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The egg in Australian politics: from Billy Hughes to Fraser Anning

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Here’s to the 17-year-old teenager who slammed a raw egg into the head of Senator Fraser Anning at the weekend.

Anning was so shellshocked he lunged at the lad and bashed him. If Anning had any wits about him (Yes, a long shot), he should have praised the teenager for egging him on. Laugh it off as a yolk. But the senator is not that type of person. Self-important and serious to the point of politically stupid and dangerous at the same time. He blames the boy’s mother. ‘‘He got a slap across the face, which is what his mother should have given him long ago, because he’s been misbehaving badly.’’

Given that reasoning, what should we make of Anning’s mother?

The egg incident followed Anning, after the Christchurch massacre in which 50 people have died, conflating Muslim immigration, fanatics and the right of lunatics to slaughter innocent people. ‘‘The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.’’

What a class act.

The 17-year-old may not have realised that in making his protest he was resurrecting a form of protest in Australian politics that goes back more than 100 years.

In November 1917, the Prime Minister Billy Hughes was doing the rounds of the nation for a plebiscite on conscription for WWI. Hughes was giving a speech at Warwick railway station in Queensland. From the crowd an egg was launched. It missed Hughes’ head but knocked off his hat, which was either a sign of remarkable accuracy or misdirection. Either way Hughes wasn’t happy. He ordered the local constabulary to arrest the thrower, one Patrick Brosnan. The officer declined.

Tempers were running high around conscription. A plebiscite on conscription in 1916 had been defeated, but under increasing pressure from Britain for more troops for the war effort, Hughes was doing his best for the cause. It’s said that the egg incident was a factor in the formation of the Commonwealth Police, since the local constabulary had told the Prime Minister he didn’t have jurisdiction to order Brosnan’s arrest under Commonwealth law.

The people of Warwick, realising their place in Australia’s political history, held a re-enactment of the incident in 2007.

Politicians egged by irate members of the public most recently include Ed Miliband and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As to the lad from the Moorabin incident, he has posted: ‘‘Don’t egg politicians, you get tackled by 30 bogans at the same time – I learnt the hard way.’’

He has also become part of a long line of protest and produce. Many is the politician or celebrity egged by an irate member of the public through history, most recently from Ed Miliband to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Perhaps with the rise again of the humble egg, some thought could be given to reintroducing the stocks. It would combine theatre and punishment. And provide a boost for the egg industry.


Image: Eggboy is led away by police after the Fraser Anning incident. Source:

One response to “The egg in Australian politics: from Billy Hughes to Fraser Anning

  1. Eggs become rocks ..become bullets ..become bombs .. better to stand up in person and throw your free voice of reason ..

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