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Australian politics is becoming a sick, inside joke

We have reached an odd point in this crisis. Walking with friends through Sydney on Saturday, trying to find a pub that might squeeze us in, it felt a little as though a set of rules from one reality, where the virus dominated, were meeting another, in which it had never existed. For most of us, the entire period has been like that, toggling back and forth between our old life and the new, matching one reality against another.

Or against the reality of the internet, where most of us have spent too much time. I mention this because last week, the Liberal MP Dave Sharma tweeted a picture of the pyramids in Egypt, with a suggestion that people might soon be moved to tear them down on the basis the Egyptians used slaves. (This was a statue joke.)

Illustration: Jim Pavlidis

Illustration: Jim PavlidisCredit:The Age

It is possible that Sharma came up with this gag himself, but it is at least worth noting that by then a similar meme had been going around Facebook for a few days. The previous week, the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, told the Coalition party room that damage done to a statue of Winston Churchill was disgraceful – if Churchill was racist, what would you call the guy he stopped? The line has been floating around Twitter for years, and had gained new life the day before Frydenberg used it.

Let’s switch parties. Last week, we learned about the branch-stacking feats of Victorian Labor minister Adem Somyurek. Or “learned” about them, because anyone who has spent any time around politics knows that our parties, in their current forms, are shams of democratic participation, in which a small number of people hold power, often derived from practices that are unethical, sometimes illegal.

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