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‘Voldemort’ sledge backfires in Mark Knight cartoon

Mark Knight, June 2, 2022 6:00PM Kids News

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Mark Knight says Tanya Plibersek has learnt the hard way that calling people names is not on in federal politics any more. media_cameraMark Knight says Tanya Plibersek has learnt the hard way that calling people names is not on in federal politics any more.


Reading level: orange

In my political cartoons I often compare politicians to characters in popular books, movies and myths.

The use of popular culture* icons* as visual metaphors* helps make a statement about the politician in question. It helps describe the politician to the reader.

For example, in the past I have drawn Donald Trump as Darth Vader. We all know Vader’s personality, one of ruthless* power, imperious*. So when I put President Trump in Darth Vader’s armour holding a lightsaber I was pasting Vader’s character onto the president and making an association between the two. Anyway, I think Donald Trump would have liked being drawn as the Sith Lord!

Mark Knight cartoon on Trump being impeached on day final Star Wars movie opened media_cameraMark Knight has used pop culture icon Darth Vader as a visual metaphor when drawing former US president Donald Trump.

This week in Australian politics Peter Dutton became the new leader of the Liberal Party which is now in opposition.

When the Liberals were in government, Mr Dutton was seen as the hard man in the parliament. One of his roles was being the Immigration and Border Protection Minister. Australia has had a very firm stance on keeping its borders secure and, at times, some thought these measures were harsh.

But Mr Dutton held firm on the policy and gained a reputation for his resolve* in the face of criticism. But no, I did not draw him as Darth Vader!

What did happen this week was that a member of the new Labor government, Tanya Plibersek, did my job for me, using a visual metaphor to describe Mr Dutton.

Ms Plibersek made a joke about Mr Dutton being the “Voldemort” of the Liberal Party. Harry Potter fans know Voldemort – “he whose name shall never be spoken” – is the arch* bad guy in the Potter series. The blue tinged, bald, gaunt* faced evil wizard gives magic wands a bad name.

Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort in a scene from film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 media_cameraNew government minister Tanya Plibersek described new Opposition Leader Peter Dutton as Voldemort from the Harry Potter movies. Picture: Warner Bros

Peter Dutton is no evil wizard, but he is bald, high cheek-boned and not prone to smiling much for the cameras. As he said of himself, when you are responsible for placing hundreds of asylum seekers trying to arrive by boat in offshore detention, there’s not much to smile about. True.

But Ms Plibersek’s comment made the news and everyone had a bit of a giggle about it.

FEDERAL PARLIAMENT media_cameraNew Liberal Party leader Peter Dutton and his deputy Sussan Ley speak to media after being elected to their roles by Liberal colleagues at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Tracey Nearmy

Except Anthony Albanese, the new Prime Minister and Tanya Plibersek’s boss.

Albo says he wants to change politics in Australia. He wants to move on from the destructive adversarial* style and move to something more constructive*. Calling your opponents names was out.

The PM asked Ms Plibersek to apologise to Mr Dutton, which she did.

Tanya media_cameraNew government minister Tanya Plibersek was asked to apologise to Peter Dutton by the new prime minister and her boss, Anthony Albanese. Picture: Colin Murty

So I drew a cartoon about the event. Peter Dutton is fabulous to draw and so I took up my pen with relish!

I decided to use a multi-framed comic strip style cartoon.

I started with Ms Plibersek’s name calling. Then Mr Dutton, as Voldemort, waving his wand and turning her into a frog, as wizards do. Then Albo telling her that is not how we play the game these days, so it’s time to kiss and make up. In the final frame, Ms Plibersek turns back into herself, after having been kissed by Mr Dutton, and promises to never do it again.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that when you call people names it usually reflects badly on the person doing the name calling.

Mr Albanese wants the new parliament to move away from the schoolyard style of behaviour. There will be no more name calling.

Let’s see how long that lasts!


  • popular culture: activities, beliefs and things that are popular with most people in society
  • icons: very famous people or things that represent a set of beliefs or a way of life
  • metaphors: imaginative ways of describing something by referring to something else which is similar in some way
  • ruthless: having or showing no pity or compassion for others, cruel
  • imperious: arrogant and domineering
  • resolve: firm determination to do something
  • arch: chief, leading, main
  • gaunt: thin and bony
  • adversarial: involving arguments and disagreement
  • constructive: intended to be useful or helpful


Cartoon captures election outcome

Meet Australia’s new prime minister


  1. Why does Mark Knight use visual metaphors from popular culture in his cartoons about politicians?
  2. What character has he used for Donald Trump?
  3. Why did he use Voldemort in this cartoon?
  4. What change does Anthony Albanese want to make to the style of politics in Australia?
  5. What is Mark Knight trying to say with this cartoon?


1. Summarise the article
A summary is a brief statement of the main points of something. It does not usually include extra detail or elaborate on the main points.

Use the 5W & H model to help you find the key points of this article. Read the article carefully to locate who and what this article is about, and where, when, why and how this is happening. Once you have located this information in the article, use it to write a paragraph that summarises the article.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science

2. Extension
Look through the most recent stories on Kids News and choose one to draw a cartoon about.

Use Mark’s three-step process to get started:

  • What is my subject?
  • What do I want to say about this issue?
  • How do I say it? Do I use visual metaphors (an image that the viewer is meant to understand as a symbol for something else), multiple panels or symbolism (when one idea, feeling or emotion is represented by something else such as a: picture, character, colour or object)?

Time: allow at least 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

Describe it
Look at the cartoon and make a list of five nouns that you see. Then describe those five nouns with five adjectives.

Add a preposition to those five nouns and adjectives.

Now choose your favourite bundle and put all the words together to make one descriptive sentence.

Extra Reading in civics