GASP: Last breath

There was no shortage of fodder for keen observers this year, including Julia Gillard’s dramatic fall from power, Holden’s not-so-surprise exit and the capitulation of Jaymes Diaz. GASP hands out the trophies for the biggest winners and losers of 2013.

GASP’s Inaugural Year in Review

Three prime ministers, three cheese companies having an almighty blue and three car makers being whittled down to one; 2013 has been a turbo-charged twelve months, even by election year standards.

We danced on and then through the debt ceiling, watched ambitious swagmen – one, two, three – camp by Billabong and despite a change of leadership the Australian government maintained it was still ‘our way or the Huawei’.

In honour of 2013, all its glory and its unending whimsy, GASP has compiled a selection of accolades and teamed them with a slew of worthy recipients.

The David and Goliath Odd Place To Pick a Fight goes to;

The Coalition vs the ABC

A progressive national broadcaster and a conservative government walk into a bar…and carnage ensues. Aunty’s decision to collaborate with The Guardian and publish leaked emails revealing Australia’s spying activities in Indonesia prompted a swift rebuke from the Coalition – Cory Bernardi called for a funding cut, Tony Abbott unleashed a barrage of passive-aggressive jibes and Lucy Turnbull just looked damn awkward wedged between Jennifer Byrne and Marieke Hardy on The First Tuesday Book Club.

Runners-up: Piers Akerman vs Peppa Pig, Nick Champion vs letter writing.


The Captain Obvious Everybody Saw That Coming Salutation goes to;

Holden’s manufacturing exit from Australia

Who knew it costs a bucket-load more to build vehicles in a country with renowned high wages and a persistently high dollar? Well, everybody. Reports that Holden would follow Ford out the door – the same one Tony Abbott prided himself on swinging open to business upon his election – gained traction quickly and a dust-up from the Treasurer soon after sealed the deal.  

Runners-up: Kevin Rudd returns, Jaymes Diaz fails to win the seat of Greenway.


The 'C'mon in the water's fine... oh wait... I’m not waving, I’m drowning statue’ goes to;

Simon Crean

It was as hilarious as it was horrifying back in March when the respected Labor statesman tried to smoke out persistent antagonist Kevin Rudd only to be left completely stranded by his colleagues. Crean was quickly demoted from his portfolio and announced he would retire from politics after an unsuccessful tilt at the deputy’s job upon the return of Rudd. From grace, all things will fall, hey Simon?

Runner up: Peter Beattie’s return and subsequent defeat


The Maxine McKew Flavour of the Month Memorial goes to;

Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory

Humble little Warnambool became takeover target du jour this year, as suitors near and far scrambled to acquire the cheesemaker. Canada’s Saputo, Murray Golburn Co-Operative and Bega Cheese all squabbled for control of the group, while Japanese food giant Kirin also made its presence known, taking a strategic stake in the group. The takeaway was just this – a little hashtag known as #cheesewars.

Runners up: Julia Gillard’s hipster glasses, the term “thought bubble”


The Buddy Franklin Reluctant Defector Monument goes to;

Bill Shorten

Despite the inevitability of a Rudd challenge, the fate of the tilt was always going to hang on Bill “the faceless man” Shorten. When, with a “heavy heart” he swung his support to Rudd, he sealed the fate of Julia Gillard, but paved a path to his own leadership some months later. And care of changes to the leadership rules enacted by the man he helped get to the Prime Ministership, he enjoys a stability as head of the ALP previous leaders could only have dreamed of. Well played, Shorty.

Runners up: Ricky Muir joins the Palmer United Party


The Leo Tolstoy Drawn-Out Corporate Battle Tribute goes to;


The tussle over embattled surfwear retailer Billabong, had almost as many twists and turn as it did overwrought wipeout puns. From the second half of 2012, right through to its AGM just last week, Billabong has kept investors on their toes and observers enthralled as suitors clamoured over one another to get a chance to steer the iconic brand. The frenzy brought internal tensions to a boiling point, finally claiming the boardies of CEO Launa Inman. With share prices on the up and up, and new CEO Neil Fiske turning in a measured performance at the AGM, the worst may be over for Billabong, although a wipeout is never too far away - even if it is just another tired headline.

Runners up: Cheese wars, Archer Daniels Midlands proposed GrainCorp buy


The Sarah Palin Prize for Banished Women goes to;

Julia Gillard

For many 2013 will be the year Julia Gillard was finally defeated. Some will view it as a bitter defeat, others a soaring victory. Regardless, no one can doubt her exit from the political sphere was as turbulent and divisive as her time at the head of the nation. On a Wednesday afternoon in June the PM calmly allowed a caucus vote for the Labor leadership, and by the end of that evening her job was back in the hands of the man she deposed three years earlier. In a graceful farewell Gillard said her gender explained some things about her Prime Ministership, but not everything. Subsequent interviews and op-eds were less diplomatic.

Runners up: Sophie Mirabella’s exit at the hands of grassroots independent Cathy McGowan, Launa Inman’s departure from Billabong


The Rob Oakeshott Get To The Point Already Accolade goes to;

The US Federal Reserve

First it was Sep-taper, then Oct-taper and by the time December came around we were dreaming of a QuiEt Christmas. For almost six months, the only thing that’s been certain about the long-awaited taper is that nothing is certain about the long-awaited taper – especially a date for when the bloody thing will start. So when the Fed finally announced the beginning of a ‘modest’ taper this week, it was the anti-climax we all expected it would be.

Runners up: Holden’s exit from Australia, Kevin Rudd’s concession speech


The Mark Latham Political Wildcard Award goes to;

Clive Palmer

No one really knew quite what to expect when the enigmatic billionaire announced he would not only run in the federal election but form his own party. 5.5 per cent of the primary vote, one lower house seat and two, maybe three Senators later, we’re still not 100 per cent what we’ve signed up for in electing Palmer. Already he’s called out Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife as a Chinese spy, given paranoia a new name in enquiring whether his own Canberra office was bugged and delivered what is undoubtedly the longest list of pecuniary interests ever tendered by an MP. And we’re only three months in.

Runners up: Unlikely senators Ricky Muir, Wayne Dropulich; and the Greens and the Coalition unite to abolish the debt ceiling.

* * *

The Golden GASP Gaffe of the Year goes to;

Jaymes Diaz

Graph for GASP: Last breath

When your party bases a sizeable chunk of its political campaign on a certain issue – in this case, stopping the boats – it would be wise to know precisely how this is supposed to be achieved. Poor Jaymes Diaz wasn’t equipped to name the points the Coalition had outlined to stop the boats back in August and the video of his hard-to-watch, harder-to-look-away fumbling became an instant how-not-to-campaign masterclass. His eventual defeat at the election was welcomed by just about everybody, particularly the new Prime Minister.

Runners up: Tony Abbott’s suppository of wisdom, Myer CEO Bernie Brookes’ NDIS comments.

Tweet of the year

Graph for GASP: Last breath

The one-line wonders of 2013

  • “But, honestly, he is the fake tan of political world.” – Greg Hunt on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
  • “I wish people would describe me as having sex appeal, but they don’t.” Christopher Pyne.
  • “Rupert Murdoch’s wife Wendi Deng is a Chinese spy…she’s been spying on Rupert for years.”Clive Palmer.
  • “Removing Kevin Rudd was an act of political bastardry, for sure, but this act of political bastardry was made possible only because Kevin had been such a bastard himself to too many people.” – Former Attorney-General Nicola Roxon.
  • “Tony Abbott is the Prime Minister for Science Denialism.”Greens leader Christine Milne.
  • “And so, having said all that, on this final occasion in the parliament, and as is now officially recorded in the classics for occasions such as this, it really is time for me to zip.” Kevin Rudd

The last gasp of 2013

What a difference a year makes. Not only have we changed the government from the one that we finished 2012 with, but said government was usurped by its own party – only to be voted out a federal election weeks after. Unfortunately, the Abbott government has done little to change the public’s disengagement with the political process. Short-termism still seems to be the order of the day in Canberra, with petty politicking taking precedence over long-term policy. Until this changes, expect the echoes of discontent from within the electorate to remain – and indeed, grow more vocal.

Wishing all of GASP’s loyal readers a Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous 2014.

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