Professional Wrestling has been around for a very long time. For almost as long as it has existed, Australian politicians have used it for political point-scoring. Whether it is to decry the moral fabric of Australia’s youth, to compare political moves to wrestling moves, or to simply just confess to being a massive mark, professional wrestling and Australian politics have been melded together a multitude of times.
In this article I am going to show you some of the times professional wrestling made its way into the political discussion. I will explore how it has been used for good, for evil and for outright stupidity. I am also going to attempt to reach a conclusion on whether there is a place for discussion on professional wrestling in the Australian Parliament.
Note: All of the words spoken by politicians in this speech are sourced from Hansard. Hansard records every word spoken in Australian Parliament. To do your own exploration, visit https://www.aph.gov.au/hansard
The use of professional wrestling as a forced metaphor
The most common way Australian politicians use professional wrestling is to make very ham-fisted, shitty metaphors and similes. The clearest example of this is the constant cramming of the phrase “world championship wrestling” or “the WWF” into a conversation.
This serves no real political purpose. All this is is politicians making vague references that really make no sense and showcasing that the world they live in, like their policies, is from the 1970s and 1980s.
Marking out, bro!
As I have shown you so far, Australian politicians don’t mind interjecting wrestling awkwardly into a conversation. My favourite kind of professional wrestling reference in parliament is politicians mentioning wrestlers from when they were a kid. Usually, they do it to mock their political opponent, but they can’t help but show their fandom with their words.
These small mentions of wrestling in a long point by shitty Liberal Party and National Party politicians are nothing though. The most gratuitous example of an Australian politician marking out goes to current Australian Labor Party senator Glenn Sterle. In November 2009, Hulk Hogan came down to Australia for the Hulkamania tour. While here, Hogan & the Australian Make-A-Wish Foundation held an event in the Australian Parliament. Obvious hindsight withstanding, this was a great event to give sick kids a chance to live out a dream. He gives a glowing endorsement to Hogan and the foundation. He even took the time to shout out the children who attended this event. Where this goes off the rails into markdom is when Senator Sterle devotes 12% of his speech talking about how much he loves Hulk Hogan.
Now, I must admit that this is kind of wholesome and I’m only really shitting on it with the benefit of hindsight regarding Hulk Hogan. I just find it funny that in a serious speech about the Make A Wish Foundation, a politician decided to spend a chunk of time talking about how much he loves wrestling, going as far as to refer to himself as a Hulkamaniac in parliament. Maybe he can put his love for Hogan to one side and convince his party to go back to their roots and help support a wrestling union? Probably not since that would require the ALP to have a spine.
Won’t somebody please think of the children?
Professional wrestling is used by Australian politicians for than a cheap pop device. This is parliament damn it! In very rare situations politicians in Australia actually discuss real issues relating to wrestling… or at least what they consider to be real issues. One case where a “real issue” was explored was during 1965. John Jess, member for Latrobe at the time, sought to complain about the horrible juvenile delinquency being caused by wrestling.
In a clear case of baseless, yet very naive scaremongering, Jess tries to link heel wrestling tactics to perceived problems with Australia’s youth. Obviously, this is beyond the point of parody, especially in the modern world. The power of good heel work, I guess. Imagine blaming heel wrestlers for “delinquency”. Sadly, I feel if a politician wanted to they could easily use professional wrestling for moral panic now as then.
Actually pressing professional wrestling issues?
Yes, I know that the last section wasn’t really about proper issues. Don’t worry, now I’m going to talk about real issues. To finish this article off, I’m going to explore politicians actually talking about issues that impact the professional wrestling industry. Apart from addressing minor issues like Government expenditure directed at the still active Australian Wrestling Federation, there is one prominent issue in professional wrestling that truly got the parliamentary conversation it deserved… DRUGS~!
Yes, you read that correctly. During the second reading of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment Bill 2009, member for Makin Tony Zappia made reference to professional wrestling to make the case for Australia’s anti-doping body (since merged into the newly formed Sport Integrity Australia in 2020) to also consider drug use in sports for entertainment purposes.
Regardless of your personal feelings on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional wrestling, they have contributed to many deaths. I cannot say what Zappia’s intention is for mentioning wrestling. It seems that he is aware of professional wrestling’s association with performance-enhancing drugs though. He shows this with his point about athletes “needing” drugs to maintain the size they need to be employed. I cannot really say if he has any vested interest in pro wrestling. He could easily be just another example of a politician using wrestling for political point-scoring. It is quite possible based on his arguments he doesn’t know anything about wrestling post-1990s. I am glad to see a professional wrestling issue be considered outside the wrestling bubble, however.
From searching through Hansard, it is abundantly clear that professional wrestling has been part of parliamentary discussion in Australia. Although the majority of the time this is from ministers cramming wrestling where it does not need to be or using it to create needless moral panic, there clearly is a place for our government to discuss serious issues pertaining to professional wrestling. Due to wrestling’s dwindling popularity, our political class is greatly unaware of the issues that exist in modern wrestling. I feel that our politicians could easily have discussions similar to those ongoing in the UK. By doing such we could easily benefit wrestlers locally and worldwide. Sadly, with our current system of bullshit neoliberal point-scoring and centrist mediocrity, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.