The 2019 Australian of the Year ceremony in Canberra has ended in chaos after a sequence of “patriotic gestures” demanded of attendees by Prime Minister Scott Morrison left many in the audience fuming.
Many who spoke to The Bug called the event “absurb”, “farcical”, “totally bizarre” and “jingoism gone viral”.
“It all started when everyone entering the National Arboretum main pavilion was made to buy a $25 Australian flag pin and attach it to the lapel of their suits or on the top left of their evening gowns,” one attendee, a relative of one of the nominees, told The Bug.
“I wouldn’t have minded so much but I’ve heard all the proceeds from those pins are going to the Liberal Party of Australia for the upcoming federal campaign. Is that true?”
Another attendee added: “We also had to pay for a sheet of paper with a patriotic pledge that we all had to stand, put our right hand over our chests and recite just before the formal presentations began.
“Someone said it was written by that poet chap Les Murray. I’m telling you it read like a Dorothy McKellar piece with “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!” at the end of each stanza. It was complete shit. Someone else said Tony Abbott might have written it. I’d believe that.
“And what was it with the Prime Minister? He came out dressed as Captain Cook for the evening, but he made a complete fool of himself and his attempt at a late 18th Century Yorkshire accent was laughable. For the major award, he came back looking like Captain Stubing from The Love Boat. Where the f… are the votes there?
“And then when the PM announced the category winners, they had to come forward and answer five questions correctly about Australia before they could get their gongs.
“I mean, really. A lot of people might know that Sir Donald Bradman averaged 99.94 in Test cricket, but how many would remember the final score when the Cronulla Sharks won their first NRL premiership a few years back or Paul Gallen’s date-of-birth?”
Prime Minister Morrison was unrepentant about trying to add “some fair-dinkum patriotic fervour to our nation’s most important day”.
“January 25 is a day for all Australians to forget about politics and just rejoice about our wonderful country, celebrate its discovery by Captain Phillip Cook, and marvel at what we have done to a previously empty continent in just over three centuries of white settlement.
“If you have a go, you’ll get a go at voting Liberal. That’s surely the main message I hope everyone takes from tonight’s ceremony.
“No doubt Bill Shorten – Electricity Bill, Grocery Bill, errr….Platypus Bill – will criticise the changes we made tonight and that would be further proof that he is simply not up to being the prime minister of this great country of ours.
“If you love this country, you’ll get a go at leading this country.”