Friday, February 5, 2010

Comedy Or Horror Show?

According to Empire Magazine, the worst movie of all time is Batman And Robin. You know, that’s the one with George Clooney. They stopped making Batman movies for a while after that one and only started again when Christian Bale signed on to reinvent the whole story starting from the very beginning. Luckily for everybody involved it worked and it was once again OK to admit to watching Batman movies, just so long as it wasn’t the George Clooney one. More recently, director J. J. Abrams has done the same thing for Star Trek by throwing out the ponderous, self important and self indulgent aspects of the story, and starting over with fresh new actors and fresh new ideas.

Although it is debatable whether Batman And Robin really is the worst movie of all time, I am starting to wonder if Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce might be the Batman and Robin of Australian politics. Just as the Liberal and National Party Coalition was about to disappear into a cloud of boredom along came The Caped Crusader, that’s Tony Abbott just in case you’ve missed the connection, to lead the Liberals to renewed success and popularity. At his side, the Boy Wonder Barnaby Joyce couldn’t wait to take on the bad guys of the government and wasted no time firing from the lip at every opportunity. Of course, he probably forgot that the Joker was always fond of referring to him as the “Boy Blunder”.

Now it would all be OK if Tony Abbott was the Christian Bale Batman, overcoming all obstacles to defeat evil and restore truth, justice and the Australian way, even though that is borrowed from a different superhero. Unfortunately, it is looking increasingly like Mr. Abbott more closely resembles the George Clooney Batman, the one that was credited with nearly destroying the franchise and who ultimately became a laughing stock. Mr. Abbott’s Climate Action Plan is in fact a plan to take No Action, centering on offering cash payments to anyone who volunteers to cut emissions, but imposing no obligation to do so and no penalty for failing to do so. It is very much like trying to round up the crooks of Gotham City by offering them a few dollars to turn themselves in. One or two who are finding life difficult might take up the offer, but the hard core cases will just respond with what George Bush called the one finger victory salute.

Meanwhile, Mr. Abbott’s faithful sidekick Barnaby Joyce has reportedly been stumbling over figures, mixing up his billions and his trillions. That would probably be OK if he really was a superhero, but sadly that’s just a metaphor and in real life he is supposed to be the Shadow Minister for, wait for it… Finance. Oh dear. Mr. Abbott was forced to deny suggestions by Senator Joyce that a Coalition government would cut foreign aid and reduce the public service. Both are populist ideas which might seem good at first glance, but the truth is that foreign aid is both a moral commitment and an investment in our relationships with important trading partners, while cutting public servants inevitably cuts actual services one way or another.

Just like the George Clooney movie, it is difficult to tell whether the current specatacle is a comedy or a horror show. But either way, it does explain why we keep on seeing Tony Abbott appearing in public in his speedos.

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