The Abbott government's metadata retention bill passed the Senate on March 26 with Labor support — deepening the mass surveillance of the public and further undermining the ability of investigative journalists to do their jobs.
And just to really rub this attack on civil liberties in, the government is headed by an idiot who has less of a clue about the huge technology powers his law grants the state, than the Catholic Church has historically had of “duty of care when working with children”.
Defending the lack of protection for journalists under the law, Abbott famously told the media: “When I was a journalist there were no metadata protections for journalists.”
Which would be fine, except Abbott worked as a journalist in the 1980s, before metadata as we know it even existed, making his comment about as insightful as saying no one was worried about car crashes before the internal combustion engine was invented, or that no one even knew what hangovers were before humans discovered fermentation.
In the government's bid to reassure journalists that their rights — and the rights of their sources — would not be violated, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull actually went on Sky News to spell out all the ways people could avoid having their metadata collected.
That's how serious they are when they say this law is needed for our “security” — the minister responsible goes on TV to tell whoever wants to know how to get around this “badly needed” law. This was either the grossest act of irresponsibility in politics since some idiotic Liberal branch first pre-selected Abbott to run for parliament, or the security line is bullshit.
Whatever they say, the reason for granting the state more powers to spy on us is the same reason states always grant themselves more power — because they are frightened of their own citizens, whose interests they don't represent. The law will be used as these laws always are — to target those who want change.
And how could anyone not want change, when our political system appears so fundamentally broken that an incompetent fool like Abbott can become prime minister?
And lest that be put down as a regrettable aberration, consider that Abbott is joined on the front bench by Christopher Pyne and Joe Hockey, while the speaker of the House of Representatives is Bronwyn Bishop. Their collective contributions to Australian politics makes the average comment section under a One Direction YouTube clip seem like the collective works of Stephen Hawkins on quantum physics.
Combine this with the fact that Australia's richest person is Gina Rinehart and anyone who still wants to suggest our system rewards hard work and intelligence will no doubt be very excited by the offer of a Nigerian banker I can put you in touch with.
Seriously, this guy's unexpectedly got control of millions of dollars as a result of the death of a Nigerian prince and he really needs help to get the cash out of the country. All I need are your bank account details and all your passwords and you'll be rich.
Of course, that sick feeling the nation gets when they think of our leaders is about more than idiocy — it is their sheer sense of entitlement while destroying the rights and livelihoods of those much worse off than they could even imagine.
But that is not to downplay how idiotic they are. Abbott, after all, has seen fit to repeatedly eat raw onions in some sort of bizarre macho challenge to the nation, like “You might try to hurt me with your constant polls showing you hate me and everything I stand for, but can you do this?!? HUH?”
Having first generated bemused world headlines after eating a raw onion — skin and all — during a visit to an onion farm in Tasmania on March 13, Abbott then repeated the feat and ate another raw onion in a March 18 meeting with Onions Australia in Canberra.
You have to wonder what the hell his advisors are doing. I mean, how hard can it be to ensure that the prime minister avoids situations in which he faces the temptation of eating raw onion? I mean, sure, in rural Tasmania, there may well be little to do but wander the streets eating raw onions like apples. But in Canberra? Have all the cafes closed down?
Or possibly this repeated raw onion-eating is just another “captain's call”. In which case, it would not surprise me to find that, in one more example of corporate control of our governments, Abbott is, in fact, in the pay of Big Onion.
He probably has been a plant of the Onion Lobby for years, quietly working his way up the ranks of the Liberal Party, just waiting for the day he becomes PM, after unleashing ridiculous gaffe after ridiculous gaffe.
Until, with the world's eyes watching him intently for the next bizarre moment of incomprehensible madness, he chomps down on a raw onion, sending shock waves through the global media, prompting a growing number of celebrity “reenactments” and driving onion shares through the roof.
This theory will be confirmed if, as I suspect, Onions Australia now launch a new marketing campaign with the tag line: “Onions. You Bet You Are”.
This is the only ting that makes sense. Well, either that or our system is fundamentally broken — and only rewards the stupidest, cruellest and most overprivileged in our society.