This election campaign has been breaking record for both dullity and awfulitude, but finally in week three we have been blessed with the wisdom of the ages as a swag of superannuated and mostly geriatric ex-leaders have been sounding forth on the big issues, to help us make up our minds about who we dislike the least. It’s a non-stop nostalgia fest for political tragics.
Bob Hawke: characteristically quick out of the blocks, the Silver Bodgie has been doing the rounds since early in the campaign, promoting his miniseries, promoting his wife’s book, creeping us out, sparring with Paul Keating and occasionally campaigning for the ALP. He’s “still got it”, according to the media. although what “it” is or was is mercifully left unexplained – perhaps it’s his lifetime gold travel pass. Bob says the Liberals have a stupid asylum seeker policy and a leader who’s as ‘mad as a cut snake’. Couldn’t agree more.
Kevin Rudd: emerged from his hospital bed yesterday and is ready to rescue the ALP campaign. Julia Gillard says he’s allowed to campaign for the ALP, which is kind, and Kevin’s playing the nice guy card, insisting he has no ill will for Julia. If he keeps that charade up until the election, she will have to make him Foreign Minister, Governor-General and Secretary-General of the UN.
John Howard: he’s back, and it’s gloves off, say the hacks at the Australian, who are unsurprisingly a little bit moist to have the short man back in the limelight. Hilariously, Howard staged his return at a fundraiser for Chinese immigrants. Howard says we should vote for Tony Abbott – shock! In other news, Howard lost his own seat in 2007 and has gone on to not become the vice-president of the ICC.
Malcolm Fraser: he’s back too! On ABC radio this morning he said the coalition is “not ready for government“. Who will he vote for then? The Sex Party? The Greens?
Malcolm Turnbull: has come out in support of gay marriage, and is known to be for carbon trading renewable energy, onshore processing of refugees and, for all I know, legal heroin. He should just join the Greens and be done with it.
Brendan Nelson: Australia’s ambassador to the EU has been pleasantly silent.
Paul Keating: gave a speech about privacy laws the other day. Suggested a snappy new campaign slogan for the ALP: “I would campaign simply to the point that it is not believable that Mr Abbott could facilitate the transition of the Australian economy from where it is to where it needs to be … The constant flip-flop he has made on policy, the lack of an over-arching schematic.” Brilliant!
John Hewson: has been popping up all over the place, presumably because he is an expert on losing the unloseable election, a feat which the ALP seems determined to emulate. On Gruen Nation this week, Hewson insisted that his party allegiance shouldn’t be taken for granted. Another Greens voter?
Gough Whitlam: has been having a nap.
UPDATE, 9 AUGUST: Now Mark Latham has entered the fray, using the campaign to prosecute a few long-held grudges against, well, everybody. And Andrew Peacock has been beating up on disabled people! Will the fun never end?