Politics

The 10 Most Batshit Insane Things That Happened In Australian Politics This Year

This photo didn't even make the list.

Even by its usual standards, 2017 was an extraordinarily dumb year in Australian politics.

My initial plan with this piece was to find every dumb political thing that happened this year, but frankly, there was just too much.

Instead, I’ve narrowed it down to a top 10. Some of them are individual moments, others are broader categories that contained a multitude of dumb moments — too many to individually honour (hello, citizenship saga).

Importantly, this is in no way an exhaustive list. Please do not @ me.

10. Bob Katter Vs Crocodiles

So, people voted Yes for marriage equality. Good. People are entitled to their sexual proclivities. Yes. Let 1000 blossoms bloom. Ok. But Bob Katter’s not spending any time on that while EVERY THREE MONTHS A PERSON IS RIPPED TO PIECES BY A CROCODILE IN NORTH QUEENSLAND.

What one has to do with the other was never made clear. But I still can’t stop watching this video.

9. Trump vs Turnbull

Can you believe Malcolm Turnbull got in a feud with the most powerful person in the world THIS YEAR? All the way back in January, Malcolm Turnbull’s first call to new US President Donald Trump went very, very badly. It all started when Turnbull got Trump’s number from golfer Greg Norman (don’t ask). The call ended abruptly when Trump got extremely mad about our refugee swap deal with the US.

Later, Trump left Turnbull waiting three hours for a scheduled meeting in New York, then Turnbull did a very bad impression of Trump in a room full of journalists. Oh, and then the transcript of the phone call leaked so that everyone could see just how bad the call was (it was very bad). Did we miss anything?

8. One Nation Begs For Inauguration Tickets

What would a dumb politics list be without One Nation? Well check out this tweet from Pauline Hanson:

Would you believe it? Well no, we wouldn’t, because it wasn’t true. One Nation wasn’t “gifted” tickets to the inauguration, they begged for them. It turned out the party had asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to find them some tickets, and DFAT obliged. That’s hardly a “gift”.

And look, is this the worst thing One Nation did in 2017? No, not by a long shot. But it is a really nice example of just how small these people are, so it makes the list.

7. We Started A War With New Zealand

Well, not quite. But it was a shaky few days there. It was August, the citizenship scandal had been bubbling along nicely with a few Greens Senators forced to resign, and the government was feeling pretty cocky. But then a few senior Coalition MPs got caught out, and suddenly it wasn’t so funny any more.

New Zealand

It turned out that Barnaby Joyce had been exposed as a secret Kiwi thanks to a New Zealand Labour politician, who asked some pointed questions on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. The government decided this was a conspiracy on the same level as the Trump-Russia scandal, and went crazy over the whole thing.

The PM, Julie Bishop and Christopher Pyne all questioned our ongoing relationship with our closest neighbour, which was made even more embarrassing when Jacinda Ardern won the New Zealand election later in the year. Awkward.

And just a reminder: New Zealand is more pure than we’ll ever be.

6. Sam Dastyari: ‘Chinese Agent’

Oh, Sam. What were you thinking? Back in 2016, Australia’s most relentless politician was caught out being just a little too cosy with some Chinese donors with links to the Chinese government. It was a bad look, but Dastyari survived by the skin of his teeth.

In fact, his career recovery was remarkably quick, as he promoted himself across social media and led the campaign against the big banks. That was until it was revealed that Dastyari was still close to the same donor, and had once allegedly told the donor to leave his phone inside while the two spoke outside, just in case it had been bugged.

This time, he had no choice. Dastyari resigned earlier this month.

5. Macklemore: Public Enemy #1

Fuck, this was so dumb. For months —  MONTHS — Macklemore had been scheduled to perform the half-time entertainment at the NRL Grand Final. As you’d expect he was going to perform his biggest songs — y’know, ‘Thrift Shop’, ‘Downtown’, and ‘Same Love’.

What hadn’t been expected was that the NRL Grand Final would fall smack-bang in the middle of the marriage equality postal survey campaign, right around the time that everyone would be losing their fucking minds.

 

Sure enough, conservatives lined up to condemn the NRL and Macklemore for promoting marriage equality by singing ‘Same Love’.

“Footy fans shouldn’t be subjected to a politicised grand final,” cried Tony Abbott. The Coalition for Marriage, which spent most of the campaign talking about free speech, tried to shut the performance down, and Peter Dutton suggested that there should be an anti-same-sex marriage song played too (just which song that should be was never made clear).

Eventually, Macklemore performed the song. And you know what? He was pretty great. The fans cheered, no one was harmed, and the Yes campaign went on to victory. Everyone wins (except the No campaign, and who cares about them).

4. Pauline Hanson In A Burqa

What can I say? Pauline Hanson decided to wear a burqa in the Senate in order to prove a point that only she understood. It was dumb, offensive and deliberately provocative. Thankfully, it backfired spectacularly.

All Hanson proved was that the security measures in place worked perfectly well. She was uniformly condemned by every major party, and Attorney General George Brandis gave an eloquent impromptu speech absolutely ripping into her.

3. Everyone Vs Yassmin 

“Lest we forget (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…).” With those seven words, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, an outspoken feminist writer engineer, and (gasp!) proud Muslim woman, set off a weeks-long controversy that eventually saw her leave the country. 

Yassmin’s message, that we shouldn’t forget the atrocities committed in Australia’s name, especially on Anzac Day, was quickly deleted and apologised for. But conservatives had the opportunity they’d been looking for. A nasty coalition of government MPs and News Corp papers spent weeks hounding her. After months of poor treatment, anger and death threats, she eventually moved to the UK and described Australia as like an “abusive boyfriend”.

Thankfully, Yassmin is back in the spotlight and she has 100% stopped giving a shit.

2. The Citizenship Saga

In what other job do you get to fuck up your legally required paperwork, lie about it, quit, return to your job, then have the gall to suggest that the law should be changed so it doesn’t happen again? Welcome to Australian politics.

2017 will always be remembered as the year that most Australians learned about Section 44 of the Constitution, which, among other things, prevents dual citizens from serving in Parliament. It all started when a lawyer did some digging into Greens Senator Scott Ludlam’s past and discovered he was a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand. Ludlam did the right thing and resigned, prompting a wave of other MPs to check their citizenship status, only to discover that, oops, they too were dual citizens.

By the end of 2017, Greens Ludlam and Larissa Waters were gone, as were government MPs Barnaby Joyce, Stephen Parry, John Alexander, and Fiona Nash (Joyce and Alexander successfully won their seats back at by elections). One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts was toast, as were Nick Xenophon and Skye Kakoschke-Moore from NXT, and Tasmania’s Jacquie Lambie. That’s not to mention the senators we lost to other parts of Section 44, like Rod Culleton and Bob Day.

And the best part is it’s not over! We’ll be hearing more about Section 44 in 2018, and this time the spotlight is on Labor. After months of stonewalling, a bunch of Labor MPs have admitted they might be dual citizens, and the High Court will need to decide their fate next year. And some government MPs are also under a cloud too (hello, David Gillespie) Fun! By the end of it all the government might have lost its majority in parliament, or it might have gained seats. Who knows! This is no way to run a country!

1. The Postal Survey (We Fuck)

There was a lot to hate about the postal survey — there were the constant insults against queer Australians, the lies and misrepresentations by the No campaign, or even just the fact that we had to have a vote on people’s human rights at all — but the standout element of the postal survey for me was the realisation that conservatives think that gay people don’t fuck.

It all started with Kevin Andrews suggesting that his relationship with his cycling buddies is the same as a loving, same-sex relationship:

Or Andrew Hastie talking about the meeting of body and mind:

Or Lyle Shelton (still) talking about “penis in vagina sex”:

Or the Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane who thinks that loving, committed same-sex couples are just like good friends.

What all these guys have in common is this weird idea that gay couples don’t fuck. That we’re just like platonic friends who really, really like each other’s company. Now I know that this wasn’t the most important issue to emerge from the postal survey, but it sure was the dumbest.

At the start of 2017, I didn’t think I’d have to dedicate my time to debunking the notion that gay people don’t fuck, but I did time and time again.

Bring on 2018 (???)