As we all know, good government started six months ago – following Abbott’s near demise as our Prime Minister. And this last parliamentary sitting fortnight in Canberra has been another stellar example of this. There’s been press conferences galore, leaky cabinets and question-time performances worthy of entry into the Tonies (pun intended).
We also learned this week that one of the government’s key talking points was to let us know that the Cabinet is working excellently!! Clearly, if they feel the need to stress how well they are doing, the LNP is feeling underappreciated by us – the Australian people. It’s time to remedy this.
Introducing the ‘On the Snout’ awards
It’s time we recognised our Pollies for all the exceptionally excellent work they are telling us that they do.
So I’m introducing the soon-to-be incredibly coveted and prestigious ‘On the Snout’ or ‘Snoutie’ Awards – named in honour of recently retired U.S. political satirist Jon Stewart, whose last words of advice to us everyday punters were:
“Bullshit is everywhere. The good news is this: bullshitters have gotten pretty lazy, and their work is easily detected…..So I say to you tonight, my friends, the best defense against bullshit is vigilance – so if you smell something, say something.”
Well I smell plenty. There’s been a lot of activity by our government that’s been on the nose, or more appropriately for Canberra – ‘on the snout’ – over this last fortnight. And I, for one, believe it’s time we acknowledge them for this.
So I’ve taken stock of the performance of various members of our excellent cabinet over the last fortnight – and let me tell you, there was a lot of competition for the awards. But in the end, as they say, there can only be one winner for each award. I’ve announced my selection of key winners below, and there is also a vote for the People’s Choice Snoutie at the end, where you can cast your vote.
So without further ado, here are the inaugural “On the Snout” (‘Snoutie’) Award winners.
The Inaugural ‘On the Snout’ Award Winners
The David Copperfield Magic with Numbers Award
About the award:
The David Copperfield Magic with Numbers Award is given to the LNP Minister who – like great Illusionist David Copperfield – can work magic, in this case with numbers.
And the winner is – Joe Hockey
Yes, the winner of the inaugural David Copperfield Magic Numbers award is our Treasurer, one Mr Joe ‘Eleventy’ Hockey, for the amazing illusion he created this week around Australia’s unemployment numbers. Let’s revisit his award winning feat…
In question time in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, while responding to a ‘question’ from a Liberal backbencher on the brilliance of the Liberal party’s job creation achievements, Mr Hockey said:
“We have a great record of success in creating 334,000 new jobs in less than two years. In the last month alone, we have created 38,000 new jobs in Australia. The average in the last 12 months under Labor was 3,600 jobs per month.”
Hockey repeated similar numbers six times during question time – obviously wanting to make sure nobody had missed his amazing magic trick, creating the illusion that the LNP are doing a great ‘job’ with jobs.
Luckily, intrepid AIM Network citizen journalist and illusion-spotter – Kaye Lee – was on the case, otherwise Hockey’s magic trick may have gone unspotted, and he may have lost the award to runner-up Greg Hunt for his work with carbon emission numbers this week. Kaye identified that while the 38,000 number was correct, the other numbers were just an illusion. In fact, during Labor’s time in office, an average of 15,180 jobs were created a month, but since the LNP have been in power, only 7495 jobs have been created on average per month.
The George Orwell 1984 Award
“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power.” (George Orwell, 1984)
The George Orwell 1984 Award is given to the LNP Minister who increases the power of those in authority and correspondingly decreases the rights and freedoms of the individual.
And the winner is – Peter Dutton (PDuddy)
The winner of the inaugural George Orwell 1984 Award is none other than Minister for Saying-We’ve-Stopped-The-Boats, Peter Dutton – or ‘PDuddy’ as he’s probably not known to his friends – at least to his face. He had three stellar entries that won him this week’s award.
Entry one: revoking the citizenship of dual nationals
PDuddy’s first entry relates to the Australian Citizenship Amendment Bill which proposes to give the government power to strip dual citizens of their Australian citizenship. This is a summary of how the Senate was advised this week that the Bill would work in practice:
“We’ve got a secret process conducted by Australian public servants looking at secret classified information, who are going to write a secret report to the secretary of the department, who writes another secret report to the Minister, who signs a form that revokes the Australian citizenship and the Australian never needs to be told and never needs to be given reasons. After this secret process is completed, the Minister does not need to inform the Australian whose citizenship has been revoked until the Minister thinks it’s appropriate.”
(Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus 10 August 2015)
Now that could very well be an excerpt from 1984 – and if it’s not there, it could easily slot right in.
This proposed legislation is a major Orwellian power grab by PDuddy for three reasons:
- Having security in your citizenship is a fundamental right of a democracy because it literally ensures that there is a piece of dry land on this earth for you to put your feet on. And the reality is, when you undermine citizenship rights for one, you undermine them for us all.
- It sets a precedent for taking away the protection we all have of being presumed innocent unless there is evidence to suggest otherwise.
- It puts the government above the law. A fundamental cornerstone of democracy is the separation of the power to make laws (by the government) from the power to rule on those laws (which is done by the courts). Once you allow a single body to both make the laws and make rulings on those laws, you place that body – in this case the government – above the law. You are then just one rigged election away from an authoritarian structure like facism – 1984 here we come.
Entry two: revoking citizenship of sole Nationals
In case you thought the above wouldn’t apply to you anyway – think again. PDuddy isn’t content with being able to turf out only those Aussies who have dual citizenship. He and Phillip Ruddock this week announced further details of their plans to extend the above Bill so that it applies not only to people who currently have dual citizenship, but also to those who could apply for citizenship in another country. This apparently applies to around 50% of Australian citizens.
As for the remaining 50% of us, don’t get too cocky. Did you know that all Australian citizens can apply for citizenship in New Zealand? There are certain criteria you need to meet in order to qualify – one of which relates to character, another to having lived there for five years – so there may be some protection there. But nevertheless, technically we all have the right to apply for citizenship in another country. If this is right, PDuddy’s men could come knocking at your door in the middle of the night and have you on the first Air New Zealand flight to Auckland before you know it. It’s a long bow to draw – but with the inaugural winner of the George Orwell 1984 Snoutie Award in charge of citizenship decisions – and behind closed doors with no right of appeal or review – you never know….
Entry Three: Giving guards in detention centres the power to use deadly force on asylum seekers
First PDuddy put up a shroud of secrecy around Detention Centres. Now he wants to pass laws to give guards in detention centres – who have four weeks training – the right to use deadly force (aka to kill) asylum seekers in certain circumstances without having to worry about being prosecuted for pesky criminal charges like assault, battery or murder.
While PDuddy claims this is necessary to protect the health and safety of detainees, these are the same guards who currently guard our Detention Centres where sexual assaults and torture on asylum seekers appear to be continuing. And PDuddy wants to give these guards even more power than they already have.
PDuddy is surely a worthy winner of the inaugural George Orwell 1984 award.
The Dragon Slayer Award
“It’s the ultimate political spin doctoring – create a mythical dragon, fight it, and claim to have saved us from it. And the thing with dragons is that they are far easier to slay – what with them not being real and all – than actual problems. It’s much simpler to be a dragon slayer than someone who actually rights real wrongs or solves real problems.”
(From Abbott the Dragon Slayer: The art of making scary mountains out of tiny molehills)
The Dragon Slayer Award – as the quote above suggests – is given to the LNP Minister who creates the largest mountain (the dragon) out of the smallest molehill, and then makes as much noise as he can about how he is slaying that mythical dragon in order to save the Australian people.
And the winner is – George Brandis
The clear winner of the inaugural Dragon Slayer award is our Attorney General, one Mr George Brandis. He wins this award for the battle – or ‘lawfare’ – he is fighting against Greenie Terrorists who he says are using the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to “engage in vigilante litigation to stop important economic projects” and to threaten “jobs, investment and our economy“.
In fact the offending Act has only been successfully used twice to impact a project – out of 5500 projects. Furthermore, the particular problem in the Adani case – the relevant ‘economic’ project (probably better named ‘moneypit’) – was a technical oversight in Greg Hunt’s office that could have been remedied in a matter of weeks.
But that’s what makes it such a brilliant dragon. As I stated above, it’s far easier to be victorious over a challenge that isn’t really there. Kudos to Mr Brandis for turning a paperwork error from a tiny molehill into a full-size mythical dragon requiring the attention of his full department to slay it – probably while doing a war dance chanting ‘no more lawfare, no more greenies, no more lawfare, no more greenies’.
And finally – the award we’ve all been waiting for….
The Golden Snoutie
About the award:
The Golden Snoutie award is given to the member of Government who is so ‘on the snout’, as to eclipse the snoutiness of those around them. And in Canberra – that’s no mean feat. The winner of this award should be a master of what Jon Stewart describes as ‘pernicious bullshit’ – “premeditated institutional bullshit, designed to obscure and distract.” The winner of this award will likely excel in all the categories noted above and a few more besides.
And the winner is – Tony Abbott
There really was no competition on this one. Tony Abbott was the standout candidate from day one of this last parliamentary sitting week. In the words of Julie Bishop, speaking of Mr Abbott in Perth today:
“We owe him a debt for the effort and energy that he has dedicated to his role as Prime Minister of this great nation.”
Indeed we do. Let’s quickly recap on some of this fortnight’s standout snoutiness from the head Snout:
Magic with numbers on Climate Change
Tony Abbott – and climate change truthiness guru, ‘Greg Hunt’ – started the week by pulling their own numbers out of a magic hat, claiming that their 26% to 28% emissions reduction target is economically responsible and world-leading.
Abbott correspondingly claimed that any target that Labor sets will sacrifice jobs, the economy and cost households untold millions. Our Golden Snoutie winner would never do that he said – he would not put the environment before the economy. Pure magic.
Abbott’s numbers are not true of course – but what illusion is? As Laura Tingle from the Australian Financial Review pointed out:
“the Prime Minister has released a climate policy which must be the dodgiest bit of public policy in recent years, possibly since the Coalition’s now infamous $11 billion hole in its 2010 election policy costings.”
Making Marriage Equality disappear
Following close on the heels of his magic trick with climate change numbers, Abbott moved on to making the issue of Marriage Equality disappear. To do this, he took a leaf out of John Howard’s playbook, successfully taking the issue off the agenda for the rest of Mr Abbott’s term, while at the same time, claiming to be the people’s advocate for Marriage Equality. Snoutiness at its best.
Boasting about his Dragon Slaying days of old
I wrote previously about the three dragons that Abbott is constantly claiming to have slain – the carbon tax, the mining tax and asylum seeker boats. Although these dragons were mythically slain some time ago, at a press conference in Perth today, Abbott was still boasting about his ‘achievements’, puffing out his chest in pride at being able to kill these mythical beasts.
Making sure there are plenty of Terrorists under the Bed
We learned this week that the National Security Committee that Mr Abbott chairs “asked for a list of national-security-related things that could be announced weekly between now and the election” proving yet again, that Abbott’s terrorist announcements are a calculated attempt to ensure that Australians remain in a high state of fear in regards to terrorists under the bed.
All of these example just prove exactly how ‘on the snout’ Tony Abbott is, and why he is such a deserving recipient of the inaugural Golden Snoutie award.
People’s Choice Snoutie
There’s one more Snoutie to be awarded, to give due recognition to the member of the LNP cabinet who has been the most ‘on the snout’ over the last fortnight – and that’s the People’s Choice Snoutie.
So now it’s your turn to vote.
Which of the following members of the LNP cabinet have you found to be most ‘on the snout’ this last parliamentary fortnight? I’ve included key members of our exceptional cabinet (other than Tony Abbott – who isn’t eligible having already won the Gold Snoutie).
You can vote for up to three cabinet ministers – so go for it!
This article was first published on Progressive Conversation.