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Does Australia need a shandy man?

20 August, 2010

I’m rarely one to criticize a bloke for what he drinks. But on the eve before I head to the embassy to place my pre-ballot vote, and as I read over the the SMH article by Phillip Coorey and Peter Hartcher, I wonder how much each candidate’s choice of beverage reflects their leadership, personalities, and more importantly, policies.

Sadly, neither Toohey’s Old or a shandy do little to excite me about the future of Australia under either leader. Perhaps it was because I spent last week sampling dozens of micro-brews in Seattle. But with election campaign beverage choices made most deliberately, I wonder what each leader is trying to signal to Australia voters.

Last orders ... Julia Gillard enjoys a Tooheys Old with the local candidate, Jim Arneman, in Raymond Terrace; Tony Abbott sips a  shandy in Manly.
(Photo: Andrew Meares, Glen McCurtayne, from SMH)

Gillard – showing her support for NSW by choosing a NSW label of the people? Abbott – showing his affinity for women by choosing half-beer half-soft drink? I say tongue-in-cheek.

If this is the case, Gillard’s schooner of Toohey’s is unlikely to deflect much of the ill will NSW voters feel towards the state Labor party. Likewise, if Abbott thinks the average women is a shandy drinker, he should probably think again. Given his love of gaffs, a shandy (gaff) may well be an unconscious choice of the heart, but I wonder whether an appeal to tee-totaling Christian lobbies will view him half as evil if his beer is really half lemonade or ginger ale.

Now I don’t know what they put in Toohey’s Old, and voters may also detect an unknown murkiness to what policies Gillard plans to implement (I would have gone a Guinness personally). Yet a shandy’s contents are quite clear, yet like its translucent character, it is mostly carbonated fizz and sugar, with little depth, no substance. It might taste sweet but those empty calories will do little more than leave you a little hyperactive. Clearly the hardest thing in Tony’s hand is the glass itself.

Which leads me to the question, does Australia need a shandy man?

Despite a wheel feeling off the Labor wagon, the government has managed to shepherd Australia through a global financial crisis, for which it deserves more credit for than the previous Howard government deserved for bringing “prosperity” to Australia amongst a global economic boom.

Given Abbott’s direction – or lack their of, his bitterly negative campaign (the “4 nays”) that says little more than he is in principle opposed to whatever Gillard is proposing, it is hard to find any positive contribution he will bring to Australia’s economy and society. Debt and boats may sound like great things to be stopped on the surface. Yet Abbott has failed to prove he has the capacity to achieve these goals. I can only conclude as I head to the polling booth, that Australia needs anything but a Shandy Man.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 20 August, 2010 1:30 pm

    Who can stop the boats now
    Crushing any dreams
    Concentrate the sorrow in Narau – it can’t be seen

    The Shandy Man
    Oh, the Shandy Man can (the Shandy Man can)
    The Shandy Man can
    ‘Cause he mixes it with love
    And makes the world taste good


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