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Jul 11, 2014

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.

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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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