Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses the media on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 during a press conference.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses the media on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 during a press conference. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

What happened with MH17 was appalling. Innocent people murdered as a result of conflict.

And honestly, it’s utterly appropriate for governments to become involved and to bring home the dead. Good work, Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Thank you for your efforts.

Reports say there were 39 people on board that flight who called Australia home. (And can I just say how tasteless are the reports differentiating between ''Australians'' and permanent residents. What? If they are not local, they don’t deserve the same respect? Get a grip.)

There wouldn’t be an Australian who didn’t grieve; nor an Australian who didn’t want those bodies brought back.

But for 10 days now, Tony Abbott has focused just on those 39. He’s done the job a politician ought to have done. And now he needs to turn to the rest of us.

It is not too soon for Abbott to pay attention to the 23 million, and it creeps me out every time I read or hear a commentator say how statesmanlike Abbott has become over this period. Because, the task of standing up for those who’ve died at the hands of terrorism is what could be described as a set piece.

This is what responsible adults do.

Answer the phone in the middle of the night to the horror. Decry the murders. Speak out decisively to say justice will be done. Round up all the other world leaders to do the same. Send servants into the fields to ensure that we can honour these souls with decent burials.

Show me a world leader who wouldn’t have done precisely what Abbott did. Even the gormless ones made an attempt.

Now, Prime Minister, let me speak to you privately for a moment. I absolutely applaud your achievements, but it is time to move on. You’ve had a fatherhood moment. Now it’s time to return from the world stage where no one is electing you but you can generate some glory.

Here we find both your pleasure and your punishment. You can move in international circles and make calls to do the honourable thing and, believe me, we’ll back you. There’s no question you’ve done the right thing in this instance.

But it’s not what counts in the long term. And it’s not what will get you re-elected. Unless you’ve already given up on that. Which, given the numbers, might be where your head is at.

Not sure if you noticed the Galaxy polls. Most Australians say you have shown more leadership in response to the shooting down of MH17 than other leaders. Better than President Obama. Better than Prime Minister Cameron. You’ve been awesome in your opposition to murder (in the particular instance of murder for which you can’t be held responsible. You are not so awesome when responding to the murder of Reza Barati).

But if you scroll down a little further in results, you’ll see some surprising figures. Here’s one: Even though you’ve done good work (not that I’d be sending more Australians into a war zone, really I wouldn’t), Australians still don’t think you would do a good job representing our interests overseas. They think Bill Shorten would do a better job. He hasn’t even had any recent practice.

That’s no reflection on your work on MH17 - it’s because Australians see the bigger picture. They understand the terrible deaths on that flight were unusual.

We need a prime minister who can operate in the mundane world, the one of health and jobs and education and trade and climate change. The one who can understand what the High Court means when it says no. And there is no proof of that yet.

Prime Minister, it’s your anniversary soon. I’ll always remember the day you were elected because I was at my darling brother’s wedding. You weren’t exactly elected in a landslide but it was a comfortable majority (everywhere except the Senate).

And since that time, you’ve been slipsliding all the way to the bottom because we need an everyday prime minister. The person who can deal with the suffering of those with disabilities, with the terror being experienced by our older workers as they look at receding pensions; the person who can be the statesperson and say: ''We were wrong about trying to dismantle Medicare.'' The person who can say that we don’t have a ''debt and deficit disaster'' (every Coalition spokesperson vomits this phrase up at every media appearance).

Instead, we need a prime minister who understands we have an energy and environment emergency.

The Galaxy polls say that on a two-party-preferred basis, Labor leads the Coalition 52 to 48. You’ve only managed to claw back a one point improvement for your  government since the budget. And that’s because we haven’t forgotten what you are doing to us at home while you stride the world stage.

And even quiet old Bill is beating you now. Bill has been tilling the field, just hanging out at home, speaking to his party and the people of Australia. And he is so many points in front of you, I’m imagining you are finding it alarming.

You’ve rescued the bodies and good on you. Now you have to save the rest of us. Or get out of our way.

Follow me on Twitter @jennaprice or email jenna_p@bigpond.net.au