Certain newspapers had great fun at the end of last week because whoever organised Bob Hawke’s birthday party stupidly decided to include a dancer in a bikini with a John Howard face mask. Although it wasn’t a Labor Party function, obviously the former Prime Minister’s birthday was attended by many past and current colleagues – which made the entire incident somewhat embarrassing for them. (I’d have also thought it was a bit weird for Hawke, since the last thing I’d want at my birthday party is to be reminded of someone I despise.)

Of course, whoever organised the party isn’t up for re-election. So it’s been amusing to watch the polemicists try to twist this around to somehow indict people who are.

Like Kevin Rudd.

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Rudd had nothing to do with the party other than attending as a guest. I’m not sure what he was expected to do – call the police? Storm out in a sanctimonious fury as soon as the bikini-clad woman appeared? Hide under the table? He did none of those things – which, in the mind of certain detractors, made his presence at a former PM’s birthday in which something tastless happened THE REAL STORY. All they had to do was to draw links between the many people present to try to imply that Labor men – and Rudd in particular – like to dress up women as John Howard and think about “doing him over” (“hur, hur”). That’s the kind of innuendo that really gets a hack’s juices flowing.

And check out the undoubtedly accidental juxtaposition of two photos from the party:


I’m sure they didn’t mean to make it look like that’s a shot of Hawke leering at the dancer, it’s just unfortunate that a careless layout person placed the shot of her there, just at his eye level.

So, what have we learned from the thousands of words published on this subject since the end of last week? People at parties can organise some stupid entertainment. Politicians don’t storm out of each others’ birthday parties. Some partisan hacks have no shame.

But they are imaginative.

Expect more from your journalism.

Crikey is an independent Australian-owned and run outfit. It doesn’t enjoy the vast resources of the country’s main media organisations. We take seriously our responsibility to bear witness.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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