Newsletter 417

Published November 29, 2021
The loneliness of the honest politician

Apologies for the lateness of this newsletter. I can blame a combination of factors but I’ll spare you the excuses. The art column this week is the delayed Doug Aitken review, which looks at the American artist’s show at the MCA, which will stretch on over summer. The movie is Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho, an entertaining, slightly ragged portrait of Boho London that jumps back and forth in time. It presents a debunking view of ‘swinging London’, but also wallows in nostalgia.

It’s concerning, and perversely pleasing to see how far Scummo’s government is running off the rails in the final sittings of Parliament for the year. The old equation applies: When you try to please everyone you end up pleasing no-one. As Our Leader fundamentally believes in nothing he is falling foul of both the right and left wings of his party, who cling to their convictions. The right-wingers, taking their brainless cues from America, are angry that he is not attacking the states about vaccination policies. The left-wingers are alarmed about his ‘Religious Freedoms’ bill that will allow people to be discriminated against because of their sexual preferences. Bridget Archer from Tasmania made the brave, lonely decision to cross the floor and vote in favour of a debate on the integrity commission bill drafted by independent, Helen Haines. Her reward was a closed door session with Scummo, Josh, and Marise Payne, who presumably tied her to a chair and threatened her with knuckledusters.

You know that when Scummo says he has “a great friendship” with someone, it means he’d like to dispose of them in a barrel of acid (and vice versa).

It is, as ever, a massive failure of leadership. Pandering to the idiot demonstrators with his waffling about “freedom”; introducing the religious freedoms stuff as an ideological distraction; and resisting the idea of an integrity commission with an extraordinary, angry attack on the NSW ICAC – he’s really shown us his mettle. The resistance to an integrity commission is the key: he is phobic about an independent body looking into the antics of his ministers. There is, of course, only one good reason to resist such a commission, namely that you don’t want to be investigated. What we saw in parliament was, in effect, a semi-hysterical defence of corruption.

This hasn’t been lost on MPs such as the ever-outspoken Jacqui Lambie, who began parliamentary life as a Clive Palmer minion, but has grown into the job and repudiated her past errors. She won me over when she said she felt like hitting Cory Bernardi with a piece of 4 by 2 – which sounded like an eminently reasonable policy.

I hope Labor is smart enough to turn the resistance to an integrity commission into a make-or-break election issue. It’s not just corruption per se that’s the problem, it’s the constant lying, the backflips, the policy inertia, the secrecy, the utter lack of concern for the vast majority of the population, the outrageous squandering of public funds ($20 billion handed to businesses that made a profit during lockdowns) while other sectors (healthcare? hospitals?) are starved of resources. And now we have The Boiled Egg virtually declaring war on China again.

Were Trump to be re-elected in 2024 it’s clear that would spell the end of democracy in the United States. If Scummo’s mob get back next year it won’t be the end of the world as we know it, merely a mandate to continue the progressive corrosion of public discourse, to make us an even bigger laughing stock internationally, and to enshrine dishonesty and mediocrity as the twin pillars of Australian society. I’m not sure Albo is the man to arrest the slide into the abyss, but the most basic administrative competence would be a great start.