Barely a day goes by without Tony Abbott pulling some kind of stunt at a photo opportunity. So instead of constructive policy announcements, a tame media receives a steady stream of vision of Tony Abbott pulling on a hi-vis jacket, hard hat or hair net and proceeding to make a goose of himself trying to drive a forklift, use a nail gun, gut a fish or whatever they happen to do at the latest workplace that has allowed him to darken their doorstep.
If the businesses he visits are prepared to wear the loss of productivity involved in hosting Abbott’s media circus, then that’s their own lookout. It becomes something else entirely when the scene of Abbott’s posing is a disaster area.
|Photo: The Courier-Mail|
The most recent and talked-about of Abbott’s publicity stunts have involved Abbott fighting bushfires and yesterday, filling sandbags for the Queensland floods. I am even prepared to give Abbott a pass on the fire fighting. He is, after all, a volunteer RFS fire fighter so for once, he would actually have had some training in what he was being filmed doing. There have been accusations that Abbott left as soon as they were finished filming but I won’t comment on that until it’s been debunked or confirmed. What I will say is that if you’re going to volunteer to help out in an emergency, that’s wonderful. If you bring a camera crew with you, then I begin to question your motives. When Abbott’s cronies start talking about what a top bloke he is for fighting bushfires while Julia Gillard was off… I don’t know, being the prime minister or something, I would take that as confirmation of my initial suspicions.
The sandbagging though has to rank as the worst of Abbott’s stunts. As with all his other photo ops, he didn’t just show up on his own. There was his entourage and the ever-present camera crews. Getting Abbott and all his photographers in there would have meant getting in the way of several other people who were actually there to do a job. That is indefensible when there are rapidly rising flood waters and time is clearly of the essence. He was also wearing a business shirt and dress shoes which doesn’t imply he was there for a hard day’s work.
Sometimes, the most helpful thing you can do is keep out of the way while people do their job. There were dozens of people there doing some pretty urgent work. The last thing they needed was to have a politician getting underfoot saying, “Ooh! Ooh! Let me have a go!” It makes me despair that there will actually be people who think this was Abbott chipping in when he was clearly more hindrance than help. By pushing in and holding things up, Tony Abbott showed that he cares more about his own political vanity than he does about helping in a time of crisis.
The next time you want to help out, Tony, get out of the bloody way and let people get on with their work.