Poor Sad Mal



Well, wasn’t that interesting? After eight weeks of tedium during the runup, on my 66th birthday, Australia delivered me the hung parliament I had wished for. I would say, prayed for, except that I don’t pray. But if I did, I could fairly say my prayers were answered.

God stuck two fingers up to Tony Abbott, Corey Bernardi, Lyle Shelton and the rest of them, and threw a huge roadblock in the way of the planned plebiscite, while at the same time ushering a majority of pro-marriage equality MPs into the lower house. Proof positive, in case there were any doubt, that She’s a lesbian. Labor and the Greens will block any plebiscite bill, clearing the way for a free vote of both houses.

Let’s not forget that the Coalition are now unbound, plebiscite or no plebiscite. Tony Abbott said so back in 2015. The lunar righties will try to say no, but really, is Turnbull going to listen? And that’s where it all comes to a screeching halt. Sadly, it seems he will. He’s a poor scared little man right now.

He has only just managed to save the deckchairs, but it’s far better than they could have hoped for with Abbott. They made Turnbull fight with one hand behind his back. No, worse. They nailed him to Abbott’s cross as surely as their Pharisee predecessors outsourced the nailing of Jesus to his, and it’s kind hard to come out swinging when your hammered onto chunks of 2 x 4. And yet they blame him for the debacle.

Hammered is what poor Mal appeared to be on election night. Close to tears, angry, frustrated, ‘overtired and emotional’, he went on a rant. Since he was unable to say what he really thought, the rant was nonsensical, but at least he ranted. It was the first small sign of humanity in his entire robotic campaign performance. A shrunken husk, drained of all authenticity and authority. Quite sad really.

He has discovered something us old poufs, from the days before liberation, knew to our cost. Back in the day, we lived with the constant threat of blackmail, often from someone who had first seduced you, often expressly for the purpose. Pay up, or I’ll dob you in. I’ll tell your parents. I’ll tell your boss. Yeah, I nicked five quid out your wallet. What you going to do about it? Call the cops? What you mean, you got nothing left? Well tough. I’ll talk to the papers if you don’t find me the money. I got your letters.


by Bill Strain

Malcolm went to bed with the lunar right to become PM, and they’ve been blackmailing him ever since. The demands have come with sickening regularity. Stall marriage equality or we’ll tear you down. Say Tony’s climate change policy was brilliant or we’ll move against you in the party room. Cut company taxes or we’ll get Rupert to trash you in the papers. Cut welfare to the bone or we’ll leave the coalition. And on and on, the constant draining demands. All of which he has paid. Now there is nothing left.

No wonder he looked so haunted during the election campaign, and so bitter, frustrated, empty and angry afterwards. Constant blackmail threats will do that to all but the very strongest. If he weren’t presenting himself as a man fit to lead a country, I could feel sorry for him.

Anyone knows the only way to deal with a blackmailer is to face them down and dare them to do their worst.Yes Malcolm, we know you want to be Prime Minister.  But if you haven’t the courage to turn on your tormentors and call their bluff, take the risk, what sort of a man are you? A man who can be trusted with the top job? I don’t think so.

You still could, just. Tell them that if they had not opposed your centrist instincts on pretty much everything, you’d have romped home in this election. Tell them, from now on, its your way, or the highway. Because it’s true.

It was clear from the moment Tony Abbott was elected, what people wanted was a nice safe steady as she goes small c conservative government of the old-fashioned kind. They believed his “no cuts” promises. None of this market-forces jobs-exporting welfare-destroying rubbish: decent jobs, affordable housing, proper care for the old and the sick and the temporarily unemployed. Paid for by those who can afford it: big business, especially multinationals, those with accumulated wealth. Not your average earner on a wage or salary: the genuinely rich scraping by on a quarter of a million a year or more. Basically – if anyone remembers it – that great Australian fair go. That’s what people want.

As soon as Abbott broke those promises, he was dead in the water. As he will be again if anyone tries to bring him back. Or anyone else with the same agenda.

So they elevated you, and people thought your party had seen the error of its ways and was going back to being the small c conservative party they wanted. Maybe you did too. But it never happened. Things went on exactly as they had under Abbott, and you did nothing. Maybe you thought your silver tongue, your silver hair, and your silver charm would carry you through. Instead, the silver spoon in your mouth seems to have choked you. It’s because you did nothing, said nothing, because you failed to face down the idealogues, that you’re such a sad sack now.

That’s what you should have been ranting about on election night, sheeting home the blame where it belonged. You wanted to. I could see it in your eyes, hear it in your sodden voice, close to tears. That would have been real courage: to stand there and publicly accept on behalf of your party the decisive rejection of the far right program you tried to enact. And promise to listen, learn, and do better in future.religious freedom

But no, you picked up the shredded banner of your defeated party and carried on. You don’t really do courage and risk, do you? That’s what comes of being born to wealth and privilege: your instinct is to protect what you have, not to chance it. It has undone you. Meanwhile the G.A.Y. people who have voted for you for years are again betrayed. Thanks for nothing, Mal.


About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)