Pollies to strive for Howard glory

THE LYING GAME:

A new category will be added to this year’s Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) awards – best performance by a politician in a misleading role.

AACTA executive members are understood to have been stunned by the recent brilliant performance in Sydney by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in his “the mindless tribalism of us and them” speech following the Christchurch massacres.

“Staggeringly brilliant” and “a tour de farce” were phrases mentioned by the executives who found during a spontaneous phone-around that they were all of one voice on the need for a category to honour “the craft of politics being executed at its highest level”.

Their basic reasoning: many of the best politicians in history have been great actors so why shouldn’t the very best be honoured at Australia’s annual equivalent of the Oscars and the British BAFTAs?

The AACTA executive has unanimously nominated Mr Morrison for the new award to be presented at this year’s AACTAs late in the year. A special judging panel will be set up mid-year to select other nominees. It will be chaired by then former Insiders host Barrie Cassidy.

To be called the John Howard Award (pictured above), it will go to the politician at any level of Australian public life for the best performed speech that skillfully uses faux sincerity to mask an abject and ingrained hypocrisy on any issue. Or in other words, lying through the teeth and getting away with it.

Mr Howard was considered the right choice for naming rights, given his body of work overall, but especially around the children overboard saga of 2001.

“Great acting is at the core of any politician’s success and Howard was right up there with the best of them,” said one AACTA executive member who asked not to be named.

“I still marvel at the many times he decided what lies would come to his lips and the manner in which he told them.”

What particularly impressed all ACCTA executive members this time round was how Mr Morrison appeared so earnest and sincere, so statesmanlike, in his Sydney speech after years of vilifying “illegal” refugees and constantly talking of “us” – read mainly white, Christian Australians – and “them” – coloured rapists, murderers and paedophiles (read mainly Muslims) from Manus Island and Nauru forcing sick (read mainly white Christian) Australians out of hospital queues and stealing their homes, and vile African street gangs (read mainly Muslims) in Melbourne stopping petrified (read manly white, Christian Australians) from eating out.

Another AACTA executive member said of the PM’s speech. “How he kept a straight face for what was quite a long speech is an absolute tribute to his commitment to his craft. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think he was a kind and caring person after hearing that address.

“Especially as we all know he and his senior ministers will be reverting to their old dog-whistling ways as soon as the heat dies down over the Christchurch killings. He does have a looming election to win, after all.”

One of Hollywood’s most famous stars and the doyen of Method acting, Dustin Hoffman has seen Mr Morrison’s performance and remains “gobsmacked by its brilliance”.

“As someone once said, sincerity is everything in politics and once you’ve faked that, you’ve got it made,” Hoffman told The Bug by phone.

“Your prime minister was nothing short of amazing. And quite a long speech all done in one take – he’s a genius.

“His face gave nothing away. There were no tells that he didn’t believe one word of what he was saying. Not a stumble, not a facial tic or excessive blinking and he didn’t blush once. Now that is a supreme gift.

“I’ve got no idea how long he rehearsed but to immerse himself so deeply into the persona of someone who actually cares about social harmony and inclusiveness … well, I take my hat off to him.

“When it comes to acting, you’ve either got it or you haven’t and your prime minister has it in spades. It’s an enormous talent that simply can’t be taught.”

One AACTA heavyweight told The Bug: “Right now, you’d probably think Mr Morrison is a shoo-in for the award, what with the world focus currently on hate speech and the like. But I wouldn’t be deterred if I was an aspiring nominee.

“Just because the award is named after the master of racist dog-whistling, the man credited largely with turning Australia into the mean-spirited, inward-looking cunt of a country it is now doesn’t mean this year’s winner will necessarily have to fit that mould.

“Just overnight, I was sent tape of Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk giving a recent speech where he said that perhaps property developers had been given too much free rein in Brisbane over the years.howard aacta award closeup.jpg

“That surely has got to be a contender, along with anything Tony Abbott says on any issue, really.”

FASCINATING ARMNOTE: When the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards became the AACTAs in 2012, new statuettes were introduced that symbolised an actor raising their left arm. The John Howard statuette will have its right wing prominent, as shown in the featured photo at the top of this article that AACTA rushed out to celebrate the new acting category.