Politics Analysis

The spirits of Australia: Land of mystery

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(Photo of koala by Brooke Levin | Pexels; photo of Rupert Murdoch by @sirenmedia | Flickr)

Australia is a land of mystery to outsiders and locals alike, due to our strange and vicious animals, and politicians, respectively, writes Dave Donovan.

AUSTRALIA is a strange place.

We have poisonous, furry, aquatic marsupials who sport a duckish bill. Others who hop and engage in fisticuffs. Is it a small continent or a very large island — or both? High-profile politicians drink to embarrassing excess and yet still appear on camera. A perenially ruling political party steeped in corruption, incompetence and misogyny — even amongst their women. Their lacklustre opponents seldom gain power, yet still consider themselves master tacticians. A national newspaper called The Australian, which is owned by a turncoat American. All with a population compelled to vote, yet exhibiting staggering levels of incomprehension.

An odd place indeed. Read on and consider this paradoxical paradise.

Firstly, our animals. The rest of the world seems to think they are weird.

The platypus, the kangaroo, the idea so many might kill you. Of course, Australia’s animals are not so strange. Every nation has weird critters. In South America, they have guinea pig-like rodents as big as pigs, for example. Americans, in particular, seem terrified of our fauna. Mainly of our sharks, spiders and crocodiles, it seems. But similar animals, if not the very same species, live in many parts of the world — including America.

America has sharks off its coast. You've probably seen Jaws. It has alligators, a crocodilian menace, in abundance. It has vicious serpents — such as the feared rattlesnake. But unlike America, Down Under doesn’t have man-eating mammals — such as wolves, wildcats, lynxes, puma and great big angry bears, such as the grizzly. Nor do we have a human population armed to the teeth and ready for action. Now that is frightening.

Australia is not a very dangerous place. It is more negligently complacent, with a very odd political elite. But the reason for this is, again, far from mysterious. It is simply because our political class is predominantly populated by pissants and pisspots, sycophants and suckups, grifters and grafters, and in general, other inappropriate incompetents.

One reason for this is Australia’s traditional obsession with flavoured ethanol. Since the first day England dropped its outcasts on the East Coast in 1788, getting smashed has been a national pastime. This first came to public notice a few years after the convict colony got into full swing by the so-called Rum Rebellion, in which British officers (head gaolers) drunkenly deposed the unfortunate Governor Bligh (not even his first mutiny), promptly declaring rum to be the de facto currency. They sobered up a little later and New South Wales reverted to more traditional tender, but the signs were there, all the same.

Still waters run deep, so they say, and the intoxicating spirit of Australia has been brewing ever since. This idea was distilled neatly recently, when a former Deputy Prime Minister was filmed lying on his back outside Parliament House, muttering audible obscenities into his “smart” phone, after falling over, drunk as a possum. Rather than being shamed, Barnaby –this sot's Dickensian denomination – was widely hailed as a symbol of Australian manhood. He still sits – often slumped, sprawling, probably snoring – in our Federal Parliament.

Barnaby Joyce is a member of Australia’s ruling clique. A Coalition of obnoxious, private school alumni, mostly male, who consider anti-social behaviour their unalienable birthright. More disturbingly, they also consider their often overt corruption as another intrinsic entitlement of their "born-to-rule" class. Because though their outrageous corruption is well publicised, the gormless masses excuse it under the general excuse of “the other side is just as bad”.

The other side has had its moments graft-wise, sure enough, but its ineptitude is more to do with a strange alloy of excruciating timidity combined with unfathomable self-confidence. This customary opposition party, Labor – now experiencing one of its infrequent and inevitably short-lived forays into power – may be seen as the Washington Generals of Australian politics. These perennial fall guys have won less than 30 per centof federal elections since Federation in 1901. 

In mitigation of this, the Labor Party has been battered, bruised, shellshocked and enfeebled by the unending attacks of a routinely hostile press. Because Australia's media landscape is dominated by one ultra-conservative American publisher. This publisher, News Corp, enjoys about the same percentage of media circulation as Labor's opponents attain office.

This is not a coincidence. Because News Corp is little more than a press agency for the Coalition, which reciprocates by unashamedly serving its interests. Coalition MPs, well and truly knowing who is buying their next round, slavishly supplicate themselves to News Corp and its vile former Australian proprietor — a nonagenarian crocodilian called Rupert. And indeed, to a lesser degree, every other well-heeled grifter who furnishes their electoral coffers. Because these MPs, most of whom are given every advantage by birth, know they are too lazy or lacking in talent – and potentially too pissed – to ever achieve much without gaming the system, preferencing the plutocrats, or ever exhibiting an iota of integrity.

And Australians know this – all of them – on some level. And that is the final paradox: that a nation that prides itself on its equality and anti-authoritarianism, would kowtow so meekly to power and such evident injustice. Would remain a part of a monarchy half a world away. Would blindly line up to fight and be slaughtered in every imperial conquest our foreign rulers wage. Would vote for representatives, election after election, who fleece them and openly hold them in disdain.

Our native animals are not so weird. It is our imported humanoid creatures – those pisspots, pissants and forelock tuggers – who are the disturbing ones. But hardly mysterious.

But don't be troubled. Just have another drink and forget about it.

She'll be right.

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You can follow founder and director Dave Donovan on Twitter/X @davrosz. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter/X @independentaus and Facebook HERE.

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