Tag Archives: Australian Greens

The Greens’ great moral challenge

15 Jul

I keep coming across comments such as this one from Zareh Ghazarian, Monash School of Political and Social Inquiry, in a piece in The Conversation today on the carbon tax legislation:

Indeed, even if Mr Abbott was to win the next election his government would presumably have to negotiate with the Greens in the Senate to dismantle the policy. At the moment, this would appear to be an almost impossible outcome.

The situation is that should Abbott attempt to dismantle the carbon tax policy and the Senate twice resist these attempts, Abbott has threatened a double dissolution. Bob Brown has already given a “rolled gold guarantee” that  the Greens will oppose any attempts by the Coalition to rescind the legislation, so a double dissolution looks likely.

In the event of such an outcome, all Senate seats are up for grabs. What are the chances of the Greens re-gaining the balance of power in a double dissolution election? I’m no expert but gut feelings say I doubt it.

What a moral challenge for the Greens! To capitulate to Abbott’s demands to rescind the carbon tax, avoid an election and thus maintain their balance of power, or to thwart Abbott’s will and risk losing Senate seats.

And then there’s this statement in the same post:

While the government has been down in the opinion polls, there are two years until the next election is due. Time is on the government’s side.

Well, yes, as long as there aren’t any by-elections. The government can’t afford to rest in the belief that time is in on its side. It may very well not be. The government can’t afford to plan as if it has two full years in which to persuade the public to accept the carbon tax. It may very well not have, in the event of adverse circumstances.

Beware the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune!

While Kevin Rudd apparently lacked the bottle to call a double dissolution in 2010, it’s a safe bet that Abbott won’t be as timid. We can only keep our fingers crossed that the angels are watching over the government, that all misfortune is held at bay, and that nobody does anything stupid and has to resign.

Brown’s “rolled gold guarantee” has pretty much committed his party to a course of action that could well see them undone. Unless they do a backflip like everyone else does, and then they really will have come of age in Australian politics.

Foreign ownership or boat arrivals – which is most likely to invade and conquer?

4 Jul

On the Watermelon Blog on Saturday, David Horton notes that when a recent Greens’ survey revealed that 83% of mining companies in Australian are owned overseas there was, in his words, “a swift and predictable response from one of the egregious right wing think tanks whose role is to protect corporations from criticism.” Foreign investment is good for Australia, they brayed, and we have plenty of land to sell. They then called up the spectre of xenophobia, more commonly hauled out in “don’t stop till blood is spilt and maybe not even then” arguments over asylum seekers arriving by boat.

Horton raises the crucial matter of where we should draw the line at foreign ownership, and what assets are we willing to relinquish to foreign control. “What happens,” he asks, “when push comes to shove in a financial crisis or a raw material crisis?” We would be naïve indeed to imagine that foreign corporations give a toss about our welfare and wellbeing. Heck, even our own corporations aren’t overly concerned about any of that soft stuff.

‘So how many asylum seekers do YOU think we should allow?” is the question frequently and usually aggressively hurled at supporters by the anti boat people faction, who express deep fears of being overtaken, of losing our culture and Australian way of life, and of losing control of our boundaries and sovereignty if we open the gates and let the refugees in.

The arguments used by corporate interests against those who oppose unbridled foreign ownership, and those used by the anti boat arrival faction against those who support their re-settlement, are ironically similar. In the absence of reliably specific demographic evidence, I’ll make an assumptive  leap that there may well be those amongst the anti boat arrival group who would regard expanding foreign ownership as good for our country, while simultaneously railing about the catastrophic dangers posed to us by a few thousand boat arrivals. I have no proof of this – it’s a good subject for a poll.

In essence, it’s the same argument employed for very different purposes and by very different interests.

Wealthy foreigners in suits arriving first class by plane and bearing papers won’t want to live next door, and they won’t be a drain on the welfare system. That they might well be in a process of asset stripping the country is such an intangible that it can’t be seriously be raised to the level of a threat. As is frequently the case, the danger lies not in the obvious, and one doesn’t see it coming.

Those who struggle to bring the hidden danger into collective awareness are usually dismissed as a bunch of Cassandras, after the mythical woman blessed with foresight then doomed by Appollo  to be mocked and disbelieved when she revealed her predictions.

The conflation of the topics of boat arrivals and foreign ownership usefully highlights where the danger to this country’s future really lies. It’s not in the few thousand foreign asylum seekers fetching up in boats on our shores. It’s a pretty safe bet that none of them are going to own the rights to our water in the future. We probably don’t need to worry that any of them are going to buy up our prime farming land for mining, leaving us more dependent on imported food supplies when we can’t produce our own. It’s not very likely that any re-settled boat person is going to end up owning our energy companies, our transport companies, our stock exchange, or any of the other assets Horton lists as at possible risk.

In spite of the Greens raising the issue of the dangers of foreign ownership for our future and ultimately our sovereignty there will not be, I predict, anything like the furore over foreign investment that there is over boat arrivals.

Other than what spews forth from the corporations who stand to benefit enormously, of course, and we can likely prepare ourselves for billion dollar advertising campaigns as soon as any serious rumbling starts up.

It’s undoubtedly in the interests of corporations and governments that xenophobic fears (apparently endemic in some human communities) of being invaded and conquered are channeled away from the issue of foreign ownership, and into something as petty as a couple of thousand boat arrivals.

Abbott says Gillard “too precious” about “bitch” word

25 Mar

by Stephen Rowler via flickr


Not content with standing under a banner proclaiming that Julia Gillard is “Bob Brown’s Bitch,” Opposition Leader Tony Abbot (aka the Nope Dope ®!!) said on the 7.30 Report last night that Prime Minister Julia Gillard is getting a bit “too precious” about the signs.

I’m not easily offended – I have to stop myself from scrawling the F word on signs in public parks in Nevada that say “No profanities. Have a nice day.” But I don’t like the signs I saw at yesterday’s Tea Party moment in front of Parliament House.

As others have pointed out, we’ve seen more violent rallies in the past. Then there was that spectacular papier-mâché John Howard as a little dog with its nose up George Bush’s fundament.

I thought that was pretty funny.

But calling a female PM some bloke’s bitch has really got up my nose, and I don’t even care that much for the PM. It’s nothing to do with the dignity of office either, that disappeared as a consideration a long time ago.

The bitch sign is actually no more offensive than portraying Howard as an arse licker, except that’s not a gender specific insult, whereas bitch most certainly is.

If you call a bloke a c**t  that’s a bigger insult than calling him a prick. Some feminists regularly try to insult me by telling me I’ve got a prick in my head, and I should get back in my “man fondling box”, and strangely, I’m not offended by either of those observations. If a woman called me a “c**t I wouldn’t bat an eyelash, but if a man used the same expletive in anger, I’d be a little troubled and keep my distance.

Then there’s those wonderful subversives who reclaim bad words and turn them right back at you. I love to see forbidden language exposed for what it is – words with cultural baggage.

It all comes down to intent – what forces fuel the use of the expletives? Loathing, rage, fear? Affection, humour, joshing? It’s the emotions that give language life  and meaning.

The difference for me between the Gillard bitch placards, and Howard as a bad mannered dog is humour. There was nothing humorous about the bitch placards. They were a little bit scary because of that. Their rage-filled message was unmediated by invitations to laughter.

Though there are groups in which the word is entirely lacking in offense who would have found it funny.

I didn’t like it, but I have to concede that’s an entirely personal preference and I can’t make a moral judgement on whether or not Gillard is “too precious” and Abbott is “sexist” in positioning himself in a manner that endorses the sentiments of the sign. I suspect he wanted to insult the PM, he usually does. And she usually wants to insult him.

We live in a culture of insult, daily faced with the onerous task of decoding the language used by us and around us, making instant judgements abut whether or not the words were intended to offend, and whether or not we’ll agree to be offended.

But what I do intensely dislike, no matter where it comes from, is the distorted, screaming fury (or fake fury that’s even worse) that sets the tone in Parliament and increasingly outside the chamber. It doesn’t matter what they say when they’ve turned themselves into the raging furies, frothing and spitting from faces reddened with outrage, real or fake.

I can’t hear them anymore.
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