In the three months since I wrote the first half of my musical profiles on the Crossbench Senators (which were pretty obsolete even at the time) a lot of crazy shit has gone down in Canberra. Australia’s Woodstock Floriade has come and gone, Australia’s Disneyland Cockington Green has done a roaring school holiday trade and Eric Abetz has learnt to control silver with his mind. So where the Corangamite have I been? Well, mostly stuck on a horrible writing procrasticoaster, riding in circles around the rickety well-worn tracks of my limbic system while a sneering coat-hanger of a carny refused to budge the breaks. But the other reason for the wormwood-bitter pang of my absence is that each of the dozen times I’ve sat down to patter out this post I’ve been so overwhelmed with tedium and despair at the state of our Parliament that I’ve shut down into a drooling Palmeralysis. So, after a not-insignificant amount of pulling with the aid of needle nosed pliars and fermented grape juice, I present to you – my teeth.
Jacqui Lambie (Palmer United Party)
“I spent my time there by the shore.”
The most consistent and non-controversial of the Crossbench Senators, there’s really not much to say about Jacqui Lambie. She spouts so much outlandish shit on such a regular basis that it’s gone full circle and become boring again. If there was a newspaper headline along the lines “Lambie makes nuanced and well-researched observation on topic outside her narrow area of interest” it would be worth talking about, but her bizarre gaffes are so par for the course that no number of ‘Blind All Muslims’/’Give Octopuses the Vote’/’Air Is Poison’ statements will evoke anything other than a yawn.
I was originally a fan of the bellicose belle from the Apple Isle, but first arched my brow when she told the youth of Australia that “if you’re not going to sign on for national service, it’s time to cut your dole back.” As an anarcho-pacifist with a Jobseeker Diary and arms like vermicelli noodles I clearly have a vested interested in opposing conscription. Former Corporal Lambie has a different agenda, and reckons we should make us hypothetical draftees earn our keep by going to war with China and the entire Islamic world. This covers about half of the earth’s human population. If you’ve ever read world war history with slack-jawed horror and wondered who the fuck thought that carnage was a good idea, just picture Lambie with a spiked helmet and a can-do attitude instead of that canary yellow scarf. The anti-burqa berserker is almost as warmongering in her career and had explosive altercations with the Labor Party, the Liberal Party and a team of Independents before for falling into the patronage of Palmer, that fleshy Fagin for political orphans.
But for better or worse, I find it really difficult to dislike Lambie for the sole reason that she’s not from our typical patrician political establishment. A single mother with a son who works in an abattoir, she’s genuinely working class, not “Pappa Had To Work Ever-So-Hard To Send Me To The North Shore’s Finest Schools” working class. She’s also spoken candidly about her battles with depression and addiction, so props for that. But none of this make her Islamaphobic bigotry less heinous, so I guess you win some and you lose some.
Dio Wang (Palmer United Party)
“Every little penny in the wishing well,
Every little nickel on the drum,
All them shiny little heads and tales,
Where do you think they come from?”
The prosperity of the mining boom hasn’t just turned parts of Western Australia into a cashed-up FIFO dystopia. It’s also spat its fair share of robber-barons into Canberra, that even deeper heart of darkness. Coal executive Dio (or Zhenya) Wang has acted as the steady-tongued conciliator betwixt his fiery colleagues, smoothing over Palmer’s “yellow peril” comments and some of Lambie and Lazarus’ more ludicrous lines. Sadly, he’s also a corporate hack with all the credibility of a Mr Gribble or a Clive Palmer.
Wang has said that he has “zero” interest in politics except for advocating his business interests, in a kind of happy-go-lucky tone that implied he didn’t really get why anyone would think that was a bad thing. In a 7:30 report interview, Wang said that “I heard ‘no carbon tax under the government I lead’ and saw the mining tax and I was against those two taxes in principle because they hurt the mining industry”. That’s it. The guy who makes a living off jeopordising humanity as we know it has no political ideals except to keep on doing that. Awesome.
Ricky Muir (Ricky Muir)
“Three hundred miles is a long drive inside a car.”
The Democrats were formed to keep the bastards honest. The Liberal Party was formed “because we were determined to be a progressive party, willing to make experiments, in no way reactionary, but believing in the individual, his rights and his enterprise”. The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party was formed to cos cars are heaps good. Oh, and to oppose anti-hoon laws, because what’s a couple of hundred lives compared to our god-given right to do sick burnouts. AMEP’s Gough Whitlam is goateed revhead Ricky, who lives with his best friends Bubbles and Julian in a trailer park in Nova Scotia.
Ricky Muir has the dubious honour of being Australia’s most patronised Senator. Born in the rural town of Stratford, the jackals of the establishment and vipers of the press talk about him like he’s an ill-trained staffy puppy, to be mocked and locked outside or craddled up and cooingly defended. Even Pauline Hanson got a day-pass out of Hell to tickle his belly, telling the press to “back off and leave him alone.” (She also asked Muir to ring her, saying “Ricky, just pick up the phone, because I believe that not only myself but a lot of Australians are going to get behind you.” I defy you to read that sentence in Hanson’s voice without having a shiver slither down your spine.) But despite his laissez faire attitude towards excrement, Muir isn’t a puppy. What he is is an elected member of the Australian Parliament who earns over $195,000 a year. He has no right not to be held to account for his actions. The most irresponsible of those actions was voting to repeal the Carbon Price, and I know I keep banging on about that but Melbourne really shouldn’t be having a monsoon season. But Muir deserves credit for his principled stand on a number of issues, including his of defense low and no-income earners.
But it’s not all sweet rims and cruise control in the engine of the AMEP, and the story of Muir’s rise to power is like a really cheap crossover between Top Gear and House of Cards. Before the winter of our discontent was made glorious Summer by this son of Maffra, Richard I was what’s known in the political business as a paper candidate; a name whose on the ballot to lend credibility to another candidate (in this case, the Queensland founder of AMEP) with no chance of winning himself. And with a vote of 0.51% he wouldn’t have won if not for the ingenious negotiating of How To Vote-wrangling deal broker Glenn Druery. Druery is commonly known “The Preference Whisperer, which must be the least sinister sinister nickname in history.
Since the election, the original Queensland Australian Motoring Enthusiasts have disowned Muir, the Victorian branch dissolved because the five members couldn’t see eye to eye (that’s not a joke, there were actually five of them), Muir fired Druery as his chief advisor, a bunch of people quit, Muir fired Druery’s replacement, chaos continued to ensue and everyone wants a slice of Ricky pie. Boys, save it for Denny.
Bob Day (Family First)
“I turn to Jesus when I’ve lost of my friends
and the good times all ended and my money I’ve spent it.”
When Black Metal bassist Robert “Belphegor” Night went to his family doctor for a routine trepanning he never imagined that his life was about to be ripped in half – literally. An unsterilised drill-bit cause a brain infection that did irreparable damage to his corpus colluscum, leaving Belphegor with two entirely separate personalities. By night he remained Robby Night, the mellow Satanist, but between the rise and fall of the sun he became Bob Day, a fundamentalist Christian with a love of Workchoices and a psychotic lust for heathen’s tears.
Family First keep hovering around the Senate like an unwelcome ghost, usually as an accidental side effect of the Labor Party thinking they’re clever (memo to the Labor party: you’re not clever.) Bob Day has ties to none other than micro-party Svengali Glenn Druery. He believes all of your standard St Paul-on-shard far right mumbo jumbo – abortions are gay, abort the gays, kill the infidels, etcetera etcetera. All of this makes him terrifying as a legislator in control of the reins 0f power. Almost as terrifying as our Prime Minister, though admittedly with more a lot more integrity.
*I can’t remember if I thought of the above ‘Dutton dressed as Lambie’ joke myself or subconsciously plagiarised and photoshopped it. If the latter, I’m sorry – I’m a terrible person. Is that what you want?