Aussie politician's confusion goes viral

LEESHA MCKENNY
Last updated 17:39 06/08/2013

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The first viral video of the Australian election campaign could be described as a Diaz in the headlights.

The Liberal Party's Jaymes Diaz marked the start of his pitch for Sydney's most marginal electorate with an interview so excruciating that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott called to commiserate.

Diaz' six-minute interview with Channel 10 on Monday - which is now making news in the US - reached its painful peak when he was quizzed about the Coalition's plan to "stop the boats".

"The boats are also a big issue out here," Diaz said of the seat of Greenway in Sydney's northwest, telling reporter John Hill the Coalition had a six-point plan to stem the flow of asylum seekers.

"Six points, could you run through them for us?"

Apparently not. Clutching the Coalition's "Real Solutions" pamphlet and at a way out of the question, Diaz at one stage offered: "Well, one of the points, the key point would be stopping the boats when it's safe to do so."

But Hill persisted, ultimately asking Diaz eight times – unsuccessfully – to outline the Coalition's asylum seeker policy.

"You've said turn back the boats, you told me it's a six-point plan. What about the other five points?"



Diaz, flanked by two increasingly sombre-looking supporters, responded: "We have a plan to stop the boats, and I've answered that."

Ultimately, one of his minders opted to stop the interview instead, with Diaz concluding "we support families" while wandering away from the camera and into a car park.

It is not a good start for the 37-year-old Filipino-Australian migration lawyer, but a gift to his 2010 opponent, Labor's Michelle Rowland, who holds Greenway with a wafer thin margin of 0.9 per cent.

Abbott - who had identified it as one of the seats that cost him the prime ministership - was understood to be against Diaz' preselection, but the candidate had the local numbers to secure the spot.

The Opposition Leader defended the "good young fella" on Tuesday, telling ABC radio he called Diaz "to commiserate with him" after watching the interview.

"I gather he had done two good interviews and then he throws up in the third . . . I'm afraid it happens to all of us from time to time," Abbott said.

Abbott said Diaz would make a "great local member" for Greenway.

"I think all of us can get a bit flustered sometimes," the Opposition Leader said.

"He's a relatively young bloke, he's in his early 30s, he has a lot of potential, he's quite smart, he's very well connected in the area . . . he's a good young fella."
An occasional gaffe was just part of being in politics, Mr Abbott said.

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"Inevitably, a very experienced and slightly aggressive journalist shoves a microphone in your face and starts barking at you and it is possible to freeze," he said.

"I've done it myself."

Here for the record is the Coalition's six-point plan.

In its first 100 days, the Coalition will:

  • Turn boats back where it's safe to do so.
  • Increase capacity at offshore processing centres in Nauru and PNG.
  • Lease and deploy extra vessels to help patrol boats transfer asylum seekers.
  • Conduct ministerial visits to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nauru and PNG to discuss "operational matters".
  • Establish a new Operation Sovereign Borders taskforce, and create a joint agency taskforce for asylum seekers.
  • Reintroduce temporary protection visas.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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