The Top 10 Defining Moments in Australian Politics

Words by: Emily Schofield

Australian politicians, elected by the people, make the laws that govern the nation. They are the representatives of all Australians internationally. They use their expertise to lead a relatively young country.

They also do some really dumb shit. It’s just a fact. They experience all their highs and lows in front of the ever-watching eyes of the media. This must suck for them, but for the rest of us it can be pretty amusing. So buckle up, here are some of the very best/worst (it’s a fine line) moments in Australian politics:

10. John Howard’s never ending walking:


John Howard spent at least 50% (it’s a scientific fact, don’t question it) of his time as Prime Minister walking around with a camera and bodyguards in tow. He couldn’t bowl a cricket ball to save his life but, boy, could he speed walk better than anyone I’ve ever known.

9. Julia Gillard’s trip to (and in) India.


Just as a baby bird stumbles as it takes its first step, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard struggled in India with the great conundrum faced by so many before her: high heels vs. grass. It’s a moment you can watch over and over, and the whole family will enjoy it! You see her hesitate before she takes the fateful step (Is this a good idea?), then the foot is stuck and it’s a quick slip and twist for a head over ass face full of grass. The Indian dignitary helping her is all of us — that quick, panicked “ha” is somewhere between fear and a laugh. But she’s quick to get back up, has a moment to herself to quickly mouth “fucking stupid grass” with her back turned, and she’s back to business.

8. The ever classy Christopher Pyne makes his mark on Question Time.


Did he say grub? Grunt? Or something a little closer to what all uni students called him after his uni fee deregulation idea? We may never know (hint: it was definitely the latter).

7. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s baby-faced rage attack.


You can tell he doesn’t swear too often — he goes quiet every time he tries to. He looks like a newborn baby who somehow stumbled into the world of politics and is very angry and confused and just wants his mummy. Ah, Kevin Rudd. You were a thing that happened in time.

6. Tony Abbott eating a raw onion whole.


Newly ousted Prime Minister Tony Abbott decided to eat a raw onion whole, sending the country into a bit of a tailspin. Did he do it to prove he wasn’t a vampire? Did he think it was an apple? Can you see the regret in his eyes as his mouth wraps around the vegetable? These are all valid questions that we may never know the answer to. All we know is that in weirdness/grossness the formula is:

Tony Abbott + Onion < Tony Abbott + Budgie Smugglers


5. Every Paul Keating insult ever

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating loved to insult his fellow politicians and even his electorate in quintessentially Australian ways. Such gems include:

“The Leader of the Opposition ought to put [the Leader of the Opposition] down like a faithful old dog because he is of no use.”

“[John Howard] is would up like a thousand-day clock! One turn and there’ll be springs and sprockets all over the building. Mr Speaker, give him a valium.”

Front benchers? “Scumbags.”

MP Hewson? “He’s going troppo.”

Peter Costello? All tip, no iceberg.”

The Opposition? “Could not operate a tart shop.”

John Howard? “Little desiccated coconut” and a “mangy maggot.”

He held back no punches, and there should be some sort of award for calling someone a “desiccated coconut”. You can’t call him unoriginal.

4. Tony Abbott’s creepy wink on radio.


Known worldwide for his charm and quick-wittedness, Tony Abbott’s creepy inopportune wink as he listened to an elderly sex line worker was true to form.

3. Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech.


Gillard, our lovely misunderstood ranga, made news (and fist pumping) all over the world when she went to town on an unsuspecting Tony Abbott for misogyny. March on, sister!

2. That time a Prime Minister straight up disappeared

Remember Harold Holt? That Prime Minister we had for less than two years before he wandered off for a swim in Cheviot Beach in Victoria in 1967 and never came back? Yeah, good times. Was he assassinated? Was he kidnapped? Was he just a terrible swimmer? Who cares, let’s just name a Victorian swimming pool after him:


Ahh, Australia. Never in bad taste.

1. Bob Hawke holds a Guinness World Record for drinking beer.

In an achievement that could make Australia no prouder, we had a serving Prime Minister who, in 1955, drank his way to a world record — 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds.

In 2012 he proved he’s still got it. Hawke: a national hero.



We aren’t the only ones with some questionable politicians. UK Prime Minister David Cameron apparently put his private parts in a dead pig. What a time to be alive. We can all be proud.