Au Pairs, Bonk Bans... The A-Z Of A Brutal Year In Oz Politics
Every year we think things can't get any odder in that strange house on the hill in Canberra, but every year our federal representatives seem to outdo themselves.
We were going to write a month-by-month, dot-point list for you of our favourite wild moments, but it got just too long (it's been quite a year). We needed the whole alphabet to try and tell this story.
So without further ado, here's our A-to-Z of Australian politics in 2018!
A is for Anning -- Previously best-known for ditching One Nation on his very first day in the Senate, the party-hopping senator Fraser Anning came to wider attention as he shared a series of anti-immigration memes online. He also had his Facebook page temporarily deleted for alleged 'hate speech', but his entry on this list comes for his inflammatory "final solution" first speech in the Senate.
Anning stuck to his guns, claiming he wasn't aware of the Nazi links to the phrase, but it saw him later booted from the Katter's Australia Party (also see K for Katter).
B is for bonk ban -- Yes, this year the parliament enacted a law expressly forbidding ministers from having sex with their staff (also see J for Joyce). Some MPs pushed back against the Turnbull proclamation, but it remains part of the rules -- at least for the time being.
C is for caps -- Our new PM loves a baseball cap, doesn't he? Wherever he goes, a fresh new lid perched upon his scalp. Whether they promote pies, surf brands, footy teams, charities -- doesn't matter! He loves them all!
“If you find me at home, I’ll be wearing a cap. If you find me down at Shark Park or Cronulla beach or Wanda, I’ll be wearing a cap," Morrison told Studio 10 in November.
D is for Dutton -- The Home Affairs minister had quite a year -- between claiming Melburnians were scared to go out to restaurants because of African gangs (they weren't) to pushing for South African farmers to be granted refugee status while keeping actual legit refugees on Manus and Nauru, and tearing his bicep, he was also embroiled in two of the year's most curious scandals.
His dealings with various au pairs (also see P for pairs, au) brought him under the microscope, while our investigations at 10 News First into his childcare centre interests saw him come in for Section 44 eligibility issues. He narrowly avoided a few High Court referrals this year, but next year could be a different story.
E is for elections -- We had far more than we expected. Batman, Perth, Mayo, Longman, Fremantle, Braddon, Wentworth -- none of these were particularly good for the government, especially losing Turnbull's former seat to Kerryn Phelps. And now we're heading toward another one in May! How exciting.
F is for forty-three --The number the Dutton backers couldn't count to. Needing 43 votes to get their man into the Lodge and unseat Turnbull, Peter's posse didn't realise they didn't have enough supporters, and their coup saw Morrison installed instead (also see T for Turnbull, G for 'good on you')
G is for 'good on you' -- The famous press conference where Morrison flung his arm around Turnbull, expressed his support for him -- "good on you", the PM awkwardly answered. Then, hours later, Morrison stood in the party room vote and won. How quickly things change in Parliament House.
H is for Husar -- The embattled Labor MP's woes continue, with her not being endorsed to run as the Lindsay candidate after a series of allegations were levelled at her by staff. Husar is taking legal action over stories published on this topic, which have threatened her chances of staying in parliament.
I is for Israel -- A sudden wading into the Israel-Palestine issue in wild hopes of grabbing a few votes in the Wentworth by-election -- Morrison's most significant foreign policy idea as PM, and seemingly nobody in the relevant departments really knew it was coming.
J is for Joyce -- Quitting as deputy PM, pleading for privacy yet seemingly physically incapable of not doing multiple interviews, taking a big paycheque for a TV tell-all, writing a book, slamming his own party, stoking talk of a leadership comeback, being held responsible for the Turnbull-instituted bonk ban, having a kid -- what a 2018 for Barnaby.
K is for Katter -- We could (and should?) do an entire article on Katter's 2018 greatest hits alone. But let's just remind you of his singing, his "1000 percent" backing of Anning's "solid gold" speech, and his sacking of the maverick senator only two months later.
L is for Lucy Gichuhi -- "Well....well! Well..." -- who would have picked the quiet party-hopping senator from South Australia to become arguably the biggest meme of Auspol 2018?
M is for Michelle Guthrie -- The big shake-up at the ABC was among the year's juiciest political stories, as Guthrie and Justin Milne traded barbs in the media. Both bosses were toppled, but the fallout continues.
N is for Nationals -- Apart from losing their leader Barnaby, the Nats were also rocked by claims their junior ranks were infested with white nationalists. Not a great year for the rural party.
O is for One Nation -- The party lost yet another senator this year, with Brian Burston defecting to Clive Palmer's United Australia Party. Pauline Hanson ended up crying on TV, Burston unloaded on the party's internal processes, and Peter Georgiou continued looking just pretty happy to be there.
P is for pairs -- As in, what's the go with the au pairs. Months on and we still don't know what the go is. We may never know. Pairs of au pairs were embroiled in this saga, and we even tracked down one of them, but the tangled affair still remains a source of much intrigue.
Q is for Question Time -- Yelling. Lots of yelling.
R is for refugees -- Whether from South Africa, from Manus, from Nauru or even from onshore, refugees continued to be a firestarting political issue in 2018. With medical evacuations from offshore camps an incendiary point up to the very last day of parliament last week, refugee policy will be another key plank of the coming 2019 election.
S is for Scoop, Fatman -- If this was your favourite Auspol moment of 2018, put your hands up.
T is for Turnbull -- The silver fox, cut down before his time. Months of trailing in the polls finally caught up with him, as a messy coup brought him undone. He hasn't stayed quiet in political retirement though, regularly weighing in recently on a number of topics from how Morrison should be doing things and when the election should be, to what's wrong with the Liberals. Helpful!
U is for urgh/ugly/unparliamentary/unprofessional -- Take your pick, they all work.
V is for vulgar -- It was quite a year for it. From 'shagging' and slut-shaming to quite a lot of social media comments over sex scandals, 2018 was full of it.
W is for whiteboard -- No questions for Michaelia Cash, please.
X is for Xenophon -- The former leader of his self-titled Party had a rough year, being trounced in the South Australia election, having his party renamed to Centre Alliance, and losing the state seat he wanted to win -- not a good one for the man formerly known as Australia's best retail politician. Not even some terrible singing could redeem him.
Y is for yearning -- Just yearning, for a better time. There are people alive and voting today who barely know what it's like to have a PM serve a full term in office without being cut down by their colleagues. Rudd-Gillard-Rudd-Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison -- are we ever going back to a time when PMs leave office when they're voted out, not when they're turfed out?
Z is for zoo -- If you can think of a better term for this place, let us know.
And of course, this A-Z isn't an exhaustive list. We couldn't find space for the cabinet files sale, "it's ok to be white", strawberries, the ScoMo bus, the 'big stick', the NEG, encryption, cannabis, or a series of resignations including Sam Dastyari, George Brandis, Lee Rhiannon and more.
What a year. Bring on 2019.