The Burke Report

Liz Burke rounds out the week in news and current affairs...

In a week where parliament resumed, natural disasters eased off a little, and celebs scandalised their way back towards the front pages, some news media folk were no doubt getting a little restless as they retired from rolling coverage routines. As politician’s tears, profanities and celebrity shenanigans reigned over news bulletins, I wish I’d taken a tally of how many times I’ve seen the word “beat-up” appear in comments on major news websites.

Julia Gillard’s heartfelt expression of condolence over the recent floods and her accompanying tears was the first piece of news to come out of parliament this year, overshadowing the discussion of the flood levy that was anticipated to be the greatest source of controversy.

Although most witnesses agreed her speech was a tearjerker and even the opposition leader said she had “shown a decent heart”, questioning began as to the authenticity of emotion from the women scorned for being wooden and emotionless over the past few weeks.

Speculation was raised as to whether this was The Real Julia, who we were promised to see more of during last year’s federal election campaign. Particularly following the emotionally-in-touch-yet-in-control performance we’ve seen from Gillard’s Queensland correspondent, Premier Anna Bligh, the Prime Minister has been pilloried for not being human enough or showing enough emotion. Now when she turns on the waterworks, it’s seen as fake, forced, or too emotional.

Interesting that the nation’s political leader, who one would expect to be a pillar of strength, is scorned for not showing weakness and breaking down at a spark of tragedy. However, Bligh’s controlled and graceful breakdown has been replayed on more news promos than I’ve seen fast food ads of late.

Rudd’s tears were answered with cheers as he bowed out of his prime ministership, and former PM Bob Hawke was loved for his regular weeping outbursts, wearing tears as a badge of humanity and was seen to be a bloke in touch with the people and in touch with his emotions. Perhaps showing a more human side, evidently not seen as a weakness if decided authentic, will do some good for Gillard’s suffering popularity?

Although Gillard has been under great scrutiny following this performance and hasn’t been shown any favours in the polls, the PM bounced back from criticism , appearing much more relaxed and in control in parliament later in the week, today delivering a health plan proposal that would see the Federal Government share the burden of growth in the rising needs of health care, creating an equal funding partnership between state and federal government by contributing 50 cents for every new dollar that is needed to fund public hospitals.

Tears have also been shed for residents of Western Australia, were 72 homes were destroyed in Perth’s south-east last weekend after bush fires broke out. Whether or not the PM gets emotional over this situation will likely also be a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

Also, damned if you are Tony Abbott, who has been avoiding questioning over his unguarded “shit happens” remark made in relation to a firefight that resulted in an Australian soldier’s death in Afghanistan. In another case demonstrating the public’s (or media’s) expectations of the sensitivity of a political leader, the opposition leader has copped more than a bit of criticism and was also another drawcard in tying up talkback radio lines this week.

Although Abbott’s remarks may have been taken out of context, as reactions were edited out of the footage released by Channel 7, and Abbott claims the reporter Mark Riley’s questions (which he responded to mostly in silence) were “out of line”, more damage has been done for the family of Lance Corporal Mackinney, who is having to deal with his death being brought up in the news once again months after the incident. Abbott has since apologised to Mrs Beckie MacKinney, and says the matter should be left there.

While our politicians are for once avoiding attention, a certain celebrity couple has appeared to be more than happy to declare their relationship open to the media. Media packs gathered and live broadcasts took place outside Shane Warne’s Melbourne home where Elizabeth Hurley flew in for a booty call earlier this week.

Reporters didn’t have much investigating to do, though; the couple is practically live-tweeting the visit, updating followers on their activities, and Warnie has been harnessing the power of social media to take suggestions on where he should take Liz while she’s visiting. It appears to be working. Hurley is having a great time in Australia, if we are to believe her Twitter feed, though speculation has been raised as to how much of the country she’s actually been seeing.

Matthew Newton won’t be out and about too much, either. He’s returned to the Sydney rehab clinic where he already spent 100 days in treatment for an “undiagnosed mental illness”, and could spend up to two years in jail for bombarding ex-fiancee Rachael Taylor with calls and texts, in an attempt for a fresh start that has resulted in a serious AVO breach.

Likewise, Lindsay Lohan has again appeared in court facing up to three years in prison on felony grand-theft charges for allegedly stealing a $2500 necklace from a high end L.A. jewellery boutique. Making headlines today is the form-fitting white mini-dress she wore to court.

In more concerning international news, there are still terrible things going on in Egypt as tens of thousands of furious demonstrators plan to launch the most spectacular protest yet in Cairo, where they will demand the immediate departure of president Hosni Mubarak and his deputy.

Liz @ Girl With a Satchel


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Liz! Great wrap-up. x