Tag Archives: ALP

Abbott: Labor made me do it.

15 Dec

article-5898-hero Independent Australia

Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised this prior to gaining office :

…and the commitment that I’ve been giving to the Australian people is that there’ll be no surprises and no excuses under a Coalition government.

Source: May 21, 2013 – Joint Doorstop Interview, Bundamba, Queensland

It was, of course, a ludicrous promise to make. There is nothing as constant as change, and any credible adult government must deal with change that may at times cause decisions to be reviewed, and commitments to be re-assessed. The Abbott government has spectacularly failed to demonstrate this fundamental adult coping skill, not least in Abbott’s fantastical undertaking to protect us from the inevitable surprises of inevitable change in the first place.

No surprises

While on the one hand using that refuge of scoundrels the old “situations change” line to excuse broken promises and commitments he never intended to keep, Abbott continues to cling to his no surprises and no excuses mantra. He can’t have it both ways. If he wants unexpected situational change (surprise) to explain his backflips, he can’t have a commitment to no surprises as well. Hell, he needs surprises to explain his changes, because nothing else credibly achieves that.

Promising citizens there will be no surprises is elephant excrement, unless we’re all about to die, in which case we can reasonably expect there likely won’t be anymore surprises, not in this world anyway.

Annabel Crabb noted that in the first three months of Abbott taking office his party could well be renamed “The Surprise Party.” The broken promises and unexpected decisions just keep on keeping on.

No excuses

If he wants to continue to claim that his is a “no excuses” government, Abbott is going to have to stop blaming the ALP for every difficulty the LNP encounters. They’ve been in office for over twelve months now. No government can blame its predecessor indefinitely, otherwise political rhetoric will come to consist entirely of what they did made us do what we did, or some infantile variation on that tiresome theme. Anyone involved in the management of children knows the old he/she started it is a path to hellish infinity that endears the instigator to nobody.

“The ALP made me do it” is no way to run a country. If you are making changes because a situation has altered since you took office, how is that the responsibility of the previous government? If these changes are genuine, why not clearly explain them? Any other approach is an excuse that insults the intelligence of all thinking people.

LNP narrative consists almost entirely of unpleasant surprises and excuses for them, or really only one excuse: the ALP made us do it.  Did this government know nothing before it was elected? Was it so naive, so ill-informed, so out of touch that it took office as if newly born into political life? Doesn’t it know every government has to deal with the decisions of its predecessor and that we don’t actually care about that, it’s part of their job description and we expect them to stop whining and get on with it?

This government urgently needs to grow up and understand the serious responsibility they have towards the  citizens of this country. We need a government that has at least achieved tertiary standards of development, and not one that is still toilet training in day care.

Pyne’s advertising campaign is long-term LNP propaganda

9 Dec

anti_public_education_propaganda_by_8manderz8-d5xz1cjOnly days after the education reform bill was defeated in the Senate, the government has launched what it describes as an “information” campaign, funded by tax payers, that claims to educate the public about the failed proposed reforms to higher education.

The campaign to promote understanding of the failed bill is funded by taxpayers. The Abbott government justifies this by claiming the campaign meets all necessary guide-lines to qualify not as political advertising, but as information that is in the public interest. Obviously, the campaign was prepared in anticipation of a Senate defeat.

Shadow Education Minister Kim Carr claimed this morning on ABC Radio National’s early AM program that the advertising is deliberately misleading, and falsely claims that the government will pay “around half of your undergraduate degree.” Carr has fact checked this claim with universities in Western Australia and Queensland and depending on the discipline, students will pay between 57% and 88% of the costs of their degrees.

This is a job for the ABC’s Fact Check unit, if it still exists.

The government’s goal is to create a narrative in which the LNP is struggling to introduce reforms that are positive for students financially (good) and is being thwarted in its efforts by an uncooperative opposition and minor parties (bad). In other words, the Abbott government is striving to gives us what’s best for us against a relentless opposition that doesn’t care about us.

Their goal, I imagine, is to ignite resentment and discontent in the electorate towards an obstructionist ALP and minor parties, a narrative we can expect to see strengthen in the next two years as we approach the next election.

The fact that this is a dud reform quite rightly prevented from realisation is irrelevant. There is also no mention of proposed cuts to universities in the campaign.

Tony Abbott, his ministers and backbenchers take every opportunity to persuade us that all their troubles are the responsibility of the previous Labor government. There is only so long a government can use this tactic to distract from its own incompetence. I’d suggest the Abbott government has long since passed that time limit.

The government is engaged in an ongoing election battle that began years ago when Abbott became LOTO. This most recent taxpayer-funded “information campaign” is yet another sign that Abbott is not so much concerned with good governance as he is with winning the next election. The education reform bill advertising is long-game propaganda, and contributes to Abbott’s over-arching narrative of governmental good intentions thwarted both by Labor’s legacy, and its alleged ongoing obstruction.

 

 

Getting rid of dysfunctional Prime Ministers

30 Nov

 

Tony Abbott Announces Leadership Team

 

Former Liberal Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett this morning dumped big time on the federal LNP, claiming that dislike for Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a major factor in the Victorian election result that yesterday brought a resounding victory to the ALP, ousting the Liberal government in its first term.

Kennett claims the Abbott government is a “shambles,” and Ministers in the Napthine Government said there was “no question’’ that the unpopularity of Tony Abbott in Victoria was a factor in their defeat.

The government is in a bind about Tony. If they get rid of him in his first term they risk being seen as unstable and disloyal, allegations they levelled unrelentingly while in opposition at the ALP for its ongoing leadership woes with Kevin Rudd.

An aside on that matter. Now we have a good deal more information about that debacle, wouldn’t it have been so much better if Gillard had informed the electorate about the difficulties the government was having with Rudd, rather than leaving us to wake up one morning and discover we no longer had the extremely popular Prime Minister who’d led the Labor party to victory? Pole-axing an electorate in such a fashion and then going on to be excessively secretive as to the reasons for such drastic action would seem to be a most unwise strategy, and indeed, that’s what it proved to be.

The situation with Abbott is very different: while Rudd was still popular but behind the scenes, dysfunctional, Abbott is openly dysfunctional and unpopular to boot, so the electorate won’t go into nearly as much shock and awe if he’s chucked out of the top job in his first term.

Personally, I’d like to see Abbott stay on as leader as he’s the ALP’s best asset.

The federal government is like a dysfunctional family with a rogue father at its head. Everyone closes ranks and publicly supports the patriarch even though he’s bringing ruination down on their collective heads, because that’s what families do. They stick together in the face of adversity, and in so doing, enable the maintenance of the dysfunction. This eventually damages every family member, and the price for such misguided unity is death, of one kind or another.

There’s little more difficult than dealing with a dysfunctional leader, be it in politics or the family, and we saw how the ALP crumbled under the pressure of their Rudd woes.

The precedent for getting rid of first term Prime Ministers has been set, and there are few among us who would find it shocking the second time around. However, the LNP are likely far too spooked by the Rudd saga to risk ousting their dysfunctional leader in his first term. This could well be their downfall.

 

Everything is politics. Discuss.

20 Oct

In this piece on The Drum today titled “Labor misreads the politics of Ebola,” Paula Matthewson argues that the Opposition has misjudged its stance on the Abbott government’s response to the current Ebola health crisis. There was a momentary lament on Twitter about the term “the politics of Ebola” to which Matthewson responded “Everything is politics.” To which I responded “And that is the biggest problem we will ever have to face.”

Everything has a “politics” to be sure, but not everything is solely politics. Good governance, of the kind we have yet to see from the Abbott government, doesn’t reduce every situation to its politics, unless that governance is entirely dedicated to self-interest in which case it isn’t good, or even adequate. Yes, there is a political dimension to the Ebola crisis, and there is a humanitarian dimension, and an economic dimension as well. Privileging the political is of benefit to politicians and their extended entourage, but rarely does it benefit the broader community to have any issue reduced to only one of its dimensions.

This isn’t to criticise Matthewson’s piece, she’s clear about the dimension she’s focusing on. However, some of us nursed a secret hope that the Opposition’s critique of Abbott’s hardline position in refusing to supply boots on the ground in West Africa indicated its humanitarian leanings, rather than being merely the assumption of a conveniently contrary political position, but so bereft are we of trust in politicians we can’t be sure of any of their motives. Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten delivers his set lines with all the conviction of a wombat brought down by a tranquilliser dart, and while the Prime Minister performed superbly in opposition as the world’s best bovver boy, his affectless promises to shirtfront Putin at the G20 are a bad fit with his current manifestation as our country’s leading statesman. As my grandmother liked to say, you can’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear, more’s the pity as the political landscape is currently littered with pigs’ ears, with barely a silk purse in sight.

It’s probably sadly true that every issue has become distilled to its politics, to the exclusion of any other consideration. So we treat asylum seekers abominably, break our necks in our urgency to become involved in distant wars, refuse to send medical personnel to assist with globally threatening diseases, and the rest, all because of political expediency. It has got to the point where to even raise humanitarian concerns will likely lead to a tsunami of mockery. Matthewson may well be right: everything is politics, and if that’s the case, that is indeed the biggest problem we’ll ever have to face.

The fundamental reason people seek asylum in Australia: because we tell them they can.

19 Feb

Both the ALP and LNP governments have, for more than a decade now, chosen to ignore the fundamental reason why people seek asylum in this country: we are signatories to the UNHCR Refugee Convention, and as such, we currently offer asylum to anyone who seeks it, no matter what their method of arrival.

Instead of withdrawing from this Convention, the “honest” thing to do as apparently we no longer consider it to have any validity whatsoever,  the current Australian government has issued a comic book, explaining to potential refugees why they should not come to this country in the belief that we will honour our commitment, because, quite simply we will not.

We will not speedily assess their claims for refugee status in Australia. We will, in fact, transport them to hideous off-shore processing centres where they will languish in indefinite detention with no certainty at all about their futures, and if that is not enough, they will be subject to violence resulting in serious injury and death from sources that as yet remain unidentified, because we do not adequately protect them.

This is what we do, instead of honouring the obligations we undertook when we first signed the UNHCR Convention in 1951, then ratified it in 1967.

We are despicable. Our politicians have made us a despicable, lying, obfuscating nation without the courage to withdraw from a commitment we have no intention of honouring. Australia enjoys the kudos of being a civilised signatory to the UNHCR Convention. At the same time, Australia has no intention of honouring our voluntarily undertaken commitments to that Convention.

This is our primary shame. Our hypocrisy. Our disgrace.

And both the ALP and the LNP have brought us to this.

What a pity Tony Abbott didn’t stay in the seminary;Tony Soprano, & Moby

27 May

I woke this morning thinking of Tony Abbott, a rude awakening in anyone’s book.

What a pity Abbott didn’t stay in the seminary, and use the  Catholic church as his political playground, I thought. The rest of us would have been spared his rampant ambition, and who cares if he’d trashed the College of Cardinals if they refused him a red hat?

What a pity also, that Abbott wasn’t moved to realise his perhaps most outstanding natural talent, that of thespian.

It’s become clear  as we’ve progressed through the tortuous months since the ALP negotiated government, and since the day the LOTO failed to sell his arse in exchange for a ring of another kind, that Abbott has played whatever role his directors believed expedient.

We’ve watched Tony play the part of a highly offensive, sociopathically aggressive ambassador from the planet of negativity, whose speech patterns gave one reason to ponder whether or not the man was severely linguistically challenged.

Personally, I don’t think that role was difficult for him. It seemed to hint at his nature. Now he’s facing a far greater challenge – maintaining the role of  reasonable, statesmanlike Prime Minister in waiting. The emperor has new clothes.

I’ve heard Abbott described as “complex.” I don’t see it. Rather, I’d describe him as deeply shallow, so bereft of depth and complexity that he can easily be refashioned into the character his advisors believe he needs to be in order to win power. Abbott is an accomplished progenitor of ersatz complexity. He belongs in a Baudrillard text. I have gazed long upon this man, and I cannot find anything of substance in him. He reminds me of nothing as much as the replicants in the classic film, Blade Runner.

Complexity may well be present in Tony, deeply repressed in the interests of ambition. And in all fairness, he is not alone in his uncanny likeness to a replicant: it seems as if the only way to get ahead in Australian politics is to appear as robotic and unempathic as possible. Complexity, that richly human state, is apparently incompatible with what the majority of Australians want to see manifested in their leaders.

I predict that after six months of an Abbott government, many of us will be begging to have Kevin Rudd back. Mark my  words.

I’ve spent much of this last week bed and couch ridden, and fevered with flu. I re-watched three series of The Sopranos, including the episodes in which Tony Soprano, shot by his Uncle Junior, lies comatose in intensive care.

Now there’s a complex Tony. Even his shrink, Jennifer Melfi, is more than a little bit in love with his mercurial personality, though her own shrink, played to perfection by Peter Bogdanovich, reminds her constantly of Tony’s psychopathology, and urges her to ditch him as a patient.

Given his role in the bloody, death-strewn world of The Sopranos, Bogdanovich surprisingly wrote in 2012:

Today, there’s a general numbing of the audience. There’s too much murder and killing. You make people insensitive by showing it all the time. The body count in pictures is huge. It numbs the audience into thinking it’s not so terrible. Back in the ’70s, I asked Orson Welles what he thought was happening to pictures, and he said, “We’re brutalizing the audience. We’re going to end up like the Roman circus, live at the Coliseum.” The respect for human life seems to be eroding.

As far as our politicians are concerned, the respect for some human life seems to be eroding, while respect for other human life seems to be increasing beyond all proportion.

I had forgotten the haunting Moby song used so effectively to convey Tony Soprano’s state of mind as he wanders alone in the space between life and death. I don’t know that enjoy is the right word, but anyways:

On the politics of criminalising the persecuted

11 Apr

Both the ALP and LNP have, since the Howard government adopted Pauline Hanson’s racist rhetoric and made it politically mainstream again, steadily escalated the implementation of cruel and inhuman policies towards asylum seekers who arrive here by boat.

Hanson gave voice to a dark side of  Australian culture. Howard saw the votes in it, and legitimised its claims to entitlement. I don’t know if the voters who support the illegal punishment of those seeking asylum in great enough numbers for both major parties to capitulate to their demands, ever actually think about the human beings in whose mental destruction they are callously colluding. I doubt it.

Our politicians despicably wilful refusal to uphold our responsibilities to those seeking asylum, as we agreed to do when we signed and later ratified the UN Convention, makes a mockery of that Convention and our obligations to honour it. If we had any guts at all, we would withdraw. As it stands, by continuing to offer asylum to those fleeing persecution we issue an open invitation. We proclaim ourselves to the world as a site of sanctuary. When we are most definitely not, as it is defined by the Convention.

There has been no political leader in this country willing or able to contest the obscene politicisation of a global human tragedy. Even a prime minister with a vagina won’t do it, indeed, under her government things have become increasingly worse. Despite vagina, Prime Minister Gillard has fully embraced the discourse of the importunate other, taking every opportunity to reassure Australians that she will not permit “foreigners” to take our jobs. Despite vagina and anti misogynist rhetoric, Ms Gillard has presided over the vile and ongoing detention of women and children fleeing persecution.

Is it possible to be a feminist  today in Australia and lock up women and children fleeing persecution? There’s a question for Tony Jones and his all-girl Qanda. There’s a question for “All About Women.”

Every day some public figure in parliament or the media, refers to”illegals” and variations thereof, in their deliberate positioning of boat arrivals as criminals who must be dealt with far more severely than any other criminal. Even murderers know how long they are to be incarcerated. Boat arrivals do not.

Billions of tax payer dollars have been channelled towards these indefinite incarcerations, despite the irrefutable fact that the majority of boat arrivals are found to be refugees, and entitled to stay in this country. Those who are not are quite rightly sent back to where they came from. Unfortunately, some are wrongly sent back to where they came from, and when they arrive they are subjected to torture and death.

As long as there are votes in criminalising and dehumanising asylum seekers who arrive by boat, politicians will continue with these practices. This is one example of the evils of democracy. When the majority demand the torment of others in order that they may persuade themselves they are safe from threat, then the majority will have its way.

There is something fundamentally flawed, not to mention abhorrent, in the belief that the worse we treat those who arrive by boat, the more likely we are to discourage people from attempting the journey. We do not have the right to treat badly those who are only responding to our open invitation, and yet we continue to claim that right and to act on it.

I don’t know where this will end. Asylum seekers are not going away. Boats aren’t going to stop. I don’t know how much more cruelly we can treat boat arrivals, in the vain hope that desperate people will lose their desperation and stay where they are. The rich world must find decent ways to deal with the increasing encroachment of the persecuted on its privilege. We cannot continue to incarcerate them. We cannot continue to drive them out of their minds. We cannot continue to waste the resourcefulness and courage boat arrivals offer our society. We cannot continue to pour billions of dollars into brutalising women and children. We cannot continue capitulating to the ignorant fears of Australians who can’t be bothered thinking this through, and who just want someone to make it all go way and promise them they’ll be forever safe from difference.

We can’t, and we must not.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,745 other followers

%d bloggers like this: