As Australia begins to stir from hibernation, there is one thing that could have stayed dormant for much longer.
Numpties. Sorry, politicians.
Now that we’re back to politics as usual, it only serves to remind us what we really didn’t miss during the lockdown.
During the hiatus, the only visible pollies were a small group which included the prime minister, the treasurer and the health minister.
It was more than enough.
Few really missed hearing from the rest of the Morrison government, particularly those weeks when the home affairs minister was felled by coronavirus.
The opposition figured out early on it was best to keep their heads down too.
The opposition leader popped up occasionally for some appropriate contributions on vital issues which was a good reminder that he had not been confined to a bunker like poor Joe Biden in the US.
And virtually nothing from the National Party with their federal leaders’ invisibility now working in his favour. Even Barnaby buggered off for the duration.
Pauline Hanson’s efforts to draw attention included threatening to lay down in her paddock and daring the cops to fine her. No word on what happened. Obviously no one cared — even the cops.
Could this be why ratings for the nightly television news almost doubled? Suddenly it was safe for viewers to turn on their sets and watch real news for a change instead of the usual banality.
It seemed the only ones that missed it all were the rabid right wing commentators who were given some welcome relief with the George Pell High Court decision in early April.
That allowed for some much needed ranting and culture war outpourings that they had obviously been forced to curtail during those damned “we’re all in it together” weeks.
The pollie void was filled by the state premiers which might be why the first polling showed their approval at stratospheric levels. There was novelty value to seeing Labor and Liberal state leaders all working together.
Not so much internally. When NSW arts minister Don Harwin was sacked it was ostensibly pandemic-related given he was breaking lockdown laws. It did allow Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph to ramp up its campaign against the NSW premier under the cover of COVID-19.
There were still tensions between Canberra and Macquarie Street with the PM reportedly warmer to the Labor premiers of Victoria, WA and Queensland than to his NSW Liberal counterpart during national cabinet meetings.
Perhaps the starkest sign things had changed came the Sunday federal Education Minister Dan Tehan criticised Victorian Premier Dan Andrews’ lack of leadership on school openings and was forced by the PM to make an embarrassing apology that he had “overstepped the mark”.
Given the usual insults hurled from Canberra it was a seminal moment in the new civil politics. It didn’t last long.
This week Victorian Liberal MP Tim Smith issued a childish tirade calling Andrews “lurch” and a “friendless loser”.
Peter Dutton’s pent-up bile was sprayed at the “corrupt and chaotic” Queensland Government for daring to try and help rescue the collapsed Virgin Airlines, comments even the PM refused to endorse.
It has been unravelling at a great pace. In the past week the Queensland premier has lost her deputy after a corruption scandal and the NSW premier probably wishes hers had gone too.
After the NSW deputy premier sprayed everyone, Barnaby quickly popped up with a view, and then Matt Canavan was back, along with a strange photo of himself in high vis in front of a Hills Hoist.
The opposition stirred too. Kristina Keneally was obviously suffering limelight deprivation so penned an anti-immigration piece that infuriated her colleagues and gave Pauline Hanson the chance to claim she was stealing One Nation policies.
And when a press gallery journalist dared to bring up the dreaded sports rorts this week the old smirky, snarky Scott was back.
Political leaders often talk disingenuously of keeping politics off the front page but when the pandemic meant they didn’t have a choice, it actually seemed to work.
Cancelling parliament is a high price to pay but for the first time I appreciate why some oppressed peoples actually welcome a dictatorship after democracy becomes too chaotic.
It’s obviously a welcome respite from all those damn pollies, everywhere, all the time.
Have you enjoyed the break from politics as usual? Let us know your thoughts by writing to [email protected]. Please include your full name to be considered for publication in Crikey’s Your Say column.