Call that a stoush? Not by Keating’s standards

Beazley Tuckey
So, the Coalition’s toughest enforcer, Wilson “Ironbar” Tuckey, has taken on Kim “Bomber” Beazley! They were inches away from each other’s faces this morning, and quite possibly on the verge of fisticuffs. I watched the clip, eager for a good old-style blue – and all we got was the exchanging of some of the lamest insults ever to disgrace the Australian Parliament. “Weak sop” indeed.

First Beazley tells Tuckey to “take his pills”. What a dull, cliched putdown! The man has the biggest vocabulary in the Australian Parliament, a mental word Rolodex so big that it’s an electoral liability, and that’s the best he can do? What a woeful performance.

It made me nostalgic for Mark Latham, whose “conga line of suckholes” was a more effective attack on a toadying government than anything Beazley’s said in his three hundred-odd years as Opposition Leader.

Then Beazley tried to get his talking points out, saying “”Why don’t you take your weak, worthless self in there with the weak, worthless piece of legislation.”

What kind of attack on the border protection legislation is that? We’re talking about legislation that even many Liberals feel is too harsh. Petro Georgiou called it “the most profoundly disturbing piece of legislation I have encountered”. It’s a bill that will place women and children in detention again. It’s a cruel piece of legislation, and Beazley calls it weak? Although it may well be worthless.

Then Tuckey called him a “fat so-and-so”. Yes, Beazley’s rotund, and it’s probably a touch tacky to comment on that – although Tuckey isn’t exactly svelte. But “so-and-so”? The man’s frothing at the mouth with anger and the best he can come up with is “so-and-so”? I reckon some of Beazley’s closest friends would acknowledge he’s a “so-and-so”.

I’ve commented on how drab our current crop of politicians is, and this insipid exchange – probably the day’s top news story – only confirms it. What a depressingly bland political landscape we have when even the firebrand who once flogged a customer (whom Wikipedia claims was Aboriginal) in his pub with a piece of electrical cable can’t muster an insult better than “so-and-so”.

It didn’t used to be this way. You want to see some good insults? Here’s what the maestro, Paul Keating said to Wilson Tuckey:

“…You stupid foul-mouthed grub.”

“Shut up! Sit down and shut up, you pig!”

“You boxhead you wouldn’t know. You are flat out counting past ten.”

There are plenty more where that came from. Here are some of Keating’s finest, which I’ve taken from his online insult archive, originally started by some UWS students. Enjoy:

On former Liberal and Opposition Leader (now Prime Minister), John Howard (right):

“What we have got is a dead carcass, swinging in the breeze, but nobody will cut it down to replace him.” (Wasn’t that wrong in hindsight?)

“He’s wound up like a thousand day clock…”

“…the brain-damaged Leader of the Opposition…”

(Of his 1986 leadership) “From this day onwards, Howard will wear his leadership like a crown of thorns, and in the parliament I’ll do everything to crucify him.”

“He is the greatest job and investment destroyer since the bubonic plague.”

“But I will never get to the stage of wanting to lead the nation standing in front of the mirror each morning clipping the eyebrows here and clipping the eyebrows there with Janette and the kids: It’s like ‘Spot the eyebrows’.”

“I am not like the Leader of the Opposition. I did not slither out of the Cabinet room like a mangy maggot…”

“He has more hide than a team of elephants.”

“I do not want to hear any mealymouthed talk from the Member for Benellong.”

“The principle saboteur, the man with the cheap fistful of dollars.”

“Come in sucker.”

During Great Debate ’96: “You’re so rude!”

On Former Leader of the Opposition, John Hewson:

(His performance) is like being flogged with a warm lettuce.

He always turns around when I drop one on him. He can’t psychologically handle it.

I was implying that the Honorable Member for Wentworth was like a lizard on a rock – alive, but looking dead.

Yesterday, on a personal matter against me, we had old dozy over there, the Honourable Member for Wentworth.

I have a psychological hold over Hewson…He’s like a stone statue in the cemetery.

I’m not going to be fairy flossed away as my opposite number, John Hewson, is prepared to be fairy flossed away by some spaced out, vacous ad agency.

I’d put him in the same class as the rest of them: mediocrity.

This is the sort of little-boy, stamp your foot stuff which comes from a financial yuppie when you shoe him into parliament.

Hewson’s only made the grade on paid advertisements. He’s put me under no pressure at all. The only one who’s put us under pressure on any issue is Peacock. He’s an old cynic and he goes for the issues. Hewson’s on television a lot but he hasn’t put me under any pressure.

On former Liberal Party Leader and Shadow Treasurer, Andrew Peacock:

“…what we have here is an intellectual rust bucket.”

“He, as Foreign Minister, was swanning around the United States of America with Shirley MacLaine or trying to crash one of Ted Kennedy’s parties…and he was trying to play statesman…while he swanned around, and then he made a cowardly attack upon the former Prime Minister before slinking back into his cabinet.”

“…if this gutless spiv, and I refer to him as a gutless spiv…”

“…the Leader of the Opposition’s inane stupidities.”

“He could not rise above his own opportunism or his incapacity to lead.”

“I suppose that the Honourable Gentleman’s hair, like his intellect, will recede into the darkness.”

“He represents nothing and nobody.”

“You’ve been in the dye pot again, Andrew.”

“The Leader of the Opposition is more to be pitied than despised, the poor old thing.” “The Liberal Party ought to put him down like a faithful dog because he is of no use to it and of no use to the nation.”

“We’re not interested in the views of painted, perfumed gigolos.”

“It is the first time the Honourable Gentleman has got out from under the sunlamp.”

“Bib and Bub. The Leader of the Opposition and his Deputy.”

“…a fop such as the present Leader of the Opposition.”

On Former Shadow Treasurer, Jim Carlton:

Jim Carlton: “Madame Speaker I ask that the offensive term used by the Treasurer be withdrawn.”

Keating: “I withdraw it. I wouldn’t hurt his feelings for quids. The fact is that the farmer…”

Allen Rocher: “On a point of order Madame Speaker; Can you please inform the house whether the Treasurer withdrew his comment?”

Keating: “Of course I did. I wouldn’t offend Old Rosie over there.”

“I was nearly chloroformed by the performance of the Honorable Member for Mackellar. It nearly put me right out for the afternoon.”

On Former Labor Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam:

“In terms of the Labor agenda this government has left every other Labor government bare arsed. No other government even gets within cooee of it. We have a cabinet which has a degree of economic sophistication which puts the Whitlam government into the cavemen class in economic terms.”

In conversation with Whitlam:

Whitlam: “That was a good speech. You should go back comrade, and get yourself an honours degree.”

Keating: “What for ? Then I’d be like you.”

On Former National Party Leader, Ian Sinclair:

“…this piece of vermin, the leader of the National Party.”

“What we have as a leader of the National Party is a political carcass with a coat and tie on.”

On Liberal, Ken Aldred:

“… the brain-damaged Honorable Member for Bruce made his first parliamentary contribution since being elected, by calling a quorum to silence me for three minutes.”

Paul John Keating. Now there was a politician who knew his way around an insult.

Dominic Knight

Image: Sky News

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