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Ship of fools

There are many reasons for the current woes facing the government but, considering their habit of rewarding incompetence, it is hardly surprising.

Joe Hockey’s budget has been widely recognised as the root cause for public disaffection very early on in the Coalition term. When the heat got too great, they moved him on to the very cushy US Ambassador’s job.

Peter Dutton’s stint as Health Minister was memorable for being described by doctors as the “worst ever”. That incompetence was rewarded with a shift to another portfolio where his gaffes have become legendary, from joking about Pacific Islands disappearing to mistakenly sending a text to a journalist describing her as a “mad f*cking witch”.

Despite bringing the condemnation of the world down upon us as Minister for Persecuting Refugees, Dutton is regarded as some sort of power broker who must be included in the “leadership team”.

Christopher Pyne made so many backflips about education funding that he had to be shifted somewhere so people would stop quoting his lies back to him. Unable to get anywhere with higher education reform and looking severely in trouble, “the fixer” was gifted the submarine portfolio just in time to promise, again, that Australia might get a few jobs for the hundreds of billions we are spending maybe building bits of the subs in a few decades time.

Speaking of submarines, what did Sophie Mirabella do for the last few years after she was gifted her submarine job in return for losing a safe seat? Her silence was deafening during the whole tender process. Quitting that sinecure, she was once again rejected by her electorate and has now apparently been hired by Gina Rinehart to use her questionable skills of persuasion as a lobbyist.

Greg Hunt has the embarrassing distinction of being named the Best Minister Ever by the OPEC countries for his time as Environment Minister when he oversaw the dismantling of a price on carbon, the approval of the world’s biggest coal mines, increasing emissions, the worst coral bleaching on record, the destruction of the renewable energy industry, and the gutting of environmental research by the CSIRO.

Smugly declaring his job done, Hunt has moved on and is now rehiring a few of the sacked climate scientists and refunding a few projects that were halted due to funding cuts like the carbon capture and storage research – except now we are giving $9 million of the funding to Glencore, the Swiss mining company that the ATO are auditing.

Josh Frydenberg has done the hard start on renewable energy which we now like in a hands off, non-involved kinda way. Fossil fuel subsidies are apparently not seen as distorting the “level playing field”.

Another example of rewarding mediocrity must surely be the IPA apprentices, Tim Wilson and James Patterson, who seem determined to give us another round of grief with their Section 18C obsession.

Wilson was gifted a very highly paid job at the AHRC where he was painfully unsuccessful at everything he tried – free speech, marriage equality and a religious summit where he forgot to invite the Muslims.

James Patterson has done so little he feels it necessary to mention he spent a few months as an intern somewhere. Nevertheless he was considered the best boy to replace Senator Michael Ronaldson who quit because he got dumped from the front bench.

Neither of these young men have shown any reason to reward them with safe seats and Senate ticket positions other than being party hacks.

Likewise James McGrath who was censured by the party for paying for personal files to be compiled on Labor politicians. Instead of sacking him for this vile McCarthy-esque intrusion, he was rewarded with a Senate position.

Then we have George Christensen. When his homophobic, racist, misogynistic newspaper articles were revealed just after he was preselected in 2010, the preselectors were rightly horrified, saying had they been aware of his views, he would not have been chosen. Apparently winning his seat was enough to overlook his strange behaviour and, as time passes, Christensen is feeling more empowered to express his prejudices publicly again.

Cory Bernardi has been described as dumb as a post by his own party, yet they keep putting him at or near the top of their Senate ticket in SA.

“Cory is deluded,” says a Liberal Party colleague. “He is one of the least effective or important members of the parliamentary team. Cory is a person without any intellect, without any base, and he should really never have risen above the position of branch president. His right-wing macho-man act is just his way of looking as though he stands for something.”

And in Tasmania, putting an angry Eric Abetz at the top of the Senate ticket led to the party being almost wiped out.

When Bronwyn Bishop’s long term service was rewarded with the Speaker’s position all hell broke loose. To think she was the best person to be an impartial adjudicator was ludicrous.

Not to mention that Barnaby Joyce is Deputy PM…I truly don’t want to mention that. It’s embarrassing.

And of course, there’s Tony.

Having endured his antics in student politics at Sydney University where he was considered an inconsequential, anachronistic bully boy, I have watched his rise in politics with incredulity. He even surprised himself when he was gifted the leadership in exchange for becoming a climate change denier.

To hear commentators describe him as an outstanding Opposition leader just floors me. That implies that the only job of a parliamentarian is to win the next election because spending six years collecting dirt files on people and demonising asylum seekers and action on climate change can hardly be looked on as an achievement.

Less than two years into the job, even his own party realised what a dud he was and did the unthinkable – they knifed a first term sitting PM after all the condemnation of the other side for doing just that.

And now they want him back?

While the Coalition continues to reward failure and promote mediocrity, they will inevitably career from one mishap to the next, because, regardless of who is steering the ship, it is being manned by incompetents each trying to sail off in their own direction.


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  1. keerti

    Kaye Lee, you didn’t mention the most incompetant of all! Turmpuke stuffed the NBN, rolled shouldabeen aborted (on the basis that he would do a better job! He’s done a different job. Not as proactively dangerous as the maniacle pom, but certainly not better!), and apart from giving us hanson and her loonies has achieved nothing notable. He seems unable to organise his motley crew or to get anything useful out of them.
    A Ship of fools:
    The captain of the lugga,
    Christ he was a bugga,
    He took the whole crew

  2. Kaye Lee

    In 1971, Malcom Turnbull was in fourth form at Sydney Grammar. Writing for the school newsletter, he said the Liberal Party was full of “men averse to change of any sort – men whose interests lie solely in the system as it is”.

    He said the Liberal approach was “hardly the material needed for a progressive government, which is what Australia as a nation needs above all else”.

    A few years later, in an article for the Sydney University student newspaper Honi Soit, Malcolm lauded the Labor Party as a “wealth of opinion and class…diverse and less likely than the conservatives to blindly rally behind one great leader”.

    Then, in a 1978 article titled “The Vicious World of Student Politics” for The Bulletin magazine, Turnbull attacked a young conservative Sydney University Student Representative Council member named Tony Abbott, saying:

    “The leading light of the right-wingers in NSW is twenty-year-old Tony Abbott. He has written a number of articles on AUS [The Australian Union of Students] in the Australian [newspaper] and his press coverage has accordingly given him a stature his rather boisterous and immature rhetoric doesn’t really deserve… While he can win support from students because of the shocking state of affairs in AUS, he cannot take the next step because of his conservative moral views.”

  3. Peter F

    Kaye, this charade will only end with the departure of Rupert Murdoch.

  4. Jaquix

    Ah, yes Kaye, the Malcolm you describe in your comment, is long gone, or truly submerged with time. If these were his true beliefs way back then, no wonder he looks so defeated, old, grey, depressed. Haunted is how he looks. Thats what comes from selling your soul to the devil I suppose.

  5. 1petermcc

    Tough gig for Malcolm. Imagine getting up for work and knowing the sort of Team he has to deal with. Right when he needs quality to cover his own lack of courage, all he can see are more problems waiting to explode.

    I wonder if he ever turns off the alarm clock and thinks “WTH am I doing here?”

  6. z

    Joe Hockey’s budget has been widely recognised as the root cause for public disaffection very early on in the Coalition term. When the heat got too great, they moved him on to the very cushy US Ambassador’s job. now, because it is a new term, Mr.Morrison may be another Mr. Hockey’s role to make a even tougher budget cuts then may become a Euro. Ambassador before future election

  7. Kronomex

    The LNP are the Keystone Cops of Australian politics, they bumble from one disaster to another leaving chaos in their wake and in between episodes they learn nothing only to continue merrily stumbling and bumbling and falling over themselves. The thing is that the original Keystone Cops, although dated, is fun to watch. The Keystone LNP is painfully unfunny and a disgrace.

  8. Terry2

    I think Sophie has found her niche working for Gina birds of a feather etc : maybe she wasn’t suited to parliamentary life or submarines. Hopefully now we will hear no more of her.

    Now for Tony, any takers, perhaps News Corp or Sky !

  9. paulwalter

    In the end it comes to this: they are ideologically driven, denialist, arrogant and mulish. The more often people like Prof. Alan Cox refute the sillier right wing ideas, the more these ideas, perversely, are pushed.

    Same with the neoliberal wing of the liberals. They still expect people to believe that their version of “reform” has some basis in reality; in logic and fact, rather than as something that alibis for repression and theft.

  10. Ella

    Kaye Lee, very informative article, thanks.
    On examination , the caliber of LNP does not give much hope for an innovative and creative term of government.
    The voter’s must be politically dumbed down politically as is the American voters supporting Trump.
    Why is this happening?
    Is Amin preaching to the converted?

  11. wam

    2010 the lemon wouldn’t go to a ballot, after a ring around, but the rabbott went to the ballot and 44 didn’t want him to go. So far how has his behaviour compared to rudd’s?
    Kaye were you surprised by him receiving a rhodes scholarship? Might be useful as ambassador to the holy see????

  12. Kaye Lee

    There are broadly three types of people who vote for the Coalition. One is motivated by fear and misinformation, finding solidarity in looking for scapegoats to blame. One is due to traditional loyalty and ingrained perceptions that are not swayed by facts and figures. And the other is all about greed, bugger the social contract, protect what you’ve got and get away with what you can.

    None of these groups looks for solutions that will benefit society as a whole and protect minorities and vulnerable people.

    Combine that with the arrogant certainty and smug delivery from Coalition politicians and we have little chance of progressing towards a fairer society.

  13. Peter F

    @wam : I believe that the person to ask about Abbott’s Rhodes Scholarship would be Dyson Heydon.

  14. helvityni

    Mal was being nasty about Shorten last night. If he wants Labor to help him, start behaving better, call Bill and discuss your problems…

    Those protesters made me feel a bit better, serves you right, Mal. A bit of Schadenfreude heals the hurt.

  15. Kaye Lee


    The Rhodes scholarship was ridiculous. He was a very ordinary footballer who never made the firsts. I watched him play many times. In his own words, his claim to fame was throwing a punch in a scrum, he was lucky to make it to a ruck in time.

    Academically he was nothing special. He liked to pontificate but was never original and he was bored by the mechanics of economics.

    It was very much a Catholic connection choice. I often wonder about the timing of his g/f getting pregnant and his selection. Get me out of here?

    “Contacts within the Jesuit network secured a Rhodes scholarship for Tony to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford even though he had campaigned fiercely against the Philosophy and Political Economy courses at Sydney University describing them as a waste of resources and a hotbed of Marxist feminists.”

  16. Jaquix

    This government has long looked like the keystone cops to me too. Ive been collecting “nicknames” given to Malcolm during his reign, (over 50 so far) and the latest which is particularly pertinent I think, is TURNTUMBLE. That might also lead to Turntable, which would probably fit the bill equally.

  17. Kaye Lee

    Turn(tay)bull? Going round and round in circles. Cut funding and then slowly reinstate it. Abolish bodies, change name, and reform. Sack public servants and scientists and then rehire a few when there is no-one left to do the work,

  18. Peter F

    Kaye, I am amazed at some peoples perceptions. A friend told me that he was voting for the coalition because they acted for the good of the Country, but the ALP acted for ‘me,me,me’ I gave him a serve, but it was no use. Clearly he fell into your second category.

  19. Carol Taylor

    On Peter Dutton, I note (via the ABC) that he accuses the ABC and The Guardian of ‘trivialising’ the 2,100 reports of abuse by..wait for it..treating them seriously.

  20. Jaquix

    Kaye – With being on the spinning TurnTable, he will very likely take a TurnTumble.

  21. paulwalter

    Carol Taylor, we must hope this sense people are getting of them having lost control of themselves and the narrative re Nauru isn’t just wishful thinking. But they are not looking good on both this and several other issues.

    You can see Morrison is right behind Turnbull, but what is that sharp, shiny thing in his hand he seems to be aiming at Turnbull’s back?

  22. jim

    Please think before you vote peoples.

    We have the worst government . since 1949 and it’s this LNP,……As the Australia Institute’s research in June found – across a broad range of economic measures, the Abbott/Turnbull government has performed the worst of any Australian government since 1949. Economist Jim Stanford’s report examines economic performance across 12 indicators – including GDP per capita, the unemployment rate, employment growth and the growth of real business investment and intellectual property investment …

  23. Michael Taylor

    And not only that, Kaye, after stripping the departments of resources he then blames them for not being able to do their job. The ABS comes to mind after the census fiasco.

  24. Roscoe

    rewarding failure is how all corporations work. I have seen it often, bring a company to it’s knees and get promoted to a higher position

  25. jimhaz

    There would appear to be at least 16 songs about a Ship of Fools

    World Party’s version seems to fit best. It’s 80’s so most would know the song.

    We’re setting sail to the place on the map
    From which no one has ever returned
    Drawn by the promise of the joker and the fool
    By the light of the crosses that burned
    Drawn by the promise of the women and the lace
    And the gold and the cotton and pearls
    It’s the place where they keep all the darkness you need
    You sail away from the light of the world on this trip, baby
    You will pay tomorrow
    You’re gonna pay tomorrow
    You will pay tomorrow

    Oh, oh, oh
    Save me, save me from tomorrow
    I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools, no, no
    Oh, save me, save me from tomorrow
    I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools, no, no
    I want to run and hide right now

    Avarice and greed are gonna drive you over the endless sea
    They will leave you drifting in the shallows
    Or drowning in the oceans of history
    Traveling the world, you’re in search of no good
    But I’m sure you’ll build your Sodom like you knew you would
    Using all the good people for your galley slaves
    As you’re little boat struggles through the warning waves, but you don’t pay

    You will pay tomorrow
    You’re gonna pay tomorrow, yeah
    You’re gonna pay tomorrow

    Save me, save me from tomorrow
    I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools, no, no, no
    Save me, save me from tomorrow
    I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools
    Where’s it comin’ from?
    Oh, where’s it goin’ to?
    It’s just a, it’s just a ship of fools

  26. kerri

    Reading the comments above I am still struck by the general feeling in the Australian populace that for some erudite reason we should all feel sorry for Malcolm? Journalists and the public alike are way too prepared to give Malcolm the benefit of the doubt! He is an abject failure as a leader. He has lied and dealt his way to the top and does absolutely nothing of worth whilst there. The press and public were quick to praise his fast action after the Don Dale scandal whilst his actions, made in haste, were completely unconscionable in appointing Brian Martin!
    Please please people the emperor is naked!
    Stop looking at him as the smiling genteel classy intellectual and see that he is as naked as his amibition?
    Malcolm is an impostor. Can we please stop liking him and recognise his incompetance.
    Maybe if the MSM had been held to account for praising every tiny action and ignoring all of the blunders we could have a halfway decent Labor government by now?
    We the people need to stop patronising the bs we are being fed about what a wonderful person Malcolm is and we need to show the MSM and even the Independant media, that Malcolm is NOT the man for the job!
    He has achieved nothing of worth in 12 months of being a human turntable.

  27. Harquebus

    There really is no difference between the major parties. The byproduct of a corporate controlled democracy.

    Something that I came across just this morning:
    “the world’s leading governments have become decidedly fascist and are rapidly heading in a totalitarian direction. There are a number of facets to this development, all of them disturbing: The elimination of personal privacy, the creation of capital controls, confiscation of wealth, the conversion to electronic banking as the sole form of currency, international taxation standards and the creation of a police state.”

  28. Kaye Lee

    Fascism requires a strong leader with a heightened sense of nationalism. I would say we are suffering more from the travails of unfettered greed and unregulated capitalism.

  29. TuffGuy

    Yet here I sit, still pondering about who on earth were the idiots who actually voted the Keystone Cops back in??? Come on, all of you stand up and admit to the world you are idiots. What we need is a politician performance panel made up of unbiased and independent citizens. Prior to an election they would do a performance assessment on all politicians and those not measuring up to a determined standard would be given the boot, nobody would be allowed to vote for them.

  30. Keith

    On Q&A on Monday night it was good to see Hunt tackle Roberts in relation to climate change. If only Hunt had taken the same views to the Environment portfolio. East Antarctica was thought to be quit stable; until it was discovered the Totten glacier was not stable. Now ponds are being found on the surface of the East Antarctic ice sheet.

  31. stephentardrew

    Kaye you are a gem.

  32. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee.
    A fascist dictatorship maybe but, a fascist democracy?
    No argument from me on your second point.

  33. Michael Taylor

    Anti-Labor rant from Neil is on the horizon.

  34. Max Gross

    This is one of the best, most succinct and accurate summations of the LNP ratbags-in-charge… Thank you, it was both edifying and horrifying.. Now, where’s that bottle of vodka I’ve been saving…

  35. paulwalter

    When Neil is being silly it is good that the Olympics are on teev.

  36. Kronomex

    I see poor ickle sooky wooky Duncehead is throwing a tantrum – and – about being picked on by the media. Funny how Murdoch’s Main Sleaze Media seems to be exempt from the petulant whining of a useless excuse for a minister and politician. What a complete wanker!

  37. paulwalter

    I will save my sympathy for his numerous victims.

  38. Graeme Henchel

    Twas on the good ship Tony
    Where all the crew were phoney
    They had no clue of what to do
    But make up more baloney

    Rupert Murdoch paved the way
    The Course was set by the IPA
    The Rich get more and screw the poor
    That’s the coalition way.

    Captain Tony kept on lying
    Distracting and denying
    Into your eye, he’d tell a lie
    Then lie that he was lying

    Blame’n and lie’n
    Distract’n and deny’n
    These lying pricks played dirty tricks
    Twas all that they could do

    The first mates name was Peta
    You wouldn’t want to meet her
    She kept tight reign on Tony’s brain
    And no one could unseat her

    Old Bronwyn had the speaker’s chair
    School ma’am looks and beehive hair
    She’d get her lines from Perfidious Pyne
    She treated labor most unfair

    The 2IC was Warren Truss
    What he did was hard to suss
    This waste of space still took his place
    Right on board the bullshit bus

    The treasurer’s name was Hockey
    A big buffoon, quite stocky
    His budget plan, went in the can
    And now he’s not so cocky

    And then there was perfidious Pyne
    An odious man most prone to whine
    This silly smuck has his head stuck
    Up where the sun don’t shine

    That nasty man called Scott
    He let the refugees rot
    A Christian jerk with a vicious smirk
    Like Christ, he sure was not

    Foreign officer Julie
    Treats asbestos claims quite cruelly
    With her coiffured hair and deadly stare
    She’d plagiarise unduly

    The richest guy was Mal
    He played up to lefties well
    But his polished prose got on the nose
    When he backed his lying pal

    George Brandis was the legal man
    Though twas pretty hard to tell
    he set his sights on bigots rights
    Now his ego’s not so well.

    Barnaby was a country bloke
    Got red faced when’er he spoke
    This hyena was mates with Gina
    A Witless wonder, such a joke

    A backbencher was Malcolm Brough
    he played the game a little rough
    Ashby the squeaker, he sunk the speaker.
    And now his career is out of puff

    Kevin Andrews was a churchy guy
    Another “Christian” who lives a lie
    He sang rejoices for Howard’s work choices
    While Workers rights were said goodbye

    The environment guy was Hunt
    A receding little runt
    His climate stance was left to chance
    On A “stuff the planet” punt

    No one forgets that fool Abetz
    He really is a shocker
    He screws with joy the unemployed
    That man is off his rocker

    The medical man was Dutton
    His GP Tax is best forgotten
    Access to health based on your wealth
    A policy that’s really rotten

    There was a lass, Fiona Nash
    Could block a website in a flash
    Said twas her staff that made the gaff
    And nought to do with donors’ cash

    McFarlane the industry bloke
    in strange robotic tones he spoke
    Now Auto is rooted, renewables neutered
    And Scores of companies going broke

    Sinodinos was the finance wonder
    ICAC saw him moved asunder
    Was he Arthur or was he Martha
    Dodgy donors, major blunder

    Bernadi was the religious nutter
    he had his thoughts down in the gutter
    gay rights would creep, onward to sheep
    This utter nutter uttered

    There was also a fat faced f*cktard
    Christensen, a lump of lard
    This banana bender was a country member
    And a really dumb bastard

    From WA Michaelia Cash
    A screaming shrew, true Tory trash
    Born to rule and creepy cruel
    All bellicose and balderdash

    There also was Mathias
    He’s one of the best liars
    He helped the banks but gets no thanks
    Cos his FOFA laws were biased

    Andrew Robb was chief denier
    On carbon price a blatant liar
    His view ensued Turnbull was screwed
    While Abbott led them to the mire

    As Tony led his lying crew
    Through fiasco on to farce
    Amongst the crew, a new thought grew
    “we’ve got to save our arse”

    Dissent was in the rumour mill
    But who would take the dagger
    They had the spill but not the kill
    Though Tony lost his swagger

    This mendacious ship has run aground
    Their lying powers diminished
    The Murdoch press couldn’t fix the mess
    And Tony’s time looked finished

    But Tony had an evil plan
    He’d pretend to change direction
    Hoping the shit won’t hit the fan
    before the next election.

    The budget crisis was no more

  39. helvityni

    Graeme Henchel,liberal politics in a form of poetry makes reading about it more palatable, in the same fashion as sugar makes medicines go down.

  40. lawrencewinder

    One of the most horrifying elements is the role of the IPA in the ideological stupidity of the Ruling Rabble (both Mk’s, 1 &2).
    How is it that there is never disclosure from the Liarbrils during a campaign that it is the agenda of The-Coots-With-Queer-Ideas-From-a-Parallel-Universe that the deluded are really voting for?
    It is also a question for for Flopsy Frydenberg as to whether it is true as Dr. Michael Borga (ex CSIRO) and Prof. Isaac Santos (NationalScience Centre,Coff’s Harbour) allege that research into CSG emissions is being stalled, stymied and blocked and that one of main reasons for the gutting of the climate change section of CSIRO was the NSW Minerals Council? All of which also neratly falls into the IPA agenda of selling off CSIRO!
    And then one asks. Who are these mongrels governing for?

  41. Wayne Turner

    The biggest fools of all – The fools that keep voting them back.

    Stupidity by the majority,who clearly are voting on what they can relate to – “fools”.

  42. paulwalter

    Graeme Henshell, I am lost for words.

  43. Michael Taylor

    Very good, Graeme. A great read. Most enjoyable.

  44. kizhmet

    Graeme, your talent is mindboggling. Bravo!

    I’m inclined to agree with Harquebus – I think global politics is heading increasingly towards fascism. Scares me witless.

  45. Garth

    Just beautiful Graeme. If I could just make one criticism, I’m not sure about the implication that Tony has a brain to be controlled by anyone, including himself.

  46. Miriam English

    Graeme, exquisite! I have no idea how you manage to do that.
    At least something good can be made from the LNP pack of malevolent idiots.

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