Behind The Scenes Of The Attempted Egging Of Scott Morrison
The hall has an old feel to it, similar to one of those stodgy country motels where there’s a bed and a timber corner table with a TV on it. If you’re lucky, maybe a kettle.
Inside there are rows of women, too many to count, maybe 40 seats deep and 30 seats wide. People are lined up to speak behind microphones. The first issue is western stock routes for drovers; the second, the percentage of meat in pies; the third is the incorrect labelling of the word milk by those latte lefties in the cities. In towns like Albury on the New South Wales southern border, milk comes from cows, not soybeans. Nobody is laughing. It’s ‘hurting the dairy industry.' It has to stop they say.
I ask a woman what it takes to be kicked out of a Country Woman’s Association meeting?
“Oh, you’d have to really swear,” she says with a chortle.
But amongst them, one is planning to humiliate the Prime Minister in the hope the scene will be broadcast around the world.
Scott Morrison enters the room to a cheer. In the Riverina electorate of Farrer, Liberals are largely loved. Some stand to greet him. Many more will when he finishes speaking.
READ MORE: Prime Minister (Nearly) Egged By Young Woman
On the stage, Morrison preaches to the choir. He is cheered loudest when telling the hundreds of women of his plan to crack down on vigilante protestors who’ve been storming farm gates. There’s a sense here at least, that their way of life is under attack. It’s a familiar theme amongst conservative voters.
When he finishes on the stage attendees are told the Prime Minister will be having a ‘scon-versation.’ The media contingent laugh. Nothing is going to happen here. He’s safe amongst the blue rinse set. Right?
Scott Morrison mingles freely.
“Hello. How are you?”
Elderly women gather round him like sprinkles on a lamington. The normal press pack fragments except for the television cameras who - ever vigilant - hover in case of the unexpected, when lo and behold, a young woman in a red tea-cosy beanie approaches our most senior politician from behind. It is cowardly in the extreme. It is a disgrace.
In her hand she clutches an egg.
She raises her arm intending to crack the yolk across the Prime Minister’s head when a member of his security detail on her righthand side pounces. He is quick, but not quite quick enough. He clips her elbow and the egg breaks free. It strikes Scott Morrison. In a blink of an eye, the egg rolls down the PM’s head and onto the carpet. Incredibly, it doesn’t crack.
In the ensuing melee, a 70-year-old woman is knocked over a chair. She’s recently had stomach surgery. She is in shock.
The assailant is immediately collared and then dragged out by her head and neck.
“Is that necessary?” She grumbles with indignation. In other countries, she would have been shot before she got so close. Not in the Lucky Country.
Within minutes she is being marched from the hall up to the police station. Journalists pursue her.
In her left hand is a half carton of eggs. She shakes them at my camera for effect.
“Would it not be better to protest in a peaceful way, rather than to try and throw an egg at the Prime Minister?” a reporter asks.
“Because that gets through.” She replies sarcastically. It turns out she was protesting the treatment of asylum seeker.
“Have you been spoken to by police?” she is asked.
“Yes, I’m being coddled by one right now,” the undercover officer clings onto her arm. They keep walking.
‘Would you consider it (the attempted egging) a success?”
“If only.” The automatic police doors open and close behind them. The media wait outside for a number of hours. She thinks she will be reprimanded, and then leave. She is wrong.
On her own Facebook page, she brags that she’s a ‘fool’.
By the time she is secreted out the backdoor, the 24-year-old has been charged with two offences. Common assault and drug possession.
The 70-year-old inside recovers. While shaken, she is clearly most pleased about the fact Morrison lifted her off the carpet.
At a press conference later in the day, Morrison speaks.
“We have just got to disagree better about these things. Just because you have a difference of opinion, doesn’t mean you have to engage in these sorts of ugly protests.”
In rare bipartisanship, Bill Shorten agrees at his press conference.
“This is appalling and disgraceful behaviour.”
So too does Pauline Hanson.
“The Prime Minister is the leader of this nation and I just don’t think it’s the right behaviour from anyone.”
The problem though is a group of young Australians clearly think it’s okay to physically assault politicians.
In March, 17-year-old Will Connolly shattered an egg over the head of far-right Senator Fraser Anning. It was premeditated, so much so the teenager filmed it.
In the 24-hour news cycle, food and eggs have become the simple weapon of choice for those seeking to humiliate. The internet’s scope allows images to be repeated at nauseam around the world, making such acts more than an attack. They are intended to degrade.
Australians enjoy far closer access to their politicians than almost any comparable nation in the world. The campaign trail is known for robust encounters. It’s why journalists are on it.
But if these attacks are to become the norm, you can say goodbye to the days of politicians engaging with the public, in the public. Terrorism is real. It’s not a giant leap of imagination to replace an egg with a knife.
The court would do well to send a clear message, a message that says attacks like this won’t be tolerated. If that message isn’t sent, it’s not just meetings of the Country Women Association that suffers, its democracy. And that is something we all have to protect, no matter how much we despise politicians.
Jonathan Lea is travelling with the Prime Minister.