First published in Time Out Sydney 22 May 2014. Art by Robert Polmear
Dear the Internet,
You know what changes hearts and minds? Mascots!
That’s why McDonalds have launched their new mascot Happy – a gaping red box, playing on the universal desire of children to be helplessly engulfed by a sentient cube.
Meanwhile the mining industry have come up with their own character – Hector the Healthy Lump of Coal, who was invented by the company that owns Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, looks like a giant, terrifying turd in a safety vest, and has a website that teaches kids all about how to enjoy non-renewable energy.
And in that same spirit of taking something which is objectively harmful and transforming it into something which children will bond with, spend money upon and eventually die as a result of, the government are preparing to launch a range of new fun-loving mascots to help get some popular support for some of their more hard-to-swallow legislation.
Hey, Australia – forget those budget blues and say hello to your new, Coalition-approved BFFs!
Mr Snips, the Federal Funding Scissors
Snippy-snip-snip! That’s the sound of fiscally-responsible Mr Snips, the fun-loving budget scissors as he goes after his two biggest foes: red tape and programmes implemented by the previous government.
He hates inefficiency, duplication of services, oversight committees, non-industrial advisory groups, and anything not mining-related. And with your help, that deficit will be down to zero imaginary dollars in no time! Snippy-snip-snip!
Ol’ Silty, the Barrier Reef Mining Runoff
All Ol’ Silty wants to do is give out big, warm hugs: to you, to your friends, to the coral reefs inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park – everyone!
Ol’ Silty is happy to explain that he helps increase the dangerously-low level of particulate matter currently covering in the current ecosystem and how YOU can help keep this unique environment safe for future generations of supertankers and coal transport vessels.
That cough you’ve developed? It’s like a hug for the inside!
Dressed in his trademark cape and fedora and with Shannon Noll’s version of ‘What About Me’ playing on a constant loop through his belly speaker, Captain Privilege! is ready to leap in and ask why white, straight males are being excluded from the conversation, regardless of what the conversation is about.
Feminism? But what about the Captain? Immigration? But what about the Captain? Marriage equality? Indigenous health and poverty? The National Disability Insurance Scheme? Violence against women? Why are you even having these conversations, since they’re not about the Captain? The Captain is bored now! Let’s talk about the Captain!
Slowpoke Moe, the NBN Tortoise
Lovable old Moe is here to explain why Labor’s vision of a national fibre-to-the-premises network is foolish and wrong. Anyway, no-one even uses computers except for secretaries and personal assistants, and why use the internet when you have Foxtel? That’s the tech of the future, right there.
His presentations are scheduled for 30 minutes. They never come anywhere near that length though, despite lengthy pauses and frequent restarts.
The Welfare-Scrounging Palz: Bludgey, Slutsy and Rollaround Sue
One can’t find a job, one can’t keep her legs shut, and the other can’t even be bothered walking!
The Palz just love to carp and moan: Bludgey would go to the doctor, but can’t afford the GP co-payment since he’s probably blown it all on ciggies and middies of beer, while Slutsy is asking where her kids will sleep if she’s evicted. Oh Slutsy: you couldn’t keep a husband, and now you can’t even keep a lease!
Rollaround Sue is ready to jump her wheelchair through hoops to demonstrate she “genuinely” needs her pension – but first she needs to get it up these stairs, of course. Don’t try the accessible toilet either, Sue: Captain Privilege! is using it for storage.
Toot Toot the Border Protection Tugboat
“It’s a sailor’s life for me!” says Toot Toot. He loves the salt in the air, the waves against his hull, and the plausible deniability of accusations of torture at sea as he scoots merrily back and forth across the Indonesian maritime border, keeping Australia safe from wicked asylum seekers who are deviously planning to [INSERT JUSTIFICATION HERE]
Invite Toot Toot to your school, where he’ll hand out delicious Operation Sovereign Burgers to all students who can provide documented proof they were born in Australia. Where will he visit next? That’s an operational secret!
Whitey the Freedom Of Speech Bigot
Well, technically that’s just attorney general George Brandis.