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57 Australian Politics Memes That Defined The 2010s

Come with us on a journey from "friends don't let friends vote for Tony Abbott" to #WhereTheBloodyHellAreYou.

A decade is allegedly 10 years long. And yet, it feels as if we've fit many, many more years than that — perhaps centuries — into the 2010s.

The decade in Australian politics was particularly eventful. Since we've collectively lost the ability to tell time in a conventional way, this list takes you through the highs and lows of #auspol using... memes.

1. Friends don't let friends vote for Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott was objectively an unpopular opposition leader and then prime minister. His (un)popularity was the genesis for an early meme "friends don't let friends vote for Tony Abbott".

Friends don't let Tony Abbott SLOW DOWN Our Internet / Via Facebook: biz

2. I can't believe he stood in front of it and signed it

Tony Abbott stood in front of a billboard in 2012. Two years later, an altered version of the picture began to circulate. Some made more effort to be believable than others.

It's not like Prime Munster Tony Abbott made a huge billboard of his promises and stood in front of them. Oh wait...

The first accurate LNP billboard I've seen. Obviously photo shopped they'd never be that honest. #auspol #libliar

3. The "carbon tax"

In 2011, prime minister Julia Gillard introduced a carbon pricing scheme. Her opponents successfully reframed it as a "carbon tax" (despite not actually believing it was a tax, as they later admitted).

u/daamsie / Via reddit.com

Note the use of Impact font, a staple of memes of the day.

Funny Memes / Via funnymemes.com.au

4. Julia Gillard falls over

We enjoy when we see that our leaders are fallible. A slip by prime minister Gillard during a 2012 trip to India was prime meme fodder. Superimposing wrestler Randy Orton over Gillard's stumble was so mind-blowing at the time that it was written up by Australian media.

View this video on YouTube


5. Gillard/Rudd leadership tensions

Gillard ascended to the top job by successfully challenging then prime minister Kevin Rudd an intra-party contest in 2010. Tensions between the pair simmered for years until ... Kevin Rudd became PM again. Truly a time to be alive.

Marty Pouwelse Photography / Via martyphotograph.com.au

(Film parodies were really in vogue at the time.)

Triple M / Via triplem.com.au

6. Tony Abbott rings David Cameron

Fast forward to 2014. Tony Abbott is now prime minister of Australia. Not long after Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 goes missing, Abbott does what any other self-respecting world leader would do: posts of a picture of himself on the blower getting an update about the search.

Just got an update on the search for #MH370 from JACC Chief Coordinator Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston (Ret'd)

Unwittingly, Abbott stumbled into an already existing meme format based on the David Cameron Phone Call, his equivalent from the motherland.

Twitter / @slipperyseal

7. "Ha ha ha you're such a cunt."

Government minister Christopher Pyne allegedly drops the c-bomb in parliament when speaking about the new opposition leader Bill Shorten.

View this video on YouTube


The original footage.

Pyne denied saying this, but that didn't stop people having fun with it.

8. Tony Abbott's odd stance

Abbott was showing Japan's leader Shinzo Abe around when this happened.

PM Abe wearing his gift from Australia - RM Williams boots. Both proud to be wearing them today #RMs

I mean, c'mon. What did you expect would happen?

9. #auspol mashups

2014 was the beginning of a golden age of videos mashing up Australian politics with pop culture. We had Arrested Development...

View this video on YouTube


Star Wars...

View this video on YouTube


and Seinfeld.

View this video on YouTube


And heaps more, many done by the talented Huw Parkinson.

10. Captain Cooked

On Sep. 18, 2014 the Daily Telegraph put a graphic of immigration minister Scott Morrison as Captain Cook on its front page to celebrate Australia's hard-line immigration policies.

Daily Telegraph

Which laid the foundation for this iconic meme.

11. Bill Shorten with a mullet

Perhaps the most memorable press conference of Bill Shorten's half a decade stint as opposition leader was the time he appeared to have a mullet.

Twitter: @saltmarsh / Via Twitter: @saltmarsh

Fact check: he didn't actually have a mullet. It was just the camera angle. The magic of showbiz, hey?

Twitter / @dannolan

12. Tony Abbott: minister for women

When prime minister Tony Abbott announced his cabinet, there was surprise that he — crucially, a man — would be the minister for women. Later on, he named "repealing the carbon tax" as his greatest achievement in the role.

13. Abbott's speed dealer sunnies

All the leadership tension didn't stop Abbott from living his best life. Out in a timber yard in Victoria, the man who was fighting for his political life was convinced to put on a pair of sunglasses called "speed dealers".


Will you just look at the state of this.

Tony Abbott [SKITZMIX 2015] [FLAC] [CD-RIP] [MIXXED BY SHANE SKILLZ].zip.torrent

14. Greens taking credit for things

They say success has many fathers. That was certainly the vibe when Greens MP Adam Bandt celebrated the decision by Labor's Victorian premier Daniel Andrews to end the East West Link toll road planned by the previous government. Labor supporters were mad about Bandt's attempt to claim the victory – and the meme was born.

15. Choppergate

Government speaker Bronwyn Bishop chartered a $5,227 helicopter flight to fly 75km from Melbourne to Geelong. This expensive dash to a party fundraiser spawned a series of memes about her extravagant lifestyle.

Bronwyn Bishop seen heading to the corner store for a carton of milk & loaf of bread

16. [Checks notes]

While declaring his beliefs at a press conference, Bill Shorten paused to glance at his notes. The moment (which happened AGAIN at the 2015 party conference) became a popular way to suggest Shorten doesn't believe anything he says.

17. Newspoll wow!

News Corp writer Peter van Onselen would, like clockwork, tweet the same two words (give or take) just before a regular poll of election voting preferences was released to the public. This poll was frequently evoked to justify dumping leaders.

It didn't actually matter what was in the poll. Maybe nothing matters, IDK.

18. George Brandis' jumper

The bar is pretty low for Australia's political fashion achievements. Arguably, attorney-general George Brandis' sweater was one of the rare bright spots.

Attorney-General George Brandis arrives back in Canberra for the Spring sitting of Parliament

Honestly, it's not even that out there.

Australia's next top attorney-general. #auspol

Which makes the huge reaction to the jumper even funnier.

19. #LibSpill

In September 2015 Malcom Turnbull successfully challenged Tony Abbott for the leadership of the Liberal Party. Australians had seen so many different PMs in such a short space of time that we knew what to do. And that was to make more memes.

The Bachelor had just started, and would soon become a mainstay for #auspol/pop culture crossovers.

Gillard will be loving this #auspol #libspill #spill

20. #PutOutYourOnions

And some chose to mourn Abbott's toppling with a throwback to his raw onion moment. RIP to a real one.

21. Peter Dutton is a potato

From one vegetable to another: it was around the time that Queensland's Peter Dutton became immigration minister that people started to realise he had a striking resemblance to a tuber. It became one of the most enduring political memes of the decade.

Peter Dutton Is A Potato / Via Facebook: peterduttonisapotato

22. What's your favourite lettuce?

I swear this is just a vegetable coincidence but chronologically, the next significant meme of the decade was about Bill Shorten's passion for lettuce.

View this video on YouTube


While attempting small talk on the campaign trail, Shorten infamously asked a supermarket shopper to identify their favourite lettuce. What a question! He then declined to identify his own favourite lettuce.

"I like all sorts of varieties of lettuce" Shorten says. Pick a side, already.

Later, he finally chose one, through this really poor effort at a meme. (Impact font in 2016, you hate to see it.) A media advisor probably made this.

Cos you asked @workmanalice - my favourite lettuce is one that doesn't have a 15 per cent GST on it.

23. Mark Latham wore a dirty polo and oversized shorts to the PM's XI on Jan. 20, 2016

A twitter user @Mesut_Asuil was struck when he saw former opposition leader Mark Latham at the cricket one day.

@tfswebb Latho was at the cricket in Canberra yesterday. Almost walked past him without noticing as his clothes were ill fitting and grubby

It soon became an obsession.

The most successful people I've met: - wear ill-fitting shorts - a grubby polo shirt - a sad wide brimmed hat - attended the Prime Minister's XI in Canberra two years ago

24. Clive Palmer counts his money

Clive Palmer was elected to federal parliament in 2016. The billionaire ran on a populist platform that was critical about immigration. And much like a certain other billionaire, he had no qualms about showing off his riches.

Counting his money #auspol @abcnews @ABCNews24

This frankly absurd display of (actually rather minor) wealth was an easy target.

Reddit / entr0p1a / Via i.imgur.com

25. Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's apology to Australia

The two celebrities filmed a frankly bizarre apology to Australia after being caught smuggling their pet dogs into the country.

when macca's introduced 24hr breakfast

The hostage-style video was too good an opportunity to pass up.

26. The double dissolution election

On May 8, 2016 prime minister Malcolm Turnbull visited the governor-general Sir Peter Cosgrove and asked him to dissolve both houses of parliament and call an election.

51 days until the election! Reminder: only one party has a leader who is named in the Panama Papers. #whatup

It was an election that would be defined by the dankness of its memes, a trend best captured in the output of the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union social media pages.

27. "Jobs and growth"

The Coalition's three-word catchcry quickly became a meme.

Disappointing Election Memes / Via Facebook: disappointingelectionmemes

28. The "fake tradie"

Who could forget the response to this Coalition advertisement?

View this video on YouTube


Here's #faketradie hard at work building a BBQ...

29. Voting for Harambe

Do you remember Harambe, the gorilla who died? Well, he may have been gone but he continued to live on in our hearts and in the ballot box.

Voting for a dead ape instead of a plethora of political candidates? Why not, we miss him so much.

30. THAT Dutton Photo

Peter Dutton’s office asked a reporter to remove an “unflattering” photograph of the Minister emerging from the shadows at a press conference. Turns out the internet doesn’t take kindly to being told what to do.

Peter Dutton wants this photo deleted, so please delete it ASAP! I'll just pin it here so you know which one it is.

31. George Christensen's tattoo

Liberal National MP George Christensen got a tattoo.

.@GChristensenMP is fond of whips. Here's a preview of Saturday's Good Weekend cover:

That's it. That's the meme.

32. A politician argued with a Simpsons meme page

For some reason, Liberal MP Andrew Laming fought with one of Australia's most iconic and long-running meme pages The Simpsons against the Liberals. The fight itself became a meme.


33. The Moat

Okay I get that this decade has been long but did you remember that once we considered making a moat around parliament?

Parliament House re-design plans revealed

34. Prime minister Trumble

White House press secretary Sean Spicer struggling with Turnbull's name during a press briefing, calling him "Trumble". And... it was very funny.

Not looking good President #Trumble #Newspoll Federal 2PP LNP 46 (-2) ALP 54 (+2) #auspol #60min #libspill


"Wait - the Prime Minister's name is Turnbull? I've been calling him Trumble this whole time!" #auspol

35. Malcolm Turnbull tells everyone he fucks

The prime minister was speaking to 97.3FM when he was asked whether he ever “Netflix and chills” with his wife, Lucy. He replied in the affirmative.

That doesn't mean what you thi...you know what, never mind. You do you Malc. https://t.co/9X8GB9qVs5

36. Pauline Hanson wears a burqa into parliament

In August 2017 the returned One Nation senator Pauline Hanson entered the Senate wearing a burqa, which she had railed against in the past. The stunt was condemned by members of parliament. But of course, people on social media wanted a turn dunking too.

SBS The Feed / Via Facebook: thefeedsbs

37. Cory Bernadi ending up in a same-sex marriage photoshoot

Conservative politician Cory Bernadi is no fan of same-sex marriage. That's why it was a perfect moment when he accidentally gatecrashed a photoshoot for the “yes” side in the same-sex marriage postal survey.


@workmanalice I'm huge fan of this pic

38. The dual citizenship saga

Remember that weird time when what felt like half the parliament were found to be dual citizens and resigned/were removed from office?

39. Bill Shorten raps and dabs

Politicians aren’t cool. That’s OK, it’s not their job to be cool! It’s their job to either run the country or hold those in charge to account. But for some unfathomable reason, politicians continue to try cast themselves as cool despite presumably knowing that the very pursuit of coolness is disqualifying. Anyway, here’s Bill Shorten.

It's the long vs the Shorten! Can a VERY special guest give Fitzy the win over @billshortenmp in our rap battle? 🔥🎤👌🏻 #auspol #fitzyandwippa

Independent Australia / Via independentaustralia.net

40. “Let there be a thousand blossoms bloom”

If you think politicians are good at segueing from one topic to another, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Rural politician Bob Katter's seamless transition from talking about marriage equality to killer crocs is nothing short of mesmerising.

anyway here’s a new monologue I’ll be performing at parties

Oh, the range. It’s a surprisingly versatile excuse, too.

[suddenly getting up and walking out of meeting] I ain't spending any time on it because in the meantime every three months a person gets torn to pieces by a crocodile

And then the meme was given a second lease on life when the national broadcaster fact-checked the claim.

Hi @ABCFactCheck I made you a great follow-up

41. eat shit lyle

After same-sex marriage passed parliament a LOT of people tweeted this at the then managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby.

‘eat shit lyle’ is so all over my feed that it doesn’t even look like english words anymore. rather, the most beautiful latin phrase known to humanity

42. The "weatherboard nine"

Barnaby Joyce resigned from his position as deputy prime minister and leader of the National Party in February 2018, following a series of scandals.

Twitter atm trying to figure out "weatherboard nine"

It was, however, a certain turn of phrase that set Twitter alight. Joyce repeatedly spoke of the “weatherboard and iron”, a phrase that supposedly referred to a poorer, rural group of Australians, but some heard it as “the weatherboard nine”.

"Did you ever hear of the #weatherboardnine? That was me. And eight other guys." - @Barnaby_Joyce

43. Michaelia Cash’s whiteboard

Government minister Michaelia Cash was quite literally hidden behind a whiteboard to avoid the media.

Farcical scenes at Parliament House, as security guards wheel out a whiteboard to stop media filming Michaelia Cash arriving at a #estimates committee hearing

44. “Next question... see ya!”

South Australian Coalition Senator Lucy Gichuhi was at a press conference when she got a question she didn’t want to answer. Rather than talk about a scandal consuming her party colleague, she gave this response which went super viral.

Me: how do you feel about being a meme? Senator Lucy Gichuhi:

And turns out, you can use it for any question you don’t want to duck.

someone: are you gay? 15 year old me:

You get the picture.

employer: why should we hire you? me:

45. ScoMo's unlikely victory

Even though Peter Dutton was behind the wild, days-long 2018 leadership spill, it was Scott Morrison who emerged victorious.

And honestly, people were exhausted.

ABC Melbourne / Via Twitter: @abcmelbourne

46. What’s the go with the au pairs?

This meme was a response to a scandal involving Peter Dutton and his decision to provide visas to a couple of au pairs.

.@PeterDutton_MP @quaedvliegs Hey guys just getting a chain going where we can discuss what the go is with the au pairs

It picked up steam on Twitter until eventually, Labor shadow immigration minister Shayne Neumann opened a press conference by asking what the go was, putting an end to to this meme being funny.

It's a little-known fact that 'au pairs' is actually short for Australian Pairliament Pairson Organised New Visas And No One Knows Why

47. “I Stopped These”

One of the insights from the New York Times’ interview with Scott Morrison was that his office contained a boat-shaped trophy that read “I Stopped These”.

Woaaah @ScottMorrisonMP's new trophy is wild. #auspol

People created their own versions of what other trophies Morrison might have. It got dark.

Scott Morrison loves a trophy. #auspol

48. I whisper "G'day mate"

Andrew Broad is a former Nationals politician who left parliament after New Idea exposed that he had chatted to and dined with with a woman he met on on a sugar baby website.

the white australian male... god help us "I pull you close, run my strong hands down your back, softly kiss your neck and whisper “Gday mate” #mateship #values

Unfortunately for him — and us — some of the messages between the pair were leaked, giving us a rare insight into a married, Australian male’s attempts to chat someone up. And, well, wow.

"I pull you close...run my strong hands down your back...softly kiss your neck, and whisper G'day Mate"

Ladies, if he: - knows how to ride a horse, fly a plane, f—k a woman - whispers Gday mate while softly kissing your neck - just got a big promotion at work he’s not your man. he’s former Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister Andrew Broad

49. Tony Abbott discovering a street library

One of the best videos to come out of the 2019 election was undoubtedly Tony Abbott encountering a street library in his electorate.

It’s amazing the things you see and learn when you’re door knocking. The Tango Avenue street library is a testament to the strong community we have throughout Warringah. 📚

His astonishment was the perfect meme format.

50. Shoe-gate


#auspol story of 2019: our latest PM (ScoMo) had nice white shoes photoshopped onto his feet for his official https://t.co/eXNtcX7xTa site?! Yup. Regular bloke. Our tax dollars hard at work. #shoegate

51. “The economy is strong with this one”

People love the Star Wars franchise. So why not try and align your political brand with one of the most popular series of films on the planet?

The economy is strong with this one. #StarWarsDay #MayThe4thBeWithYou

52. Engadine Maccas

This is the big one. Perhaps the defining #auspol meme of 2019: the rumour that the prime minister had lost control of his bowels at a fast food restaurant two decades ago. It was launched with a single tweet.

Scott Morrison shat himself at Engadine McDonalds after the Sharks lost the GF in '97.

53. Egg Boy

In March, 17-year-old Will Connolly smashed an egg on the head of then-senator Fraser Anning after the politician blamed the Christchurch shooting on Muslim immigration.

friendship over with man who headbutted tony abbott, now egg boy is my new best friend https://t.co/XiBjoEeVH5

It became a huge global meme after the footage went viral.

guy who threw shoe at bush walked so egg boy could run

54. Captain GetUp

In one of the weirdest parts of recent Australian political history, a rightwing advocacy group funded the creation of a supposedly satirical super hero character called Captain GetUp.

The character is apparently part of the progressive activist group GetUp, and his best friend is Freddie Foreign Money. And also Bill Shorten’s son.

55. Well done Angus

Energy Minister Angus Taylor had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad 2019, becoming engulfed in several controversies ranging from watergate to the Clover Moore document dispute to the Naomi Wolf War on Christmas saga. So naturally, when his own Facebook account complimented him on a job well done, it blew up.

A mistake anyone can make on a hectic campaign trail: Congratulating yourself from the wrong account. #humevotes #ausvotes2019

Better luck next year, Angus!


56. Tony Abbott loses his seat

Whatever your thoughts on Tony Abbott, it’s impossible to deny his contribution to Australian political memes. But unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.

When it was announced that Tony Abbott had lost his seat to challenger Zali Steggall, people took their last opportunity to say goodbye to the former PM.

Me seeing Tony Abbott lose his seat vs the rest of the election outcome... 🤩->😰 #AUSVote19 #auspol

57. #WhereTheBloodyHellAreYou

While Australia was on fire, the Prime Minister took an unannounced vacation to Hawaii. People jumped on the infamous slogan from an advertising campaign that Morrison oversaw during his time as head of Tourism Australia.


But the best entrance to the meme had to be from Lara Worthington (nee Bingle) who you might remember as the STAR OF THE AD. Beautiful.

Scott Morrison : WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU??? #AustraliaBurns #AustraliaFires

See you in 10 years!

Cameron Wilson is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Cameron Wilson at cameron.wilson@buzzfeed.com.

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