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Mathew Mackie

About Mathew Mackie

Mathew Mackie is a writer and Editor-in-Chief of TBS. He can be contacted at [email protected]

With Julie Bishop’s $30,000 taxpayer-funded flight shunted in favour of Tony Abbott’s “white-anting” claims, we suggest something else is afoot.


The lack of news on this topic is the news on this topic, save for a handful of meek malcontents registering their disgust in lonely concert with a few foreign news agencies trumpeting the muted call of wrongdoing.

On the receipts, the differences between Bronwyn and Julie’s flights are galling; $3,000 helicopter versus $30,000 RAAF jet. Julie Bishop and her boyfriend took the late night jaunt back from a charity ‘do on October 18, 2015. While she was representing the PM, and not a private Liberal mixer, it still smacks of misuse of taxpayer money, and moreover, reanimates the corpse of political entitlement.

So, where’s the massive public outcry? Where are the memes? Where are the hashtags? Where’s the well worn political klaxon cranked to signal another political ousting?

Perhaps this is where the genius lies with the whole issue.

The genius of the smokescreen.

From stage right, Tony Abbott. The Ex-Prime Minister, in the same breath as the issue lives, has banged the drum of revenge, loudly claiming that Bishop “white-anted” him, speeding his curtain call on Australia’s grandest political theatre.

Tony’s claims swirl around Julie Bishop’s attendance of a phone call on February 8, 2015, where Malcolm Turnbull offered Scott Morrison to role of Treasurer in a future Turnbull government.

In rebuttal, Julie Bishop admitted that she was in attendance.

White-ant, black-ant; there is no ant.

So, why have the shirtfronts been retrieved from the back of the cupboard? If its a political shootout, I’m willing to suggest that the guns aren’t loaded. If it is just political noise, then to what end?

The question is why.

With a bit of lateral thinking, its not that far to consider a political smokescreen. News programs featuring Julie Bishop, such as The Project and Today, solely focused on the purported issue between the two combatants. Even the articles that took umbrage with the flight were split to cover the war of words. All focused on the more interesting issueBut what of the flight that no-one wants to talk about?

Going off the precedent set, politically and publicly by the Bronwyn-pickle, the reaction doesn’t seem to fit. It’s odd. Is it a lack of a similar misdirection that cost Bronwyn? Or not?

Despite Julie’s assurances that everything is above board, The removal of Abbott couldn’t have totally quashed our rancour toward political entitlement.

But all of the above is speculation.

The important thing to note, however, is the timing. Mr Abbott jumped in at a strange time. Why has he waited until now to air his long held suspicions against Ms Bishop’s participation in his sacking? Why has he sat mute in every Question Time, or every other public opportunity since the spill?

Why now? Why has he waited for a potentially fatal political axe to be swung toward Bishop, only deflect the blow and threaten a paper-cut? If he felt malice or a grievance toward Julie Bishop wouldn’t he mention it? Or at least sit silently, and watch it unfold?

What’s good for one opposing Bishop is as good as another, surely.

We’re not pointing any fingers here, we’re upturning our palms with a shrug.

All we’re doing is asking the question.

Where’s the unifying rule?


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