The Australian vernacular is often a challenge to English speakers from other lands. Probably nowhere more so than with the regularly-used Aussie expression “fair dinkum”. This can be an exclamation, a question, or an endorsement. If something is “dinkum” it is real or true. Din Kum was the Chinese for “real gold” as spoken by Chinese immigrants during the gold rush days of the late 1800s.
Strangely for some, we Aussies also vary the use of the word goose. Of course, it describes the bird, but it can also apply to some strange human birds. If someone is called a “goose” he is a person who often gets things wrong, zigs when he should zag and makes a fool of himself regularly.
A gathering of such people would not be described as geese, since every such “goose” has his own peculiarities. They would, in good local slang, be “a mob of gooses”.
Which brings us to former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is obviously now agitating for a return to that role by undermining the current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at every opportunity.
I interviewed Tony for a trade journal many years ago when he first arrived in parliament and was playing a minor role in the department of health. I came away from the interview with the distinct impression that he was a goose. Nothing since has eroded that first impression.
Examples of his goose-ism abound. For some, the incredible decision to bestow a belated knighthood on Prince Philip would be enough – a decision Tony assures all that he made without consultation. Come to think of it, it had to have been made without consultation since, had he consulted, someone would have piped up immediately: “Tony, don’t be a goose”.
Such sucking up to the royal family is an anachronism in an Australia surely headed for republicanism in the near future and Philip would not have given a toss for the recognition. In fact, for a man who has proved over more than 90 years that he does not embarrass easily, no matter what malapropism he has uttered, this honour-by-goose would probably have embarrassed Philip.
Maybe Tony was trying to emulate one of his heroes, the long-serving post second world war conservative Prime Minister Robert Menzies, who is reported to have said of a young Queen Elizabeth: “I did but see her walking by, yet I will love her till I die”. Tony obviously feels the same about Philip.
Tony’s other hero is another former PM in John Howard, who will go down in history as Australia’s luckiest Prime Minister. Howard presided over the country during a period when the Chinese decided they needed our mineral resources and made Australia rich. The Lucky Country had a lucky Prime Minister.
Howard also forms a triumvirate, together with another obvious Goose, George W Bush, and the odious Tony Blair, comprising the leaders of the illegal and disastrous invasion of Iraq. While Howard still says he would have done the same today with the same information, he at least has the sense to keep his head down. Bush confines himself to painting and dancing the occasional inappropriate jig on a solemn occasion. The uber-brazen Blair accumulates millions in ridiculous positions and consultancies which began with “special envoy to the Middle East” (can you believe it?) while staring straight ahead and not flinching.
Abbot was a sycophant of Howard and would himself have invaded Iraq at the drop of a hat. Fair dinkum.
Tony and Howard both like to show the punters that they keep fit and thus mentally on the ball. Howard could be seen early in the morning, wherever he was in the world, surrounded by security men and doing a poor imitation of a power walk, dressed in an unearned Australian track suit.
Tony is more of a beach man and insists on showing himself off clad only in the tiniest of swimming briefs. In another very Australian way, these are known as “budgie smugglers”. A “budgie” is a budgerigar, a small bird slightly larger than a canary and, in the tight and brief swimming attire, the resemblance to a budgie being smuggled is clear. Tony is certainly not a dove or pigeon smuggler and the size of his hands is unknown.
Not many people really want to see Tony in that attire. He is a goose to think it is impressive.
Abbott was ousted from the prime ministership by Turnbull in September 2015. He has since resided in parliament on the back benches i.e. he has no particular responsibility. For some time he went quietly, but he has recently stoked up his burners and is putting pressure on Turnbull at every opportunity.
Malcolm Turnbull is symbolic of what is happening in politics in many Western countries. He is a man with the best of intentions, self-made and looking to give something back to his country. In his life before politics he headed the Australian republican movement and has been a consistent supporter of gay rights including marriage. Abbott was a one-time director of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy which, together with the gay rights issue which he skirts, amply illustrates the divide between the two men.
Yet Turnbull has been politically emasculated – not by Abbott, rather by the large constituency of Christians in conservative politics. These days maybe not all of these people would support Abbott, but we may yet see the opportunity arise.
This failure to maintain a separation of church and state has been especially debilitating in both Australia and the United States. Unfortunately for the literal Bible believers – and more so for the rest of us – this is where ignorance meets opportunity.
It’s not the topic here but the fact is no less an authority than the University of Tel Aviv has confirmed there is absolutely no proof any old testament event occurred. This must be especially concerning for those of Jewish faith, for whom the new testament has little relevance and who are still waiting for their messiah, but also should give pause to all of faith. It also flies in the face of failed presidential candidate and now housing Tsar under Trump, Ben Carson, who stated that the pyramids were Joseph’s grain silos – not confirmed by the University of Tel Aviv.
Christianity has no place in politics, yet it is almost running things in Australia. Tony is their man and will be praying for resurrection.
Abbott is a former Rhodes Scholar, a fact which proves one more time that the intersection between IQ and EQ sometimes cannot be found by even the most experienced cartographer. Perhaps that area on the map of humanity, where the two don’t meet, could become known as the Goose Zone.