(Image: AAP/Private Media)

2020 has been a year of unprecedented sleaze in Australian politics. Pork-barrelling and turning a blind eye to corruption is now openly celebrated in NSW. Victorian Labor shredded itself over branch-stacking. Federal ministers were caught up in grant rorting, sex scandals and dodgy deals.

So intense is the level of corruption and misconduct across politics that Crikey has decided we need a State of Origin Sleaze-off to determine which jurisdiction can lay claim to the dirtiest, most corrupt in the land. State against state, if you like, though not, of course, mate against mate — because mates, as Scott Morrison reminds us, always look after each other.

Here’s how it will work. As the four biggest jurisdictions in the country, the federal government and the NSW, Queensland and Victorian governments are automatic semi-finalists. Next week, they will battle it out for a place in the final. To add some spice to the contest, we’re going to play off Labor against Labor and Coalition against Coalition, with Queensland and Victoria going head to head in the first semi-final and NSW and the federal government going up against each other in final number two.

Just like proper State of Origin clashes, parties normally playing alongside each other will find themselves on opposing teams as they vie for the opportunity to claim the mantle of Australia’s most corrupt government.

But we haven’t left out the smaller states and territories. South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and the two territories will line up against each other early next week to see who can earn the right to challenge the big states. The winner of the title of most sleazy smaller state will challenge the last-placed semi-finalists for a chance to break into the top four and “podium” with the big jurisdictions.

The winner will receive the Gold Aldi Bag, made iconic by NSW Labor’s analog handling of big cash donations. The runner-up will enjoy a free trip to Wagga, while third and fourth place will — pending agreement — enjoy some free shooting lessons with Bridget McKenzie.

It’s set to be a clash for the ages.