What Happened to You, Kevin?


What happened to the Kevin we used to know, the happy-go-lucky Kevin who rampaged about the country, a teddy bear in one hand and the country’s future in the other? What happened to the wild and crazy Kevin we voted for last year, with expectations of the nationwide party to come? The Kevin who stood before the nation on election night and promised to embrace the long-term funding needs of our public hospital system?

Were those just beautiful, beautiful words? Are you not the muscular, all-loving philosopher-king you led us to believe you were? I guess all that talk of prosecuting agendas and appreciating your wife was not the promise of thrills and adventure it seemed to be.

So here we are, less than a year on from the election we thought of as the Woodstock of our generation, and it seems as if that zany, devil-may-care Kevin is as dead as I assume Gough Whitlam is by now. Now it’s all "fiscal responsibility" and "burning the midnight oil" and "absolutely revolting". Uptight much, Kevin?

Let’s take petrol. Petrol prices are high. I remember when petrol was less than five cents a litre, and it tasted better too. So that’s a problem. And if there’s one thing that defines the Australian Spirit, it is the principle that the Government can solve any problem. Look how Paul Keating solved the problem of John Hewson’s high self-esteem, or how John Howard last year solved the problem of John Howard being prime minister. So, obviously, when high petrol prices come along, we look to our Government to save us from them.

And what do you say, Kevin? You’ve done all you can. ALL YOU CAN? Are you the Ineffectual Minister, Kevin? The Impotent Minister? The Sissy Minister? No, you are the Prime Minister. And let me give you a little tip that you should have learnt from your predecessors: you can do whatever you want. That’s what being Prime Minister means. If you say petrol costs 50 cents a litre, damn it, it does. Hell, if you say it costs $4 a litre, it does; in fact, I urge you to try it. It’d be hell on working families, but at least it’d show an independent spirit. What the hell good is having a prime minister if he’s not willing to make the slightest little unilateral, dictatorial decision?

Instead, what do we get? Fuelwatch. Good work, Kevin. So we’re just going to watch the fuel, and that’s supposed to make things better, is it? We just sit around watching it? There’s a name for people who do things like that, Kevin: voyeurs. Apparently you want us to become a nation of petrol-stalkers, crouching behind bushes, pointing our national night-vision goggles at Caltex like a bunch of light sweet crude perverts.

Oh, what? You might also take GST off the fuel excise? Jesus Christ, Kevin, you’re even backing down on your indecisiveness. Minor tax adjustment-Kevin is not the Kevin we knew in November. No, that powerful, manly, boho Kevin would have passed a law stating petrol could never rise above 18 cents, and called in a military strike on Mobil, just because he could.

And now there’s all this nonsense about the public service. You’re working them like dogs, and when they complain, like any decent Australian would, you tell them you’re going to work them like even bigger dogs. That’s just plain deceptive. The public service, like the rest of us, was entitled to think, after your election campaign, that life was going to get easier, not harder. It seemed such a refreshing change from Howard in 1996, who upon taking office took immediate steps to have all of Labor’s public service appointees quietly pulled apart by horses in the Great Hall. In contrast, you embraced the service. No more oppression, no more hostility between public servants and their political masters. You seemed to be ready to sit down with them, smoke a bowl and relax.

Well, that’s gone out the window, hasn’t it? Now here you are thinning your lips, waving your riding crop and yelling "Arbeit Macht Frei!" at everyone. And yes, I’m comparing you to Hitler, because I have the intellectual integrity to not shy away from Nazi comparisons whenever anyone causes me even the mildest personal annoyance.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Hate is for Liberals; you’re all about love. You’re about inclusiveness and summits and apologies and cuddles. You’re not like Brendan Nelson; you weren’t born to a life of being despised. Leaks make you tense up.

What happened, Kevin? What happened to that laid-back silver-haired rock star that took us all by storm last year with his winning smile and open-necked shirts? Here you are criticising Bill Henson for his saucy photos; what happened to the Kevin who would hit the town, slam down a few Jager bombs and get jiggy with some strippers?

Remember Kevin07? When was the last time you rhymed, Kevin? Just cut loose and rhymed, like in the old days?

You’ve thrown us a curve, Kevin. We had no idea you were like this. You gave us not the merest hint that you might be a boring, passive, conservative workaholic. You speak Chinese, for God’s sake, the mother tongue of the party animal.

You’ve sunk so low, Kevin. Is this what you wanted? To hit such a political nadir that Gerard Henderson is leaping to your defence? Do you call that living?

You used to be cool, Kevin. You’ve broken my heart.

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.