Of human beings and prime ministers

“We are talking about human beings here, I just saw a public execution of a good man, seriously what is the point.”

I was snapped out of my trance like I had been slapped.

It was a line that was read out as an SMS by a respected political analyst during the ABC’s rolling coverage of the liberal leadership tussle last night.


But like millions around Australia who had stayed up to hear the PM-designate Malcolm Turnbull hold his first press conference, I was only half listening to what the analysts were saying.

I had been mesmerised you see.

There is a reason people love Gough Whitlam above all others, the same reason why people liked (and continue to like) Kevin Rudd.

It is the combination of fierce, overt intellect coupled with the ability to – on the run and in the heat of a press conference – speak articulately and engagingly on any given issue.

I saw glimpses of that last night, as Turnbull spoke in that first press conference.

Despite the fact that I have never voted for the Liberal party, in any election, I could not help but be filled with some semblance of hope as Turnbull spoke.

He was engaging, confident and articulate – he spoke as a normal, intelligent and talented person should speak.

That we have had to listen to Gillard and Abbott speak for the better part of half a decade may have added some allure to Turnbull’s tale.

But hearing that one sentence in the post-conference analysis, it was like a bucket of ice had been tipped on my head.

The text was from a senior minister, texting through to the live program clearly with an agenda of his own, attempting (presumably) to get viewers to spare a thought for the tragic circumstances in which Tony Abbott now finds himself.

The second I heard the text read aloud all I could think about were the thousands of men, women and children who are being held in detention centres for being, well, human beings.

After all, were talking about human beings here.

In some great moment of ironic cosmic comeuppance the man that has denied so many people the chance to live free lives was being championed as this martyr that was being publicly executed in some macabre ‘think of the children’ reading of a text message.

As I thought of those poor people and the backwards, fearful thinking that keeps them detained, the articulate words of our new PM became softer and softer.

Suddenly feeling very saddened, I looked up at the TV to a text graphic that read ‘There are 8 year olds in this country that have had five Prime Ministers.’

Seriously. What is the point.

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