Government “Ugly… Beautiful in its Ugliness”

Finally Australia has a government but public debate and language have been through the wringer so much they’re barely recognisable.

Yesterday, Rob Oakeshott milked his 15 minutes of fame in a long announcement that offered the contradiction that Parliament was “going to be ugly, but it’s going to be beautiful in its ugliness!”

In The Drum, Annabel Crabb called it a “drawn-out preamble that would have brought tears of pride to the eye of any reality TV show judge”. David Penberthy over at The Daily Telegraph said Oakeshott “rabbitted on” in contrast to the “headmasterly and wise Windsor”, but seems equally bemused by Oakshott’s rhetoric. “How this beautiful ugliness will manifest itself is anyone’s guess.”

But Oakeshott’s address really broke with tradition by drawing not on Shakespeare or Churchill, but on a 1980s cult film Highlander, when he said “There can be only one”. The Australian’s James Jeffrey made the connection pointing out that in the Russell Mulcahy-directed film “the ‘one’ is the last immortal left standing after centuries of epic swordfights and ritual decapitation; was this what Oakeshott had in mind as he prepared to unveil his vision of our reshaped democracy?”

The same report from the Australian also caught Barnaby Joyce enjoying a word game on ABC News 24 just after Oakeshott’s beautiful-ugly address. When asked what he thought of the new political paradigm, Joyce quipped “Paradigm is near paradise in the dictionary… as long as it doesn’t end up near prostitution”.

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