Dec 22, 2016

The 2016 Crikeys: best and worst of politics

After a rotten year in politics, does anyone deserve acknowledgement for their efforts? Here are the 2016 Crikey awards for politics.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Pauline Hanson

After a year in politics like 2016, handing out awards is a bit like doling out “Good Effort!” ribbons at a school carnival. Nonetheless, in the hope that the limited pool of actual talent in our parliamentary ranks might be encouraged to better things, and the rest given a guide as to how to avoid screwing up, we offer the following Best and Worsts of the Australian Political Year.

Most Effective Minister

At one point during the year, the excellent Katharine Murphy wondered on Twitter if Mathias Cormann ever went into a room by himself and screamed to vent his frustration. It’s a wholly reasonable question: Cormann isn’t just compared to the Terminator because of his Schwarzeneggerian accent, but because he has the same robotic efficiency and predictability. In particular, he is capable of staying on message no matter what the circumstances, except when he suffered an exhaustion-related breakdown during the election campaign, for which he served as Liberal spokesman — and accidentally lavished praise on Bill Shorten. But he was rebooted, the glitch disappeared, and he resumed his duties without any ill effects. In a government marked by chaos and incompetence, Cormann is testament to how discipline, just doing your job and getting the basics right can make you stand out. Julie Bishop can say the same, but she continues to enjoy a portfolio where there’s little domestic political interest and no pressure.

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9 thoughts on “The 2016 Crikeys: best and worst of politics

  1. klewso

    “Politician of the Year” from this crop? That’s like being judged Best in Show – at the local Sewerage Treatment Plant Open Day.

    1. zut alors

      …or Best Rat in the Nest.

      An honourable mention must go to Rod Culleton for Best Original Work, he’s living the future film script.

      1. klewso

        And Hanson’s G-M Club-headed Cabbage success is all down to ‘Turnbull’s DD Organic Fertiliser’.

  2. Will

    Sorry, I don’t get it. What has Mathias Cormann actually achieved in his portfolio this year? The government clearly doesn’t have any economic plan at all (and Cormann has to be a key part of the reason why). His sole answer to every question all year has been simply, “We are continuing to repair Labor’s damage by charting a responsible budget trajectory over the forward estimates.” And when asked, what the heck does that actually mean though, he invariably replied, “You should be asking why Labor won’t let us clean up their mess.” In other words, all just non-answers betraying the non-existence of an actual economic plan. Seriously, best minister!? For doing what?

    No, I would have thought Dutton qualified as the most effective minister by a mile. Not for being a good person, but rather for happily being such a very publicly bad one. His overtly racist dog-whistling (as opposed to ‘we really only want to save [brown] people lives’ moralising) knocked immigration detention off the media agenda – very simply because the government could no longer be attacked for inhumane hypocrisy. Sco Mo stonewalled in immigration, and the media dug in. Dutton opened up, and the media puked and ran. That takes pure rat cunning and a real willingness to put out for the team. A truly ballsy player for a government without balls.

    1. PaulM

      Can we please stop equating courage with the possession of a pair of testicles.

      1. Will

        It’s just a figure of speech (although suggesting a causal link between testosterone and combativeness). But you won’t save the world policing speech. What you might do though is signal your virtue – you know, kind of like a peacock! Or does that touch too heavily on virility? Oops!

      2. AR

        I doubt that courage comes from testicles – try harming the young of most species (humans, demonstrably, excluded) when their dam is present – but sheer suicidal stupidity, insane aggression & self destructive violence is definitely caused by testosterone – viz Thatcher & Hillary once their estrogen dried up.

  3. AR

    Too many execrable duds, too few hats.

  4. Murray Scott

    Politics is tragi-comedy. While we smirk along with Bernard at prejudice, illogic and self-serving machinations, we are unlikely to vanquish these contrarians with scorn. We must play nice, summonning sufficient empathy to understand which of their ideas can be engaged with using goodwill, patience, evidence and logic. Otherwise politics and parliaments will fail to govern and lead, committing generations of Australians to racial paranoia, division, hostile neighbours, economic chaos, futile attempts to outpace poverty and debt with growth, overflowing garbage tips and runaway climate change. Globally Australia will join the like of N.Korea as a paranoid, belligerent, delinquent nation in a nasty, dangerous world.

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