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How the Australian Labor Party could win the next election May. 22nd, 2013 @ 11:27 am
1) Keep all poll and focus group results away from Julia Gillard. Tell her that she's not allowed to say anything in range of a microphone unless she means it.

2) File all suggestions from the NSW Right in the shredder.

3) Reinstate Kevin Rudd as Foreign Minister.

4) Respond to the Coalition entirely through the medium of "quotations from Hansard that make Tony Abbott or other notable figures in that Party look evil, hypocritical, stupid or all of the above".

5) Try not to let them replace their Chief Whip. A blatantly lying, spectacularly stupid (in that he lies about things that he wrote down in correspondence with the ALP's Chief Whip, which, you know, MIGHT THEN GET OUT), petty nasty jerk like that is definitely to Labor's advantage.

Also, seriously. Lying to try and get out of looking like an arse is one thing, but you're just going to look like a bigger arse if there exists written evidence of your arsiness in the possession of the people who will get the most possible advantage out of showing the entire country that you are, in fact, an arse.

(For non-Australian/non-news-following readers: The Opposition Chief Whip refused to allow a pair so that an ALP parliamentarian could go be with her sick child. When criticised for this, he claimed he didn't know it was her child who was sick... despite having referred to the MP's sick child in the letter to the Government Whip in which he refused the pair. Naturally, the Government Whip's reaction was to publish that correspondence, because why on earth would you not.)

For the first time in my life, I want my country to start acting muscular. Feb. 16th, 2013 @ 12:46 pm
Malaysia has detained an Australian Senator under armed guard.

My best guess is that this is perhaps aimed at intimidating Anwar Ibrahim, a sort of "oh you have foreign friends, well we won't let them in" thing, but it's a pretty bushleague way to go about it, because it's an unprecedented act of international aggression.

Because, seriously. Detaining a Senator under armed guard.

This is not something that we should let happen.

Things I want to happen now:

- Since the reason Xenophon has been deemed a "security risk" can only be that he's critical of the anti-democratic everything the Malaysian government does, and the reason for the now-cancelled visit was a low-profile mission to talk to a few people about how the forthcoming Malaysian elections were likely to be run, I want Australia - and our allies, including you, USA - agitating for United Nations intervention in the election.

- And by agitating I mean insisting. I mean that Australia should demand an apology from the Malaysian government, and demand the Malaysian government accept international administration of their elections. I think we should insist on an electoral police action, like we did in East Timor, sending in the army to ensure that Malaysia gets free and fair elections, if UN observers that we demand Malaysia accept see *anything* suspect at all.

Seriously. Wars have happened over less than this. And while I don't normally advocate getting all pushy and aggressive in international relations, the scale of oh no you better didn't involved in the detention by armed guards of a serving Senator is beyond the expression by mere words. This is a mobilise your active military and start positioning them in "training exercises" scale of national offence.

On Julia Gillard Oct. 21st, 2012 @ 12:54 pm
I was tremendously proud of her recent, much-remarked-upon speech on the topic of misogyny.

(I was irritated by the people - where by people I mean Liberals* and by Liberals I don't necessarily mean people - accusing her of "defending a misogynist" in the speech, since she very, very specifically didn't do that. The only argument she made that could be construed as "defending" Peter Slipper, as opposed to attacking Tony Abbott, was that the matter under discussion is currently before the courts, and that, this not being an entirely new topic, after all, the court proceedings be allowed to run to completion before Parliamentary decisions be undertaken. In my view, it's actually a cogent point.)

However, two points, one shallow, one not, remain for me:

1) I am glad that, in a video that was watched around the world, Prime Minister Gillard was wearing a nice blue jacket, not her horrible, horrible red one that clashes with her hair. (Julia, you're what, fifty? You are old enough to know that your hair will clash with almost any shade of red. In general I don't think criticism on the basis of your clothing is valid, but trust me, I would be just as thoroughly critical of a man with your hair colour wearing a bright red jacket.)

2) Just about everything wrong with Julia Gillard's policies, political career, and government would be absolutely fine if only she would undertake to give a firm, clear fuck off to any person or policy emerging from the NSW Right.

attn: Australians Nov. 12th, 2011 @ 10:22 am
From GetUp:
It's crunch time in the campaign for marriage equality. This weekend, a group of conservative pastors will ask congregations across Australia to sign a petition against equality.

They already claim some 34,000 signatures, and they're planning to deliver the petition at the ALP National Conference in a few weeks, when the party's policy on marriage equality will be decided.

The good news is that GetUp members may be able to deliver our campaign to the Prime Minister in person any day now. GetUp members earlier this year chipped in donations and won a charity auction to have dinner with Julia Gillard. Three inspirational same-sex couples are lined up to dine with Julia Gillard, and we’re expecting the big day to be in the next few weeks.

Can you help Sandy and Louise, Steve and John and Sarah and Emma ensure that they have a HUGE national petition to deliver to the PM over dinner?

So, if you're Australian, and haven't signed this petition, please do.

Also, I love GetUp *really hard* when they do things like this. A while back there was a charity auction to get surfing lessons from Tony Abbott. GetUp won that, and sent a refugee.

Why I will never vote for Tony Abbott Oct. 24th, 2011 @ 12:29 pm
Watching last Thursday's Drum: Despite consensus, including from the Defence Force, that attempting to turn back boats carrying asylum seekers is dangerous, for the asylum seekers and for Australian force personnel, the Mad Monk wants to stick with that as their policy.

The Navy won't be happy, regardless; the Australian Navy exists to 1) defend our country and 2) rescue people in maritime distress off our coastlines. (We don't have a Coast Guard; if it's too far out for Surf Life Savers, it's up to the Navy.)

Meanwhile, CHOGM is happening in my city from next week. I should find a schedule of public events, see if I can go take some photos. Last time the Queen was in Perth I didn't have a decent camera, now I do...

In which the problem is demonstrated Oct. 17th, 2011 @ 10:00 am
So, I'm watching yesterday's episode of Insiders.

At one point, discussing the usage (and the "KISS OF DEATH" headline) of the photo of Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd kissing each other on the cheek after the carbon "tax" legislation passed, Piers Akerman made the astonishing comment: "Given that we're all laughing and joking about this leadership stoush, can't we admit that there clearly is one?" (I may be paraphrasing slightly.)

To which I say: Are you kidding me?

"The media and pundits keep saying that there's a leadership challenge, even though no-one in the ALP has said so. But given that we, as pundits, are talking about it, doesn't that mean it's definitely happening?"

No. No, it doesn't.

This came after he infuriated me by suggesting that Australia shouldn't be tackling carbon emissions because any solution to the climate change issue has to be global.

I hate to break it to Jabba the Pundit (seriously, the resemblance is uncanny - I'm not down on people being overweight, but the slug-like appearance is generally only apparent on slug-like people), but the Australian government has no authority over the rest of the world or over global responses to climate change. Our best option, as something like, per capita, the worst polluter in the world, is to lead by example. To do our part.

So shut up.

An e-mail exchange Sep. 21st, 2011 @ 01:18 pm
From: Simpkins, Luke (MP)
To: [My full former name, including my middle name]

Dear [my former first name only]

I am writing to let you know that there is only one more day to get your submissions into the shotgun parliamentary inquiry into the Labor Government’s carbon tax.

The Gillard Government thinks it’s reasonable for Australians to review and comment on over 1,100 pages of carbon tax legislation in a matter of days, having only called for submissions in Saturday's papers.

Julia Gillard knows Australians don’t want this tax, which will cost jobs, drive up prices and hurt the economy, while doing nothing for the environment.

The Prime Minister is in denial of the facts and clearly doesn’t want the Australian people to have their say.

I urge you to make your views known by lodging a submission, no matter how brief, to

The Secretary

Joint Select Committee on Australia's Clean Energy Future Legislation

Parliament House


Written submissions must be received by this Thursday, 22 September. However, due to the timing constraints I recommend emailing your submission to

‪Labor is already denying Australians a vote on whether or not to have a carbon tax; hopefully people will not allow Julia Gillard's tactics to silence them as well.

Yours sincerely

Luke Simpkins

Federal Member for Cowan

--- Reply ---

Dear Luke,

Thank you for bringing this to my attention - I was sick over the weekend and missed it.

I appreciate being made aware of the opportunity to voice my support for carbon pricing directly.

Yours sincerely,
[my former name, first and last only]

Australian passports no longer support the gender binary Sep. 15th, 2011 @ 05:19 pm
New Australian passports will now have a third option for gender: If someone doesn't want to go with M for Male or F for Female, they can have their gender entered on their passport as "X".

The article quotes comments from Senator Louise Pratt, whose partner is a transgender man.
"There have been very many cases of people being detained at airports by immigration in foreign countries simply because their passports don't reflect what they look like," she said.

"It's very distressing, highly inconvenient and frankly sometimes dangerous."

DFAT (the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) has also, however, apparently issued a warning that this *can* cause problems crossing some international borders. Which is not so good, but that's not really within DFAT's purview, because the Australian DFAT does not actually control the affairs of foreigners.

Neither is the matter of birth certificates, which come under state law. Senator Pratt and a Connor Montgomery quoted in the article (whom I presume from context to be her partner) both say national reform on that question is necessary, but that's something that the Federal Government can encourage but not legislate, so.

Still, it's pretty significant, especially since you can get by without a birth certificate, especially if you have a passport. (Believe me, I know - I don't know where my birth certificate is, and even if I did, I believe it would be borderline useless in a number of respects, not least because it doesn't actually have my parents' names on it.)

So. Yay for Australia!

BBC on the different kinds of culture wars Aug. 13th, 2011 @ 01:08 pm
Penny Wong: Australia's Non-Story of the Week, on BBC news.

Our Finance Minister, the really-quite-awesome Penny Wong, and her girlfriend are going to have a baby.

Australia's national reaction more-or-less amounts to: "Hey, congrats." The only public figure to make negative comments is the odious Fred Nile, who's more-or-less a punchline to the vast majority of the country.

And yet, gay marriage is legal exactly nowhere in this country, and IVF for same-sex couples is illegal in South Australia, so Penny Wong and her beloved had to go out-of-state to get it done. Australia is an odd paradox that way; on the kind of social issues that are a really big deal in America, for the most part, we just don't get that worked up about them. You'd struggle to rouse the kind of protest and opposition to gay marriage that America often features, but you'd also struggle to rouse the kind of support America gets.

(Oh, and serving in the Australian army while being openly homosexual has been allowed since 1992. I had to look that up, because it's a non-issue here.)

In Australia, we just sort of talk about these issues, in a general sense, until the tide of General Opinion has shifted, at which point we quietly amend the law, or until it becomes a serious argument, at which point we vote on it. This is why we never had a Revolutionary War - we didn't make a fuss, until a few years ago the question of whether we wanted to abandon the monarchy in favour of a republic became a sufficiently major argument that we had a referendum on it, and we decided against.

This is one of the things I love about Australia, though. We, as a nation, do care about things, but it's just sort of un-Australian to get so violently exercised about it as Americans do.

It has its benefits, too. Our Prime Ministerial assassination tally still sits at zero, and my one close encounter with a Prime Minister is one you couldn't imagine having with an American president: while leaving an event John Howard had also been at, I was standing by the road near the War Memorial, waiting to cross, when a car stopped right in front of me. The man standing a couple of feet away from me got in it, and I realised, with some surprise, that it was in fact John Howard himself.

I can't imagine someone being three feet from Barack Obama in the midst of a dispersing crowd without being aware of his presence, somehow.

The problem with Julia Gillard. May. 5th, 2011 @ 10:07 am
Watching the news: a piece on upcoming welfare reform plans, in which the government is planning to run a trial program of pushing teenage parents into work or educational programs. My opinion on this is reserved until I know more about it; in general terms I'm quite strongly in favour of the apparent current government approach to the long-term unemployed, which is: "Well, if they're long-term unemployed in the current economy, they obviously don't have useful employable skills, so we need to provide educational opportunities to give them those skills."

Given that there's currently an apparent push to welfare reform despite the fact that, according to economists, we effectively have full employment at the moment, I'm in favour of a pro-education approach.

Anyway, that's not the point, really.

The thing that struck me was a shot of Julia Gillard, our Prime Minister, being offered a baby to interact with. You see the baby in front of her, being held up. Camera flashes start going off to the side.

Julia Gillard cups her hand by the baby's face, shielding its eyes from the flashes.

It's a strangely tender moment. There's a perceptiveness there, a caring about the baby as a tiny person rather than a political prop.

Julia Gillard, at heart, is someone who cares.

I honestly believe that she has the potential to be one of Australia's greatest ever Prime Ministers, but I seriously doubt that's going to happen. The problem with her as a leader is that she'll be doing well in a given area, but then, it seems, she'll be influenced by the shadowy, factional power blocs in the ALP and seem fake and weak again - giving fodder along the way to the Liberal Party.

It's so frustrating. The current leader of the Liberal Party is Tony "the Mad Monk" Abbott, a man who has been widely loathed across the country since before I was old enough to vote, I think. We hated him when he was the Health Minister under John Howard, he continues to be creepy, offensive, and unpleasant... and yet the Liberal Party is doing shockingly well.

If the Liberal Party is beind led by Tony Abbott and yet is not polling in single digits, every other party is failing itself, failing Australia, and failing the world.

A post worth reading (especially if you're Australian and not from WA) Apr. 14th, 2011 @ 02:35 pm
Don't bet on the joys of the pokies.

We don't have the clubs and club culture here. We don't have the pokies everywhere either. (There's probably some at the casino, but I wouldn't even know.)

I find myself wondering just how much of the degree to which WA is just better than the other states can be traced to that. According to the Productivity Commission, About 4 per cent of adults play gaming machines weekly or more often. Around 15 per cent of this group would be classified as problem gamblers, with around an additional 15 per cent experiencing moderate risks. And their share of total spending on machines is estimated to range around 40 per cent.

That's an awful lot of people.

In which there are miscellaneous topics. Mar. 29th, 2011 @ 12:44 pm
Writing Paper.

Last night I went to the Officeworks down the road to buy writing paper, because I owe my great-aunt a letter several months ago, ditto my cousin, and I wanted proper letter-writing paper to write on, since "printer paper" just doesn't scream "I value you and our communication" to me.

When I was younger, I wrote a lot more letters than I do these days. It's not just the advent of everyone-has-email-now - it was also that my grandmother was still alive, and I wrote to her (not enough, but I did). Nowadays I'm in contact with new elderly relatives, but I'm still terrible at correspondence, so it was allowed to happen that I didn't have any decent paper.

I remember pads of airmail paper. Maybe they still have them at the post office, though I don't remember seeing them last time I was at one, but certainly not at Officeworks. Instead I have "parchment"-style tinted paper that is all heavy, relatively speaking - I just don't mind so much because I'm planning to send other stuff along as well.

Video games.

I started playing a flight/combat simulator called Wings of Prey. It's a World War Two game. My impressions so far:

- The controls are complicated, but as I'm gradually getting used to them, I'm finding they work. You're never going to be entirely uncomplicated when you have to control flaps, ailerons, and rudder just for steering, as well as needing weapon controls, throttle controls, and controls for issuing wing commands... among other things. In a tutorial mission I got some praise for a landing from the instructor that felt quite undeserved, because yes, I touched down flawlessly, but on the other hand, I couldn't find the wheel brake and coasted at high speed across the runway, into the neighbouring field, then flipped my Spitfire over a hedge and blew up.

- It's very, very pretty. So far I've mainly flown around only over Dover and Hardinge, but they've laid out the towns and the harbour below rather delightfully.

- But some of the voice acting is remarkably, spectacularly terrible. While some is quite good. I am not sure how they managed that, since I can't help but think that they could have found a better voice actor for Owen Wright (I think his name is) if they'd opened the door to their offices and grabbed the first dude to come past, tied him to a chair, and had him read the lines without even telling him what they were for.

For most of the last week, my previous obsession with Pokemon Black has given way to obsessively playing Final Fantasy: Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift instead. Kupo.

Australian politics.

Concetta Fieravanti-Wells is an unpleasant-seeming person. I have a strong feeling that I couldn't have an extended conversation with her without wanting to tell her to shut the hell up.

People are talking positively about former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally in the wake of the NSW Labor Party's electoral decimation, and it's pretty clear that NSW Labor was basically toxic and has been for some years. There's a certain rot that seems to set into parties who've held power for too long, and NSW Labor seems to have been rotted through quite thoroughly.

However, I can't help but think that if I lived in New South Wales, I would have been uncomfortable with having her as my Premier not just because she wasn't elected Premier, but also because she's American. She was born, raised, and educated in America. She only moved to Australia in the late 90s and became an Australian citizen in 2000.

I don't think of myself as at all xenophobic, and I don't, in principle or in practice, have a problem with first-generation immigrants running for political office. Hell, I am a first-generation immigrant. Prime Minister Julia Gillard, our current head of government, was not born in Australia, and I don't have a problem with that.

But Keneally entered Parliament in 2003. She had then been living in Australia not more than about five years. That's just not long enough. And the approximately ten years she'd been living in Australia when she became State Premier of New South Wales is really truly not enough - especially since she apparently joined the Labor Party in 2000, too, which means she's basically been a political hack the entire time. It's like she came to Australia and immediately set out to take over.

I think there should be a sort of legal minimum residency period before you get to run actual Australian governments. Let's say eighteen years - your Australian-ness needs to be old enough to be a legal adult before you get to run any part of our country.

Because otherwise it's just weird.

Dear UK anti-AV campaign: Shut up, immediately, about Australia. Mar. 22nd, 2011 @ 09:44 am
You know, Australia, as a rule, isn't generally much of a factor in the politics of other countries. We're just not.

But the approaching referendum on the Alternative Vote in the UK has the anti-AV campaigners launching a quite amazing quantity of scurrilous lies, ridiculous misunderstandings and outright smears towards our nation, and it's a tiny bit insulting.

For a full breakdown of both what they're saying about us and just how wrong they are, you can go straight to Antony Green's blog. It's worth noting that the smears extend to the No2AV campaign's website having described him as a "self-styled 'Australian Elections Expert'", which is almost, in and of itself, a sufficient basis for war.

Antony Green isn't a self-styled expert. Antony Green is the national public broadcaster's election expert and has been for many years, and his knowledge of Australian elections is without parallel. He is spectacularly knowledgeable and accurate, and also unbelievably scrupulous in his non-partisan status. No-one knows how Antony Green feels about politics. He has never evinced anything even approaching a bias towards any party or candidate. He is one of the most respected people in this country, and he is loved nation-wide every time we have an election.

Impugning Antony Green is something you just don't get to do, dammit.

I'm also particularly irked by criticisms based on the fact that Australian elections don't get a formal result declaration for a couple of weeks after the election itself is held. This keeps being offered as criticism of the AV system.

News flash, you ignorant Pommie bastards: Australia is a bigger country than the United Kingdom. We have INDIVIDUAL ELECTORATES that are bigger than the United Kingdom. And because we are a proper democracy, it is important to us that everyone gets to vote.

This means that postal votes are counted, and postal votes don't close off for 10-14 days after the election, because some citizens of this country live a very long way from pretty much anywhere.

Even if that weren't the case, the election can't be final until the ballot boxes have been taken from polling stations to the returning officers, which also takes longer when, for example, you have a single electorate that is six times the size of the UK.

But really the delay is about postal votes. Because postal and absentee ballots are given sufficient time to get there, because in Australia, everyone gets to vote.

Frankly, a country that mismanages the basics of democracy so badly that some people don't get to vote because they were still waiting in line at a polling station when the polls closed doesn't get to say ANYTHING negative about Australian elections. Because ours work.

I don't even know where to start sometimes. Feb. 23rd, 2011 @ 11:50 am
I'm watching the last Q&A. There's a representative from One Nation there, who's declaring that the problem with Muslim immigration is that "we have a religion", etc, this whole extended speech that basically assumes Australian = Christian. A mixture of outrage/anger and laughter from the audience to various comments, and he says that he doesn't "understand why this is funny".

Because, Ian Nelson, Australia is not a "Christian country". We are a secular country, and we are, actually, a multicultural country, even if a lot of people who talk about multiculturalism don't seem to have any real idea of what that means and as a nation we're actually pretty terrible at being multicultural.

We're reasonably good about trying, at least, not to be discriminatory. We're not so good at intercultural inclusiveness - we have a bit of a problem with people who think that the way to recognise a multiplicity of religions and cultures is to try and eliminate the outward expressions of the dominant culture.

I think that's wrong. I think that the way you recognise that you have a plurality of cultures is to recognise all of them. I think that the problem of the dominance of Christian festivals - though celebrated in a thoroughly secular way - is best addressed by promoting the widespread celebration of the other festivals as well. I want an Australia where Eid and Diwali and Chinese New Year are a big deal, not one where Christmas isn't.

As for the people bitching about why Australia as a whole should be paying for the reconstruction of Queensland: Because Queensland is part of Australia. Because this is our country. So shut up.

Pardon me, I need to get this national pride out of my eye... Dec. 8th, 2010 @ 10:39 am
I'm loving Australia a little today.


Because, across our political spectrum, and regardless of quite a lot of disagreement about Assange's actions and so on, there seems to be a growing consensus that what we, as a nation, do agree on is that we want our government to see that he is given all the due protections of law.

Various American pundits and politicians are calling for his murder.

There is no Australian consensus on whether what he's done is right or wrong. But we're developing a broad consensus that if he's broken the law, then that's something to resolve in a court, with all due process, and if he hasn't, then his freedoms must be protected - and it's our government, our nation's duty to see that they are.

He may well be a complete bastard. I have seen little of him, in the interviews I've watched, that would suggest he's not an utter tool.

But he's our complete bastard. An Australian tool. And in this country, you don't stop losing the rights of citizenship just because you do something the government doesn't like. (Unless you're serving a prison sentence of greater than three years, but that's somewhat controversial.)

Things Which Annoy Sami Today Sep. 17th, 2010 @ 09:41 am
1) Hypocritical evangelical atheists.

There's a looong list of people who fall into this category, but it's an opinion piece on The Drum website that's set me off today.

Basically, I'm talking about your PZ Myers/Richard Dawkins types, who are not only atheists, but are hostile to non-atheists and hostile to the very notion of treating religion with respect.

In this column Bob Ellis accuses the Prime Minister of "theological correctness" because she "turned up to honour Mary MacKillop" despite being an atheist.

To which I say: what the hell?

Yes, the Prime Minister is an atheist.

However, she is still the Prime Minister. In much the same way, it would not be inappropriate for her to attend a major event for the beef farming industry if she were a vegetarian. Because she's the head of our bloody government, and her duties thereas are not subject entirely to her personal whim.

Evangelical atheists aggravate me in general, because it's so... I don't know. Tacky. Rude. Irritating.

I have friends who are atheists. I have friends whose religious inclinations I don't really know at all. I have friends whose religions are different from mine - across the spectrum. A Hindu agnostic is not quite the same thing as a Christian agnostic, after all - if someone is taking the non-existence of the Judeo-Christian God as a given, but is ambivalent about the Hindu gods, that's a very different outlook from someone who is uncertain about the existence of the Judeo-Christian God but assumes that the Hindu gods aren't real.

(Religion is more complex than just the three Abrahamic religions, after all, and very few people even consider the ancient pantheons at all. Zeus, for most people, is just assumed to be a false myth.)

All of us manage to get by without sneering at each other over this.

I can go weeks, even months at a time without mentioning specifically that I consider myself to be a Christian at all.

I think both Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers would rupture something if they tried to go even a few days without a diatribe about the non-existence of God.

I consider it a firm point of basic courtesy that, unless someone has attempted to convert you to their religious position, it is entirely inappropriate to try and persuade them of yours.

And I consider it somewhat reprehensible to accuse someone of duplicity merely for showing respect to a position that differs from their own. They keep saying how Gillard "despises" Christianity, and yet: no, patently she doesn't, she just doesn't agree with it.

Micropost Sep. 16th, 2010 @ 08:59 am
To come: A post on why Richard Dawkins et al inspire me, at present, to fits of both rage and smugness.

Currently: Watching an interview with Bob Brown on The Drum.

Query: Do the Greens know that their leader is a reanimated corpse? Seriously. What would it do to the electoral landscape of this country if the Greens leader wasn't an absolute charisma vacuum?

ETA: Also, Spectator-contributing Liberal hack: Shut the hell up, and no, if you're citing NOEL FUCKING PEARSON as an example of an "indigenous rights activist" who agrees with your point of view, you do not get to wear that smug douche face. "Can you give me their names?" No, he doesn't have to tell you the names of indigenous leaders he's been working with, because they might not WANT the right-wing media to start pissing on their lives.

Seriously. Noel Pearson is the right wing's pet "Indigenous Australian Leader" (who isn't one) they trot out whenever they want to claim that they're supporting indigenous Australians with their latest act of flagrant racism - while at the same time, they think very little of him, they don't care about anything he has to say unless it's serving their agenda.

That bastard supported AND STILL SUPPORTS the Northern Territory invasion "intervention". There's a reason most indigenous Australians hate him. He's like a black Windschuttle only with a higher goddamn body count.

Current Music: the drone of a march fly - no, wait, Brown's still talking

In which anarchy has not overcome us Sep. 8th, 2010 @ 12:22 pm
So, Australia has a government!

My thoughts:

1) Thank God. Specifically, thank God we have a Labor government - setting aside my fundamental ideological conflicts with the Liberal Party and the Coalition, the current Coalition is a monumental clusterfuck of incompetence, bad judgement and dubious sanity.

One should not spend as much time saying: "Wait - he did what?" as I have in the last couple of weeks about people who aspire to run your country.

Granted, if I were British or American, I would have been doing so for quite some time, but I'm Australian - I'm used to a more low-key politics, where an argument about a ute qualifies as a massive scandal.

2) Shut up, Tony Abbott and all his supporters, about "they got more votes so they should get to be the government" or "they got more seats so they should get to be the government". Because this is patently not true. Labor won the two-party-preferred and the Liberal Party have never won more seats - they're part of a Coalition, and the Coalition did not beat the Labor/Greens alliance, and more importantly, the Labor/Greens/Independents alliance won enough seats to form the bloody Government. You know how we can tell?

Because they're forming Government. The independents are still independent, but they've pledged to vote with the Government on supply bills and any motions of no confidence, which means that the government will hold.

The fact that the government will need to get any other legislation past the gauntlet of the Greens and two rural independents is potentially the best thing to happen to Australia in decades.

3) Dear Julia Gillard,

Congratulations on becoming Australia's first woman Prime Minister for real. I am, genuinely, glad that you are not to be an odd footnote of history, because that would have been very sad, for more reasons than just that it would mean the Mad Monk being our Prime Minister.

Now, please tell the faceless party men who keep feeding you soundbites to shut the hell up, because when you are yourself - caught unprepared, by creepy ex-Leaders of your party or the Chaser, for example - you are magnificent. Composed and classy as all get out - you are someone I can be proud to see as the leader of my country.

By comparison, when you're making scripted remarks, or being the "new Julia", or any of that PR flack crap, I cringe with sympathetic embarrassment at how terrible you seem at, well, everything.

Be yourself, please, because I have a sneaking suspicion you're actually kind of awesome.

Also, change the photo on your profile on the Parliamentary website. You're a beautiful woman, but God knows if I'd only looked at that photo I'd never know it. A picture tells a thousand words, but those words should not be a short work of fiction detailing how you'll get pretty Dorothy - and her little dog, too.

Best wishes,

4) Dear people who got frustrated by the hung parliament situation and wanted to "go back to the polls",

You're morons. We have a preferential voting system. If we'd held another election we would have got ourselves another hung Parliament, and if knowing that a hung Parliament was likely would change how you voted, you clearly voted like a moron the first time, and I don't feel this qualifies you for a second go.

If you voted informal, and now realise that had the informal votes been formal, they would have made the difference in just about every electorate in the country: suck it up, you have only yourself to blame, and maybe next time you will give proper consideration to the importance of the democratic franchise, hmm? (Also, your actions mildly disgust me.)

Grow up,

5) Oakeshott is looking pretty awesome. I read his quasi-White Paper on parliamentary reform (yes, all of it), and it's kind of brilliant.

6) No, Wilkie didn't set a honey trap. He just gave due consideration to the fact that the Liberals' response was patently ill-considered, and they were clearly just trying to buy his support.

Team Windschuttle And The Really Bad Rhetoric Mar. 25th, 2006 @ 11:38 pm
So, this evening I was reading Keith Windschuttle's article in the current issue of Quadrant: Why Australia Is Not A Racist Country.

And if I were having less success at being amused by it, I'd be absolutely outraged.

His argument is not only that Australia is not racist now (his assertion of a happy, multicultural nation fails to take into account the success of One Nation, such as it was, or the race riots in Cronulla, but then he seems to be very good at selective attentiveness), it never was.  While a critical reading of the article by anyone interested will, of course, provide many examples of why he sucks, and unless you care enough to read the article itself you probably won't care for an exhaustive breakdown written by me, there are a couple of particularly good examples I can't resist.

1) He cites as a reason for the non-racist nature of Australia society the fact that... Rudyard Kipling was popular.

Apparently in his world there was no racist content in Kipling.

Note that I think very highly of Kipling, and am a huge fan of such of his work as I have read.  However:

But despite his dirty 'ide, 'e was white, clear white, inside...

Nooo, that's not racist.  The fact that Gunga Din concludes: "Though I've beated you and flayed you, by the livin' gawd that made you, you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din." does not mean there is no racist content.  (I may have the variant spelling and punctuation wrong, I'm quoting from memory.)

2) Where there is clear evidence of popular racist sentiment, he dismisses it; e.g. when referring to the strong concern of the governments dismantling the White Australia Policy that incautiously fast progress on that matter would cause them to lose office by provoking racist outcry by the public, he says that this fear was simply, "in [his] opinion, unwarranted."


3) "After the early gold rushes, the Chinese were largely excluded by the organised labour movement from the traditional skilled trades, as well as other unionised occupations such as shearing and wharf labouring.  Nonetheless, they found their own economic roles.  They came to dominate market gardening and eventually had an effective monopoly, growing no less than 75 per cent of the vegetables in the whole country.  This led them to become the principal hawkers of vegetables and to control about one fifth of Australia's fruit trade.  Chinese also found ready employment in the hospitality industry, especially as cooks.  Half the cooks in Australian hotels in the late nineteenth century were Chinese.  In the 1880s they dominated the low-cost furniture manufacturing industry, leaving the high-quality end of the market to European tradesmen."

Seriously, to me that reads as an argument in favour of the notion of widespread racism in Australia.  Discuss.

4) Windschuttle is a windbag, I suspect a racist, certainly a revisionist (worst of all), and something of an idiot, but he's also a hilarious elitist; more than once in the article he uses the phrase "the lower orders"; what he totally, totally means is, "the lower classes".  (But of course, Australia is supposed to be a classless society.  The obvious joke about how of course Australians have no class is hereby acknowledged.)  Because of course, only shabby proletarians are racist, the intelligentsia could never be so crude.

He's so bourgeois it's wonderful.
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