The controversy about Abbott’s “Shit happens” remark is a beatup, although his weird reaction to it is probably newsworthy.
Frankly, the way the media handles politicians visiting war zones is a complete nonsense.
I remember a visit from Vince Gair in SVN when I was in 7 RAR. Apart from the sight of an overweight and pudgy gentleman wandering around our lines followed by (I think) one cameraman, it was a non event.
I remember thinking “What on earth is he doing here?”, and from memory, most of us shared the same thoughts. We generally thought the whole thing was, to put it crudely, a bit of a wank.
I vaguely remember Malcolm Fraser visiting as Minister for Defence, but I may be wrong.
Nothing seems to have changed, except the degree of hype involved.
I don’t doubt the good intentions of the politicians (of all stripes) concerned in showing support for the diggers, but if it’s the diggers they want to support, why do they need to have an army of hangers on making sure they’re seen in the best light back home?
The answer is of course, wrapped up in promoting a political image, but the sad thing about it is the way in which the diggers are used as fodder in this enterprise.
I have a raw spot about this, given the way our service was treated when it was no longer politically popular. This treatment was across the board when I got home, irrespective of party politics. Nobody in politics wanted to know us.
Here’s a thought.
How about banning the media from travelling with politicians visiting soldiers on operational duty?
The diggers would feel supported and valued, and the politicians would be freer to be themselves, and in a better position to learn something without media minders.
What do you reckon?