Since the world, according to Greta Thunberg and her disciples, faces extinction it came as no surprise that this year there was a certain madness in the air — especially among those who regard themselves as progressive.
After all, when the end of the world seemed (relatively) nigh it was no surprise that hyperbole, exaggeration, hypocrisy, wish fulfilment, false prophecy and a lack of self-awareness, along with double standards, prevailed in the land as we headed towards Apocalypse Soon — month after month.
January: The year begins with Nine Entertainment newspapers’ Peter FitzSimons criticising footballers who engage in look-at-me behaviour after scoring a goal. This from a middle-aged man who wears a red bandana on his head.
Nine’s David Crowe predicts that if former Liberal Julia Banks wins Flinders in the federal election “it will be an earthquake for the Liberals”. She finishes third.
The New Daily’s Quentin Dempster suggests that Sky News’ Chris Kenny “probably gets his instructions telepathically” from Rupert Murdoch.
February: The Saturday Paper’s Paul Bongiorno tweets he admires “the ABC’s policy to put different voices and accents on air”. He adds: “I wish the reporter they sent to NZ spoke English; her accent is incomprehensible.” In fact, the journalist concerned speaks impeccable English with an understandable Scottish accent.
From Singapore, Alex Turnbull states that the lesson of “the internal war over coal in the Coalition is that the sooner the Qld LNP splits the better” since “you can pander to central cuspy Qld One Nation voters or form government but not both”. See May.
March: Nine newspapers’ Peter Hartcher writes a series of articles on what he regards as the current predicament facing the Liberal Party. Hartcher is of the view that only the likes of Malcolm Turnbull should lead the Liberals.
But he expresses disappointment that his man did not perform in accordance with expectations. Hartcher seeks advice from political psychologist James Walter, who convinces him that Turnbull sold his soul to Lucifer in a modern day “Faustian bargain” to hang on as party leader by appeasing conservatives.
The fact is Turnbull lost the support of his colleagues, who did not include Lucifer. By the way, in January Walter foresaw a “wholesale collapse” of the Liberal Party “appears to be inevitable”.
April: La Trobe University emeritus professor Judith Brett opines that “not since 1943 has the non-Labor side of national politics entered an election campaign in such poor shape” and predicts “it could well be heading for another low point”.
Bongiorno concurs, maintaining the Liberal Party’s “credibility is in tatters due to the fact that the person leading it is not Malcolm Turnbull but it is Scott Morrison”.
Former Liberal leader (and constant Liberal Party antagonist) John Hewson declares the Coalition “is facing electoral defeat”.
Lawyer Michael Bradley advises Crikey readers that Rugby Australia has “every right” to say Israel Folau’s behaviour “cannot be accepted”. See December.
May: On the eve of the election, ABC 7.30 political editor Laura Tingle predicts that Labor will win and laughs at the suggestion the Coalition might prevail.
Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy writes that Morrison’s vulnerability as an “empty vessel” is “becoming as obvious as the nose on Morrison’s face”.
The Age’s Tony Wright decrees that “the Liberal edifice is toppling”. Needless to say, this trio remain “experts” after the Coalition’s victory and live to make more false predictions.
Nine newspapers’ cartoonist Kathy Wilcox laments that “morons outnumber the thinking people at election time”. The ABC’s Andrew Probyn blames opinion polls, but not commentators like him, for misleading the electorate.
June: In The Australian Financial Review Geoff Kitney rationalises the election result by asserting that “Australian voters didn’t really choose” Morrison. In a novel interpretation, Kitney reckons “many” electors voted for the Coalition because they thought Labor would win. Really.
Mike Carlton boasts: “I feel this delicious lightness of Being. A heady draught of Liberation! Freedom! It is like Paris, August 1944.”
You see, your man Carlton said he had just cancelled his subscription to The Australian — an act he equated with the D-Day landings.
July: Garrulous visiting British political operative Alastair Campbell dominates discussion on the ABC’s Q&A program. In the process he equates Donald Trump with Adolf Hitler — as if the victims of Nazism only had to put up with excessive tweeting.
FitzSimons suggests Boris Johnson cannot promise “strong political leadership”. Nine newspapers’ Tony Walker compares Johnson’s “shambolic personal life” with that of the “outstanding” Lord Palmerston, apparently unaware of the latter’s personal life as a womaniser on steroids.
August: Waleed Aly, who is a presenter on Network Ten’s The Project as well as on ABC Radio National, complains in his Nine newspaper column that Johnson “has suspended Parliament in the name of the people!”
The exclamation mark is intended to underline the allegation that the move was somehow undemocratic. But parliament in Britain resumed and Johnson led the Conservatives to a clear election victory in December. Nine newspapers lead with a story that “the Chinese economy is in danger of hurtling towards a hard landing that could threaten more than half a million Australian jobs”. A prophecy that remains unfulfilled, so far at least.
September: Malcolm Farr tells ABC Insiders viewers Cronulla, in Morrison’s electorate, will be under water in 50 to 100 years — a prediction that exceeds the most alarmist eco-catastrophists.
Zali Steggall, the independent MP for Warringah, which is close to the sea, says she cannot afford an electric car and calls on the government to subsidise such vehicles to allow her to replace her Nissan Pathfinder.
ABC presenter Matt Bevan sneers at the Prime Minister’s successful trip to the US as the “box factory visit”.
October: In The Australian Financial Review, the normally considered Martin Wolf expresses the view that it is a measure of how far Britain has fallen that Johnson in 2019 “often sounds rather like” Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels in 1933.
Then Nine newspapers runs an article by economist Paul Krugman predicting Trump may preside over a slump — without mentioning he falsely predicted a recession in Trump’s first year in office. ABC journalist Osman Faruqi discovers rampant racism in Andrew Rule welcoming the fact an Australian-born horse won the Melbourne Cup.
November: Retired ABC journalist Kerry O’Brien lectures an admiring audience at the Walkley Awards that Australia is on “an unacceptable step down on the road to authoritarianism” and that “authoritarianism unchecked can lead to fascism”. But not, apparently, to communism.
In Guardian Australia, Van Badham confesses she consigned her University of Wollongong Anarchist Collective T-shirt to “the dustbin of history” following a realisation that “organic extrapolitical entities” cannot “govern themselves democratically”. This wisdom came following a “wild internet barney” in the anarchist collective at Rose Bay on Sydney Harbour.
December: Guardian editor Lenore Taylor condemns the Prime Minister for alleged “woefully inadequate climate policy” without mentioning she recently put her large Canberra house, which has a woefully inadequate energy rating, on the market.
FitzSimons dismisses the Folau settlement without realising Folau received a big payout from Rugby Australia plus two apologies.
Paula Matthewson bags Morrison for not doing “something” about the bushfires. This is the same Matthewson who dismissed the futility of Tony Abbott for fighting fires when he was prime minister in 2013. The Saturday Paper’s Eric Jensen concludes the year with this soothsaying: “Scott Morrison marks Captain Cook anniversary by taking career ending trip to Hawaii.” In Nine newspapers, Mark Mordue warns “our dead future is here”. Enough said.
Gerard Henderson is executive director of The Sydney Institute.