Thursday, 7 May 2015

Whatever you may think of the Prime Minister

of Australia if you are also a journalist then you have a duty to get things right. 
There was a nasty little piece by Peter Hartcher, a Fairfax journalist well known for his dislike of the present Prime Minister, a couple of days ago. Yes, it has taken me a while to cool down enough to write this. And yes, it was nasty. 
It was nasty for two reasons. The first is that it was incorrect and the second is that it insulted other people as well.
The story, according to Mr Hartcher, is that the Prime Minister refused to meet the gay partner of the Australian Ambassador to France in Paris. That was incorrect but it was written in such a way as to try and suggest that the Prime Minister is anti-gay. 
Now it is well known that the Prime Minister, a devout Catholic, does not support the concept of "marriage" for same sex couples but is he anti-gay? I think it would be hard to say that. He has a gay sister and they have a very close relationship. He had a very close friend, now deceased, who was gay. He has a close friend who is gay and another who is transgender. He also counts the gay Ambassador to France among his friends and hosted a dinner for the man and his partner before  the Ambassador left to take up the appointment. 
Now there is also a "bible" of diplomatic protocol  used in Canberra. I know it exists. I have seen it. It was written by the Senior Cat's first cousin. It will have been updated in the intervening years but it makes clear that, unless the partner of the PM is travelling with him or her then then partner of the Ambassador does not attend the meeting that is being complained ab out. There is a good reason for this. The partners are expected to keep one another company while the PM and the Ambassador talk. There was no "refusal" to meet a gay partner here. It just was not an occasion on which any partner would have been invited. It is the way diplomatic protocol works. 
And, if you have any further doubts, the PM and the couple went out to dinner later - before the "story" broke. The PM, whatever the media likes to make of him, is a very courteous man. He would not have insulted anyone in that way.
So, why the story? Obviously it was intended to put the PM in a bad light - and it has not been rectified by the media which ran it - but it has also made matters awkward for the Ambassador and his partner and any other same sex couple in a similar position.
Peter Hartcher owes all those people an apology and the media cohort which supported him also owe an apology. 
My guess is that they won't be offering one - and that makes me angry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct Cat - that is the way the "Bray bible" puts it and for those reasons. It was a ridiculous story designed to do damage to all those in question. Hartcher's dislike of the PM over ruled his journalist's ethics. Chris