When Campbell Parkes opens the door of his Art Deco home in Bondi Beach it’s clear he’s out to make an impression. He welcomes me with abundant enthusiasm and a circulation-cutting handshake to rival that of his fellow crank, disgraced media pundit Mark Latham.
His attire appears to be a tribute to Hugh Hefner – a turquoise velour dressing gown with gold trim, loosely fitted so he can “free the nipple” as desired. He sports a silken lime green cravat, emerald Chanel slippers and an unlit Cohiba Behike cigar. But there are no blonde bunny-eared vixens flanking him, just his beloved Great Dane, Capitan, with a booming bark vanquished only by a lubricant greeting.
Inside his abode, the ambience is less luxuriant as Parkes ushers me into his “minimalist” lounge room. Some might say sparse; some might say empty. He says he hasn’t had a chance to unpack since moving out of the family home after the disintegration of his latest marriage. Tabloid tattle suggests infidelity. Parkes insists he’s loyal, and if there’s anyone he’s guilty of being unfaithful with, it’s Capitan. He realises how wrong that sounds and asks me not to publish his faux pas or he’ll “Chris Kenny” me.
Still, he insists, “I have a great relationship with women – even my ex-wives. They still stay in regular contact with me through their lawyers.”
He tells me he’s a doting dad. It’s hard to believe this blond, blue-eyed, baby-faced thirtysomething recently watched his eldest son, Darren, marry a “beautiful” woman whose name Parkes has proudly said he “still cannot pronounce”. His brood also includes chess prodigy Derrick, polo champion Donald, black sheep Dennis and psychology graduate Cheryl, who insists on calling her dad "Campbell" and refused to star in Parkes’s short-lived Channel 9 reality TV series, Straight Eye for the Straight Guy.
Despite his growing popularity and recently capped teeth, Parkes assures me he’s still a man of the people.
“I’m the voice of the little guy and, at a stretch, girl,” he says, lighting his cigar. “And the voice of Blue Haven pools,” he adds, using his cigar to point to his infinity pool out back.
Take cover, Alan Jones. A new voice is in town, and he tells it the way it is.
What's a typical day like in the life of Campbell Parkes?
I start the day by taking Capitan out for a light jog. He occasionally leaves a deposit on the doorstep of the local kebab joint. If police don’t have to pick up after their horses, I don’t see why I should. I spend the rest of the day until showtime watching the ABC, so I can talk about the blatant left-wing bias on Antiques Roadshow. I know it’s BBC content, but you can still tell.
You’re a conservative commentator on SBS. What’s with that - were you not able to get a gig on Sky News?
Sky News is a bubble, appealing only to the political classes. On SBS, I can speak directly to the people who are what’s wrong with Australia – the ones interested in learning about other cultures. With all this learning about other cultures, our own Australian culture is going to die out. Not once have I seen Luke Nguyen share a recipe for fairy bread or the perfect Milo. Pathetic.
What qualifies you to be a conservative commentator?
I drink beers with ordinary Australians in suburbs so deep into Western Sydney you wouldn’t know their names even if I told you. Also, I have a good voice for funeral insurance ads.
Why do shock jocks have to be such a***holes?
That sounds like a question an a***hole would ask. If me putting up Christmas lights on Waleed Aly’s house in the dead of night is being an a***hole then, OK, I’m an a***hole. If wearing a shirt to Mardi Gras that says “Cisgender and Proud” is being an a***hole, then OK, I’m an a***hole. And if… sorry, what was the question again?
When will we hit peak fake news?
We already have. It’s called Lateline.
Is there anything you love more than the sound of your own voice?
Andre Rieu: Magic of the Musicals. An Andre Rieu concert is the only reason I will ever turn on the Special Broadcasting Service.
What do you think is behind the disturbing trend of racism towards white people?
The discrimination in the workplace is what really gets me. You know, after Stan Grant left for the ABC, I wasn’t even considered as a replacement host for NITV’s The Point.
What’s wrong with tabouli? Do you not like it because it’s “ethnic”?
It sounds like the name of a third-world country. I’m not putting that in my mouth.
Is the fall of Mark Latham the beginning of the end for political incorrectness? Do you worry the PC police will force your kind out, extinguishing you like dinosaurs?
“Fall of Mark Latham”? There are almost two billion active users on Facebook, and I think it’s fair to say most of them are lapping up his content. How can you resist footage of Mark ranting on the street, filmed with a 2002 model digital camera by some intern with an obvious repetitive strain injury? The answer is you can’t.
Are you opposed to same-sex marriage?
I’m opposed to all forms of marriage. Once you gain momentum in the industry, you come home one day to find a farewell note on the table and your joint bank account emptied. Never again.
What are your thoughts on halal?
It’s like MSG. You can taste the Koran, can’t you?
Do you admire Pauline Hanson?
She’s a warrior for the cause who spent time in prison, only to be released and return to political glory. She’s practically our Nelson Mandela, except, uh, well, you know.
Finally, what to do with President Trump?
I think it’s best not to rush to judgement on him. Give him four to eight years before you jump to conclusions. He’ll certainly get a lot more done than the last bloke who had to face Mecca five times a day.
With thanks to Mark Humphries and Evan Williams.
Keep an eye out for special episodes of SBS VICELAND's The Feed that feature The Way It Is with Campbell Parkes. The Feed airs nightly on SBS VICELAND, with episodes also streaming via SBS On Demand: