Tag Archives: Julie Bishop

Julie Bishop and the prism of gender

30 Oct

Gender Inequality

Look. Julie Bishop doesn’t have to call herself a feminist if she doesn’t want to. Her public disavowal of the very political movement that made her success possible says far more about her than it does about feminism. But her refusal to “look at the world through the prism of gender” is insane.

There is nothing in this capitalist world that should not be viewed through the prism of gender, especially if you are  a member of the bloody government. Bishop is one woman who has achieved success at the highest level because of a constellation of fortunate circumstances, including, I’m sure, hard slog. However, there are millions of women who slog just as hard in circumstances far less conducive than those experienced by Ms Bishop. “I’ve had a very privileged upbringing as many women in Australia have,” she says. “We don’t fear violence, we don’t fear hunger. We don’t have the degraded life that many women around the world suffer.”

Um, what? There are millions of women and girls in Australia who fear violence. There are thousands of women and girls  in Australia who go hungry, and are dependent on charity for food and somewhere for themselves and their children to sleep. They don’t count as women? The “we” Bishop speaks of excludes anyone whose life experience does not coincide with her own, a lack of imagination that is a given in conservatives circles.

I don’t give a toss if Bishop doesn’t call herself a feminist. I’m a bit challenged by that myself these days, when feminism seems to have become about the right to sculpt our labia, and binge drink till we vomit in the gutter just like the blokes do. But the ignorant refusal to consider the world through the prism of gender is a symptom of a self-absorbed, smug woman entirely out of touch with reality.

Apart from that, I’m wracking my brains to think of one thing, one single thing Bishop has ever said publicly that is interesting, original or enlightening. She’s like a bloody Stepford wife in the Abbott government.

Christ.

The diversion of aid: Carr’s false comparisons

19 Dec

The Gillard government yesterday declared its intention to rob overseas aid of $375 million in order to help pay  the living expenses of asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia by boat.

The money will allegedly go towards supporting the resettlement of asylum seekers who have been released into the community on bridging visas. These asylum seekers need financial support because the government will not allow them to work while their claims are being processed.

They have been condemned to a marginal existence, receiving some 85% of the already meagre Newstart allowance, for some five years, the time it is estimated it will take authorities to process their asylum claims.

It’s not known if the money will also be used to fund off-shore detention centres, particularly the construction of new facilities on Nauru and Manus Island.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr claims this is no big deal, and cites the United States, Canada, Sweden and France as countries that already use overseas aid money for domestic purposes. However, none of those countries have a policy of indefinite and mandatory detention for asylum seekers.

In Sweden it is preferred that asylum seekers work while awaiting a decision on refugee status. In the US the maximum period an asylum seeker must wait before being allowed to work is five months. In most rich countries including Canada, asylum seekers are permitted to work within a matter of months.

However the countries cited by Carr spend their overseas aid money domestically, it is not on supporting asylum seekers for years while they await decisions on their status and are forbidden to work. It is not spent on supporting asylum seekers living in indefinite off-shore mandatory detention. Carr’s comparison of Australia’s asylum seeker policies with those of other countries is entirely false. We have nothing in common with any peer country.

The diverted money is intended for overseas aid and development. If it is to be spent overseas, that will be in our off-shore detention centres. Quite what development will be achieved in that instance is unclear. It’s also unclear how any development might be achieved domestically in denying asylum seekers the right to work, and forcing them into marginal existence paid for by the government for up to five years.

The Opposition, via its mouthpiece Julie Bishop, continue to confidently bray that they will “stop the boats.” As the Gillard government has implemented the most severe conditions we have yet seen, and still the boats arrive, it is difficult to imagine just how Mr Abbott will achieve this goal.

And the winner is: Ms Gillard

28 Nov

I don’t know about anybody else, but I think by now Julia Gillard has hands down won the verbal battle currently consuming the emotional and mental energies of our elected members. Her confident stamina in the face of the Opposition’s unrelenting (if largely ineffectual) attempts at reputational savagery is astounding. I get tired just thinking about it. I can think of many occasions in my life when I would have given anything for even a smidgen of Ms Gillard’s élan.

What a role model she’s turned out to be! If you overlook the knifing, asylum seeker policy, single parents on Newstart, Palestine, but what the hell, nobody’s perfect and credit must be given where it’s due, must it not and the PM can do scathing repartee better than any of them.

The Opposition, led in this fight by an increasingly bedraggled and war-weary Julie Bishop loyally firing her beloved boss’s shots, have well and truly lost the battle. Having produced little more than exorbitant amounts of piss and wind, they will limp defeated from the chamber tomorrow to lick their Gillard-inflicted wounds over the break and good riddance to them, I say.

I still have no clear idea what the PM is supposed to have done, but I don’t care really. If nobody has managed to come up with anything of substance for twenty years, and by the gods plenty have tried, then I for one am willing to call bollocks and move on.

I do hope they all lift their game next year, because the political discourse has gone to the feckin dogs.

The Iron Leprechaun grounds the Flying Kangaroo

1 Nov

I realise I’m probably in the minority but I can’t dredge up any over-heated feelings about Alan Joyce the person, of the kind that arise in me unbidden about the likes of, say, Tony Abbott, Christopher Pyne, Alan Jones, Julia Gillard, Julie Bishop, et al. The man seems like such a merry little fellow with his guile-less schoolboy eyes wide  behind glasses that look a little too small, and as if they were chosen for him by his mother.

Then there’s his enchanting Irish lilt in which he can announce events set to cause serious upheaval and deep offense to thousands and thousands of human beings who are just trying to live their lives, and make the offenses sound quite benign. No, the fellow does not provoke strong feelings in me, rather I’m bemused by the dissonance between Joyce’s immense power, and his inoffensive persona. If I was to accuse him of anything it would be a mild capacity for mischief. Just like the leprechaun who makes his mischief for the delight of watching what happens next. Of course, one can underestimate the intentions behind gleeful disruption. It is one of the many guises used by the devil to sow doubt and misery amongst humans.

I’ve had my fair share of minor disruption as a Qantas passenger. Last November returning from LA we didn’t have enough fuel to reach Brisbane and diverted to Noumea to top up. I found that interesting. They don’t know how much fuel they need to get from LA to Brisbane? Oh, it was the headwinds. OK. Then, finally on our way again after hours on the tarmac bitching and moaning we ran out of food, and most of us got no breakfast.

Then there was the time en route to Mexico when a couple of hours into the flight we ran out of water, forcing us to retain our intimate wastes if we possibly could as they had to be flushed away by bottles of water if we didn’t, an inefficient system to say the least. We didn’t get any breakfast then either, on the grounds that if they didn’t feed us we wouldn’t produce as many intimate wastes. I arrived in Mexico dehydrated, hungry and, well, I won’t spell it out for you.

At least I never got stranded in Los Angeles, which is probably the last place on earth anyone would choose to get stranded outside of Bangkok, where they have the coldest terminal in the world, furnished entirely with metal chairs that freeze your arse after five minutes and leave deep impressions in the flesh of your upper thighs. I once slept on the floor of that terminal waiting for a flight to somewhere that would eventually get me to Vientiane. It was unspeakably horrible but I can’t blame Qantas for that.

As things stand today the Iron Leprechaun has temporarily triumphed, both parties have been forced to suspend industrial action and enter into couple counseling. Many times have I sworn that I will never fly Qantas again. They have me in their power because of my frequent flyer points. But I plan to use them all up. I plan never to acquire anymore. I plan to switch my allegiances because enough is enough.

I loved Qantas, as much as one can love a commercial concept. The idea the Qantas brand successfully marketed for a long time was the idea of home. I will always remember once boarding a Qantas flight in Tokyo when the steward at the door said with a kind smile and a thrillingly familiar accent: “Welcome home, Dr Wilson.” Tired and emotional after many upheavals and weeks of  unrelenting travel, I found my seat and had a little cry. Now I was safe. Now I was home.

This is what I mean about mischief. It might not look too bad on the surface of it but it can carry a terrible punch.

PS I am not talking about horses today. No horses. However, if you choose to make an imaginative link between the picture below and the individual mentioned in this post, knock yourself out.

Kev’s new best friend; Latham the Loomer, and Dear Prudence

5 Apr
Kevin Rudd on Novembre 2005.

Image via Wikipedia

All the Foreign Minister, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had to do was sit back and let Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Foreign Minister Julie Bishop do it for him.

Dump Gillard in it, that is.

An aroused and indignant Bishop, glittering eyes made famous by The Chaser boys (remember her staring contest with the garden gnome?) strafing panel and audience alike, passionately retold to an entranced crowd the circumstances that brought about Kev’s disastrous dip in the polls when as PM he backed down from the ETS.

This backdown, Bishop reminded us, was entirely due to Gillard and Wayne Swan persuading Kev to relinquish his greatest moral challenge of all time, probably on purpose so they’d have an excuse for declaring him a total loser as far as the public was concerned, a menace to the ALP‘s chances of re election, and best removed from the highest office.

That move gave the men who now have faces what they needed to chuck out a first term PM, and replace him with Australia’s First Hollow Lady.

Throughout Bishop’s retelling, Kev remained stoic, his features clouded with sorrow and pain, albeit mitigated by reflection.  Earlier, the Foreign Minister had most engagingly accepted full responsibility for what he now admits was a grave error in judgement. He might have been wrongly, even maliciously advised, but when the chips were down, he was the PM and the final decision was his to make.

Bishop’s death stare is scary, and no wonder the garden gnome fell off its table and shattered into a hundred pieces. I felt momentary sympathy for Tony Jones and American Ambassador Bleich seated either side of her  last night, on the occasions she spun round in her seat to burn through their brains with her laser gaze. Does she have a problem with her peripheral vision, I wondered out loud to my household, or is it that her powers only work when her stare is directed in a straight line?

A few in Cabinet Kev revealed, coyly resisting all Tony Jones’s efforts to provoke him into naming names, wanted the ETS killed for once and for all, and this morning on Radio National Breakfast, journalist Lenore Taylor reckoned Gillard was one of them.

Oooeeer – the First Hollow Lady gets even more closely aligned with expediency rather than morality.

I enjoyed seeing Kev’s dial again. I like his grin. He can be very likeable but he’s a complex bloke. During his brief sojourn as PM I found him at times extremely irritating especially when he apparently descended into a sleep deprived mania, just like a very young child who will not give in to the need to rest, and becomes unbearably obnoxious as a consequence.

However, he seems to have learned from that to nap, and take food and water.

Kev will always have charisma as a result of what they did to him, a fact none of the men who now have faces seem to have considered  before they dumped him. He can’t help but look far more interesting than just about anybody else in the ALP. In the morality stakes, he’s a zillion points ahead of our First Hollow Lady. His admission last night that he’d blown it with his great moral challenge only adds to the impression of a politician capable of sincere reflection, a rare beast indeed, except when they’ve aged and long left office.

He’s found a way to deal with the humiliation heaped upon him that is acceptable. The wry shrug, the laughing off, the live and learn attitude hints at an emotional intelligence sadly lacking in just about everybody else, and it seems to be sincere. He doesn’t hide the pain, but he looks as if he’s come to terms with it and is probably all the better for the experience.

But that’s not to overlook the calculated little bomb he did drop on the matter of who wanted to kill the ETS, a little bomb that will give the Opposition plenty of return ammunition for a while as they take every opportunity to point out that these would-be-killers are still there, and what does that mean, and who are they, and how can we trust anyone in that government?

Kev does make Gillard look both bad and boring, and that’s an unacceptable combination. If you’re going to be bad, you have an obligation to be interesting with it.

Speaking of which, I don’t know why anybody bothers listening to that Mark Latham whose ridiculous attack on Gillard’s child free choice renders anything else he might have to say  hardly worth listening to. Latham has no respect for anybody’s personal space, emotional and physical. This was concretely demonstrated when he loomed into the Prime Minister in a public place and asked stupid questions,and prior to that, loomed into John Howard as he attempted to enter a room Latham was leaving. He’s a loomer. He looms. it’s not attractive. He should give it up.

Prue Goward by publik15 via flickr

Then there’s Dear Prudence. Prue Goward, recently appointed NSW Minister for Families, whatever that is, has taken a nasty swipe at radio personality Jackie O for the manner in which she fed her baby.

Apparently Jackie O gave the child a bottle while simultaneously walking across a pedestrian crossing, an action Goward likened to the famous Michael Jackson moment when he dangled his little son over a balcony in Germany and subsequently earned global contempt for his fathering skills.

Why this is a concern for the Minister for Families remains a mystery to me. An over zealous commitment to her new portfolio? Is she going to focus on perceived child abuse by the rich and famous? If the mother had been a working class woman would Goward have even blinked her mascara-ed lashes?

I’m glad she wasn’t in the nursery when once, in a sleep deprived state similar to those experienced by the former PM, I accidentally stuck my fingers in the wrong jar and pasted my baby boy’s bits with Vicks Vapour Rub instead of nappy rash cream.

Soon to become a dad himself for the first time, he looked at me stunned, speechless and quite judgmentally, I thought, when I recently confessed this transgression. Too late I realised my mistake. Now I probably won’t be allowed anywhere near the new baby, but at least we know the Vicks didn’t do its daddy any damage.

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