In 1977, then Indian Prime minister Indira Gandhi declared general elections after two years of Emergency. It was surprising to see that many in the general populace were in support of the martial law. That was the only time in history, government offices in India functioned efficiently and government officials attended duty in time and did not demand bribe for their services. But crimes were committed against those opposed the Government during the emergency, which resulted in Mrs. Gandhi’s downfall.
Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
In my home town Cannanore (now Kannur) in north Kerala, the southernmost state of India, Indira Gandhi and the Gandhi family were much loved. As a seven year old, I waited for hours to have a glimpse of Mrs. Gandhi when she visited the town during her election campaign. Nearly hundred to two hundred thousand people waited eagerly for the Prime minster who arrived a couple of hours late. That was the first time I had a glimpse of the Prime Minister of India or for that matter any nation. In India politicians addressed large gatherings of people which usually are in thousands. On those days even the local Member of Parliament used to be highly inaccessible for the general public and visited their constituencies only for the election campaign.
Thirty years later in Melbourne, I happened to see a well-dressed guy, standing alone in front of a closed shop in High Street, near the Preston Market, mostly ignored by the passer-by. He was carrying a handful of leaflets and was sporting a face which declared loudly, “someone please come and talk to me “or “Please for God’s sake don’t ignore me “. He was the standing member of Australian national parliament and that was his election campaign, He was distributing his election manifesto to those who bothered to share a smile. Australian politicians were a pleasant surprise for me after getting used to the highly corrupt, unapproachable and uneducated Indian politicians. They seemed so friendly and approachable. Australian politicians never organise large public meetings as a part of their election campaign because Aussies never bother to turn up. Instead even the Prime minister visits shopping malls to meet people, so that they can catch hold of the unwary shoppers.
But there is much more to the lighter side of Australian politicians. Especially if you are from a nation where political figures are stone faced.
Below are a few funny facts about Australian Politicians
Anywhere else in the world, if demonstrators surround the Prime Minster and get abusive, the riot police takes control and the demonstrators will be sprayed with water, tear gas, capsicum spray or even tasered or shot.
In Australia, if the demonstrators surround the PM, we take our Prime Minister and run. In 2012, when, then Prime Minister Julia Gillard faced such a situation, Prime Minister’s security Officers lifted the Prime Minister and ran. In the process Ms Gillard lost her slippers, which was later auctioned in Ebay. The Photos explain it all.
The 70mm former Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Former Prime Minister, Tony Abbot is widely known as the man who redefined 70mm smile. It is difficult to find him without his signature smile. A Rhodes Scholar, a fitness maniac and a lovable (most will contradict this statement but we prefer to stick to it) person, he is a good company for any evening beer or BBQ party. .
Above all he is an Iron man too. Mr Abbott – an Ironman first-timer – finished in 1169 spot and completed the triathlon in just under 14 hours -13 hours, 57 minutes and one second. He completed the 3.8 kilometre swim in one hour 17 minutes and 27 seconds, the 180 kilometre cycle in six hours 43 minutes and six seconds and the run in five hours 28 minutes and two seconds The 55 year old Mr Abbott swam 3.8 kilometres, cycled 180 kilometres and ran a 42 kilometre marathon in a test of physical and mental endurance defying experts who claimed he had not put in enough training for the race.
It is so easy to change our Prime Ministers
Above all it is so easy to change our Prime Ministers out of blue. No wonder in the last five years we had five Prime ministers. We don’t even call it back stabbing, but it is called front stabbing. Though the whole drama will be played out in public for months before a Prime Minister is ousted we still call it surprise party coup.
Kevin Rudd: A crying Prime Minister
Former Prime minister Kevin Rudd cried publically during his farewell speech to the nation when he was disposed by the Labour party. It only enhanced people’s love for him as he was showing his softer side.
Kevin Rudd, had Convict ancestry on both sides of his family. Told a European audience that this made him an “An absolute pedigree.
The funny looking John Howard
In 1998 when John Howard was elected as the Prime Minister of Australia, Australians faced a much greater dilemma. The question was “How to call this funny looking man, our Prime Minister”?. But he defied all predictions to become one of Australia’s best Prime Ministers.
Paul Keating was the best of the lot. He left school at the age of 15 and started working as a pay clerk. All his life, he suffered a sort of attention deficiency syndrome. That is just one reason why he had an opinion about almost everything under the Sun and was happy to share it with the rest of the world. But he will always be remembered for what Mahathir Muhammed said of him.
“We can’t do anything. If people have no manners, I mean children we can smack them [laughs] I think that a whole nation, or there generally is one nation who have no manners. It’s very difficult, who resort to personal vilification and all that”
Keating also famously asked journalists to stop photographing him from behind where his bald patch could be seen. He also managed to convince the Australian public that all his failures were actually his successes like – The recession, 17% interest rates, poor relations with Asian countries etc etc. Do you know – Aussies still love him a lot.
The Beer skolling Bob Hawk
While you watch a cricket match at the SGC, the man skolling beer next to you could be the 86 year old former Prime Minister BOB HAWK. His academic achievements were complemented by setting a new world record for beer drinking; he downed 2 1⁄2 imperial pints (1.4 l) – equivalent to a yard of ale – from a sconce pot in 11 seconds as part of a college penalty. In his memoirs, Hawke suggested that this single feat may have contributed to his political success more than any other, by endearing him to a voting population with a strong beer culture.
In October 1986 The former Prime Minister (late) Malcolm Fraser, wandered into the foyer of a Memphis hotel frequented by prostitutes and drug dealers at 7am wearing nothing but a towel. He was in US for a meeting on Apartheid. Mr Fraser decided to go for a drink at the Peabody Hotel after his duties ‘hoping to find some of the famous live blues venues’ but he awoke the next day at the Admiral Benbow Hotel ‘a notoriously seedy dive. He had checked in after midnight and paid with a $100 bill. He was missing his pants, a $10,000 Rolex, passport, wallet and $600 cash.
Reports that he walked into the hotel lobby wearing a towel claiming he had been drugged were greeted with amusement back home in Australia. Mr Fraser had always maintained that he was drugged and denied it was just a wild drunken American night. But we are Indians, as you fellow Indians can understand, we don’t need any explanation because we understood everything and we have seen this many times with our politicians. “BUT YOU SEE, HIS POOR WIFE BELIEVED WHATEVER HE SAID”. Australian Newspapers celebrated with the heading, “The Night Malcom Fraser lost his trousers”. But SURPRISINGLY no one demanded his resignation.
Harold Holt: Disappeared while swimming
We even had a Prime Minister who disappeared while swimming at Cheviot Beach in Victoria. It took a while for the nation to realise that the Prime Minister is missing. The term of Prime Minister Harold Holt was brought to an early and dramatic end in December 1967 when he disappeared while swimming at Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria, and was presumed drowned.
John Grey Gorton
Australia is still a five day week country. Our capital cities still sleep on Saturdays and Sundays, though the situation is not as bad as it used to be until ten to fifteen years ago.
John Grey Gorton was Australia’s Prime Minister from 10th January 1968 to 10th March 1971. People often described John Gorton as ‘Monday to Friday Prime Minister’. He worked hard from Monday to Friday and hardly on Saturdays and Sundays. You may doubt what a Prime Minister will be doing on Saturdays and Sundays – Extravagant drinking and womanising. At any point of time, he had at least two to three extramarital relationships. He walked around with a cigarette in his hand and didn’t dress very smart for a politician.
Joseph Benedict Chiefly
When we talk about womanizers (and Prime Ministers) it will be an injustice to our future generations if leave out Joseph Benedict Chiefly. He was Australian Prime Minister from 13 July 1945 – 19 December 1949. Above all he is the most loved Australian Prime Minister of all time, a truly inspirational leader. So we can’t blame him if his female staff loved him too.
He had affairs with three women simultaneously – two of whom were sisters. His secretary, her sister and a typist from his own office. Even Casanova would have struggled to pull off such a feat.
William MC Mahon
To end this article we have come up with an interview (With Susan Mitchell of ‘The Australian’) with Sonia Mc Mahon the wife of Former Australian Prime Minister William Mc Mahon ( Also known as closet Homosexual) , who was the Prime Minister of Australia from 1971 to 1972.
A little more than two months after they were married, Sonia went into hospital for a curette. After the operation, her gynecologist came into her room and assured her everything went well. Her next visitor was her husband, who told her she was pregnant.
“I said, ‘No. You’re wrong.’
“He said, ‘Sonia, you’re having a baby.’
“I said, ‘Who told you?’
“He said, ‘The press rang me, so I rang the doctor, who confirmed it.”‘ Sonia continued to argue with McMahon in pure disbelief.
They finally worked out that someone from the operating theatre must have leaked it to the media and that the doctor was such an old-fashioned man he’d wanted to tell McMahon first so he could give the good news to Sonia.
She admits, “It was a very strange way to find out. I certainly wasn’t thinking about it or expecting it. We had never even discussed having children. It was amazing, no trying, no nothing. Once I got over the shock, we were very happy to go along with it. Bill was absolutely delighted with the news.”
What do you understand? It is not just our politicians are funny. Australia itself is a funny place to live.