CHRISTOPHER DORE: Our leaders are malfunctioning robots in 1970s horror Westworld. We’re the hapless humans

Headshot of Christopher Dore
Christopher Dore
The Nightly
7 Min Read
Peter Dutton as The Gunslinger from the original Westworld.
Peter Dutton as The Gunslinger from the original Westworld. Credit: The Nightly

Our politics is off.

It stinks. And you can smell it. We all can.

We’re being let down by Labor and led on by the Coalition.

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We’re being lied to by the Greens and duped by the teals. They’re all having a lend of us. Every single day.

This lot is either on the piss or taking the piss or both.

We are living in an age where ignorance masquerades as enlightenment. Darkness and deceit lurk where there was once clarity and certainty. Compassion has collapsed into conceit. In an era of absolute information overload, facts (things known or proved to be true), are now up for debate and in dispute. We can’t agree on what is right or wrong, what is real and what is fake. What is virtuous and what is evil. Good and bad now sit in the centre of a sliding scale.

Is it science or is it fiction? How real does artificial have to be before it’s just real again? What is artificial anyway, if it looks real?

Lies are open to interpretation, reality is subject to interrogation.

Spin is now the universal language, from the simple to the sinister, tricks triumph over truth. Every single time.

Detachment is not a disorder but a lifestyle choice.

Derangement is an illusion, we’re all just off to one side.

Words with a specific purpose now mean the opposite.

None of this is more apparent than in politics, where right and wrong are indistinguishable, an interchangeable, tradable currency, with indeterminate value and no quantifiable definition.

Our elected representatives, their officials, and the institutions that have stood as our foundations can no longer guarantee a universal truth, about anything. And they don’t mind. It’s all just theatre anyway, a game we can all play, a bit of fun hey. What’s planned for the weekend?

In this world, the marginalised have become the mainstream, and the middle has been swept to the sides.

Politicians are now more interested in extracting advantage from the fringes rather than fortifying the frontline.

Government has called it quits on the centre, it mocks and manoeuvres the middle, the manic mob, and weaponises the weak as it sets about atomising complex communities and mining the saturated suburbs to serve a manipulated minority.

And here we are. Politics they call it. Except it’s just not right.

It’s off.

It’s as if we are the hapless humans in the original 1970s horror Westworld, wandering, unwittingly, wide-eyed, through a mendacious amusement park movie set into a bloody massacre.

And they, our leaders, the politicians, are walking among us, of us, but just not quite right. Imposters. Like the malfunctioning robots, they are blank-eyed and belligerent. Programmed to be friendly and faultless, helpful and heroic, they’re just not wired properly.

Anthony Albanese, a likeable, knockabout bloke, with a big heart, designed to care and collaborate. Yet here he is, not a deadly cyborg but hopeless Hymie in Get Smart, lost in a pot plant. If Hymie had a brother it would be Richard Marles.

Peter Dutton, also likeable, also a knockabout bloke, programmed to be sincere and strong. Yet here he is Yul Brynner, the crazy cowboy, with the death stare and the dead eyes going quietly haywire in the wayward Western.

And Penny Wong, the android with the side eye and the sly smile, the smirk and the secrets. We get it, you’re clever.

Or Chris Bowen. They loaded him up with computer chips but forgot to solder them in, so they’re jangling away in his cavernous head. Or Andrew Giles. Turns out they forgot the chip altogether and shoved a AAA battery in there instead.

Jim Chalmers. He’s the type of character no one can ever work out whether he’s a robot or real, empty or erudite. As the American poet Dave Berman wrote, the census figures came out wrong, there’s an extra in our midst. And why does droid Clare O’Neil keep breaking the fourth wall?

The Nationals are not so much robots as puppets. If Hey Hey it’s Saturday’s Dicky Knee, the noisy head on a stick, were to ever turn around and reveal his face, it would surely be David Littleproud.

The National Party Leader David Littleproud speaks to the media today.
David Littleproud is surely Dickie Knee from Hey Hey It’s Saturday. Credit: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

The rest, the Greens and the teals and the Foghorn Leghorns who fill the corner crooks and the back rows in Parliament? Time-serving extras, names forgotten by history even before they are written in, asterisks at best, often irrelevant, sometimes invertebrate.

Two of the live issues dominating debate today reveal exactly how the fate of our country is currently in the hands of a blithesome yet bellicose political class riven with contradictions and hypocrisy, obsessed with themselves, forever circling their wagons, clutching and clawing, conniving and cloying. Carefree and callous with your cash, your careers, your lives, content to screw you and serenade you at the same time. All in the name of, well, who knows, but not you.


Is the Coalition serious about pursuing nuclear energy in Australia? Or is it just another distraction to dig into the ribs of a Government that promised to lower your energy bills and blames Russia for exponentially increasing them?

Is it a fair dinkum, realistic solution to our banks, businesses and bedwetters abandoning coal mines without a viable alternative?

Who would know? If it were, you wonder why the Coalition never seriously entertained the idea in government. They let Malcolm Turnbull frolic away on the ultra-expensive, never-to-be-finished Snowy Hydro scheme but left nuclear well alone. Now it’s the rage, like Dutton and the daredevils at Menzies HQ watched Oppenheimer and suddenly woke up to whatever Matt Canavan has been banging on about for seven years. Likewise Albanese, happy to adopt and raise ScoMo’s nuclear-powered submarines, while making, admittedly funny but disgraceful, gags about people glowing in the dark when exposed to nuclear energy. Maybe Albanese made a similar joke to Xi Jinping after the Chinese navy fired deadly sonar waves in the direction of our navy divers. Glow in the dark, drown in the sea, get it, Xi, mate?

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, January 24, 2024. Former News Corp chief executive Kim Williams has been announced to replace Ita Buttrose at the ABC. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Albo is happy to joke about nuclear energy but really, Australians just want a solution. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE

Australians want a solution. They’re happy to do their bit for climate change but don’t like crazy expensive unreliable energy. They also understand, inherently, that wind and solar sound like great ideas, but probably aren’t the whole answer. So over to you, elected representatives. Sort it out. Oh no, OK, slug it out then, while the rest of us shake our heads and clean out our savings accounts.

Why not host an energy summit, and thrash it out, openly and honestly?


Labor’s entire flex on Israel’s war on terror has been shameful. Dishonest, duplicitous and dangerous.

But the latest chapter is next level. How on earth can Penny Wong seriously commit millions of your dollars, through a dodgy aid agency, to the government of Gaza, the same people who ordered an unspeakable terrorist attack against their neighbour, who also happens to be our friend and ally?

Hamas knew exactly what Israel’s reaction would be to their imbecilic murderous incursion. They knew all right. That’s why the leaders of Hamas fled, to seek refuge in the arms of their friendly Arab neighbours, leaving their citizens to suffer. They also knew they could rely on the halfwits and useless idiots in the West to mindlessly take up their violent, misogynist, homophobic, radical Islamic cause under the false flag of freedom. They knew the progressive left was already barely concealing its bloody fangs over its ignorant new tribal obsession with anti-Semitism. They could rely on them to rage against the victim, in the most egregious example of collective brainwashing and cretinous gaslighting.

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Penny Wong addresses the National Press Club in Canberra, Monday, April 17, 2023. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
How can Foreign Minister Penny Wong commit millions in aid to the government of Gaza, whose people committed the unspeakable terrorist act that sparked this war? Credit: LUKAS COCH/AAPIMAGE

And what does our Government do? Penny Wong, a leader of the Labor left long irritated by Israel, links arms with New Zealand, marked by its own questionable history with our ally in the Middle East, and the socialist society of Canada, as a sort of middle-to-no power grouping of low-key anti-Semitic apologists. Together they can justify abhorrently turning their backs on the people of Israel and by extension their Jewish diaspora. And then find a way to send millions of dollars to the terrorists, still holding hostages and fighting a mindless ancient battle toward a glorious radical goal — not of a Palestinian State, but an Islamic State, founded on martyrdom.


True leadership demands more than incredulous, inescapably, cruel, cruel incompetence. Decency, respect and common sense are as valuable yet elusive and errant as cryptocurrency.

Our young, the millennials, are disillusioned and indiscriminately deluded. They are being triggered, tricked and trolled, not inspired and energised like your parents were by the Beatles or Burroughs, by Warhol or JFK, or by Spielberg or Springsteen or Seinfeld like you were.

They’re not being mildly corrupted by dopey teenage peers, they’re being co-opted, corralled and coerced by deranged and delinquent companies like Meta, captivating their thoughts and collecting their cash and character. They’re being conned and captured by idiotic ideology dissolving seamlessly into our schools and social media feeds. Malleable minds filled with mush and muck.

Where is the leadership, the enunciation of values and vision; the denouncement of histrionics and harmful hyperbole?

What are Albanese and Dutton and their mates in Canberra doing about any of this, about you, your kids, your family? What are they doing with your money, with your country, with your future?

The same old stuff.


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