The Hodges Dossier (6): What Julia Did Next

‘Curiouser and curiouser,’ Hodge, the oyster-eating cat, might have said to his owner Dr Johnson in some alcoholic stupour chronicled by Boswell in the Great Cham’s last sick babbling stertorous year. It describes well the Prime Minister’s eloquent apologia to Parliament yesterday for her unfair dismissal of the bearded, pale young man whom history now knows as Hodges the Manuka Martyr.

‘I accepted his resignation,’ she declared in a performance judged by many to resemble that of Gloriana at the Tilbury Docks, ‘because I viewed his conduct as making a grave error of judgment, particularly seeking to introduce a note of partisanship into what should be a bipartisan  day. That was inappropriate conduct and, as a result, I accepted his resignation. If my standards are too high for the opposition, well, so be it.’

Her words were impactful, the ‘so be it’ emphatically so, and her body language heroic, and no observer would have doubted that she had won the hour, and perhaps the day. It was strange, though, to see her obediently overturning, along prescribed Rupert Murdoch lines, the known rules of the universe.

For if Australia Day is not a day for partisan argument, why then do all politicians who speak at it — and none do not — use it to emphasise the success of our multiculture, our Apology, our living standards, our heroic athletes, our Anzacs, our basic wage, our pension plans, our peacekeepers, our image in the world? Are these assertions not political? What else are they? Why do many Aborigines protest at it, calling it, correctly, Invasion Day? Should those Aborigines, too, be punished for this, for ‘playing politics’ with it, like the Blessed Anthony Hodges? Why not?

Poor Hodges will not now I imagine recall the moment when the Prime Minister first told him he must assist her politically at all times but not, of course, on Australia Day, a day on which he must not even come to work; but it will I suppose under waterboarding come back to him. Nor will he recall being told that he must not quote what the Opposition Leader says on an Australia Day, nor helpfully reveal where he is. He will not now remember these ludicrous commandments, but his memory will be jogged, I guess, by retrospective remorse and recreational chemicals in his thirties and forties.

The worst of it is the Rove Rules have again prevailed. If your foe says you have done something wrong, and he is correct, say no, it is he who is the wrongdoer, and call for his arrest and imprisonment. Thus Bush, a draft dodger, said Kerry, a war hero, was not a war hero but a war criminal, and shifted the emphasis from his own inescapable cowardice to the hitherto unexplored evil in Kerry’s heart.

In this case, Abbott breached the Race Relations Act by telling the First Australians to ‘move on’; presumably to some other country, like boat people. Certain elderly Aborigines already accustomed to this sort of prejudice and angry at it still, came after him. He then responded not by denying what he had said, he knew what he had said, but calling it criminal that someone had reported what he had said. That person, he asserted, should be punished, and the horse he rode in on.

And the Prime Minister fell for it, hook, line and sinker. One must not play politics with the Aboriginal question, she cravenly concurred; adding that one must not play politics with the unemployment of car-workers also. Soon there will be no subject of which a politician can speak. That would be ‘playing politics.’ Politicians must never do what they are paid for, play politics. That is the new Murdoch rule. Do not say anything political if you are a politician, lest Dennis Shanahan frown upon your impertinence.

I will continue to list the Murdoch Tricks as they come to me. One is to use the phrase ‘lashed out’ not ‘said’ when one is quoting one’s adversaries. We do not hear it said ‘the Governor-General lashed out’ or ‘James Murdoch lashed out’ or ‘Dame Elisabeth Murdoch in her 103rd birthday speech lashed out against the current plague of cross-bred blue geraniums.’

And thus we did not hear it said that Tony Abbott ‘lashed out’ against the continued presence of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on Old Parliament lawn, or that he ‘spat the dummy’ on surpluses yesterday.  Murdoch’s side never lashes out, or spits dummies. That is what the bad guys do. And the bad guys criminally say where a Leader of the Opposition is, or, more shockingly, ask ‘do you know who I am’ of a Liberal-voting Woy Woy waiter. For these heinous high crimes and misdemeanours they must now lose their chance in life. For they are the bad guys, and can do no right.

And the Prime Minister fell for this hokum, this new Murdoch rule of capital punishment for everything, hook, line and sinker. Instead of asking if Tony Abbott should have been charged under the Race Relations Act and gaoled for a statutory month, like Hinch, for beseeching the First Australians to pack up their tent and walk into the sea, instead of calling him an ‘inciter of race hatred’, she in effect apologised to him for having quoted him accurately.

And sacrificed young Hodges, the subject of these chronicles, for merely doing his job.

Curiouser and curiouser.

And so it goes.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Explain how a media circus once camped outside Godwin Grech’s home to catch a Liberal leader and yet no media can be found outside Hodges home? Why not ask Hodge a question or two? Was he sacrificed so Gillard could save her political neck? Or consider “I am the meat in the sandwich” Kim Sattler and her assertion that she was being hung out to dry for the party and her sudden change of heart and retraction after Gillards department spoke to her. Bob, you need to sharpen your wits a little more. You are allowing your prejuidices to cloud your judgment.

  2. “Don’t you know who I am” : perhaps the ultimate act of hubristic opprobrium in a career that went from mild anger to sustained rage and baleful wrath; a flawed and dangerous loose cannon if ever there was one.

    Spare us the crocodile tears.

    • Bronwyn Bishop said ‘Do you know who I am’ to a Qantas pilot whose cockpit she invaded to demand he stop circling and land so she could lead the Anzac Day march up Barrenjoey Road to the Palm Beach RSL. Did anyone demand her deselection?

      Did you?

      Why not?

      I didn’t either, although I had lately purposed to win her parliamentary seat, because it was not, and could never be, a sacking offence, any more than saying ‘fucking fantastic’. A fining offence by all means, a sin-binning offence, but Jesus, on the word of the lover of the assistant of the local Liberal candidate, you deselect a Labor candidate for saying that? Do you? Do you?

      You, too, have been sucked in by Ailes’s ‘character issue’.

      It can be used on anyone. For doing anything. If all of us were used according to our deserts, Hamlet asked, then who should ‘scape whipping?

      It is the first law of the Fascist Principle. Accuse. Unsettle all around you. Smear. Blame. Call the foe a criminal.

      It always works.

      As it did against the Jews.

      • Since Abbott has been described as the love child of John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop, I hardly think that she is on my pinup list; even if she was

        “the first Australian woman to go down on a submarine.” !!

  3. Now tell us true, Robert Ellis : if Gillard had done what you said she should have done, what the reaction would be?

    At the risk of pre-empting your answer, would it not be : (headline)


    and go on from there ? Hmm?

  4. If she had arranged his gaoling, as she could have, she would have ended his career. The question would then have become not what she knew but what he said, and whether it was in breach of the law against the incitement of racial hatred.

    It’s hard to see how he would have survived it.

  5. Clive Evatt tried the “do you know who I am” line on a policeman when he was getting a speeding fine. He was on his way up to the Blue Mountains and had all these kids in the back.

    You have never been more right. She should have jailed him.

    • If Obama had said to a waiter ‘Do you know who I am’ should he have been impeached for it? If Churchill had said it, as he did, to a palace official in Paris in June, 1940, should the King have withdrawn his commission?

      What are you talking about?

      If Murdoch said it to a hotel clerk, should he be sacked as Newscorp CEO?

      What in God’s sweet holy name are you talking about?

      • Gillard should have jailed or gaoled Abbott, not Clive. Clive was just trying it on. It didn’t work. I just happen to have been told the story by one of the kids in the car. It was no biggie back in those days.

  6. Quixote was ever a fool errant.
    If a benchmark for prime ministerial behaviour in this matter were needed,then I suggest we merely ask, ‘What would Paul Keating have done?’

  7. When The ALP was in opposition I attended a function alongside many Labor shadow cabinet members.

    At the bar I asked a well-known shadow minister (now a Minister) if I could have one of his cigarettes (we were both smokers then).

    “Don’t you know who I am?” demanded the Labor powerbroker, clearly upset I hadn’t used him name or appeared to recognise him.

    I was momentarily stunned before replying in a deadpan manner, “Diana Dors?”

    I was promptly given a lovely Styvo filter tip and a light.

  8. Where did the J Edgar article go, I was about to read it.

  9. Didn’t Christopher Hitchins write something along that lines that Hoover had no secrets because he didn’t do anything, implying he was asexual and repressed to the point of monkish behaviour.

    It is indeed a quality film, although Eastwood of late can luck subtly, such as is evident in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

    Nuances are not Eastwood’s forte, yet as you write, this is a good motion picture.

    What we need is another on the Dulles Brothers with Jeremy Irons playing both John Foster and Alan a la Dead Ringers.

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