AUSTRALIAN POLITICIAN OF THE YEAR

If the Crikey awards had been running for nine years, then this guy would be winning it for the ninth time. It is, of course, John Howard. Rex et Imperator. Politician of the year, not to mention the decade.

Crikey readers say: “Barnaby Joyce for making himself a household name by talking about what he might do and being the first National MP to be the darling of the liberal left.” – Niall Clugston

“Family
First’s Steve ‘I can’t be bought’ Fielding for nailing the lid on the
coffin of interesting and inclusive university campuses in Australia.
What the hell is threatening to families about providing good services
to students?” – Peter Walters

BACKBENCHER OF THE YEAR

This
was the year of the backbencher – the government backbencher. The trio
of Petro Georgiou, Judi Moylan and Bruce Baird rewrote the policy that
saw John Howard returned in 2001. Sophie Panopoulos’s VSU crusade will
change the culture of Australian university life. And Barnaby Joyce
remains an unknown quantity. However, for sheer scope and audacity, the
winner has to be Malcolm Turnbull. Package up all his comments for the year and you’ve got a Placido Domingo speech.

Crikey readers say:“Malcolm Turnbull by a Double Bay mortgage” – Jim Carden

“Due
consideration should be given to the Member for Kooyong, Mr Petro
Georgiou for his long-held campaign to soften mandatory detention. His
campaign was determined and dignified, and he only resorted to using
the media to strengthen his case (and not to act like a proverbial
media tart).” – Anonymous

STATE POLITICAL PERSONAGE OF THE YEAR

Jon
Stanhope had the most coverage of any ACT chief minister since Kate
Carnell blew up the Canberra hospital. While the blast left Carnell
flat, Stanhope stood tall. It was his fellow state and territory
leaders who looked supine as they scraped and bowed to the Prime
Minister over terror laws. However, one state leader is even more
present now that he has gone: Bob Carr, who went one better than his idol and proved that you can fool all of the people all of the time – almost.

Crikey readers say:
“Colin Barnett, for proving that you can win elections with the ‘big
idea’ and for proving that voters will forgive anything except economic
incompetence.” – Peter Phelps

OPPOSITION LEADER OF THE YEAR

The
judges disqualified Peter Costello. We were unsure if he actually
wanted to run or if some over-enthusiastic backers had entered his name
in the hope of securing him an alternative route to power. If we give
the award to Mark Latham, he’ll decline, saying he’d rather be at home
with his boys. During the year Crikey has observed that politicians
make their own luck. John Howard’s made so much that a sprinkling fell
on Kim Beazley. At the end of this year in politics, Kimbo is
the only opposition leader in the nation with the vaguest chance of
trading up. So it’s Beazley by default again.

Crikey readers say:
“Denis Burke (CLP). Not satisfied with losing the CLP Government in
2001 he was resurrected in a bid to totally wipe out the CLP at the
2005 poll and he almost did it … the CLP now has four members in
parliament. That’s an achievement hard to beat!” – Ashley Manicaros

“John
Brogden – right up until his unfortunate incident he was finally making
some headway against the arrogant Carr-led NSW ALP” – Michael Walker

BEST POLITICAL LEAK OF 2005

A leak to Miranda Devine turned into a torrent and swept John Brogden
away. The wets in the New South Wales Libs have been hung out to dry
but a steady trickle of leaks can be expected as the party risks
getting lost in a vale of tears. (Meanwhile, the plumbers are still at
work trying to find out just where the Rob Gerard trickle came from.
While much of it was on the record – courtesy of Crikey and the ‘Tiser – someone gave the Fin Review
a huge steer … and there’s no doubt it was political. And of course,
with leaks, you never know what else might be in the pipeline.)

Crikey readers say:
“Best political leak of 2005? And the award goes to … David
Broadbent, Nine Network, for ‘The Victorian State Budget’!” – Dean
Felton

The Latham Diaries (if it qualifies) for such an amazing insight into the corridors of power. – Niall Clugston

POLITICAL QUOTE OF THE YEAR

We
were so spoilt for choice in this category the judges were swinging
from the rafters. Dammit! That’s one of the entries. As we head off on
our holidays jetting off in business class (you are flying business
class, right?) we note that if the service is a little under par, you
could always “just smash your wine glass and jump at someone, grab the
top of their head and put it in their carotid artery and ask anything.”
For that thought Amanda Vanstone, you’re the winner.

An
honourable mention goes to John Faulkner for citing Bridget Jones –
“everyone knows diaries are just full of crap” – at the launch of
Bernie Lagan’s Loner. And if the category were quotes of the year, plural, it’d be hard to go past dial-a-quote Mark Latham. Open the Diaries at
any random page and pluck a gem. “I’m not opposed to unionism per se,
just the idea of six union secretaries sitting around a Chinese
restaurant table planning the future for everyone else.” Or how about
this one? “In the academic world, the process of responding to new
evidence, revising old findings and reaching fresh conclusions is known
as learning. It is celebrated as intellectual growth. In politics, it
is demonised as wild and erratic.”

Crikey readers say:“Eric
Abetz, following Jim McGinty’s support for some Federal legislation:
‘It’s moments like these you need McGintys'” – Peter Phelps

Barnaby Joyce’s “The National Party has saved Christmas.” – Shaun Ratcliff

POLITICAL BLUNDER OF THE YEAR

The
NSW cabinet will be bound to check the fine print on any tunnel
contracts in the future (and they won’t let Colin Barnett do the sums).
That Lady Bracknell character Amanda Vanstone now knows that to lose
one permanent resident is unfortunate, while losing two looks like
carelessness. Speaking of immigration blunders, Laurie Ferguson might
mean well, but when a frontbencher can’t take points off the drowning
Vanstone, he’s in strife. Ferguson got himself into a tangle midyear
when he took a harder line than the Immigration Minister on the
long-term detainee Peter Qasim.
Following his abject failure to make political capital from the
government’s divisions on refugee policy, Laurie lost his job. His
replacement, Tony Burke, has shown him how to do it. Even so, we remain
more-or-less faithful to Tony Abbott on this one – that the worst political blunder of the year was his premature ejaculations over the son who wasn’t.

Crikey readers say:
“The Cross City Tunnel – joint award to Iemma and Tripodi for
continually changing their stance on the issue and fuelling the media
frenzy.” – Chris Parkin

“John Brogden – for resigning. With what
everyone else gets away with, he should have been able to ride this one
(lewd comment and then self-inflicted wounds) out in a canter.” – Cas
Linder

BUNFIGHT OF THE YEAR

The asylum debate
within the government was heated, but Sophie Panopoulos will be pleased
to hear that Philip Ruddock has now outlawed political terrorists.
Barnaby v the rest of the world has provided a constant source of
diversion since July 1. It’s going to take a lot to outwrite the Latham Diaries.
And when NSW Nationals MP Andrew Fraser leapt across the chamber at
Roads Minister Joe Tripodi in October over a long-delayed road upgrade,
we witnessed our first outbreak of Taiwan-style parliamentary debate.
Fraser only did what many inside the Labor Party have been wanting to
do for Tripodi for years – and he’s expected to be returned with an
increased majority. However, when it comes to pure drama, we’re still
in the first act of the succession, riveted by the edge-of-your-seat
scenes between John Howard and Peter Costello.

Crikey readers say:“Barnaby
Joyce versus Queensland Nationals versus Liberal Party versus the other
branches of the National Party” – Robert Bromwich

“The Howard Government v decency” – Andrew Birse

MOST NOTABLE LEGISLATION OF 2005

We’ve
felt a little hamstrung making this award before the government has
settled on the final shape of the sedition laws. However, for notable
legislation, it’s ripe pickings. How about the VSU bill for proving to us that these days, anything’s possible.

DUMBEST POLITICAL IDEA OF THE YEAR

We
received 20 million emails on this one. Someone’s got to do something
with those individual email accounts Malcolm Turnbull set up for each
Australian. Danna Vale’s idea of a political theme park: recreating
Anzac Cove on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, would probably get voted
down if the parliament adopted Barnaby Joyce’s plan for secret ballots
in the Senate. However the winner is Colin Barnett who dug a
hole for himself and washed his career down the Suez with his plan to
spend billions connecting Perth and the Kimberleys – with a canal.

Crikey readers say: “Bronwyn Bishop and headscarves, tossing up with Kim Beazley as leader AGAIN.” – Matilda Langley

“Tie between allowing pollies to vote from home and joint preselections for Queensland coalition.” – Robert Bromwich

THE PETER BEATTIE MEDIA TART AWARD

It’s eponymous.

Crikey readers say:
“It would have to be Geoff Gallop. Everyone in the West knows that Good
News Geoff will only come out for the stories that reflect positively
on him and sends out a minister for the ones that don’t.” – John Marion

“Opposition
Foreign Affairs Spokesman Kevin Rudd….he would comment on the opening
of mail if it got him a news grab.” – Ashley Manicaros

PS:
We’ve dropped the category of The Most Sexist Politician from the
honour roll because Crikey’s fun-loving readers were much more
interested in “sexiest” rather than “sexist” politician. The winner of the Sexiest
Politician award will be announced in Thursday’s Crikey.