And so it came to pass that 2022, the Lunar Year of the Tiger, was more lunar than tiger. Indeed, a sense of madness prevailed as hyperbole, narcissism, self-indulgence, false prophecy, fake news and end-of-the-worldism swept the land. Month by month.
January is ushered in with Paul Daley declaring that hearing the morning call of birdsong near Sydney airport had become “one of the glorious upsides of lockdown”. He writes for Guardian Australia and presents as a laptop socialist. Newspapers carry an ad announcing that Clive Palmer’s candidate Craig Kelly is a successor to Billy Hughes, Joseph Lyons and Robert Menzies and will be “the next prime minister of Australia”. Palmer’s crystal ball obviously distorts both the past and future.
February: Despite John Pilger’s prediction to the contrary, Vladimir Putin’s Russia invades Ukraine. Renewables investor and eco-catastrophist Mike Cannon-Brookes responds with a “make renewables not war” tweet. Alas, Putin is not moved. ACTU secretary Sally McManus has an idea to solve Sydney’s floods: all Sydneysiders to run all taps all day and drop the level of Warragamba Dam. Her tweet is removed following engineering advice.
March: Former politician Tony Windsor asks what would happen if the nations of the world each represented by 10 citizens and/or leaders of the world gathered in Kyiv and walked towards the Russians. Putin does not answer the question – and neither do the leaders of China or Iran. Nine journalist Peter FitzSimons suggests that ABC comedian Mark Humphries could turn into a brilliant leader “a la the inspirational President Zelensky of Ukraine”. This suggestion is certainly funnier than a Humphries joke.
April: Australian National University academic Dr Jill Sheppard (for a doctor she is) tells ABC Radio it’s unlikely the teal independents will win seats in the federal election. She says “predictions are a fool’s game”. Quite so. As the saying goes, it’s unwise to make predictions, especially about the future.
May: Norman Swan, the doctor in the ABC house who has not practised medicine for four decades, tweets about his forthcoming book So You Want to Live Younger Longer? The cover promotes him as “Australia’s most trusted doctor”, which indicates that the rest of us are destined to consult a less trusted doctor. Former ABC star Kerry O’Brien advises current ABC star Virginia Trioli that more Australians trust the ABC than any other news source. No one mentions that ABC TV News comes behind that of Seven and Nine in ratings, indicating that most Australians watch news they trust less than the ABC – eh?
June: Greens senator Lidia Thorpe, who recently declared that she didn’t identify as an Australian but now sits in the Senate, boasts to Ten’s The Project that her intention is to infiltrate the parliament. But not, apparently, to the extent of disrupting the pay office. Hobart-based leftist Richard Flanagan rants in Nine newspapers that the Coalition governments of recent memory turned the Order of Australia into a currency more debased than the “Iranian rial”. He seems unaware that such awards are presided over by the governor-general independent of the prime minister.
July: Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy, a key player in The Guardian-ABC axis, alleges on ABC Radio National that during the years of the Coalition government “renewables were a thought crime”. The previous month Tony Wood, the Grattan Institute’s authoritative energy commentator, said “there had been a very strong transition towards renewable energy in this country”. Tom Ballard who, in Barry Humphries’ term, identifies as a comedian, cannot understand why the Greens’ emission targets should not be accepted by Labor and the Coalition.
August: ACT independent senator David Pocock expresses the belief that the Earth is on “the brink of collapse”, giving a secular relevance to the “end of the world is nigh” declaration once used by Christians to warn of the need to prepare for the apocalypse. Tasmanian novelist Amanda Lohrey writes in The Age condemning ambition. She depicts it as an “individualistic culture that has developed over the past 30 years of neoliberal capitalism”. Lohrey’s working life has been spent in tertiary institutions with the benefit of public funding courtesy of the taxpayer.
September: Eco-catastrophist journalist Nick O’Malley’s report on extreme weather events is so extreme that a Sydney Morning Herald sub-editor heads it “Who will save planet Earth from humans?”. Kathy Lette kisses and tells about her interaction with Prince Harry and, to a lesser extent, Prince William. She predicts that the fate of the pair could be “the Tower – or perhaps another kiss from me”. It’s unclear what would be the better option.
October: Sam Bankman-Fried makes the cover of The Australian Financial Review Magazine’s “Young Rich” edition. An accompanying article by Mark Di Stefano begins: “Depending on how you define young, Sam Bankman-Fried is the world’s richest young person.” Depending on how you define rich, perhaps the point to be made is that the hyphenated-name guy has been freed in the US on a $US250m bond while awaiting criminal charges. Sydney journalist Margot Saville’s verdict on the Barangaroo development is that it’s “a temple of mammon … poisoning everything around it”.
November: Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp gives a TEDx talk opining that Covid-19 changed Melbourne “forever and … for the better”. She says Melbourne had gone from lockdown to boomtown. Perhaps Capp hasn’t walked down Bourke or Flinders streets lately. Lisa Wilkinson quits The Project citing “relentless, targeted toxicity”, overlooking the fact her most significant critic was ACT Chief Justice Lucy McCallum, who held that Wilkinson’s Logie Awards speech failed to draw a distinction “between an untested allegation and the fact of guilt”. No toxicity (male or female) in this finding.
December: Magda Szubanski AO (as she presents on Twitter) rejects the suggestion that former prime minister Scott Morrison should be treated with respect. Her point is that we do not respect Marcos, Putin, Pinochet “or any other abuser of power” just because they held office. The evidence indicates that this trio presided over their regimes’ political executions, torture, disappearance of opponents and the like. A bit like Morrison, according to MS (AO).