Malcolm’s Crystal Balls: Gazing Into The Abyss Of Deceit


Let us go then, you and I,

when the evening is spread out against Sydney’s sky,

to pull down our Prime Minister’s drawers —

gaze into Malcolm’s Crystal Balls.

They say there are two things to not discuss at the dinner table: sex, and politics. Well, I for one no longer wish to dine with anyone who dismisses either of the above as less important than anything else. Because ignoring the repercussions leads to two very possible, and quite problematic outcomes: sexually transmitted diseases, and electorally transmitted diseases.

See, the last time this happened I was told to be more polite to quite a nice fellow I met at university. This person – let’s call him David – like so many of the well intentioned landed gentry I’d met at the ANU, would insist that Indigenous students were receiving too many scholarships. Positive discrimination is worse than the norm, he insisted, when I expressed concern over the capacity for women to achieve in conservative politics.

“This is a meritocracy; the women that are good enough for the jobs they want will get them.” Lest we forget.

He was very sure of this. The more he spoke the more irate I became, but all of our friends were there insisting that he made sense and that either one of us could be right.

The fire lapped at the edges of the inner cylinder of an old clothes drier, which had been turned into a brazier in order to fend off the Canberra cold. I’ll never forget that frustration. Being so unable to reach not one person, but a group of people, about the danger of being congratulated not on the merit of an opinion alone, but merely on the prospect of having been young and politically engaged and having an opinion. Ludicrous.

Surely, having no opinion is safer than having an un-challenged awful opinion?

Becoming less politically vocal while watching those around me — those who so fiercely insisted that those friends of ours who went and voted for the Abbott government last time deserved respect purely on the basis that they had formed an opinion alone — become more politically ‘emotive’, has been quite frustrating.

I refuse to, like last time, shut up and let the mindless droids trained in neoconservative misnomers and daddy’s dreams of a negatively-geared road to retirement rationalise what’s going to happen next using their own smiling faces and ‘Trust me, I did a course on this’ self-acclamations.

Here’s what has happened, and what is going to happen, and it is too late to do anything about it this time, but it’s not too late to say ‘I told you so’, and to insist upon this type of dialogue being the only important one to have as you break bread.

So, fuck my opinion, and fuck yours, here’s what’s going to happen.

Walk with me, across the Glebe Island Bridge, cough with me through the cross city tunnel, over to Malcolm’s…

Let us go then, you and I,

when the evening is spread out against Sydney’s sky,

to pull down our Prime Minister’s drawers —

gaze into Malcolm’s Crystal Balls.

(If you aren’t with me, blame the Howard government’s cuts to the arts.)

  1. I will oust Tony Abbott with the knowledge that I will have to appease the far right wing of my own party and abandon my own more progressive (normal person) attitudes.
  2. I will set an election date as close to the end of the financial year as possible, banking on a scare campaign around economically volatile times in order to justify further tax cuts to businesses, simultaneously removing the revenue base necessary to fund basics like Medicare and the CSIRO. I’ll say things like: “We are living in a time of volatility, so our economy has to be as resilient and competitive as possible. That is why I have clearly set out an economic plan … supporting investment and, of course, budget repair. So what we have done is create an economic plan that suits the tenor and the nature of the time in which we live.” Crystal balls — my delicate, mantelpiece fixtures, my insights into my own self-servitude — if I actually don’t have the money to fund these public necessities, might the electorate ask ‘Where did the money go?’ Probably not. The money is, with every election cycle, left to pickle in corporate pockets under the expectation that the baby boomers we are all renting from still believe in trickle-down economics. It’s quite easy to believe in things that suit you, as opposed to things that don’t, despite the thing in question’s validity or suitability for everybody else.
  1. I will walk into an election with an economic plan based on a deliberately engineered lack of tax revenue, my party having paved the way to Australia’s ‘need’ to cut spending. The truth is, having systematically cut taxes to those making the most money, with plans to cut even more of our tax base out of the picture, then we will have less money to spend on those who have less money, and we can blame the whole thing on the global economy, or Labor, or something. Murdoch’ll help with that one.
  2. We will win, and will win a mandate for our own economic plans, based on our party’s deliberate economic mismanagement.
  3. The Greens and Labor will eat each other alive in the lead up to this election, while my old friend Rupert will smear my smarmy smile across the Telegraph as the only solution to a set of circumstances that my own party deliberately engineers, breathes fear into, then capitalises on.
  4. Jobs and Growth. What asylum seekers? What reef? Australia is no longer riding a mining boom, and having never had the foresight to have taxed said past boom, we can’t afford to go spending government money on brown people escaping persecution, on reefs escaping corporate greed and waste, on the elderly escaping an early death due to not being able to afford a visit to the GP.
  5. Victory is mine!

We have enabled this man’s party, and enabled this man’s platform. And we will once again live with the consequences, all the while complaining about the Davids at the party, without having the crystal balls of our own necessary to out-manouvre those like Turnbull, those at the top who’ve once again played us like Nero’s fiddle.

“We have always been a lucky country – but today more than ever we need to make our own luck”. In other words, create with one hand what you destroyed with the other, then ask those you stole from to thank you all the way to the bank.

So, vote early, vote often, and next time, in the lead-up to an election, when you find yourself politely twirling around the nonsense opinions of droids, and the manners of those too self-conscious and too socially anal to call a spade a spade, be a good person and don’t shut the fuck up.

Gaze into Malcolm’s crystal balls, or Tony’s tennis balls, or Hockey’s rum-balls… take a moment to measure the difference between speaking up now, or speaking up on Facebook and Twitter, on election day, when all’s already lost.

Joshua Dabelstein is a writer's writer and a sporadic New Matilda contributor.