“Blackfellas didn’t exist until colonial settlement, before that… they were just fellas”

“Blackfellas didn’t exist until colonial settlement, before that… they were just fellas”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and China’s President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Tony Abbott toast during an official dinner at Parliament House. Picture: Stefan Postles / Getty Images Source: Getty Images
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and China’s President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Tony Abbott toast during an official dinner at Parliament House. Picture: Stefan Postles / Getty Images Source: Getty Images

18 November, 2014. 11:34

CLANCY OVERELL | Editor | Clancy@betootaadvocate.com

Just when we thought he couldn’t possibly embarrass us anymore than he already did with the ‘three-way handshake’ – Tony has really gone on a roll while dining with the Chinese President overnight.

First it was confusing China with Tasmania…

“To mark President Xi’s visit, Australia and Tasmania and, and — we’ve said a lot about Tasmania — Australia and China have reached agreements.

“It’s hard to confuse Tasmania and China — but I have,”

Mr Abbott shrugged off the error before giving President Xi the opportunity to once again speak highly of Australia and its people. The relevance of the ‘Tasmania’ blunder would relate to the fact that the Chinese President is due to visit Hobart on Tuesday, after which he will have been to every Australian state and territory.

Sharing the love ... China’s President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Tony Abbott drink during an official dinner given by Mr Abbott at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Stefan Postles / Getty Images Source: Getty Images
Sharing the love … China’s President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Tony Abbott drink during an official dinner given by Mr Abbott at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Stefan Postles / Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Mr Abbott also used the dinner to praise the president’s “remarkable” speech in parliament but in doing so, managed to embarrass the rest of us. He started well…

“When I listened to the president today, some of the shadows over our region and over our world lifted and the sun did indeed shine brightly,”

Mr Abbott said, citing an Australian proverb.

“I thank you, Mr President, for this historic, historic statement which I hope will echo right around the world – we’ve come along way since we arrived here on boats and introduced civilisation to this rugged country… errr (sic) I mean we brought civilization here to the blackfellas… I mean the blackfellas weren’t blackfellas. They didn’t know what whitefellas were until we got h…”

The entire room stood in silence. Abbott did all he could to dig out the hole.

 

“What i’m trying to say is… Blackfellas weren’t civilized before I got here. I mean, before we got here.”

The Chinese President, who lists English as his fourth language, asked Mr Abbott if he would like to rephrase what he had said, so as not to offend and entire community of already marginalised people. Mr Abbott had another shot.

 

“errr (sic) what I mean is… Blackfellas didn’t exist until colonial settlement, before that… they were just fellas. We would like to thank the Chinese President for coming here and meeting us all. Both Black and Whitefellas.”

 

Abbott managed to finish strong as well. While he did confused the delegate and make everyone present cringe, he managed to finish with the least offensive thing he had said all week.

 

Mr Xi returned the love, saying he’s felt right at home on his latest visit. China stood as one of Australia’s best friends in the region — but the key to maintaining that was with “political trust”.

“We need to put one’s self into the other’s shoes and look at each other’s intention from the other side’s standpoint of view,”

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