Let’s do it. Let’s offer Peter Reith his own ABC television show.
It makes sense on so many levels.
He’s already made a name for himself on SBS’s Go Back to Where You Came From, playing the part of No-Longer-Quite-As-Racist-Guy for an audience that were happy so long as Catherine Deveny had somebody to swear at. He did this with good humour, a near constant smile, and a politician’s eye for audience antipathy. We hated him, Reith knew we hated him, and the fact that he knew that we hated him, and still went on the show, made us hate him a little less, although only until he got off the show and back to his normal self again.
For its almighty Charter, the ABC needs its right wing chest-thumpers, and of the candidates, Reith has many advantages. For one, he’s able to laugh at himself, which is pretty much the only option left when you’ve pretended you didn’t get a call from the head of the navy for twenty odd days because you were out of mobile phone range down in the wilds of, (where was it again? oh that’s right), the Mornington Peninsula, and that’s why your mistaken belief that asylum seekers threw their children into the sea was never corrected.
None of the other ‘right wing balance’ providers laugh at themselves. Gerard Henderson can’t laugh, due to his status as one of the corpses the Kennedys dug up to get themselves over the line in 1960. Piers Akerman can laugh, but everything wobbles, and there’s no sign he’s going to release Han Solo from his deep freeze. Andrew Bolt never smiles, and even the ABC must worry whether ‘balance’ should be achieved via a man who cheats his climate graphs and rolls around at home in polar bear pelts. (note: this claim has been refuted by 99.9% of the world’s fact checkers, but I’m blindly attaching myself to it)
Reith is definitely the best bet. In the ABC documentary The Howard Years, nothing dented his game show host smile. Dogs ravaging unionist legs, children flapping in raging oceans, phone card PIN being slipped to pretty Norwegians – Reith spoke openly and delightedly about how much goddamned fun he had sliding down the rainbow of uncompassionate conservatism. He was willing to defend it all. And he’s still willing to defend it all – evidenced by his recent comments on the George Brandis / Barnaby Joyce wedding expenses fiasco.
”I don’t understand how you can have a system which says that some things that ministers do are part of business and others aren’t … I think it’s ridiculous putting limits on where ministers can go.”
No limits, baby, no limits. You guys have to annotate and justify and keep your pathetic company car log books, but not us! Because we’re us, baby. And we’re living it large!
Give him his own show. It should relate to something we associate with Reith, like rorting the Australian people, and it should plug into his SBS success.
So what about this? Reith goes through boxes old receipts, and takes us back to bars, restaurants, resorts and shangrilas he visited on the public purse. We call it Go Back to Where You Claimed it From, and it’s a travel/lifestyle show notable for its glorious opulent excess.
And the great irony would be that as Reith travels for the show, he’ll be able to deduct everything for a second time, this time legitimately, finishing with a beamed grin to camera and the catch-cry “And remember, limits are ridiculous!’
And then he laughs. Not that he’s ever really stopped.