Goodbyes are always difficult. It’s so hard to let go of something that’s been a part of you for years. When we are talking about a love affair as passionate as that between New Matilda readers and myself, the wrench is almost unbearable.
Like a deposed prime minister, my eyes well up and I can hardly see the screen through my tears. Yet see it I must, for as sad as this day is, it should also be a celebration of all we have been through together, all the articles, all the incisive commentary, all the reader comments. Remember when you told me I was a racist hack? How we laughed.
I guess the greatest thing about my time at New Matilda has been the opportunity to bear witness to history. I’ve witnessed great events, passed opinion on momentous shifts in the world’s delicate balance, seen great men, some of whom were even women, come and go. I think this is an auspicious time to run through the most memorable moments of my time as resident satirist and chronicler of eternity at this most wonderful of websites.
2008 — I begin my satirical noodlings with a thinkpiece on News Ltd bon vivant Andrew Bolt. Persuaded by my arguments, Bolt reverses position on all issues and becomes a committed campaigner for progressive causes.
At around the same time, Kevin Rudd delivers his apology to the Stolen Generations, in which he says a heartfelt “sorry” to Indigenous people for their terrible treatment in the past. Within months Indigenous disadvantage is ended. Today Aboriginal Australians lead the world in educational outcomes, life expectancy and achievement in the business world, thanks to Rudd’s decisive action.
2008 also saw a presidential election in America, the results of which were set aside by the military regime installed by African warlord Barack Obama after his troops forced Washington into surrender. Obama proceeds to machine-gun all opponents and make the economy illegal.
2009 — Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull is ousted by North Shore Bombshell Tony Abbott. Satire columnists wisely declare Abbott unelectable. Also, in a catastrophe that was chillingly predicted by Ron Howard’s fantasy classic Willow, swine flu sweeps the world, causing deadly floods of mucus in many urban areas. In December, the Treaty of Lisbon comes into force, sparking numerous inquiries into what the Treaty of Lisbon is.
2010 — A great year to be a political commentator in Australia, as the winds of change blow like the breath of an angry hippopotamus through the halls of power in Canberra. Democratically elected megalomaniac Kevin Rudd, having received expert advice that climate change is no biggie, puts his emissions trading scheme on hold and instead announces a plan to publicly execute mining executives. This is the opening that his deputy Julia Gillard, of the ALP’s Big Fat Liars faction, needed. She swoops in, deposing Rudd by parachuting into his backyard and shooting him with a tranquillising dart, thus becoming Australia’s first female prime minister and inspiring millions of little girls who now believe that they too can grow up to be abused by Alan Jones.
Gillard’s first order of business is to lie, and to continue lying, setting up the Federal Australian Institute of Lying to promote lies and their benefits to all Australians. By lying, Gillard wins the 2010 federal election, causing the deaths of thousands who drown in Tony Abbott’s tears.
2011 — Barack Obama kills Osama bin Laden, mainly out of jealousy, leading to one of Aaron Sorkin’s most poignant television scripts. Julia Gillard’s lying government passes the carbon tax, fulfilling its election promise to lie about everything. Several thousand small towns cease to exist, the entire mining industry moves to Zimbabwe, and 90 per cent of Australian women become infertile. Gillard declares that this is “according to our plan”, and laughs mockingly at the Australian people.
2012 — Australia wins the London Olympics. Nothing much else happens.
2013 — The unelectable Opposition leader Tony Abbott becomes prime minister due to witchcraft. His cabinet, including thought leaders such as Scott Morrison, George Brandis, Christopher Pyne and Julie Bishop, immediately gets to work on getting back at all the kids who made fun of them at school. Abbott promises a “no surprises government”, and sticks to his promise resolutely despite calls from some quarters to not be racist, sexist or committed to the relentless crushing of the poor.
Elsewhere, the Vatican blows smoke up a chimney and thereby elects a new Pope. Pope Francis quickly gains a reputation as a very different kind of pope, posting nude selfies to Twitter daily and donating his sperm to childless lesbians. Also Prince George is born, delighting idiots across the globe.
2014 — Ben Pobjie’s tenure as resident satirist at New Matilda ends. Millions declare life not worth living.
What a wonderful ride it’s been. When we look back on this era, we’ll see it as a golden age of public affairs. Just think of the personalities that have brightened these years with their dash and charisma: Kevin Andrews, Glenn Stevens, David Koch. And with the passing of this time comes the passing of a little slice of our humanity.
Beyond all that: in 2008 I first made the acquaintance of a quite extraordinary person. Her name is Marni Cordell, and over the years she has held fast to a vision of independent media that has delivered some outstanding journalism and magnificent writing to the Australian public. She also published the half-mad ramblings of an unknown comedian that nobody else was much interested in, and has, therefore, a lot to answer for.
The fact that New Matilda is coming to an end is incredibly sad, but the fact it has stood for so long is marvellous, and I can do nothing but salute Chief Cordell in awe and admiration. My enormous thanks to her. The landscape is poorer for the loss of this site, but will always be richer for her continued presence wherever it may be. Thanks also to all those at NM who facilitated my nonsense over the years.
And thanks to you people who read it. I’ll miss you. New Matilda For Life.
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