February 18, 2013

The view from Billinudgel

Silly and Sillier

By Mungo MacCallum

With the election contest between the major parties apparently a foregone conclusion, perhaps it’s time for a bit of light relief with a look at the bit players.

And no, we’re not referring to the Greens, who seem to have matured into the political equivalent of middle-aged respectability, and pretty dull they have become. Fortunately, they have been replaced at the fringes by a new crop of wild-eyed wannabes who may never actually make it into parliament, but should give us a lot of harmless fun watching them try.

First out of the blocks was Bob Katter’s Australia Party, a group of recalcitrants centred around the idiosyncrasies of the big-hatted independent member for the vast northern Queensland electorate of Kennedy. At first it appeared that they would be just another manifestation of the lunar right, a sort of reprise of One Nation with a new loony leading comic. But a huge schism has already appeared over, of all things, gay marriage.

The party’s platform, what there is of it, is of course against gay marriage in any shape or form. But when prospective candidates started following the line, Bob Katter called high noon. One was disendorsed for, predictably, equating gays and paedophiles and another for saying he would not want his kids taught by homosexuals (actually he used a rather more graphic term).

This was bewildering enough; but then Katter confirmed the candidacy of a Canberra theatre director (and we all know about them, don’t we?) who was actually in favour of gay marriage. The party hierarchy was outraged, but Katter, who coincidentally has an openly gay brother, stood firm. Undoubtedly, there is more to come.

And then there is Danny Nalliah, the Sri Lankan born rock drummer who claims to have been a clandestine Christian preacher around Mecca in Saudi Arabia. We have only his word for this and as he also claims to have healed the sick, lame and blind and on at least one occasion to have raised the dead it might be wise to suspend judgement.

But what is certain is that he came to Australia, invented the Catch the Fire Ministry and has urged his followers to pray for and participate in the destruction of works of Satan – brothels, casinos and grog shops, but also temples and mosques. He is in frequent communication with the Almighty, and thus knows that the Queensland floods were God’s response to Kevin Rudd’s criticism of Israel and the Victorian bushfires His retaliation for the state’s abortion laws.

And having previously won the support of such right wing luminaries as Peter Costello, he is now into politics. In 2010 he founded the Rise Up Australia Party, but nobody noticed; so this year he did it again, this time with the climate change denier, Gibbering Lord Monckton, as guest speaker. But the aristocrat alienated one dedicated fan: conservative attack dog columnist Andrew Bolt warned him that, by associating with fringe groups, he risked giving climate change denial a bad name.

Can the right get any sillier? Watch this space.

Mungo MacCallum

Mungo MacCallum was a political journalist and commentator. His books include Run Johnny Run, Poll Dancing, and Punch and Judy. Much of his work can be found here: The View from Billinudgel.

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