Why A Door Is The Best Bloody Thing To Happen To Aussie Politics
It has been an exciting week in Australian politics, and believe me that’s not a sentence that has come up very often over the last couple of centuries.
The spectacular blizzard of allegation and counter-allegation between Senator Pauline Hanson and her erstwhile colleague Senator Brian Burston has set Parliament alight with a vim and spirit that we normally associate more with the more lurid species of soap opera than the corridors of power.
And frankly, that’s exactly what Australia needs. After all, what would you rather watch: a soap opera or Parliament? Exactly. And if we’re not watching our politicians, how on earth will we hold them to account? For democracy’s sake, it is crucial that MPs do anything possible to get our attention, up to and including public nudity.
What we’ve seen in the contretemps between Senators Burston and Hanson is the return of a much-neglected element in politics: passion.
Government is often a bloodless affair, filled with administrative minutiae and drab routine. So rarely nowadays do you see politicians behaving impulsively, according not to the dictates of focus groups, but to the dictates of the voices in their heads. So rarely do you see a Senator as willing as Brian Burston to wear his heart on his sleeve.
Just imagine how passionate a man must be to smear blood on the door of his former boss. Imagine feeling so strongly about a fiery redhead that you think to yourself, yes, I will take some of my blood and I will smear that blood on her door to show her how I feel.
Imagine having the electric essence of life fizzing so thrillingly through your veins that the only way to express it is through the bloodening of an innocent door.
Of course, most of us don’t have to imagine: we know exactly how it feels to have blood on your fingers and a song in your heart. That’s the other reason we need more passion in politics: it’s relatable.
None of us can identify with an elderly man in a suit standing at a dispatch box reading out the horticultural yield percentages for the period 2006-2011. But when we look at Senator Brian Burston, we nod and murmur to ourselves, he is one of us. We think of how, in a way, Brian Burston is Australia itself in microcosm.
Of course, the whole affair came to a head with the punch-up between Burston and James Ashby, an incident that most political observers have described as “awesome”.
You can shake your head and click your tongue all you want at the offence to middle-class propriety, but anyone who says they have ever looked at either Brian Burston or James Ashby without wanting to punch them is a damn liar.
It’s very fashionable to say that violence is never the answer, but we know it’s false: violence is frequently the answer, especially when the question is “what’s the most entertaining way to deal with a Senator?”
It’s pretty rare to see fist fights in Parliament, and that’s one of the ways in which Parliament has been letting us down for decades.
Don’t pretend that Bill Shorten’s approval numbers wouldn’t soar if he had the guts to throw a left hook at Scott Morrison from time to time. Don’t pretend you don’t want to see Sarah Hanson-Young knee Peter Dutton in the groin.
Why do we crave violence in politics? Because violence is evidence of passion, and passion is evidence that politicians care. Otherwise how do we know?
Labor frontbenchers can claim they support a fair go for working Australians, but if they’re not prepared to break a few noses for it, why should we believe them? That’s how we could tell Kevin Rudd wasn’t serious about climate change: he never punched a single coal miner.
So please, parliamentarians of Australia, look to Senator Burston, look to Mr Ashby, and take a bloodstained leaf out of their book. Show us how much you care.
Show us you’re prepared to throw hands in defence of your principles. Show us you’re not afraid to smear bodily fluids anywhere necessary. Show us something worth watching, and Australians just might get excited about democracy once more.