divert attention from domestic issues," someone told me yesterday "And she was just playing politics. They couldn't care less about the victims or their families. They're just using the situation for their own ends."
I was doing the weekly prowl through the supermarket and he bailed me up next to the milk.
I know this man has an intense dislike of our present Prime Minister. I don't usually get involved in conversation with him although I know and like his partner. I did not want to get into conversation with him even after he had said that and I opened my mouth to say, "Oh, do you think so?"
I had no chance to say it when someone else who had obviously been listening butted in and told him his statement was nonsense. I escaped. (Yes I know, I lack courage.)
The statement was nonsense though. Our Prime Minister is very unpopular. People don't like him. They are very cynical about things like his volunteer work and his support for remote indigenous communities. He's a Catholic and suggestions have been made he takes his orders from the Vatican - or, at very least, a cardinal and a priest. He is accused of being a bigot, a misogynist and homophobic. He does not speak fluently in public. Oh and he has been criticised for being a Rhodes Scholar. (Another of our Prime Ministers was also a Rhodes Scholar but PM Hawke was never criticised for that.)
And our current Foreign Minister is a woman. Shocking! Her clothing gets commented on and her ability to do the job is constantly questioned.
I guess it is all "politics" and that until we vote in the Opposition again we will have to put up with this - and worse.
But, more seriously, are they really doing such a bad job of handling the appalling air disaster? I actually believe they have done well. They have handled an extremely difficult and delicate situation well. They got a resolution through the UN Security Council - no easy task. They have taken action by sending people to the Netherlands and to the Ukraine. All this may seem simple enough to people who have no knowledge of how international relations and diplomacy work. The reality is that it is all extremely difficult to do - and even more difficult to do well.
And the Prime Minister has also taken it on himself to talk directly with the families of those involved. They do not, of course, have to accept his phone calls. Cynics will say it is nothing more than a public relations exercise but each one of those calls will be very difficult to make - difficult for the families and difficult for him. I would not want to do it and I do not know anyone who would.
Perhaps our PM is setting an example to follow with respect to grief and that makes us feel uncomfortable?