Health Minister Tony Abbott made quite a splash at a graduation
ceremony at James Cook University in Townsville last week. But was it
the kind of splash he was hoping for?

This is how Mary Vernon described the Abbott performance in the Townsville Bulletin:

You could hear the grinding of teeth, the barely
suppressed snarling and the exasperated tapping of feet on the floor
and fingernails on the arms of chairs in the entertainment centre when
federal Health Minister Tony Abbott made his address to the graduating
students at the James Cook University ceremony on Thursday evening.

began well, with a couple of well-researched anecdotes about Dr Anton
Breinl, and moved on to his speech proper, or improper, which was an
absolute Barry Crocker. Those of us not too experienced in these things
expected a short address to the graduates, congratulating them on their
achievements so far and giving them encouragement and inspiration for
the exciting years ahead of them.

Some of the most
inspirational speeches on record have been made in these circumstances
and we expected Tony Abbott at least to try to emulate them.

were to be sadly disappointed. Several times he made the point that he
had travelled a very long distance to be in Townsville on Thursday, a
fact which we knew, but it obviously rankled with him. He had done so,
he pointed out, because it was so important that the first graduates
from the medical school, the new doctors, were receiving their degrees
that night.

He than made a most peculiar point, telling the
medical graduates (but not any of the occupational therapy, pharmacy,
nursing or bio-medical sciences graduates) that they were very lucky
because, by graduating, they were swapping ‘poverty for affluence.’

To read on, click here.