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Bishop and Goodes: the likely outcomes are so wrong.

By BARRIE CASSIDY.

In both the case of Bronwyn Bishop and of Adam Goodes our passions have been aroused, and in both cases the likely outcomes are so wrong. How is it that Bishop could stay in her job while Goodes may not, asks Barrie Cassidy.

What does it say about the country if this weekend Bronwyn Bishop is still in her job and Adam Goodes is not?

If Bishop – despite overwhelming public opinion wishing it otherwise – refuses to quit; and Goodes – despite, surely, overwhelming public opinion wishing it otherwise – simply can’t face the prospect of running on to a football field?

In both cases passions have been aroused in tandem this week, and in both cases the likely outcomes are so wrong in so many ways.

The Abbott Government’s handling of the Bishop scandal is about as inept as you could possibly imagine. It is breathtaking in its dumbness.

barrie cassidy on adam goodes
Adam Goodes and Bronwyn Bishop. Image: ABC.

How is it possible that Bishop, having been caught out hiring a helicopter in preference to a one-hour car ride, did not immediately admit her mistake and apologise? How is it that not one wise head in the Liberal Party had the instincts or the clout to persuade her of the damage that would cause?

How is it that they allowed the apology to be delayed until three weeks of predictably intense political pressure forced her hand, meaning of course, that when it finally came, it was already meaningless?

Did they not watch that disastrous first news conference when the only regret the “independent” Speaker expressed is that it distracted attention from a political opponent?

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And are they not listening still when time after time Bishop says she’s not resigning because she has the support of the Prime Minister?

Read more: Bronwyn Bishop isn’t sorry for what she did. She’s sorry she got caught.

Does that not sheet home the responsibility to Tony Abbott, putting him at the centre of the whole sordid affair?

Admittedly some ministers have said they hoped Bishop would put the interests of the Parliament and the party first; that she should not easily hand a political advantage to Bill Shorten and the Labor Party.

And Malcolm Turnbull has ridiculed the issue by mischievously riding the train from Melbourne to Geelong and tweeting about it.

But none of that changed anything.

Once again history has repeated itself. It’s the handling of the crisis that has hurt the Government more than the circumstances around the crisis itself.

Bishop salvaged some respect – and again belatedly – by agreeing to repay all costs associated with attendances at weddings, including the wedding at Wangaratta.

But still she insists she somehow combined that attendance with government business; that is, she met somebody, confidentially, as chairman of a parliamentary committee, to discuss work/life balance. Except nobody on the committee heard anything about that before or since. And why would anything remotely associated with that topic need to be confidential?

Related content: Eight better ways to spend Bronwyn Bishop’s travel money.

The Speaker has simply treated the public as mugs.

And the leader of government business, Christopher Pyne, didn’t help by insisting she should stand firm and not give in to the Labor Party. Does he not see that by doing that, she gives the two finger salute, not just to Labor, but to the whole country?

Is it any wonder then that no matter how chastened she tried to look at her news conference on Thursday, she still tried to explain away the whole matter by saying “it doesn’t look right”.

“It doesn’t look right!” Is that it?

If that remains the prevailing view, and Bishop is still in the chair when Parliament next sits, the Government will struggle for clear air.

The Speaker is the most visible person in Question Time. This Speaker more so because she is so pro-active, provocative and controlling. She will be a constant reminder of an issue that cut through like few others this year.

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At least with the Bishop issue Essential polling demonstrates the public gets it. And they hate it. Just 19 per cent of Australians think she should stay in the job.

The Adam Goodes matter is more disturbing because so many people don’t get it; so many people insist it is the responsibility of Goodes and the Indigenous footballers to fix.

There is so much ignorance, intolerance and even blatant racism in the debate around whether it is OK to randomly boo Goodes every time he touches the football.

Read more: In three minutes, Charlie Pickering perfectly explains why booing Adam Goodes is racist.

But let’s take the short cut to most of that by detailing the rantings of former A League goalkeeper, Griffin McMaster, who created a Twitter storm when he suggested that because Goodes called Australia Day, Invasion Day, he should be deported.

It’s not clear precisely where he should be deported to, but we’ll carry on.

McMaster now works in the media and has contributed to the football magazine, FourFourTwo. Its editor, Kevin Airs, demanded McMaster remove any reference to the magazine from his biography.

This is how the Twitter conversation went after that.

McMaster: “No problems Kevin.”
Airs: “That is an incredibly stupid and ignorant tweet Griffin. I’m disappointed anyone in football would think like that.”
McMaster: “Disrespect his country and you cop it. I’m not happy with the way he’s going about things.”
Airs: “His family have been here 40,000 years. If you don’t like it, you leave. He’s not dissing his country. He’s proud of it.”
McMaster: “Australian government bend over for indigenous. Free interest loans, free uni degrees. Even said sorry and he’s still going on.”
Airs: “He’s not ‘going on’. He’s playing AFL and celebrating when he scores.”
McMaster: “He doesn’t celebrate Australia Day. Un-Australian … that’s why I’m not happy.”
When you boo, remember that’s the calibre of those who join you.

Let’s hope Goodes has the courage for one more statement. Play again, if only once. To walk away now would leave this issue unresolved, forever staining the game.

Related content: Mia Freedman: Adam Goodes isn’t ‘playing the victim’. He’s being silenced by thugs.

An orchestrated roar of support the next time Goodes touches the ball – from thousands of supporters opposed to the Swans – will start to right this appalling episode.

If that doesn’t happen, he will leave the game a shattered man. And thousands might leave with him.

Barrie Cassidy is the presenter of the ABC program Insiders. He writes a weekly column for The Drum.

This article was originally published by ABC News.

 © 2015 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. Read the ABC Disclaimer here

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Footy fans have been booing Adam Goodes for months. On the weekend, his teammate had enough.

Andrew Daddo: We should not be booing Adam Goodes. We should be celebrating him.

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