It is easy to blame subeditors for many of the laughable headlines that appear in Newspapers, one of my favourites is: ‘Student is excited dad got head job’. It is funny, because the content of the story is not how most blokes tend to interpret the headline. As a consequence, I immediately thought that the headline above Tom Switzer’s piece in the Fairfax press was a similar type of joke headline, with connotations of writing Abbott off, him being the only plausible candidate and the word void, being a very pertinent juxtaposition.
I suspected something was wrong when he started off, telling the reader to sit down, take it easy and even have a stiff drink, because it was time to discuss Abbott’s return to power. Gasp! Could Switzer be serious? He is of the opinion that there will be some sort of internecine struggle in the Liberal Party and that in the process Turnbull will be hacked to death, presumably by the religious right wing nut jobs (RRWNJs) in the Monkey Pod Association.
Switzer states that Turnbull is one of the most decent blokes in public life. This can only be construed as true if being decent means you are devoid of any principles so long as you can achieve power. Strangely, that does not approach my definition of decency. I thought it would have to do with having principles, not being willing to sell them out just to achieve the prime ministership, not being concerned more with your donors than the populace, not being just another game-playing politician of which most people are heartily sick. This is when, for a second or two, I thought Switzer might be having a laugh.
Then, Switzer goes into slightly satirical mode, by stating that the Liberal right is not a rump. Here he clearly implies, very subtly that the Monkey Pod of RRWNJs like Abetz, Andrews, Sukkar, Taylor, Seselja, Griggs, Kelly, Goodenough and Dutton are in fact a rump, but that there are some slightly less deranged types who don’t foam at the mouth when same-sex marriage is mentioned.
Switzer then goes into full satire, by stating that Abbott is the “only plausible candidate”, and that he is the “Man the ALP most fears, a man of rare ability who possesses the necessary qualities – willingness to take risks, empathy with the middle classes and so on.” I almost fell out of my chair laughing at this and wondered if Switzer had been on holiday for a couple of years from 2013. Even more hysterical is the assertion that ‘Nothing would have been easier… than to abandon ship after his knifing in September 2015. But he chose not to retire from public life. He stayed loyal to the Liberal Party. This took real guts, and immense reserves of character”. It was at this point that I realised that this piece by Switzer was cleverly disguised satire. It couldn’t be anything else. Nobody who had seen the Abbott prime ministership implode in a miasma of shambolic captain’s picks, livid silences, inarticulate epithets, bashing of the middle and working classes and his subsequent sapping activities could write this stuff except as comedy. The only reason Abbott stuck around was because he is incapable of doing anything else: he is a failed priest, a failed journalist, and now a failed Prime Minister, but he is still a politician and that is all he knows he can do.
Australia has already had its Trump and that was Tony Abbott. He imploded just as Trump will do. But look on the bright side, Australia now has a new, skilled satirist in Tom Switzer.