labor party

The Art Of Looking For Trouble

“Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

— Mark Twain

There is a horrible virus sweeping Australia. It's been here for a long time, but of recent years it has become more and more prevalent until now, in July 2013, it has reached crisis point amongst a certain - thankfully small - (and possibly expendable) sector of the population. Here are the symptoms to be watchful for: 

  • You find yourself making decisive hand-chopping gestures to emphasise a point; 
  • You talk in catch phrases like 'name the date', 'the rough end of the pineapple', or use alliteration like it's going gangbusters (sorry couldn't help it) ;
  • You make up words ('conditionality'?) 
  • You spend approximately 95% of your time denigrating your fellow citizens who are involved in the same field of work as yourself; 
  • You are in a position to potentially do great good, but are too busy with all of the above to actually think about formulating public policy. 

I'm sorry to tell you, but the diagnosis is in, and it doesn't look good.  

You're a senior Australian politician. And the chances are, you're never going to get any better. 

Not without a cattle prod anyway.  

When exactly did our fearless leaders turn into rubber faced buffoons? And I am being bi-partisan here; there are exceptions to the rule, and those who know me are aware of the pollies I admire. But in terms of two tribes going to war, all I hear and see when I turn on the TV or radio is the worst kind of campaign being run by both sides; sloganeering, pure and simple.  

I don't see any policies on offer per se; I see 'let's do this' - but no 'this is why we are doing it, and this will be the flow on effect in other areas'. I also don't see a response other than 'well, that's crackers, and we are awesome, so vote for us'. There is no answering alternative, just empty rhetoric. The mindless blah blah blah of talking heads who love the sound of their own voice rocking around the country. 

Pig Iron Bob and Chifley must be turning over in their graves.

So how do we stop filibusteritis? Is there a treatment? 

Possibly, but it may be painful for those involved. 

Put them in a room together for a week with no TV cameras. 

Oh, and Silvio Berlusconi. 

That'll learn 'em. 

Fair shake of the sauce bottle. 


No Man's Land

“It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union.”

— Susan B. Anthony

I feel in some ways as though I am writing an obituary with this post - which, considering that I attended a funeral yesterday, perhaps makes sense. And to be a bit melodramatic, there has been a kind of death.

This week saw the downfall of Australia's first female prime minister. And before people start rolling their eyes and thinking this is going to be a rant about Labour v Liberal, let me stress that it isn't. It also isn't even about Julia Gillard in some respects.

It's more about us as Australians.

I don't pretend to think that politics are a clean game. Anything that involves a balance of power is going to bring out the worst in humans. I am also not so naive or blinkered as to think that just because the PM was a woman, she should be afforded any kind of privileges in terms of being treated better than anybody else in the business. We say of our leader 'primus inter pares' and as such she was first among equals, not better than anyone else - but that's my sticking point.

She also is no worse than anyone else, and as such deserved, and deserves, the same measure of respect as any other leader who came before. And this - this she didn't get. Which is a god-awful reflection on Australia as a whole.

Yes, we have a tradition of cutting down tall poppies. Yes, we make fun of pretty much anyone we feel like making fun of, and I'm as guilty as the next sarcastic bugger. But the constant bitter attacks on Julia were beyond anything I've ever seen in politics. They had nothing to do with her policies and everything to do with her personally. Which makes me incredibly fearful for where Australia is heading.

She may be abrasive. She may have given as good as she got in terms of dishing it out to opponents on a political level. But this was a PM who had to deal with constant jibes about her weight, her looks, her wardrobe, her choice of partner, her choice not to have children, her voice, her family.

Would it have happened if she had been a man?

This is not an 'Ode to Saint Julia'. I'm not saying she was a great Prime Minister, because honestly? I don't think she was. What I am attempting to say, possibly quite clumsily, is nobody deserves the treatment she received at the hands of the media, the public and a large percentage of Federal Parliament.

I don't think anyone should be in a position of power, whether it be government or business just because they are a woman. It should be based on merit not an absence of male genes. Otherwise it's a game of pretence and mess, and yes, inequality - not in the way we traditionally think of it, but in the long term it hurts women because where's the need to strive?

But to be hounded in the way that she was...

I vote no. No more.

Please bring some respect back Australia.

Because giving someone a fair go is supposed to be what we're all about.

Isn't it?