As usual, a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald by the ignorant Tom Switzer has made me laugh. His articles are usually so outrageously funny, that I have this sneaking suspicion that he might in fact be trolling people on the far right of politics1. This was especially true when, in 2017, he wrote a piece pushing for Tony Abbott to return to the Prime Ministership2. The fact that Switzer could have been serious about this, even in 2017, made me realise he was not a satirist, but delusional. I laughed hard at that one, but felt guilty for laughing at the afflicted. Whether Switzer is attempting to stick the boot into same-sex marriage, by not understanding the concept of bigotry1, or pontificating on scientific concepts he clearly does not understand, thereby attempting to deny reality3, or adhering vehemently to the farcical trickle-down economics, he demonstrates that he is completely out of his depth. Switzer’s latest diatribe reinforces that assessment.
The first few sentences in Switzer’s latest effort shows how limited his knowledge is. Here he states that two of Australia’s greatest prime ministers were Robert Menzies and John Howard (which I will discuss in future). Stomach-turningly ignorant as this may be, his main thrust is that Turnbull was hopeless in that he alienated the Liberals’ conservative ‘base’ and that Scott Morrison has a chance to unite the party, but only by inviting Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton to high-level cabinet posts. Tony Abbott’s only remaining aim in life is to become PM again, now that the Turnbull prime ministership has been destroyed. This time, Abbott’s trojan horse, Peter Dutton, suffered a probably politically terminal flame-out. To have Abbott back in cabinet will just give him a head start in undermining Morrison. Maybe that is what Switzer wants to happen, given his previous push for Abbott to replace Turnbull 18 months after the reverse had happened2. Even if Abbott is not brought onto the crisper drawer of the front bench, he will continue to snipe and undermine from the backbench, because his extreme narcissism drives his unquenchably intense desire for validation6. That can only be assuaged by regaining the prime ministership. The only way it can be stopped is for Abbott to lose preselection, or to be voted out in the next election. I hope that doesn’t happen, because the spectacle of seeing Abbott destroy the Liberal Party from within would be exquisite. Then Australia could finally drag itself into the 21stcentury.
Switzer launches into the usual far right policy prescriptions Morrison needs to follow to set himself up for the next election: cutting taxes, cutting spending; strengthening law and order, reducing red tape and cutting immigration. The reference to taxes and spending, as well as cutting red tape, is just part of the corporatocratic agenda to give more power and more money to big business7. Strengthening law and order is the standard mantra of the modern conservative who, given their inability to come up with a vision for the future of the nation, apart from a corporate one, forces them to trade in fear of Muslim terrorists, drug addicts or ‘African gangs’, and the only way to solve this perceived threat is to legislate to have more surveillance. This is laughable, given that crime such as this is either minuscule or in decline on a per capita rate8. Switzer also suggests that Morrison ramp up the ‘culture war’. This is an invention of the right as a way of dog-whistling. In Howard’s tenure as PM this was largely concerned with denying the facts of Aboriginal history, including the appalling massacres, the stolen generation, and the continuing disadvantage of Aboriginal people9. The suggestion from the right and their racist bedfellows was that Aboriginals were lucky that they had this done to them. The latest shot in this war was the attempt by the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation to start a degree in that topic at several universities in Australia. Its board members include Howard and Abbott10, and the aim of the Centre seems to be to make sure that students obtaining the ‘degree’ are made to realise how lucky the Aboriginals were.
Switzer states that the progressive left has been “noisy and polarising” pushing “politically correct agendas around perceived racism, sexism and homophobia”. Switzer seems to be unaware of the use of the dog-whistle by Hunt, Dutton and Turnbull, the treatment meted out to Julia Gillard, and the tenor of many of the arguments used by some of the Christian right in the campaign against same-sex marriage. After this is the hilarious couple of sentences which made me laugh out loud: “Almost daily, we read about another institution – a school or a university or a company – either promoting or pandering to a politically correct agenda in the name of ‘diversity’. Even though Australia has never been more diverse, the contemporary public discourse is increasingly dominated by the cult of identity politics, which seeks to divide people along racial, gender and sexual lines”5. Here Switzer seems to be saying that we don’t need to mention diversity because of diversity; we are diverse enough. Australia is not an exceptionally diverse society, and it is precisely people like Dutton, Anning and others of their ilk who wish it were not so, either in calling for a racially discriminatory immigration policy, a ban on some religious groups altogether or lying about particular racial groups for political advantage.
Switzer has excelled himself this time, reaching a peak of right wing nutjobbery I have not seen from him before. He uses almost all the invented epithets of the right: political correctness; culture war; identity politics; traditional values; and mainstream Australia. This probably shows how desperate he is becoming, because, if there is something which he has said which is true, it is that Morrison has inherited a “ghastly mess”. The thing Switzer seems not to realise is that, it is his side of the Liberal dichotomy which has caused it, in the person or, more appropriately, the personality of Tony Abbott.