This year witnessed the demise of the George Bush/Tony Blair/John Howard axis of annoyance which had so dominated the first decade of the new century. However, the advent of Obamaism did not calm the land and many a commentator gave hyperbole and prophecy a real chance over the past 12 months.
January Journalist Patrick Carlyon opens the batting by declaring that “Adolf Hitler set a benchmark for retirements”. Believe it or not, he was contemplating the exit from cricket of Test opener Matt Hayden. Elizabeth Farrelly contends that “Sydney cyclists know every second driver is out to kill them”. Media tart economist Steve Keen predicts a certain recession in Australia this year and proclaims that the global financial crisis “is worse than the Great Depression” of seven decades ago.
February Retired Trotskyist Alex Mitchell prophesises “an early election later this year” and says that “it is becoming increasingly clear” that Peter Costello will lead the Liberal Party to the polls. Property developer and publisher of The Monthly Morry Schwartz complains that “far too many Australians are slaves to shallow contemporary culture”. Historian Jonathan King pontificates that we are in a “post global-warming period” and links the Victorian bushfires with Australia’s death toll in World War I. Never mind that some 60,000 Australians died in World War I and Victoria’s most extensive bushfire ever occurred in 1851.
March Former Liberal Party leader John Hewson tells Sky News viewers that “in the schoolyard analogy, someone should take” Peter Costello “behind the dunny and beat him up”. ABC economics reporter Stephen Long throws the switch to uber-bearish and advises his listeners to “man the soup kitchens and erect the tent cities” as 2009 channels 1931.
April Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse accuses his players of “letting down the Anzacs” following his team’s loss to Essendon in the AFL’s Anzac Day match. He seems unaware quite a few Diggers in 1915 barracked for Essendon. Lateline presenter and eco-catastrophist Tony Jones gives vent to the view that “rises in global sea levels could be as much as six metres by the end of the century”.
May The State Library of Victoria proudly displays artist Juan Davila’s print depicting former premier Jeff Kennett as a cow surrounded by trees in the form of Nazi swastikas. Not to be outdone, the Labor MP Steve Gibbons maintains that the Coalition shows “all the compassion of the Third Reich”. Rugby League executive Geoff Carr warns that any AFL entry into Western Sydney would be its equivalent of “the Vietnam War”.
June The chief executive of Universities Australia, Glenn Withers, links attacks on Indian students in Australia this year to the Howard government’s abolition of compulsory student unionism some years earlier. Commentator-cum-comedian Guy Rundle opines that “the closest Australia has come to a Ceausescu moment was the News Ltd celebration of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch’s centenary”. He’s referring to the murderous dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, late of Romania.
July The depths of winter encourage an exaggeration spike. The leftist advocacy group Get Up! compares the Rudd Government’s attempt to thwart child pornography on the internet with “what happened in Iran”. SBS reporter and John Pilger admirer Sophie McNeill asserts that “in Gaza everyone basically is under 18”. Kevin Rudd alleges the Liberals want to put “a nuclear power plant in everyone’s backyard”. Richard Flanagan somehow equates the aims of the Coalition for Cheaper Books with “handing over the Obama children to be baby-sat by the Taliban”. Flanagan is a novelist.
August Labor’s Nathan Rees claims “the current wave of climate change scepticism smacks of 1930s-style appeasement”. CNBC house leftie Erin Burnett condemns Rudd for allegedly launching air strikes against camels and accuses him of camelcide. AMC Media principal Anthony McClellan tells ABC 702’s Deborah Cameron to expect a Christmas election.
September Environmentalist Tim Flannery foretells that “if we don’t get an agreement in Copenhagen” this will amount to “potentially a prelude to war”. Columnist Paul Daley looks into his crystal ball and sees Malcolm Turnbull prevailing within the Liberal Party on an emissions trading scheme, with only a few Liberal backbenchers crossing the floor in the Senate to oppose the legislation. Almost the exact opposite of what happened.
October Former judge Michael Kirby suggests that News Ltd’s newspapers run “as much a party line as in the days of Molotov and Beria” in the Soviet Union communist dictatorship. Kirby’s putdown was prominently reported in one of Rupert Murdoch’s publications. Jenna Price outs herself as “the last middle-aged woman in the world who has not been to Tuscany”. Melbourne academic Waleed Aly contends that “every Sydney conversation must ultimately become a discussion of property prices”.
November Author Shane Maloney takes a stand against cheaper books by depicting the Productivity Commission as “like a vampire in his box with a stake through his heart”. Maloney writes fiction. What
on earth does he mean? Liberal backbencher Peter Slipper argues “the result of the party meeting
as declared by the leader [Turnbull] was about as dodgy as the Zimbabwean election organised by Robert Mugabe”.
December The year ends with John Coates equating any reduction in funding for some Olympic sports with “going back to the White Australia days”, and Tony Abbott describing the Copenhagen summit as “some latter-day environmental Munich agreement”. The Opposition Leader later withdrew this comparison. Then there was academic Robert Manne’s much-publicised “fantasy” in The Australian that the Greens would achieve a “breakthrough” in the byelections for Bradfield and Higgins and that the results would also witness “the destruction of the Liberal Party”. What a fantastic end to yet another year of hyperbole and soothsaying.