In Canberra, They’re Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the Lower House, not a creature was stirring, except for Tony Abbott, though he would describe his behaviour as “defending a conservative vision for Australia”. The Parliament was hung by the inadequate leadership of the two major parties, in hopes that their obstinance would be rewarded next year. The children were nestled on Manus and Nauru; while visions of potato-men goose-stepped in their heads…

It’s been a long 12 months in Australian politics. Sussan Ley lost her job, but kept that sweet, sweet apartment (#blessed), being exposed for travel rorts in the same year that Barnaby Joyce had to bugger off back to a by-election, after failing to recognise that even the Constitution didn’t want him to be Deputy Prime Minister. Tony Abbott has been wrecking, undermining and sniping while Malcolm Turnbull hasn’t won a single Newspoll, but more on that later. And marriage equality became THE story of the year, the only decent piece of legislation passed in 12 months.
For now, strap in because it’s the third annual SHUTUPANDREADTHIS Political Round-Up: Christmas Edition.

Angry old Mr Turnbull; the most hated, miserly banker in town; had a rough year. At last count, he has now lost 25 Newspolls in a row, rapidly closing in on the magical 30 that led to Tony Abbott being knifed in 2015. The biggest win he saw all year was the Coalition retaining two safe seats at by-elections triggered by the the citizenship constitutional crisis, hardly a sign of inspiring leadership.
His energy policies; whether it was his fumbling on gas prices; the Snowy 2.0 farce; blaming renewable energy for the SA crisis, even as the storm that knocked over transmission towers was still raging – leading to his government being humiliated by Elon Musk; or his continuing support for the Adani Carmichael mine, despite growing opposition in many sectors; have all generally been rejected by the voting public, as opinion shifts in favour of renewables and better regulations. Turnbull has continued to face criticism over his neutering of the NBN, his outright rejection of the Uluru_Statement_from the_Heart, and that time he stole $8,000 from Uncle Billy.
Many within the LGBTIQA community saw Turnbull’s insistence on a plebiscite and then the voluntary postal survey as a total betrayal, due to his past support for marriage equality and his statements on the plebiscite during Abbott’s tenure. His actions enabled hate speech, lies, violence and open homophobia that some young voters had not seen in their lifetimes. For Malcolm Turnbull, it has not been a wonderful year, as many voters wish he had never been born become Prime Minister.

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For fans of Julie Bishop, Julie Bishop had an incredible year. Not only does she lead as preferred Prime Minister in a party where she only has the support of a handful of colleagues, she handled the rise of China and Donald Trump with the grace and flexibility of an Olympic gymnast. Bishop repeatedly threw shade at a certain Commander-in-Creep and still managed to strengthen Australia’s position on the global stage with finesse and careful diplomacy. Her emoji game is on point and her death stare is famous, and even as she continues to refuse to be identified as a feminist, she slays in ways that no man could. One of the few cabinet ministers capable of managing the task of governing Australia, Julie Bishop is probably lucky that she will never become Prime Minister, because this country could not handle a leader so fierce.

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The Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand and member for New Hancock has had some kind of 2017. His bizarre relationship with Gina Rinehart took on a whole other angle when she attempted a fun, new style of bribery – the giant novelty cheque. Gone are the days of the briefcase stuffed with cash being slid under the table, the post-truth era is all about celebrating corruption for all its glory. Barnaby also discovered that, like Pistol and Boo, he had entered part of the country illegally, in this case, Federal Parliament. After a by-election that had all the excitement of milking a steer, poor Barnaby was forced to admit that he was the steer being milked after his wife left due to his infidelity. And for a family values politician, having the community questions his Joyces must have really hurt, especially when he was so vocal (ew) on the subject of marriage equality, wanting to protect the “sanctity of marriage” from… himself? Some parallels draw themselves, but for this country bumpkin, Cousin Eddie might actually be a step up and the High Court will so hold.

Australia is on the phone screaming, “PUT THE ECONOMY DOWN!”, after a bumper year on Planet Morrison. The Annoying Orange had barely been sworn in to office and already ScoMo was busy confirming what many of us already knew, his affinity for fascism. Soon after, he brought a lump of coal into parliament; a curious kickback from the energy sector, certainly, but a sure sign of what he will be receiving in his non-denominational seasonal festivity stocking. In his second Federal Budget, the Treasurer tried something new, using taxes to pay for services, a novel approach certainly, but one that has been rumoured to have been successfully applied for centuries, if not millennia. The move was dubbed “Labor-lite” in an effort to persuade voters that the don’t actually want a Labor government, just the appearance of a Labor government. Labor, naturally, disagreed. More recently, Morrison urged Australia to follow the lead of the US in adopting massive corporate tax cuts, which is ironic, as most Australians know that corporations don’t pay taxes. Furthermore, it could be wise to question the Treasurers judgement on this, as the Trump tax plan was named the single worst piece of legislation in modern history. And in an effort to put the fun back into fundamentalist zealotry, ScoMo decided that the war on Christmas is actually a war on Christianity, shameful timing, considering the release of the damning final report from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse barely a week ago. One imagines Morrison may well be crucified for his grandstanding.

You’re a good man, Christopher Pyne. Despite your crybaby lizard face and weasel-like nature, you actually seem to be someone who deserves to be in Canberra. This year, your support for marriage equality in the face of an incredibly hostile debate showed the true class of your character, ensuring the legislation would pass as quickly as possible. And while there was that awkward late-night tweet you (or a staffer) liked, no one actually believed your claims of being hacked, because no one really cared. It seems like a real shame that your seat may be scrapped, but no one actually expects you to go away. And for what it’s worth, you need to stop treating submarines like a security blanket, there are other ways to provide sustainable employment.

What can we say about Peter Dutton that he hasn’t already said under a hot microphone? The Home Affairs minister went above and beyond this year, affirming his status as the Australian Pol Pot-ato. A man whose repulsive cruelty knows no bounds, with Greens MP Adam Bandt calling Dutton a terrorist over his treatment of the remaining refugees in the Manus prison camp. Though, one of his more disturbing actions this year was his profile in Good Weekend, punishing the eyes of billions with a photo that inspired countless night terrors. Dutton’s actions this year have been par for the course in a government that revels in the abuse of the defenceless, and it is incredibly likely that his tenure as Immigration Minister and now in Home Affairs will be looked back on as the darkest chapter in the Abbott/Turnbull governments.
Also, as a side note, do you know how hard it is to find a potato character in Christmas movies? I spent a good five minutes on this one.

Nigel Scullion perfectly captured the attitude of conservative Australia with his response to the Four Corners expose  of the abuse inside the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre.
It hadn’t piqued his interest sufficiently.
For the Indigenous Affairs minister, the systemic abuse of children, especially Aboriginal children, was not important enough an issue for him to take any measure of action in his portfolio; and now, a month after the Royal Commission handed down its final report, he hasn’t done anything, because he’s been too busy gunning for Barnaby Joyce’s job. His hollow rhetoric and top down approach to closing the gap has echoes of the Howard-era approach, ignoring what communities want and need, dictating terms of engagement, and moving to control every element of their lives by expanding the cashless welfare card. He is really just a bandit, a man who is willing to use the torture of black children and communities as a stepping stone for the advancement of his idea of a perfect society.

Australia got to know Matt Canavan this year, and Australia met an arrogant, homophobic, sycophantic bottom feeder; a bully who would say and do anything to advance his career. His response to Anna Krien’s Quarterly Essay on the Great Barrier Reef reads like a primary school letter writing assignment, dozens of paragraphs with nothing to say, all in service of feeding his superiority complex. Any time he has opened his mouth this year, a foetid stream of conceited artifice poured forth, threatening to overpower reason and respect. Canavan shows no remorse for his constant falsehoods, whether it is claiming his mum made him an Italian citizen, and then replacing that claim with a slightly more factual submission to the High Court; or his odious attacks on Queensland Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk during the state election. During the marriage equality debate, Canavan’s bold, hubristic comments about the nature of persecution, abuse, suicide, and bigotry spoke volumes about the character of a man who is, at best, contemptuous of the majority of Australians, and at worst, a sociopath.

Speaking of psychopathy, Cory Bernardi. The Senator from South Australia started the year strong, quitting the Liberal Party to establish the Australian Conservatives, a party whose mission statement is assumed to revolve around finding ways to legalise bestiality. As the year dragged on, Bernardi found ways to involve himself in anything that threatened his sexuality, in ways that only homophobes can. He attacked school children for supporting education in Africa; his ‘joke’ about Christopher Pyne highlighted the breadth of his bigotry; and he helped launch the ‘No’ campaign in the marriage equality debate, likely the last time he will ever receive a standing ovation. Richard DiNatale put it best: “Cory Bernardi is a grub.”
After the last 12 months, it’s safe to say that most of the country would like to punch this arrogant dick in the face.

Michaelia Cash will be remembered for one thing in 2017, the botched AWU raid that led to her misleading the Senate, and ended with BuzzFeed exposing the Minister’s incompetence. The raid was a part of the government’s attempts to chase after Bill Shorten as he holds a commanding lead in the polls, and questions were quickly asked about how the media arrived before the AFP. Cash was soon claiming the leaks had not come from her office, and then, just as quickly, claiming that she hadn’t known the leaks were from one of her staffers. She then refused to answer questions, claiming “public interest immunity“, a bullshit term for bullshit people. Most recently, Cash lost a bid to prevent the AWU from obtaining documents from her office, to see if the raids were politically motivated. It was a wild journey. And the fact that she scored a promotion at the end of this year says more about the government than it should.

Every one in Australia liked marriage a lot…
But Abbott, who lived just north of Sydney, did NOT!
Abbott hated marriage! Especially for the queers! Now, please don’t ask why. He’s been chiding for years.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right. It could be, perhaps, his blue tie was too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
Tony Abbott has had the year that we all wanted him to have. His involvement in the “No” campaign actually encouraged more people to vote in favour of marriage equality. His own daughter campaigned against him. He was exposed for seeking the approval of a hate group. His electorate voted overwhelmingly in favour of same-sex marriage. And he wasn’t even brave enough to stand by his convictions after the tumultuous shit fight he put the country, and vulnerable communities, through (sure, he’d boxed himself into a corner where he had no good options, but fuck him, he paved the way for violence and bigotry on the streets). On other political issues, Abbott sought to rewrite his own history, said climate change is a good thing, and continued to attack the Turnbull government at every opportunity.
Best of all, in 2017 somebody finally nutted the cunt.

Despite his best efforts, Bill Shorten is still not Prime Minister. He’s had a bumpy landing to his year, but for the most part, boring Bill kept his cool and let the Turnbull government self destruct. Sure, he took part in an incredibly racist ad that was only supposed to air in the Hanson heartland; and he waited too long to act on Sam Dastyari; and Australians really don’t like him, but Turnbull has burned through all goodwill; and with the passage of marriage equality, has lost one of his last progressive political playing cards; and he dropped the ball on citizenship, with David Feeney facing a likely by-election and a decent chance of his seat going to the Greens. But, y’know, Turnbull has been losing in the polls, so, Shorten should keep doing nothing? Either way, with a leader as bumblingly mediocre as Bill Shorten, Labor will have some work to do to solidify their lead before the next election.

Like a former spy gradually overcoming amnesia, Tanya Plibersek is starting to show signs of remembering her former self. The once prominent progressive seemed to find a forgotten part of herself during the marriage equality debate. She has continued to fight for education funding, women’s issues and the general Labor movement; and while her failure to present a viable alternative to Manus and Nauru has disappointed and angered many progressive voters, overall, Plibersek has been a consistently effective politician, even positioning herself as a potential alternative to Shorten in the minds of many voters.

In 2017, Anthony Albanese continued a recent trend of achieving very little. The do-nothing MP did nothing. He spent some time as a DJ, he brewed a few beers, he met with the kids, and he remained frozen in a career that once had so much promise. He worked the media and continued his commercial breakfast TV junket, sparring with Christopher Pyne when required and spruiking whatever line the party needed him to regurgitate ad nauseum. There’s a reason his seat was under threat last year, and it’s not about to get any safer. A shame, because he could have been a decent place holder while an alternative leader was given the opportunity to emerge.

Richard Di Natale has left some Greens voters, and members, feeling betrayed. His shift towards a sensible platform, rebuilding the Greens as an alternative government instead of just the balance in the Senate or a loose rabble of various protest groups has really set some (mainly NSW) on edge. The fact that he has come from a medical background as opposed to Bob Brown‘s decades on the front line of the environmental and social progressive movements has certainly caused some consternation, but the reaction of certain grassroots socialists over the last twelve months has been quite pathetic. These are the Green-types who think reasoned discourse is screaming until the other side stops arguing, George Orwell was Nostradamus, and men should start apologising for their gender. Anyone who has spent five minutes in the vicinity of Sydney University knows exactly to whom I refer.
For Di Natale, the loss of both of his deputies was a massive hit to the Greens and his leadership this year and the suspension of Lee Rhiannon did him no favours in NSW. However, his consistency and outspokenness have shown that he has the potential to push the Greens to something bigger and better in 2018.

Pauline Hanson really failed to fire this year. Coming off what should have been incredible momentum, swinging four Senate spots in the 45th Parliament for One Nation, she has repeatedly been let down, and in some cases sabotaged, by the person she sees in the mirror every morning. Her deranged, wingnut sidekick, Malcolm Roberts did her no favours by speaking in public, ever; but his departure under Section 44 of the Constitution was probably the least of her concerns. There was corruption, James Ashby, bankruptcy, James Ashby, Four Corners, James Ashby, and huge failures in both Queensland and Western Australian elections. The dismal returns on investment for the Coalition in these elections after months spent fellating One Nation for being popular enough to cut preference deals, should see any future deals scuppered. All in all, 2018 is unlikely to deliver any decent news for Hanson, especially after some of her more mind-boggling stunts.

Derryn Hinch really seems like the sort of person who would attempt to cut a deal between terrorists and a cop in the wrong place at the wrong time. This last year he has reached out to all of his Senate colleagues, trying to find the best possible solution in a number of areas, and he has had some surprising wins. His campaigning on transvaginal mesh helped see the products banned in Australia; he has used parliamentary privilege to continue his campaign to name and shame paedophiles; and he fought hard for marriage equality, celebrating its passage with a rainbow flag scarf. Of course it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the Human Headline, he retains a number of controversial opinions, including opposition to elements of Native Title, where it relates to using native animals for food; he remains opposed to anti-discrimination laws; and continues to support voluntary euthanasia. Here’s hoping any success for Hinch in 2018 is more in line with the latter.

萨姆Dastyari。 有什么可说的,还没有说过呢? 如果他设法闭嘴,或者如果新南威尔士州劳工的影响力不那么腐败的话,他还是会有职业生涯的。 2017年是大沙过山车,他没有生存下去几乎是一个耻辱。 几乎。 他以两次经验的人的技巧为传统媒体和新媒体工作,他的无耻本性带来了很少有人敢走的结果。 通过婚姻平等的辩论,他抓住一切机会推进人权事业, 当他面对一群辱骂的种族主义者时,他的冷静回应令人it目结舌,赢得了许多人的赞赏。 当然,这是他和中国的关系,还有一些中国的商人是他的破产,如果劳工关心公众如何看待他们,那么这样的天才人才的流失就应该让他们认真看待捐赠改革

Sam Dastyari. What is there to say that hasn’t already been said? It’s entirely possible that he would still have a career if he had managed to keep his mouth shut, or if the influence of NSW Labor wasn’t so corrupting. 2017 was a rollercoaster for Dasha, and it’s almost a shame that he didn’t survive it. Almost. He worked traditional and new media with the skill of someone with twice his experience, his shameless nature delivering results where few others would dare to tread. Through the marriage equality debate, he took every opportunity given him to advance the cause of human rights; and his cool-headed responses when faced with a group of abusive racists, itching for a fight won him the admiration of many. Of course, it was his relationship with China and certain Chinese businessmen that were his undoing, and if Labor care about how the public view them, the loss of such a natural talent to a scandal such as this should make them look seriously at donation reform in 2018.

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I had planned a long spiel about Bob Katter being the grouchy mayor of Sombertown, but I ain’t spending any time on it, because in the meantime, every three months a person is torn to pieces by a crocodile in north Queensland.

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