Frank's Memoirs 2013

Frank Avis by | December 2, 2013 | 2010s

Yes, the election is over and Australia has spoken, electing Tony Abbott to the Prime Ministership.
Yes, the election is over and Australia has spoken, electing Tony Abbott to the Prime Ministership.

I sat through the drama watching the Fox Election Channel which was professional, well organised but a bit short on all-out excitement. But then the main characters were not exactly that exciting either. With due respect, Tony - affectionately known as "The Mad Monk" - has about as much charisma as John Hewson or Lance Barnard. Alongside Tony, Bill Hayden would be an outrageous extrovert. Even the Mandarin-talking showpony seemed to lose his gloss over the last couple of weeks and was looking less than convincing by the Saturday. I think everybody predicted the result although I have to be honest post-election, and say that I felt it would be a lot closer. Indeed, a few weeks out I even ventured the opinion that Kevin 07 might just sneak a victory. Here's how I was thinking. I didn't believe any of the polls which predicted the collapse of Labor's heartland. I kept saying to my Labor mates (yes, some still speak to me) that there would be a dramatic turnaround on election day, especially in Queensland and Western Sydney. I know, on Wednesday and Thursday long-time Labor supporters were saying, "It was a rabble... They couldn't vote this mob back in," etc, etc. But trust me, these people live and breath Labor and when they got into their little cardboard enclosures and picked up their pencil (an official had to come over and sharpen ours... I've never seen anyone do that before... Didn't even know they had to carry a sharpener) anyway by the time they got their pencil they'd be doing a big about-turn and a lot of soul searching. I was predicting many of those Queensland and Western Sydney electorates, allegedly under threat from double-digit swings, would survive with the return of the ALP faithful. I thought Super Kevin would, at the very worst, save 10-12 critical seats (it turns out according to insiders I've been talking to he probably saved up to 15). And I got it right... Sort of! The Labor voters did return to the fold, well enough of them anyway.

But no one held up a big sign in front of me reading TASMANIA and VICTORIA. What the hell happened there? I didn't get that one at all. The devoted returned in the Sydney and Queensland hot spots but that trend didn't transfer to the south. Maybe Kevin didn't transfer to the south...

Anyway Tony's in charge now and I'm watching some very strange political stuff happening.

For starters, who is advising Abbott on his public behaviour? He is supposed to be Prime minister, running our nation, standing above the rabble below. So what does he do? He goes overseas and starts making all these smart-arse comments about Labor, snide remarks pushing the knife in deeper after the ALP's embarrassing loss. This is exactly what he should NOT be doing. God forbid, we had enough of this political point scoring in the Rudd-Gillard civil war. What Australians want is to get over that. In Julia's words, Tony, let's "move forward". Start acting as our national leader and doing what Australians have always done... In politics, sport, even war... Treating the defeated enemy with respect. You don't kick people when they're down... It's not cricket, mate.

The other thing that has really worried me is the vitriol of the Labor faithful. I'm reading all sorts of public comments and some of the stuff is obnoxious and illogical. And of course the Greens absolutely hate the result, so they're in there throwing as many ripe tomatoes as they can lay their hands on... Letters to the Editor, Facebook, all sorts of avenues are being used to degrade the new Prime Minister. Nothing he does is right and when things don't go exactly as the Opposition planned these critics are all over him like a rash. Some of the stuff is bizarre. One letter writer actually blamed Tony for the recent bushfires. Another critic said there were rumours the Asian smugglers would respond to the refugee boats being turned back by packing the boat people into shipping containers and trying to sneak them into Australia via our ports. She said hundreds and hundreds could die in those containers. That was Tony's fault. Then we had the great Spy scandal where Australia was accused of using its embassies in places like Indonesia and Malaysia as part of a US spy operation. Boy, is Tony copping some flack over that one. But, hang on – I'm thinking – the Coalition have only just arrived in office.

When did this spying start? A few weeks ago? I don't think so. Julia? Kevin? What's going on here?

And there's been tremendous criticism, almost laughter at times, as Australia attempts to get Indonesia to take responsibility for the "Boat People". I'm astonished that the Indonesians have allowed this nonsense to go on. To understand my view, just turn the story around. Let's say ten's of thousands of New Zealanders were getting into Australia, making their way to the north and hiring fishing boats to transport them illegally into Indonesia. Can you imagine Canberra allowing that to happen? Really?

We would be humiliated... Publically shamed... The laughing stock of the civilized world. Our Prime Minister would be totally embarrassed. Which raises the obvious question: why isn't Indonesia feeling humiliated and publically shamed? Actually, the Indonesians have proved to be pretty reasonable in their relationship with Australia and I suspect there'll be a lot going on below the surface to sort out this difficulty. After all, we know Australia doesn't want hundreds of thousands of illegal boat people breaching our northern borders. But I'm also guessing Indonesia would prefer not to have hundreds of thousands of economic/political refugees illegally making their way through its territory either. It is in the interests of both neighbours to bring this drama to an end.

Finally, before the Editor moves in, here is the list of my 10 ALL TIME FAVOURITE MOVIE LINES.

1. "You're gonna need a bigger boat." JAWS (1975)
2. "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)
3. "Here's looking at you kid." CASABLANCA (1942)
4. "I am big. It's the pictures that got small." SUNSET BOULEVARDE (1950)
5. "You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender." ON THE WATERFRONT (1954)
6. "I'll have what she's having." WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (1989)
7. "Shane. Shane. Come back Shane!" SHANE (1953)
8. "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse." THE GODFATHER (1972)
9. "Toto. I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
10. "Gentlemen. You can't fight in here. This is the War Room." DR STRANGELOVE (1964)

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This is the history of radio newsman Frank Avis who worked in the Australian electronic media from 1954 to 1996.


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