The Paris terror attacks, abuse on Nauru, more data retention laws, a new prime minister, damaging leaks, kicks in the balls to the arts and privacy advocates — it’s been a big year. But before we all pack up and head for the beach, we need to remember the people who shaped 2015 — the good, the bad and the oh, so sexy.
Crikey 2015 Arsehat of the Year: Peter Dutton
One politician stood out this year among Crikey readers for utter and complete arsehattery: Tony Abbott, whose commitment to being a complete arsehat at all times has earned him Crikey‘s coveted Golden Arsehat Award. A reader even thoughtfully mocked up an image for us …
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But while Abbott could be said to be practising excellence in the area every year, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton really came into his own for arsehattery in 2015. He ditched the “Do Nuttin'” moniker when he traded Health for Immigration at the end of last year and swapped being merely indifferent to the sick for being callous to the desperate. Dutton managed to gloss over reports of widespread abuse, sexual assault and self-harm on Nauru, played down the death of an asylum seeker and out-of-control rioting on Christmas Island, and sent a pregnant asylum seeker who said she’d been raped back to Nauru in the dead of night before she could procure the abortion she had begged for. What a champ.
And the hits just keep on coming. He also flat-out denied that Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young had been spied on when she visited Nauru — Immigration and Wilson Security eventually admitted that to be true. Dutton is widely believed to be trying to destabilise the Prime Minister, cracked wise about rising sea levels (death and devastation wrought by man-made environmental destruction, hilarious!), and was the minister presiding over Melbourne’s Operation Fortitude clusterfuck. Crikey readers have spoken, and Dutton has truly outdone himself in arsehattery in 2015. Onwards and upwards — we (one-finger) salute you.
Crikey 2015 Person of the Year: Gillian Triggs
It’s been a very difficult year for the Australian Human Rights Commission president, but we hope being awarded Crikey‘s coveted Person of the Year award will make it a little easier. Triggs presented the government with the damning Forgotten Children report into the appalling state of children in immigration detention in late 2014, and it was tabled in Parliament in February 2015. Among other things, the report found:
- “The mandatory and prolonged immigration detention of children is in clear violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
- Detention creates and compounds mental health problems in children;
- There are high rates of self-harm by children in detention;
- Children are detained in close confinement with adults who suffer high levels of mental illness;
- Children have been exposed to unacceptable levels of violence in detention;
- The harsh and cramped living conditions on Christmas Island created particular physical illnesses among children; and
- The children detained indefinitely in Nauru are suffering from extreme levels of physical, emotional, psychological and developmental distress.”
But that was not the message the then-Abbott government wanted to hear. Rather than releasing children in Australia’s care from extremely dangerous prison camps, the Coalition went on the offensive, with Abbott declaring the report “a blatantly partisan, politicised exercise”. “It’s absolutely crystal clear this inquiry by the president of the Human Rights Commission is a political stitch-up,” he said in question time. “All I know, Madam Speaker, is that this government has lost confidence in the president of the Human Rights Commission.”
Attorney-General George Brandis demanded Triggs resign before the report was tabled (and there was the suggestion she might have been offered an inducement to do so), but Triggs stuck to her guns. She spent the year battling on behalf of asylum seekers in the face of ever-increasing government pressure — pressure that came to an abrupt halt with the ascension of Malcolm Turnbull. She has met with the Prime Minister, and is quite hopefully quoted by Fairfax:
“I think the changes will be profound … I hope that I am not breaching any confidence, but I did meet the Prime Minister two days ago and the first thing he said to me, and repeated, was that he hopes to bring cabinet government back in a classical Westminster style, with due process, transparency and the rule of law.”
Congratulations, Professor. Here’s to a much better 2016.
Sexiest Male Politician 2015: Scott Ludlam
Teenage girls might flash Kirribilli House in the hopes of pleasing “Daddy“, but Crikey readers prefer a lean, Green, privacy-defending machine. Yes, for the second year in a row Scott Ludlam has snagged what we used to call “the Malcolm award”, with those dimples outshining Turnbull’s baby blues. The WASILF (Western Australian Senator … etc) got quite the promotion this year, replacing the not-nearly-as-sexy Adam Bandt as deputy leader of the Greens (a post he shares with fellow Sexy Pollie nominee Larissa Waters, suggesting the Greens might just be the party for sex appeal). Proving that we all love a bad boy muso, Ludlam took to the decks this year as DJ S-Ludz (DJ Albo, eat your heart out) and encouraged civil — and legal — disobedience by telling us how to get around the government’s data retention laws. Last year’s upset was no fluke — he didn’t need a viral speech to cement his victory this year, as he’s already infected our loins.
Sexiest Female Politician 2015: Tanya Plibersek
Speaking of winning streaks (oh, the imagery), the member for Sydney is not called Plibersexy for nothing. Labor’s femme fatale has pulled off a Sexiest Female Pollie award hat trick (though the perfectly sculpted eyebrows of Penny Wong gave her a run for her money this year). The deputy leader of the Labor Party far outshines her hapless boss, who was not nominated for a single Crikey award this year, being too uninteresting to have done anything of note in the Areshat category or the Person of the Year category, and having the sex appeal of four-day-old sponge cake. But Plibersek has captured our hearts and minds (as well as other areas), having taught the Prime Minister the meaning of the world “mansplaining” (though we prefer Malsplaining for his particular brand of it), made the very sensible point that planned airstrikes in Syria were, um, illegal, and finding a way to force the Labor Party finally commit to gay marriage. Can the indomitable blue-eyed babe make it four years running?