Strange Politics: Passion delivers the best quotes

Bill Shorten's
Bill Shorten's "homophobe" exchange with Cory Bernardi was just the sort of unpolished politics we want.

ONE rare lucid moment from a politician and we all get giddy with excitement.

Take note, Canberra: Australians are sick of one-dimensional, media-trained parrots who refuse to say what they really think.

That much became apparent this week when Cory Bernardi crashed Bill Shorten's media conference about the Liberal far right's "absurd obsession" with shutting down a school program teaching kids to respect people of different sexualities.

"At least I'm honest, Bill. You're a fraud," Bernardi quipped.

Shorten responded with the kind of on-the-spot honesty sorely lacking from modern Australian politics.

"No mate. At least I'm not a homophobe either, mate," he lashed back, with fire in his eyes and a steaming aura drifting off his spine as his skin turned green and his clothes shredded from his engorged body except for some remarkably elastic business pants that still somehow concealed his man-bits.

A slight exaggeration. But flashes of true emotion are now so rare among these people who speak for 20 minutes without saying anything.

The thing is, what Shorten said was not even slightly remarkable or clever.

But you could see the loathing in his eyes, contrivances abandoned, and for a few seconds he actually seemed passionate.

Bernardi gives plenty of ammunition.

He is better suited to the Spanish Inquisition than modern day Australian politics but at least we know what special brand of dingbat we are voting for, because he says what he means.

This is the guy who decided the next logical step after gay marriage was polygamy, followed by people getting disturbingly cosy with their pets.

The same guy who once caught tuberculosis and thought he had "done John Howard in" by spluttering on his Caesar salad just before Howard became Prime Minister for the first time.

When he was diagnosed and quarantined, he decided not to tell the future PM so he could get on with his campaign.

By its end, Howard was hacking blood into a hanky and ended up hospitalised with an unknown respiratory illness.

We know all this because Bernardi told us on ABC's Kitchen Cabinet with Annabel Crabb.

The bloke says what he thinks and speaks his truth, even if it is generally backwater firebrand claptrap most of us cannot wrap our heads around.

Think about the best moments in Australian politics - the greatest quotes and the most exciting periods.

Actual honesty, misguided or not, has always been a hallmark.

Our home-grown Donald Trump, Clive Palmer famously unleashed some paranoid invective in 2014 against our biggest trading partners.

Those "Chinese bastards", he said, "shoot their own people, they haven't got a justice system and they want to take over this country".

That caused a stir in international relations, but at least we now know what we voted in.

Sticking to that disturbing theme, One Nation's Pauline Hanson told us we were about to be "swamped by Asians".

Embarrassing, but no one ever doubted what she stood for.

Bob Katter famously promised to "walk to Bourke backwards if the gay population of North Queensland is any more than 0.001%".

Katter is clearly in denial, as he curiously has still not laced up his marching boots.

So why are the political wing nuts the only ones who seem to regularly speak their minds with any sort of passion?

We love that stuff. We lap it up.

We may not necessarily agree with it, but at least we know what is going on in that taxpayer-funded noggin of yours.


STRANGE POLITICS with Chris Calcino
STRANGE POLITICS with Chris Calcino

Topics:  bill shorten clive palmer column comment cory bernardi gough whitlam john howard labor liberal mark latham opinion pauline hanson satire strange politics

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