They don’t mess about Down Under. Australia has its fifth Prime Minister in five years and three of the changeovers have involved coups. This time it was right-wing Prime Minister Tony Abbott who was deposed by the man he ousted as Liberal Party leader in 2009, Malcolm Turnbull. (In Australia, the Liberals are the conservative party: Abbott is a hardcore wingnut whereas Turnbull is a moderate with a socially progressive streak.) It happened in the blink of an eye at what the Ozzies call a leadership spill; an apt name since it involves political blood spilling. Let’s just say that if there were an American teevee show about Australian politics, it would be called Cutthroat Caucus and the host would be Alton Brown.
That was an extra long introduction, which was necessitated by your humble blogger NOT being an expert in Australian politics. All I know is what I read in the Guardian’s Australia edition. I am, however, something of an expert on boorishness and malakatude. And that is why former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is malaka of the week.
As the leader of the opposition and a candidate in the 2013 general election, Abbott came off as brash, blunt, and bold. In some ways, he’s Australia’s answer to Donald (the Insult Comedian) Trump only without the cotton candy piss hair combover. In power, his crude misogyny coupled with sanctimonious religiosity did not wear very well. There are a wide variety of “stupid shit Tony Abbott said” listicles online, this one from the UK edition of the HuffPost is my favorite since it comes with complete video clips. The Guardian has a pretty swell bloopers reel as well.
As to his policies, Abbott is a royalist, homophobic, climate change denying motherfucker:
A hard-right jock with a history ofembarrassing gaffes and boorish, retrograde comments about women and LGBT people, Abbott’s government was noteworthy mostly for its grim air of conservative thuggery. He reversed Labor laws taxing the powerful mining industry, ripped up pledges on climate change and outdid an already-harsh Labor policy on asylum seekers, sending Navy boats to force migrants to turn back before they reached Australia’s shores and detaining others in hellish detention centers. (The New York Times recently called that policy “inhumane, of dubious legality and strikingly at odds with the country’s tradition of welcoming people fleeing persecution and war.) He also refused to call a parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage, causing a split within his party.
The phrase good riddance to bad rubbish immediately comes to mind. In addition to rhetorical thuggery, Abbot is known for his malaprops. Here’s one that ranks with former President Beavis’ most moronic Bushisms:
Yes, he actually said “nobody is the suppository of all wisdom” during the 2013 campaign and still won. Why? The Labor government had experienced two coups and rampant backstabbing. Abbott pledged to put an end to that. In the immortal words of Rick Perry, OOPS.
Abbott’s successor as Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is a cultured, witty, and likable figure. He seems to be one of the four or five genuine libertarians on the planet. He’s an advocate of free market economics, BUT is also pro-choice, pro-marriage equality and believes that climate change exists. I have a soft spot for Turnbull since he was a close friend and nephew-in-law of the late, great art critic and social historian Robert Hughes. His parliamentary tribute to Bob upon his death is a classic of wit and grace. Abbott has neither. There’s even a mild jab at Abbott:
If I were Australian, I would vote Labor but I’d be nervous about this turn of events. Turnbull is a popular figure even among small r Republicans: he was a leader of the failed 1999 referendum seeking to end the monarchy. Abbott’s ardent royalism was one of the things that got him in trouble when he bestowed an Australian knighthood on Prince Philip of all people. That and the whole eating a raw, unpeeled onion thing shown at the top of the post. Schmuck.
Malcolm Turnbull shouldn’t be too comfortable with this state of affairs. The Labor Party may well choose to play its own version of Cutthroat Caucus and shorten the career of its leader, Bill Shorten. I am not making that surname up. It could be his turn to take a spill.
In the end, it’s always reassuring when a world-class malaka, creep, and asshole gets their comeuppance. And that is why Tony Abbott is malaka of the week.
Writing this post has given me a raging earworm, so I’ll give Mike Scott and the Waterboys the last word: