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Players Of #AusPol Past And Present Reflect On The 2010s

What will the past decade in Australian politics likely be remembered for? It's a tough question to answer.

The past 10 years dished up six prime ministers, as plenty of politicians came and went from the table.

Instead of reviewing the political winners and losers of the past 10 years, we've asked some political heavyweights, as well as some ghosts of #auspol past, to tell us what they will remember from the 2010s, and what they would rather forget.

Here is what they had to say.

Wyatt Roy: A Decade Of Social Media Scandals 

(Liberal, Member for Longman, 2010-16)

"What's different is how the political system responded to scandals. Social media has driven a huge change in politics, the core impact being it's harder to govern now than any point in history -- you have to make difficult decisions, and when you do, everyone has a large microphone," Roy claimed.

Tony Abbott (left) speaks to Wyatt Roy, Australia's youngest ever elected politician. Image: AAP

"The way politicians have responded is to look at the incredibly short term, to trivialise politics."

The old saying that politics is show business for ugly people has never been more true than today. You need serious government and serious people, which can often fall to the wayside to what is bad reality TV.

"Any independent observer would look at Australia and say 'why is the politics so noisy? You've achieved far more than most competitors around the world.' The decade will be remembered for colour and movement, but the country has done quite well," he added.

Emma Husar: A Decade Of Missed Opportunities

(Labor, Member for Lindsay, 2016-19)

"This decade in politics will be viewed as one of the most dysfunctional ever, with a bit of shame. We had big opportunities to make big changes, not just Liberals but Labor as well, and there have been significantly missed opportunities," Husar claimed.

Husar said the 2010s will go down as one of the 'most dysfunctional' in Australian politics. Image: AAP

"My fear is the chaos and instability will continue."

We should look at fixed terms in government, four or five years, which might be a way to put the brakes on the crazy underhanded garbage.

Bob Katter: A Decade Of Viciousness And Hatred

(Independent, Member for Kennedy, 1993-present)

"Its all party games ... They all want to be prime minister. It's driven by careerists. There's a lack of any commitment to anything beyond their own career. They're all fighting about who's getting promoted. A new leader rewards his adherents and punishes his opponents, so you get rewarded for backing a new leader," Katter claimed.

Katter claimed the 2010s would be remembered for "viciousness and hatred". Image: AAP

"There's been a complete shutdown of industry in Australia. All our cars, the leather in our shoes, the cloth in our shirts, all come from overseas. We haven't got much left. We’re reduced to coal and iron ore," he claimed. 

"The feature of this period is the complete collapse of industry, the demise of agriculture. Sugar is doomed ... grain is doomed. They used to say we’d be 'the food bowl of Asia'. We’ll soon be the begging bowl of Asia."

You'd have to go back to the Great Depression to find a worse period in Australian history.

"People will look back on this as one of viciousness and hatred. It’s a bit sad because it's very unfair to Kevin Rudd. He was only there 10 minutes, but he saved us from the global financial crisis," Katter claimed.

Sam Dastyari: A Decade Of Destroying Everything

(Labor, Senator for NSW, 2013-18)

"This will be the decade remembered as when Australian politics adopted a 'burn the village' strategy -- destroy your opponents, oppose everything your rival wants. Just destroy, destroy, destroy," Dastyari said.

"It's the hatred. The legacy of Tony Abbott is taking any semblance of civility out of politics. Abbott set the tone for this decade. If the history books are fair, he’ll be remembered as the most significant political figure for the past 10 years," he claimed.

Dastyari was known for his own stunts, like this one in 2017, with a McDonald's ice cream and burger, to make a point about power prices. Image: AAP.
People will look back on this as the most hateful decade. The major parties hate each other, but themselves as well. People won't look back fondly -- all we did was fight, bar perhaps marriage equality, and that was forced on the parliament.

"As the year ends in fires, it's hard to see this as more than the decade where we fought as the country burned. The climate change legacy will be what this decade is judged on," he claimed.

"We don't have a national debate or discourse. You have soundbites and clickbait. Presenting thought-out ideas bears no rewards. You're better off coming up with a pithy line or funny stunt -- God knows I had a few of my own.

He also brought a Malcolm Turnbull impersonator, comedian Lawrence Mooney, to parliament. Image: AAP

"There's also the sheer zaniness of the people that came in -- Pauline Hanson, Clive Palmer. Everything you need to know about this decade is that Mark Latham started it as an ALP member and ended in One Nation. Parliament started resembling the bar scenes in Star Wars."

Kerryn Phelps: A Decade Of Fighting For Equality

(Independent, Member for Wentworth, 2018-19)

"It certainly felt chaotic but one of the real beacons of optimism was the marriage equality vote, this brief and shining moment," Phelps said.

"For the first time, there was almost unanimous agreement in parliament over such an important issue of human rights and equality. [Phelps' wife] Jackie and I had been fighting for that for 20 years, so to be in the House of Representatives at the moment it passed was one of the great memories I'll always cherish."

Phelps celebrating her Wentworth by-election win in October 2018. Image: AAP

"You'd have to say we missed some tremendous opportunities to be a world leader in renewables and take action on climate change, to reduce reliance on fossil fuels," she claimed.

"One of the reasons I was motivated to nominate for Wentworth was my deep concern at the lurch to the right our country had been taking, in particular, our inaction on climate."

Sarah Hanson-Young: A Decade Of M.I.A Leaders

(Greens, Senator for South Australia, 2007-present)

"People are more engaged in many ways but I don't think politicians and parties have stepped up to that challenge. That's the worst thing of this decade. In 2010 we were fighting for climate change action, carbon pricing, and it started working. But 10 years later, we've got people choking from smoke in Sydney," Hanson-Young said.

Sarah Hanson-Young says the country will remember the squabbles of the last decade. Image: AAP

"Overwhelmingly, most people will think back on the leadership squabbles. That still cuts through, that lack of respect for parties and leaders.

"Younger people will look back and think this is when they started to see the impact of climate change, that what they want is so disconnected from what they hear from their leaders."

Young people will see this as their political awakening, but politicians went missing in action.

"People have seen the nastiness of politics, and they don't like it. Politics has gotten nastier. The community is quite shocked at what they've seen, and don't like it."

Scott Ludlam: A Decade Of Disintegration

(Greens, Senator for Western Australia, 2007-2017)

"I don't think the decade will be remembered fondly at all. Our politics was captured by industries responsible for burning the country down and killing people. That penny is starting to drop, the truth is starting to rise up through the bulls**t," Ludlam claimed.

Ludlam doesn't look fondly on the 2010s politically. Image: AAP

"The one underlying theme that links most things together is parliament and electoral politics has ceased to be a pressure release valve. It’s not working in that capacity anymore. You can tie back everything from the mining tax to disintegration of the ALP to the rise of the right."

Ewen Jones: A Decade Of Firsts

(Liberal, Member for Herbert, 2010-16)

"I wasn't there during the John Howard years, but he was against Simon Crean and Kim Beazley. They were men who had served a long time and had respect for the institution. They were about getting out of the gutter. Gillard and Abbott were schooled in uni politics and they loved it. The further they could get in the gutter, the better. It was about how low and vitriolic you could become, no sense of climbing up to be better," Jones claimed.

"I'll remember how nasty that became, and how happy many of the leaders became to roll around in the sh*t."

I think three people will be remembered from being elected in 2010. Wyatt Roy, the youngest ever at 20 years old; Ken Wyatt, the first Aboriginal man elected; and Ed Husic, the first Muslim man elected. When you look at what those guys have done, that's something we can be incredibly proud of.
Jones said he will look back fondly on his time in parliament, but criticised recent leadership. Image: AAP

"I’ll remember how lucky I was. I still remember meeting Malcolm Turnbull, he walked up and said "hello, I'm Malcolm," and I thought, "duh, I know who you are"," he claimed.

"He invited me into his office, I went in and he gave me this hot tea in a ceramic cup that was about 1000 degrees, and it was burning my hands. I remember thinking, 'I'm just a guy who was born in Quilpie, who lives in Townsville, and I'm in a room with Malcolm Turnbull and Joe Hockey."

"Having those people call me friends, to have great friends on the other side of the parliament too, I’ll always feel blessed about what happened to me."