Australian Democratea Tea Bags #2014-0016
Cardboard sleeve supporting five teabags, each of which has a paper or cardboard tab depicting one of the following Prime Ministers (top to bottom): Tony Abbott (holding a ‘boxing kangaroo’), Paul Keating (holding a microphone), John Howard (wearing an Australian tracksuit top), Bob Hawke (holding a comb and, perhaps, a vuvuzela) and Julia Gillard (holding a compass). Each tab is designed so that the prime ministers’ arms are outstretched, allowing the teabag to be amusingly draped over the rim of a teacup or mug as the tea steeps.
The health of Australia’s democratic system is demonstrated by our ability to criticise our political leaders. We especially love to poke fun at our prime ministers, ridiculing their physical characteristics and behavioural quirks. However, we may also admire them and celebrate their achievements. Whatever our opinions, few leaders have escaped caricature. These representations enter our lives and sometimes, as objects, our homes. While some of these objects (such as limited edition commemorative ceramics) have been hand-crafted for connoisseurs, others (candles, fridge magnets, chew toys, dolls and so on) have been commercially mass-produced as an election gimmick, a fund-raising venture, a gesture of support or a symbol of protest. Certainly, cartoons and other light-hearted or satirical artworks, such as the labels of these teabags, help weave the lives of Australia’s leaders into the public consciousness. They demonstrate that personal participation in political satire has long been a part of Australia’s national culture.
These teabags depict five prime ministers: Tony Abbott (2013-), Paul Keating (1991-1996), John Howard (1996-2007), Bob Hawke (1983-1991) and Julia Gillard (2010-2013). Kevin Rudd (prime minister 2007-2010; 2013) is not depicted in the teabag set, and the consumer can only wonder why.