Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:06 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:06 | SYDNEY

The wit and wisdom of campaign 2010


Graeme Dobell

20 August 2010 10:44

Whatever serious thoughts the Canberra Column has had about the campaign are to be found in various musings on the foreign policy debate, how politician leak and plot, the strange election without an incumbentthe golden aid consensus, the non-debate on Afghanistan, and the new normal in Oz politics.

With that nod to duty, herewith some bits of the campaign that people were actually talking about.

To prove how unbiased this column is, let's put the focus on the leader who wasn't running. Two of Julia Gillard's best lines were in response to the antics of her one-time friend and former leader, Mr M Latham, who was reporting on behalf of Channel 9. Asked on the ABC's Q&A, 'How big a tool is Mark Latham'', she came back with: 'There are some things that can’t be measured.' Laurie Oakes went to the same place when interviewing the Prime Minister.

Oakes: The word association test. What do you think when I say Mark Latham'

Gillard: Unfortunately at the moment Laurie, I think Channel Nine.

Oakes: Well, that's a fair cop Guv.

Barry Cassidy also gets a wit mention for this aside on what Latham meant for the Labor campaign: 'Well, if he's a tool, this guy used to be the biggest spanner in their tool box!'

Sharpest one-liner goes to Geoffrey Barker's summation of the foreign policy debate between Stephen Smith and Julie Bishop: the apparatchik versus the airhead. Ouch!

As always, the cartoonists had a great election. Many wonderful bits, but loved this Nicholson take on our leaders putting any discussion of an Australian republic on death watch: only to be discussed after the Queen carks it.

The foreign legion award for visions of Oz from afar goes to The Economist for two efforts. One was two weeks into the campaign when it marked the Tony Abbott surge with this marvellous headline: 'Down underdog bites back.' The Economist surged to victory without going to preferences with an editorial that compared the campaign to a strange episode of Neighbours, and dubbed Oz the (Un)lucky country because of the choice being offered:

The campaign rows, party intrigue and sniping could serve nicely as a plot for yet another antipodean soap opera. However, the main reason to lament the campaign’s end is for what follows: either Julia Gillard, Labor’s uninspiring candidate, or Tony Abbott, the opposition’s unappealing one, will get to run the “lucky” country.

As for TV coverage which was intentionally funny as well as informative, it was a tight race between The Chaser's 'Yes We Canberra!' and The Gruen Nation. Give victory to Gruen for not just poking a stick at the pollies but deconstructing some of the tricks. As the Gruen newsletter commented:

Deep breath...and another...okay, now, where were we' Oh, that's right. In the Weirdest. Election. Ever. When we first went to the ABC with the idea for Gruen Nation, Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister and Malcolm Turnbull leader of the opposition. How long ago that seems. How different the election would have been...

People keep saying this election is boring. Boring!'! Scriptwriters couldn't come up with this stuff!

You could argue it's uninspiring, but calling it boring is a complete misreading. As we speak, past PMs and party leaders are wandering the landscape like drunken zombies, butting into each other, dropping gaffes into every conversation. One side is behaving as if it's already won and the other as if it doesn't know what winning is. The spin has spun way out of control. We may never see the like again...

Ain't that the truth.

Enjoy the vote. And as the results roll in, remember the immortal words of Dick Tuck after being defeated in his run for the California State Senate: 'The people have spoken, the bastards.'