Nothing like an election to sort the weird from the crazy

May 2, 2019
Clive Palmer, the big end of town, still refuses to pay mine workers their entitlements.

The bizarreness of Australian politics was summed up in multi-millionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer’s election advertisement accusing Labor of “supporting the big end of town”.

I might as well take out a nationwide ad having a go at anyone who likes beer or is too passionate about the slightly beleaguered Western Sydney Wanderers — and even then I'd struggle to match Palmer for sheer hypocrisy.

After all, Palmer was the largest single donor to the Queensland Liberal National Party, before quitting in 2012 over a state budget that included a rise in coalmining royalties.

Palmer’s company, Queensland Nickel, was the biggest single corporate donor in the 2013–14 financial year, pouring more than $15 million into his Palmer United Party to buy himself four seats in parliament.

Palmer is only a player in these elections because he has poured more truckloads of cash into spamming the nation with bright yellow-branded bullshit and promises to do absolutely anything for anyone — so long as it’s not the Queensland Nickel workers laid off in 2016 who haven’t been paid the outstanding entitlements Palmer owes them.

But the worst bit is Palmer is right.

Despite promises to mitigate some of the worst excesses of the neoliberal nightmare that has left about 3 million people in poverty, Labor essentially does support the “big end of town”.

Evidence can be seen in the fact that the big end of town, in return, supports Labor — just a bit less than the Coalition. Which is only appropriate, given the Coalition’s evangelical enthusiasm for advancing corporate interests.

Since 2012, Labor has received about $57 million in corporate donations, compared to nearly $100 million to the Coalition.

And Palmer’s advertisement isn’t even the weirdest thing to happen so far.

There are many contenders, one of which must be the pro-coalmining demonstration in Clermont, Queensland, attended by an array of right-wing politicians.

Inevitably, Palmer was among them in the name of “jobs”. And fair enough, as Palmer supports any mineworker he hasn’t personally laid off and then spent years refusing to pay legal entitlements to.

A pro-coalmine rally at this time in human history is especially weird, given coal’s role in threatening a runaway eco-holocaust. It’s a bit like finding out a group of dinosaurs had organised a pro-meteor demonstration.

Other election news includes Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Queensland Senate candidate Steve Dickson resigning over footage of him making misogynist comments and groping a woman at a strip club in the United States.

One Nation’s James Ashby must be regretting his demand that Al Jazeera release “all the footage” from his and Dickson’s disastrous US tour, wishing he’d added “I mean all footage in which we’re not on the sauce” — which would presumably be only when they were sleeping.

Dickson, for his part, took “full responsibility” for his actions, which means he blamed it on being drunk.

It’s weird, ’coz I’ve been pretty drunk before, but I’ve never been filmed making misogynistic and racist comments while groping a woman.

Nor, now I think about it, have I sought millions in donations from a foreign group to control Australian parliament while also spruiking a party whose entire brand involves banging on about “Aussie nationalism”.

Maybe we’re just drinking different things.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson did the only obvious thing she could in response: she went on A Current Affair and cried about how unfair it was on her.

This was especially touching as she has never been unfair to anyone in her entire life. Always a kind word for all in our society, that’s Pauline.

When she said Asians and Muslims were swamping Australia, she meant it in a good way — with delicious pad thais and halal snack packs and stuff.

Of course, there have been some genuinely tender moments in this campaign too. None more so than when Coalition MP Peter Dutton’s wife Kirilly told the media that he “is no monster”.

It is touching to see her stand by him, but honestly, I think judging this sort of thing is really a matter for the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

It is rarely a good thing if you have to go to the media to insist someone is “no monster”. It implies they may have done some monstrous things, but you want to clarify that it’s totally out of character. Like, say, “I know what Amnesty International says, but I can tell you in all honestly that I’ve never seen my Peter torture a single child”.

Even if you wanted to keep an open mind, you’d probably still not invite them to your kid’s birthday party.

As for the prime minister, he didn’t even wait for the official campaign launch to outdo them all in bat shit crazy.

In early April, PM Scott Morrison used the retirement of the racehorse Winx to shoehorn in a key campaign slogan.

Apparently having had a breakfast of Ketamine sprinkled with LSD, the head of our government insisted, “The story of Winx” was that of “a fair go for those who have a go”. Which, in case you were wondering, are “the things I believe in”.

Not only am I not convinced that Winx truly grasps the finer points of the concept of a “fair go”, I’m pretty she’d only have to break a leg to discover just how much of a “fair go” she actually gets as she hears the sound of a shotgun click.

So, not only does she probably not understand what a “fair go” means, as a racehorse she doesn’t even get one.

Which, to be fair, probably sums up Australian politics pretty well right now.

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