Gasp: The winners of our discontent

Although the election result was a clear victory for Tony Abbott and the Coalition, we shouldn't forget about the smaller victories achieved by our nation's electoral delinquents.

It’s been said a year is a long time in politics. And while it’s only been nine months, the time since that fateful January 30 afternoon on which Julia Gillard announced Australia would head to the polls on September 14 has seemed like an eternity.

There have been innumnerable changes to keep us engaged – a new prime minister; a new election date; a carbon tax termination; a lurch to the left on paid parental leave; Clive Palmer’s a billionaire, no, wait, he’s a politican – but the slow and laborious grind to the polling booth proved far too much for many.

With the AEC tipping a record informal vote of around 5.9 per cent, electors, in a clear bid to modernise the age-old adage “out of the frying pan and into the fire”, gleefully lept from a hung parliament to a hostile Senate.

Despite the catharsis many a voter felt in drawing genitalia on the ballot paper, the election pretty much played out to script. Abbott won in a landslide, Rudd wouldn’t shut up, the Greens looked down on everyone from the moral high ground and breakfast TV hosts dressed up as political journalists for the evening.

While Labor tried hard to give traction to their campaign scare “if he wins, you lose”, it seems to have fallen well short of the mark in convincing the electorate that Abbott was some kind of demonic anti-Christ.

That’s not to say there were not clear winners and losers from the weekend’s election. Some have already had their time in the sun, some have slipped by under the radar. Here at GASP we believe all in equal opportunity for all electoral delinquents.

And so with the chords of ‘Kiss Labor Goodbye’ in the background, let us look back on the sweetness and the sorrow of election 2013 and for the last time (until the double dissolution) examine what they did for votes in GASP’s inaugural Excellence in Political Humility and All-Around Bastardry Awards.

The I’m not great, but I’m a bloody improvement on the other guy Award for Political Modesty goes to TONY ABBOTT

An obvious choice to head this list, is of course, Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott. It was a classic tale of the underdog coming good, when the ‘unelectable’ tribal leader finally ascended to the nation’s top job.

Flanked unsurpisingly by his daughters, decked out head to toe in virgin white (we get it Tony, they’re pure), Abbott declared not once, not twice, but three times the government of Australia had changed. Hashtag modesty.

As Abbott declared Australia ‘open for business’ soon after social media declared Abbott open for bashing.

Graph for Gasp: The winners of our discontent

Graph for Gasp: The winners of our discontent

The Rob Oakeshott Speak Like You’ll Never See A Microphone Again Memorial Trophy is presented to KEVIN RUDD

Naturally, the leader of the defeated party is the biggest loser of the election. Yeah, that's democracy. But in a fitting end to a truly bizarre political life, the biggest twist in an otherwise predictable night was Kevin Rudd’s concession speech. The twist? It was a victory speech. Taking his cues directly from the Rob Oakeshott school of oration, Rudd delivered an almost 20-minute address that played more like a lifetime achievement award than the political obituary it should have been.

The The Man who Cried Dinosaur Trophy is presented to CLIVE PALMER

Tony Abbott may be hellbent on stopping the boats, but not even the PM-elect could stop the Titanic II on its course to Canberra. Sharply contrasting Rudd’s losers-acting-like-winners charade, Palmer was a picture of indignation this week, threatening a High Court challenge against the AEC before the election had even been called and subsequently declaring UN observers would declare the election “unfair”.

PUP’s strong result was a surprise to everyone — well, everyone except Clive. He was after all gunning for the top job: prime minister. Perhaps the failure of that objective explains his temperament throughout the week. Showing he breezed through the election with modesty intact, Palmer has since graciously offered to “piggy-back” Katter’s Australia Party at the next Queensland election.

Chivalry may be dead, but like dinosaurs, that doesn’t mean you can’t build a theme park out of its plastic remnants.

The Everyone Loves a David and Goliath Story, until it’s clear you’re Goliath Award goes to SOPHIE MIRABELLA

Ah Sophie. Where to begin? It would be hard not to take personally, the fact that while the coalition recorded a 7.5 per cent upswing in support in Victoria (one of the largest in the nation), Mirabella’s own 9 per cent margin was eroded by Independent Cathy McGowan. Mirabella also earns the plum title of the only coalition frontbencher to be ousted in the election campaign.

Mid-week, with a mysterious box of 1000 votes found for her challenger, Mirabella requested Abbott rule her out of consideration for a position in his cabinet.

“This isn’t about me,” she said selflessly, not hint of arrogance or delusions of grandeur. “This is about our country.”

Mirabella can take heart from the fact, after a combative relationship with the Australian people, she is finally on the same page as the nation: it is in Australia’s best interests that she withdraw from consideration. It is in the interest of our sanity, our wellbeing and our general will to live that she fade into black. Australia made its choice Sophie, and it wasn’t you.

The Stephen Bradbury Nobody Saw That Coming Trophy is awarded to WAYNE DROPULICH and RANDY MUIR

Just when we thought the major parties had the market cornered on pandering to the electorate – along comes Senate candidate Wayne Dropulich. Dropulich is the only known living member of the Australian Sports Party, a movement that looks to capitalise of the nation’s cult-like obsession with, yes, sport. Groundbreaking.

How do you stop the boats? De-fense! How do you fix the economy? It’s not about fixing the economy, it’s about making sure everyone on the team gets a “fair go.”

The other senate wildcard looks set to be the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party’s Randy Muir – a man with a penchant for motor vehicles but an aversion to suits.

“I’ve got some nice clothing but I have not got a suit yet, but I wil get one,” he told the ABC.

To be fair, Muir’s favourite passtime – tossing Kangaroo poo – hardly calls for a tailored pinstripe.

The Tom Petty and the Labor Heartbreakers Won’t Back Down Award is presented to an UNNAMED AEC POLLING OFFICIAL FROM BRISBANE

In what now looks like a prophecy of things to come, at one point on election day Kevin Rudd couldn’t even count on his own vote. Why?

Because “a powerful young polling booth officer” refused the PMs’ media contingent from a polling booth at St Paul's Anglican Church. Yes, that’s right a church. Insert same-sex marriage joke here.

"You don't have the relevant permission,” he bellowed, apparently unaware of how important pictures of Rudd casting a ballot for himself (BREAKING NEWS: Rudd backs his own interests) while being lashed by protestors was. Important to whom is yet to be confirmed.

It was Rudd who was most ropeable about the situation. As we know, he doesn’t even get out of bed if there’s not a press pack around.

One line wonders

“Remember those great journalists of the last century; Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsson and Mr White, wasn’t that a great industry to work in?” Here at GASP we pledged to take Clive Palmer more seriously now he was a likely Member of Parliament. Then he said this.

"Kevin Rudd's continuing presence in the parliamentary Labor Party will see him do what he has always done, and that is willingly, wilfully, recklessly, destabilise Labor leaders." Labor’s healing process began, predictably, with a pissing contest between former ministers to see who could be most dissenting. Craig Emerson took an early lead.

“I support tearing up the carbon tax to a certain degree but some of that carbon tax is quite good.” Likely PUP Senator Jacqui Lambie putting to bed fears the party was lacking in policy direction. Ms Lambie also said Tony Abbott’s paid parental scheme was ‘nice’, while her position on stopping the boats was ‘yes’. Rest easy Australia.

“It is what others have called the audacity of hope. Or put more simply, our simple audacious belief that we can make our community and our country and world a better place for all, not just for some, for all, not just for some.” Apparently in ‘Bris’ putting something simply entails transforming a three-word slogan into a short story. Anyone get the feeling Kevin Rudd isn’t ready to give up the limelight just yet?

Tweet of the week

Graph for Gasp: The winners of our discontent

The last gasp

With the Australian Labor Party set to embark on a lengthy period of rebuilding, the most difficult task confronting the party is disabusing itself from the idea the removal of Rudd and Gillard from the leadership equation (and potentially from parliament all together) will put an immediate end to factional divisions.

Of known supporters, the upper-level of the Labor caucus remains quite evenly split based on allegiances at the June ballot. All the while these members are working together, it would be foolish to think the mere removal of one or both of their former sergeants will absolve all lingering apprehension.

Rather than let such differences undermine the Labor rebuilding, the party needs to adopt a line similar to the one the coalition peddled following Tony Abbott’s usurpation of Malcolm Turnbull – “we are a broad church”.

It was well-known – and remains well known – that there is a divergence of views on policy within the Coalition and yet that knowledge did little to chip away at the party’s stability. So successful was the Coalition’s handling of its own leadership change, when Labor inevitably tried to wedge Abbott and Turnbull on policy differences during the recent election, the attacks were nullified even before delivery.

Labor would do well first to adopt a “broad church” mentality, and second figure out precisely who its congregation is. And quickly. 

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