Paul Keating once described Malcolm Turnbull as a dodgy bunger on cracker night: “You light him up, there’s a bit of a fizz, but then nothing… nothing.” That sense of disappointment has been felt across the electorate since the Member for Wentworth was elevated to PM – only to follow in the footsteps of the man he knifed.
Sydney Outsider spoke to Michael Agzarian, creator of the FIZZA campaign, which has captured the disillusionment felt by anyone hoping for a more progressive PM. The campaign was developed in collaboration with Agzarian’s colleagues Missy Dempsey, Jarrod Pickford and Alan Rowlands at his design agency, Advision.
Update: The FIZZA poster has been amended to comply with rules surrounding election campaign advertising after a complaint to the Australia Electoral Commission, as has the A3 version you can download here and the billboard set to go up on Victoria Road.
What motivated the campaign?
Like many Australians I felt that with the removal of Tony Abbott there was an opportunity for the new leader to make fundamental changes to the ideological policies that Abbott had championed during his tenure.
It was time to move on from the mantra that Abbott repeated endlessly i.e. ‘we stopped the boats’ ‘we got rid of the mining tax’ and so on. At last, the nation was relieved that our embarrassing prime minister was finally gone. Turnbull came in hugely popular, intelligent and even god-like, nothing was in his way … except the right wing Abbott supporters who appeared still to control the government and its policies.
It was clear that while the driver had been replaced the destination was still same.
Are there any facets of Turnbull’s prime ministership you find particularly disappointing?
Sadly I find most aspects of Turnbull’s prime ministership disappointing. I truly believed that with Turnbull at the helm, things would be different. In particular, social issues that he had articulated and championed such as same sex marriage, the environment and the republic were now buried deep in a quagmire of reviews and committees, ensuring that the right wing agenda remained on track. Turnbull’s appointment of Morrison as treasurer or reinstating the discredited and dishonest Mal Brough into the ministry were proof that whatever Turnbull once stood for was now a distant memory. Turnbull was now no different to the man he toppled, other than the fact that Turnbull loved the sound of his own voice and he did not suffer the language limitations that at times left Abbott speechless. Turnbull can talk and talk without saying anything concrete.
What do you hope to achieve through your posters?
As with the “HOPELESS” poster we created against Abbott, these posters are a provocative, visual message to those who care to listen. The posters are saying what many feel or think; they are a visual reminder that contrary to what was expected, Turnbull has been a great let down. I, like many, am surprised at how far off course Turnbull has strayed. He continues to confuse and stumble in the same way Abbott did, the only difference is he’s better with his words.
We deserve better, much better. My posters reflect the disappointment and even frustration that voters feel … again let down.
After you plastered the streets with HOPELESS and CLUELESS posters for Abbott and Hockey, they were both rolled. How did it feel to have a small part in that?
The public response to the HOPELESS or CLUELESS posters was remarkable; everyone I met knew of them, liked them and thought that they were spot on! As a designer who takes pride in what my agency and I do, these campaigns were a watershed moment for me. Many in the industry applauded our work, not only for their clear/unambiguous political message, but because right at that moment in time, design was making a difference. It wasn’t just about selling a product or service, but rather informing and involving the public through art/design. Recently the National Library of Australia referred to the posters as icons in Australia’s modern political history.
There are also thousands of Instagram HOPELESS photos that were taken and shared by thousands more, and in many cases people added comments to the posters which, to me, made the posters even more valuable because they were now a conduit for comment by anyone and everyone. As a designer to have your work plastered all over the country is a pretty proud moment, but to have people interact with it, laugh at it, add comment to it, is as good as it gets!
I do believe that those posters went to heart of what was wrong with the men portrayed in them, Abbott, Hockey, Brandis [HEARTLESS] .. I believe that they did have a part in their demise.
It’s not hard to imagine Turnbull seeing a poster on one of his many bus rides across this city. How do you hope it will strike him?
I am sure that Turnbull would be aware of the posters but I guess he would dismiss them as the views of a minority. The truth is I really don’t care what Turnbull thinks of the posters – I am more interested in the posters being a visual reminder to the voting public.
How can the public get involved?
As with the previous campaigns, getting the public involved is paramount. People can help on different levels, by donating funds, buying merchandise or simply requesting copies of the posters to distribute in their own communities. We will continue to roll out more and more posters – basically as long as we get support we’ll keep printing and distributing posters. It would be great if we could raise enough funds to put up a new billboard in either Sydney or Melbourne. A mural would be great too! If you’re a mural artist reading this, we’d love to hear from you.
You’ve lampooned both Abbott and Turnbull. What would you like to see from a PM?
What I’d really like is a prime minister who leads a government that is deeply concerned about the future of our country and its people. A prime minister and government with a vision for the long-term welfare of all and not the short term gain of a few. Time and time again we see governments ignore the major social or environmental issues for the sake of a few well-heeled and wealthy voters who are confronted by and reject change. Visionary prime ministers are few are far between, but history will confirm that no visionaries have come from the coalition/ conservative ranks – none. All major reforms whether social, economical or environmental have been implemented by Labor prime ministers; Medicare, Superannuation and more recently, Gonski, Disability Care.
Australia is a wealthy nation, in many ways, but governments have squandered too many missed opportunities. Unfortunately for today’s younger generation all this government seems to be doing is making the rich, richer… and the rest of us? …well we’ll just have to keep screaming until we get heard.
You can support the FIZZA campaign at whatafizza.com.