Arsehat of the Year
Crikey‘s Arsehat of the Year for 2020 is not the first winner to be a popular media figure who takes any criticism they get as evidence that they are just too much of a dangerous teller of incendiary truths for all the milquetoast pearl-clutchers in the mainstream.
Hell, he’s not even the second. In that regard, YouTuber Jordan Shanks, aka FriendlyJordies, has to settle behind Kyle Sandilands and Alan Jones, the respective winners in 2011 and 2012. Illustrious company.
But Shanks is, as far as we know, the first to campaign to win. Like fools, in giving him a kick after he used his nominally left-wing platform to tell his largely young audience that a bloke shouldn’t necessarily lose his job for sexual assault, we failed to see this coming.
Indeed, ending this awful year by giving the Arsehat to someone who actually wants it — above many other far stronger candidates — is an appropriately dispiriting note. Shanks’ campaign at least makes him a slightly worthier winner.
So congratulations to you and your fans Jordan. You wanted it very badly, which we can all agree is extremely cool, and now it’s yours.
A shoutout to our silver medalist this year, who will go down as one of the great “shoulda-beens” in Arsehat history. Indeed, had it not been for the above intervention he would have won by a huge margin.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison started 2020 with truly dire leadership during the bushfires.
Things never got better. There’s his default setting of evasion and dishonesty. The tautological, meaningless slogans. The irritable, flippant responses to legitimate questions. Saying “we’ll get through this together” while his senior ministers hurled partisan trash at the Victorian state government.
His cheap, confected apoplexy over Australia Post execs buying watches while the Department of Infrastructure paid a Liberal donor 10 times the going rate for a parcel of land. He led a government that managed, in 2020, to be the sleaziest, most corrupt outfit in Australia.
Throughout 2020 Morrison and his government lead an ideological war under the cover of COVID-19 — from the construction of a secretive, fossil-fuel dominated commission to respond to the crisis, to the draining of independent regulators, to the late attempt to gut industrial relations protections.
If you’re as disappointed as we are that he’s missed out, take heart. With Australia’s comparatively strong showing in response to COVID-19 — something for which he does deserve some credit — and an essentially invisible opposition, one imagines he’ll have every opportunity to get back on the list next year.
Person of the Year
Crikey readers have delivered, by quite some distance, the 2020 Person of the Year award to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. No leader in the country had a tougher 2020, perhaps save Morrison early on — and Morrison had a largely compliant media happy to move on from Cobargo as soon as he had. Andrews had no such out.
It is no secret that Crikey has joined and in some cases led criticism of Andrews — there was, in truth, plenty to criticise.
But it’s also true that the relentless barracking from News Corp in particular was gleefully, transparently partisan — you only need to compare the coverage of second waves in South Australia and New South Wales to the front pages that greeted Victoria’s setbacks. Ditto the grubby attacks from federal ministers discussed above.
Throughout this, Andrews quietly did something we’ve been wanting a politician to do for a while: he showed up. Day after day. For 120 consecutive days he fronted the media, explained what was happening and why, and he stayed until there were no more questions. And after months of lockdown, the hard decisions paid off.
Andrews was also one of the few politicians to acknowledge the link between the virus and insecure work, and his government produced a budget that acknowledged that not everyone was affected by the virus equally.
The report into the disastrous hotel quarantine program was released yesterday. Elsewhere, Bernard Keane is giving the Andrews government a well-deserved excoriation for its many failures on this front. Further, the way the virus was policed was hugely problematic. 2020 wasn’t going to give us a saint.
Indeed, Andrews, the “party apparatchik from central casting” hoisted beyond all expectations to become cartoon villain or cult hero, is a perfect emblem for 2020; great triumphs and miserable failures, relentless buffeting and impressive resolve.