“Sometimes bad things happen” | Tony Abbott’s gaffe

English: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott address...

English: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott addresses a forum to discuss the Government’s recently-proposed carbon tax at Customs House, Brisbane, Australia on July 14 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Sometimes bad things happen”
– By Darin Sullivan

It was a moment of clarity in politics this morning when Tony Abbott made the clunker of all clunkers, and the media missed it entirely.

He was being interviewed alongside Warren Truss, and was asked about asylum seekers. He spewed the usual venom about ‘turning back the boats’ and how bad the Government’s policy was, but then he digressed. Being pushed about his own proposed asylum seeker policy, he went on to say (effectively) that:

Sometimes when policing and implementing difficult polices, “bad things happen”. That it’s kinda like the police, who in the course of their daily duties, while trying to do the right thing, have bad things happen. “It’s not the police’s fault, it’s the criminals fault”, he said.

He related that to his own proposed policy, if bad things happen when we turn back the boats, then that’s ok, because he’s trying to do the right thing. He more or less made the point that these things happen during governance.

Putting aside the subliminal beliefs he was displaying (ie that he thinks his actions and position on asylum seekers is like being the police,  just policing criminals, and that it’s their own fault for being criminals) the obvious flaw in his argument was right in front of the media pack, and not one of them picked it up – how can he apply that logic to himself, and not the current government?

If it’s ok to have policy in place, and then bad things happen, then how can he criticise the current government? It means that the bad things happening are justified. It’s ridiculous. This is the depth of this man, and we just accept the rhetoric.

I am not supporting the current government’s stance on asylum seekers, this is not a reflection on the asylum seeker issue at all. This is debating 101. This is basic politics, basic public comment with clear hypocrisy, a clear gaffe, and it was just let go by the media.

How can the rhetoric stop, and how can politicians be held to account, when basics like this are left on the public record. it’s a joke.

About Darin Sullivan (1980 Articles)
Former President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (2009-2018) and a professional firefighter with more than 30 years experience. I live and work on the NSW South Coast, Australia. I am a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around me. I am a former Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and work with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist I have long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. I am a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and have 30 years experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. I am passionate about highlighting the impact climate change is having on fire preparedness and fire behaviour in Australia, and the risks associated with inaction on climate change. I am also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.

15 Comments on “Sometimes bad things happen” | Tony Abbott’s gaffe

  1. Reblogged this on The Left Hack and commented:

    Tony Abbott exposed


  2. Joy Brotton // July 18, 2013 at 9:24 pm //

    Tony Abbot is truely an embarrassment to Australia, and the sooner he goes the better. Why did the media overlook this, because they are on his side, thats why. Carnt stand the imbecile. Cannot understand his party putting up with him. The LNP is all washed up with negativity.


  3. You’re absolutely right. This journalistic laziness is far too common. They should be exposing the gaffes, analysing the rhetoric; you know, doing the job properly, contributing to true democracy, doing the population an important service.


  4. Thanks for reading, and you’re right. I’m glad this got a run on twitter today, hoping someone in the media gets it. Cheers…


  5. They missed it because most of themselves even more dizzy than Abbott! And I’m a journalist, ashamed of most of my colleagues.


  6. Peter May // July 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm //

    What I really hate here is the prejudicial analogy between asylum seekers and criminals. Asylum seekers are not criminals – not here nor internationally.
    Under Australian Law and International Law a person is entitled to make an application for refugee asylum in another country when they allege that they are escaping persecution. Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”
    So who’s the criminal here Tony? When did deliberately causing deaths turn into “sometimes bad things happen”? Does he think he’s talking to three year olds or something?


  7. Reblogged this on lmrh5.


  8. How is this a gaff? If you have good policy in place but the odd thing goes wrong should you then disband the policy?. But if bad things consistently happen when you have bad policy in place, well that is then consistent with bad policy is it not? I think the writer is the one who lacks the logic not recognising an enthymeme. It’s also faulty logic to draw a conclusion that TA thinks Asylum seekers are criminals. That’s seriously desperate use of analogy.


    • Peter May // July 20, 2013 at 4:42 pm //

      Dear Bob,
      I don’t know what analogy means in your universe but here’s the Oxford Dicionary definition from down here on earth:

      Ananlogy: noun (plural analogies)
      a comparison between one thing and another, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification

      I think it’s clear that Tony made an “analogy” between criminals and asylum seeker but good for you trying to make a case using some kind of semantic fog.

      An enthymeme in it’s simplest definition means “an argument in which one premise is not explicitly stated”. Here, I have to disagree with you again. I think Tony was quiet clear in what he was stating although, I concede that as far as general policy goes Tony doesn’t seem to explicitly state anything much – it’s all invisible like some other things.

      I do however have to agree with you that it was in no way a gaff. That would imply that it was some kind of clumsy social error; a faux pas and that it wasn’t. Just Tony being Tony. To call it a gaff is tautological (apologies tp the writer of this excellent blog).

      Don’t misunderstand me: I’m always glad to hear Tony put forth his opinions; the more the better.
      Oh, and btw, $10 words don’t make you smart. Smart makes you smart.

      KInd regards etc


      • I’m prepared to concede on the language used in regard to ‘gaffe’, I suppose to me, being hypocritical, applying one set of rules to myself but not others, is what I was referring to. The media not picking up the inconsistency i thought mas a mishap too. ‘Gaffe’, ‘mishap’, ‘travesty’, ‘irony’, ‘unreasonable’…. take your choice! Cheers…


  9. I suppose it depends on whether you think it’s fair to apply the same principle to your own governance as you do to others, and that’s the point here, it’s not consistent. As for my point on Abbott’s use of language, it wasn’t a conclusion, it was my point of view that his own use of language was an insight to what he thinks (and in fact, what he has said separately on this issue) at a sub-concious level. This would have been a gaffe if the media had pushed him on this point, because he would have been stumped by his own hypocrisy, and his own inconsistency.


  10. Peter May // July 21, 2013 at 4:58 pm //

    Wasn’t having a go at you Darin. It’s a great article and I appreciate it.


  11. No prob at all. It is what it is! 🙂


  12. It’s only evidence they have stopped listening to him, like everyone else.


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