Rudd will lose election

In a comment on a social media forum on 16 June I predicted that Kevin Rudd could succeed as ALP leader if he were able to prove himself equal to the task of uniting Labor behind him, emerge as a strong leader, and not concede any mistakes.

kevin-rudd-august-2013

I forgot to mention a more fundamental challenge he faced: to present to the electorate a clear value proposition explaining why he and Labor are different to Abbott and the Coalition, why running a deficit is not the end of the world, and how it will soften a return to surplus for taxpayers, and why Labor’s longer-term approach is better for Australia altogether.

Neither Rudd nor anyone else in his team has done anything of the kind. The visible politics are all about personalities, and it seems Rudd’s honeymoon popularity was over before it could really emerge as a strength, let alone an election-winning coup de grâce the way some commentators saw it when Rudd challenged and beat Julia Gillard for the leadership on 26 June.

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Election 2013 Notebook: February

rat

2 February 2013

Canberra is burning? Rats are leaving sinking rubber dinghy?

The weekend announcement of the resignations and exit from politics of Senate Leader Chris Evans (ALP: WA), also Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs, Science and Research, and Attorney General Nicola Roxon (ALP: Gellibrand, VIC) is a traditional garbage day exercise – announcements designed to be buried in the trash of weekend distractions.

It seems, though, that these announcements are a little too big to bury under kitchen scraps and hangovers. It is an indication that Gillard’s ramshackle Labor minority is sickly and waning. Particularly if it is true the new Senate Leader will be the odiously ill-mannered, low-wattage bully, Steven Conroy.

Hopefully the reshuffle expected for tomorrow will not dissuade the Opposition and others from sinking more of Roxon’s Orwellian Anti-Discrimination Bill. Her departure is no loss to anyone, except her factional ally, Julia Gillard.

Is it remotely possible that the timing of dual resignations was designed to lessen an opportunity to ridicule Labor women as prone to leaving serious business as soon as maternal duties call? It’s not that this would be an unreasonable call for any parent to make, but the level of sophisticated debate in our House of representatives makes such an attack likely, whether there is a misogynism counter-attack or not.

The ensuing reshuffle appears to have forced Gillard to match two left faction losses in cabinet with Labor Unity’s Mark Dreyfus (ALP: Isaacs, VIC), her new Attorney General, and the NSW Right’s rising talent Jason Clare (ALP: Blaxland, NSW), who holds Paul Keating’s symbolically-laden former seat, and is now Cabinet Secretary as well as Home Affairs and Justice Minister.

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Spurious math: 480,000 bribes elect next Federal Government

australian-currency

In an election unlikely to reveal a tangible difference in economic policies or capacity for large-scale taxation bribery, it appears that symbolic issues might become more important, and so might local personalities.

However, judging from the uninspiring personality contests hinted at in the analysis of Queensland marginal seats below, and the disingenuously disputed fact that even on social  or cultural policies (cultural policies?  What would those be?) the major parties hardly disagree, the end result might be no more complicated to predict than some really spurious claims about statistics.

Looking at the seats below as a national mean, which they are not, 28 per cent of seats may determine the outcome of the federal election.  That’s 42 of the 150 single-member divisions.  Should we just limit the lies and pork barreling to suit the constituents in those electorates?  Tell me after the election whether that ‘was’ as foolhardy an idea as it sounds right now.

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Swan’s Australia Day message for generations gone by

Wayne Swan, channeling John Howard.
Wayne Swan, channeling John Howard.

Reading Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan’s Australia Day message was a disconcertingly embarrassing experience. It made me cringe to think Sawn is almost part of my peer group, and quite so chauvinistically stuck in a pre-war mindset that he thinks recalling the Bodyline discourse is of relevance or appeal to any contemporary Australian demographic.

For sane people everywhere, but particularly outside the cricket-playing Commonwealth, Bodyline was the style of attack used by English fast bowlers during the antipodean summer of 1932-33. That’s right: 80 years ago. The bodyline strategy was simple: bowl the cricket ball straight at the batsman with intent to injure or wrongfoot him. It was considered an unsportsmanlike reaction to the almost superhuman batting skills of Australians like Don Bradman, whose batting average was an astonishing 100 per game.

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Election 2013 Notebook: January

Tony-Abbott

27 January 2013

Abbott courts Westies

Coalition leader Tony Abbott’s (Lib, Warringah, NSW) contrived mini campaign launch in western Sydney’s Auburn was a pretty transparent grab at legitimacy for his party in marginal electorates with large ethnic minorities.

The Coalition has traditionally been easy to paint as anti-migrant and anti-special interests while Labor attempted to claim a monopoly on a demonstrably failed social justice agenda we still pay lip service to as Multiculturalism, which has actually served more to ghettoise ethnic minorities than to integrate them.

The proof of that pudding for realpolitik might well be some damning recent findings about a rise in firearm offences, driven by young men of ethnic descent, precisely in Sydney’s western suburbs.[1]  Picking Auburn as the campaign venue was probably not entirely coincidental, given that it has the highest drive-by shooting rate in the city.[2]

Labor’s other claim to a social justice monopoly is its increasingly farcical anti-discrimination agenda, which attempts to impose a kind of sterile political correctness about ethnicity and gender that is lampooned even by Australia’s ethnic TV network, SBS, in comedy shows like Housos, The Wog Boy, and Fat Pizza [edit: and which wrongfooted the Prime Minister’s own consort in an embarrassing display of its overreaching ambit to create a politically correct culture of victimhood and paranoia (see below)].

Labor should have seen Abbott’s opportunism in his native Sydney coming from a long way off.  In fact, it might be said Abbott really had no choice but to exploit Labor’s pathetic ideological weakness and policy vacuum in this area.  The man who might have staved this off, Bob Carr, is too busy being courted by African nations since becoming a supremo of the UN Security Council, and just a little bit more concerned with the lofty affairs of the world than parochial politics in Australia, let alone his own native Sydney.  A telling reflection of the ALP’s lack of focus on NSW, which could turn into a decisive electoral weakness.

However, that’s where the good news for Abbott ends.

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Katters never change their spots

Jnr.
Jnr.

In 1999 I sat in one of the largest lecture theatres in the QUT Graduate School of Business to listen to my first MBA Business Law lecture.  I still remember feeling somewhat taken aback when the lecturer introduced himself as ‘Norm Katter’, short for Dr Norman Katter, a noted barrister and learned author on diverse legal topics.

The family resemblance was unmistakeable, from physiognomy to the lanky height.  Sure enough, Dr Katter is Bob Katter Senior’s oldest son, and brother to Bob Katter Junior, the inimical Queensland politician, and only sitting member of Katter’s Australian Party.

Beyond physical resemblance, however, the similarities between Norman and Bob end abruptly.  Dr Katter is a serious, thoughtful man whose sonorous sentences are precise and gain their authority from an unvocalised gravitas.  Not like Bob, who is gratingly stentorian, and appears to either have a prepared repertoire of slapstick faux pas statements, or is blessed with an uncanny ability to make them in a never-ending stream of unforced double-faults.

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Gillard can’t really lose on Peris

Nova Peris (left) with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Nova Peris (left) with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s intervention to disenfranchise the Northern Territory Labor Party by preselecting former athlete Nova Peris ahead of sitting Senator Trish Crossin will probably not hurt the ALP’s election chances, but may have expended political capital for no immediately apparent reason.

It may be that most voters will not remember that Gillard intervened in local branch affairs, effectively acting as a dictator in what should be a locally determined preselection. It’s like a CEO walking into a meeting of one of his divisions, and vetoing his line management. Not a sign of respect or confidence. In politics, not a sign of democratic practice either.

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Roxon’s rocks in the head on discrimination

Historical union document demanding equal pay for Anorigines.
Historical union document demanding equal pay for Anorigines.

Following my previous, tongue-in-cheek comment on this subject, I received some feedback that I was not taking this ‘gravely important’ issue seriously enough. And I plainly wasn’t, but this analysis aims to ameliorate that ‘oversight’.

The draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 presented by Attorney General Nicola Roxon represents at once bad law, politicisation of jurisprudence, and the deliberate ideological fabrication of a stereotype class of ‘victims’, encouraged to act on emotional hypochondria to assert that discrimination has occurred under vexatiously ambiguous new grounds that include language or actions subjectively judged to be insulting or offensive in relation to social origins or political views.

Under such broad terms, the Bill could easily become an instrument for grotesquely malicious and massively expensive actions, including some explicitly designed to curtail freedom of speech and political expression. More likely though, it is capable of encouraging mercenary exploitation with a view to compensatory damages payouts.

This is particularly the case since the Bill subverts the fundamental legal principle that guilt must be proven, instead requiring an accused party to prove innocence in a setting in which language and meaning are up for arbitrary interpretation based on alleged emotional responses by an aggrieved party.

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Roxon’s politically correctwitch-hunting season

‘I’ll have you up in front of the Commission if you call me Cretinous Plain Jane again!’

The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.

***

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.

– H L Menken

In the paralysis of non-government that is the Gillard ‘mousepack’ [1] personified, her Attorney general, Nicola Roxon, has come up, against all expectations, with yet another proof that well-meaning idiots are idiots all the same.

Continue reading “Roxon’s politically correctwitch-hunting season”

Roxon’s politically correct
witch-hunting season

‘I’ll have you up in front of the Commission if you call me Cretinous Plain Jane again!’

The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.

***

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.

– H L Menken

In the paralysis of non-government that is the Gillard ‘mousepack’ [1] personified, her Attorney general, Nicola Roxon, has come up, against all expectations, with yet another proof that well-meaning idiots are idiots all the same.

Continue reading “Roxon’s politically correct
witch-hunting season”