber etc for the last 2 years? Nor did he and his party lead a campaign of non-questions about her time at Slater and Gordon 17 years ago? Nope – didn’t happen. It’s like history has been completely re-written by a dizzy Poodle. He continues…
Pyne: ...They want to destroy his character and Tony Abbott is being painted by the Labor Party is not the Tony Abbott that I know and in fact just this weekend Tony Abbott, as well as doing interviews and doorstops, spent Saturday doing a controlled burn-off with his local volunteer fire service and yesterday guided a blind runner to the end of their first marathon as their partner so the Tony Abbott I know is a caring, compassionate human individual, a man with a Rhodes scholarship, a man who went to Oxford and the most experienced would-be Prime Minister in Australia's history in terms of being in Government.
I’m really sorry I exposed you to that – but it’s really what he said. Honestly, you couldn’t make this shit up. How he manages to even utter even a single syllable with a mouth so completely full of Abbott’s sphincter in itself is an astonishingly remarkable feat. Judging by this I’m pretty sure he has a Tony Abbott teddy bear in budgie smugglers on his bed. The teddy is one of a limited edition of 2 – Greg Sheridan has the other. If you’re wondering what Abbott did the weekend before, he probably dug that poor bastard’s eyes out so Abbott had something nice to have said about himself. Now that Pyne has concluded his first bout of enthusiastic arse-licking, it’s over to Rowland to try and stop himself from completely pissing himself laughing.
Rowland: Taking into account everything that's gone on in Federal politics, you believe the polls are solely result of from what you see as the denigration of Tony Abbott. No super trawler or off shore processing? Nothing else?
I think he did well there – didn’t laugh AND managed to ask a decent question.
Pyne: I'm sure there are other aspects to it, but I think the primary purpose of the Labor Party's campaign of personal denegation of Tony Abbott in recent weeks has been to drive down his poll numbers. That is working but I don't think at the end of the day the Australian public will buy a campaign of personal denegation, of vilification.
That’s funny – I thought that was the Coalition’s ‘main game’. You know – Gillard and the whole Slater and Gordon thing… and all those ‘questions’? The ones they couldn’t actually articulate, but they should be answered nonetheless? I’d have thought that that was what the Coalition was getting at – denigrating the Prime Minister’s character. But hey, that’s just my take on it. Pyne hasn’t finished though…
Pyne: ...Unfortunately with the Labor Party, Michael, when they have their backs to the wall and they've tried everything else, they eventually turn to the chum bucket. That's what we've seen in the last fortnight. Turning to the chum bucket, throwing as much muck as they possibly can and hoping some will stick.
Firstly, I just want to let you know that I had no idea what he was talking about when he said ‘chum bucket’. When I Googled it, apparently it’s a restaurant in SpongeBob Squarepants. However I suspect he means ‘chumbucket’ which is a bucket which houses fishing bait. So now the Labor party are throwing old squid at Tony Abbott. They should probably use something stickier. If they hang around until about 9am tomorrow morning, I may be able to help them out.
Rowland: Tony Abbott hasn't been guilty of negativity?
This is what happens when you can’t state something (because it could be perceived as being biased), so you pose it as a question instead.
Pyne: Tony Abbott points out the deficiencies of a very bad government.
Ok, he didn’t get that one – try again Rowland…
Rowland: He's run a relentless negative campaign, as you know, against the carbon tax. I'll quote you some of the viewer comments we are getting this morning. Ron on Facebook: “The public's growing tired of the opposition's continual negative campaigning”. Helen on Facebook: “People are getting sick to death with Abbott and his attitude.” What do you say to those concerns amongst voters?
Ok that should do it.
Pyne: Well what I say to them Michael is that running a campaign against the carbon tax which the government promised not to introduce before the election and then introduced it is vastly different from a campaign of personal vilification of an individual which is what's happened to Tony Abbott in the past few months. Running a campaign against the carbon tax, against the government's failed border protection policies, against the government's inability to explain where the $120 billion is coming from for all their unfunded promises, that's politics. That's what people in politics should be doing, holding a government to account, not this campaign of personal denigration of Tony Abbott that we've seen in recent weeks.
What I’ll say here is that Pyne actually has a point – people want political parties to actually address politics, not each other. However he has completely neglected to remember anything about what they’ve dredged up about Gillard over the last few months.
Rowland: What about the campaign of denigration regarding the Prime Minister's past as a lawyer?
Ahh thank you – the question equivalent of a money shot.
Pyne: Well the campaign that has been in the papers or the stories that have been in the papers are based on documents filed in the Federal Court, based on interviews with the Prime Minister when she was a lawyer at Slater and Gordon and her senior partners. They surround why she left Slater and Gordon.
In other words, if someone wants to be terrorised by a political rival, they’d better put pen to paper and make sure it’s documented.
Pyne: …There are many questions left unexplained but that wasn't run by the opposition. That was run by those people involved in that case who were horrified at what's happened so you can't compare a campaign of personal vilification against a campaign of holding someone to account for matters that happened some time ago that are fully documented and you can read ‘The Australian' to get all those stories.
This is bald-faced bullshit, with a sprinkling of a sycophantic promotion for The Oz. Nice touch, Pyne.
Rowland: It wasn't ignored by the opposition. Come on, Christopher Pyne, Tony Abbott did pick it up. He used it to further raise questions about, as he saw it, the Prime Minister's character.
Rowland’s really struggling to contain his incredulousness at this point.
Pyne: Michael, you cannot compare the documented Federal Court documents detailing the involvement of fraud in the Australian Workers Union several decades ago or in fact 20-odd years ago with a personal campaign of denigration. Trying to make them relatively the same is really pretty disgraceful actually. The truth is one is documented fraud in the Australian Workers Union involving the former boyfriend of the Prime Minister. All of that is on the record. The rest is sheer conjecture, sheer hearsay, smear and innuendo and trying to put the two together is really quite wrong.
Has Pyne just said that anything beyond the documented fraud was conjecture? I think he has. Heaven forbid that anyone engage in conjecture… like, I dunno, the Coalition did. A lot. For weeks.
Rowland: By saying this is all about the personal denigration of Tony Abbott, these opinion poll results, are you conceding, Christopher Pyne, that the opposition's campaign against the carbon tax has been a bit of a squib?
You’ve got a nice curve ball there, Rowland.
Pyne: Well, you ask any Labor member that, Michael. I don't think you'll find that they think the carbon tax is very popular amongst voters. Everywhere I go in my electorate voters rail against two things primarily, one, they absolutely hate the carbon tax and the effect it's having on the cost of living, on electricity prices in particular and, two, they think it's extraordinary that the government would have come to power and changed the border protection laws and we've had tens of thousands of illegal arrivals since then, 10,000 alone just this year which is now costing us billions of dollars a year in money we could have been spending on infrastructure or on other things of importance to the Australian public.
Shorter Pyne: We don’t like the carbon tax, and something irrelevant about ‘illegal arrivals’ who aren’t even illegal. When all else fails, sing from the song book.
Rowland: Nielsen has Malcolm Turnbull 63% as preferred leader, Tony Abbott 30%. Are you going to be the one who taps Tony Abbott on the shoulder therefore, Christopher Pyne?
Pyne: Michael, you can try as much as you like to try and create leadership tension in the Liberal Party. It just isn't there.
Rowland: Coalition voters support Malcolm Turnbull over Tony Abbott. This isn't just general voters and Labor voters.
Pyne: I'm sure our friends would rather focus on trying to whip up leadership tensions in the Liberal Party than focus on the fact that Kevin Rudd is back and bigger than ever and doing his best to try and put himself back on the agenda. I know the press gallery don't like to write about Labor Party leadership, they much prefer Liberal Party leadership.
Have you ever seen an article on the leadership in the Labor Party? Pyne apparently hasn’t. I mean really – what is it like on Planet Pyne? Don’t you receive The Australian there? You should really put in a word with Tone, Pyne. I’m sure he can make sure they deliver… even to the outer-fringes of our galaxy.
Pyne: …The truth is there isn't any tension in the Coalition at all. Our job is to hold a very bad government to account and on behalf of the Australian people, try and get policies in place that will reduce the cost of living, protect our borders, restore integrity to the government and restore the budget bottom line
Oh yes, “policies”. I’d almost forgotten about them.
Rowland: Do you and Tony Abbott and the rest of the leadership group in the Coalition, Christopher Pyne, see any need to recalibrate your political strategy in the wake of these opinion polls?
Pyne: I think we need to keep doing what we do best which is to put out our own excellent policies like the return of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, maternity leave scheme, talk about the things that we're going to do. I think on the weekend Tony Abbott announced that we would built the Pacific Highway, finish the Pacific Highway at a cost of $5.6 billion, put out our own positive agenda while holding a rotten government to account and that's what we intend to continue to do.
What you do best? You haven’t been doing a lot of it. According to Pyne, you get a commission, a road and an old maternity leave scheme. This is what they’ve come up with in 2 years.
Rowland: Christopher Pyne in Canberra thank you very much for your time this morning.
Pyne: Pleasure Michael, thank you.
Or, has he would have preferred to have said, "Thanks Michael, my time on your planet has been great. I recommend the shrimp".