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 Gristle is dedicated to Amanda ‘Hugandkiss’ Vanstone. After being unceremoniously dumped from the Immigration portfolio and amid suggestions that she might skip the last four years of her Senate term and shuffle off to a diplomatic posting in Europe Amanda felt that she should leave us with something special to remember her by. If you were wondering what the hell Amanda has been doing while her Department was locking up and deporting Australian citizens, well it seems she’s been penning an ode to this nation to complement our national anthem.


Now, we at The Gristle are not sure why Amanda thought she is in any way qualified to take on this task, but it inspired us to pen an ode to Amanda herself. This one is to the tune of ‘Advance Australia Fair’ (or ‘Working Class Man‘ if you’re Adam Hills):

Australia , let us all rejoice
For I am finally free.
Unlike all those poor refugees
I’m off to Italy.
Maybe I should finish my Senate term,
But I don’t really care.
You get rid of me, I go to Italy.
How could this be more fair?
I’ll pen a song, and then ‘so long!’
How could this be more fair?

Thanks to Bill Leak

Of course, it’s hard to think of Vanstone without thinking of incarceration, which brings us back to the inevitable noises this week over David Hicks. Public opinion is turning, according to the Prime Minister, but this has not stopped the dynamic duo of Attorney-General Phil ‘The Cadaver’ Ruddock and Foreign Minister Alexander ‘Too Freaky’ Downer from delivering a combination of semantic defence and quotable quotes.

The Cadaver put a fair bit of effort into explaining the difference between ‘non-shared accommodation’ and ‘isolation.’ Hicks is not being held in isolation in fact, it’s kind of like when all the elder siblings have left home and now there’s space for each kid to have their own room. Of course, that is where the home metaphor pretty much stops.

Continuing along this semantic vein, The Cadaver went on to explain that, while Hicks had been subjected to sleep deprivation, this did not constitute torture. It only becomes torture if you ‘use loud noise, or continuous light, or subject people to pain to keep them awake’. Of course, approved ‘interrogation’ methods at Guantánamo Bay include:

  • hooding,
  • stripping prisoners naked,
  • questioning for up to 20 hours,
  • exposure to extreme temperatures,
  • reversal of sleep cycles and the use of prisoners’ phobias including dogs.

‘Too Freaky’ Downer  was not sure which of these methods of non-torture were approved for use on Mr Hicks, but he promised to check just as soon as he got the chance. He did want to clarify, though, that he would only check ‘if there’s fresh information that somebody can bring forward rather than a sort of Labor Party rant about being mean to al-Qaeda.’ Yep, that’s Too Freaky for you only rivaled by the Mad Sheik al Hilali when it comes to poorly chosen words.

While we’re on the subject of foot-in-mouth, down in Victoria, there has been a furore over local councils allegedly funding private investigators to have sex in illegal brothels as part of their campaign to shut them down. This is a matter where The Gristle would have thought that any quotes given to the media should be very delicately phrased. But this is not a thought that occurred to Dick Gross, President of the Municipal Association of Victoria. Dick no doubt mirrored the sentiments of some of the private investigators with this quote: ‘it’s about obtaining evidence to shut down an unlawful and, from my experience, undesirable premises.’

We’re sure Dick was not referring to any first-hand experience.

Finally, in late breaking news, The Gristle is investigating claims that Gerard ‘Smug Mug’ Henderson, Executive Director of The Sydney Institute and unofficial Sydney Town Crier for the Howard Government, may have said something positive about the Federal Labor Party in Tuesday’s Sydney Morning Herald. Reports are sketchy at this stage, but we will bring more news of this unprecedented event as it comes to hand. We are, however, deeply concerned if this worrying trend continues, we may see Alan Ramsey write something positive about John Howard, Andrew Bolt accept that climate change exists, or Miranda Devine actually researching an opinion piece before writing it.

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.