Prime Ministerial Sandwiches

Dan Wood / June 04, 2013 03:00 PM

In May, Julia Gillard was twice the victim of projectile sandwich attacks. This (probably) marks a higher rate of attack than for any other leader of an OECD nation in the same period. But is this, in any way, significant?

Media reports of the two incidents have offered scant insight. Reports often focus on the brazenness of the perpetrators, and never miss the chance to include copy veritably dripping with irreverence. It’s true, blithe headlines abound

For the record, I despise such ham-fisted attempts at humour. Although I’m sure the responsible pun-hog sub-editor is happy as a pig in mud, the rest of us are pretty disgruntled at the flippancy of these so-called professionals. I would urge the media to refrain from this kind of childish mockery except where an MP’s fly-by-night dealings are scurrilous enough to warrant the derision; say pork-barreling most scandalous! Ok, I’m done. BACON. *Ahem*


Anyway, a recent article by National Affairs editor for The Age, Tony Wright, touches on an important and under-analysed aspect of the controversy: the filling of the sandwiches.

Wright suggests the filling in the first smoking gun sanga (Vegemite) might be seen as “the choice of bogans”. He also intimates that the second sandwich missile (salami in white bread) epitomises Australia’s evolving cultural salad bowl.

What, if anything, does the filling of a person’s sandwich say about them? More importantly, how does our reaction to a person’s sandwich filling reflect existing assumptions about cultural identity in a modern, pluralised Australia?

I have neither the time nor booksmarts to answer such questions. All I can say is that we would be wise never to judge a sandwich by its bread. Or a person by their sandwich. Or…I don’t know, whatever!

I’m not sure creating a novel maxim out of this situation would help us all that much anyway. Because it wouldn’t really be “novel” at all; merely a parsed and rephrased version of “never judge a book by its cover”.  In light of other recent events, this dependable adage is one worth reiterating.