There are some in Canberra who are unironically inspired by movies such as ‘Red Dawn’ and ‘Fight Club’. These people are set to shape our policy.
When Young Liberals in Chris Hartcher’s Terrigal electorate were inspired by Brad Pitt’s Fight Club to head out late at night on what they called “Black Ops” in 2014 to tear down opposition election posters, one could perhaps (despite the illegality) dismiss this as kids going a bit too far. The fact that Liberal hopeful Aaron Henry signed his email call-to-action as ”Tyler Durden” (Brad Pitt’s character) shows just how juvenile this crowd were.
But when one of them then tried to destroy the career of Sydney Water chief Dr Kerry Schott via an anonymous email detailing a false complaint to the NSW ICAC, they moved from silly kids to dangerous.
Carrying on in the same vein, there is a parliamentary group who call themselves the “Wolverines”, a nod to the 1984 Hollywood film Red Dawn, about a team of high school football jocks thwarting a Soviet invasion of the United States.
The group, who boast about their preparedness to ‘speak out against China’s expanding power’, includes Andrew Hastie, backbench MPs Tim Wilson and Phillip Thompson, along with Senators James Paterson and Labor’s Kimberley Kitching, and they are identified by stickers featuring wolf claw marks on the entrances of their parliamentary suites.
The AFR’s James Curran put it well when he said “It is difficult to know whether to laugh or cry at this kind of juvenilia from some of the nation’s elected representatives. But we are where we are.”
Once again, we could dismiss this as silly kid stuff except Andrew Hastie has recently been promoted to Assistant Minister for Defence and, replacing him as chair of Federal Parliament’s powerful Parliamentary Joint Committee for Intelligence and Security is James Paterson.
As background, Hastie was the commander of an SAS troop in Afghanistan who cut off the hands of dead people. When he saw what was going on, he asked another SAS member to find out if the practice was permitted under Defence rules and regulations. In the subsequent inquiry, Cpt Hastie is quoted as saying, “My gut instinct was okay, that’s a strange practice.” Another SAS member said, “There’s no uncertainty. I wouldn’t cut f***ing people’s hands off, sir.”
Paterson’s pre-parliament experience was as an unpaid political intern followed by a stint at the IPA where, at the ripe old age of 24, he co-authored the infamous 75 radical ideas to transform Australia, a document that was all about profit, privatisation and deregulation at the expense of society.
These two self-titled Wolverines were both denied visas to enter Beijing for a planned study tour in 2019 because of their ham-fisted outspoken attempts to bully China.
In a climate that requires nuanced diplomacy, who better to head our security committee than these two Liberal backbenchers who have already pissed China off, thinks Scott Morrison. Apparently.
Then we hear from former Liberal MP Sharman Stone that a group of men in parliament who called themselves the “swinging dicks” blocked Liberal MP Julie Bishop’s leadership aspirations.
Seriously. Dick-swingers is a disparaging term that women I know use to describe men who try to cover their inadequacy by bullying. The fact that this group called themselves shows how entitled the boys club in Canberra believes themselves to be.
Fight Club, Wolverines, and Swinging Dicks? So this is their idea of “grown-up government“?
This piece was first published by the Australian Independent Media Network.