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From Diaz’s stop-the-boats plan to ‘shit happens’, pollies’ on-air gaffes

Following Clive Palmer’s dramatic 7.30 walk-out, Crikey intern Paul Millar finds eight recent moments in political on-air infamy.

Following maverick (and ubiquitous) MP Clive Palmer’s abrupt departure from an interview with 7:30’s Sarah Ferguson last night, we at Crikey thought we’d look back at some of Australian politicians’ more embarrassing on-air moments in recent memory.

Jaymes Diaz misses the point

Liberal candidate for Greenway Jaymes Diaz rose to international infamy following a fumbling interview that showed us just how wrong media briefings can go. His inability to show any understanding of Coalition policy beyond the carefully crafted slogans in his pamphlet led to a barrage of mockery from the world press and dashed any hope of his victory in Sydney.

Kevin Rudd has a bad day

In hindsight, footage such as this leaked recording of Kevin Rudd struggling with his Mandarin should have tipped us off that there was something a little off about our former prime minister. As a piece of propaganda, though, it backfired brilliantly — much like Rudd’s bashful dalliance with the New York strip club scene, the sight of our prime minister swearing in frustration actually gained him some support in the eyes of people who viewed his polished exterior with suspicion.

Tony Abbott remains calm

“It’s pretty obvious that, well, sometimes shit happens, doesn’t it?” Tony Abbott’s friendly reminder of the cold injustice of the universe may have been small comfort to Australian soldiers mourning the loss of a friend, but his reaction to incredulous questioning back home proved a lot less reassuring. Whether or not you believe the media were exploiting a sincere moment of empathy for their own gain, it was still pretty alarming to watch the silence stretch on as a visibly furious Abbott strained not to punch reporter Mark Riley in the face.

Bill Shorten has Gillard’s back 

Aware of the existence (if not the content) of a statement by Julia Gillard about Peter Slipper’s decision to step down following sexual harassment allegations, Shorten found himself in the unenviable position of having to choose between professing blind faith in his Prime Minister or taking the risk that any dissenting view would damn him as a traitor to the administration. The resulting interview may have made his loyalties clear (for the moment, at least) but probably didn’t help his growing reputation as Labor’s faceless man.

Stephanie Banister has a lot to learn

What more can be said about One Nation candidate Stephanie Banister that hasn’t been included in the voice-over of this Seven News report? Although Banister still maintains that her interviewer unfairly edited her statement to paint her as racist and ignorant, I think we can all agree that Erin Edwards’ brilliantly understated sarcasm has cemented her place in media history.

Craig Emerson gets jiggy with it

What’s most baffling about this moment of political vaudeville is the obvious preparation that went into it. We may never know if Craig Emerson browbeat his handlers into letting him release his inner Garrett or if the whole thing was a carefully coached move to get Twitter talking, but the 28 seconds of the trade minister awkwardly bobbing his head to the backing track before his entry will live on in our hearts forever.

Ricky Muir gets himself in a fluster

Ricky Muir has had a hard time since his startling election into the upper house last year. After weathering out the shock of an outraged media in solemn isolation, the budding politician broke his silence with a fumbling interview with Seven’s Mike Willesee that made it clear the Motoring Enthusiasts Party Senator had a rough road ahead of him.

Assange slowly loses his mind

Trapped in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for over two years now, WikiLeaks Party founder and digital messiah Julian Assange can perhaps be forgiven for being out of touch with the Australian public. There’s a point where “awkwardly charming” crosses over into “embarrassing dad” territory, and Julian’s cringe-worthy rendition of John Farnham’s You’re the Voice sprinted headfirst over that line without looking back.

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  • 1
    zut alors
    Posted Friday, 11 July 2014 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    There is so little to admire about Abbott but rarely has the nation seen such a display of remarkable self-discipline as when he took the option not to deck Riley.

  • 2
    MJPC
    Posted Friday, 11 July 2014 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Jaymes Diaz, still manages to get a laugh every time I watch it. It is so painful to think this imposter could have fluked a seat in this current bunch of incompetant’s if the local proletariat in Blacktown had not seen reason and not voted him in.

  • 3
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 11 July 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I’ve wondered at the image of a “roo-poo tosser” with the name “Muir”?
    It could so easily become “M’nuir”?

  • 4
    Steve777
    Posted Friday, 11 July 2014 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Surely no list such as this one is complete without Tony Abbott’s “suppository of wisdom”.

  • 5
    Shirty
    Posted Friday, 11 July 2014 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    What about Big Mal’s almost simultaneous announcement of his candidature and retirement from politics!

  • 6
    beachcomber
    Posted Friday, 11 July 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    The Abbott clip is the most alarming, given he is acting as our Prime Minsiter.
    Standing there shaking with rage, unable to speak, apparently unable to think, sums up this hopeless “government”.

  • 7
    rubbersoul1991
    Posted Friday, 11 July 2014 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Not strictly a media stuff up but the Jeff Kennett critique of John Howard over the phone to Andrew Peacock was gold too.

  • 8
    En Quiry
    Posted Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    The ABC was getting worthy about Ferguson, and the icy blast by Palmer was exactly right in the circumstances. Just as Palmer was correct to do it on the larger scale in Parliament. Naturally, the ABC has posted a self-serving collage of truncated interviews. I wish someone would include in such things the excellent flounce in the late 1970s by Tammy Fraser … but sorry, I only remember the stylish Mrs Fraser. The interviewer and his or her question have faded into the shadows.

  • 9
    AR
    Posted Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    You’ve omotted the audio of Abbott telling ..Plibsek?.. that her reason for a late arrival was “bullshit”.
    Pity that no audio has surfaced of his “climate change is crap” assurance to some benighted backwoods meeting.

  • 10
    Itsarort
    Posted Monday, 14 July 2014 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Well, shit doesn’t happen if you don’t join the services and put yourself in harms way. How many pollie’s kids have signed-up as diggers in recent times?

  • 11
    zut alors
    Posted Monday, 14 July 2014 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    AR, it was Nicola Roxon at a National Press Club debate. Much like his mentor, Gloria, taking Julia Gillard to task for arriving a few minutes late for an interview on his tatty radio show.

  • 12
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 14 July 2014 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Isn’t Singo’s Cock-or-Two Circus “Tart Radio”?

    As for the ABC (at the risk of offending the sensibilities of all the preciouses out there in their “ABC bias” wallows) - imagine Ferguson (let alone Sales, Alberici and even “Jones-Ferguson”) et al being as impudent to Cola-ition members - running the risk of offending Murdoch, The Gossip King?

  • 13
    AR
    Posted Monday, 14 July 2014 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Zut - thanks for the correction.

  • 14
    zut alors
    Posted Monday, 14 July 2014 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    AR, it’s actually worse than you think. It was Abbott who was late on that occasion &, instead of apologising, he resorted to macho abuse. The transcript from 31 Oct, 2007:

    As the pair shook hands at the end, the following exchange occurred:
    Ms Roxon: “You can’t even get here on time”.

    Mr Abbott: “It certainly wasn’t intentional.”

    Ms Roxon: “You can control these things mate. I’m sure had you wanted to you could.”

    Mr Abbott: “That’s bullshit. You’re being deliberately unpleasant. I suppose you can’t help yourself, can you?”

    Ms Roxon: “I can’t help myself and you’ve well and truly earnt it today.”

  • 15
    AR
    Posted Monday, 14 July 2014 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Zut -further thanks, that’s gone into my Word.doc file (not real au fait with the googly thang).

  • 16
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 14 July 2014 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Where’s Scrott Morrison - Abbott’s “Minster for Silly Talks”?

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