For a fleeting moment, it looked as if 2015 might be the year in which prophecy attained credibility. After all, in September Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister of Australia — in accordance with the 2011 prediction of the Palm Beach-based seer Bob Ellis.
On checking, however, the False Prophet of Palm Beach foresaw that Turnbull would lead a Labor government. And so 2015 turned out to be, like its predecessor, replete with failed soothsaying, gross hyperbole and rank trivia. Month by month.
January. In The Guardian Australia, David Marr ventures into a New York snowstorm to review Starbucks’ new flat white. His verdict? “It’s not bad.” Thank god.
The leftist Crikey newsletter publishes a certain Tim Jarvis who reckons the radical Islamist attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris “was not an assault on freedom of speech”. Reassuring for the dead and wounded, don’t you think?
Meanwhile, in the Socialist Alliance’s Red Flag, comrade Corey Oakley blames the West for the Islamist attacks and predicts “inevitable reprisals” on “Muslims in the West”. Another flawed prediction.
February.The Age columnist Julie Szego sets the tone for the (Australian) media year, declaring that “diehard lefties”, like her, are prepared to vote for a Turnbull-led Liberal Party.
According to Szego: “In trendy cafes across the nation people are talking about Malcolm Turnbull. They talk mostly in whispers, eyes darting round the room, palms sweating; ‘I’d do it for Malcolm,’ the hipsters confess.” Gosh. Gush.
Meanwhile, on Sky News, Derryn Hinch suggests Tony Abbott may hold dual Australian-British citizenship and, consequently, would be ineligible to be prime minister. Hinch’s evidence? Zip.
March. A sense of exaggerated bipartisanship can be found either side of the Ides of March. Crikey willingly prints a rant by a certain Joe Boswell under the heading “Abbott’s Stalinist antecedent”. He compares Abbott’s criticism of Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs with “Stalin’s famous Moscow show trials” that led to widescale state-sponsored murder.
In The Australian Financial Review, Mark Latham asserts that, “in the space of a few weeks”, NSW Labor leader Luke Foley “went from Adam Smith to Joseph Stalin”. Mike Carlton tweets a “hooray” that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “teeters on the edge of oblivion”. Bibi is still in his day job in Jerusalem and Carlton is still tweeting from Avalon Beach, after dark.
April.The Sydney Morning Herald columnist Elizabeth Farrelly announces that Jesus Christ’s virtues are “the virtues of womanhood”. The Herald headline suggests Jesus “could … have actually been a woman”. Actually. Dr Farrelly (for a doctor she is) is into postmodernism. A frustrated Phillip Adams whinges that “on almost every major issue there are … the simply ignorant and … the wilfully ignorant”. And then there’s wise Adams and his leftist mates. After examining his crystal ball with reference to the British general election, the Prophet Ellis soothsays that “David Cameron cannot form a government and Ed Miliband can and will”.
May. Andrew Jaspan, editor of the taxpayer-subsidised The Conversation website, reckons Australia should be “good at more than just … scooping up coal and iron ore and putting it on boats to China and Japan and India”. He seems unaware that the Australian mining industry is one of the most technically advanced in the world.
Kate McClymont, Sydney Morning Herald journalist and barracker for the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, reckons Margaret Cunneen QC “may go from being the prosecutor to the prosecuted” following ICAC’s decision to refer her to the Director of Public Prosecutions. By year’s end, ICAC’s campaign against Cunneen had been completely discredited.
June. Avalon Beach tweeter Carlton states that “a broad streak of clerical fascism lies not far beneath Abbott’s thick hide”. So, according to Crikey, Abbott’s a Stalinist. and according to the Sage of Avalon Beach he’s a clerical fascist. ABC presenter Fran Kelly declares her support for 30-somethings who are “furious” that they cannot “save $100,000 for a deposit” on a house within 15km of the Sydney CBD. Apparently ABC types believe it unthinkable that 30-year-olds should live in places such as Kogarah and Parramatta. Can you bear it?
July. Former ABC executive producer David Salter asks: “How can we be sure that next time the prime minister appears on 7.30 he won’t rip off his clothes and dance a nude tango with Leigh Sales?” Good question, to be sure.
The Australian Financial Review’s Fleur Anderson declares “another federal election (is) only months away”. Labor frontbencher Kim Carr opines that “the Abbott government has all the hallmarks of a totalitarian regime”.
August.The Australian Financial Review political editor Laura Tingle writes that “conservatives — and the Coalition more broadly — will have to decide … whether they are prepared to have the Coalition’s reputation for good government likened in history to that of Whitlam’s”. Apparently forgetting that, the previous November, she had praised Gough Whitlam’s government.
The Age carries a Michael Leunig cartoon in which your man Leunig links government vaccination campaigns with a “fascist epiphany”.
Hinch announces that 30,000 souls have signed his petition querying Abbott’s citizenship. Which demonstrates that conspiracy theories remain popular.
September. Visiting British leftist Tariq Ali tells ABC News Radio that in 1975 “Gough Whitlam was removed by a CIA coup backed by local politicians”. His evidence? Zip.
Clive Palmer links the Abbott government to what “the Gestapo powers did in Germany in the 1930s”. Human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson lectures viewers ofThe Drum that Australians “have less rights than people … in Pakistan because we don’t have a bill of rights”. Really.
The Dalai Lama proclaims that if a woman were to succeed him she would have to be “very attractive otherwise she’s not much use”. His (sexist) comment is greeted with silence by feminists.
October. Fairfax Media’s Mark Kenny describes the 15-year-old murderer of NSW Police Department public servant Curtis Cheng as a “dude”. Introducing a new phenomenon of “the dude” as murderer.
Marxist comedian Guy Rundle sees a link between Turnbull’s replacement of Abbott and Napoleon’s declaration of “the end of the Holy Roman Empire on one day in 1806”. He’s serious. The Sydney Morning Herald finds an anonymous “top Tory” who described Abbott’s Margaret Thatcher lecture as “fascistic”.
November. Labor functionary Bruce Hawker maintains on The Bolt Report that “there was no al-Qa’ida” before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He apparently forgot the Islamist terrorist group’s attacks on the US embassies in Africa in the late 1990s along with the events of September 11, 2001. Wendy Harmer tells an approving ABC Q&A audience that she’s an “old-fashioned socialist” and alleges “we can’t afford anything anymore”. Soon after she is signed up by Michael Mason, the ABC’s head of radio, to present the mornings program on ABC 702. A perfect fit, to be sure.
December. As the sun goes down on another year, it’s time to look on the upside. Apparently journalist Bernard Keane broke his promise to “run naked round the Crikey office” if Labor won the 2015 Queensland election. And China expert Hugh White’s dire warning of late last year that the situation in Southeast Asia with respect to the US and China “is a little like what happened in 1914” came to nought. The third world war did not begin this year, which opens up 2016 for further revelations of the hyperbolic genre.