Our Foreign Minister is a Graceless Self Aggrandising Idiot.
Today, the most graceless condolence speech in the history of the Australian Parliament. There is a link to a huge PDF of Hansard here, or the full text is below:
Mr DOWNER (Mayo—Minister for Foreign Affairs)
On indulgence, I would very briefly like to support the
comments that have been made and say how very sorry
I was to hear of Janine Haines’s death. I think Janine Haines
was the most substantial leader that the Australian
Democrats ever had, and I really mean that. As others have
said, she was a very articulate woman and a very intelligent woman.
She was also a very honourable and honest woman. Whilst
I did not agree with her on many issues, I really did
admire her fortitude, her courage and her integrity. She
was, as I said, the most substantial leader that the Australian
Democrats have had. She was substantial not
just in terms of her high profile but in terms of the substance
of the person.
I had a little to do with her, as she came from my
own state of South Australia. In particular I think today
is the day to confess that in 1990 we were very concerned
about her determination to win the seat of Kingston.
Janine Haines was very popular at that time. The
Democrats were riding very high in 1990, and she put a
substantial effort into winning the seat of Kingston
against the then Labor member for Kingston, Gordon
I have known Gordon Bilney for a fair period
of time, including before he became a member of parliament.
We were both in the Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade together. But, curiously enough, I did
not want to see the Democrats win the seat from the
Labor Party, because I believed that if the Democrats
won Kingston then that would have given the Democrats
a beachhead which they would have been able to
build on, and in time the Democrats would have become
a significant third force in Australian politics,
rather akin to the British Liberal Democrats.
I recall working quite closely with Gordon Bilney to
ensure that the Democrats did not win that seat—in
other words, that Janine Haines did not win. I can only
say that, in the interests of the diminishing support for
the Democrats, Janine Haines’s failure to win that seat
was a very significant development. If she had won
that seat, I think the Democrats would have made a
beachhead into the House of Representatives. I think
she would have been a very significant and forceful
figure in the House of Representatives. For those of us
who have had significant Democrat votes in our own
electorates, it would have been a very major problem
for us in terms of holding our seats. I have to confess
some self-interest in that regard.
In conclusion, I think she was the most substantial
and the most significant leader the Australian Democrats
have had. She was a very good woman, a very
honourable woman. I extend my condolences to her
husband, Ian, and to her children, Bronwyn and
At least he's tall, I suppose.
I am sure that Ian, Brownwyn and Melanie are touched by your kind words, Alexander. Some free advice for you - never MC a wedding.