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EDITORIAL EXCERPT: 2018 (partly) in review

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @mdavidcartoons)

IA looks back at an exhaustingly chaotic year in Australian politics.

And so we come towards the end of an extraordinarily long year in Australian politics. Labor goes into Christmas after a remarkably calm and unified National Conference. The Coalition heads towards the new year in chaos and ruin, after another National Party sex scandal.

We started 2018 scared! What with Prime Minister of Christmas Past and the Prime Minister of Christmas Present both going “Boo!” about Labor’s proposed negative gearing changes and Home Affairs Monster Minister Peter Dutton claiming people were so frightened of “African gangs” they were afraid to go out to dinner! Later in January, Turnbull announced himself “disappointed” with Australians who wanted to change the date of Australia Day. Opinion polls suggested the disappointment was quite mutual.

In February, we were all talking about the ABC finding filing cabinets full of juicy cabinet secrets in farmers sheds. Here at IA, we thought it all sounded a bit suss and, true to form, after one dodgy story about Kevin Rudd, the cabinet files disappeared and were never heard of again. Then the Barnaby Joyce affair hit the mainstream after a grainy photo of a pregnant lady walking across the street was published in the Daily Telegraph. Of course, Independent Australia had reported on Vikki Campion’s pregnancy months before (and before the New England by-election), but according to ABC Media Watch, only a photograph is proof of paternity. Sharri Markson was later to win a Walkley for scoop of the year for this non-scoop, confirming the proud standards and peerless integrity of Australian mainstream journalism.

We saw Scott Motormouth Morrison launch a new scare campaign in March, this time into the ALP’s proposed changes to dividend imputation. Apparently, this was a new “pensioners tax”. March also saw a rare victory for the Coalition, with the Liberals gaining power in the South Australian State Election. Disturbingly, in a sign of what may be in front of us next year, the Liberals used Cambridge Analytica-style “big data” to help them swing marginal electorates.

The knives were truly out for Malcolm Turnbull in April, after his Government lost its 30th successive Newspoll — the very event he used to justify deposing the wretched Tony Abbott. Then Psychotic Scott Morrison reluctantly announced a royal commission into the banking sector. At the time, we thought it may turn out to be a weak, limited affair with a tame judge. Apart from its inexplicable free pass for the Commonwealth Bank over the deplorable BankWest affair, we were wrong.

The Budget was brought down in May, with miniscule tax cuts for lower income people and massive cuts over ten years for the wealthy. After announcing it, Scott Morrison gave his trademark piggy grin, but it proved not to be the one that “brought home the bacon” for the Government. It soon fell in a heap, with only bits and pieces of it able to be passed — just like the four Coalition budgets before it.

Come June, the usual suspects were up in arms about the Ramsay Centre’s attempt to inject some civilisation (Western Civilisation, that is), along with a truck-load of money, into academic circles being rejected by the Australian National University. The latest is that the University of Wollongong has decided to pick up the baton for the West. Speaking of philanthropy, we also found out in June that Malcolm Turnbull donates “all his Parliamentary wage to charity”. It turned out to be his own Turnbull Foundation, but hey! They do say charity begins at home.

Phew! Tired yet?

Roll on July, we had Trump saying he “misspoke” about Russian interference, when he had said in Helsinki he “couldn’t see any reason why they would”. Apparently, he meant “wouldn’t, but “misspoke”. Also misspeaking was Big Trev Ruthenberg, LNP candidate in the Longman “Super Saturday” by-election, on his CV about his service history. But this scandal paled into insignificance after Malcolm Turnbull ate a pie on Bribie Island with a knife and fork! The Liberals subsequently suffered defeats in an all six by-elections that weekend and Turnbull’s cake was well and truly baked.

August was dominated early by “Reefgate”, in which the scandal-prone then PM decided to offer a Foundation made up of mining industry and big business mates a cheeky $443.8 million to save the Great Barrier Reef. But this was soon forgotten after Australia’s actual ruler, Rupert Murdoch, flew into Sydney and decided Turnbull’s time in charge was over. First it was Peter Dutton who was looking like being crowned, before Scott Morrison skated Stephen Bradbury-like past him to claim the crown (or is that poisoned chalice?) of the Australian prime ministership.

This is only half the year! The uncut version of this editorial was originally published as part of the Independent Australia weekly newsletter and is also available to subscribers online in the members only area.

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You can follow managing editor Dave Donovan on Twitter @davrosz. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter at @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

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