How the Liberal Party became a parody of itself

August 04, 2015
Article Promo Image

It’s certainly not unusual to hear people call far-right politicians “crazy”, “callous” or “out of touch”. But rarely has any party lived up to these stereotypes quite as faithfully or spectacularly as Abbott’s Liberals. Refreshingly and horribly transparent in their disdain for the poor, the socially marginalised and the foreign, Tony’s government has become a caricature of conservative politics.

The Libs routinely go beyond simply barring the road to progress; they seem to be trying their damnedest to turn Australia back into the coal-powered, homophobic, patriarchal Imperial outpost it was 200 years ago. Here’s a brief history of how our government has rendered Australian political parody largely redundant.

Hilarious financial hypocrisy

The age of entitlement is over! Unless of course those entitlements include chopper rides to Geelong, limos to the opera, and chauffeured BMWs to keep your carefully coifed hair out of the stiff Parisian winds.

Though Bronwyn Bishop has been forced to resign as Speaker due to public disapproval of her lavish, taxpayer-funded lifestyle, it was only after weeks of sustained pressure and tone-deaf non-apologies that she finally found contrition. And, despite her well-documented excesses, Prime Minister Abbott has point-blank refused to criticise Bishop, taking aim instead at the parliamentary entitlements system that placed her extravagances “technically within the rules”. He’s also lost the support of senior Cabinet ministers.

So, according to the government, when students spend taxpayer money it’s because we’re a bunch of whiney couch potatoes who would rather trawl Instagram than learn a trade. But when one of Abbott’s colleagues blows several months’ wages on air-conditioned arse-carting, she’s the victim of a broken system that was just begging to be abused.

But I suppose we should hardly be surprised. This is, after all, the same government that told us we wouldn’t be affected by a $7 GP co-payment if we just gave up all those stubbies and cigarettes we keep buying. Meanwhile, chomping the odd Cuban outside parliament, is considered healthy for the economy – as long as you’re applying similarly acrid poison to the federal budget.

Game of Tones

For centuries, it was a self-evident truth that in times of danger and uncertainty – such as the world is experiencing right now – one must call upon brave knights to defend the realm. Unfortunately, this hasn’t really been good advice since the invention of the musket, so one has to wonder why it was practically the first thing Tony did after being swept into office.

Conservative politicians have always been more traditional, but Tony’spenchant for anachronisms is practically medieval. From his grandiose operational monikers (e.g. ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’) to his pretentious references to treason and banishment, this bloke governs the country like he’s playing Age Of Empires. He’s even been known to leave key policy decisions up to his chosen deity.

Perhaps his stint at Oxford saw him fall in love with stone battlements and the chivalrous codes of Christendom; perhaps he just read too much Tolkien as a lad. Whatever the reason, it seems that old Tones (or “Sir Anthony” as he’s known at family meals) won’t be satisfied until Australia has become a continent-sized Camelot, its high walls and gallant knights defending the virtuous dames within from the pagan hordes without.

Surpassing everyday political villainy for cartoon super-villainy

When criticised by the world’s foremost authority on human rights and international relations, most people would take it pretty seriously. Abbott, on the other hand, showed about as much respect for the United Nations as Hank Scorpio, and called them a bunch of micromanaging bureaucrats.

When confronted with the UN’s report on Australia’s treatment of refugees, Abbott responded, “I really think Australians are sick of being lectured to by the United Nations.” Apparently, Abbott felt that the true victims of any report detailing the grim realities of offshore processing facilities were the people forced to listen to it. Now, if you Google “most evil way to respond to the revelation that your supposedly humane border policy is basically an automated torture factory”, that’s definitely in the top five.

When people call right-wingers “crazy”, they’re usually exaggerating. But in the case of the Abbott government, it’s hard to exaggerate enough. Their reign has been characterised by endless gaffes, pathological condescension and a hatred of any free speech that doesn’t lavishly tongue their policies. They make the Springfield Republican Headquarters look like a hacky circle.

Joel Svensson

Business major, journalism minor and sometime voice-actor, Joel Svensson pretends to be smart at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

Image: Liberal Party of Australia official Facebook page