The Doust Files, Albany Advertiser, 17/8/2010

At the time of writing this column, I am somewhat relieved to know that this most boring of elections is almost over.
Never have I known such a vacuous contest, with both leaders touting policies that could, just as easily, belong to the other.
Those of you at least as old as me will well remember the great contests of the past, even the 1962 stoush between the magician Menzies and the artless Caldwell makes this current bout look like something  from World Championship Wrestling.
And who could forget Fraser versus Hawke, then Peacock up against Hawke, followed by Howard v Hawke, then Peacock again, then Keating versus Hawke, then Keating chucking cake at Hewson and, oh yes, Lazarus himself, Howard tumbling Keating.
What tussles. What drama. You could even, hard to believe I know, tell the difference between the party platforms.
My personal favourite was the Fraser Hawke clash of 1983 and I saved the entire election campaign in political cartoons.
In those days telex machines were standard issue in state government offices and I worked in one as a contract journalist.
Each and every day reams and reams of telex print outs were tossed in bins and then laid to rest in the Shenton Park garbage dump.
But not where I worked. I lovingly saved reams, stuck them on my cubicle walls and on their backs I glued every single political cartoon from the nation’s major daily newspapers.
The epic 1983 battle is probably best remembered for the carton by Ron Tandberg (Melbourne Age) of Malcolm Fraser with his pants down.
But how did we get to this contest, this inane slap-up devoid of real difference and absence of vision, where the only recognisable difference between the leaders is that one is a man and the other a women and even then we can’t be sure because they both wear pants?
Until they go to the beach, then it’s obvious, because one is clearly smuggling feral animals, which, by the way, is a Federal offence and I’m surprised he hasn’t been on Border patrol.
I blame Bob Hawke. Sorry, let me rephrase that, Mary Wheatley would blame Bob Hawke.
Mary was one of those champion country women who could darn a sock, ride a horse over a cliff, shoot a pig, strangle a fox, crochet a delicate doily, nurse a dying chook, and bake the best Pavlova ever.
What’s she got to do with it? She once said at a party up at our house in Bridgetown, while Hawke was still president of the ACTU, that he would be the next Liberal Prime Minister. We all laughed.
What she meant was, if Hawke gets in he will take us on a lurch to the right, which he did. And we’ve been lurching to the right ever since.
The two major parties are so far right that even Bob Menzies would be shaking in his grave, right alongside Malcolm Fraser, who isn’t there yet, but clearly sometimes wishes he was.
A few people I know are disappointed that Kevin “Elmer” Rudd and Malcolm “Mad Max” Turnbull are not facing each other. At the very least, the level of debate would be well above the current denominator.
Very few of us, of course, would have any idea what the hell they were talking about, but big slabs of me misses the drama, the difference, the facing off of two massive, delusional egos, tragically flawed and destined to fall and rise and fall again.
Oh, the good old days.
POSTSCRIPT:
It’s all over now, but not quite. 
Here are what I believe to be the best outcomes of the election: the rejection of Wilson Tuckey, the rise of the Greens, the election of a 20 year old, and the two major parties get what they deserve – hung!

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