Abbott say SSM is a deeply personal issue but you can’t have a free vote. What?

12 Aug

same-sex marriage dolls

 

Two notable outcomes resulted from the Coalition’s six and a half hour joint party room meeting called to debate the legalising of same-sex marriage last night. The obvious outcome is that there will be no legal same-sex marriage on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s watch, and that should surprise no one, remembering how Abbott once famously remarked that he felt “threatened” by gays.

The second is that the Liberal party is not a party that is supportive of the free vote for its members, contrary to decades of received wisdom on the noble nature and purpose of core liberal ideology. The Liberal party is actually driven entirely by right-wing ideology, much of which is firmly grounded in bizarre religious beliefs that have no basis in reality, and do not withstand the most rudimentary logical and rational enquiry.

It’s my personal opinion that the State has no place in anybody’s bedroom. Neither am I particularly enamoured of the inherently exclusionary institution of heterosexual marriage, and have witnessed many crimes committed under its state-sanctioned umbrella.

That being said, when participation in an institution is a legal hallmark of belonging in a culture, it is clearly an aggressive and hostile act to deny that sense of legal belonging to any social group, purely on the basis of sexual orientation. In other words, if LGBTI people wish to throw in their lot with the heterosexuals and commit to the exclusivity of the institution of marriage, it is ridiculous for any government to go to this much trouble to stop them.

Now we are faced with the ludicrously unnecessary and immensely expensive prospect of a referendum on the subject after the next election, should the LNP win government. Unlike Ireland, it is not necessary for us to have a referendum to change the Constitution (see 1.2.3.) on the definition of marriage and who may and may not enter into that state. Indeed, when John Howard was Prime Minister in 2004, he thought the Constitution so open to interpretation he found it necessary to amend the Marriage Act to define marriage as an event that could take place only between a man and a woman.

Deeply conservative ideological forces are fighting an increasingly desperate and losing battle to control society’s narrative. According to polling, the majority of Australians are at ease with the concept of same-sex marriage, a fact Prime Minister Abbott steadfastly chooses to ignore. This is a ridiculous, unnecessary and anachronistic debate.

Abbott continues to insist that same-sex marriage is “a very personal issue.” This apparently contradicts his refusal to permit a free vote, and yet again, we see the trickery of this profoundly duplicitous Prime Minister as on the one hand he concedes the deeply personal nature of the matter, while simultaneously denying every MP the right to address it in accordance with their “deeply personal” feelings.

In so doing, he denies the Australian public the right to live according to our “deeply personal” opinions on same-sex marriage in pursuit, yet again, of his ideological, religious, and in this particular case, “deeply personal” sexual prejudices.

 

 

 

 

Abbott: is the cur taking a whipping?

11 Aug

Abbott Tony

This could well be wishful thinking on my part, however…

Yesterday, as I watched the anointing of the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, I could have sworn I saw in the face and body of Prime Minister Tony Abbott the sullen demeanour of a whipped cur, already plotting his devious revenge.

It seemed to me that in his petulant insistence on yet again prime ministerially exonerating ex-Speaker Bronwyn Bishop of what is potentially criminal behaviour (if anyone ever bothers to seriously direct their investigation in that direction) Abbott reinforced his profound political and emotional identification with Ms Bishop, and his outrage that for a mere mistake or two she has been so ignominiously ejected from the Chair, only to land on her corseted arse in the back benches where she can surely have very few friends.

Abbott is given to prime ministerial exonerations of his mouldy mates. Rather like the Pope speaking ex cathedra, once Abbott has written a character reference or stated in Parliament or out of it that you’re an all right fellow or gal, any formal performance of justice is in his opinion rendered unnecessary, and the courts merely unbelieving saboteurs, damn their eyes.

Bishop was Abbott’s Captain’s pick for the prestigious position of Speaker. This time Abbott was just another party member, and it is rumoured that he isn’t too chuffed about his party’s choice, Tony Smith. This must be a bitter pill for the authoritarian PM to swallow, after all, this is the second time in six months he’s been forcibly reminded that he isn’t a party of one supported by a few potentially duplicitous but for the time being supportive henchmen and women.

In other words, this is the second time in six months the PM has been put in his place by his party and as he sat in the House glowering while the new Speaker promised fairness and admitted to friendships on the other side, Abbott’s lips closed so tight I thought he’d surely swallowed them. The man has little control over his facial expressions and his body language. I’m stout of heart, but there are times when the barely repressed dark fury that emanates menacingly from his physical being almost scares me.

I am slightly heartened by Abbott’s capitulation to public opinion and the demands of his party. Another Captain’s pick for Speaker, or anything much else given the disastrous nature of every pick thus far, may well bring him entirely undone. The man has a tin ear. He is tone-deaf. He is wilfully ignorant. He has an ideological agenda, and lacks the intelligence or the desire to understand its limitations. Like every crazed ideologue, he believes he can force others to adopt his beliefs, simply by the relentless exertion of his will. He runs the country like an old-style priest runs a parish, sermonising to the flock at every opportunity from a position of steadfast denial of reality.

But reality bites, and I dare to hope it has begun to nibble at the PM’s quite remarkable capacity for obduracy. He and Bishop are a perfect match (the expressions on both faces were eerily similar, the grim, thin-lipped smile, the coldly enraged eyes) and that is no recommendation for the character of a Prime Minister. I dare to believe that the majority of the Coalition are not on the same page as either Bishop or Abbott, and that they are, at long last, prepared to take a stand for something more evolved than rampant self-interest.

But hey. What do I know. Like everybody else, I can only live in despair, mitigated by the occasional flash of hope. Hold on, sisters and brothers, and trust in hubris and the karma bus.

The Pynes have never seen the fireworks. Right this wrong.

9 Aug

Fireworks NYE Sydney

 

In defending a $5000 cost for Christopher Pyne and three of his family members to fly to Sydney from Adelaide over the Christmas/New Year period, a spokesperson explained that Pyne did engage in work activities and he and his family had never seen the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Either this spokesperson has a burning ambition to dump Pyne and the rest of the Coalition government even further in it, or he or she is so steeped in the tradition of political entitlement and privilege that they can see no downside to revealing that we, the hapless taxpayers, many of whom never have and never will see the fireworks in Sydney on New Year’s Eve except on the telly, paid for the Pyne family to enjoy this cultural privilege.

I have never subscribed to the belief that any one human being is of greater significance than any other so naturally, I don’t see why my tax dollars should fund the Pyne kids’ excursion to the fireworks just because they have Christopher for their father. Oh, but wait. They have Christopher for their father. I may need to rethink my position on their disadvantage.

It may be a glitch in my constitution, but I have never found reason to respect any individual simply because she or he holds a particular office. There are actually very few people I do respect, and none of them are politicians or public figures. If I was going to shout anyone a trip to the fireworks, it would be one of them. There is much codswallop bandied about with regard to respecting “the office,” but one cautious glimpse at the increasingly unhinged Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, ought to disabuse anyone of the notion of respecting an office, given the type of lunatic who can apparently hold it. An office, like an institution, is only as good as the human beings inhabiting it, and that can be very very bad indeed.

We do not have “politicians” anymore, in the sense of a class of people willing to give a period of their lives to the service and well-being of the citizenry and the country. We have instead ideologues, intent on pursuing their self-interested goals and taking every possible advantage of us while they do it. It matters little on which side of the House they plonk their narcissistic arses, as is evidenced in the uncharacteristic rush to defend one another’s expenses claims. Of course extravagance is in the rules: politicians wrote the rules and they may not know much about running a country, but they do know how to look after themselves.

Pyne says he will not be repaying the airfares we coughed up  for his family to see the fireworks. Why am I not surprised. Call me cynical, but if anything comes from Abbott’s apparent determination to address the “entitlement” rules I suspect it will be an amendment to permit taxpayer-funded travel to party fundraisers. The man who wrings his hands over the denial of coal supplies to poverty-stricken millions on the sub continent who will, he claims, suffer and possibly die because of the Federal Court decision on the Adani Carmichael coal mine, gives not a fig for the Australian taxpayer who, while increasingly unable to make ends meet, has to watch his or her tax dollars pay for the children of comfortable and privileged politicians to fly business class and see the spectacles.

Time to get out the metaphorical tumbrils.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The scent of a lime

8 Aug

I’ve just had a late lunch of Yamba prawns, which, as anyone who is knowledgeable about prawns will tell you are the best in the country, and we get them fresh from the trawler.

But what was more important than the Yamba prawns were the limes I squeezed over them. I can’t smell, let alone taste a lime, without experiencing a powerfully sensual evocation of Mexico, where I encountered more limes than ever in my life before or since, in a variety of situations from beach cafes on Isla Mujeres where we scuffed our feet in the white sand as we ate fresh grilled fish (with limes) and drank beer (with sliced limes) to the mountainous country of the Zapatistas, where we sat snacking on tortillas (with limes) in the zocalos watching shamen pore over the entrails of dead armadillos. Limes, their scent and their flavour, became Mexico to me, along with the odour of the Lismore sewage plant. Ah, I think every time I drive past it. Mexico.

It is just over twelve months since my husband died. He wasn’t in Mexico with me, much to his chagrin. He cried at the airport when he saw me off and for some reason I can see as clearly as if it was yesterday not his face, but his bare feet in his Teva sandals. The recollection of those sandaled feet brings me completely undone: who would have thought?

Twelve months down the goat track of widowhood, his body is as vivid in my memory as it was when we first fell in love, and it is incomprehensible to me how that body can no longer exist in this material world.

I don’t know what is this animal thing in us that can make us weep and howl for the loss of the sensation of the flesh of a beloved against our own.

In Mexico people prepare feasts, take picnics to the graves of loved ones, believing their spirits are present and engaging with the living. Día de Muertos. There are times when I imagine I can hear his voice. There are moments when I think a man I’ve caught a glimpse of must be him. Is this what they mean, the people who believe the dead are always amongst us?

If I return to Mexico as I’ve long wanted,  he won’t be there in his Teva sandals to weep into his handkerchief at the airport, and remonstrate with me for leaving him behind. He’s left me behind, as he always said he would, because he didn’t want to live in this world without me.

There are many reasons why Mexico would inevitably be different next time, but the fact that he will not be waiting for me to come home is the at the heart of them. There is absence, and there is terminal absence. There is a temporary separation, and there is the ungraspable concept of infinite finality.

We never fully live, Freud claimed, unless we acknowledge the inevitability of our mortality. In denying our mortality, we live in rooms untouched by death, wrote Walter Benjamin, dry dwellers of eternity.

I had no idea that when I sliced the lunchtime limes I would be overwhelmed by memories of my dead husband’s slender feet and his gait, lopsided owing to one leg being slightly shorter than the other, and his hand on my shoulder as we waited for a train. Such is the nature of memory: inexplicable as life itself. The scent of a lime. The make of a shoe. A whole country. And the one who no longer waits for me to come home. Vale, beloved.

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead

 

 

Abbott blames the system. Bishop is its victim. Ahahahahahahahahahahaha! That’s funny

2 Aug

Bishop Bronwyn

 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott today absolves his “political mother” Bronwyn Bishop from all wrong doing:

 What has become apparent, particularly over the last few days, is that the problem is not any particular individual; the problem is the entitlement system more generally,” he said.

“We have a situation where spending is arguably inside the rules, but plainly outside of community expectations, and that’s what needs to be dealt with once and for all.

Surely it is not too much to expect that politicians will exercise ethical and moral judgement sufficient to contain their expenses within “community expectations,” aka the “sniff test?”

Obviously it is, as has been so spectacularly  brought to our attention by the revelation of decades of indulgence and extravagance practiced by Bishop, who seems to be enchanted by the fantasy that she is a reincarnation of Marie Antoinette.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m over Tony Abbott’s sophistry, his constant use of specious and fallacious argument to deceive and obfuscate. If Bishop hasn’t done anything wrong, why has she resigned, and why has Abbott accepted her resignation? If Bishop is a victim of the system, as Abbott apparently alleges, why did she have to go?

And how can Abbott and his henchmen and women expect to escape charges of hypocrisy when the comparison is noted between the excuses made for Bishop, and the ruthless hounding of “particular individual” former Speaker Peter Slipper, over less than $1000 abuse of travel expenses? Slipper made a number of attempts to resolve his matter administratively, that is, to pay the money back, as does everybody else, but these attempts were thwarted and he found himself in court.

Will we see Bronwyn Bishop in court over her outrageous excesses? If not why not?

Abbott’s attempts to spin Bishop as a victim of a system that allows politicians far too much leeway is adding insult to injury as far as the electorate is concerned. Bishop’s sense of entitlement and privilege allowed her to abuse the system to such an extraordinary degree: she is not the system’s victim, she is a practised exploiter who would have continued her exploitative practices until the day she expired, if she hadn’t been caught.

Bronwyn Bishop loves the Australian people, she claims in her resignation statement. So why did she squander so  much of the people’s money, and why has it taken her this long to express remorse, and sod off?

 

 

Perpetrator to victim

31 Jul

finger-pointing

 

It’s your fault for being who you are and where you are, and if you weren’t who you are and you weren’t where you are I wouldn’t be able to abuse you.

If only you’d said it differently I wouldn’t have humiliated you, abused you, hit you, raped you.

If only you’d done it differently I wouldn’t have humiliated you, abused you, hit you, raped you.

If only you weren’t you but someone else altogether I wouldn’t have humiliated you, abused you, hit you, raped you.

If only you weren’t…..(use here whatever comes to mind it doesn’t really matter).

It is your fault for existing as you are, and being where you are. If you didn’t exist as you are, and you weren’t where you are, I wouldn’t be able to abuse you.

It is your fault for existing.

Now I suppose you’ll play the victim card.

Thanks to Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt, Tony Abbott blah blah blah etc etc etc for their valuable contribution to this monologue.

Bishop stays. Goodes goes. Abbott is silent. What is wrong with this picture?

31 Jul

eggs

 

In case you are still in any doubt about what matters and what doesn’t to the Anglo-Saxon hegemony think on this: white Speaker of the House of Representatives and Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s personal pick Bronwyn Bishop remains in charge of the House, in spite of decades of financial abuse of taxpayer funds, the obscene details of which are unfolding daily before our disbelieving eyes. The only thing that keeps her in her job is Abbott’s support, because while the Prime Minister cannot actually sack a Speaker, there’s little doubt that if Abbott pressured her to get on her bike, she’d be mad not to obey.

On the other hand, Indigenous football star and Australian of the Year Adam Goodes has been driven from his sport and public life by unrelenting racist attacks every time he shows his face. Goodes’ reaction to a thirteen-year-old girl calling him an ape has been held up by the racist commentariat such as Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt as being the reason footy crowds have taken such a set against him. However, it seems to have escaped the commentators’ collective memory that it was in fact the illustrious Eddie Maguire who at the same time called Goodes “King Kong.”

What also seems to have escaped their racist filter is that Goodes did not know at the time that a young girl was responsible for calling him an ape, and when he did become aware of this he handled the situation admirably, meeting with the girl and her mother, and engaging them  in conversation about the wounding and divisive nature of racist insults.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, normally a man with an opinion on everything no matter how irrelevant, remains conspicuously silent on both matters. Ms Bishop’s shenanigans with helicopters and luxury limos have left rotten egg splattered all over Tony’s face, an ungracious response on her part to the man who, when he won government, rewarded her with the prestigious job of Speaker. Getting rid of Bronwyn will cause Tony to lose egg-splattered face, as it will be an admission of his lack of judgement of a woman he’s known for decades, and indeed, has been heard to refer to as his “political mother.”

But as Freud would have it, an adult man must at some point cut ties with his mother, and this could be Tony’s moment to sever the umbilical cord.

Abbott apparently can’t say anything on the Goodes’ matter either, given his demographic is fundamentally xenophobic and racist, and he can’t risk alienating them. While the country engages in a national conversation about racism, our leader remains unacceptably silent, missing in action. While the indignation and outrage at Bishop’s fraudulent behaviour escalates, our leader remains silent, missing in action. The number of topics Abbott can publicly engage with seems to be shrinking daily: he certainly seems incapable of entering into the energetic debates that will shape and reshape our nation in a most concrete fashion. In other words, he’s useless.

Ideology can do that to a man. Render him useless.

 

 

 

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