Once, exasperated news hounds might shake their heads and marvel at how life imitates art.
It was stranger than fiction, they exclaimed.
Nowadays it’s just “You can’t make this shit up.”
And though headlines grow sillier, this isn’t an altogether bad thing.
Sound of crickets
Flag bearers of Australia’s national pride turned pallbearers of our international reputation.
Our most beloved ambassadors of sporting prowess for more than a century succumbed to the pressures of business. Like every little battler on his tax return, every procurement officer when the boss’s not looking, any financial advisor facing a wealthy client, any bank or corporation on a rainy, middling, or fine day, or, it seems, every politician ever within cooee of a lobbyist, they cheated.
Our cricketers cheated.
Editorial writers rejoiced.
“Clown Under” they clamoured. “There’s the Rub” they ridiculed. “Not Cricket.” “Shameful.” You get the idea.
As the mystery slice of sandpaper worked its way down Bancroft the Begunking Bowler’s briefs, they cried “Cheating Aussies hit a sticky patch,” “Aussies sent packing,” and (god bless the NT News) “Why I’ve got some sticky near my dicky.”
Twitter erupted with #SandpaperGate.
Hypocrisy, to which we are sporting blind, reaffirmed itself to the rest of the world. As Alex Massie in The Spectator cackled:
The spectacle of Australia melting itself in an orgy of cant and humbug cannot avoid being hilarious. While the gulf between how the Australians think of themselves and how they are perceived by everyone else has often been wide, it has not always been as unbridgeable as this.
[it was] not as shocking as it has been entertaining.
Alex reminds us that Australian cricket is soaked in swagger, that Steve Waugh intended his opponents’ “mental disintegration,” that the Aussies “don’t like it up ‘em.”
Australian cricketing hypocrisy is hardly new but this may be one of the few occasions when even Australians may perceive it. The rest of the world could have told them about it many years ago.
Department of Home Affairs argued to a senate enquiry that allowing temporary visa holders to apply for compensation for child abuse would, you know, cost them money. Unlike the creation of an unnecessary super ministry with attendant spend on new infrastructure, branding, uniforms, and the $250 million building. And a claim by some insignificant government auditor of a $billion or two unaccounted for.
Politicians sacked for failing to understand the Australian constitution’s Section 44-1, amounting to one line, can keep their ill-gotten gains, expenses, and sundry pig-troughery.
The departmental advisory committee determined that all parliamentarians performed their duties in good faith for a proper purpose and that it was difficult for individuals at the time of nomination to know that they were ineligible for nomination.”
Throsby concurs. A nominating candidate shouldn’t need a constitutional lawyer to grapple with this impenetrable legalese:
44.1 …under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power.
Taxes cut me not
Despite the LNP Coalition droning on about Corporate tax cuts for several years, just as legislation looked bound to pass the senate a Lone Ranger blocked the road. Combined smugness and loose-with-truthiness didn’t allow for a bloke new to his job with naive ideas about politics.
Tim Storer – a Mandarin-speaking economist, MBA, and businessman, who Billy McMahon-ed into his senate spot – did what no respectable politician would stoop to. He assessed the legislation on its merits and found none.
Coal is beautiful
Senator for Progress At Any Cost, Matt Canavan – who famously accused Labor of talking down the “beautiful coal industry” – harangued, in his delicate way, the National Press Club with a “fiery (and what better use for it) defence of coal.” All were grateful to learn he was elected to represent mining, land clearing, gas fracking, oil exploration, and adjusting an irreplaceable Great Barrier Reef marine park to allow more practical uses.
Some misguided voters thought he was elected to represent, umm, the people.
Beauty and the Beast
Julie Bishop, Minister for Asbestos and Fashion, stared down the Russian ambassador in Canberra after deporting two Russian spies from Australia because, well, everyone else did. Ms Bishop dressed up with frightfully sharp shoulder pads to dress down Ambassador Grigory Logvinov. Brows didn’t flinch. Lips did not unpurse.
The affable Grigory feigned contrition as eyes bespoke a childish, shallow little political celebrity, this American lapdog. Obviously, there were no Russian spies in Orstrillia. We have no need to spy on your corrupt little colony. Long ago we lifted defence plans from those quaint iPhones (and you really should put a sticker over the camera).
“Spies?” his eyes twinkled, spies? We already know all there is to know about oil, coal, and gulags.
Flushed with success of the immensely popular same sex marriage postal plebiscite, a senate “legal and constructional legislation committee” thought it a brilliant tactic to deploy a SurveyMonkey online poll asking if we, the plebs (as in plebiscites) supported provisions of… blah, and so on.
The result is not binding on the committee, online identification is not verified, and one may contribute early and often. We thank them for allowing us, the plebs, to do our due diligence in this matter and, as tradition demands, not give a shit.
This committee keeps dragging on, by the way, because Senator Pauline Hanson wants a word changed every few months.
Forgive me not
Speaking of strange bedfellows, the Mad Monk – blamed by Senator Hanson for her copping jail time – kissed and made up with the authoress launching her book In HerOwn Words that unsurprisingly consists of speeches written for her.
Shit Happens Tony declared politicians are always better the second time around. Like re-cycled fish heads. The Princess of Xenophobia likened herself to Nelson Mandela, who “forgave and forgot.” That’s a simile we won’t easily forgive.
Au Pair affair
Ever the media star, Benito Dutton threatened the press with incarceration in a gulag on some humid Pacific shithole if they dared pursue #NannyGate – aka Au Pairs In Pairs.
Brother Potato used ministerial discretion (that he procures in 44 gallon drums) so that two young tourists might avoid deportation and add value to our nation’s workforce as babysitters.
Though the AAP wire story reported only those facts and included his refutations, in parliament the minister seemed to protest too much about what was not in the story:
[the report was] “defamatory… completely false” [and his family] “does not employ an au pair… I categorically reject those inferences… inferences of impropriety… My wife takes very good care in my absence … of our three children… We have never employed an au pair… I won’t tolerate it being printed again… I won’t have false details about my wife and children printed and I won’t stand for it.”
Rather a hot potato, that one.
Breaking: A boatload of au-pairs has been sighted of the NW Australian coast.