Federal

Jan 27, 2012

Australia Day protest no match for media hysteria

Crikey media wrap: Australia Day turned ugly in Canberra yesterday after comments by Tony Abbott incited Aboriginal Tent Embassy activists, resulting in a dramatic exit of the leaders executed by the PM's security detail.

Amber Jamieson — Freelance journalist in New York

Amber Jamieson

Freelance journalist in New York

Australia Day turned ugly in Canberra yesterday after comments by Tony Abbott incited Aboriginal Tent Embassy activists to protest at an event attended by Abbott and Julia Gillard, resulting in a dramatic exit of the leaders executed by the PM's security detail. But the ensuing media coverage has been just as sensational. Earlier in the day, Abbott was questioned by a journalist on whether the Tent Embassy was still relevant or needed to move on. Abbott replied "I think the indigenous people of Australia can be very proud of the respect in which they are held by every Australian and, yes, I think a lot has changed since then and I think it probably is time to move on from that." Abbott and Gillard were attending an Australia Day function just a few hundred metres away from the Tent Embassy when his comments were aired on television. Around 100-200 people (numbers in media reports vary) who'd been celebrating the Tent Embassy's 40th anniversary headed over to the glass-walled Lobby restaurant to protest Abbott's comments. Protesters banged on the glass walls of the restaurant chanting slogans including "shame Abbott shame" and "always was, always will be, Aboriginal land". After PM security staff deemed the situation a rising threat, a rather dramatic escape of Gillard and Abbott ensued, where the leaders were shepherded out surrounded by riot police and put into a waiting car. Gillard lost her shoe in the process. Activists promised to sell it on eBay to raise money for the tent embassy, but now say they will return it to Gillard. A look at the nation's front pages shows some quite dramatic imagery -- and some even more dramatic headlines:

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24 comments

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24 thoughts on “Australia Day protest no match for media hysteria

  1. Jimmy

    I must say as no fan of Abbott’s that I don’t find anything particularly wrong with his comments, things have come a long way in the last 40 years and the purpose of the embassy should be reviewed, even if it is just making it more relevant to the issues of the day.

    I also think it is interesting to here the talkback hosts being disgusted in the lack of respect for the office considering it is they who have fostered this lack of respect in the last fews years (combined with Abbott’s “attack dog” style). I thnk we sould examine whether this has created an atmosphere more conducive to this sort of action?

    From a purely political viewpoint this is probably quite good for Gillard, gives her a bit of a circuit breaker from the Pokies issue, makes people a bit more sympathetic towards her, might encourage more “respect for the office”, get’s people to question Abbott’s “fitness to lead” (although in this case it is unfounded) and she get’s points for her “and what about Mr Abbott” comment.

  2. Woody

    Just heard journo Tony Wright on the ABC saying that he and his wife own the restaurant in question. He wondered why they weren’t ushered out the rear exit via the kitchen.

    Good question. I suppose they wasn’t any cameras round the back though…..

  3. Son of foro

    Ah, the Coalition’s Midas touch. Even when they don’t say anything they somehow manage to say something.

    If Abbott can turn back boats all by himself, surely dealing with a few protesters would be a stroll in the park.

  4. Steve777

    Like @Jimmy, I don’t think what Mr Abbott said was particularly bad. Also, unlike some posters in ‘Poll Bludger’, I do not think that Mr Abbott was dog whistling when he said it. However, I can understand why many would object to Mr Abbott’s comments.

    It is indeed regrettable that some protesters allowed their anger to overcome their judgement, resulting in the disruption of an Australia Day event to honour the Emergency Services and causing real concerns for the safety of both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. Protesters who broke the law, if they can be identified, should be held to account.

    Be that as it may, however, I hope this does NOT mean it’s time for the tabloid press and commercial talk radio to rage against what they would call the ‘Aboriginal Industry’. A forlorn hope, I suppose. I also hope that the Coalition and its media cheer squad don’t reach for the dog whistle.

  5. GeeWizz

    [“If Abbott can turn back boats all by himself, surely dealing with a few protesters would be a stroll in the park.”]

    Well he did do something about them, they are now universally hated across the land.

    Calls for the forced shutdown of the white-fellas-pretending-to-talk-for-real-black-fellas tent embassy will no doubt be coming thick and fast now.

  6. cannedheat

    Its a really bad image for the PM unfortunately. Doubtless it will be on high rotation forever in the Murdoch press – Gillard looking scared, feminine and vulnerable.

    Did anyone else notice this or is it just me?

  7. Son of foro

    [Well he did do something about them, they are now universally hated across the land.]

    The big sookie la la had to hide behind the PM’s skirt. All talk and no trouser that Abbott.

    I had a pot’n’parma in 37 clubs in NSW last night and I can tell you that they’re all angry at Abbott’s cowardice.

  8. Andybob

    Oddly enough I would actually listen to Abott regarding indigenous issues before any other topic. He has visited remote communities and spoken to community leaders. I don’t know what his policies are and would always be wary of his propensity to politicize am issue but he has credibility in this area. You would have to be trying pretty hard to construe his comments as inflammatory.

    The media pictures don’t match the message. The shot of the PM tripping should have been captioned security trip up PM. Comment about the protectors should have been accompanied by shots of the protestors. No doubt Tony Wright will let us know more.

  9. Andybob

    Protectors = protestors according to my phone. Maybe it knows something I don’t.

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