Sitting in the Front

Sydney Morning Herald

Peter FitzSimons has noted something about Australian politicians. Unfortunately Peter’s claim that it is wonderfully unique to Australia, he is wrong, I have noticed the same thing here. Even Phil Goff sat in the front seat, I know because I tool a photo of him doing just that at Sky City during the election campaign.

TFF has always noted, and enjoyed, the difference between the way male Australian politicians position themselves in chauffeur-driven cars, compared with the politicians of other countries. See, our blokes always sit in the front. Somewhere in our DNA is written that only toffs sit in the back, the way Lord and Lady Muck once did. Not for them. By sitting in the front they are making a statement – even if it is an unconscious one – that they get it. They are egalitarian. They don’t fancy themselves as better in any way than the person who drives them. In more than a decade of his prime ministership, no one ever saw John Howard get out of the back seat, unless he was travelling with his wife. Kim Beazley, I might say, was such a stickler for it, that even when travelling with his wife, Susie Annus, in a Commonwealth car, he sat in the front (and now in ambassadorial cars in Washington). It would amaze me, by contrast, if any American president has ever sat in the front of the presidential limo and I suspect the same goes for British prime ministers, German chancellors and all the rest. It is a uniquely, and wonderful, Australian thing. All of which is why it was so surprising to see the newly installed premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman, turning up for the premiers’ dinner at the Lodge on Thursday night, sitting on his own in the back of the limo. The working class can kiss my arse, I’ve got the foreman’s job at last? Surely not. But it was curious.

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