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Best Australian Political Writing 2012

Last May saw the launch of PoliticOz, the Monthly’s daily roundup of the nation’s political action. In a dramatic and often chaotic parliamentary year, PoliticOz pointed out the most clear-eyed commentators.


They Had It Coming: Gillard & The Misogynists – Judith Brett (The Monthly)

“Abbott standing in front of the ‘Ditch the Witch’ and ‘Juliar: Bob Brown’s Bitch’ signs at the anti–carbon tax rally, or Jones suggesting on radio that Gillard be put in a chaff bag and thrown out to sea, were deliberate political actions. These are much worse offences than Peter Slipper’s because they were attempts to mobilise sexist and misogynist attitudes for political gain, not just a private, failed come-on.”

 

Come Election Time, The Real World Will Have Moved On – George Megalogenis (The Australian)

“The local message in the Jones matter, and the global reach of Gillard's speech, are the same: the community has been quietly forming judgments of its own. Parliament and the press register the activity, but then promptly avoid the implications. The name-calling - your side is more sexist than mine; my echo chamber is more representative than yours - are two sides of the same dud coin. The community doesn't want another version of the character debate from a parliament so obviously lacking in class.”

 

Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott – David Marr (Quarterly Essay)

“According to the roneoed flyers Abbott and his friends were handing around the campus, there was trouble brewing everywhere in universities: gays, strikes, sit-ins, the debauching of academic standards by Marxist lectur­ers, Palestine, abortion, the financial woes of AUS Travel and continued disrespect shown to the man who sacked Gough Whitlam. It had to stop. The first great political campaign of Abbott's life - which he would pursue by one means or another for nearly 30 years - was to drain the money from university politics.” (Edited extract from Sydney Morning Herald)

 

Her Rights at Work (R-Rated version): The Political Persecution of Australia’s First Female Prime Minister – Anne Summers (AnneSummers.com)

“The hung parliament, and the expectation on the part of the Opposition that it is just one lost vote on the floor of the House away from government has raised the stakes to levels not previously seen in Australian politics. … This, sadly, is the new norm. But what is NOT normal is the way in which the prime minister is attacked, vilified or demeaned in ways that are specifically related to her sex (or, if you like, her gender).”

 

Abbott Struggles To Find Form As Game Shifts – Laura Tingle (Australian Financial Review)

The Opposition Leader has said he wants the election to be about the carbon tax. And it is certainly the case that the hostility towards the Prime Minister that is bound up with the carbon tax issue may have already set the election outcome. But a position against the carbon tax alone will not get the Coalition through the next 12 months, or through the first year of government.”


The Australian Solution – Waleed Aly (The Monthly)

“There was a Pacific Solution, a Malaysia Solution and, fleetingly, until someone thought to ask the Timorese, an East Timor Solution. But what exactly is the problem? I’m not asking rhetorically. It’s a serious question, perhaps the most serious question in the entire debate surrounding asylum seekers arriving by boat, and yet it is barely asked … Stopping the boats, sure, but why? Is it the nature of the journey that concerns us, or the fact that the boats often arrive on our territory?”

 

Is the Political Talent Pool Shrinking? – Nick Bryant (The Global Mail)

The colonisation of parliament by party professionals has had a hugely degenerative effect. From the acid partisanship to the poison of Question Time, Canberra is giving off the stench of decay, as small, stagnant ponds are prone to when they fail to be replenished... Now for the first time ever in Australian politics, former political apparatchiks occupy a majority of parliamentary seats.”

 

Moral Authority In Our Parliament? Not Seeing It – Jonathan Green (The Drum)

“So, moral authority... not seeing it yet. Not in a parliament utterly consumed by political survival without an eye to policy consequence. A parliament in which even the most egregious of circumstances, and yes, we're looking at you Mr Thomson, are dealt with not as matters of right and wrong, but as issues that can be manipulated for the shabby returns of real politik.”

 

Human Frailty Made Manifest – Mark Latham (Australian Financial Review)

“As an emotional response, this is not hard to understand. Thomson entered Parliament in 2007 expecting, at a minimum, to be a Labor minister. It is a long way to the crossbenches and the dawning realisation of paradise lost. The difficulty for the political system lies in dealing with Thomson’s delusion. With every telling, his version of events has become more fantastic and inconsistent.”

 

Climate Change Denial Not Just For Fools – Mark Latham (Australian Financial Review) 

Confident in their professional training and achievements, successful people in the suburbs see themselves as in-tune with the real world, while scientists are absorbed by theoretical abstractions. In the Information Age, it seems, everyone is a master of every subject they hear something about.”


Other notable contributions in 2012:

The Incredible Muslim Hulk Proves To Be No Friend Of Islam Either – Waleed Aly (Sydney Morning Herald)

“Let's start with the fact that so few of the protesters who descended on Sydney's CBD this weekend seem actually to have seen the film that so gravely offends them. When asked by journalists, they bluntly admit this, one even adding that she refuses to watch something so offensive. It's almost impressive how cyclical this stupidity is. But it's also instructive. In fact, this is the key to making sense of something so gobsmackingly senseless. The protesters know nothing except how offended they are.”

 

Republican Virtues: Truth, Leadership and Responsibility – Malcolm Turnbull (MalcolmTurnbull.com.au)

“In case you think my call for a change of attitude and practice to truth in politics is just idealism – let me make a practical political point. It seems to me that we don’t simply have a financial deficit, we have a deficit of trust. We can argue for hours which side and which politicians,which journalists indeed, have contributed most to it. But it affects all of us and all of our institutions.”

 

The 0.01 Per Cent: The Rising Influence of Vested Interests in Australia  - Wayne Swan (The Monthly)

“The vast majority of our miners accept that they have a social obligation to pay their fair share of tax on the resources Australians own. But again, it’s that tiny 1%, or even 0.1%, who are trying to drown out the others, who are blind to the national interest, and who pour their considerable personal fortunes into advertising, armies of lobbyists, dodgy modelling and corporate and commercial manoeuvring designed to influence editorial decisions.”

About the author Monthly Wire