TRUE OPINION: Propaganda & Patriotism – the bestest of Aussie mates

TRUE OPINION: Get ready for a whole load of propaganda and patriotism ahead of the federal election in three weeks time, writes Kieran Butler.

School assemblies are as rare as quality Australian journalism, so when I got the chance to go to one, I ran there as fast as Scott Morrison scampers from a press conference after a question about Alan Tudge. I recently went to one at my kid’s school – which works out heaps better than gate crashing any old school assembly.

It was two weeks out from ANZAC day, but because the school holidays were about to start, some bright spark had decided to go ‘full ANZAC’. It felt about as last minute as an Australian government diplomatic trip to the Solomon Islands to tell them about AUKUS.

There had obviously been no sound check, so The Last Post blasted intermittently at an ear piercingly high frequency over a PA system that was installed just prior to the first Iraq War. Some of the preps giggled as they winced at the squealing notes two octaves above middle C, so one of the teachers screamed at them to “show some respect”. Propaganda can be comical.

The kids had just sat through the national anthems of New Zealand and Australia played back to back, like those double-shots you used to hear in the 80’s on FM radio, when a one-hit wonder artist had just released a shitty follow up single.

It happens everywhere on ANZAC Day now. The counterpoint is stunning. New Zealand’s anthem invokes and invites an ethereal being to defend their sovereign nation. It’s a fairly common trope amongst a lot of national anthems.

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Australia’s anthem is written in a voice that simply tells you what Australia is, and then appeals to an imaginary historical cricket umpire to ensure it racks up plenty of wins as fairly as possible. It is plainly a crock of shit. There is a cloying venality to it that seems grasping and untrustworthy straight off the bat.

In late 2020, the word young was replaced by the word one. You know, cos of all those thousands of years of Indigenous history we had conveniently forgotten about. Furthermore, if Australia circa 1901 considered itself young back in the 70s, did the writers not anticipate that the mere passing of time would render the word redundant?

The words fair and share are going to have to go next on the grounds that they are used in a context that reduces them to a load of shite. I’ve written a few songs in my time, and I usually tend to bin the ones that need words replaced constantly.

You are going to get force fed a lot of rank patriotism over the final weeks of this pitiful federal election campaign. Morrison is properly f*cked, which is why he was about to be replaced as PM by Josh Frydenberg before he called the election. Frydenberg is on track to lose his seat, so he really needed that to happen just to stay in Parliament for all of that sweet, sweet honourable member money.

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Polling is pointing to a likely hung Parliament, or the ALP winning the opportunity to be blamed for everything that is about to go wrong in Australia. Irrespective of the result, PM-in-waiting, Anthony Albanese, is headed for his own political Tyburn. No matter whether he just falls over the line, forms a minority government or loses in his own right, all of it will end badly for him.

Outgoing LNP governments like to leave land mines everywhere before leaving office, but only Peter Dutton could sense the opportunity to start an actual war with Australia’s biggest trading partner by banging on about the 1930s, parley it into a mid-election leadership tilt to save his own seat AND make a booking for the whole country to be bombed into oblivion if none of it works out!

Albanese represents a swathe of Australians who truly believe someone can put out the bin fire the LNP started in Australia nine years ago. It is a pipe dream. The chickens are home to roost. China setting up a military base in the Solomon Islands is a foregone conclusion – no matter how much ABC programming we start piping into the Pacific.

If Dutton is serious about starting a war he should swing by the Solomon Islands with his jokes about Island Time and water lapping at their doors, then introduce Scott Morrison on ukulele with Barnaby Joyce singing “Take me to China’s military base in Cuba” – before they all close with an updated version of the Australian national anthem titled Advance Australia Where?

Like the rising seas, jokes are a great leveller.

About Kieran Butler 33 Articles
Kieran Butler is a comedian, musician and satirist. He is best known in Australia for his pop-parody musical "Ben Cousins: a rock opera" and has received critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe for "Che Guevara on the Fringe" (**** The Scotsman) and his sold-out "Australia is Fucked" trilogy. More info at

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