Nicki Savva and machinations that damage democracy

This piece was originally published in February 2023

It would a reasonable assumption that many readers of this column would have read about and possibly bought Nicki Savva’s book on the former prime minister, Bulldozed.

It is highly recommended reading for anyone with an interest in contemporary politics and in human behaviour.

The truth is I nearly did not purchase a copy of the book. I had reached a point last year that I did not want to think about that former prime minister and how his mob trashed democratic processes and conventions. You will note that I am refusing to mention his name.

In the end I bought the book just before Christmas and read it over the next four day. Nicki Savva has done a fantastic job of bringing together the many fragments of the last decade’s national politics.

Nicki is a political insider with contacts within the political parties and the government ranks. She is one of many committed people who have remained loyal to her party as she knew it – but that party, the Liberal Party of Australia, has left her (and people like her) as it veered off into a strange universe of its own making. This is one of the major issues that is made clear in her book.

The book brings together many of the stories we had already heard (or at least in part). The cumulative effect of all these complicated tales is that you end up wondering – what the hell just happened (in the last decade).

While the book tells you heaps about that person and others linked to him, you are still left to ponder how did such a defective creature become prime minister. For almost 20 years so many knew what this person was like. Most of the players in the book were responsible, directly or indirectly, for this bloke becoming Australia’s prime minister.

Despite Nicki’s detailed accounts, it remains impossible to understand how that person thought and acted the way he did – being the way he has operated all his adult life (if not also before that). There’s also the damming question of how so many others enable crazy things to be done by leaders who exist in their own remote reality.

All of the above is a reminder of how off the rails is the leadership of the ACT’s Greenslabor government. While the Canberra Liberal opposition has been in turmoil with crazy people pushing it into dark cul-de-sacs, the Greenslabor mob have sailed on doing whatever it likes.

This government has no hesitation letting voters know how much they no longer care what residents think.

They know that voters for the last decade have had little choice. The majority are forced to vote Labor or for the ACT Greens or their proxies standing as independents. The Greenslabor leadership has now tightened its controls over most of the media, over the bureaucracy and over most of the local community and social welfare groups (not all).

The difference between the many infamous autocracies and this Barr-Rattenbury leadership continues to narrow daily.

There are many in this city who want to vote Labor and others who want to vote for the ACT Greens. Like the national Liberal Party, both of these ACT political parties and their leaderships have little interest in these former loyal voters – leaving them frustrated and angry.

There was a bright note towards the end of Nicki Savva’s book – and thank you Nicki for that. She spends some time outlining the run up the 2022 federal elections and how it unfolded with Anthony Albanese quietly entering the national stage as a very welcomed prime minister.

While the former prime minister was voted out because he was someone people did not want to see or hear from ever again, Anthony Albanese’s entrance was a modest affair with such a large agenda being embraced eagerly.

This was such a change from the former who seemed to be there for no other reason than to be prime minister – and to look after his friends.

The contrast was so clear in Nicki’s beautiful description of what happened on election night when Albanese decided it was time to leave his home and get on his bike to claim the victory. Outside his house he was met by about 100 of his neighbours who were there to cheer and congratulate.

Tells you something about the man and about the change that happened that night in May 2022. Buy the book and read it!


This article is a version of the piece originally published online with City News

Paul Costigan is a commentator on cultural and urban matters

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