The Silence Of The Hams

pic by Gary Knight

Once upon a time in the merry old Land of Oz, hardly a day, nay, an hour passed without some pollie or other filling our ears with bad puns, hammy acting, exaggerated claims, and questionable sartorial preferences.

And then there was an election.

Now the only pollie still blowing off as regularly as Old Faithful is a supersized squillionaire coal miner with a habit of standing in front of big things  – dinosaurs, ocean liners, Gina Rinehart – in an attempt to make himself look smaller.

Before the election, we had a government, which Did Things, and an Opposition, who shouted they were doing the Wrong Things. After the election . . . . .zip. It’s like the morning after a blizzard, when everything is covered in a thick white sound-deadening blanket. Winter has arrived.

The government appears to think that by saying nothing, it can get away with anything. And the press are letting them off the hook.

On the other hand, the opposition seems to think that by staying silent, they look reasonable and responsible. At least, I hope that’s what it is. Otherwise I would have to conclude that they’ve got no ideas and hence nothing to say.

It doesn’t help that Labor has chosen for a leader an Empty Suit in an empty suit. It is often said of dull places, “there is no there, there.” WIth Bungalow Bill Shorten it’s the same: there’s no-one there.

His apologetic performance alongside Abbott in Afghanistan was woeful and embarrassing. His occasional shamble round a car park in a hi-vis vest comes over more as homage to his opponent than critique.

Contrast that with the smart, passionate and well-briefed Mark Butler who looked ready and eager to rip the throat out of Christopher Pyne (something thousands of us dream of doing, until we remember the old nursery rhyme about what such little boys are made of**) over the privatisation of HECS debt.

Admittedly it is a relief not to have Abbot popping up every ten seconds, yapping like the demented whippet he so closely resembles, but that doesn’t mean we want to see the new leader of the opposition channelling Eyeore the donkey.

Silence as a government tactic to evade scrutiny – well, it may work for a time. But silence – or near as dammit – as an opposition tactic equals a very long time in opposition. Labor seems to have absorbed the ‘conventional wisdom’ belched out by the Murdoch press that this is inevitably a two-term government. As a result they’ve decided to have a nice lie down and run dead for the next three years.

That’s not just a betrayal of their supporters, it’s a betrayal of the whole Australian people. Time to borrow a trick from the trainers at Melbourne racing carnival and stuff a load of ginger up the donkey’s rear.

**in case that one went over your head, ‘slugs and snails and puppy dog tails, that’s what little boys are made of’.

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)