Without question, 2011 was a year replete with hyperbole and false prophecy, which, come to think of it, is typical of our time.
JANUARY The new year has barely begun when Bob Ellis, the seer of Palm Beach, declares on the ABC’s The Drum: ”I alone, in all of Australia, think Labor will hold government” in NSW. Shortly before April Fools’ Day, Barry O’Farrell leads the Coalition to one of the greatest victories in Australian political history. Earlier in January, reports emerge that environmentalist Tim Flannery predicted that, within this century, a ”strong Gaia will actually become physically manifest”. One person’s Gaia is another’s full moon.
FEBRUARY The former Labor leader Mark Latham asserts that ”anyone who chooses a life without children, as [Julia] Gillard has, cannot have much love in them”. He does not say whether this maxim applies to such departed childless types as Florence Nightingale and Mary MacKillop. Christine Assange, the sandal-wearing mother of the famous Julian, maintains: ”What we’re looking at here is political and legal gang-rape of my son.” The reference is to Sweden’s attempt to question Assange about sexual assault allegations.
APRIL Superannuated Trotskyite Alex Mitchell states that Libyans belong to several tribes and they would never fire on one another. Media tart Kathy Lette reckons that if you ”mention ‘the Queen’ to most Aussie kids . . . they presume you’re talking about Elton John”. Nevertheless, Lette is first in the queue to meet the real Queen at the palace.
MAY Public-sector union boss John Cahill classifies the O’Farrell government’s industrial relations reforms as ”worse than Stalinist Soviet Union”. He forgets that Stalin shot workers’ advocates. Andrew Bolt tells his readers that, under the leadership of commissioner Christine Nixon, the Victorian Police force ”was subjected to an almost Maoist program of re-education”. He overlooked the fact that Mao’s regime led to the deaths of 50 million Chinese.
JUNE The seer of Palm Beach is at it again. This time Ellis theorises in The Spectator Australia that Malcolm Turnbull ”will accept a job on the Gillard front bench and thereafter intrigue to become . . . a Labor prime minister”. The writer Geraldine Brooks foresees a ”critical juncture” for the world environment and predicts a time when ”there’s not going to be any Wall Street, there’s not going to be an economy”. Brooks was the ABC Boyer lecturer this year.
JULY Stuart Littlemore pontificates: ”I think most people are actually shits.” He goes on to warn that it is a mistake ”to heroise or demonise people”. Really. Littlemore is a barrister/novelist. Geoffrey Robertson, QC, excitedly tells ABC News Breakfast that Rupert Murdoch ”before the week is out may find himself under arrest or at least assisting the police with their inquiries”. The reference was to the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. For the record, Murdoch was not arrested.
AUGUST Elizabeth Farrelly links American commentator Rebecca Hagelin’s opposition to same-sex marriage with ”ducking-stool type thinking. White-pointy-hood-type thinking. Taliban thinking.” Fred Nile, MLC, equates the introduction of ethics classes in schools with secular humanism, which he says is the ”philosophy that we saw during World War II with the Nazis and with the communists”.
SEPTEMBER During a one-hour interview with Phillip Adams at the taxpayer-funded Byron Bay Writers’ Festival, leftist functionary John Pilger alleges that the US President, Barack Obama, is a ”war criminal”. Pilger receives a standing ovation from the audience and a ”10 out of 10 and a koala stamp” from Adams. The entire hour is replayed on ABC2. Writing in the New Statesman, Pilger depicts the Westfield shopping centre in London’s East End at Stratford as ”a vision of hell”. Nevertheless, he bought a pair of sunglasses there. Raimond Gaita depicts Israel as a ”criminal state”.
OCTOBER Author and Tony Abbott-hater Susan Mitchell says that if the Coalition wins government she will ”probably be locked up”. She also maintains Gillard is ”not within a whisker of becoming prime minister at this stage”. Apparently, she is already anticipating the next election result. The Greens leader, Bob Brown, expresses the view that 700,000 coastal properties will be doomed by 2050. Dick Smith compares the Murdoch media to the Soviet Union.
NOVEMBER Herald Sun columnist Susie O’Brien argues that Alan Joyce ”wants to kill” Qantas. Sky News commentator Greg O’Mahoney depicts the link between Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats and the Shooters Party as the ”guns and rosaries lobby”. O’Mahoney is unaware that Protestants like Nile don’t do rosaries – that’s a Catholic thing. Former Labor MP John Brown maintains that the ABC’s decision not to extend Deborah Cameron’s contract ”will leave this timeslot to non-intellectual idiots”.
DECEMBER It’s time to take (yet another) stance for Assange. Michael Pearce, SC writes that Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich has called for Assange to be ”murdered”. And ethicist Leslie Cannold tells ABC TV that ”high-profile American politicians” have urged that he be assassinated. Neither produce evidence for their claims. The year ends with The Age’s house leftie Michael Leunig bemoaning the ”dreary dictates of materialism”. He is one of the paper’s higher-paid contributors.
Gerard Henderson is the executive director of the Sydney Institute.