Economist, diplomat, political advisor, former leader of the Opposition, foreign minister – Alexander Downer has a formidable CV. But it fails to mention one of his more recent roles – government attack spaniel.

No, it’s not quite dirty deeds done dirt cheap, but in recent times, when the government has needed a straight-talking front man to take an unambiguous message to the public or a heavy rhetorical stick to its opponents, Mr Downer has been the unlikely go-to man. Sort of like a very cross Frank-N-Furter. Grrr.

Here’s a quick survey of Mr Downer’s most recent attacks.

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Yesterday, on whom to believe:

I think the public are sick of this sort of stuff… you think the public would believe journalists over Peter Costello?

Yesterday, on media reports about the Liberal Party leadership:

If journalists get criticised by anybody it’s a terrible offence but they can slam into politicians day after day, I think, you know, give it a break … I think voters couldn’t be less interested in a lot of gossip about something someone claims happened two years ago which actually ultimately never eventuated.

Monday, on ALP candidate and former soldier Mike Kelly’s view that Australia’s involvement in Iraq is little more than window “dressing”:

That is a deeply offensive thing to have said about the Australian soldiers. They have done a dangerous job, and they do a critical job. If the Labor Party thinks it is wrong to have any troops in Iraq, the Leader of the Opposition should have the courage to say so.

August 12, on continued bad poll results and why the Government will win this year’s election:

But when it comes to voting, in the end I suspect that people are more likely to vote for a leader with a record, with wisdom, with substance, than somebody who’s just … a manufactured product of a public relations company with no plan for the future.

July 31, on Rudd and Haneef:

I think we could sum Mr Rudd up in one word – and that word is jellyback … If Mr Rudd would have become a prime minister of Australia, I think we have a pretty clear idea that old jellyback would just do what the media said. And actually that’s not the best way … to run a country.

July 30, defending the AFP against suggestions Dr Haneef deserved an apology and compensation:

What do you expect them to do – fall on the ground and grovel, eat dirt? I mean, get real.

July 9, on why he has more friends than Kevin Rudd:

Here is a politician who on his one overseas trip as leader, to the US, failed to see a single senior Bush administration official or, indeed, any of the Democratic candidates for the presidency … He used his trip merely as a media opportunity – all sizzle, no sausage.

11 March 2007, on Kelvin Thomson after he was removed as Shadow Attorney General:

I’ve always thought Kelvin Thomson was a pretty grubby sort of character if I can say so and be – for a foreign minister be rather undiplomatic about him … I think he’s one of those people who was quite happy to make all sorts of pretty base allegations against people in the Government.

28 January 2007, on the ALP’s Iraq Policy:

Historically the left has always looked for soft options – from appeasement of Hitler, accommodation of Communist expansionism and unilateral disarmament in the Cold War.

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Peter Fray
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