“Please, please, please, we are begging you, do not remove Tony Abbott as prime minister,” sobbed a statement directed at the federal Liberal Party cabinet that was released today by the Australian Political Comics For Cheap And Easy Gags, an organisation representing contributors from 1429 satirical “news” websites in Australia (around 12% of the total number that have sprung up over the past year).
“Tony Abbott’s leadership has been a real breath of fresh air,” the group said, in response to the Liberal Party leadership spill. “Under Abbott’s reign, we can simply wake up, pour ourselves a coffee and check Twitter to discover the latest absurd Abbott gaffe and the jokes just write themselves. If we ever run out of ideas, we just run his press releases and speeches unaltered.
“Before Abbott, comics had to actually watch news and current affairs shows to find angles for political-themed humour. Sometimes, in really desperate moments, people even resorted to watching entire episodes of Q&A. No one, not even Tony Jones, wants to return to such dark days.”
However, not everyone agrees. Bill Mortimer, the freelance political cartoonist who drew the popular “Third Dog from the Sun” cartoon for Struth! magazine until it took over the readership of the Sydney Morning Herald, gave vent to a widely held feeling amongst professionals, telling The (un)Australian: “Abbott is taking away the jobs of hard working satirists! I mean, any joke you can think of, Tony Abbott goes one better! Every damn time!
“I had this whole cartoon drawn and ready to go ahead of Australia Day involving Abbott digging up the corpse of Robert Menzies to knight him posthumously, thinking not even this bastard could be more absurd. Then the prick goes and knights Prince Philip and calls it a ‘captain’s pick’!
“I mean how am I meant to compete with a joke like that? That makes less sense than Steve Smith making a ‘captain’s pick’ to have a wombat open the bowling in Australia’s next One Day International, insisting marsupials have contributed significantly to the development of Australian cricket because one is embroidered on the Baggy Green!
“That was a whole days work wasted thanks to this loon. The madness must stop.”
Meanwhile, Maggie Sniggerer, The Canberra Times subeditor, proofreader, social media manager, photographer, sometime journalist and author of light-hearted Fairfax column taking a quirky look at politics called “My Cabinet Rules”, urged all sides not to panic.
In her latest column, headlined “So You Think You Can Lead?”, she noted: “Look, whether Abbott stays or goes, this government will still feature Christopher Pyne, Barnarby Joyce, Bronwen Bishop, and Corey Bernardi. There’s more than enough craziness to go around. In fact, if things keep going the way they are, we may even generate enough internet hits to not have to fire more staff!”
All sectors of political comedy, however, are united in believing that a change of government could be disastrous. “Oh god, I know Labor is meant to be filled with faceless men,” moaned Mortimer, “but how are we meant to joke about them when no one can even remember a single member of their frontbench aside from Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Whatshisname?”
Carlo Sands & Leslie Richmond