The Art of the Australian Insult


The departure of Alexander is a downer. Or is it?

“Just tell him to fuck off. Can’t you see I’m very busy?”

 

Alexander Downer, former foreign minister, to new staffers when an important dignitary was waiting to see him. Downer would wait for an uncomfortably long time before bursting into laughter. Paul Daley explains,

“It was at once Downer’s idea of a personality test and a joke. Puerile? Yes. Funny? Undeniably, for those who witnessed it.”

Daley has mixed feelings about Downer’s departure; the man was at least a colourful character:

“Downer could present one minute as the archetypal Tory boofhead and the next as John Howard’s battering ram, yelling down his enemies in Parliament, arguing black is white and taking no prisoners along the way.

His stint as Liberal leader – during which he was utterly humiliated by his own party, by Paul Keating, but mostly by himself – would have killed others.”

As he quotes a senior minister:

“Mate, we are the most effing boring government since federation…and that’s just the way Kev wants it.”

“Welcome to the New Calvinism,” reflects Daley. “Or should that be the New Kevin-ism?”

 

Mike Carlton in the Sydney Morning Herald is less ambivalent. taking issue with Janet Albrechtsen who wrote in The Australian, “Like him or loathe him, Downer’s record as foreign minister is imposing.”

“No, it’s not. It’s dreadful. He was the worst since poor, bewildered Billy McMahon, who once did a television interview with me in Saingapore convinced, against all the evidenc,e that he was actually in Saigon. Downer was barely a notch up form that.

With John Howard egging him on, his instinctive groveling to the Bush Administration dragged us into the disaster of Iraq. Evidently incapable of original thought, he saw the world through the prism of the neoconservatives of Washington, parroting their slogans with the blustering self-assurance of a truly third-rate mind. In Asia, especially Indonesia, they treated him as Little Sir Echo. To the newly independent Government of East Timor he was a swaggering bully. ”



Right up himself
June 13, 2008, 6:15 am
Filed under: Politicians | Tags: , ,

“KEVIN RUDD was never going to win a caucus beauty contest.

Most Commonwealth bureaucrats also knew exactly what he was like by the time he became prime minister: demanding, obsessive, tireless and sometimes excessively perfunctory. In public service speak this means they thought he was a right bastard. They also thought he was possessed of a healthy sense of self. In public service speak this means they thought he was right up himself.”

Paul Daley in the Sun-Herald.