On a scale of one to ten, Australian politics this year has been a steaming pile of crap. And that’s putting it mildly.
We’ve seen yet another LibSpill; Senators openly pining for the policies of the Nazi Party; the government supporting white supremacists; Australians forced to imagine Barnaby getting his shag on; and Bill Shorten still hasn’t found a way to make people like him.
So, as 2018 winds to a close, we take a look at the year that was. It’s the fourth annual shutupandreadthis political review.
All things considered, Tony Abbott had a fairly quiet year. I mean, yeah, he did kick the year off by declaring British colonisers settling in Australia to be a “very good thing“; and arguing that Australia needs to cut immigration to improve quality of life – a claim he kept up all year; and embracing Pauline Hanson – saying Australia would be a “better country” if it had listened to her; but aside from all that, he… spent the year agitating for a change in leadership of the Liberal Party, and even fought against his own climate policy – which helped him end the Turnbull government.
For his efforts to undermine the government, Abbott was rewarded by being named special envoy on Indigenous affairs, despite his history on Indigenous issues – claiming that the country was “nothing but bush” prior to the British invasion; refusing to assist remote communities because their existence was a “lifestyle choice”; and cutting half a billion dollars from essential frontline Indigenous services.
He also managed to end the year by claiming Nauru was “very pleasant” and has better healthcare than many regional towns – despite the kids trying to kill themselves.
So, I guess it wasn’t so much a quiet year for Abbott, as much as it was the year a foetid, resentful, turd of a man demanded Australians become just as racist and hateful as he always had been.
Fraser Anning, on the other hand, somehow managed to be even more racist and hateful than most Australians would have considered possible. It’s not every day that an Australian Senator calls for the extermination of refugees.
When he entered parliament last year, replacing sovereign British citizen Malcolm Roberts, the first thing he did was quit One Nation – something many of us found hilarious. But after his maiden speech this year, his continued presence in the capital became as offensive as his ideological pursuits.
Anning declared his love for the era of Joh Bjelke-Petersen‘s corrupt governance; dwelt wistfully on the White Australia policy – going so far as to call for a plebiscite on the issue; decried anti-discrimination policies as “Soviet inspired”; attacked the notion of cultural Marxism – an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory; and, most notoriously, called for a “final solution to the immigration problem” – echoing the language of Adolf Hitler’s genocidal policy during the Holocaust, The Final Solution to the Jewish Question.
Despite initially backing Anning, Bob Katter shortly thereafter sacked him from Katter’s Australia Party, after it turned out that it is possible to be too racist for a North Queensland MP.
As it stands, this human shitstain remains in Canberra until June next year when (unless there is another double dissolution) he will fall into the half of the Senate up for reelection in May.
Where does one begin with Craig Kelly? If you were to ask the Liberal Party, it would probably be: “What, who said anything about Craig Kelly?! We absolutely support Mr Kelly, and will do everything we can do ensure his preselection. There are no problems here, the government almost definitely retains his support and continuing confidence. Probably. I hope. Who sent you?”
Kelly is the soiled nappy of the Morrison government, threatening to quit the party any time he doesn’t get his way; and standing firmly in the way of any possible policy designed to address climate change and carbon pollution. In the August LibSpill, Kelly was a firm supporter of Peter Dutton, putting his name to the letter calling for Turnbull to step down.
Earlier this year, Kelly encouraged Australians to get over Russia shooting down MH17 in 2014, and has previously expressed support for Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.
For now, he remains the Liberal Member for Hughes, after Scott Morrison intervened in the preselection following Kelly’s string of tantrums.
Perennial arsehole David Leyonhjelm has spent the back half of this year trying to crap all over the definition of parliamentary privilege. It all started when Leyonhjelm yelled “You should stop shagging men” at Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young as she spoke about women’s safety – following the rape and murder of Melbourne comedian Eurydice Dixon. When confronted about this, Leyonhjelm told Hanson-Young to “fuck off”.
In the ensuing media storm, Leyonhjelm repeated his comments, and went even further during a number of press appearances, claiming she is well known for sleeping around. This led to Hanson-Young suing Leyonhjelm for defamation, and Leyonhjelm claiming his free speech was being stifled.
In his attempt to derail the conversation about women being attacked, Leyonhjelm went all in as an MRA, claiming “alpha males” like him need to stand up for themselves, and that the debate around violence against women had become about misandry, which was “equally as bad”.
I mean, women are being murdered, but sure, the sad man has hurt feels.
In other Leyonhjelm news, he called the reaction to Fraser Anning’s maiden speech a “ridiculous overreaction”. All in all, a real class act from the man who was elected because voters got confused.
Ian Macdonald is the sort of man who will definitely find work with a mining company, mining lobby group, or as a miner when he (likely) leaves the Senate next year.
The shameless Senator recently wore a sign on the Senate floor that said “You Can’t #Stop Adani”, and has previously worn hi-vis clothing that was gifted to him by the mining lobby group, the Minerals Council of Australia. While it’s handy to know who owns him and his vote, it’s bullshit like this that helps convince most Australians why this country needs a Federal Anti-Corruption Commission.
Macdonald has also fought for religious schools to have the right to discriminate against LGBTIQ+ students and teachers, though, given his relegation to the fourth spot on the Queensland LNP Senate ticket, it’s unlikely that we’ll have to put up with him all that much next year.
Bill Shorten is like a fart. All flash, no substance. His tenure as Opposition Leader has been marked by his complete and utter irrelevance to the role. No one actually wants him to become Prime Minister, but they definitely want the Coalition to lose the next election to the ALP.
The dull, slow-moving, husk of a union boss really doesn’t have much to offer Australians, beyond the fact that he leveraged his knifing of two sitting Prime Ministers to unite the Labor Party around him. Nothing says “vote for me” like “I have these fools in my pocket”.
While plenty of Labor sycophants will defend Shorten for simply showing up, there are some (read: most of the country) who actually want an Opposition Leader capable of, y’know, leading.
If stability is seriously the benchmark we are now at for effective leadership, then it’s time to cancel Australia.
Plus, his leadership was in question a number of times just before the spill against Turnbull, with Anthony Albanese’s manifesto being raised as a blueprint for an alternative opposition.
So, what did Shorten’s year actually involve?
Labor policy no longer has anything to do with the leader, except for one key detail, but more on that in a minute.
He announced plans for a federal ICAC, but resisted giving too much detail.
He backed, then backed away from Turnbull’s tax cuts, then said he wanted to double them.
He survived as Labor leader after the Super Saturday by-elections, with voters rejecting the chaos of Turnbull ‘s governance.
He promised a plebiscite on the Republic.
He said that Australia should suspend live exports of sheep during summer.
And he said that Catholic schools and private schools should receive more funding.
Bill Shorten is the only thing holding the ALP back. His continuance as leader of Australia’s oldest political party has been a detriment to those who would prefer to see this country move forward.
If he had been replaced as leader a year ago, or even after the Coalition scraped through at the last election, there would be no question of the dominance of the Labor Party in the upcoming election. Shit, if almost anyone else was leader at the last election, we would currently have a Labor government.
He and Turnbull were like polar opposites: one widely despised, considered untrustworthy even as he leads a popular party; the other generally beloved, likeable even as he abandons what he stood for, leading a party that could not be more out of touch if they actually announced that they were the party of banks, tax dodgers and big business. They balanced each other out.
Against Morrison, Shorten has it slightly easier, because he can claim to embody stability but little else. Morrison doesn’t hide his conservative ideology behind a moderate façade, like Turnbull did, yet he remains ahead of Shorten as preferred PM, because Shorten is so hated in the nation. It’s worth questioning whether Shorten actually would have been preferable to Dutton, had that come to be the case.
And Shorten’s total lack of support amongst the broader public is worth examining, because it can’t all be tied to his role in the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd debacles. There is his stilted, awkward way of talking, sounding like he is struggling to read as his cadence dips and twists, leading to derision for his robotic mannerisms. But that can’t explain it.
There is an ineffable quality to the Labor leader, something that makes it almost impossible to describe why he isn’t likeable. It’s not that he’s negative, it’s that he doesn’t seem to know how to sound positive.
For instance, when it came to the final speeches just before the vote on marriage equality, Turnbull was absolutely radiant, exuding charisma and joy – for all his failings, this was an achievement he could take to the bank. Shorten sounded like a high school student forced to make an announcement at assembly. His tone varied wildly, from cold to emotionless, swinging past impassive on the way. It was a momentous occasion, yet Shorten was as boring as he was mechanical.
We should also look at his tendency to seek out whatever deal he can, his passive nature stretching the credulity of any claims that the former union heavyweight is a… former union heavyweight. Shorten’s desire to meet in the middle is why the Labor Party has left so many voters disillusioned by two-party politics.
It’s not just this notion that individuals elect a Prime Minister along with a government, and the endless spills keep testing their patience and knowledge of our Washminster system; it’s that the ALP continues to exist for many as the centre-right faction of the Liberal Party.
How many times over the last few years have you heard or seen someone complain about the two parties basically being the same thing? It’s constant, this belief that the only thing separating Labor from Liberal is the unspoken quota for old white men in one party, and the desire to put unions in charge of everything for the other.
Bill Shorten represents the worst of that.
At least Kevin Rudd pretended to have the future of the country at heart when he echoed John Howard on almost every policy, but immigration.
Shorten can’t even manage to pull that off. He seeks out elusive compromises on policies that don’t need compromise. It’s almost like the very idea of standing firm and delivering on a solid promise is anathema to his very existence.
He passed an anti-encryption bill with no amendments, despite calling it deeply flawed, for fear of being considered weak on national security – even though it made him look weak overall.
After years of voters, media outlets, and NGOs demanding an increase to welfare payments – specifically Newstart, the best Shorten could manage was announcing an 18 month review into the matter, with no promise of relief for those living in poverty.
His housing affordability policy is to encourage investors to make rent slightly cheaper, despite the millions of Australians locked out of buying a house by decades of similar policy.
He wouldn’t back a Royal Commission into aged care – because the current, highly-privatised system was one Labor had helped set up – even though the horrific state of aged care had been exposed for all to see. And he was hesitant to instigate a Royal Commission into power companies, as, again, he knows that Labor’s privatisation of the sector contributed massively to the current state of affairs.
I mean, fuck, he still hasn’t settled on a position on the Adani coalmine.
I guess the reason people don’t like him is because of the same thing that made him a union boss and the leader of the ALP.
He wants to draw voters away from One Nation, the Liberal Party, Independents, and the Greens. So, he stands for nothing and everything. He can’t be pinned down because there’s nothing substantial in anything he says.
Just looking at the headlines of the last 12 months highlight the central issue for the Labor Party.
Shorten is committed to investigating policy changes.
Shorten says Labor will begin work on pursuing an Indigenous voice to parliament.
Shorten is signalling an increase to minimum wage.
Bill Shorten has suggested the government should end discrimination in schools.
He’s talking out of both sides of his mouth. I’d call it doublespeak but even that’s too precise for what he’s doing.
This is the man who starts speeches with “I believe…” before pausing to check his notes.
A central flaw of the ALP for well over a decade has been its over-reliance on internal polling and focus groups, and Bill Shorten seems to be the end result of that process.
It’s almost as if he has looked at the last few governments and their leaders and considers their central flaw to be the fact that they actually promised to pursue various legislation.
And that seems to be why people don’t like, or trust, Bill Shorten.
You can’t break promises if you don’t promise anything.
Scott Morrison surprised everyone this year by being an even worse Prime Minister than Turnbull, or even Abbott. A rare achievement.
But, as the kids say, ScoMo happens.
As Treasurer, Morrison championed causes he desperately believed in, like homophobia and colonialism. Though to be fair, he also ran with those themes as Prime Minister.
His fiscal management was, for lack of a better word, a total fucking dumpster fire. He abandoned all pretence of the Coalition returning the budget to surplus, until last week of course, when his new Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced that he has magically scheduled a surplus… by refusing to provide funding for vital services.
He repeatedly claimed that negative gearing was the domain of “mum and dad investors“, while failing to mention the fact that two-thirds of all parliamentarians own more than one property, and lied repeatedly about the impact of Labor’s weak-ass approach to tackling negative gearing – despite his Treasury’s official advice on the matter.
He refused to admit he was wrong to have resisted the Banking Royal Commission; and he tried to force through his tax cuts, even as he refused to release the full costings, as the numbers were too “unreliable”.
Then he became PM, and holy ScoMo, did he hit the ground running.
He tweeted that trans kids are victims of “gender whisperers” in schools; he declared that bisexuals make his “skin curl“; he called his own party a bunch of muppets, which, I might add, was the premise of the blog that launched this website – so he’s a joke thief too; he debuted his cringeworthy daggy dad routine – which led to his infamous Fatman Scoop tweet and referring to his critics as “narcs“; and he called the World Heritage Listed (alongside the Great Wall of China and Taj Mahal) Sydney Opera House “the biggest billboard Sydney has”.
In his first press conference he declared that he didn’t have a to-do list, which is exactly what you want to hear from the new Prime Minister.
He fair dinkum drove an empty bus with his face on it around Queensland for reasons even he couldn’t explain.
He announced, and withdrew, plans to move the Australian Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, in a shallow attempt to win the large Jewish vote in Wentworth – a by-election he managed to lose in record time.
He went full Morriscum when he laughed off Pamela Anderson’s plea to assist Australian citizen Julian Assange, objectifying her and saying his “mates” wanted the chance to sort it out with the actress.
He denied, and covered up, claims of bullying within the Liberal Party – a move which has cost him a number of MPs, sending his government into absolute minority.
He expressed admiration for Donald Trump’s style of leadership.
He was exposed for having given himself a trophy for stopping asylum seekers from coming to Australia – which was revealed to be false, and is a truly macabre celebration of the inhumanity of the government’s tropical rape centres.
He defended the rights of schools to expel children for being born gay, trans, or falling anywhere else on the LGBTIQ+ rainbow.
He apologised to the victims of institutional child sexual abuse, even as his government ignored the sexual abuse of children in the detention centres on Nauru.
He helped the Victorian Liberals to an electoral wipeout in the State election, leading NSW Liberal Premier to ask him to stay out of her upcoming election.
He rejected the IPCC report on climate change as “nonsense” and again backed coal as an energy solution for Australia.
Then he angrily condemned schoolchildren planning to strike over his government’s inaction on climate change, telling them to be “less activist”.
The last day of parliament for the year saw Morrison lose his ScoMo, desperately pulling out every single ploy he could manage to avoid losing a vote. He abandoned whatever dignity he may have still had in an embarrassing display of anger, arrogance, and awkwardness.
He wrapped it all up with his garbage plan for a federal anti-corruption commission – announcing it would have almost zero powers to investigate the crimes of political actors, and would be hidden away from the public. He later added that Sydney prosecutor Margaret Cunneen – who was investigated by the NSW ICAC for perverting the course of justice, would advise the government on how the commission should operate. Which definitely is a good sign of things to come.
It took two years for Tony Abbott to hit his threshold for ridiculous bullScoMo antics, while Morrison has managed so much more in a matter of months.
I swear, if he eats a clove of garlic, I’m done.
Peter Dutton, the only man more hated than Tony Abbott, and the only root vegetable on the front bench, almost became Australia’s 30th Prime Minister this year.
Except that he didn’t.
And never was going to get enough supporters in the Liberal party room.
While many in the party can tolerate, or even hold racist beliefs, they prefer the dogwhistle to the bullhorn, and Peter Dutton is an air raid siren for racist ideology.
Dutton, a former QLD cop, defined himself as the man who is terrified of the blacks and the browns who weren’t born here. He declared that decent, god-fearing, white Melbournians were terrified to go out after dark, because of the African Gangs™©® roaming the streets.
His work as Home Affairs Minister has seen a troubling concentration of power, as well as a complete disregard for the children dying on his watch. He has refused to acknowledge the effect of Australia’s brutal immigration policy, and abandoned the line that the policy exists to prevent asylum seekers from drowning at sea.
After taking control of all of Australia’s security agencies, Dutton tried to loosen Australia’s gun laws at the behest of the shooting lobby; he also tried to force through legislation allowing the use of facial recognition technology – with provisions that would require the use of warrants and a threshold for requisite offences being stripped from the bill as Dutton’s department argued against the need for restrictions as it would prevent law enforcement from stopping paedophiles (which it wouldn’t); while the Law Council said that such overreach could see jaywalkers prosecuted. The Victorian government pulled out of the scheme and it hasn’t moved forward since.
Dutton also tried to expand the powers of the cyber security agency, the Australian Signals Directorate, while simultaneously claiming he wasn’t doing that, but saying it would be a good idea.
Donald Trump ain’t got shit on him.
When he tried to become PM, Australians were forced to reckon with the fact that many had never heard of him, and those that had knew who he was – a dangerous position for him to occupy.
Dutton claimed to have the support of the Liberal Party base, a far right cabal of extremists, bigots, ideologues, and old rich white men. However, he hadn’t reckoned with how much anyone even slightly to the left of him hated the idea of such an extremist running the country, and he was soon facing down a number of scandals.
First came the claims that he was ineligible to sit in Parliament because of business interests he held. Apparently it’s a breach of Section 44 the Constitution to profit from Commonwealth payments to businesses, such the childcare centres he owns with his wife.
Who could have known that? Especially after a year of politicians being referred to the High Court over breaches of Section 44 of the Constitution. His potential ineligibility risks undoing hundreds, if not thousands, of visa cancellations by the Immigration and Home Affairs department. I’ll say this for Peter Dutton, he sure is stupid.
Then came the question on everyone’s lips: What’s the go with the au pairs? And what’s an au pair?
It turned out Peter Dutton had been abusing his power *gasp* in the Home Affairs portfolio, pulling favours for former colleagues and Liberal Party donors by pushing through visa approvals, even against the advice of his own department. Dutton was helping certain individuals to stay in the country to work illegally, after their visas had been cancelled for working illegally. But, and this is an important distinction, they were working for Dutton’s mates, so that made it okay.
In his attempts to clear his name, or rather, blame someone else for his actions, Dutton misled Parliament; threatened to blackmail Labor and the Greens; used the AFP as his own private security force; spent $10,000 of taxpayer money to cover up his crimes; and went to war with former head of the Australian Border Force Roman Quaedvlieg.
Quaedvlieg testified before the Senate inquiry into the au pair saga, claiming that Dutton had asked him to help a “mate” with a visa issue, and provided further evidence implicating Dutton in a number of similar visa requests. Dutton lost his tiny little mind over this, using parliamentary privilege to claim that Quaedvlieg was a sexual predator who had “groomed” young women.
It’s worth noting that the au pair story had been playing out in the background all year, before coming to a head around Dutton’s run at Turnbull.
He also campaigned hard for cuts to Australia’s immigration intake, even as he condemned others for doing so (and stealing his ideas); but those cuts came with an addendum – not applicable to whites, or au pairs.
Yes, Peter Dutton’s plea to save white South African farmers happened this year. He claimed that there was a genocide against these farmers, despite murders of farmers in South Africa being at a twenty-year-low, 47 killed in the last year, and these farmers should be offered special fast-track visa to bring them here safely.
He has done his utmost to attack and abuse the thousands locked up by his department, raped by his department, killed by his department; and by demonising immigrants living in Australia, he was able to tap into the One Nation voter base, by alluding to policies to keep foreigners out of the country.
Meanwhile, he has repeatedly attempted to sent Rohingya refugees in Australia’s tropical torture camps back to Myanmar – where they face an actual genocide, with over 500,000 displaced and up to 40,000 murdered. But they’re Muslims and have brown skin, neither of which meets the Dutton benchmark for empathy.
Dutton’s Home Affairs department has also spent $132,000 on motivational speakers this year. Which seems like a lot, but working for a department that actively covers up the abuse of children in prison camps would definitely require the occasional pep talk.
They’ve also started the process of privatising the visa application system, which is surprising, considering the fact that border security and visa processing seem to be the one thing the Coalition pride themselves on.
But, that’s only because many of us are too young to remember that this is what right wing governments do – sell anything that isn’t nailed down, whether it’s telecommunications, or one of the foundations of sovereign government power.
Once more the media is doing their job as the government’s mouthpiece, selling the idea as a three-hundred million dollar boon for whichever company wins the tender they have just released.
Dutton wrapped up the year declaring his absolute disdain for the very concept of democracy, regarding parliament as a “disadvantage for sitting governments”.
So, the wannabe PM thinks that fascism really is an underrated system of governance. Nice.
The election can’t come soon enough.
Matt Canavan is a tiresome shithead. I mean, I think he actually wants to fuck a coal mine – especially after he referred to the coal industry as beautiful, which could be why he is so achingly desperate to see Adani dig up the Galilee Basin.
He has spent the year attacking anyone who might suggest that coal is not a sustainable solution, demanding it be included in any climate and energy policy.
Sure, he’s the resources minister and needs to be enthusiastic about the sectors he manages, but the way he goes about it, it’s clear that he has no qualms about shilling for his next job as a mining executive. He went out of his way to get the government to drop funding restrictions for major projects, so that Adani could secure finance from the Commonwealth for the Carmichael coal mine, after being rejected by major banks.
He’s got such a hard on for Adani that, when he attempted to offer thoughts and prayers™©® to the victims of Queensland’s bushfires (exacerbated by climate change – caused by the mass burning of coal) last month, he couldn’t help but make his condolences all about his exciting Adani news.
He also congratulated Fraser Anning after his maiden speech; claimed immigration leads to ghettoisation; said the student protesters against climate change were gearing up for the dole queue; and supported Pauline Hanson’s “OK to be white” motion.
The Pauline Hanson book of racist stunts added a number of extra chapters this year, not just during the “OK to be white” Senate motion.
A number of times this year Hanson went back to her roots and attacked Indigenous Australians for existing; abused a nine-year-old girl for refusing to stand for the national anthem in protest – saying she would like to kick the child; and accused those wanting to change the date of Australia Day of being ignorant of history – adding that Australians need to accept our past, and also compared the campaign to changing the name of a stadium – something that happens so often that no one can remember what the current name of any given stadium may be.
When it came to the Longman by-election in July, the One Nation leader opted for a substitute with a slightly higher IQ to represent her at each of the booths – a lifesize cardboard cutout – as she was on holidays at the time.
Throughout all of this, the media lapped it up. Nothing is better for ratings than a racist clown shrieking about the coloureds, and the executives at channels Seven and Nine know Hanson is solid gold in that department.
Hanson also changed her mind on the government’s raft of corporate tax cuts around 18 times this year, at time of writing, even she doesn’t know whether she voted for it (she missed a crucial vote after saying she would oppose it – your tax dollars at work).
On the bright side, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is following the same path to self-destruction and irrelevance that it so gloriously paved back in the ’90s. As her Senators and their replacements abandoned the party, Hanson had a bit of a meltdown on live TV. Following this were accusations of dictatorships and fear from members that their racist dreams may yet be unfulfilled as the party collapses in a battle of egos and impotence (sad reacts only). This wasn’t helped by Hanson writing herself into the One Nation constitution as president for life, and choosing eternal shitheel Mark Latham to run in the NSW State Election.
What a time to despise bigots.
For the longest time, Mathias Cormann seemed like a decent enough politician, at least by the standards of the Liberal Party. And then, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, he backed Pauline Hanson’s white supremacy motion. He even tweeted his support for it in the wake of the vote.
The very next day, he claimed it was an administrative error, though, it has since been revealed that the government always intended to support Hanson’s motion. It’s not really shitting the bed when you’ve outed yourself as a racist, instead of just failing to hide your support for racism.
This year, he handed $443,800,000 to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation – a company that had 6 employees and was an $8million operation at the time. There was no tender or application process for this grant, and it is generally considered to be highly suspect. He has also refused to address the federal lobbying regime, despite the fact that no lobbyists have been punished for a rule breach since the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government came to power, claiming that there has been “no corporate takeover” of democracy, even though many would say the takeover was nearing its final stages.
Our Finance Minister, ladies and gentlemen. Definitely not corrupt, morally or financially.
Fuck Nigel Scullion. This Don Burke looking motherfucker has spent his time as Minister for Indigenous Affairs ignoring the needs of First Australians and stealing funding from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy under his portfolio to be used as his own personal slush fund – helping his mates, advancing his agenda of racism, and empowering his campaign of paternalistic abuse and interventions.
This walking shit stack has operated in a manner so openly corrupt that it beggars belief, and yet he retains the support of the government, with no investigation into his actions planned, despite calls from Indigenous rights groups. Half a million dollars handed out to groups to help them oppose land rights claims, and he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. And of course the Coalition don’t give a shit about what he’s done, they’ve never cared what happens to Indigenous Australians. Fuck right off with that noise.
Despite claims that the remote work-for-the-dole scheme is like modern-day slavery, Scullion has continued to defend it, claiming that is what Indigenous Australians want, and attacking Labor for announcing that they would end it.
For what it’s worth, Scullion has also claimed that no Indigenous Australians want to change the date of Australia Day. Mission master knows best.
Not too long ago, Michaelia Cash could have been considered a reasonably competent politician. Well, 2018 became her anus horribilis after she completely screwed the pooch in her attempt to bring down Bill Shorten by any means.
The AWU raid was the news story that kept on giving in 2018, as Cash lurched from one outrageous attempt to shift focus away from her potential criminality to the next. There was the time she was screaming about women in Bill Shorten’s office being sexual pawns during a Senate estimates hearing – a claim she very quickly withdrew; and then the very next day she hid behind a whiteboard to prevent the media from seeing her.
Cash was subpoenaed to give evidence in the federal court case surrounding the raids, with the Australian Federal Police saying that a crime may have been committed when Cash’s office tipped off the media to the pending raid last year.
This last week, Cash declared Facebook and Google to be “good corporate citizens“, as she helped launch a new government partnership with the tech giants, literally one day after the ACCC released a report naming the two companies in ongoing investigations into potential abuses of market power.
And we couldn’t forget when Cash, who earns in excess of $350,000 a year – plus additional claims and entitlements, said she could live on $40 a day, like those on Newstart, because she did that as a backpacker 30 years ago.
I, for one, would love to see how she pays the mortgages on her four properties while receiving just $40 a day.
The end of Malcolm Turnbull’s Prime Ministership was one of those moments that was as exhausting as the entirety of his Prime Ministership.
In a year that saw Turnbull hand over $440 million to the charity of his choice, no one expected him to remain PM by December, especially when he couldn’t manage to win a single poll.
Turnbull kicked off his year of dumping on his own legacy with a January 1 attack on African gangs™©® running riot in Victoria, despite the absolute lack of evidence. In line with the defining feature of his government, Turnbull followed the lead of the far right’s racist rhetoric, and attacked whichever group of youths had the darkest skin.
This line of thinking continued for Turnbull as he promised Miranda Devine the date of Australia Day would not change, refusing to be “bullied by a tiny minority” of people.
February saw the Turnbull government swamped by Barnaby Joyce’s dick dance and baby mama drama, with Turnbull deciding that a sex ban was the only way to save his government from further derision. In response, the Nationals screeched that now Barnaby wouldn’t be going anywhere.
A week later he resigned as leader of The Nationals and deputy Prime Minister.
In April, Turnbull hit his own benchmark for failure, losing his 30th Newspoll in a row. At this point, the dual spectres of Dutton and Morrison were raised as alternate Prime Ministers, and his work on a National Energy Guarantee was still unformed and impossible to get through his own party room.
Those who watch AusPol for a living could see the end was nigh for Turnbull, analysis of his leadership at this point focussed on his long-term refusal to implement a Banking Royal Commission after it turned out that the banks were committing financial crimes on a massive scale, including racketeering – you know, that thing that the mafia does.
Writers in the mainstream were starting to understand how the Coalition could remain unpopular even with Turnbull as PM – his inability to stand up for any of the things he had previously claimed to believe in was finally exposed. They finally called out lie he had been selling for years: the socially progressive, fiscally cautious, assertive centrist leader didn’t actually exist.
As May rolled around, Turnbull’s final budget was seen by many as an election year attempt to claw back credibility. Voters, for their part, saw through his desperation, though possibly because of the massive tax cut he threw in for the rich, while failing to provide necessary funding for health, education, and welfare services. The growing unpopularity of the government was difficult to explain, unless, of course, you just looked at how the government (and the opposition if we’re being honest) ignores what Australian voters actually want and as they do their best to present themselves as the least worst option at the next election.
Which, brings us to July.
The last two months of Malcolm Turnbull’s tenure at The Lodge were the culmination of the two and a half years that preceded them. All the hallmarks of the Turnbull government were on display:
- weirdly overt racism
- cutting shady deals with the private sector
- personally deciding to throw half a billion dollars at a single, tiny charity to work with big corporations and make sure they appear to want to help the Great Barrier Reef;
- selling Centrelink to the lowest bidder, and sending debt collectors after people who didn’t actually owe the government any money;
- inability or, more accurately, refusal to address climate change
- folding, time and again, to the extremists in his own party
As the Super Saturday by-elections rolled around, Turnbull tied himself to the anchor of Liberal Party leadership and declared the events to be a referendum between himself and Bill Shorten. He knew and understood that he was the preferred Prime Minister, but failed to comprehend how many Australians no longer cared who ran the parties, starting to understand how much power the party room wields as the revolving door of the Prime Minister’s Office started spinning again.
He couldn’t see what most voters saw, his head was on the chopping block and he had done it to himself.
And so, as the sharks circled in August, Turnbull again gambled his leadership of the Liberal Party on his energy policy, trying to stare down Tony Abbott as Peter Dutton stepped to the fore.
Peter Dutton, a man so reviled that he would have made Bill Shorten the preferred PM, was who conservatives in the Liberal Party looked to as they abandoned the Faustian pact they had made with Turnbull.
Turnbull did little to fight the challenge off, he knew the voters despised Dutton, and he thought the prospect of electoral armageddon would be enough to keep the wolves at bay.
Except Malcolm Turnbull made a fatal mistake in this presumption, he tried to get the Liberal Party to operate in the realms of logic and… y’know, reality.
But this is the party that though Australians actually liked Tony Abbott, and they were prepared to throw everything away to install a conservative as their leader in place of a puppet incapable of independent thought processes.
So, Turnbull was replaced by Scott Morrison, the man people had somehow forgotten was responsible for setting up the immigration system Peter Dutton was now infamous for.
Turnbull quit parliament, but didn’t quite vanish from the public eye, popping up to try to exact revenge on Peter Dutton for challenging him; and continuing to face scrutiny over his role in the $444 million he gave to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
He did his best to avoid his former seat of Wentworth during the by-election, making it clear to the people of the Eastern Suburbs that the Liberal Party should be punished for toppling a sitting PM and ruining their weekend. In the end, the seat went to independent candidate Kerryn Phelps, the first time the seat hadn’t been held by some form of the Liberal Party since Federation.
The media, for their part, united in supporting the idea of Turnbull as a good, if somewhat shackled Prime Minister, and blaming Rupert Murdoch for what had been brewing for the last few years. They seemed to believe that the issues voters have with present-day politics and politicians can be traced to a handful of individuals instead of being signs of a deeper rot at the core of the very establishment.
And Now A Word From Our Sponsors
Australians have sat through 22 years of near stagnant policy and constipated debate, with issues that Keating was facing still lacking any major progress.
With an expected Labor victory next year, it’s likely that many Australians will expect some sweeping changes across a range of sectors and departments. But, given the events of the ALP National Conference, it’s unlikely that this will be the case.
Best case scenario, the hard right agenda of the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government will be traded for the soft-right expectations that people had when they championed Turnbull under Abbott’s leadership.
Except the country has moved on since Turnbull was first given the boot in 2009, we’re not an entirely progressive country, but given where the two major parties have placed the Overton Window (the range of acceptable ideas in the political discourse), we’re a bunch of feckless lefties.
Most Australians want affordable housing to be properly addressed, with many looking at negative gearing and capital gains concessions as central policies that need axing. Labor have made it clear this will not be the case – they plan to keep people renting, instead of helping young Australians to buy their first home.
We also want to see welfare increased in real terms, after it has remained unchanged for over 20 years, because it has gotten to a point where it is no longer a safety net, and has become a punishment for unemployment; in a jobs market that sees growing underemployment, casualisation, and job insecurity as serious issues, people need to know that losing their job won’t cost them their home. But, under a Labor government, that won’t change.
We want a permanent, humane solution to asylum seekers and refugees trying to enter Australia, Labor is planning to continue boat turnbacks.
We want to protect LGBTIQ+ communities, Labor have refused to make gay conversion therapy illegal.
They’re not all bad, and a Labor government will be infinitely better than keeping the Liberal/National Coalition in power, but they’re not good enough. The ALP are not committing to progressive Australians and the values of a growing number of Australians.
We deserve better. We deserve a government that is prepared to look at evidence-based policy and expenditure as being good for the country. We deserves a government prepared to place the people over pragmatism and concessions to those on the right.
This has been the way of the Labor Party for years though, any half steps to the left will be met by fervent strides to the hight.
This next election, it’s definitely worth taking the time to preference minor parties ahead of the ALP, even as you put the Liberals last, because Labor need to know that they still have to earn your vote, they can’t just assume power after the Libs fuck it all up time and again.