You might not have heard of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, so we'll fill you in: the recently elected PM has got to learn the art of thinking before he speaks. Seriously. Since Abbott took office in September, he's shown no signs of doing so: earlier this month, he sparked controversy by saying that, um, torture is a-OK under the right circumstances. And believe us, it's far from Abbott's first foot-in-mouth incident. At a Sri Lanka conference, Abbott made clear that while his government "deplores the use of torture" (good!) "we accept that sometimes, in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen."
Basically, Abbott's leadership so far is kinda reminiscent of Rob Ford, but without the crack.
Also, he's completely wrong. "Difficult circumstances" is not an acceptable excuse for torture, according to international law. Like, never. Ever. Since 1948, torture is and remains a war crime and a crime against humanity and thus not OK. At all. Indeed, the very point of having a United Nations Convention Against Torture, to which Australia has both signed and ratified, is to make the illegality of torture absolutely unconditional. Article 2 of the Convention clearly clarifies that there are "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."
Courtesy of the Huffington Post, here are some more highlights of the PM's wisdom:
On gender equality
“While I think men and women are equal, they are also different and I think it's inevitable and I don't think it's a bad thing at all that we always have, say, more women doing things like physiotherapy and an enormous number of women simply doing housework.”
On social justice
“We just can’t stop people from being homeless if that’s their choice.”
On the environment
"Climate change is absolute crap."
"I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak"
“The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience.”
"Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia."
Thanks to his remarks on torture, Abbott is under fire from critics and human rights activists who have demanded he retracts the comment. The comment was made during the controversial Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka last week, which several other countries had refused to attend due to the military regime's alleged war crimes and human rights violations (yes, including torture).
Not Abbott, who not only attended despite international and domestic pressure not to, but who also gave the regime a present of two warships and even found a chance to go jogging with senior military officials and the president's son (these guys may be investigated for war crimes in March 2014).
Abbott has been nicknamed the "Mad Monk" for his plethora of anti-wisdom. But maybe we shouldn't be too surprised. After all, this is the man who posed in Speedos and a silly swim cap during his campaigning in 2010, for which he became known as the "budgie smuggler." If that's your thing, you can see a whole bunch pictures of the Australian PM in swimwear, and only swimwear, right here.