213113-paul-keating

THE MEMBER IS OUT OF ORDER!

When Labor MP Steve Gibbons called Julie Bishop a “bimbo” on Twitter and had to quickly update his insult to “fool”, it got me thinking…

If Julie Bishop had retaliated and called Gibbons a “himbo” would that have been equally condemned?

What about if she’d said he was a “knob”, a “tool” a “dick” or a “prick”?

And what about if he’d then shot back that she was a “trollop” a “tart” a “skanky ho” or a “twat”?

And then what if all hell broke loose and they called each other … (well, let’s just say if they spoke like any of the characters in ...

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36 Comments

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Tony W

    “We love the witty stuff. The superlative insult. Neither Abbott nor Gillard have given us much joy in this department.”

    Certainly Abbott is about as sharp as a bowling ball but Gillard can be quick witted at times, eg. this one in mid sentence:

    “That’s what I believe is the path forward for this Parliament, not the kind of double standards and political game-playing imposed by the Leader of the Opposition now looking at his watch because apparently a woman’s spoken too long.”

    And she does come up with the occasional insult, eg. in response to Julie Bishop’s demands to nominate Rudd’s replacement: ‘Whoever I select as Foreign Minister won’t break into a sweat wiping the floor with her.”

    Let’s face it Wendy, there hasn’t been any real joy since Keating, and you’d probably have to go back a long way to find anyone before him. The only one that springs to mind is Billy Hughes, eg. commenting on Menzies’ leadership: “He couldn’t lead a flock of homing pigeons.”

    I agree we need to revive some uniquely Australian insults. I can add “drongo” to your list, and there’s any number of insults appropriate for Abbott – mad as a cut snake, kangaroo loose in the top paddock, couldn’t run a bath, etc.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Carole/m

    Always loved listening to Keating in the Parliament .
    Only contribution I can think of at the moment Wendy is Mungo McCallum calling John Howard an
    ” unflushable turd “

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Linda

    I did like one last week from Julia Gillard, when referring to Julie Bishop’s “anonymous” phone call allegedly with Ralph Blewitt, “who did she think it was, Humphrey B Bear? Oh, that’s right, he can’t talk”…. I’m an old Humphrey fan from way back :). And Greg Combet’s whole Melbourne Cup calling the Opposition was pretty funny. :)

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    paul of hay.

    keating did it with class.
    my fav. memory is when he looked down at john hewson from the dispatch box and said
    “look at him, running around like a shiver looking for a spine to crawl up”
    another good one was from bob carr when he was premier of nsw and joe hockey was federal minister for tourism.
    joe had made a remark disparaging remark about sydney whilst visiting tokyo.
    when asked by a journo if he was offended, bob replied
    “no, not at all, joe is just a buffoon out of his depth”.
    i still chuckle at these two remarks and when see joe huffing and puffing away instantly recall the buffoon comment.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Lucille

    I can’t remember the names but there was someone who stood in parliament and said “I’m a Country member …” and was cut off with “we remember!”. I think it was Fred Daley.

    • Reply December 3, 2012

      Wendy Harmer

      It was Gough Whitlam and it went like this: “I’m a country member”. Whitlam ” Yes, we remember”. Hah!

      • Reply December 3, 2012

        Louise

        My husband and myself met Gough Whitlam once at a book launch . he told us the “country member” story. He was hilarious !!!
        One of my favourite memories.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    JoanneH

    I loved it when Nicola Roxon told the Liberal MP Peter Dutton, while proffering a box of unused Howard Government promotional golf balls, ”I can give you some balls if you want them”. Probably a bit ‘schoolyard’, but it got a good laugh as many on both sides see Dutton as a bit of a sook.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Carole/m

    Whoops
    turns out Mungo was wrong.
    Thought this might appeal to the busload of school kids Wendy.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    John M

    These are through the prism of my unreliable memory but…One of my Keating favourites of Richard Court ” He’s all tip and no iceberg” Gough addressing an anti abortion heckler, when Gough was about to legalise abortion “I am not generally in favour of retrospective legislation, but in your case, sir, I’ll make an exception”

    Dr. Sir Leslie Colin Patterson had a fine ear for Aussie insults. Of Margaret Thatcher. “I wouldn’t piss in her ear if her brain was on fire”

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    John Jay

    Gillard lives for power.

    Tony Abbott lives to serve.

    She is a viper.

    He is a true friend.

    The contrast between the two has been vivid recently.

    The “real” Julia is showing.

    What people are witnessing is a person who flows with very, very low toxic energy .. she always has but until recently has been able to project an image that had a degree of appeal .. for some at least.

    Now she is fighting for survival her true colours (spiritual status) are surfacing.

    When a person is under great pressure much can be revealed .. levels normally hidden can become visible.

    Tony Abbott has grace and dignity because he belongs to and flows with very high energy.

    Gillard is graceless because she belongs to, depends on and flows with very low energy.

    Where a person is spiritually is all important .. as parliament today illustrated so vividly.

    John Jay.

    • Reply December 3, 2012

      John Jay

      Correction

      Shown in parliament today should be.

      Shown in parliament every day.

      My apologies.

      John Jay

    • Reply December 10, 2012

      lisadp

      This is clearly a subjective thing.

      I would see Abbot as full of cunning, deception, callous disregard and repressed aggression towards those not of his in-group and Gillard as fully of decency, empathy, respect and honour.

      It’s possible political leanings are colouring our perceptions.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Lentern

    I suspect we’ll never get someone who can get away with Keating style parliamentary antics because in this heavily scripted era any attempts at spontaneous wit will come across as though they had a comedy writing intern sweating over the lines for a week.

    Lindsay Tanner was very witty, in a different way to Keating though, it was an understated, dismissive wit. When Rudd was riding high in the polls he occasionally got a bit creative, I recall “the member for goldman sachs” line got a few runs. Craig Emerson is always flamboyant but it often comes across as inappropriate for the tone of the debate.

    On the other side Bronnie is extremely witty as you might expect for someone who forged her reputation sparring with Keating in the 90′s. Turnbull is also very quick, I remember a very entertaining question time when Nelson was leader, Turnbull was shadow treasurer and Tanner was acting Treasurer in Swan’s absence. And of course Costello, whilst awkward at times, was generally quite amusing during question time too.

    So on the whole I think the creative types are still around, but they aren’t occupying front/centre frontbench positions. Question time would be a very different place if Emerson and Bronnie were Treasurer and Shadow Treasurer respectively.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    DJ

    Some of these comments are funny, but I would much rather there was no name-calling or insult-throwing in parliament. Why can’t we just have intelligent debate on actual issues?

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    carole/m

    John Jay , love your sense of humor, I ‘m still rolling on the floor.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Johnny

    Nice work Wendy. Remembering when Paul Keating called Mahatir a recalcitrant. Brilliant stuff, just enough of a dig in the ribs.That sent the country scurrying off to the old Concise Oxford. More colour (oops) in the house please

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Johnny

    Carole M, jeez John Jay is great for a laugh, especially the one about Abbott, Grace and Dignity
    Nearly wet myself ;-)

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Emma

    Keating is peerless in this department! Ah, the good old days (or not, if you happened to be at the receiving end of his vitriol)

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Lucille

    John Jay is so funny. “Tony Abbott has grace and dignity because he belongs to and flows with very high energy”. Does this mean we can get cheaper power by plugging in to his energy.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Lucille

    • Reply December 4, 2012

      anne louise

      Gorgeous, isn’t he? Thanks, Lucille.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Carole/m

    Thanks Lucille, now I really am rolling on the floor, with tears running down my cheeks trying not to wet myself. Keating IS the Master.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    ro.watson

    Thanks Wendy~ got some giggles out of your article and from the contributions above on the art of wit.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    ro.watson

    On the subject of synonyms for the word “fool”~ I like “dolt” which rhymes with fault and exhault….

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    ro.watson

    Dolt and “bolt”, “salt” and “default” also carry possibilities, but poetry in the chamber carries less weight than a fully formed, fully articulated sentence, which has been cooped up for a long,long time~ and comes out straight…Keating’s gift. On the other hand, I am also moved if someone can recover their compassion and at the same time enunciate what is bloody going wrong(righteous indignation),or what is going right(due humility) without making it personal.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    ro.watson

    …”dolt” and “exalt”…(“exhault” is not a word currently in common use or at all~ perhaps just my wishful thinking getting creative)

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    ro.watson

    I remember reading legal cases~ a “member” was a decent way of referring to part of a man’s anatomy inappropriately exposed in public….in disorderly conduct cases.

    There is something kind of decent and honorable in thinking “membership” of the House of Representatives and the Senate is not restricted to being a member of any club. We,the public, still get to vote them in and out. But it is the floor of the House of Representatives, which decides, by convention, who can form executive government and be our Prime Minister,on a majority vote.Then alley hoop,off to the Governor-General.

    There is nothing sneaky way about this.

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    ro.watson

    Said”‘member” was also referred to as “their person” which was going a bit far…

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    ro.watson

    I cannot remember any singing and/or dancing efforts by parliamentarians~ inside or outside either House of Parliament~ which have raised their standing…

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Melissa

    Some memorable one – liners for sure have emarged rom parliament but I’ll err on the side of the killjoy and say I’d prefer to pay these people to govern and make decisions and pay for my entertainment elsewhere.It would be gerat to see productivity figures for politicians.

  • Reply December 4, 2012

    Tony W

    Thanks Lucille for the link to Keating quotes, had a good chuckle remembering his delivery. One that’s missing is when Peacock tried to regain the Liberal leadership: “Can a souffle rise twice?”

    We remember Keating for his insults but we forget that he was the best ever politician at communicating economic concepts to ordinary people, eg. banana republic. Here’s another one when questioned about the slow recovery from recession:

    “Stick your head out of the building in any capital city in Australia, and it’s a sea of cranes. The economy is so robust that it takes a pickaxe to stop it. We’re laying into it with a lump of four by two to slow it down!’

    Anyone else would have quoted growth figures, interest rates, blah blah blah.

  • Reply December 4, 2012

    Johnny

    Love ‘em Tony W especially the souffle, and wasn’t it Howard who was “Lazarus with a triple bypass”?

  • Reply December 4, 2012

    Tony W

    wasn’t it Howard who was “Lazarus with a triple bypass”?

    Yes but that was Howard referring to himself. Probably the only humour we saw from him during his entire political career, except for some pretty good slapstick here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0o8by05rtMY

    • Reply December 4, 2012

      Johnny

      Thanks for the correction Tony and the link

  • Reply December 16, 2012

    Sheila

    I found a lovely phrase from George Orwell which makes a nice acronym. I like to use it to describe our local councillors – Blank Unresourced Minds (BUMs).

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