The richest, sleaziest, most sexist people on Earth

In the eyes of the newly interested international community, if you put Slipper and Thomson together you come up with two words – "Labor, sleaze".

Last week's furore over Prime Minister Gillard's misogyny speech in parliament raised the question of just who got the story right. The world, or us?

It was framed by commentators as the 'world media' Vs 'the Canberra press gallery', the accusation being that we failed to understand the true significance of her withering attack.

The 'world', in both the left and right-leaning commentariat, shouted something along the lines of: "Julia Gillard, Iron Lady!"

Australian commentators, armed with a junior high-school grasp of semantics, flipped open their faded copies of the Collins Junior Illustrated Dictionary and discovered that misogyny has only a single definition, and the whole debate began to hinge on whether Abbott literally 'hated' all women, or not.

Context and connotation (which the world heard – namely that our first female PM was berating Abbott for sexism) was replaced locally with text and denotation – a galloping return to the certainties that we all held until at least our second year of high-school.

And who said we're a nation of anti-intellectuals?

But let's extend that logic to a broader set of political themes. How does 'the world' see us on other themes, and are we missing the point at home?

Yesterday's story, that has not escaped global attention, is a new list of offences allegedly committed by Craig Thomson – more hookers, more misdirected money, more corruption, which Fair Work Australia has decided requires litigation.

Some reports abroad suggest this, in itself, threatens to bring down the government. However, as it is a civil action, Thomson would only be disqualified from remaining in the House of Reps if the case bankrupts him. That seems likely in the long term, but not before a 2013 election – which has been rumoured to be pencilled in for a 'snap' election around March.

But added to last week's Peter Slipper scandal, surely those who give our island nation a second thought (a tiny fraction of the seven billion people on Earth) just think: "Labor, sleaze."

Lost are the subtleties of the story. For one, that almost all of Slipper's indiscretions occurred while he was an endorsed Liberal MP, and that he resigned from that party rather than being ousted by his own side.

Likewise, who abroad would notice that the Coalition has tried to sprint from the House of Reps chamber to avoid accepting Craig Thomson's 'tainted vote', but is happy to accept Peter Slipper's? Perhaps it's only tainted when legislation pertains in some way to female anatomy?

Other stories that might get a little airplay, but not much, include Julia Gillard's diplomatic efforts on her trip to India – a country she played a direct role in placating when it was rightly incensed by violence against Indian students and mis-selling of education services in 2009 – and Tony Abbott's diplomatic mission to Indonesia, where he seems to have once again failed to raise the issue of 'turning back boats' to that country.

Actually, it's unlikely any of these stories will flicker for more than a moment in global consciousness. Because a far bigger, and already-established story was told around the world last week: Australia is the richest country on the planet.

So there you have it - the richest, sleaziest, most sexist people on Earth. No wonder everyone wants to live here.

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