The winners and losers of #auspol in 2017

What a wild ride you were in federal politics, 2017. Here are some of the names that made the year such a special brew of stuff ups and historic change.


The Nice Guys Sometimes Finish First Trophy: DEAN SMITH

The Liberal backbencher’s thoughtful and persistent advocacy across Parliament played a huge part in (finally) legalising same-sex marriage.

The Almost Prime Minister Prize: BILL SHORTEN

True, the last couple of weeks of 2017 have been bumpy (hello, David Feeney and Sam Dastyari). But overall, Labor had a great year: comfortably ahead in the polls, with a nicely united frontbench and a contented backbench. There’s been barely an Albo joke in sight.

The Operation Sovereign Minister Medallion: PETER DUTTON

The horror stories about life for refugees on Manus Island did not do Dutton’s career any harm. The former immigration minister, now Home Affairs Minister, ends 2017 as one of the most powerful people in government, with intelligence agencies, the AFP and Border Force all under his command. Careful, he’s watching you.

The See Ya Suckers Citation: NICK XENOPHON

In a year that saw MPs leave Parliament in droves for all kinds of nefarious reasons, the independent kingmaker Xenophon left on his own terms: (theoretically) off to bigger and better things in SA state politics.

The Neil Armstrong Award for Giant Leaping:BRIDGET MCKENZIE

The Victorian backbencher has has hit the big time, jumping from the backbench, straight into cabinet. This comes off the back of her recent elevation to Nationals deputy leader. McKenzie saw off some tough competition to get the deputy’s gig, too, from Barnaby Joyce’s preferred candidate, Matt Canavan.


The Scribbly Gum Award for Bark Work: GEORGE CHRISTENSEN

Christensen talked a big game in terms of quitting the LNP and pressuring the Prime Minister to resign. Turns out, the outspoken Queensland Nat, is all bark, zero on the bite. He also admitted he lied to journalists over reports he was the unnamed MP threatening to sit as an independent if Turnbull was still PM by Christmas.

The If You Can’t Say Anything Nice Certificate: TONY ABBOTT

It’s a good thing the former prime minister promised not the snipe, because his lack of sniping hasn’t got him very far. Despite his many and varied contributions to public debate (including that amazing goat sacrifice speech about climate change), Abbott ends the year with same-sex marriage legal, the Coalition in cheerful agreement on energy policy and no promotion whatsoever back to the frontbench.

The Floury Apple Prize for Bad Taste: PAULINE HANSON

The One Nation leader was responsible for some highly questionable things in 2017, from calling for kids with autism to be removed from mainstream classrooms to criticism of the national vaccination program. But even among these, wearing a burqa to question time was a stand out low point.

The Fred Astaire Award for Tap Awareness: SAM DASTYARI The Labor senator’s warning to Chinese businessman Huang Xiangmo about his phone being bugged was one halal of a career ender.

The Coles Cup for Fly Buys: SUSSAN LEY

Back in January, the Victorian Liberal was forced to resign from the coveted health portfolio and cabinet after it emerged she had bought an investment property while on a taxpayer-funded trip to the Gold Coast. Amazingly, even on the way out, Ley maintained she’d done nothing wrong.

And a special mention for …

The Triumph Over Self-Imposed Adversity Award: BARNABY JOYCE

He sensationally mucked up his citizenship, was dumped by the High Court and forced to go to a byelection. He also let bad behaviour in the Nats get out-of-control in his absence, before sparking a civil war upon his return to work with his reshuffle preferences. Yet, somehow, he got a hero’s welcome when he came back to Parliament and all the promotions and demotions he wanted in Turnbull’s new look ministry. In our book, that confusingly makes Joyce a woser??? (both a winner and a loser).