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Shit happens. Not a PM’s Thinking.

February 9, 2011

Tony Abbott during the interview with Channel 7 reporter Mark Riley

It was a cheap-jack, “gotcha” moment for Channel 7. That’s all it was. Facile “gotcha” journalism.

But it says something about Abbott’s cast of mind that will worry the people who sit behind him in parliament.

The former owner of a Sydney factory said to me, “Something goes wrong on the factory floor, like a work safety matter or damage to equipment. And the guy in charge says, ‘Well, shit happens’. I would know at that moment I would have to get rid of him.”

Not at this moment for Tony. But he cannot afford another.

  1. Terence permalink
    February 9, 2011 9:18 am

    All due respect, a factory floor isn’t the same as a war zone.

    The “Shit happens” refers to despite having the best military around, all the intel, it’s still humans fighting each other and people will die. And, as was shown by the unedited video, the military colonel (?) Mr Abbot was speaking to said “yes, sir, sometimes it does”.

  2. Jared Goodwin permalink
    February 9, 2011 9:33 am

    I think it was sensationalised journalism a little bit of a cheap shot but to Mark Riley’s defence I think any other journalist who obtained the same footage would have done the same.
    Although I have not met Tony I have met plenty that have and although I am not a Tony fan I don’t for a second believe he would intentionally make light of a soldier particularly a fallen soldier. What I think is important is that for an aspiring PM are these the words we would expect to be chosen? the answer in my view is no. So Tony may be guilty of using very poor choice of words but not for making light of a soldiers death.
    The next issue of course is his response or lack thereof this was certainly not the response I would expect to see for any question put to a leader of the opposition or PM for that matter. If he had of responded differently, something along the lines of, come on Mark you know me better than that I would never make light of a fallen soldier yes they were perhaps not the best words to use but they have been taken out of context lets look at the whole footage so I can better explain, I think we would all nearly feel sorry for Tony but the way he has dealt with the hole issue is what i believe is the problem here and what he will be judged on.

    • Peter Pando permalink
      February 10, 2011 7:32 am

      He has expressed his support for the war, and sympathy for the fallen on many occasions. That’s why he kept silent. He knows that we know him better than Riley suggested. Judging by the number of responses, many people have been truly riley’d up by this report!

  3. February 9, 2011 9:51 am

    Well it might be cheap-jack, facile, “gotcha” journalism, but, hey, shit happens! If you are a party leader, an opposition leader or a PM you are required to deal with it. Tony Abbott couldn’t deal with it. It was one of the worst moments in his life, and he still feels the same depth, the same loss of personal self-assuredness, the same loss of control every time he thinks about it. I know; I’ve been there! But this means that, sadly, Tony has been impacted by the peter principle. The peter principle states that in a large organisation an aspirant will rise to a level one above the level of his/her competence. This usually means we have a world run by incompetents at the highest level or competent aspiring incompetents at lower levels. But its time for the Liberals for cut their losses. They had one of the best but they couldn’t hack it because he was one to look at the realities of life and tell it like it is. Those that couldn’t hack the realities of life replaced him with this. That probably means that over half of them have been impacted by the peter principle.

    • February 10, 2011 11:35 am

      Actually I think he dealt with it better than I expected. You do realise that what he had just been shown also included altered quotes that misrepresented what he actually said. THAT was what I think had him caught by surprise. He did well to control himself and not hit the slimey jerk Riley. Consider that he was part of the boxing team at Oxford – he more than likely could have king-hit Riley. I think his silence was intentional – not a lack of composure but a measured response. Certainly better that putting his foot in his mouth as he has done before.

  4. AllanHardie permalink
    February 9, 2011 9:53 am

    A slightly different perspective concerns me: that under mild pressure, Abbott was unable to cope with the situation. For a prospective Prime Minister, this is a major problem, as I worry how he would react when the heat is more intense.

  5. Peter Pando permalink
    February 10, 2011 7:27 am

    Dear Mr Carr,

    If you ‘do it’, then you have some control over it. If it just ‘happens’, then unfortunately it was out of your control. So what would the factory owner say if, despite the factory owner giving food, money and education to the saboteur’s party, giving jobs to the saboteur’s people, protecting the saboteur and his ’cause’ when expressed outside the factory, and in spite of everyone employed following the law to make sure the factory was well-maintained and no one got injured on the job, an industrial saboteur threw a spanner in the workings of his machines, and the machines blew up and killed some employees? If he really believed in what he was doing, he put a steely face on it. Anything he said to the foreman would express his determination to continue to run his factory and have faith in the foreman and his workers.
    What if the factory owner decided that the best course of action was to continue his business, and redouble his efforts in sharing the produce of his own factory with the saboteur’s people, but his advertising agency criticised him for his determination to keep making his product and trying to persuade his enemies that the factory isn’t as bad as they think? He’d certainly worry about the trustworthiness of the advertiser, and consider taking his business elsewhere. He’d certainly wonder if the advertiser understood his language and that of his customers.

    The reason for Riley’s report surely lies in the heavy publicity for Riley’s access to powerful people during the last election campaign, with a photo of Ms Gillard following him and reaching forward to touch his arm. All in all it’s good publicity for SBS and Channel 10, isn’t it?

  6. February 10, 2011 2:35 pm

    What a load of nonsense. Consider under circumstances he as the PM was attending the UN and he was asked a question by the prime minister of another nation and he had just been shown altered quotes that misrepresented what he actually said. Would he stand there jerking his head for a minute and a half being unable to say anything without calling on his training to smash her in the face and would we then say he did well to control himself and not hit the slimey jerk. Give us a bit more respect than that!

    • Peter Pando permalink
      February 11, 2011 2:13 pm

      1. When the reporter asked Mr Abbott to tell him what the context was, was he snooping for information about operational matters which wasn’t on the tape?
      2. Look at his assertive body language. That’s no way for a journalist to behave towards an Honourable member, elected by the people. Mr Abbott gave him the response he deserved. If such disrespect happened in the UN the reporter would fall rapidly down the food chain, and the UN would be in chaos.


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