December 8, 2015

The 40 most Onion-like Australian politics headlines of 2015

By Evan Williams
The 40 most Onion-like Australian politics headlines of 2015
It was a year that satirised itself

It says a lot about the state of Australian politics that this is the third year running I have been able to compile a list of real news headlines that read as satire for the Monthly. Perhaps it says even more that I was able to compile a whole book of them from the Abbott government’s first – and thankfully only – term.

The members of the Abbott government set a cracking standard for gaffes in 2013 and 2014. But somehow they managed to outdo themselves in 2015: a wind-farm commissioner, an 80-kilometre taxpayer-funded helicopter ride, and a failed assassination attempt on Johnny Depp’s dogs were just the beginning. And you have to give them points for originality, too. Each new misstep went in an entirely different direction.

The stuff-ups stopped after 14th of September, though. Malcolm Turnbull’s arrival to the leadership felt like a real teacher finally turning up to replace the wacky substitute. Mr Turnbull wanted the class to do actual work, and the students started acting more appropriately. Of course there are still some class clowns acting up – Eric Abetz is using n-words, Cory Bernardi accidentally quoting a neo-Nazi. But the golden age of gaffes has come to an end.

So please savour this list of utterly ridiculous Australian politics headlines. Palm your face extra hard while reading, for old times sake. It might be a while before you mistake the Age for the Onion.


Public servants banned from wearing ugg boots, onesies

Julie Bishop answers Thermomix question by becoming human emoji

Tony Abbott says he went too far likening Bill Shorten to Nazi Goebbels

Bronwyn Bishop spends $5,000 on 80km charter helicopter flight from Melbourne to Geelong

Treasurer Joe Hockey is paid the same amount as Newstart, $1000 a month, to sleep at his wife’s house

Eric Abetz and Cory Bernardi rack up a bill to attend anti-government waste do

Joe Hockey announces 50-centimetre extension of Parap pool which Darwin City Council says is already too long

Leaked talking points tell ministers to say ‘our cabinet is functioning exceptionally well’

LNP to host International Women’s Day function at club that only allows men

Attorney-General George Brandis busted reading poetry books during estimates hearing

Christopher Pyne refuses to say how he ‘fixed’ higher education reform bill: ‘I want it to be a surprise for you’

Australian Border Force: Peter Dutton says his office received copy of press release, but no-one read it

Eric Abetz says lots of gay men don’t want to marry, citing Dolce and Gabbana

Johnny Depp’s dogs Boo and Pistol could be put down if they stay in Australia, Barnaby Joyce warns

Australian minister: ‘Gay marriage could damage our cattle exports’

Abbott government pledges to appoint a wind farm commissioner in leaked letter

Abbott regrets not halting clean energy more

This koala hugged Vladimir Putin. Now Russia wonders whether Australia killed it

Tony Abbott’s senior adviser accuses UN of creating climate change hoax to impose ‘new world order’

Indigenous affairs adviser to PM ‘sorry’ for Confederate flag costume and ‘unaware’ of US outrage

Communications Minister is hopeful ‘all should be good’ and NBN satellite won’t blow up on launch

Joe Hockey’s advice to first homebuyers – get a good job that pays good money

Joe Hockey raises prospect of Australians living until 150 to justify budget cuts

Australia senator threatens to grab PM's testicles over mining row

Jacqui Lambie likens the Greens to Islamic State in joke to mining industry

Liberal MP and new mum Kelly O’Dwyer told to express more breast milk to avoid missing votes in the chamber

Bill Shorten crashes into parked cars in Melbourne after ‘spilling coffee’

Labor’s Anthony Albanese to drop beats at DJ set next week

Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi mistakenly quotes American neo-Nazi

‘Learn to speak Australian’: Liberal Senator under fire for insensitive remark – but he insists it is ‘political correctness gone mad’

David Leyonhjelm unapologetic about calling Julia Gillard a ‘mangy dog’

Clive Palmer’s dinosaur Jeff destroyed by fire at Palmer Coolum Resort

Clive Palmer to headline Queensland Poetry Festival

Prime Minister eats another raw onion, choosing it over caramelised onion quiche

Kyle Sandilands more popular than Tony Abbott in The Encore Score’s new celebrity poll

Tony Abbott goes topless at wild farewell party after being ousted by new PM Malcolm Turnbull

Tony Abbott ‘resigned as Prime Minister by fax’

Liberal MP hits out, says ‘get a life’ after revelations of Abbott's ‘Monkey Pod’ gatherings

Federal MP hurt leg ‘crash tackling’ Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott buys a fridge on Gumtree

Evan Williams’ book Australian Leader Eats Raw Onion Whole: Headlines from the government that broke satire is out via Black Inc.

Evan Williams

Evan Williams is a New York-based comedy writer. He has contributed humour to The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts, McSweeney’s and SBS Viceland’s The Feed


From the front page

Illustration by Jeff Fisher

OnlyFans and the adults in the room

The emerging OnlyFans community offering training and support to adult-content creators

Image of US President Joe Biden meeting virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, November 15, 2021. Image © Susan Walsh / AP Photo

The avoidable war

Kevin Rudd on China, the US and the forces of history

cartoon:In light of recent events

In light of recent events

Who’s preferencing whom?

Detail of cover of Simon Tedeschi’s ‘Fugitive’

Ghost notes: Simon Tedeschi’s ‘Fugitive’

A virtuoso memoir of music and trauma, and his experiences as a child prodigy, from the acclaimed Australian pianist

Online exclusives

Image of US President Joe Biden meeting virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, November 15, 2021. Image © Susan Walsh / AP Photo

The avoidable war

Kevin Rudd on China, the US and the forces of history

Composite image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese speaking during the first leaders’ debate on April 20, 2022. Image © Jason Edwards / AAP Images

Election special: Who should you vote for?

Undecided about who to vote for in the upcoming federal election? Take our quiz to find out your least-worst option!

Image of the Stone of Remembrance at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. Image © Lukas Coch / AAP Images

Remembrance or forgetting?

The Australian War Memorial and the Great Australian Silence

Image of Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, Labor MP Emma McBride and shadow housing minister Jason Clare after meeting with young renter Lydia Pulley during a visit to her home in Gosford on May 3, 2022. Image © Lukas Coch / AAP Images

Property damage

What will it take for Australia to fix the affordable housing crisis?