Could 2010 have been the year in which exaggeration and false prophesy reached their nadir? You be the judge.
JANUARY The former Labor leader Mark Latham predicts Tony Abbott will lead the Coalition to “electoral slaughter” and describes Kevin Rudd as a “master populist”. Latham also says “large parts of the electorate have low IQs”. The former Liberal MP Ross Cameron praises the increasingly autocratic Russian leader Vladimir Putin as having an “extraordinary record of achievement in office”. The businessman Dick Smith prophesies that Australians face “starving to death” within a century. The writer Peter Carey reflects that “the whole world is getting more stupid”.
FEBRUARY Crikey contends that The Australian’s editor, Chris Mitchell, “has been conducting a fatwa on Rudd for a year or more”. The South Australian treasurer, Kevin Foley, accuses the Opposition Leader, Isobel Redmond, of engaging in “Stalinist-type economic theory”. George Negus claims that Italians “all have the same lifestyle … they all eat pasta, they all go to the football, they all discuss politics”. Bob Ellis proclaims that Julia Gillard “has shown for three years of question time no recognisable human characteristic whatsoever”.
MARCH The ABC TV presenter Mary Gearin strikes a blow for gender equity (and medical science) when she declares that nowadays “men have the babies as well” as women. The actor Geoffrey Rush compares the redevelopment of the Windsor Hotel, Melbourne, with that “old historic city of Dresden [which] was bombed out during the war”. About 20,000 Germans died in the Allied bombing of Dresden in 1945. The visiting US scientist James Hansen says Australia’s export of coal “is almost equivalent to being a drug dealer to the world”.
APRIL The pollster Andrew Catsaras maintains that Rudd Labor is likely to achieve the best result for a first-term government since World War II by winning eight seats from the Coalition. The Berlin-based, Australian-born theatre director Barrie Kosky refers to his leaving of Melbourne as “like having to break out of the concentration camp”. During his years in Camp Melbourne, Kosky benefited from much taxpayer-subsidised largesse.
MAY Christine Cawsey, of the NSW Secondary Principals Council, says that defending “core values in education” against Gillard’s literacy and numeracy tests reminds her “of the defence of Stalingrad”. The superannuated diplomat Tony Kevin writes that he “felt” about John Howard’s defeat in 2007 “the way East Germans felt about the Berlin Wall coming down”. Kevin lives in Canberra.
JUNE The journalist Melissa Clarke says “no one wants to vote” for the main parties. The Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce depicts Rudd as working at the direction of “the polling pimp”. On June 23 Andrew Catsaras says “it is premature to dismiss the ALP and Rudd” and mocks “the obituaries … already being written” about Rudd. Labor dismisses its leader that evening, leading to a rush of political obituaries.
JULY The Labor candidate Adrian Schonfelder condemns Abbott’s social conservatism for “influencing people to take their own lives”. The journalist Alison Carabine reports that Gillard’s election campaign is “shrouded in Soviet-style secrecy”.
AUGUST Germaine Greer tells readers of the London Daily Telegraph that “in any grown-up country … Tony Abbott would have been unelectable” and expresses the view that the election was fought on “sound-bites and gossip and sex”. Greer lives in Britain. Douglas Urbanski, Paul Hogan’s US lawyer, paints Australia as “a police state” that makes the Soviet Union look attractive.
SEPTEMBER On the website The Drum, Glenn Milne equates Gillard’s “moving forward” election slogan with the mass murderer Pol Pot – since “like the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Gillard wanted to obliterate the past”. Professor David Flint links Labor’s caucus pledge – which requires that all ALP MPs support the party line – “with the way the so-called ‘democratic centralism’ worked among the Bolsheviks” in the Soviet Union circa 1917.
OCTOBER The editor-in-chief of The Week, David Salter, maintains in The Australian that The Australian is conducting a “fatwa against public broadcasting”. The much sacked editor turned author Bruce Guthrie asserts that “everyone thinks they can change Rupert Murdoch”. Jeff Kennett mocks John Howard for allegedly presenting himself as infallible in his memoirs and suggests that “John must be only the second person who has graced the Earth who has been perfect”.
NOVEMBER In The Age, Shaun Carney detects a “new paradigm” in Melbourne – which could result in the Greens winning four seats in the Legislative Assembly. That is before the Liberals decide to direct their preferences to Labor ahead of the Greens. Soon after, the commentator Niki Savva says the Liberal decision will prove “a bit dopey”. By the end of the month the Liberals are in government and the Greens seatless in the assembly.
DECEMBER WikiLeaks is all the rage. The columnist Jill Singer says the jailing of Julian Assange “heralds one of the greatest wars imaginable – a global war on information, freedom and democracy”. When it is put to Assange that his criticism of Sweden for releasing details of the case against him reveals a double standard, he says “we are an organisation that does not promote leaking”.