Special Indigenous Envoy Tony Abbott Decided To Just Lob Into Remote NT Communities And It Did Not Go Well

Turns out that sometimes it's best to wait until you're invited, and also to know what you're talking about.

As you are very possibly aware, ex-Prime Minister and sniping/undermining enthusiast Tony Abbott was recently made Special Envoy on Indigenous Affairs – a job of similar gravitas to Very Special Good Boy Doing Important Busy Work.

And there’s been more than a few questions about the position, such as “what?” and “no, really, what?” and “is he getting paid anything extra for this because if so then he’s possibly in breach of Section 44 of the Constitution?” and “wouldn’t it be at least somewhat respectful to run this idea by some Indigenous folks before arbitrarily appointing yet another white bloke to have vaguely defined dominion over them?”

That last one is particularly germane given Tone’s current tour of duty, which seems to involves a lot of surprise appearances in remote communities. And that’s… well, pretty rude.

Hot tip for anyone planning on travelling through traditional lands: it’s respectful to ask first. I know this and – full disclosure – I am not even a Special Envoy on Indigenous Affairs.

That’s normally done online through the local Land Council and is free – it’s a formality rather than a legal requirement, but it basically shows that you’re not going to suddenly appear and start demanding that people respectfully listen to your latest theory about school attendance or something.

Which is why when Abbott lobbed into the Northern Territory community of Borroloola it did not go at all well.

Garrwa and Yanyuwa parent and school council member Gadrian Hoosan explained to the Guardian that Tone didn’t exactly get off on the good foot.

“We asked him, ‘why are you here?’ He said, ‘I’m here because I heard that a lot of kids are not attending school’. But Borroloola school has one of the highest attendance rates in the NT. We were confused. He was really arrogant. He didn’t want to sit down and listen to us.”

He added that the ex-PM was rather less interested in discussing clean water and risks from fracking – things which the community was actually concerned about.

Abbott’s trip around the Top End has been punctuated with questions about his fitness for the job, especially since he yanked over half a billion dollars from the Aboriginal Affairs portfolio when he was prime minister.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that there’s a perfectly good Uluru Statement from the Heart gathering dust if the government were actually interested in hearing what Indigenous folks have to say, not to mention that whole thing about creating a Voice to Parliament.

But hey, this way Tony Abbott is running around NT in shirtsleeves. From the current PM’s perspective, that’s probably juuuuuuuuust fine.

We Look At The Possible Reasons Why Scott Morrison Made Himself A Shiny Trophy For Stopping The Boats

We have some theories, by which we mean baseless speculation accompanied by cheap visual jokes.

Thanks to a piece in the New York Times in which current Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison waxed rhapsodic about his new BFF Donald Trump – a man who fondly refers to ScoMo as “who?” – Australia discovered something about which they were not previously aware.

The PM’s office contains a little metal trophy in the stylised shape of a fishing vessel with the slogan “I Stopped These” thereon.

Just let that little fact sink in for a second, thanks to this pic by Australian Associated Press photojournalist Lukas Coch.

And we could spend some time pointing out that Morrison didn’t “stop” the boats so much as “redefined what constituted a ‘boat arrival’, and also stopped reporting when boats arrived, and wrapped the whole thing in secrecy”.

(As the Guardian accurately pointed out: “In reality the boats have not stopped – with several making their way to Australian territory including the Cocos Keeling IslandsSaibai Island, and late last month, far-north Queensland.“)

Or we could notice that the trophy is objectively hideous – honestly, why is the text off-centre like that? And was that the default font? Did he knock this up in Microsoft Paint before embedding it in Word and emailing it to a TAFE metalworking class before cutting their funding?

But frankly, the existence of this trophy raises so many other questions. Like:

1. Does he have Memento-style memory loss?

Few adults would bother commissioning a statuette of a ClipArt boat, but maybe Morrison was looking for a memory jogger less low-rent than physical tattoos. The tight framing of the photo gives few clues, but maybe he has a bunch of other objects explaining their significance to Scozza.

“Well, I fed the kids and assumed it would trickle down to the pets. Feeding the cat directly would have curbed its aspiration.”

Because let’s face it: Akubras are for Nationals.

You can almost fair the dinkum!

2. It’s one of a bunch of trophies celebrating the triumphs that brought him to the leadership

“Sure, I didn’t stop same sex marriage – but I came second!”

Well, it worked!

Practice makes perfect!

3. He stole it off Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton

You know, along with the leadership. BURN!

Sorry Pete. But if it’ll make you feel better, we can celebrate your signature success by commissioning this?

Anyway, what’s with the au pairs?

Tony Abbott Seems To Think He's Been PM For The Last Five Years, Which Would Explain A Lot

"It's a good government getting better!"

It’s easy to get jaded with Australian politics.

Here we sit, in the wake of the latest knifing of a sitting prime minister, with our Home Affairs minister accused of having misled parliament and our newest PM asking Australians to pray for the drought and sidelining trans kids, and the government seemingly determined to build more coal powered plants regardless of everything science and economics tells them.

And then, like a gift from the gods, comes a tweet from former prime minister Tony Abbott.

And suddenly all that disappointment and frustration is lifted to be replaced with a sweet, sweet sense of “what the actual hell is this man saying?”

Sure, this is the political equivalent of Los del Río tweeting “It’s 24 years since we dropped ‘Macarena’ – it’s a good career, getting better!”

But there’s a follow up question: does… I mean, he… um, Tony knows he’s not PM, right? And, um, hasn’t been for a while? Like, one and a half times as long as he was?

Actual real-time reaction to Abbott’s tweet.

Let’s start with that “fifth anniversary” claim.

It’s a potent reminder that five years ago we elected Tony Abbott, and that his tenure lasted less than two years. In fact, next week – Saturday the 15th, to be specific – is the third anniversary of his being kicked out: an anniversary which I wouldn’t have thought about it had he not given this handy reminder.

Wonder if he’ll bang out another celebratory tweet then?


And it’s a reminder that the five years of good government was largely spent under the steady hand of leaders not Tony Abbott, doing which time Tony Abbott was assiduously criticising and contradicting said government. Getting better!

And given that this good government getting better has been under three – count ‘em! – prime ministers in that period it’s odd that he should specify that it’s getting better. After all, wouldn’t that imply that it was at its least good at the beginning, under his direct stewardship?

So many questions, Tone. So very many questions.

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