Given what a shit year it has been, we in the Crikey bunker would be very glad if 2016 had never happened. And it seems you would be as well. If there is a strong sense of deja vu with this year’s Crikey Awards, well, that’s because every winner also took home the crown in 2015. If you want to erase the year entirely, that would be OK by us.
As a tribute to Leslie Nassar, whose loss marked yet another way in which 2016 was truly awful, we’re giving him the last word on each of our Crikey awards.
Crikey 2016 Arsehat of the Year: Peter Dutton
Let’s be honest, Attorney-General George Brandis really was an exemplary arsehat this year. He picked a dumb fight with the solicitor-general, because of which Justin Gleeson resigned. He might or might not have done a sketchy deal with the Western Australian government, and he definitely blamed the whole thing on Joe Hockey when it came to light. He found jobs for any number of Liberal mates on tribunals and in government.
Even with all that, Peter Dutton still managed to pip the hapless A-G at the post for the coveted Arsehat of the Year award. Was it his bizarre (*cough* racist *cough*) comments about Lebanese Australians? Was it throwing poor old Malcolm Fraser under the bus? Was it his pledge to keep desperate people in open-air rape camps in a tropical hellhole for “decades”? Or maybe it was this oxymoronic (and just moronic) pearler about refugees who come to Australia: “They won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English. These people would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that. For many of them that would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it so there would be huge cost and there’s no sense in sugar-coating that, that’s the scenario.”
A richly deserved back-to-back win for the Immigration Minister, who beat out Brandis by a scant 80 votes for the most coveted of the Crikey Awards. Merry Christmas, Peter, we hope your life is as full and joyful as those of the people you have imprisoned indefinitely in an island prison hell.
Crikey 2016 Person of the Year: Gillian Triggs
The Human Rights Commission president was not initially on the list of nominees for Person of the Year, after she lied to Parliament and seriously impugned the professional reputation of The Saturday Paper‘s Ramona Koval. But Gillian Triggs was such a popular write-in candidate that we had to include her — and she won by a landslide. Her war with the Coalition — and its media arm, News Corp — has not calmed at all this year, with Triggs steadfastly refusing to allow the government to go about its policy of deliberate human misery as a deterrence for apocryphal people smugglers in peace.
Triggs has also fought the government on its plans (so far floated only through right-wing backbenchers, but you know it’s on the cards) to water down section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. She became involved in the very odd Queensland University of Technology computer lab 18C case, and is opposed to amending the legislation. “I suggest that to weaken section 18C in any way would be a seriously retrograde step,” Triggs told The Guardian. “If anything this section should be strengthened and clarified.”
The Prime Minister is not going to continue to tolerate this particular thorn in his side, with Malcolm Turnbull giving Triggs her marching orders.
Sexiest Male Politician 2016: Scott Ludlam
July brought us the (somewhat dubious) gift of a new crop of parliamentarians, who are blessed with a wide variety of genetic gifts. But like a classic Ferrari, the sexiness of the Greens’s Scott Ludlam never goes out of style. From his perfect hair to his ardent defence of Australians against the overreaching machinations of the surveillance state, the Greens co-deputy leader has what it takes to set Australian hearts a-flutter. Ludlam is currently on medical leave, but we wish him all the best and hope to see him back in 2017.
It was a very good year for the gents of the left, with Anthony Albanese and the single entity that is Adam Bandt and Richard Di Natale (seriously, can anyone tell them apart?) taking second and third place respectively. Liberal lookers Chris Crewther, Andrew Hastie, Christopher Pyne and James Paterson failed to make the impact we had thought they would. It should be noted the most popular write-in candidate for this category was George Christensen. Make of that what you will.
Sexiest Female Politician 2016: Tanya Plibersek
She’d be bringing sexy back, but for Plibersexy it was never gone. This is the Labor deputy’s fourth year snagging this award, and you’d think the powers that be might start to take the hint and elevate her to the Labor leadership if they ever want to win an election again. Just a thought.
Always ready with a bon mot and an actual well-thought-through policy position, Plibersek is a regular on our radios, our TVs and in our hearts. But the Member for
Sexy Sydney better watch her back (a proud tradition within the ALP), as her Labor colleagues Penny Wong and Anne Aly were nipping at her heels.