Tag Archives: Janelle Saffin

Dear ALP

16 Apr

kevin07-kevin-ruddDear ALP

Lately, I have been thinking back to election night, 2007. I was in Brisbane that night. I’d gone up because I had an early flight to the US next morning, and things being as they are where I live, things like, for example, the treacherous stretch of pot-holed goat track we call the Pacific Highway,  if one has commitments such as overseas flights one can only be sure of keeping them if one allows oneself  twenty-four hours to drive 300ks. Occasionally, even that isn’t long enough.

Be that as it may.

I returned to the hotel room with Mrs Chook when it was all over, and you had won government. We turned on the TV, danced, drank champagne from the mini bar (what a waste of money that was, in hindsight) and felt, like many others, the terrible oppression of John Winston Howard’s lengthy reign lift off us. We were entering a new political phase, we believed, and our relief and happiness kept us awake for much of the night. By the time I boarded my flight the next day I was exhausted, but content.

It did not take long for things to sour. I believe my first major shock was when Kevin Rudd took that bizarre decision to send the Oceanic Viking, a ship carrying rescued asylum seekers, to Indonesia, where a lengthy stand-off ensued and it became clear that your policies on the question of asylum seekers were beginning to morph into something that more closely resembled those of the deposed John Howard and his right hand executioner, the pallid-complexioned Philip Ruddock. (The one who collected stamps from all the countries whose displaced peoples he locked up indefinitely in Woomera and Baxter, along with their children. He kept them in a Chinese cabinet his wife gave him for Christmas. The stamps, not the people).

One remembers such odd facts.

Things have gone frightfully down hill since then, but I cannot bear to list the litany of offences you continue to commit against those who are legally seeking refuge in this country, as is their human right, and as we continue to invite them to do. You are, ladies and gentlemen, fucking hypocrites on this matter.

I can say that I have never forgiven Kevin Rudd for initiating this downwardly spiralling breach of faith.

Then came the coup. Oh yes, much happened in between but if I’m to list every idiocy I will be here till the end of next year, and anyway, confronting you with individual disgraces is not my intention.

What I do want to convey is my horror and distress, when I recall the great tide of support and enthusiasm that swept you into power in 2007 and compare that to where you are now. That win was miraculous. You could not put a foot wrong. It was the triumph every politician dreams of.

SO WHY HAVE YOU FUCKED IT UP?

I believe you’ve fucked it up because there’s not one among you of any influence capable of putting their ego to one side, and focussing on the greater good of your party, and this country. You’ve had some good policies. You’ve done some good things. But none of this gets any airtime because you are so busy publicly brawling among yourselves that you have become the dominant narrative, with your scandals and your betrayals, and not, as it should be, with your policies.

Nobody can hear the good things above the noise of you fighting like fornicating possums trapped in the roof.  You have thus wickedly squandered all your hard-earned capital, and for what, I ask you, for what?

Again, I cannot bear to list the insults and disappointments you have dished out to those of us who elected you, because of your blind, ego-driven hatred of one another. I cannot bear to detail the extent of the self-harm, the cutting of your own arms and legs with blunt razor blades, the public purgings, the binges of self-destruction, the poking out of your own eyes with burnt sticks, the gut-spilling, the incessant factional wars, the eating of yourselves and your leaders, nobody could make this stuff up.

Obviously, you came to power divided and unsettled. Obviously, you are more heavily invested in your internal political hoo haa than you are even in getting yourselves re-elected. Even now, at this eleventh hour, you will not shut up & Mr Simon Crean (no, I will not refer to him as The Honourable) recently and inexplicably found himself compelled to enact yet another attempt at sabotage from the back benches, to whence he was so recently banished after his bizarre efforts to get rid of one leader and replace her with the leader you already got rid of, who has hung around ever since you fatally stabbed him, like an unhappy shade unable to grasp that it is actually dead.

Well, let me tell you, a punter can only take so much before she ceases to give a damn. And sadly, I have now reached that point. I no longer care what you do. Feed on yourselves. Gorge until you vomit like dogs. Do yourselves as much harm as you can manage before you finally collapse in a bloodied heap of lacerated, putrid human flesh, on the opposite side of the house, where you will no doubt languish for decades, and it serves you fucking well right.

Oh, yes you can cry foul, and blame the media. I admit, they have not been on your side. But did you have to make it so easy for them? Did you have to drip feed their malice?

I will vote for Janelle Saffin, my local member, as I have done for some time. This is not a vote of confidence in you, ALP. It is a vote for a damn fine local member who, god help her, has the misfortune to belong to you, and whom you recently demoted because she supports Kevin Rudd, even though she was doing a damn fine job and I resent it that you took her job away from her.

As for the rest of you, quite frankly I wouldn’t piss on most of you if you were on fire.

Sincerely, and more in incandescent rage than sorrow,

Jennifer.

Leadership chatter. Assange’s passport. Blonde girls in short shorts

24 Jul

There is no way chatter about ALP leadership is going to stop before the next election, the next leadership change, a decision by the party to close ranks and stop white-anting, or a blackout by the media on the topic.  The latter is the most unlikely option, so we might as well resign ourselves to endless speculation, and learn to stick our fingers in our ears.

I’ve now arrived at what I like to call the “shit or get off the pot” point. It’s that place in the mind you reach when you’ve had a gut full of listening to the same narrative over and over and over again. Usually I’m hounded to this place of ultimatum by people who are deeply dissatisfied with their intimate relationships and feel they have to tell me about it because I’m a good listener. Over a period of years they reiterate their complaints against their partners with a monotony that makes me feel like pulling out my fingernails with pliers, on the theory that the resultant physical pain will  distract me from the mental anguish I’m enduring by having to listen.

It’s a human failing, that we can be so afraid of change we choose instead to remain in a state of miserable grievance. Indeed, the very act of complaint becomes a raison d’être. The  whine: “Oh, if I could only be happy” replaces any possibility of actually finding happiness because one has, without even thinking about it, chosen whining as a way of life rather than risking satisfaction.

There is of course the opposite situation in which there seems to be a destructive addiction to superficial change while the underlying matters remain un-addressed.

As with all things, it is necessary to find the middle road, grasshopper.

But I digress. I don’t care who will lead the ALP to the next election. Being an ALP leader is a poisoned chalice. Anyone mad enough to take it on has my sympathy, but only in the abstract. The present leader, Julia Gillard, is drinking deep of the tainted wine and nothing good will come of it for her, just as nothing good eventuated for her toppled predecessor, Kevin Rudd. What this says to me is that the problems are not entirely to do with party leaders, and that continuing to change the leader will do nothing to resolve the problems.

I know there are good people in the ALP who deliver results for their electorates. My own federal member, Janelle Saffin, is one of them. It does seem that in politics the good people are either not interested in taking prominent roles or are not considered prominent role material by the back room boys and girls who determine these matters. The criteria the back room crowd use to arrive at their choices is puzzling. I strongly suspect those moral and ethical qualities we don’t talk about anymore, lest acknowledging our loss breaks our hearts, do not rate highly in their list of necessary leadership qualities.

Of course one could also argue that on becoming leader a good person may well undergo a transformation, goodness and leadership seemingly anathemas in today’s political world. According to ALP legend Kevin Rudd, who seemed decent enough, became the antichrist when they won government.  I liked Julia Gillard as deputy PM. Enough said about both.

One of the more disturbing aspects of the unsettling Julian Assange story as aired on Four Corners last night, was the effort by then Attorney-General Robert McClelland, presumably supported by the PM, to rescind Assange’s Australian passport at the time of the Wikileaks cable dump. Footage of PM Gillard declaring Assange’s actions to be “illegal” without any evidence at all for that declaration, also gave pause for thought.

The US, of course, was the nation-state most grievously affected by the dump. Our government’s rush to condemn one of its own citizens looks sadly like a an ill-considered attempt to show what good and loyal friends we are to the US, by cutting Assange loose without bothering to establish his innocence or guilt. This is an example of what I mean about the incommensurability of goodness and power.

I would hate to think I live in a country where anyone’s passport can be taken away from them because the government says so, without any investigation and without any evidence that the accused has done anything to justify such drastic action.

Assange has committed no offence against his own country. It is yet to be determined whether or not he has committed any offences in any country. Yet our PM declared him guilty of illegal activities, and decided he should be relieved of his passport. This is very scary stuff, and we should not take it lightly. According to Four Corners, plans to relieve Assange of his most important document were abandoned when it was pointed out that leaving him in possession of his passport would make tracking his whereabouts that much easier.

And people wonder why Assange is worried for his future?

I was baffled during the programme, by the blurred and recurring shots of a young blonde woman in short shorts walking away from the viewer along a train station platform. This young woman seemed to bear no resemblance in dress or manner to the two women who have accused Assange of sexual misconduct. She did seem to signify sexual availability, and presumably the long blonde hair referenced her Scandinavian origins. I have no idea why this image was necessary, except to imply a certain stereotyped lasciviousness in young Swedish women which might by association be extrapolated to the complainants. Hmmm. Tacky, anyone?

And just who wears short shorts?

WEL, you did ask about Julia

14 Sep

In response to this Women’s Electoral Lobby invitation:

 Julia Gillard has been receiving criticism from all sides and her popularity is at an all time low. Although it is certainly arguable that our Prime Minister does deserve some of the criticism it is worth looking at the nature of the criticism and the impact of the recent satire “At Home with Julia”.

 Check out these articles and let us know what you think:  

Unsettling home truths,  Julia undeserving of At Home with …and so are we

I’m about to make observations that could be attacked as gender biased if you were on the lookout for that kind of transgression.

It’s particularly shocking to me that Prime Minister Julia Gillard is determined to amend the Migration Act to enable the expulsion of women, men and children to Malaysia, because I don’t expect this of a female politician. After years of being highly educated in theories on the construction and performance of gender, it seems that deep down I still cling to the atavistic expectation that a female politician will care about the fate of asylum seekers, and I still feel shocked when she doesn’t. Hope over experience. Now there’s a trap to watch out for.

It isn’t yet clear to me if Gillard also intends to expel unaccompanied minors to Malaysia but if that is her intention, I’m gob smacked and quite frankly, tearful. I expect a woman to care about the fate of female and male children. I can’t bear it that she doesn’t. It’s like she’s betraying a core female principle. The shame of it.

This is as irrational as complaining that Gillard knifed an elected PM: I know we don’t elect our PMs, and I know the Westminster system allows political parties to replace their leaders without going to the polls over it. Nevertheless, I was and remain aggrieved that she did it. I was not among the feminists who rejoiced at the ascension of our first female PM. I found it alarming that those feminists decided to ignore the means in favour of the end. Things have only gone down hill since then.

There have been from time to time outbreaks of feminist indignation that the criticism, abuse and disrespect directed towards the PM are gendered. I’m going to add to the allegedly gendered criticisms by saying up front that I am horrified that a woman is acting without any care at all for other human beings solely for political gain. I’m not as shocked when male politicians do it: although it is just as despicable it isn’t very surprising. I am still not entirely en-cultured to the concept of men in politics being interested in caring in the way I’ve taken it as given for women.

I need to examine these gendered beliefs because it’s increasingly apparent that female politicians can be as care-less as men, and likely even more so if they perceive it to be politically expedient. I need to adjust my expectations to the reality that when the political chips are down, nobody much in politics cares about the fate of asylum seekers, regardless of their gender.

The women are up there with the men in the “don’t give a damn” stakes, and in this I include those Labor women who are saying nothing. I cannot bring myself to believe they have entirely abandoned the Labor principles currently being espoused by Doug Cameron. Yet their cowardly silence on their leader’s conspicuous lack of care indicates that if they haven’t yet thrown all ethical considerations to the winds, they don’t have the guts to come out and support the very few blokes who are attempting to restore some human decency to the discussions.

This morning, to my great relief, I read that my own federal Labor MP, Janelle Saffin, has bravely broken ranks to support onshore processing. Now let’s see how many others step up to support her. I’m ready and eager to eat my words. Congratulations, Janelle, you’ve got guts, girl.

This is an aspect of gender equality I for one did not anticipate. I would have liked to see the capacity for caring among male politicians raised to equal that which I was educated to believe is possible for women. Instead the country’s most powerful political woman has decided to lower our female caring standards to the point where she cares less than do many of her male colleagues. I didn’t think anyone could go lower in the uncaring stakes than John Howard and Philip Ruddock, let alone a woman.

This isn’t what was supposed to happen. This isn’t the kind of influence women were supposedly going to bring to government. We weren’t supposed to get up there and model care-less-ness to our girls. Our first female PM wasn’t supposed to make caring about other human beings (even if they aren’t exactly “like us”) a naff concept for our girls, or our boys for that matter.

So uninterested in giving a damn has the ALP become that the concept of caring about boat arrivals has absolutely no place at all in their asylum seeker discourse. Anyone who attempts to introduce it is thrashed, and then abused for bleeding out.

And I’m not fooled by the politically expedient and hypocritical concern for sinking boats. Treating people very badly to deter other people is a profoundly morally dubious proposition. Let’s not forget asylum seekers have committed no offence, and arrive here at our invitation. We aren’t attempting to prevent criminal behaviour with our harsh punishments and indefinite detention, because there’s no criminal behaviour in the first place.

I know I will be scoffed at for espousing a form of biological essentialism about the “caring nature” of women. Nobody can scoff at me as much as I’ve scoffed at myself. Nevertheless, is it such a bad thing to hope for a dimension of care in this dreadful debacle? Is it such a bad thing to hope that this dimension might be introduced and upheld by the women we’ve elected?

Of course I know both personally and professionally that women can be terrifyingly uncaring. Cruelty and ignorance are un-gendered. Has the struggle for gender equality revealed another unpalatable truth: that to expect and hope for caring women in politics is as naïve and sexist as to expect and hope for caring men?

On television the other Sunday evening I watched three young women prepare themselves for a Saturday night out. It was their right, they told the reporter, to go out and get as fall down drunk as the boys. The boys have always thought that was their prerogative, but those days are over we’re equal now.

The young women dressed up in pelmet skirts and very high heels, drank down more shots than I’ve ever had in my life before they even left the house, and the last we saw of them that night was in Accident and Emergency where one of their number was vomiting her guts up while the others milled round drunkenly, trying to stay upright and hold her hand at the same time.

Asked a few days later if they thought it was worth it, they claimed they did. Girls can do this now, they said proudly. In other words, girls don’t have to care anymore than boys do about their own welfare or anybody else’s.

And there you have it. Women have become equal in our right to abandon care, from the top down. Perhaps it was always thus and our liberation has merely exposed another fantasy.

And yet, and yet, and yet…

 

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