Laissez Faire Dinkum

Politics in this “fair dinkum” nation is anything but.

Throsby is mortified by the return to popular usage of that dreadfully worn-out phrase, and is exceedingly distressed that it would be brandished by a prime minister.

To their credit, the Australian people would not be found dead uttering it – somewhat moot to mention, I suppose.

You see, half the population have never heard the term, and the other half, who have, never use it – and would die of embarrassment should it slip their unpursed lips.

Deploying this etymological anachronism is quite the misstep by Scott Morrison who, should he make many more, risks wresting the handle “Tangles” from the beloved cricketer, Max Walker.

So hearing him prattle on about “fair dinkum power” – to suggest (don’t be afraid it’s..) coal-fired electricity generators are dinky die, ridgy didge, true blue, dead set, shit hot, bonzer, bluddy on the level, she’ll be roight moight, if not totally sick – is the most cringe-worthy thing a politician can say. After, of course, “trust me” or “the facts of the matter are…”

In our short political history, an undiscerning electorate has elected many undeserving clowns. Often, Throsby suspects, out of sheer bloody-mindedness.

And claiming the mantel of buffoonery is a competitive sport for our baby-kissers, a competition launched by the discreditable political harlequin, George Reid, one hundred and twenty years ago.

In living memory – often the only one that matters – we must indeed offer condolences to friends and descendents of the almost irredeemable Billy the Leak, Sir William McMahon, Esquire, who reigned briefly as Gracioso-in-Chief. A tenacious, skilled, and highly educated politician, Sir Bill however earned terrible press and scathing peer reviews.

John Gorton called him “utterly untrustworthy,” Doug Anthony said he was “just not big enough for the job.” Malcolm Fraser said he “had an insatiable ambition […] he wasn’t immoral, he was totally amoral.” Billy Snedden considered McMahon “conspiratorial, devious, untrustworthy,” Paul Hasluck viewed him as “disloyal, devious, dishonest, untrustworthy, petty, cowardly,” and in his diaries referred to him as “that treacherous bastard.”

McMahon was nicknamed “Billy the Leak” for his willingness to divulge intimate and confidential information to the media, even after becoming prime minister. Author Donald Horne called him “perhaps the silliest prime minister we ever had,” and Peter Ryan said that “McMahon’s way of politics was one of lying and leaking, conniving and conspiring, deceit and double-crossing.” Malcolm Mackerras thought that he had “no achievements beyond actually getting the top job.” Laurie Oakes, who spent over 50 years in the Canberra Press Gallery, viewed McMahon as “a liar and a sneak” and rated him as the worst prime minister he had worked with.

Source: Wikipedia

University of Canberra’s Patrick Mullins’ new book Tiberius with a Telephone is a just-released biography of McMahon that is timely in it’s unexpected parallels with our present Clown-in-Chief.

Throsby is in deep awe of this legendary political animal who, half a century ago, gathered such universal disclaim from our country’s body politic, media commentariat, and literati, to stand immortalised as the purest political embodiment ever to devalue the profession.

Sir William, SheepOverboard salutes you.

A modern-day contender over the past two decades for Clown of the Realm, the enigmatic Ms Xenophobia, Pauline Hanson, has unassailable status, one might think, particularly as the gift that keeps on giving.

But, overtaking her, four out, four back, on a heavy track, in a crowded field of jesters, brandishing a withering series of awe-inspiring faux pas, with the bedside manner of a Backyard Blitz tradie, is Butterfingers McScoMo.

Mr Morrison, sentimentally monikered on Twitter as Shouty McShoutface, has his work cut out to reach these dizzying heights of Ms Hanson and Mr McMahon – but we mustn’t underestimate the pizzazz and effrontery of a failed marketing executive who, by cunning and wile, lands the top job in Canberra.

Throsby asked Matilda, our office intern, to scrape the cybernets for Scott’s achievements in his short and bumptious career, especially in the light of his contortionists’ rolling backflip with pike into oversized footwear of prime ministers past.

She got this far before hurtling from the office in screamingly deep distress… her sadly incomplete notes and press extracts follow:

  • Twitter: Scott Morrison tweet on Fatman Scoop video: “The full lyrics of the song used in my earlier video from QT today were just not OK. When I found out, I asked the team to take it down. Apologies.”
    • The Prime Minister has been forced to remove a video, tweeted from his personal profile, dubbing some of his antics to a song by US R&B star Fatman Scoop, after criticism the lyrics were inappropriate.
    • The tweet read ‘QT was on fire today – Good work team.’ Underneath the words was a video that showed politicians in Parliament repeatedly raising their hands, sound-tracked by 2000s hip-hop artist Fatman Scoop’s famous song Be Faithful.
    • The song glorifies casual sex and contains a flurry of expletives, and the video was deleted hours after being posted on the Prime Minister’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
    • Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s offbeat Fatman Scoop social media post breached Parliament’s strict rules about video use and will spark a wider crackdown.
  • Company tax cuts – say no more guvna…
  • Peter Dutton’s inclusion as minister in cabinet defies decent political standards after the damage he inflicted. Julie Bishop’s absence squanders political advantage. We are indeed living in strange times.
  • Hanson’s ‘it’s ok to be white’ vote
    • The government’s extraordinary decision to support Pauline Hanson’s (unsuccessful) motion on Monday Oct 15 calling on the Senate to acknowledge “the deplorable rise of anti-white racism and attacks on Western civilisation” and that “it is OK to be white.”
  • To “consider” moving our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – had nothing to do with the Wentworth by-election.
  • The free trade agreement with Indonesia, which Australia originally hoped would be signed this week when Morrison was in Singapore for the start of the summit season, has become hostage to the embassy decision.
    • Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also piled on, saying he’d pointed out to Morrison that “adding to the cause for terrorism is not going to be helpful”.
  • After a leak from the religious freedom report, to legislate a ban on religious schools being able to expel gay students on the grounds of their sexuality
    • Yet to provide a response to the Ruddock religious freedom report, a time bomb left by Malcolm Turnbull, who set the inquiry up to placate the right over the SSM plebiscite.
  • Leadership style of pragmatic agility is veneer for the quick fix rather than a solid base for effective long-term governing
  • Seized the Howard barnacle scraper, dumping the plan to lift the pension eligibility age to 70. Not because it was bad policy, but because it could lose votes.
  • “A fair go for those who have a go”. The exhortation to “make a contribution, not to seek one”
  • Paris climate accord: don’t worry about Paris, he’s saying, “we’ll absolutely be able to deal with our present target out to 2030 with no impact on electricity prices at all”.
  • Description of events that tore down a PM as “that muppet show
  • Ditching NEG, energy policy is back to chaos; little more than a collection of “big sticks”, including threatened divestment and even a possible royal commission, designed to force companies to lower prices. As well, they’re on the look out for a new coal-fired power plant to underwrite, undeterred by experts’ scepticism.
  • Morrison, asked about a November 12 Newspoll, told Sky: “It’s a big mountain, and I’m still climbing it”.
  • The government resorts to its sloganeering about “fair dinkum power” and Angus Taylor being the minister “to get electricity prices down”.
    • The powerful lobby group representing Australia’s resources giants has backed the Morrison government’s controversial plan to underwrite new power generation, and says the replacement of the Liddell coal-fired power station must be the focus.
  • We have a new inquiry that reflects ideology more than need, with Education Minister Dan Tehan’s announcement of a review of freedom of speech in universities.
    • The right has been agitated about the unwelcome receptions some conservative speakers have received from demonstrators on campuses.
    • The conservative Ramsay Centre’s failure to persuade the prestigious Australian National University to accept funding for a proposed course on western civilisation, which came with conditions the ANU felt would compromise its academic autonomy.
    • Catriona Jackson, chief executive of Universities Australia, says vice-chancellors “are questioning of the rationale for the review” – they “do not see there is an issue to address.
  • Mungo MacCallum – ScoMo’s blue bus – while the marketing ploy was considered sound, the execution was all too awkward, so Morrison used his VIP aircraft instead, while the hapless bus driver trundled around after him so he could be photographed in front of the vacant vehicle. Not a method of transport, just another billboard. This is what our leader and his media acolytes consider authenticity.
    • Mungo – His determination to out-dag the daggiest of his followers has already lapsed into parody; donning yet another Chinese-made baseball cap he scoffs a beer and a pie while sneering about those who drink lattes (with almond milk – oh, the decadence) before waving farewell to the local pub and climbing back in the private jet to work up the next gullible audience.
    • Mungo – He is already shaping up as the most vacuous political leader in living memory; even the worst of his Liberal predecessors, Billy McMahon and Alexander Downer, had some fundamental beliefs, misguided as they often were. But Morrison seems to be making it up as he goes along, relying on his Chinese-made Australian flag stickpin to remind him of what he imagines the public thinks it wants of him.
    • Mungo – Another phoney symbol, just like the bus. Although that could be pressed into service if it becomes necessary: his loyal colleagues could always throw I him under it. After all., they’ve had plenty of practice.
  • Yet another cash splash on private schools had very little to do with education and a lot to buying Catholic votes, as even the coalition NSW government noted.
  • Ramping up a federal case over sabotaged strawberries looks more like a distraction than serious policy. This is surely a matter for the police, or perhaps the state authorities; for the prime minister to elbow them off the stage to demand the nation’s attention for a spot of pointless and redundant ad hoc legislation suggests that he has nothing to offer in his own sphere of government.
  • Labor has accused former education minister Simon Birmingham, now trade minister, of pandering to “knuckle-dragging right-wing philistines” by blocking 11 Australian Research Council grants in the humanities totalling $4m.
    • Labor has blasted the Morrison government for delaying the next rounds of Australian Research Council grants, a move that will see the new “national interest” test for public funding applied to them. Carr said the rejection was “not credible” and the government’s refusal to be transparent about the ARC grant process was part of a “comprehensive assault” on the role and autonomy of universities.
  • As the Morrison government thrashes around trying to stave off defeat or just save the furniture, it reminds one historian of the ill-fated McMahon administration. These include a history of leadership instability, party disunity, depleted Liberal finances, confused, reactive and inconsistent policy directions, a credible opposition and a feeling for change in the electorate.

Editor’s note

Matilda, if you’re reading this, please do come back to work. I promise not to make you do anything ScoMo-related. You needn’t sleep on the floor in your sleeping bag – you can have the couch in my office. You’re the best – well, the only – intern we’ve had. No one else would work for the money (yes yes, free).

Besides, you’re the only one who can work the coffee machine. We really are starting to miss the coffee.

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