Bleats

Shorten's Human Moment About His Mum Is The Emotional Turning Point This Election Needed

Australia needed to see The Real Bill Shorten, and they got it.

The front page of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Brisbane’s Courier Mail on Wednesday was always going to be controversial.

In a story headlined “Mother Of Invention” it suggested that Shorten had omitted facts when citing the struggles of his late mother as an inspiration for his political life, as he has done for yonks.

Sure, it made clear Ann Shorten did indeed temper her own ambitions until after she’d raised her sons, taking a teaching scholarship after school as it was the only way she could go to uni (becoming the first member of her family to do so) before working as a teacher until finally going back to uni as a mature age student to follow her lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer.

But, the article points out, she got to be a successful lawyer for the last six years of her working life, so… what?

And if the intent was for this to be a gotcha! moment on the Labor leader then oh, how it backfired.

A visual metaphor.

The story of a smart woman being required to make significant career sacrifices until her fifties, when her opportunities were much diminished compared with what she’d have achieved in her youth, resonated heavily with women who still have to make that same calculus in their own lives and careers.

And the hashtag #MyMum immediately started trending, starting a discussion about the wasted potential women have been obliged to accept, especially older women, thanks a lack of support with the pressures of motherhood – and also made Shorten’s story universally personal as people reflected on their own mothers and the lives they might have had.

And then, against this background,  Shorten made a statement.

As for the idea that Ann Shorten had “an illustrious career”, Bill wasted no time in laying out the facts: she was discriminated against because of her age, which wouldn’t have happened if she’d studied law straight out of school.

“She did her best,” he said to the press today. “She went down and did some Magistrates Court work, but she discovered in her mid-50s that sometimes you’re just too old – and you shouldn’t be too old – but she discovered the discrimination against older women. And so she eventually… while she kept her name on the bar roll for a number of years, she came back and she did other things. Do you know my mum wrote the book on education and law in Australia? Brilliant. She’s brilliant.”

(Quick note: can you describe your mum’s career with the same level of detail? Maybe give her a call, she’d love to hear from you.)

This might end up being the indelible image of this campaign: the moment when a man who had been a cipher until this point was shown as a man emotionally defending his mother’s memory. It’s easily the most emotionally impactful moment of an otherwise soul-sappingly lacklustre election campaign.

Notably, Melbourne’s the Herald Sun – sister publication of the Telegraph and the Courier Mail – declined to run the original story, and columnist Andrew Bolt even wrote an editorial supporting that decision. And he is, to put it delicately, no fan of Shorten.

The PM also came to his rival’s defence.

“This election is not about our families,” Scott Morrison declared. “It’s not about Bill’s mum. It’s not about my mum… I know that Bill and I would very much want it to keep focussed on that choice, not on our families.”

(And he’s absolutely right: it’s not about their mums. Heck, the Liberals are holding their campaign launch on Mother’s Day – how much more not-about-our-mums could this campaign get?)

In short, an article on Ann Shorten’s career has succeeded where a million Labor frontbench testimonials failed: it finally humanised her son in the eyes of Australia.

This election just got a lot more dramatic.

John Oliver Has Brutally Nailed The Australian Election

What did our spiders ever do to him?

It’s always marvellous when John Oliver’s gaze turns to Australia, looking at our politics and confirming that yep, we’re right to be this disturbed.

And last night his show Last Week Tonight decided to cast an eye over our election process.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMC_ecTL4ps

Oliver ran through most of the candidates that recently dropped out for largely racist, sexist or homophobic reasons – including One Nation’s Steve Dickson, aka “Sexual Harassment Dundee” (although he fails to mention his utterly amazing resignation typo) – before turning to Clive Palmer.

He describes Palmer as Australia’s Trump – pointing out his bullish demeanour, the way he constantly mentions his wealth as though it’s a qualification, and the fact that his slogan seems awfully familiar yet “notably, doesn’t say ‘Make Australia Great Again’.”

However, we take issue with Oliver’s his ropey Australian accent and his argument that the slogan should be ‘Make Australia Great For The First Time’: “Look, let’s not rewrite history here: we are and have always been a big baking rock full of impossibly huge spiders, we’re just looking to go up from here.”

Them’s fighting words, Oliver. We’re just…

…yeah, OK, fair play.

Complete clips of the entire show are hard to get because of geoblocking but say, this seems to work!

No Matter How Much You Hate Politics, Stop Wasting Perfectly Good Eggs On Politicians

We need to call time on Australia's political egg wars.

You’ll recall a few weeks ago that soon-to-be-ex senator and white supremacy enthusiast Fraser Anning had an egg cracked on his head by Will Connelly, who was then crash tackled by Anning’s bullyboys.

And now, like a bad cover version, the PM’s stop at a Country Womens Association Association in Albury was interrupted when a young woman decided to try the same tactic.

The egg in question did not crack, it would appear, but richocheted off the prime minister’s bonce in what is either a miracle of quality shell-thickness or proof that protesters should not hard-boil first.

Also, an elderly woman was accidentally knocked over in the process, although the eggstress expressed her regret about that happening.

But all jokes aside: this is legally assault and honestly, it’s time to give the eggs a rest.

We’re in an election campaign and passions are high, but actually chucking things at candidates is not OK. Protest is fine, even noble, but this is counterproductive and violent. No matter your political leanings, this isn’t going to solve anything.

In the Anning case Connelly was protesting inflammatory speech in the wake of the Christchurch tragedy, and even then it wasn’t really justified. But just disagreeing with someone generally definitely doesn’t rise to the standard of an egging, surely?

Similarly, we’d like to point out that yes, people need to be stopped but – as with Anning’s assailant – can we be a bit more restrained in how grown men tackle children?

And most of all, can we just stop wasting eggs? This was at the Country Women’s Association, for god’s sake: the home of quality baked goods! That egg could have been in a CWA sponge, or a custard, or any number of bikkies. Have you not read their recipe books?

They’re rich in protein and iron too. Stop dragging them into your squabbles.

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