Big Malcolm Turnbull and Barbnaby Joyce puppets

It’s been a while… almost three years since I last posted. So some catching up.

Following on from the ‘Real Big Tony’ Abbott puppet, I made a ‘Real Big Mal’ puppet head of Malcolm Turnbull (when he replaced Abbott as Prime Minister in September 2015). His handler, Matthew Armstrong, repurposed Real Big Tony as the Ghost of Tony – not much has changed! – and for a while both puppets appeared together. Prior to the 2016 election I also made a big Barnaby Joyce puppet head. At this stage Matt did away with the large body suits, just wearing the heads on top of ordinary suits. I think all three puppets may now have been retired.

Political puppets for Puppet Government

I made four puppets of Australian politicians earlier this year – Abbott, Bishop, Turnbull and Hockey – for Puppet Government, an indie youtube parody series.  So far four episodes have been made, with more presently in the works.

Here are some photos from making process:


As square as a butter box

For your reading pleasure: David Barnett frothing over last night’s broadcast of ‘Keating the Musical’. My favourite bit:

Alexander Downer, dressed as FrankN’Furter from The Rocky Horror Show, is shown as effete. Downer, father of four children and with nothing in his private life to suggest he is anything other than as square as a butter-box…

I’d never heard that euphemism before!

…how ironic it is that the Liberals are in the process of organising an orderly transition of leadership from Brendan Nelson to Peter Costello, along the lines of the transition by agreement from Bill Hayden to Bob Hawke. Not one like the brutal coup arranged by the stabber, Paul Keating, to serve his own ambitions.

I wonder if this is an insider view, considering Barnett is Prue Goward’s partner?

Keating! the musical is no joke, and the question it invites must be taken seriously: where does all this hatred come from?

An absolute mystery, isn’t it? Continue reading

Modeling elections?

Listening to the opinion going round and around entrenched positions about whether Hillary Clinton would make a good VP, and whether she and Obama individually would come at a joint ticket, has made me wonder again about the role personality type plays in politics and the way people vote.

I’ve never been officially Myers-Brugged, but when I’ve done the tests online I consistently come out as INFJ, with the J being borderline; an Idealist/Councilor-borderline-Healer in the Keirsey descriptions. I notice and admire that INFP’s (I am close to a number of them, though they are rare!) step up more quickly to look for a negotiated way of getting to a desired bigger picture position. For instance, my instinct is that Clinton has done too much that is the antithesis of what Obama is driving at for it to be right for Obama to accept her as a running mate. But Amy is trying to get past the discomfort by framing the ticket as a coalition of separate minority parties, if it will get Obama into office. It’s a little like those woven tube finger traps: pull from opposite positions and you are stuck, give a little and you can get out.

There have been studies that suggest that personality type plays a part in political affiliation. Taking that idea further, if you can break a population down into personality types by percentage, and forecast what attitudes are likely to be taken by each type and how they might vote on different candidates and the range of issues on the table, perhaps it would be possible to model an election outcome? It would save a lot of money and shenanigans. Would you be able to build in nimble-enough responses to unexpected events and happenstances such as the perfect storm of 9/11 and Tampa that Howard finessed to give him the 2001 Australian election; or alternatively would it provide a protection against such occurrences? What about rigging? And is it likely we would be happy to accept the underlying idea of determinism, and the missing drama and excitement of the election trail?

Felt Obama finger puppet


Following on from yesterday’s post about candidate finger puppets made from card, Abbey Hambright has felt finger puppets of Obama for sale.


My friend Amy has made a couple of widgets for Obama supporters. If you are a supporter, why not add them to your sidebar or FaceBook page. (Details for embedding are here:Countdown; Pwned)

A big day

Yesterday’s apology to the Stolen Generations felt momentous. I had read the official words that would officially constitute the apology, but I hadn’t reckoned on the speech that the Prime Minister went on to deliver (full video and full transcript). It was breathtakingly good, unexpectedly ballsy in it’s directness and honesty, and struck a fine balance between a personal sincerity and respect, and government responsibility. I hadn’t anticipated getting teary, but did at the point when Rudd said

As Prime Minister of Australia, I am sorry. On behalf of the Government of Australia, I am sorry. On behalf of the Parliament of Australia, I am sorry. And I offer you this apology without qualification.

Euphoric, we watched and cheered as parliamentarians stood to applaud the speech and the indigenous guests in the house, and saw the exchange of hugs between the leaders and the guests (the most touching was that between Jenny Macklin, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Lowitja O’Donoghue).

Then Brendon Nelson, Leader of the Opposition, gave his right of reply speech. It’s amazing how quickly a mood can change. We knew he should be politely let to say his piece, knowing he would have to appease the naysayers in his own party (after all, he was one himself a couple of months ago – it was the issue that gave him the edge to win leadership over Turnbull after the election – an intersting reflection!) . If Nelson had had any sense of what had just happened, and the wits to think on his feet, he would have realised he had been completely gazumped, and that anything that he said short of ‘We agree, we are sorry for our part in it, lets pass the motion’ would seem mealy-mouthed.

But no, as his speech, delivered in a kindergarten teacher tone, went on it became misguided, then inappropriate, and finally offensive. On the lawns outside where I was, the euphoria and celebration dissipated, replaced with some anger but mostly a quiet, almost desperate determination not to pay attention to those things that he was trying to rub our noses in. As Ampersand Duck relates, we momentarily thought better of turning our backs, but as things got worse, it was necessary. Apparently crowds all over the country chose to do the same, a reference to the occasion in 1997 at a reconciliation conference when the audience turned their backs on John Howard. Nelson’s speech was a blight on the day.

(Update: I forgot to say that the Opposition actually voted to support the apology. What Nelson said amounted to excuses: ‘I’m sorry , but…’)

The crowd turning their backs:



This guy was giving the finger in double proportions:


I dropped by again a little while later in the day, and the party was still kicking on with concerts at both the lawns and the tent embassy. I wandered up to the forecourt of Parliament, listening to snatches of conversations, stories being told, interviews being given, people sitting around eating and talking and hugging. I wanted to reflect on it all, and be grateful that it had happened, and hope that it means more good will come from it in the future.

Actor Ernie Dingo being interviewed. He was one of the invited guests.


It was fun to bump into Ampersand Duck and Crit. They both have cool photos and accounts of the day :)

Tim was also there. Isn’t this photo cool? He will probably post more over the next week or so, too, so check back on his site.

Some welcome optimism

A friend who is a public servant was telling me how, in her department, it feels as if a great weight has been lifted since the change of government.  I certaintly feel a great relief to have done with the awful Howard era.  So far the signs are promising:

Rudd ratifies Kyoto Protocol in the first official act of his new Government: We now have a high profile portfolio for Climate and Water, as well as one for Environment, and the promise of the issue addressed as all-important.

Jeffrey Sachs, speaking on the 7.30 report: ‘Australia has given me a huge boost of optimism with this wonderful election result and the leadership that the new government is showing. How could anybody be a pessimist when we see what Australia’s doing now on taking on the challenge of climate change’.

Prime Minister’s Literary Award : a thumping big new award for writers. The Arts portfolio is now being handled by a senior cabinet minister, while Sports moves to the outer ministry and a junior minister.

Exciting, defining times for women :

But if I had to nominate a flashpoint when I felt my body jolt upright with exultant anticipation and gushing love of country, it actually came courtesy of the first lady-elect, Therese Rein.

When Kevin Rudd walked on stage to claim his place as Australia’s 26th prime minister, the woman he calls his life partner stood with her hand in his beside him, and shimmied. She leant forward and, with a cheeky glint in her eye, shook her shoulders from side to side and shimmied. And it was glorious.

If ever there was an image to differentiate the old from the new on election night, it was Therese Rein’s shimmy. As surprising as the revelation that I’ve placed a shimmy above Australia electing its first female deputy prime minister and Maxine McKew’s “in heaven no one’s blind” moment might be, the shimmy said it all.

Yeah! It was at that point that I sat up and said ”Oh! I think I am going to like her!”.


It sure was a happy night last night – after all the nail biting of the last few days and the start of the count last night, the John Howard era has come to an end!

Shan sent me his last election puppetry video, Howard’s Way, yesterday, but I must admit it felt too much like tempting fate to post it then!

Shan might have the first Rudd puppet out there:

Of course, now I have to decide what to do with my own two Howard puppets. They are too toxic to burn (just like the real thing, really!). I’m going to close my Vigil blog, but the puppet, which started out as an anti-war one, remains, as does the scarecrow one I made as a protest against the Howard government’s refugee policies. Any suggestions?