I don’t necessarily agree with Tony Abbott’s policies, but I don’t think what he said to the soldiers, taken in context, was unreasonable.
Colonel Creighton says of the Digger’s death: “Was it tragic? Absolutely. But we’re all in the knowledge that all the stuff (firepower support) you see here and more was available on the day.”
In response, Mr Abbott says: “It’s pretty obvious that, well, sometimes s— happens, doesn’t it.”
Immediately, Major General Cantwell replies: “It certainly does, yeah.” — AAP report
So they’d been discussing the death of Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney, and whether the troops had enough support on that operation. The conclusion seemed to be that no matter how much support, how good the equipment, how good the planning, sometimes, unfortunately, soldiers die.
It’s an inherently dangerous job, after all.
It was probably a cheap shot from Channel 7 to use the footage — but perhaps hardly surprising, given the release of the full footage under Freedom Of Information had been blocked. Mark Riley must have figured someone had something to hide.
Abbott’s response — the 25 seconds of dead silent seething anger — made the story much, much worse for him. It made it bigger. It made it a talking point around the country.
Any response would have been better. Say you won’t answer the question because it’s unreasonable. Say the original comments had to be taken in context, and explain that if necessary.
It’s like those guys who get filmed coming out of court, and decide to attack the cameras, guaranteeing them a much more prominent place on the evening news.
From the sounds of it, Abbott’s office let him down, and despite Channel 7 giving advance warning as to the nature of the interview, he simply wasn’t prepared for it.
As a commenter on the Herald Sun web site notes: I’m so pleased that Tony Abbott glared at Mark Riley, the normal human reaction would have been to grab Mark by the hair and call him a few unprintable names. Abbott showed his control, and actually had just come from a very emotional session in Parliament where they reflected on the human tragedies in the floods.
Perhaps it’s a plus that he didn’t lose his temper, but then again, shouldn’t senior politicians be prepared to face this kind of stuff?
MediaWatch returned on Monday. I’ll be very interested to see what they make of it.