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I think it’s time for a re-run

Ok, I think it’s time for a re-run. No, not for the Federal election…

Although that is a good idea.

Twelve months ago I published this the day after the election:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair

 

1993 – Hewson has lost the unloseable election. He had released the most detailed policy, outlining his plans for a GST, welfare reform, cutbacks to Medicare and a range of other initiatives..

The Liberals stuttered and spluttered and said that they’d learned from this. It was a mistake to be so upfront with the electorate. They announced that it was a mistake to be honest.

I remember thinking at the time that they hadn’t quite grasped the concept of democracy. To me, there are two ways of looking at standing as a potential government. One, you state what you believe, argue for it and continue to argue for it until the voters are won over to your views. This is the approach that Labor took with the Vietnam War. The other way of looking at it is that you offer up an idea, and if it’s rejected, you conclude that people don’t want it, so you change your policy and campaign on something else next time.

I’m reminding people of this, not because of the Liberal’s small target stratedy in this election, but because it’s important that we don’t fall into the trap of slamming the electorate for the way it voted, or spend too much time trying to lay blame. The important thing is to look to the future.

I know, for some, the future seems bleak now that Tony Abbott is our Prime Minister. (It seems from Facebook that most people I know are moving overseas.) But the future is a long time. Even John Howard was voted out eventually. If the idea of six years under Abbott seems too much, start working towards making him a one term government. Impossible? Not if he’s as bad as we all fear. It’s one thing to be relentlessly critical of the problems we’ve faced; it’s another to solve them. And Abbott HAS raised expectations about what’s possible. GFC? It’s over so it’s no excuse for anything! Boats arriving? We’ll just turn them around. Rising energy prices? Not under a Coalition Government. Interest rates? They’ll be lower under us, but not this low. Worried about Political Correctness? We’ll let you say what you want, as long as your not critical of the Liberal Party or Australia. Surplus? No problem. Too much Government Debt? We’ll pay it all back. Taxes? You pay too much. Sex life not as good as you want it? We have candidates with sex appeal.

But rather than think in terms of elections, rather than thinking in terms of winning or losing, rather than blaming the Murdoch Press, or the leadership tensions in the Labor Party, let’s forget Politics and start the fight for what we believe in, right now!

In political terms, for example, asylum seeker rights has been a loser since 2001. Labor would have been “wise” to have worked out a bi-partisan “Let’s sink the boats in a totally compassionate way” policy with the Liberals, but I’m sure many people would have had a problem with that. So when it comes to the things that you think are important, how are you going to put pressure on Abbott to stop him going too far? How are you going to mobilise people and make them aware of what’s being proposed so that the Liberals don’t just slip it through quietly and unnoticed like their changes to childcare announced this week?

Or would you prefer to say that the electorate is stupid, that they deserve what they get and I’m going overseas for the next six years?

Minor parites manage opposition better than major parties because it’s all they know. Family First or The Greens are pleased when they have wins on particular issues. (As I’m writing this, I hear someone from one of the major parties say that The Greens should be upset that their overall vote is down and not celebrating that the they retained Melbourne.) For Labor and Liberals, however, being in Opposition is purgatory – rarely do they sit back and say we achieved quite a bit in that term of Government and we’ve raised people’s expectations about what’s possible. When Labor first proposed Medicare (Medibank, as it was called then), people were told that half our doctors would move to England or stop practising altogether and we’d have a crisis, but by 1975 the Liberals were promising to maintain it. (How well they retained is another story!) Some reforms last; others have about as much long term effect as morning dew in a desert.

Whether the Carbon Tax stays or goes, it’s initial effect was to encourage some industry to reduce their emissions and become more energy efficient. Not all of these are going to say, “Hey, let’s get rid of these cost-savers and spend more money on electricity now that there’s no carbon tax!” (You know, when the power bills start coming down. Ho, ho, ho and I believe in Santa too) And while, I have serious doubts about Abbott’s Direct (in)Action Policy, we have both sides committing to reduce emissions.

Yes, opposition is hard. And harder when you have people gloating about getting rid of the “worst government in history” without being able to name anything major that they did wrong, while ignoring the fact that we survived the GFC without going into recession. But I think Shelley said it best:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

“Ozymandias” by Perce Byshe Shelley

“Nothing beside remains…”

Abbott too shall become history. The Liberals had a countdown clock a few weeks ago. And while we don’t know yet how long it’ll take, a new countdown has started.

Yep, I got some bits right and some bits wrong. I wonder how this’ll look by next year.

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14 comments

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  1. aravis1

    In a way, I feel comforted by this article. Not that we might be in for 6 years of the lunatics, but that the nightmare will end. I am talking to too many people who simply have no conception of the awfulness of this government, because they neither read nor listen to independent media, nor are on social media. I try to enlighten them, and i think we must all try harder with this; but it may well be that the cruelties have to bite before most will understand. And the environment must suffer until the blind begin to see. And the young suicide, and the old die for lack of heat or air conditioning.. well, we have survived other bad times. We will survive this one too. I fervently hope though, that we will never again elect a malignant narcissist as our leader, nor the gang of evil men and women he has gathered round him. Malcolm Frazer told us he is a dangerous politician – and his stupidity makes him even more dangerous. Yet it may save us from him.
    Even the blind sometimes see, in time.

  2. brickbob

    Thank you for a most enjoyable read and you are right,all things must pass and all things will pass.

  3. Terry2

    Tony before you become too puffed up about what an excellent year you’ve had I would just like to remind you that two fit and healthy young men have died on your watch, whilst in the the care and custody of the Australian government, on Manus Island. The first was murdered and the second died of septicemia following an untreated cut to his foot.

    These young men left their families to find a new life, they were lied to by people smugglers who took their money and promised them a new life in Australia, they were lied to by Australian authorities and dumped on Manus Island to rot.

    No matter who initiated this policy of indefinite incarceration, we have nothing to celebrate and the task of resolving this horrendous situation rests squarely with you, Abbott : do something !

    We, all of us, must take some of the blame for allowing this appalling situation to come about – our argument was never with the asylum seekers, it was always with the criminal smugglers. It is time to allow these poor souls on Manus, Nauru and Christmas Island to be settled in Australia.

    Enough is enough !

  4. Ricardo29

    Bill shorten sent me a message so I took the opportunity to send one back. Don’t know if it will reach him, or if he (or a minder ) will read it. But it picks up most of the points made above. Mostly it says not to wait until the election to reveal policies, get them out now and convince people of their worth. Oh well.

  5. Steven

    I don’t know. I just don’t know. The facinorous Abbott government will eventually be defeated, in two years or in five years, or perhaps even in eight years. I dread to think of another two years let alone another five. The question in my mind is this: what will be left of Australia as a nation when Labor inevitably comes to power again? It will be an Australia that has lost much precious time in coming to terms with the greatest crisis of the 21st century, Climate Change. Will Labor want to take a plan to deal with climate change to the Australian people again? Australia will still have one of the world’s worst internet systems. High quality tertiary education will continue to be for the wealthy and those likely to vote for the Liberals. The unemployed will be living in desperate circumstances and to rub salt into the wound, they will have been persecuted by the Abbott government for years. Medicare will be in ruins. Refugees will still be demonised by the government and by many Australian. Same sex couples will still be unable to marry each other.

    What if an incoming Labor government faces a hostile senate? How will Labor feel about having to go back all the way to square one to start repairing the damage Abbott and his hooligans have done to this once promising nation?

    I am coming to the conclusion that Australia’s time has passed and that the country is already slipping into irrelevance. Countries can and frequently do have use-by dates and sometimes countries go into permanent decline. Perhaps the election government shows what a nasty, pusillanimous, prejudiced, nostalgia-bound, myopic group of people we really are?

    Are Australians any good? What sort of people are we?

    I, for one, am not going to hang around to find out. I am leaving Australia in December and I may never come back, especially if it looks like the Liberals are likely to win a second term. I am going to take my chances in Japan. People there are considerate, kind, faultlessly polite, compassionate, civic minded, honest, quiet, caring, loyal, tolerant, accepting, essentially decent and they enjoy a good cold beer.

    What can we say about the national character of Australian and her people? I don’t know anymore. I once thought that we were generous, tolerant, loyal, fair and relaxed people. Seems we’re not. We’re angry, scared, mean spirited and easily lead.

    I. WANT. OUT.

  6. James Cook

    We have just visited our daughter in Sweden and saw how a country that cares for its citizens can operate efficiently and decently. And then we came home to the nightmare….

  7. mars08

    Steven:

    Will Labor want to take a plan to deal with climate change to the Australian people again? Australia will still have one of the world’s worst internet systems. High quality tertiary education will continue to be for the wealthy and those likely to vote for the Liberals. The unemployed will be living in desperate circumstances and to rub salt into the wound, they will have been persecuted by the Abbott government for years. Medicare will be in ruins. Refugees will still be demonised by the government and by many Australian. Same sex couples will still be unable to marry each other.

    In order for Labor to win government, a relatively small number of voters in the marginal will have to perceive them to be slightly more acceptable than the LNP. Hardly a seismic shift in the political landscape. I suspect you won’t be coming back in a hurry…

  8. Steven

    mars08:

    I once thought that Australia was one of the most promising nations on earth, a people who could embrace change and progress, both social and technological. Sadly, it seems to me that we’re beholden to our demons. When I was lining up to vote last year the anger and venom from the people intending to vote for the Liberal candidate was very apparent. The people handing out how to vote cards for the Liberals were similarly angry and venomous. I thought to myself, “What gives?”

    One thing is certain, if Labor does get back into power, as it should, in 2016 something must be done about foreign media ownership in this country and internal media monopolies. Labor chickened out of doing this when they were in power and I think (I hope) that they see this as an imperative as soon as they regain power. If Murdoch is allowed to own only 10% or maybe 20% of the Australian mass media he will be effectively neutralised for good.

    I have read that a 20% swing against the LNP in the next federal election will see them reduced to under 10 seats in the lower house. This is what we should be working towards. Such a swing would see the LNP become an irrelevance for at least a generation.

  9. billy moir

    beauty rossleigh, your piece fits perfectly with the strategy of little billy. Although 3000 years to reach such decay is excessively patient but he and his labor are up to it.
    Having lived through the waste space of menzies’ lies and watched my mother mesmerised by the bile of santa maria.I am more immediate and would pass shelley’s words on to him and labor:
    when the lamp is shattered
    the light in the dust lies dead
    …………………………………….
    when the lute is broken
    sweet tones are remembered not

  10. billy moir

    ps beauty on japan, steven. we had xmas and much of january 1970 in japan mostly in yha. We had a number for a ryoken and at the osaka train station I rang and it was a recorded meesage. A bloke saw my plight bowed took the phone and, with a beautiful gold fountain, pen wrote the new number for me and went on his way. imagine the reverse in australia???? fantastic trip only one low point in nagasaki there was a septic tour before us and in the visitor’s book one of them wrote ‘better them than us.’ without blam,e because that is the education in the US. Is that they way the rabbott’s ‘team’ is heading?

  11. Kaye Makovec

    I had lunch with my oldie friends last Friday and every single one of the ‘I still think the LNP is better’ of just three months ago had changed their minds. And these are retired farmers who have always vote Liberal here, since 1955 in fact. BUT, not one of them thought they would vote Labor but were all looking for Independents in the upcoming Victorian election. That makes three quarters looking to bypass both LNP and Labor now. The winds of change have arrived.

  12. Jeanette

    Interesting visiting my doctor last week, just to renew a script ($7 coming up?), when I commented re proposed new charges, to which came the response “something has to be done” to which I replied looking at my doctor with a steely stare “don’t you think your profession can share some the blame”. When I moved to this town (Qld seachange) there was about 6 surgeries for 22,000 people, now with 50,000 people there’s a doctor’s surgery on every street corner (like hairdressers…just how many can you have?) Not only that, being built as I type now a fully “wired..electronic..?”Private hospital for which only a few similar in Australia, 6 radiologists with massive buildings, specialists coming out of our ears and a large modern public hospital as well as private operating specialist surgeries. Medbank/Medicare has been very kind to the medical profession but wait they want more!!! Just another $2 in their pocket, $5 to medical research, that’s baloney!! The medical profession is guilty of over servicing, apart from minor consultations and script writing anything further is referred on, so each visit to whoever will be another $7 AND then another $7 to be informed of any results. My doctor even admitted that the surgery had a policy of not treating patients with emotional problems? so what exactly do GP’s do now? By bringing in the co-payment, these greedy GP’s will be affected, watch the exodus back to native countries.
    I might add there’s a local doctor commonly referred to as Minute Michael…you do the sums??? a rather nice hourly wage n’est pas?

  13. oldfart

    I used to have a doctor I called Jesus, it would be a miracle if he laid his hands on you. Three years I went to him for scripts, never once a blood test, nothing.

  14. Hotspringer

    Steven, I agree with you absolutely. Would you take me with you? I’ll go in a pet-pack, if necessary.
    And thank you, Rossleigh.

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