WITH Mayan followers foretelling the end of the world before Christmas, it was to be expected 2012 would be replete with hyperbole, prophecy and odd behaviour. And so it came to pass, on a monthly basis.
An ABC Radio National identity, Jonathan Green, compares ”the John Howard leadership” style with that of the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad. The Radio National presenter Waleed Aly sympathises with a listener who maintains that we need to ”both celebrate and mourn” Australia Day, ”not necessarily in that order”. Jill Singer links restrictions on filming asylum seekers in Australia to ”media controls exercised by China, North Korea, Iran and many other totalitarian regimes”.
The Greens senator Scott Ludlam asserts that whoever drafted the Gillard government’s radioactive waste management bill ”may have spent some time in East Germany” during the communist dictatorship. Laura Tingle compares leadership conflict in the Labor caucus with Stalingrad in 1942-43. Tens of thousands died in that battle. Jessica Irvine opines that Labor is ”displaying all the rationality of a woman who’s about to go out to a dinner party” and does not know what dress to wear.
In an address to ”Fellow Earthians” the Greens leader Bob Brown asks ”why has no one from elsewhere in the Cosmos contacted us?” Writing in The Conversation, an academic, John Wanna, declares that ”predictions of a massive conservative landslide” in Queensland ”are exaggerated”. Not so. Stephen Mayne predicts on Crikey that ”the Murdochs will be kicked out of Britain and Foxtel won’t be allowed to buy Austar”. They weren’t and it did.
The host of Media Watch, Jonathan Holmes, claims Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, is ”in Downing Street because [Murdoch’s] The Sun had helped put him there” – overlooking the role of the British voters. Mungo MacCallum reminds us that Peter Slipper ”did not organise the Sandakan death march”.
Fiona Capp expresses the view that Jeff Waters wrote of his ”own death”. But the very alive author never died. Bob Ellis, the false prophet of Palm Beach, says ”the Liberal Party is over”. The civil libertarian lawyer David Pugh condemns the West Australian bikie laws as ”sort of like 1930s Germany”. John Pilger accuses the US President, Barack Obama, of presiding over ”the incarceration and surveillance of greater numbers of black people than were enslaved in 1850”.
On The Drum, the left activist Antony Loewenstein maintains that ”the opposition doesn’t actually care that much about refugee lives”. Clive Palmer paints Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s mining forum as ”a predetermined meeting like they had in Stalin’s Russia”. The economist Stephen Koukoulas foretells ”the surplus in 2012-13 is still more likely than not”.
The president of the Rationalist Society, Ian Robinson, links the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, with an ”Adolf Hitler … big lie” and suggests the Coalition uses ”Nazi propaganda techniques”. Bob Ellis hints Green-left campaigner Simon Sheikh’s collapse on Q&A may have been the result of poisoning. Labor speech writer Dennis Glover tells Sky News Kevin Rudd will be prime minister by Christmas.
Julian Burnside equates any proposal that Britain should extract Julian Assange from the Ecuadorean embassy in London as akin ”to the invasion of the Falklands”. Britain did not invade the Falklands. The 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales declares she is ”sorry to interrupt” Tony Abbott in an interview in which she advocated a ”scrupulous” approach to the truth.
Geraldine Doogue refers to Abbott’s ”savagery” in (allegedly) punching a wall behind a young woman’s head in 1977, an incident concerning which there is no independent witness, no contemporaneous reports and no evidence of damage to a wall or injury to a fist.
On Radio National’s Sunday Extra, Jane Gilmore prophesies ”leadership challenges on both sides” shortly after Boxing Day. David Penberthy reckons that ”many” listeners stay tuned to 2GB ”because they are too frail to get off the sofa to change the dial”. Anne Summers argues that it is ”terrible” to call Gillard a liar but declines to answer questions on whether the same judgment applies with respect to a similar allegation against Liberal leaders.
The broadcaster Jim Maxwell lauds the late cricket writer Peter Roebuck’s ”penetrating mind” and ”humanity”. He makes no mention of Roebuck’s conviction for assaulting a young black man or the allegations that he was a sexual predator. Clearly, Roebuck was not a clergyman – for whom different standards, apparently, apply.
The impact of Maya is evident in the report by Lord Justice Brian Leveson on the British media. Leveson described Brett Straub (born 1987) as a co-founder of The Independent newspaper (born 1986). Leveson, who has described the internet as an ”ethical vacuum”, got his information from, wait for it, Wikipedia. It was that kind of year.
Gerard Henderson is the executive director of the Sydney Institute.
Correction: An earlier version of this article included a tweet from Larissa Behrendt. That tweet occurred in April 2011, not April 2012.