Chewin' the Gristle


Hello Gristlers! and welcome to Chewin’ the Gristle, the week’s political bits that we found hard to swallow.

This week’s column is dedicated to the tireless work of The Murdoch Foundation. In this, the International Week of the Tired and Emotional Dwarf, it was left to Rupert to bring recognition to this very worthy cause. By giving little Glenn Milne the opportunity to grace the stage at the Walkley Awards   Rupert has exposed the plight of small people like Glenn to a hitherto uncaring public. Mr Murdoch, The Gristle salutes you!!


Last week was also a strong one for NSW Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt. As she headed onto the airwaves to face the journalistic hardheads at music station Nova 96.9, her aim was to bemoan the findings of a leaked report which showed that three-quarters of Australian teenagers don’t know what Australia Day commemorates. When she was asked what event the day does mark, the ever-professional and considerate Tebbutt attempted to maintain the self-esteem of NSW’s high-school students, by confidently but erroneously answering: ‘the day that we became a nation and the States joined together.’ (For those unfortunate readers who were educated in a NSW high school, the correct answer is Australia Day commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet.)

Apparently, you don’t have to get up too early in the morning to fool Carmel. On a scale of Outstanding, High, Sound, Basic and Limited,  The Gristle gives Carmel an ‘F.’

Last week saw the release of the findings of Terrence Cole’s Inquiry into Certain Australian Companies in Relation to the UN Oil-For-Food Programme. The Inquiry’s final report runs to five volumes and 2065 mind-numbing pages, but The Gristle has winnowed the wheat from the chaff for New Matilda readers and, in a nutshell, can confirm that the report has some very nasty things to say about a few at the pointy end of AWB’s management pyramid. However, as expected, the Federal Government and its bureaucrats are totally cleared of any wrongdoing showing that ignorance can be both a defence under law and something to be proud of!

John Howard and Alexander Downer were triumphant to the point of calling for the Federal Opposition to apologise immediately and unreservedly. Apologies from the Leader of the Opposition weren’t forthcoming, however, perhaps because no one on that side of the House was quite sure who had that role at the time.

The best call, as usual, was from Downer who came up with this unintelligible couplet: ‘So we shouldn’t be embarrassed that we sent Trevor Flugge to Iraq But you don’t know who you have a drink with down the pub and what they might have been doing.’ We’re not sure if the ‘pub’ Alex was referring to was The Adelaide Club, but the idea of him and a topless, revolver-toting Fluginator throwing down a few schooners together is a delicious image.

The Gristle‘s award for the most oft-recurring character in politics last week goes to the high-profile but factionless Peter ‘Silas the Monk’ Garrett, Opposition Spokesman for Reconciliation and the Arts, former frontman for Oz rockers Midnight Oil and likely hefty beneficiary of a forthcoming Shadow Cabinet re-shuffle.

Inspired by Garrett, Federal Treasurer ‘Cuddles’ Costello, having recently met Bono despite admitting he didn’t know any of U2’s songs, felt he should go one step further and actually learn the lyrics to Midnight Oil’s song ‘Beds are Burning’ and perform it for Federal Parliament. But when Cuddles produced some of Garret’s signature moves, it all got a bit much for Wazza ‘Crocodile Dundee’ Snowdon, Labor’s Member for Lingiari, who got himself ejected for criticising Costello’s dancing.

Thanks to Paul Batey

Silas the Monk’s other big news last week was his old mate Bob Brown’s calling him a sell-out: ‘The Labor Party has taken him over and turned him into an anti-Green campaigner.’ The hostility clearly stemmed from Bob’s failure to ever win a Countdown Award and was triggered here by a botched preference deal between the Greens and the Libs for the State seat of Melbourne at last week’s Victorian election. The seat (along with the rest of Victoria), by the way, went to Labor. Predictably, the electors agreed with Ted ‘Elvis’ Baillieu’s mother-in-law and rejected the Lib’s strategy for a budgie-smuggler-and-karaoke-led recovery. Go figure.

It did get The Gristle to thinking, though. The Coalition has now lost 21 State and Territory elections in a row since 1998, while Federal Labor look like they just might lose 20. Is it just possible that a few years back, a bunch of shadowy senior Liberal and National figures and a bunch of equally shadowy Labor and ACTU power-brokers got together over a few beers to sort things out?:

‘Now fellas, seeing as how us Libs are so good at the economy and defence stuff, and you Labor boys have the whole soft Lefty thing going that makes you much more palatable on health, education and those sort of luvvy things, maybe we could all save ourselves a bunch of time and effort by just carving up responsibilities once and for all, eh? So, from now on, the Coalition gets Federal and Labor gets States and Territories.’


‘It’s important that the punters believe that democracy is functioning, so we’ll still have elections and, the natural order being what it is, the cards will normally fall the right way but, just in case, if an Opposition ever looks like getting up, we agree that they will magically fall on their sword. They could, for instance, have a series of inopportune leadership spills, or they could just run a campaign wearing speedos, or rely on evidence from a convicted serial killer when accusing the incumbent government of dodging parking fines! Use your imaginations.

and they all lived happily ever after.

You may scoff, but give me a more plausible explanation for the current lack of any credible Opposition in the land.

All of this news was, of course, over-shadowed by Bomber Beazley being rolled in a leadership spill by the Labor Party’s work experience kiddy as fearlessly predicted in last week’s The Gristle.

You can catch The Gristle on Radio 2SER 107.3 in Sydney or on the web at every Friday evening from 6:00 to 6:30.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.