Here we are stumbling towards the finishing line of 2019, safe in the knowledge we went the whole year without a change of Prime Minister.
That means it’s time for annual Dubbo Photo News/Weekender Winner and Loser Awards. The judges raked through a year of vainglorious political inertia, spoke quietly to many Quiet Australians, and found the following worthy award recipients:
Tony Abbott – The long-time member for Warringah lost his job in the May election but will be comforted by a $300,000 annual pension as a former Prime Minister, a rise of $90,000 over his last wage as a backbencher.
Franking Credits – a loophole created by the Howard Government in 1981, which initially cost the budget about $550 million annually, is on track to be an $8 billion annual windfall to the oppressed investor class. Franking credits were the talk of the federal election and survived the threat of being abolished by Labor. The People, especially those who don’t get them and had no idea what they were but liked the idea of free money, rejoiced.
Citizen Journalists – the standard of news collection, analysis and reporting by the public advanced in leaps and bounds this year. Citizen journalists are breaking political stories and carrying out detailed analysis of financial fraud that mainstream journalists are either not interested in or told not to be by their masters. Reporting on the pillaging of Murray-Darling Basin water by political donors by citizens in the know left the mainstream press for dead.
Thumbs Up – Trump started it, now everyone’s doing it. Thumbs up and a cheesy grin is the gesture of choice to say you are one of the people.
Rupert Murdoch – The political leaders of Murdoch’s three biggest media markets (the USA, the UK and Australia) are now firmly aligned to the Murdoch empire. Proving facts don’t matter when he is on your team at election time, Rupert can look forward to further defunding of public broadcasters and no scrutiny of his tax affairs.
Ash Barty – Australian tennis player Ash Barty won her first Grand Slam title this year and was named the Women’s Tennis Association player of the year. Treats playing professional as a privilege and is the best antidote to the brattish nonsense of Kyrgios and Tomic.
Religious fanaticism – in various guises is being embraced all over the world. From a proposed law in Ohio USA, to reimplant ectopic pregnancies, to bombings in Kashmir, Somalia and Sri Lanka, the Christchurch massacre, armed conflict in Gaza, forced detention of Uyghurs in Chinese prisons, televangelist Paula White working in the White House as Trump’s spiritual advisor, Israel Folau’s faith, and the religious freedom bill being worked through the Australian parliament – hard-line doctrine is advancing its cause around the globe.
Angus Taylor – the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction was unable to be forced from cabinet despite bouncing from scandal to scandal. The well-connected Taylor has achieved outstanding personal gain on the public purse while being harder to shift than dried Weetbix.
Steve Smith and David Warner – winning matches allowed sport fans to forget the ball tampering scandal and award Smith and Warner redemption. Sinners who are winners are grinners.
Four Corners – continued to outshine every other news programme. Insightful reporting into the Pell conviction, right-wing extremism and Chinese authoritarianism are just a few examples of episodes that proved proper investigative journalism still exists in this country.
Word of the Year – “Unprecedented” had a workout this year, being used to describe drought, bushfires, Trump, fish kills, interest rates, banking misdemeanours, a royal scandal, climate change street marches and Hong Kong protests.
Trump – enough already. And by enabling Trump, the Republican Party proves power for power’s sake is its single motivation.
Scott Morrison – A win is a win, and Morrison won a one-seat majority to claim a mandate as an elected Prime Minister. It was all downhill from there though, having achieved nothing since other than presiding over a stagnant economy and an out of control national debt. Short of substance but blessed with copious hubris, his conspicuous absence during the bushfire catastrophe is emblematic of his true character.
The Catholic Church – An estimated $5 million in legal defence costs paid by the coffers of the Catholic Church were not enough to save George Pell from becoming the highest-ranking Catholic clergyman in the world to be convicted of child sexual assault. And still the victims went without a proper apology or compensation.
Dignity of office – Trump, Morrison, Hanson, Berejiklian, Joyce, Johnson, McCormack, Christensen, Robert, Canavan, Albanese, Erdogan, Bolsonaro and so on. Insulting the status of high office by indulging in immature, petulant and cynical behaviour they think “appeals to the base”. Hyper-partisanship and political point scoring have reduced the statesman/woman to near extinction.
Holden – Once the icon of Australian motoring, Holden is struggling for relevance in an overcrowded vehicle market. The demise of local manufacturing has left Holden anchored with overseas-built models that have not gained any traction in the marketplace. Holden will go close to slipping out of the top 10 brands for sales, and major metropolitan dealers are bailing out of the brand.
The Labor Party – Even with reasonable policies they proved an unlosable election is losable given the choice of the wrong leader, the sustained scare tactics by the Coalition, and the propaganda campaign by the Murdoch Press. The Party had no answer to the noise generated by anti-Shorten sentiment. Must try harder and be smarter next time.
Aung San Suu Kyi – In a continuing fall from grace, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate has fronted the International Court of Justice to defend herself from charges of facilitating the genocide and forced deportation of Rohingya Muslims. Will withdrawal of the Nobel Prize be next?
Prince Andrew – for decades known as Randy Andy, Prince Andrew proved that being born to royalty is no guarantee of ethics, morals and decency; and opens up the nature versus nurture debate about human behaviour. As the head of a church, his mother could surely have provided all the moral guidance he needed.
Me – I predicted Labor would win the federal election by being a small target and letting the Coalition lose the unwinnable election. I also predicted Trump would be gone by the end of 2019. Not many days left so there is still hope for a Trump implosion.
By his own admission, Greg Smart was born 40 years old and is in training to be a cranky old man. He spends his time avoiding commercial television and bad coffee.