If you’ve jumped on Twitter today, you would have undoubtedly stumbled on this photo:
The subject is Federal MP and National Party Whip George Christensen in a way we’ve never seen him before: a literal whip in hand, religious ink front and centre, and Bonds tank top in all its glory.
The eye-catching preview of this Saturday’s Good Weekend cover, generously released early by editor Amelia Lester, has saturated newsfeeds in the last 24 hours. With that has come waves of comments about the Queensland MP’s portrayal: some witty, some blatantly mocking, and some that are downright nasty.
On a day where social media has been dominated by the Victoria’s Secret runway show, nobody could have predicted a photo of an Australian politician would manage to generate so much conversation. Yet Christensen has effectively ‘broken the internet’ for various reasons.
Christensen is a divisive character in Australian politics. In the past he has frequently criticised Islam, more recently calling for immigration to be restricted from countries where violent extremism is prevalent. In 2015, he attended a Reclaim Australia rally in Mackay.
He once wrote that all products certified as Halal, such as Vegemite, should be labelled in order to protect people: “To be frank, I find it outrageous that some of my grocery spending could go to propagating a religion.”
Christensen has been similarly vocal about his desire for the death penalty to be re-introduced.
So, on Wednesday, as a group of pro-refugee protesters calling to “close the camps” were being removed from question time, Christensen joked on Twitter that perhaps the best way to deal with the protesters was with a whip. Or, more specifically, he tweeted a photo of a whip with the caption, “Say hello to my little friend, hippies.”
Less than an hour later, Lester released the Good Weekend cover, shot by Andrew Meares, to the public.
Since that time, Lester’s photo has been re-tweeted more than 200 times and every Twitter user in a 3000km radius of parliament has been making their opinion on the image known.
This, it would appear, was the general consensus.
— Kailani Mana (@mana_kailani) November 30, 2016