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Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten anxious to prove they are Best Blokes

UNDER THE FLAG

All smiles: Tony Abbott greets Bill Shorten at the Women's Day breakfast.

All smiles: Tony Abbott greets Bill Shorten at the Women's Day breakfast. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

During her prime ministership, Julia Gillard was often accused of playing the gender card. This was not generally hailed as a good thing, but at certain times - for example, on International Women's Day - the gender card was an ace that came in handy.

For, despite the unkind remarks of Senator Bill Heffernan, La Gillard at least had authentic woman's experience on which to draw for speeches to mark the day.

Being, by all appearances, fully male, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have no such material to access.

So, during an International Women's Day breakfast on Tuesday, both men reached for something different and less controversial: the Daughter Card. Brushing aside the fact that both men played pivotal roles in knocking off Australia's first female prime minister, the pair battled for the title of Best Bloke by speaking of their daughters.

Abbott quipped that nothing will turn an ''un-reconstructed bloke'' into a feminist like having three daughters. While Shorten spoke tenderly of his two daughters and how he wanted them to be ''safe and resilient''.

Abbott used the theme of his feminist conversion to put the case for his Paid Parental Leave scheme, which is so unpopular within the Coalition that some members have begun to openly rebel against it.

The fact that a traditionalist such as he had come up with the scheme had wrong-footed both left and right-wingers, he said.

''It is a bit like when[Richard] Nixon went to China,'' Abbott said.

''Conservatives thought, 'My God, has he suddenly abandoned the faith?' Progressives thought, 'My God, is China no longer a progressive country?'"

''The truth is this was a historic breakthrough.''

And so it was, and although it is an unusual politician who willingly compares himself to president Nixon, the crowd caught his vibe.

Now the Prime Minister just has to convince the Nationals, the economic dries, and the Opposition - who up until now thought they had a monopoly on all things Woman.

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20 comments

  • Australia currently has a crisis, if we don't immediately move up-market and claim the high ground our wages system will collapse to third world levels. In Australia there are two opposing IR concepts - the left pushes workplace 'liberalisation', the right pushes 'flexibility' as the means of increasing productivity. They are both struggling with the old authoritarian paradigm. The conundrum is always the same - 'democracy and control in the workplace'. Self managed work groups are a good thing, however better if combined with open book management and productivity gain sharing. The main problem is always about teams having sufficient information to enable them to self- manage. These days many Australian companies have ISO9000 Quality Management System certification which they use as advertising material (window dressing). If the documentation was based on national standards and codes of practice for its policies, the companies could train to it and thus empower their workers. The problem is then that the middle managers charged with writing the system documentation would then be effectively making themselves redundant and lose status.
    I have actually done this stuff in two of my jobs and it works well.

    Commenter
    adam
    Location
    yarrawonga
    Date and time
    March 05, 2014, 7:09AM
    • Whilst I hate genderising articles which omit human equality, the real thing that needs to be preached, I have found these leaders performances to be popular as individuals not gender, is a pure fakeness, even those that be nice so as to feel like a part of the parliament house club, or as the author would call it, the boys club. People rather see the real person, a strong decisive person, rather than some spin doctor carcass licker. END of STORY

      Commenter
      Brian Woods
      Date and time
      March 05, 2014, 8:17AM
  • Thank you, Jacqueline – a poignant plea for hormonal harmony in the House.
    Indeed, an oestrogen oeuvre – on the tedious travails of testosterone.
    Jacqueline, these are wise words; you could be onto something here – a pleasant plug for progesterone placidity and to toss out any testosterone tantrums.
    It is time to ‘woman up’ – you objects of opprobrium; you feckless fellows, moronic males and dumb dudes.
    So what do have to say for yourselves - you ‘non-hand washing, non toilet-seat lifting, non underpants changing, talk with food in your mouths’ XY chromosome types?

    Commenter
    Howe Synnott
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    March 05, 2014, 7:32AM
    • The reason you haven't received a reply from those people is that they are also illiterate.

      Commenter
      Born Yesterday
      Date and time
      March 05, 2014, 3:40PM
  • It's not about having a monopoly on all things women. It's about upper class welfare. I thought the age of entitlement was over. Happy to slash needed welfare yet intent on pandering to the rich mummies. As for being a feminist, hello pull the other one. That would be akin to calling Germaine Greer a chauvinist.

    Commenter
    A country gal
    Date and time
    March 05, 2014, 7:48AM
    • My wide doesn't feel the need to be a feminist - she doesn't have an inferiority complex. She is afraid of no man and very few women.

      Commenter
      adam
      Location
      yarrawonga
      Date and time
      March 05, 2014, 8:06AM
    • Moved on from middle class welfare to upper class welfare eh, ACG? Scared that you will miss out on something? That is the way of the left. Will whinge and whine if they think somebody is getting a little more than them, but take away benefits for all and they squeal even louder. The legacy of Gillard is a nasty attitude towards people who have worked hard and had success. That must make you a proud Aussie ACG?

      Commenter
      Pragmatic prince
      Date and time
      March 05, 2014, 9:04AM
    • PP, personally I object to a regressive tax that funds progressive welfare.

      I pay plenty of tax and receive no welfare and I can assure you this does not cloud my view. It seems though that you would like to pay less tax and receive more welfare; somehow, even though you talk your book, you seem to think you occupy the high-ground. You really shouldn't assume anything about the motivations of others; you have no idea what drives ACG.

      Commenter
      jofek
      Date and time
      March 05, 2014, 2:49PM
  • Anybody who has an inferiority complex is definitely inferior. There is only one thing worse than a gutless bloke - it is a gutless woman.

    Commenter
    adam
    Location
    yarrawonga
    Date and time
    March 05, 2014, 8:10AM
    • @Adam:
      I wouldn't know, I haven't ever met one. Are you still mad at Eve for tempting you with that apple?

      Commenter
      JohnC
      Location
      Gosford NSW
      Date and time
      March 05, 2014, 9:45AM

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