February 18, 2013

The view from Billinudgel

Silly and Sillier

By Mungo MacCallum
Silly and Sillier

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.

There is nowhere quite like The Monthly. We are told that we live in a time of diminished attention spans; a time where the 24-hour-news-cycle has produced a collective desire for hot takes and brief summaries of the news and ideas that effect us. But we don’t believe it. The need for considered, reflective, long-form journalism has never been greater, and for almost 20 years, that’s what The Monthly has offered, from some of our finest writers.

That kind of quality writing costs money, and requires the support of our readers. Your subscription to The Monthly allows us to be the home for the best, most considered, most substantial perspectives on the state of the world. It’s Australia’s only current affairs magazine, an indispensable home for cultural commentary, criticism and reviews, and home to personal and reflective essays that celebrate and elevate our humanity.

The Monthly doesn’t just comment on our culture, our society and our politics: it shapes it. And your subscription makes you part of that.

Select your digital subscription

Month selector

From the front page

Illustration by Jeff Fisher

Letter from Dunkley

As a byelection drew the nation’s focus to the scrappy suburb of the author’s childhood, a visit revealed the damage wrought by the housing crisis

Kim Williams seen through window with arms half-raised

The interesting Mr Williams

At a time when the ABC faces more pressure than ever before, is its new chair the right person for the job?

Andrew Tate in dark sunglasses flanked by two men, attending his trial in Bucharest, Romania, July 2023

The Tate race

Online misogyny touted by the likes of Andrew Tate (awaiting trial for human trafficking and rape) is radicalising Australian schoolboys

Exterior of the Department of Treasury, Canberra

Tax to grind

Tax reform should not be centred on what we want, but on who we want to be

Online latest

Osamah Sami with members of his local mosque

In ‘House of Gods’, Sydney’s Muslim community gets to be complicated

Plus, Barnaby Joyce shines in ‘Nemesis’, Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott deliver ‘Bottoms’, and Chloë Sevigny and Molly Ringwald step up for ‘Feud: Capote vs. The Swans’.

International Film Festival Rotterdam highlights

Films from Iran, Ukraine and Bundaberg were deserving winners at this year’s festival

Two women on a train smile and shake hands

‘Expats’ drills down on Hong Kong’s class divide

Plus, Netflix swallows Trent Dalton, Deborah Mailman remains in ‘Total Control’ and ‘Vanderpump Rules’ returns for another season

Image of a man playing music using electronics and the kora (West African harp)

Three overlooked albums of spiritual jazz from 2023

Recent releases by kora player John Haycock, trumpeter Matthew Halsall and 14-piece jazz ensemble Ancient Infinity Orchestra feel like a refuge from reality