Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rudd Return: Blood Letting Now in Progress

Well, whoda thunk it.

After years of undermining Julia Gillard and biding his time on the backbench, Mr Rudd has been reinstalled as Prime Minister of Australia.

In a smattering of poetic justice, Julia Gillard was kicked out of the high office the same way she stumbled into it - a challenge from the very person she deposed, with the Labor caucus voting 57 to 45 in Rudd's favour.

In the mean time, there has been a veritable exodus from Labor's previous front bench ministries, with even the likes of Wayne Swan, the former Treasurer, making a hasty exit.

Surprisingly, Penny Wong, whom defended Gillard considerably, jumped ship to the Rudd camp, and has been rewarded with finance ministership and leader of the Senate.

The reasons for the change of leadership are obvious enough.

The night before Gillard was purged, images of her posing for a photo shoot for a women's magazine were plastered all across the nightly news, showing her knitting a toy kangaroo and having electric fans placed in front of her make her look more 'swishy'.

All the while, Labor's primary vote was being hammered, as was Gillard's stake in the preferred Prime Minister poll.

The chance of leader has temporarily worked, with Rudd shooting up 11 points to 51%  as preferred Prime Minister, with Tony Abbott slumping still in the mid 30s.

With all of this, the original September 14 election date set by Gillard earlier in the way will most likely be pushed back to give Rudd time to try and solidify some popularity in the electorate.

So, will it all work?

For a time. After the sugar has waned, people will begin to remember the things they dislike about Labor - perhaps the carbon tax, perhaps asylum seekers, perhaps something else that the Liberals toss up.

For certain though, Rudd will clearly be the more popular leader over Abbott.

The prospect of a Liberal-controlled Senate and Liberal-dominated Lower House are some truly frightening prospects, and would probably see a new wave of conservative politics blanket Australia like never before.

For all the young trendy Australians now that are pushing things like gay marriage or renewable energy would definitely have a new thing headed their way under wall-to-wall Liberal governments.

With the amount of cuts to the public services they have earmarked, we would possibly face a recession, or at least a sizeable upswing in unemployed. Other things to keep an eye out for would be a lift in the GST, industrial relations being tinkered with ala Howard-era 'Work Choices', a rollback on tax reforms, and even more pressure placed single parents, the unemployed, and the poor.

We've already seen an inkling of conservatism, ironically, under Gillard, with the cutting of the parenting payment to single parents - the Liberals would go one-step further, with measures such as welfare payment quarantining, and shipping the unemployed off to the mines, despite their lack of skills.

But I digress.

Who will win the election? It would probably be a mixed result, and without any great insight, it could possibly be another hung Parliament, but that would be a miracle, as it would mean Labor would need to save itself from political oblivion - which it is staring down.

In all likelihood, we will most likely see an Abbott Australia. Rest assured, like a Terminator, Abbott has his sites set on the Prime Ministership, and will say absolutely anything to reach that office, as was demonstrated by him lying to the independents when they were negotiating at the last tied election.

Having said that, at least it will be entertaining to have Joe Hockey as Treasurer.

I'll grab the popcorn.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Gillard and the Gender Card

The reasons for boycotting the 2013 Australian Federal Election are piling up.

More and more, I increasingly feel alienated from the political apparatus, and increasingly become aware of the fact that our democracy is a functional farce.

After screwing over single mothers, Gillard now apparently is rallying the members of her sex, with odd comments such as these:

"A prime minister - a man in a blue tie - who goes on holidays to be replaced by a man in a blue tie. A treasurer, who delivers a budget wearing a blue tie, to be supported by a finance minister - another man in a blue tie. Women once again banished from the centre of Australia's political life.''

She also made mention that abortion would once again become the 'political plaything' of men in Australia.

Headline grabbing, but completely vacuous of any substance.

She reminds me of lecturer I had once for identity politics at uni - her argument was that because men wrote all the early medical literature on pregnancy and such, it meant that men were evil and had stolen a woman's reproductive rights.

As one of the few males in the stupid journalism course as it was, it was an irksome statement, and completely changed my view on what the motives of feminism actually are.

Being a disaffected, alienated, and a tad cranky young Australian male, Gillard's comments solidify my opinion that she is now simply playing the gender card in a pathetically desperate bid to be re-elected.

Many women I would believe can also see through these attempts at fear-mongering - for instance, subjects such as abortion haven't even been on the political agenda at all, and the abortion drug RU-486 was even recently legalised in Australia.

So it's not like there hasn't been any progress.

However, given Ms Gillard's hatred of single mothers, maybe she would actually prefer that they have an abortion instead of carrying their child to full-term?

Last week we had the Treasurer running around flogging the dead horse of the republic debate, and this week to divert attention away from leadership speculation, Gillard has used emotive language about abortion somehow becoming the 'plaything' of men.

Even her own backbenchers and senators have been somewhat surprised by the comments, as it doesn't seem to be on message or relevant to the electorate.

It's anyone's guess as to what is actually going on in the Labor Party; the simple fact is that they are no longer fit to govern, and they deserve no more words written about them.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Rumblings of an Australian Republic... uh, again

In 1999 a referendum was put forward to the Australian people on the question of whether or not Australia should become a republic.

Without a proper model, the referendum failed, and republicans were left to lick their wounds and ruminate ever since.

Firstly, it's important to note that those of the republican movement are actually a sour, jaded, and unhappy bunch of people.

I first corresponded with one or two of them from the Australian Republican Movement for a research assignment at university - I found them to be very patronising about the types of questions I was asking them, and it was generally an unpleasant experience.

Each to their own, I suppose.

For me personally, it influenced my own view on whether or not we should dispose of our model of the constitutional monarchy.

Up until then, I was all for a republic - I figured that yes, perhaps Australia is ready to elect its own head of state, and that yes, all of the arguments that the republican movement is making make sense.

I was left questioning their argument, which suddenly turned out to be somewhat a weak proposition for change.

Just recently, our Treasurer Wayne Swan has again brought up the issue of an Australian republic, and republican movement stalwart Malcolm Turnbull has also thrown his support behind the renewed gusto.

It follows the release of a book of essays today from prominent Australians - and everyone is getting teary-eyed and excited at the prospect of reinvigorating the debate.

Julia Gillard for one only believes a move towards a republic would be possible only once Queen Elizabeth II passes; as presumably, Australians would find Prince Charles far less popular.

They would then seemingly not have to contend with the current popularity the Queen.

So, there's many ready and waiting to pounce on the constitutional monarchy and replace it with an as-yet undetermined model.

Now, let's back up a moment.

Australia currently has an elected Prime Minister - would Australians also be required to elect a President, or will the new leader fulfill both roles?

Given how easily the Labor party disposed of Kevin Rudd, putting our political parties in absolute control, including the head of state, is a truly frightening prospect, and would entrust far too much power in them.

It would be a slippery slope to despotism, or at least a coporatised political system as in the United States, so I suppose that model is squarely out.

The problem with the republican movement in Australia is that when one actually goes searching for the model they are proposing, it's buried deep among a pile of rhetoric and simple battle cries of how Australia should have its own identity.

So I don't even know exactly what they're proposing - the best that ARM can propose is that we simply get rid of the Queen, and keep the Governor-General model in place.

What's the point?

Republicans counter this fact by saying that they are 'fiercely democratic', saying the monarchists are just making it up, and then go on to give a multitude of different possible republican models, with no clear answer.

Yes, it's all well and good to be fiercely democratic, but if you've cared to even take just a cursory glance at Australia's big political parties, from whom of which we choose within 'democracy', you will quickly find the choices presented aren't exactly democratic.

Political power in Australia is still a playground of the elites; from the 'born to rule' sentiment of those in the Liberal Party, to the shadowy power-plays of those in the union movement that control the Labor Party.

By and large, the Crown is largely a symbolic institution, with some reserve powers that are invested among the Commonwealth nations - a sort of constitutional 'safety belt' which has proven itself to be an incredibly stable form of government since 1901; 112 years.

112 years is a long time for a form of government to last, especially in a young and geographically isolated nation such as Australia.

Compared with that of say, the Soviet model which crumbled after about 70 years, our own little constitutional monarchy and Westminster system, whilst not perfect, has proven itself to be a solid form of government.

And, as the ARM tell us, if the republican movement is merely about symbolic change, there isn't much point to changing anything; it would be akin to changing from white curtains to grey curtains, while proclaiming that grey curtains somehow work better.

All in all, the republican movement in Australia is quite simply an act of intellectual masturbation.

Australia is facing a gamut of up and coming challenges in the future, and all the while, we have these 'prominent' Australians and intellectuals agonising over what words to change in the Australian Constitution all for the sake of tinkering with symbolism.

They also argue that young Australians are 'bemused' that Australia is not yet a republic; I've personally found that to be false, as many people I've spoken to my own age hold fears that Australia would end up looking more like America - a seemingly trite argument, but it goes to show how Australians recognise the fact that things are currently working fine.

The thought of periodically electing a new 'Queen' or 'Crown' for Australia, as some republicans have proposed in the 'Copernican Models' (don't you just love the names!) is rather daunting.

Why even call them 'Crowns'?! Argh!

Not only would you be asking Australians to elect a Prime Minister from the political parties, you would be asking them to elect a head of state as well - just on what criteria would candidates be put forward? What is the point in foisting a big administrative burden on the country by having a 100% symbolic election for someone that would supposedly have zero political power?

You would essentially be introducing a fourth tier of government, and it would open up a whole new front of political elitism.

It makes absolutely no sense - and when you put these sorts of questions towards republicans, they will reprimand you for somehow being backwards, uneducated, a monarchist, naive, and anything else to make themselves look infinitely smart and wise.

Once you dig into their models and try and work out what it is exactly they want to do, when even not a single one of them can agree with the other on a model to adopt, it becomes apparent that they are trying to sell you snake oil.

So don't believe the hype.

Australia is already self-government itself just fine with a stable constitutional monarchy, and while it's a nice idea to make Australia even more like America, it wouldn't make Australia more just or a more progressive country.

Especially if cretinous republicans are put in charge.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

This Just In: News Still Written From Middle Class Perspective

Perusing the lead of the Sydney Morning Herald website this morning, it's become painfully clear that most, if not all Australian 'news' is written from a middle class perspective.

The young journalists all come from upstanding middle class families; go through university as upstanding middle class students; then finally end up writing as upstanding middle class journalists.

One article was about how Gen Y, my generation, still hold dear the prospect of 'settling down' before 30.

I for one am 28 - in contrast to those subjects in the article, I am yet to go overseas, I am to secure permanent stable employment, and I am yet to even merely entertain the thought of owning a house.

And marriage? Don't even get me started on my stubborn refusal to shackle up with a late 20s or early 30s Australian woman - nothing could be absolutely further from mind, given their idiosyncrasies and ingrained sense of entitlement.

The young people interviewed for the article (which was extremely weak on its own anyway) all work in areas such as finance, or other high-powered inner city jobs, and this affords them all overseas holidays.

Perish the thought that our young hoighty-toighty flowing floral dress young lady journalists would interview a Gen Y farmer, miner, or the unemployed or homeless member of Gen Y about their goals.

And forget aiming to buy a house in Sydney - I would dare say the vast majourity of Gen Ys in Sydney would love just to be able to secure affordable rental housing.

I suppose it would be trite to expect a city newspaper to pay attention to anyone or anything outside of their own blessed halo.

Sydney in particular is more akin to a miniature, self-enclosed European country located in the Pacific - Sydneysiders consider themselves more cultured, more wealthy, more knowledgeable, more tolerant, and just about more-everything than the rest of Australia, which they instinctively turn their noses up at.

Even those of Western Sydney who are wedged square up against the Blue Mountains consider themselves to be suave and intercontinental just by the mere act of making French toast.

Because of this, the entirety of our popular media is completely geared towards the city-dwelling middle classes, who are really nothing more than loyal subjects in a collective derangement of superiority.

As such, very few of them, especially newly arrived immigrants seeking to settle in Sydney, live inside an encapsulated bubble, and to venture beyond the bubble of the suburban limits courts danger.

That's not to say the city is a bad place, and many great things in terms of culture and ideas can spring forth from it; it does however mean that it attempts to unduly influence the whole of society, which may not see everything through coffee-fogged designer sunglasses.

Me, personally, I have no intention of even attempting to follow a linear timetable for my own life as a Gen Y.

I turn 30 next year and still get asked for I.D, and I plan on living an awfully long time, and the prospect of sitting in an empty nest just when the mortgage is finally paid off, or gone through a divorce, is not on my horizon.

It's the popular majourity that is only ever reported on, and it's the unpopular minority that is kept only for slow news days.