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Simple minds

Politics is a complex beast. The vast majority of Australians don’t want to even think about how complex it is, let alone read articles about this complexity. Which I assume is why the vast majority of political journalists and commentators in this country make it their mission to tame this complex beast into black and white, easily accessible and ultimately lazy generalisations.

An example of this sort of lazy writing aimed at perpetuating the simplistic idea that ‘major parties are just the same, rotten to the core, as bad as each other and can’t be trusted’ was predictably contributed yesterday by Waleed Aly. Aly uses this theme as the frame from which he makes most observations about politics. Before you say ‘I can already see where this is going. Victoria is hell bent on defending the Labor Party so of course she is going to be annoyed by Aly’s article saying Labor and Liberal are both corrupt’, please read on, because I hope I’m not as predictable as Aly is.

I was mortified by the Labor Party’s decision to put Joe Bollock at the top of their WA Senate ticket. Bollock is a dinosaur who doesn’t belong in the Labor Party. I don’t care what apparently amazing work this dinosaur has done in the union movement. His views on abortion, his homophobia, his treatment of his Labor Party colleagues and his fondness for his Catholic buddy Tony Abbott should disqualify him from being president of a local branch of the Labor Party, let alone the number one candidate on a Labor Senate ticket (the easiest way to become a highly paid politician with a very generous pension).

I am sick of seeing unqualified union parachuted Labor candidates selected by a few Labor executive members with no consultation from the community. But (and you will find complex politics requires a lot of ‘buts’) that is not to say that all union candidates are bad (as that would be a simplistic analysis) and it’s also not to say that all Labor politicians are ex-union officials because clearly these politicians are in the minority in the party. In saying that, there is no reason why the union movement can’t provide an array of highly qualified and fantastic Labor candidates as it has previously (think Greg Combet, Bill Shorten (improvement needed) and of course Bob Hawke). Union leaders work every day to better the working, safety and wage conditions of the workers they represent. For this reason, I would prefer a politician with a union background any day of the week over a lawyer (even a union lawyer like Julia Gillard), a self-interested business owner or, as is the case for Liberals like Tony Abbott and John Howard, someone who tried other careers and was no good at any of them.

So as you can see, the issue of union involvement in the Labor Party is a complex one. Community preselections should improve the quality of the candidate, as those who have been put forward by the union or by the community would be subject to scrutiny before they are chosen to represent the party. I don’t count Craig Thomson and Joe Bullock as ex-union officials who I admire, and nor do I count Kathy Jackson, ex-union official and wife of Tony Abbott’s mate Michael Lawler as a reputable human being. So just like in the private sector and the public sector, and in any large community or social group, unions have good people in them, corrupt people, hardworking and passionately committed people, people with a sense of entitlement, and mixtures of all these traits. Like any large cross section of the community, the union movement can’t be generalised. Neither can union candidates to the Labor Party, and neither can all members of the Labor Party. Major parties are by their very nature full of a range of different people and the behaviour of one, two or even a handful amongst hundreds should not simplistically dictate how the entire population are framed in the media. Complex, but not that hard to explain. Are you still with me Aly?

I wrote this week about the way that bad behaviour, or even alleged bad behaviour, within the Labor Party is portrayed by the media as a ‘whole of party’ problem, which I’ve even heard called a ‘disease’. Yet the exact same bad or allegedly bad behaviour in the Liberal Party is treated as unfortunate incidents in the careers of otherwise upstanding members of the free market loving community. When commenting on bad behaviour in the Liberal Party, just as I predicted, writers like Aly do their best to make the behaviour of the likes of O’Farrell, Sinodinos and Tony Abbott who stands by these men, a problem for the Liberal AND Labor Party. In the same breath, Aly explains that this problem is why minor parties like the Greens and Palmer United Party are seen as better options to the electorate. And this is where the simplistic ‘major parties are bad, minor parties are good’ frame becomes absurd.

You only have to interrogate the values of Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party for three seconds to see that the party exists to further the interests of billionaire Clive Palmer for the benefit of Clive Palmer. Palmer doesn’t want to pay the Carbon Price. Palmer doesn’t want to pay the mining tax on super profits. Palmer wants coal to be dug out of the ground forever, and wants everyone to believe Greg Hunt when he says the magic pudding of coal will never end. Palmer wants a coal port on the Great Barrier Reef. Palmer wants the power to reduce the influence the government can have on limiting his greed. But rather than interrogate Palmer’s self-interested, anti-community values, the mainstream media heaps Palmer in with the Greens using the simple frame that they must be good and pure because they are ‘not a major party and therefore pure just for the very fact they’re not a major party’. Palmer gets called a ‘larrikin’ politician, a ‘anti-politician’, a ‘colourful character’, which might work for the simplistic sideshow, but doesn’t really help the public to understand the policy ambitions of a man who has an incredible amount of money to help sell his image to the public, and is set to make an incredible amount of money by influencing government policy in his favour.

You would think the Greens would dislike being put in the same bucket as Clive Palmer. Yet I see a lot of evidence on Twitter that Greens supporters are happy that Palmer is growing his political influence. The number of Greens supporters I saw enthusiastically celebrating the WA Senate election result because there was a swing away from both major parties towards the Greens, and to a larger extent towards Clive Palmer, was scary. I thought Greens were progressives? I thought Greens wanted to save the environment and stop mining coal? I thought Greens wanted to keep the Carbon Price and wanted the Mining Tax rate raised? I understand Palmer might have said something positive about the Greens stance on asylum seeker policy once. Is this enough to make Clive Palmer best friends with the Greens? Has the world gone mad or has the ‘minor parties are by their definition pure because major parties aren’t’ attitude become a ‘disease’ infecting otherwise intelligent people through reading too many articles by the likes of Waleed Aly? But wait, it gets even more complex. The Greens did a preference deal with the Palmer United Party in the September election, preferencing PUP ahead of Labor in South Australia in order to save Sarah Hanson-Young’s Senate seat. For a party who paints themselves as pure, surely the Greens have just added a complex layer to their brand of identity politics that is about as coal-loving politically grubby as you can get?

Next time you hear someone simplifying politics down to ‘big parties are bad and small parties are good’, think about the complexity of what is really going on. Think about how many hard working, passionate, intelligent, talented and committed progressive politicians in the Labor Party are smeared by the ‘Labor is corrupt’ frame that the media reports every political news story from. Time and time again, I ask progressives to unite to beat Tony Abbott, and then I see Greens supporting Clive Palmer and I realise to many, asking progressives to unite is far too simplistic a plea in what is clearly a much more complex situation than I can grasp.

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  1. Jeannette Oliver

    Would you prefer to have a Muslim Government operating under Shariah Law? Would we get a better lifestyle, if our Politicians weren’t Catholic or homophobic, over a Muslim State?

  2. Matters Not

    Jeannette Oliver. Please explain?

  3. Korstraw

    I suspect this (very good) article was about people like Jeannette Oliver.

  4. sam

    Well written. Many Australians cant grasp political idelogy and this article does a good job pointing out facets of these parties. After all how easy is it to just label an aggregation of very different values.

    With factions of Labour for being as far right as the center of the Liberal party.

    And the left of Labour being for policy point of view very similar to the greens. (further left in many cases)

    Then there is the far right of Liberal party eg: usually young libs who say things like fascism is’nt all to bad… Hitler had some good ideas. (not good prople to be in a pub with after a few drinks).

    The Greens can be anything from left to centrist.(fair to say centrist with solid environmental principles) But look around the world… The australian ‘right wing’ is a backward place there are right wing (overseas) parties whom have the same stance about renewable energy as the greens (why wouldnt you want to make money with a superior product in a capitalistic sense after all).
    And the greens do make some bad decisions for preferences as mentioned. Clives ‘coal diggin’ party is much misaligned with their ideology to the greens and it does make you wonder.

  5. Inga Leonora

    This whole article unfortunately smacks of “I know you are but what I am?” Preference deals that are transparent, open to public scrutiny and in accordance with election laws are here equated with “corruption” because there’s no great evidence yet that any of the small parties are at all corrupt compared to what we know of BOTH the ALP and Libs. Poor ALP will not be made better by diminishing those around it even superficially. The idea that ‘big parties are bad and small parties are good’ is actually perfectly valid given the evidence in terms of the 4 parties and levels of corruption here mentioned. What it doesn’t indicate is the **quality of policy** of “small” or “big” parties either way, since that, unlike corruption, is entirely subjective and the individual may make their choice independently. And I suspect there’s some confusion here for the writer between the terms “corrupt” and “good and bad policies”.

  6. Matters Not

    BTW, Victoria I think Waleed Aly’s article wasn’t too far off the mark. I think you’re being a little harsh.

    As for Clive Palmer, he’s one of the original white-shoe brigade behind the Joh for Canberra push. Most people aren’t either aware of his history or have forgotten the nastier bits. He’s been a ‘political player’ for decades and was kicked out of the Liberals for ‘branch stacking’ years ago. That little episode has been air brushed from history.

    While I voted ALP for decades and helped out Wayne Swan in the last election, I am also pragmatic and now vote Green and then preference Labor because it seems to me that only the Greens operate from ‘principle’.

  7. winstonclose

    Very good article Victoria Rollison

  8. mars08

    Oh for crying out loud! Just look at the way the Labor party frames it’s policies these days. It desperately WANTS to be seen as a “low-calorie” version of the LNP. They think their votes depend of being a bland, non-threatening champion of the status quo.

    Despite the occasional fancy words or heartfelt break from the script by some principled individual, the ALP doesn’t say much to differentiate themselves from the LNP. It’s like they want to encourage the “simplistic idea” that they aren’t out to shake things up.

    Is it really any wonder that so many disengaged, distracted, disenchanted voters have decided that they’re all the same?

  9. xiaoecho

    I usually love your work Victoria but this time methinks you doth protest too much. This piece has a tone of exasperated panic. Trying to excuse Labors failings by using the Tea Party Conservative technique of ‘look over there, they’re worse than we are’ is unhelpful. People will judge PUP by their actions and if they turn out to be Liberal enablers they will be judged accordingly. The fact is we just do not know and will not find out until July. The fact is Labor have forgotten what they are for and have become Liberal lite. They have prostituted themselves to lobbyists and vested interests. They are no longer an alternative. Labor will never regain it’s credibility by pointing at others and saying ‘They’re worse than we are’

  10. xiaoecho

    Victoria, this is what people are desperate to hear from the Labor Party

  11. nettythe1st

    “You would think the Greens would dislike being put in the same bucket as Clive Palmer. Yet I see a lot of evidence on Twitter that Greens supporters are happy that Palmer is growing his political influence. The number of Greens supporters I saw enthusiastically celebrating the WA Senate election result because there was a swing away from both major parties towards the Greens, and to a larger extent towards Clive Palmer, was scary.”

    Victoria, I worked as a volunteer with the Greens in the WA Senate Election and I didn’t see any evidence of Greens supporters on twitter or elsewhere celebrating the swing to PUP. That is not to say we did not celebrate the swing from the major parties and the significant swing to the Greens (through much hard work and a great candidate in Senator Ludlam). Voters showed their dissatisfaction with the major parties by swinging to the Greens if they were to the left, or to PUP if they were to the right.

    Many back room preference deals were done in the Federal Election. A little harsh to target deals done to save Sarah Hansen-Young when she had a massive campaign against her by the LNP.

  12. Joanne Sullivan

    Excellent post. Couldn’t agree more.

  13. randalstella

    Waleed Aly is capable of such moral equivalence because he is a well-behaved lazy writer, and has no real appreciation of the basic necessity for investigative journalism. His article is the typical impressionism, which covers for itself just in case of offence. Labor come out of the piece worse than the Liberals and BOF gets second-hand accolade again – for being found out, on a ridiculously unethical relationship which should have very much more to reveal. BOF could not begin to deny the relationship, or pretend that he does not ‘recall’ it. It still applies. Meanwhile NSW has another of those happily unaccountable breed, the banker, in charge.

    Opinionistas are a pain in the arse. And I find the well-modulated ‘balanced’ account just as repulsive, for its own aversion to finding out the facts. The real facts are never equivalent or ‘balanced’. 8 bottles of over-priced grape ferment equals the whole of the convicted amount for Craig Thomson, over many years of Union representation. And we may have hardly started. We are definitely not dealing with an equal or balanced world. Particularly when you assess the Media coverage of Thomson, and his blackguarding, compared to harmless amnesic BOF – who just did not happen to know that those who asked him questions at ICAC had his note of thanks in their back pocket.
    How “honourable” of the dear old thing to resign. The Shooters Party should send some appropriate tribute for their access to national parks; and the Catholic Church for his initiative in greatly restricting their liability for their many rapes of children. Good old BOF. Vale,old sock.

    Now,if the Greens worked preferences to get Hanson-Young re-elected, good on them. What was the alternative which was ethically superior? A Senate without Hanson-Young. Now,there’s principle for you. About as lazy about the details of reality as Waleed Aly.

  14. halsaul

    I echo Korstaws’ response firstly. mars08 also has a point. Victoria has written a very good article echoing the frustrations I too feel about the media generally. General public would not know how L.N.P. Direct Action works if you asked, same for carbon trading scheme. The problem is a disengaged electorate & few true, unbiased information getting through to them.Mean-while Abbott de-constructs & destroys much that was good about Labors’ policies for a good environment, N.B.N. FTTH and green technology. We’re going back-ward fast.

  15. mars08

    Victoria… you’ve make it clear, you think that far too many voters are simpletons who fall for “lazy generalisations”. And perhaps you’re right.

    But have you considered… that a sizeable portion of those voters muttering “they’re all the same” might actually WANT SOMETHING DIFFERENT? Maybe, in some cases, it’s not a criticism but a call for change.

    Is the ALP interested in getting their vote?

  16. paul walter

    It is unfortunate that the gutlessness of the ALP, particularly with the conservative right-faction, has reduced organised opposition to the freebooters and carpetbaggers to inconsequentiality.

  17. mars08

    Oh wait… I just read my last comment and I think I see why it falls apart…

    Focus groups. Number crunchers.

    Even though many voters might be calling for progressive change… not all votes are created equal.

    The ALP “numbers men” would be aiming for the valuable (and low-hanging) votes in the swing seats. They know they’ve already lost the educated inner-city type. Instead, they would be targetting the fickle, frightened, semiliterate, self-absorbed, xenophobic vote in the marginals.

    Good luck boys!

  18. philasophigas

    What do you have against the greens? If taking a senate seat off labor via a preference deal is their worst crime it’s not much to complain about. Labor meanwhile are pitiful and undeniably corrupt. I read the full article but I still came to the conclusion that rather than being about the lack of nuance in msm reporting this was an apology piece for labor. I mean, greens supporters jumping up and down for pup? Seriously? I bet you think voting green is a wasted vote.

  19. contriteshadow

    Wow. Comments prove (as they often do) that people see what they want to see. For my part, you’ve finally explained why PUP has any support at all; voters think the party is different, right? I checked out their site, as I’m still looking for a candidate; in five policy outlines word “wealth” appears six times and “dollars” twice…”incentives” probably means same thing, but it’s unclear. That was enough for me to keep looking.

  20. Lee

    I’m a Greens voter and I am certainly not a fan of Clive Palmer, nor is any other Greens voter I know. I used to be a Labor voter but in recent years they have been drifting to the right. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to tell them apart from the Liberals because they have forgotten their roots and seem more interested in getting their snouts in the trough. The ALP is just as guilty as LNP of stirring up fear of asylum seekers and leaving legal loopholes that reduce the taxes payable by big business. It is no wonder that many people say they are all the same and cannot be trusted. Labor needs to get back to its roots if it wants the votes.

  21. Matt James

    Philasophigas she has nothing against the Greens, she does have a problem with the Greens supporting a fossil fuel lobbyist. Her point was that just painting Labor with the pitiful and undeniably corrupt brush (which I must admit I just did that on Facebook half an hour ago so I’m no better mind you!) is highly simplistic. If she was writing an apology piece for Labor then why did she bring up Joe Bullock as an exceptionally bad choice for labor in the senate election? But then she does point out there are far better labor choices with union backgrounds. I have been voting Greens and am happy with their result but she does have a valid point that preferencing PUP over labor is a more than minor sellout for a party so committed to renewable energy and high progressive income taxes.

    But if you want black and white, good and bad (like myself at times) look no further than for profit private health insurers. They are bad and its that black and white. What Dutton is doing here is facilitating a move towards healthcare like the US which he will deny of course. It won’t bring about a sustainable healthcare system, it will do the polar opposite while destroying Medicare which he has manipulated to being a socialist sacred cow. We should all pull together on this one and labor has been really wimpy in bending to Bupa’s demands and they are useless money draining rat bags that the MSM has given a free ride. I could see this coming, what an asshole.





  22. Keith Woolsey

    Lee has nailed it and mirrors my own sentiments. Victoria, this article sounds like a cry to the progressives to please, please come back.

  23. jasonblog

    I appreciate that the AIMN is an amateur blogging site but it seriously diminishes itself by publishing this sort of stuff from Victoria Rollison. How she could possibly concoct such a pointless, directionless, diatribe from Waleed Aly’s excellently nuanced column is truly breathtaking in its sheer audacious misrepresentation.

    Aly commented on a poll that showed support for both the LNP and ALP dropping. He placed that into the context of a widening malaise troubling Australian politics. The gist of Aly’s column being “that there is something hopelessly compromised about the very culture of mainstream Australian politics.” Aly’s other salient point that is overlooked in Rollison’s rush to partisan bigotry is “Our political landscape now inspires such low esteem that the only place we can park our approval is on the margins: as far away from power as possible.”

    Aly even makes a frank observation of the Liberal Party and “its bizarre pursuit of the complete non-scandal surrounding the Australian Workers Union and Julia Gillard’s time as a labour lawyer, or its constant references to the faceless men of Sussex Street upon Kevin Rudd’s knifing.” The point Aly makes about the ‘professionalisation” of politics and the creation of a so-called ‘political class’ is pertinent and directly relates to the recent article about Ted Mack that was posted by Kaye Lee. Waleed Aly makes a valid point about a sameness concerning the ALP and LNP – they serve the same masters. One only has to look at the post ALP career of Martin Ferguson to recognise that. As Aly correctly tells us “the Labor and Liberal parties do not represent two different worlds. There are shades of difference but they are both ultimately similar machines directed at similar goals and subject to the same power plays and moral compromises. At bottom, they represent the same subculture that is the profession of modern politics.”

    Victoria Rollison writes “…the issue of union involvement in the Labor Party is a complex one.” Not so according to Bob Hawke who believes that union power over the ALP should be reined in. As simple as that. (For those who missed it Hawke was recently featured in interview with Margaret Throsby- well worth checking out). Even Rollison confesses that she is “sick of seeing unqualified union parachuted Labor candidates selected by a few Labor executive members with no consultation from the community.” And then goes on some haphazard, contradictory, apologia for it being so.

    Whatever turmoil besets the modern day ALP is well reflected in this contribution of identity crisis and irrational snark that Rollison contributes. I was left confused by what she was on about. And in the end all she offered was puerile non-sense.

    The AIMN should count itself lucky to have somebody of the calibre of Kaye Lee constantly providing high quality content.

  24. Anomander

    As a born and bred Labor voter (who only once toyed with the idea of voting Liberal), I find myself thoroughly disenfranchised by the base level our politics has been allowed to descend.

    Neither of the major parties come close to representing my my views, my beliefs and my vision of a government that works first and foremost for the betterment of all people in our society rather than for a select few – all I see before me are two principal groups of self-interested narcissists completely fixated by big money and unduly influenced by corporate interests.

    All pretence of working for the people now thoroughly washed away in the insane rush to accumulate wealth before the public finally wakes-up and the shit finally hits the fan.

    Say what you will to disparage the Greens, but note that you never seem to see any of their party being grilled at the ICAC, unlike the parade of Liberals and Labor.

    Sure, the Greens have made some mistakes – show me a political party who hasn’t? Anyone recall how WorkChoices took down a sitting Prime Minister or the mindless destructiveness of the Labor leadership struggle?

    No matter what they do, the cards are deliberately stacked against the Greens by the mainstream parties and a complicit media. As are all attacks against any party or individual that poses a threat to the established structure as defined by the Lib/Lab duopoly.

    If the Greens stand firm on an issue, they are attacked as ideologues who place the environment above the economy and jobs. But when they take a pragmatic stance and support a less progressive policy they are accused of being sell-outs. When they take on big issues such as climate change they are cast as unrealistic idealists, but when they shift downward to smaller issues like gay marriage, they are said to said to lack vision of big issues.

    To me, the Greens stand as the only viable choice for those of us with a humanistic view, who sit left of centre.

    As the Lib/Lab duopoly lurch further and further to the right, I find myself in a state of constant frustration and aggravation with our current governmental structure, with nobody apart from the Greens prepared to stand and represent my views and ideals in the mainstream political sphere.

    While I may never fully agree with all of their policies (show me any party that perfectly fits an individual’s beliefs), the vast bulk of the Greens policies fit neatly within my viewpoint, principally;

    – That the economy should work to benefit all members of society, not just a select few. Therefore the economy should be directed to achieve the aims of society as a whole, rather than as a means for a small group to accumulate disproportionate wealth, at the expense of everyone else.

    – That our shared environment is is paramount because sustains us all – without access to food, clean water, and a safe, secure environment, we all suffer. Therefore it should be a major consideration in all planning, developments and discussions.

    – That equity is vital for society to progress. Access to quality health and education, basic rights and protections and resources is a right of every member of society. That in the richest nation on Earth, we should not have a sub-class of people left unsupported. That we all have a duty of care to pay according to our means toward supporting every member of society that they too may contribute to the best of their ability, because in doing so we all benefit.

    If Labor finally decides revisit its roots and to shift back to a more rational left-leaning spectrum, rather than pursuing the Libs to adopt the most extremist right-wing stance, I may reconsider them again, but for now, the Greens espouse these core values far more than either of the Libs or Labor, and while they continue to do so, they will have my unequivocal support.

  25. nettythe1st

    Here here!

  26. billy moir

    love it, victoria slogans work because they are simple and easy to remember.
    Labor fell to the rabbott’s constant reminders of unsupported ‘truths’ that excited the media who over talked labor’s attempts to redress eg for a short while ‘carbon price’ was used but quickly the rabbott, the lemon and the gibbon. killed it.
    Labor lost the plot against the rabbott murdoch machine and were too weak to support gillard(atheism, woman, unmarried and childless not worth much to practising catholics) by attacking the rabbott. Even now, when the media are screaming for ‘negativity’, little billy and torpid tanya drown in bullock and rabbott crap with no attempt to expose the rabbott’s character. using the billions borrowed and misspent from swan’s excellent economy that goes unchallenged and by the budget the economy will belong to the rabbott and labor will again be disastrous managers.
    You were right to mention roman catholics for little billy, the rabbott, little joey, pyne and soon to be deputy PM, joyce are all jesuit trained, Add Albo a christian brother’s boy and turnbull a catholic convert(no wonder aly is worried his wife thought islam was ‘violent, sexist and foreign’ and roman catholics fit the bill). makes bishop, a st peter’s college educated the odd one out. A woman, a protestant and away a lot, fits with the boy’s love of a trilogy.

  27. ShaunJ

    G’day All,

    Well said Anomander, brilliantly expressed, you speak for my mind as well. This is the crux of the problem that Victoria, and for that matter Labor, face with all progressive peoples, well done sir.

  28. randalstella

    That would be the Bob Hawke, businessman – who wants ‘the outback’ used as a massive nuclear waste disposal dump, for the world to use. That Bob Hawke.

    What’s ‘nuanced’ about Aly’s piece is the usual impressionism; the factitious moral equivalence between Labor and Liberal – which is meant as a federal reference. It is basically nonsense. But it is a contagion, among those who have little memory it seems, or even less interest in the calamity to equity of the last Fed.election. Policies and policy-differences don’t matter to the uninterested. Aly’s piece is just more of the lazy generalising comment that passes for analysis. It is considered smart to equate; when it is actually just facile.
    The persuasion is that policy differences should continue not to matter to the electorate.

    We have just had a fairly competent Labor Government, able to get through a number of very important reforms; in health,education, disability support – thrown out for a mob of destructive sociopaths. I see no equivalence. Because there is none.
    The article raises several issues; and I don’t agree with every point. It is far better than your rhetoric claims – despite the misrepresentation of the Greens. You would do better to crank back your rhetoric..
    If the MSM are professionals, give me the amateurs. The article above was implicitly based in policy differences. Aly’s stuff virtually denies those differences, or that they are that important.

    I want to encourage the Labor Party to keep producing policy to contrast it with Abbott’s mob – because Labor will be the next non-Liberal Government.
    I write as a Greens voter.

  29. Kaye Lee

    I read Aly’s article differently. It wasn’t a comparison of policies where Labor and the Greens are clearly in front of the Coalition. It was more about this one line:

    “there is something hopelessly compromised about the very culture of mainstream Australian politics.”

    I have to agree with that statement. The rise of influence of lobbyists and the obsession with polls has led to bad decisions eg the mining tax compromise, the knifing of two sitting Prime Ministers, and “stop the boats”. The fact that so many politicians have used the line “my office mistakenly claimed for that – I’ll pay it back” shows that there is a culture of entitlement. If you want to get somewhere, hire a private jet and have com cars waiting to take you to the football or the races.

    Anyone who watches parliament firstly must be as tragic as me, and secondly, one cannot fail to think what a waste of time and money. Our current system is just silly. It’s purely unproductive theatrics. While we continue with the idea of party politics, adversarial parliament, government and opposition, we will continue to see vested interests trying to exercise control and MPs spending all their time denigrating the other side instead of working collegially together to make the best decisions for the country.

    I would love to see 150 men and women elected because of their experience and expertise who then listen to the experts and work together to find solutions. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.

  30. mars08


    Policies and policy-differences don’t matter to the uninterested…

    Wow… that’s What’s ‘nuanced’ about this sentence?

    Comments on THIS page (on a political blog site) indicate that there are people who are dismayed at Labor’s policy. Many have openly stated that they are disappointed by Labor’s swerve to the right. Some people are saying that they would reconsider Labor if it genuinely embraced social justice again.

    Are you suggesting that the people who made THOSE comment are disinterested or lazy?

    I can’t deny that there are far too many distracted, disengaged people in the electorate who fit that description… but please be careful not to smear everyone with those generalisations.

  31. Anomander

    Cheers Kaye. The fault lies entirely in the combative nature of our politics, of one side vehemently opposed to the other. The very nature of the duopoly is confrontational rather than collaborative.

    We teach our children to play nicely together and that by working collaboratively we achieve much, but our politics is almost the antithesis of this advice – they fight, bicker, poke, taunt and generally achieve very little.
    If our kids carried-on like this we would be mortified.

    This appalling behaviour is one of the reasons why most people have become disinterested or disenfranchised with our politics.

    What we want are rational, intelligent people capable of seeing all sides of the equation and making informed decisions that benefit as many people as possible rather than a select few, without all the childish bickering, arguing and self-interest.

    Instead we have a rabble of football-jersey wearing, ultra-competitive schoolyard bullies who are more interested in strutting around looking important than they are in learning or working collectively.

  32. lawrencewinder

    Good article… when or will we ever see political parties of inspiring vision again?

  33. randalstella

    There is corruption in the Labor Party; and in the Liberal Party – although there it is harder to tell it apart from policy;e.g. the basic policy of lying for advantage.
    Some are concerned about the ‘conservative’ lack of policy action by Shorten and Labor; and some are concerned that some Labor figures show the same exploitative approach to power as the Liberals. Run it all together, and you’ve got moral equivalence.You end up with having to insist like Waleed Aly that Labor and Liberal typically all come from the same background with the same attitude to social justice and common wealth. You end up with counter-factual guff.

    Very clearly, you miss my very obvious point. If you want to run on the fashionable little mind-bug of moral equivalence, there’s nothing I know that will stop you. Not reason, not facts.
    Labor are not equivalent to Liberal. Before the last election, Liberal pretended that they were just about equivalent. pretending that they intended to preserve Labor’s major social initiatives. That was to aid the campaign against the ‘Carbon Tax’, the “budget emergency” etc.
    If you think Labor and Liberal are equivalent then – like Waleed Aly – you don’t take Abbott seriously; his attitude, his threats. And somehow the 150-odd items of Abbott’s wrecking ball, posted here recurrently with updates, does not matter so much anymore. Like the World Heritage Tasmanian forests – on which the line of moral equivalence acts as if they already do not exist.
    Aly writes his mild guff because he cannot take on the unprecedented threat to social amenity and equity and the environment – which is Abbott and his mob. Either it does not matter to him, or he would consider himself under threat if he did. So ‘wise’. I would rely on his opinion as far as I could throw the ABC. Moral equivalence between the 2 sides has long been a slant for the sake of presenting extreme right-wing and destructive policies and attitudes as nothing really different.The corruption in the Labor Party has been a major excuse for this.
    It is a fashioning of the facts to entice the capricious vote of those who do not care or cannot think, beyond obeying Media stings. The ABC presented Abbott’s speech to the loggers, as the ‘real conservationists’, as “important”. Such ideals. Such courage.
    i wish I knew just what Labor policies are now. I knew before the election. From what I hear they oppose most of Abbott’s destructive agenda. They hold by carbon pricing. Abbott declares that a big difference: no doubt you have heard that. Somehow some people seem to know just what Labor’s policies are now. I have to assume that they are much like the last Gillard Government. Labor should tell us. I don’t assume that Labor have turned into Liberal.
    I have serious concerns about the compromise of Labor by its ‘business – friendly’ inclinations; much of it run from the Right. But not for a moment do I buy the guff that Labor and Liberal are the same: not on policy. not morally.
    The questions are as they have always been:what are your policies, and can we trust you to carry them out? On what we have seen – say, Gillard versus Abbott – on both questions Labor and Liberal are miles apart. The line of moral equivalence acts as if these questions are irrelevant or already answered. That is a lie, more comprehensive than the lies of the Coalition, and able to encompass them, nurture them; keep them in power.

  34. Catriona Thoolen

    “You only have to interrogate the values of Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party for three seconds to see that the party exists to further the interests of billionaire Clive Palmer for the benefit of Clive Palmer.”

    I know you all like to repeat this assumption, but it is just not true

    “Palmer doesn’t want to pay the Carbon Price.”

    PUP policy was to remove the carbon price because it was and is an unfair tax. A tax that ONLY Australian businesses pay, but not their overseas competitors. How fair is that? How much has it undermined the ability to tender for any contract, if competing against a business that ‘starts’ with a cost 10% less? How fair is it for our small engineering businesses to have the additional cost that CT added to electricity added to every stage of the production process to then have to compete against an imported product that has not had this cost? How many business have either shut down or offshored their production?

    There seems to be an assumption that a ‘progressive’ govt can just up taxes every time they need money. They can’t, businesses just pick up and move to where they can maintain their profit.

    The Libs just want to cut payments to the lowest income levels not understanding that the poorer people are, the less they have to spend the less demand there is for products.

    PUP believe that money needs to go to the poorest, because they will always spend it. When they do, the govt gets GST, local businesses increase cash flow, perhaps employ another person and the growth in the economy creates its own cycle, building upon itself.

    PUP believes every child in Australia deserves an equal opportunity, in education and access to health services. We know not every child will make the most of those opportunities, but they should be there for the taking. PUP believes University should be ‘fee free’ to allow the best and the brightest to access Uni, not the ones whose parents can afford to pay the ‘full fees’ since their child couldn’t access by merit. That universities should not have to offer ‘full fee’ places to make the shortfall in their budgets due to funding cuts.

    “Palmer doesn’t want to pay the mining tax on super profits.”

    Why does just mining have to pay a super profits tax? Why not every business that makes super profits tax have to pay…like…our banks?

    “But rather than interrogate Palmer’s self-interested, anti-community values”

    Which party said that we should NOT export primary products? That we should at the very least add one level of value adding to products before export? That that process should take place in the non-mining states so that every state would benefit from mining? And not through GST handouts to the states? That’s right PUP! Not one of the other parties has come up with ideas to grow the economy by creating these ‘new’ manufacturing industries, only PUP

    What was the 1st thing Tony Abbott did when he became Prime Minister? He implemented the PUP policy of no officials within the party could also be lobbyists. If this had been done years ago, they would not be the invited guests of ICAC

    Who lobbied within the govt to stop the sale of Graincorp? Who supports Australian ownership (not foreign) of our farmland? Clive even lives this in his business, by selling leases, not assets to overseas investors.

    Very few actually see that PUP is agrarian protectionist. PUP believes that the state should own the businesses that supply the needs of Australians, things like the supply of electricity, gas, roads, public transport, all be controlled by Govt so that the marginal areas, the remote or even just regional, are supported with the ‘needs’ of life. (The wants can be supplied by business).

    What party started with the basis of all moral questions be allowed a conscience vote? That candidates would be drawn from all the races/religions in Australia?

    You can dislike Clive because he is different. Because he is happy to laugh at himself. Because he isn’t like any other politician.

    But do not underestimate a self-made man, who did not inherit his wealth, who went into politics, but does not draw his MP’s salary.

    A man who need not have put himself forward for the abuse he knew would follow, but did so anyway because he could see a better way and a better future for all Australians.

  35. Wayne Turner

    Well said and nicely put article.

    For myself personally,I’m a Greens voter,and I’m annoyed but NOT surprised by the rise of PUP.All Palmer & his party showed was how easy is is too con some of the masses,with advertising,because the PUP’s spent so much money on it.Clearly it worked.My problem,with PUP,of course NOT just them,is that all Palmer cares about is Palmer.Oh electorate how terrible you are…

  36. Paolo Soprani

    Waleed Aly is a highly inciteful, extremely professional, highly intelligent and accurate writer whose credibility and opinion would be hard to question.

  37. randalstella

    Kaye Lee,
    Did I miss the bit where Aly refers to the superiority of Labor’s policies to the Libs? I still do not see it.
    The piece seems on the edge of admitting that all the MSM coverage of Labor crooks might just have been misleading, when there are so many Lib crooks tied up in the same affair..But it does not say this either. Likewise it edges away from BOF’s resignation as possibly about more than a ‘forgotten’ bottle of North Shore plonk. For the love of mercy, Bob Ellis actually gets what Ally misses about the ‘gift’.
    If you want a guiding summary of the close ties in this matter, please visit the ABC’s one political commentator worth heeding, Shaun Micallef; his piece on Sinodinos, in his penultimate episode of the now-finished Mad As Hell. A summary like no other ABC identity could provide – dare or care. It seemed a very short series, ended in the middle of ‘interesting times’.
    And of course when Aly refers to “something hopelessly compromised” about Aust. politics, he’s not suggesting the pivotal role in this of the MSM. That most definitely must not be said.
    So, quickly I find 3 things not included, which should be included – if the problems of Aust. politics are to be addressed: 3 most important things.
    Instead we get that Lab and Lib are all of the “same subculture”; that the “shades of difference” are inconsequential. This must surely be taken as a comment intended to include policy: he does not say it isn’t.
    He adds how they must be indiscriminately seen as “all bad guys now”; and does not makes no effort to be careful to say this is may be the indolent view, the view most subject to the tactic of moral equivalence – the flawed as bad as the systemically woeful. Rather it seems like more rhetoric designed to avoid the facts.
    The state of Aust. pol is such that we are supposed to take guidance on “compromise” from a compromiser. He’s in the Entertainment business; and that’s the problem with Aust. pol. as well.

  38. randalstella

    penultimate paragraph, end of first line, should read “…and makes no effort to be careful…”

  39. Anomander

    I will give Clive Palmer his due, he is a very, very clever man. He has become successful because he understands human behaviour and he cleverly plays to it.

    Yes, of course he supports the poor, he firmly believes education should be free for all, he will happily tell you the carbon tax and mining taxes are harming Australian businesses and that he fully supports local agriculture and businesses.

    He does this because he knows this is exactly what you want to hear and in presenting himself as a reasonable person you’re more likely to vote for him than the usual political narcissists, because that’s what we need in this country – successful, intelligent, rational people running the country.

    But the truth is, he’s telling massive porkies only to secure votes.

    He doesn’t give a toss about the poor, unless he can get them to work cheaply in his mines. Education he’ll happily support – as long as everyone else pays for it. His support for agriculture is a fillip to the Nationals supporters who are disenfranchised by how badly the Libs treat them in their coalition. He’s concerned about the carbon tax because it affects him directly and the last thing he wants to do is pay more tax. Similar with the mining tax – he has already refused to pay and is holding-off until Abbott rescinds it so he can launch a claim against the ATO and win a huge payout – money that will be drawn from government coffers and our pockets.

    Do not be fooled into thinking he is a big, fat jolly fool, an affable galoot who is prepared to laugh at himself. He is a dangerous man and his money affords him visibility, access to the media, power, influence and promises of even greater wealth.

    The very fact he could buy his way into politics so easily and convince so many people is testament to his skill as a salesman and his deep understanding of human behaviour. It also speaks volumes about how desperate the Australian public have become, to believe a snake-oil salesman like Clive and vote for him in droves.

    But most concerning is, how with a tidy sum of money, someone like this can so easily manipulate a large percentage of the populace with outright lies. That alone speaks volumes about how out of touch or politics has become and how disenfranchised and jaded the public are with the whole political process.

    Clive didn’t become a billionaire by being a nice bloke, he is a master manipulator. He knows how to play the game and to play it to his advantage. He is not in politics to advance our society or our nation, he is there for the additional influence it affords him and to increase his own personal wealth. People like that don’t invest lots of money without a goal at the end, and that end is to benefit him, and him alone.

  40. mars08

    He knows how to play the game and to play it to his advantage….

    And now, like so many of the fabulously wealthy, he gets to set the rules of the game. oh… the golden rule is eternal.

  41. Dan Rowden

    Think about how many hard working, passionate, intelligent, talented and committed progressive politicians in the Labor Party

    Name one that properly fits that profile.

  42. nettythe1st

    Well said! And absolutely true!

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