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Category Archives: 2007 Election

Reichsministers Howard & Brough are gone. Ruddock remains. The fools – Coonan, Andrews, Abbott – remain. But with power stripped from their hands, they’re impotent. And their best hope today announced he’d not take leadership.

I’m sunburnt. Extremely sunburnt & sleep-deprived. I did all day at the polling booth. Then sat up watching the coverage and engaging in SMS conversations. By the end of the night, the only shadows were uncertainty in Bennelong and Swan.

It’s 9 years since my excommunication. And now we’ve won one, I can forgive myself.

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One aspect of life in Rome that differs from life in the provinces occurs at dinner parties. The kinds of dinner parties Caerulia & I used to have when we were married were interesting affairs. We’d invite 3-4 friends over. Everyone would bring a course, and the food would be shared at our table.
Because Rome is how it is, our guests would be people we knew from all different paths of our lives – old friends from university, work colleagues past and present, friends of friends, colleagues of mine from the Labor Party. And we’d always mix it up – we’d deliberately invite people who didn’t know each other so the social mix would be different each time.

Inevitably, the post-dinner conversation, usually while still at the table and consuming dessert or wine, would shift to solving the problems of the world, or at least our small portion of it. Caerulia had worked for some government departments, as had I. Our guests would have worked for a different mix, and so there was some overlap but generally coverage of a lot of different areas.
As people do in these situations, everyone would chip in with their small piece of the puzzle, but the solutions to most of the issues of the day were clear-cut and simple. In essence, you sit people down at a table from different sides of a problem, and they can solve it.

It always puzzled me therefore why our Imperial leaders make such bad decisions, or why policy differences seem so entrenched. I mustn’t be very bright because it took me a long time to find the answer. It’s politics.

This is highlighted by the current election campaign we’re in. Policies are not written because they are in the best interests of the country. But because they’re aimed at winning the vote in three weeks. And whoever wins, decisions wont be made sanely and sensibly next month either, because after the vote in three weeks, it’ll all be about winning votes in three years. Road funding. Health funding. Education funding. It’s all about winning votes in marginal seats. And that’s just about pandering to the self-interest of the voters who might swing one way or another.

We’re not yet in the same boat as the Americans – where their ruling class governs almost intentionally in the national dis-interest. But we’re not far off.

aus2007.pngDespite being a very political creature, and an active member of a political party, I think it’s abhorrent to tell people how they should vote. I also think it’s terrible for people to vote for a party that is not representative of their opinions.

Too often in modern democracies voters choose their political party the way they choose their football team. You know the kind of people – those who think that their full-forward is always in the right, even when he’s done a Tony Lockett and clocked the opposing fullback and broken his nose. So is it with politics – everything my guy says is right, everything your guy says is wrong. I’m the total opposite. I think that as someone who studied politics at uni, worked in the political realm and knows a lot about it, it’s my job not to tell you who to vote for, but to help you decide for yourself.

A few years ago, websites started popping up with “political compasses” on them. I always found them amusing because people who said they loved Party Leader 1 and despised Party B found themselves answering in ways that showed them more aligned to Party B.

Anyway, this election, here’s two political compasses to try. The Political Compass is US-based – it has a results page based on Australian parties though. And The Vote-a-matic is Australian. Neither are perfect, but both are better than deciding who to vote for based on who has the better hair stylist.

(Inspired by Enny)

debate.jpg

I didn’t watch it. I find them boring. Yeah, despite being the world’s biggest political junkie, I think they’re dull. But from the commentary today, I am pretty sure I made the right decision. I have though a couple of comments.

First, the Reichsminister for Health said today that the worm was irrelevant because it went negative the moment Emperor John began to speak. Before he’d even *said* anything, people were indicating negativity. Hey Tony, guess what – that means your leader is on the nose, and noone’s listening. That doesn’t mean the people are wrong – it means that, unless something changes fast, you’re on a path to destruction.

Second, and I’ll be brief – because I know noone gives a flying fuck about the election – I heard today that John was stressed and hostile in his demeanor, but Kev was much more amiable. Is it just me who thinks it’s sweetly ironic that after 11 years under Emperor John, it’s Kev who’s feeling relaxed and comfortable?

In 1996, after a year or more of bad poll results, Keating called an election.

In the opening weeks of the campaign, his government received a bounce in the polls, and for a brief moment, it looked winnable.

Then, he was slaughtered.

There’s an election campaign on, and me, the biggest political junkie you all know is deathly silent. Nevermind, once I get the home broadband sorted (it’s not as sorted as I’d have liked it to be) then you’ll all get sick of my rantings.

Dark VictoryAfter the end of the war in 1945, the occupied Germany underwent a ‘de-Nazification’ process. Because Party membership was compulsory for many professions after 1937, being a Nazi did not make one an evil person automatically. But Party members had to be assessed as to their involvement in evil acts.

After the death of Stalin in 1953, the Soviet Union had a similar purge of hardline actors who committed crimes. Ideological cleansing also took place, as the communists disowned many of the policies of the Stalin years. Similar disowning of their history happens when many long-serving leaders finally fall (see Bjelke-Petersen’s regime or many eastern European countries at the end of the Cold War).

As I watch the death throes of the current government, I wonder how many of the current Cabinet are trying to cover themselves against the future, against a time when Howard is no longer all-conquering, and their actions are called into question. Especially those around the 2001 “Dark Victory” win.

jwhapec.jpgWhen I studied history and politics at uni in the mid 90s, I learnt about the British election of 1945. Despite having just been Prime Minister of Britain through years of war and defeating the Nazi regime, Winston Churchill led his party to an election against Labour’s Clement Attlee, and got wiped out.

It seems that when the war started, a government of national unity was formed, and this meant that both Conservative and Labour leaders were involved in Cabinet. The result was that by 1945, after years of war (and no elections) the senior people in the Labour Party had credibility as alternate leaders for the country. So in that sense, the Conservatives had created their own defeat.

That story has come back to mind today, as I watch our Prime Minister share the limelight with Kevin Rudd. Howard wanted this conference to be his great opportunity to be a ‘statesman’, sharing media coverage with world leaders such as Putin, Bush and many others.

Instead though, the evening news is dominated by things like Kevin Rudd speaking Mandarin at a press conference with China’s Hu Jintao. The week is giving Rudd a chance to stand with such leaders along with the Prime Minister, and he’s coming across as competent and more in tune with the region than Howard.

Tonight though, a great story on the news, as Laurie Oakes claims that Alexander Downer has approached Howard and given him the word. Oakes says Howard will not be Prime Minister by the end of next week. According to the media, the biggest challenge they’ve got is convincing Peter Costello to step up. He sees it as a poisoned chalice apparently – to lead his party in the lead-up to an increasingly inevitable defeat.

It’s making the bet I put on a few months ago – against Howard winning in the seat of Bennelong – look like a good investment. 🙂

latham.jpgIn 2004, I was living in Jerusalem in the leadup to the election. Back then, Labor‘s leader was Mark Latham who I had gotten to know when I worked in Beazley’s office and so I wanted him to win. Well, I was an eight-year veteran within the Labor Party at that stage, so I guess I wanted us to win even if our leader was Tinky Winky Teletubby. But Mark being the leader gave me a personal reason beyond the ideological one.

teletubbies_tinky_winky.jpgDuring the weeks leading up to the calling of the election, I had identified, amongst my circle of friends, a few people – maybe half a dozen – who were also committed to the cause and so when the campaign period hit, I’d be able to mobilise them to help. For those of you who haven’t worked on political campaigns, I’ll tell you that every extra body is a valuable asset. I met the campaign managers for two seats in northern Jerusalem – both held by the Government by less than 3% – and for the seat of a local Labor front-bencher. So what I was offering the campaign managers was a significant resource.

During the six week campaign, I rang each of the campaign managers more than once and the sum total of requests I got for myself and my slaves was to help hand out “how-to-vote” cards on election day – for *another* party that Labor was assisting.

It took me a long time to work out why this happened. Why our side had just wasted their potential in provincial marginal seats. And the reasoning came down to one man – the local Judean GovernorKing Peter.

peterpic.jpgAt a state level, the provincial leader is so popular, so media-friendly, that he waves his magic wand, and delivers victory. At the level of the local campaigns on the ground, the party workers have come to believe that nothing they do will affect the result, because the election will be decided somewhere else. They can sit on their arses and someone will hand them a win.

I can’t say this will happen again. But given Peter’s continued dominance in Judea at the provincial election last Spring, there’s no reason to believe it wont. I’ve asked people within the higher echelons of the party organisation what has been done to avoid this problem this time around, and got brushed off. Only the member for Jerusalem bothered to respond and discuss the matter with me in detail.

bobbrown.jpgIn response to allegations Kevin Rudd went to a strip club in New York, Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Greens said “Four years ago Kevin Rudd got drunk and took himself into a strip club. Four years ago John Howard, sober, took Australia into the Iraq war. I think the electorate can judge which one did the more harm.”

I wrote about it several times when it was first in the media, and it seems that the suspicions of my local member were correct. The Immigration Minister has been overruled by a court, and Doctor Haneef’s work visa has been restored. Actually, I’ll fully expect now that the Minister and his pathetic colleagues in cabinet will find another way to throw their weight around and further harass this guy. It certainly has sunk their “tough on national security” credibility when they have their own courts ruling they acted with nothing more than “a cynical use of power”. The full article that I have just had emailed to me is below the fold.

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The word going around Rome is that the Liberals have booked slabs of advertising time for late October. Which I think will mean a late October election. Ah, I’m glad I’ve returned home in time for the games to begin.

Has anyone else noticed that when there’s an election in the air, everything takes on a new fragrance? I usually avoid political issues, but those who know me know I am an intensely political animal, so I’m in the mood to say a few things this evening.

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