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Tag Archives: LNP

Bob Katter nails it: we are being deceived about the FTA with China

Bob Katter is a man I’ve never paid much attention to. He’s on the other side of the country and might as well be on the other side of the planet as far as I’m concerned. But when a friend sent me the link to Katter’s speech in Parliament last week on the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement I sat up and took notice. It’s a gem. It sparkled. You need to see it.

Here it is:

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (17:50): I feel sorry for the members of the government, I really do. They get a brief and they have got to get up and tell us how wonderful the free trade deal is and how it is going to save the world. I was in this place and saw the then Prime Minister stand up and lead the clapping for Andrew Robb on the free trade deal with China and I thought, ‘Maybe I know nothing about politics, but if this is getting you votes I am a Martian astronaut!’ Four weeks later he was thrown out a window.

You think you are deceiving the people of Australia. You are not. When they hear ‘free trade deal’, they hate you. Understand that, because I might not be an expert in a number of fields, but after 41 years of straight wins in pretty hostile territory, I can tell you that I know a little tiny bit about politics. I sat at the feet of the great master, Bjelke-Petersen. So if you are not interested in governing the country, if you are not interested in helping your country, maybe you might just think about your survival.

I feel sorry for the LNP. They somehow think that Australia is this big, huge country and that it can produce a magnificent amount of agricultural production. It most certainly can produce a lot more than it is producing. But it is not a big, huge agricultural country at all. There is 53 per cent of Australia that is designated as desert and 23 per cent is designated as Indigenous lands. Since the governments of Australia will not give title deed to those lands, they are sterilised. That is 76 per cent gone. There is seven per cent that is national parks. So, if you take out that 83 per cent, there ain’t a lot left.

The concept that huge areas of land will produce huge areas of food—sorry; that is wrong. There are a few thousand hectares, maybe 30,000 hectares, of land that is producing about a quarter of Australia’s beef production. They are called lot feeders. Basically the cattle do not wander around chewing grass. That is not the way beef is produced anymore in America or in Europe or in Australia. It is done in lot feeders. So you have a different concept altogether, where you do not need huge areas of land. Your competitive advantage is in that lot feeder. That is where the action comes. You have a competitive advantage in that area.

Somehow they think, ‘There are millions of people in South-East Asia, and we’re going to be able to sell all this food to them.’ Mr Deputy Speaker, I would refer you to the statistics. In fact, there is a pretty good chance that we will be importing food from those countries. Let me be very specific. When I stood up in this place 15 years ago and said that this market fundamentalism, this free market rubbish, will destroy your country, I said that Australia could become a net importer of food. Every 10 years, the imports increase at 103 per cent and the exports increase at 21 per cent. You do not have to be Albert Einstein to figure out that the graphs will soon cross.

Mr Deputy Speaker, you must understand that, if every Chinese city had two 20-storey buildings with tanks on each storey, then they could produce all of the protein requirements for China. They do not have to buy any of our beef. They do not have to buy any of our seafood product. In fact, if you look at a graph of the increase in seafood production in China, if you extrapolate that graph on for about 30 or 40 years, in theory all of the world’s protein would be coming out of the prawn and fish farms in China.

I am fascinated by how this is going to help Australia. The last speaker, the member for Lyne, touted the beef industry. I do not know if he knows anything about it. I rather doubt that he does, but he touted the beef industry. Well, let us have a look at what this free trade deal does for the beef industry. We sell our beef at the present moment at $2 a kilogram. If you look at the average price, it is a lot less than that, but I will take $2 a kilogram. Its 10 per cent tariff has been abolished, so that is a 20c advantage we get. The beef sells over there for $32 a kilogram. Those are the figures that have been given to me. But now the Australians are going to have a terrific advantage of 20c, so it is $31.80 now. Jeez, that will lead to a huge increase in the benefits for the beef producers of Australia! A difference between $32 and $31.80, and the member of parliament who sits beside me here, the member for Lyne, seriously touted that as something that is going to help the beef industry? Why doesn’t he do his homework? Why does he just take the drivel that comes from the frontbench? And the drivel that comes from the frontbench is dictated by the giant corporations that bankroll the mainstream parties.

Having dealt with the LNP, we will move on now to the ALP. If ever there was a day on which ‘Red Ted’ Theodore would turn in his grave and the founders of the labour movement would spit upon the people that sit in this House and call themselves Labor members, today is the day. When I walk out of this place, there is a magnificent portrait of a bloke called Charlie McDonald. Charlie McDonald was the first member for Kennedy, and every time I go out I salute Charlie. Six of Charlie’s first seven speeches in this place were railing against the importation of foreign labour. Well, this document opens the door to it. This man went out and helped form the Labor Party, the labour movement, of Australia. They fought and died, literally—there were three shearers shot dead at the strike, where Waltzing Matilda was written a couple of months later—and the entire executive of the AWU were jailed for three years with hard labour for having a strike. These men and their families went hungry. What happened when they got arbitration was that the miners said, ‘We’re bringing the coolies in from China. Ha, ha. Take that, Buster Brown; take that.’ And the cane plantations said, ‘We’re bringing the Kanaks in to be cane cutters, so take that, Buster Brown; take that.’

So the first member for Kennedy stood up in this place and courageously fought to create the Labor Party—and the people who sit here on $200,000 or $300,000 a year, enjoying the benefits from the creation of that labour movement, sit here and betray every principle that was put forward by those people. Charlie McDonald would turn in his grave. But I am proud to say that the people of Kennedy are still represented by people who are not sell-outs, who are not under the control of the big plantation owners or the big mining companies. No. We are under the control of the people of our area. That is who we are under the control of and proud to say it. This opens the door that the Charlie McDonalds died for. The ALP today sold them out—lock, stock and barrel. There is not a trade unionist in Australia who is not looking at the ground and being ashamed of his association with the labour movement.

Let me become very specific. I am fascinated. I am just a poor, humble, simple Cloncurry boy. Clearly, these wunderkind—over here and over there—have decided to have free markets. The honourable member over there, Mr Brough, is making faces; he thinks it’s funny! I will tell you how funny it is, my friend. You have to buy everything from overseas. The last whitegoods factory, which is at Orange, closes this year. So you have to buy all your whitegoods from overseas. About 40 per cent of the steel in your house—the roofing on it, the reinforcing steel for your floor—comes from overseas. About 40 per cent of your cement comes from overseas. All your whitegoods and all the motor cars in your garage will come from overseas, next year. The clothes you wear will all come from overseas. Your footwear will all come from overseas. The petrol you put in your car comes from overseas. Everything we buy comes from overseas. Where are we going to get the money to buy all of these things?

The honourable member there, Mr Brough, laughed at me. People have laughed at me ever since I came into this place and started talking about this. I want it on record that he laughed at me, because the history books will pass judgement upon him. They will say: ‘Who are the people who destroyed this country?’ We have to buy everything from overseas. Where are we going to get the money to buy all our petrol, to buy all our motor cars, to buy everything in our houses and to buy the clothes on our backs?

Let me turn to food—and people in this place laugh at me about this. This country is now a net importer of pork. It is a net importer of seafood. It is a net importer of fruit and vegetables. It is only a matter of time. As I said, it is 103 per cent every 10 years, the last time I looked, and a 21 per cent increase in exports every 10 years. Inevitably—as the sun rises—we will become a net importer of food. You cannot eat live cattle or unprocessed grain, but if you take those two commodities out we are getting pretty close, in fact, to being a net importer of food. People in this place have laughed at me, but the people of Australia are passing judgement upon them, already, as we talk.

Where are we going to get this money from? We have only two things now that we export, and everyone knows that they are iron ore and coal. I am not here to denigrate those industries. In fact, I pray every night of my life to the good Lord that it does not come to pass, the continuation of what we are suffering in the thermal coal industry. But I would not like to be backing myself in, and I will not go into the problems of the thermal coal industry. What you have is what you have, in iron ore.

The country has to buy everything from overseas—and all they have to buy it with is iron ore and coal. A little bit of gold. Of course, aluminium is doomed. Aluminium is electricity. It came to Australia when we had the cheapest electricity in the world, in Queensland. Australia now has the second highest electricity charges in the world. So it will be bye-bye aluminium. It will be bye-bye all mineral processing, because it all depends upon—and I am sick and tired, in this place, of hearing ‘It’s high wages that are killing us!’ Wages look pretty bloody small when compared with the cost of mineral processing, which is the cost of electricity.

It is due to the incompetence of the people in this place and of state governments who have taken electricity charges up 400 per cent in 10 years. That is what your free markets and privatisation have done: 400 per cent increase, in electricity charges, in 10 years. For 10 years before that, in Queensland, there was no increase at all. For 10 years before privatisation and a deregulation of the pricing mechanism we had no movement in price at all. My case rests. It dooms aluminium and it dooms mineral processing, so you are left with iron ore and coal. The income from iron ore and coal—maybe $150,000 million or whatever it is—is not enough to meet our imports. It is nowhere near enough.

You are living in a country that is going broke at 100 miles an hour. You cannot buy everything from overseas when you have nothing to sell overseas. The people in this place with their market fundamentalism, their fanaticism, have imposed upon Australia a regime that no other country on earth has to suffer under. Every other farmer on earth gets 40 per cent of his income from the government. Our poor farmers get six per cent. I conclude on that note. So much for your free trade. (Time expired)

 

Christopher Pyne’s Greatest Hits of 2015: Winner of the People’s Choice Snoutie

It’s official. The people have spoken. Christopher Pyne has won the inaugural People’s Choice Snoutie.

Voting for the People’s Choice Snoutie Award kicked off last weekend, and closed yesterday. For a while Senate Leader Eric Abetz was a serious contender for the title – but Pyne, like the poodle with a bone that he is, took the lead fairly early on and eventually streaked ahead to claim victory by a significant margin.

The Inaugural ‘On the Snout’ Awards

OnTheSnoutDefinition In case you didn’t catch last week’s ‘unbiasedly’ prestigious and soon-to-be coveted ‘On the Snout’ awards – here’s a quick run-down on what you missed.

The On the Snout awards – or ‘Snouties’ – are named after recently retired U.S. political satirist Jon Stewart, who in his last show exhorted his viewers to be vigilant in watching out for bullshit, saying “if you smell something, say something”.

There was plenty to smell in Canberra in the last parliamentary sitting fortnight – and so the ‘On the Snout’ awards were created. The inaugural awards went to four worthy winners:

  • The David Copperfield Magic with Numbers Award – went to Joe ‘Eleventy’ Hockey
  • The George Orwell 1984 Award – went to Peter ‘PDuddy’ Dutton
  • The Dragon Slayer Award – went to Chief of Lawfare, George Brandis
  • The Golden Snoutie Award – the most coveted award of all – went to Snout in Chief, Tony Abbott

(Read more about how each of the above award winners won their awards here.)

The People’s Choice Snoutie

While the winners of these four key awards were announced last week, there was still one award for the last parliamentary sitting fortnight left to be decided – the People’s Choice Snoutie.

PeoplesChoiceSnoutieTranswithS As its name suggests, the winner of this award is chosen by the people of Australia who were asked to vote for “the member of the LNP cabinet (other than Tony Abbott) who has been the most ‘on the snout’ over the last fortnight“.

And like the well-informed electors that we are, the people of Australia voted. With well over a thousand votes cast, we can be fairly certain that the people have picked the LNP cabinet member most worthy of this award.

And the winner is . . . (drum roll please) . . .

Christopher Pyne [Sound of applause]

Christopher Pyne’s win is particularly impressive since he was not actually present in the second week of the last parliamentary sitting. And in week one, other than some press around his expense claims – particularly around spending $5,000 to fly three members of his family to Sydney for New Year’s Eve in 2010 – he was on the periphery of key events rather than being at the centre of them.

So how did Christopher Pyne win the much coveted People’s Snoutie award?

The answer is fairly simple – Pyne started the fortnight with such a high level of snoutiness, that even a fairly low profile over that two week period was unable to dull exactly how ‘on the snout’ he is. This is perhaps best expressed by an insightful quote from The Shovel a few months back:

Being massively annoying and effectively wearing people down until they agree with him is Christopher’s strong suit.

In Christopher Pyne’s own words:

You couldn’t kill me with an axe. I’m going to keep coming back.

It’s this level of commitment to snoutiness that was a key part of why Christopher Pyne won the inaugural People’s Choice Snoutie this week.

So let’s revisit some of Christopher Pyne’s greatest hits this year, which led to him winning this award.

Christopher Pyne’s Greatest Hits for 2015 (the story so far . . . )

Education reform – it’s all about the money

Pyne’s so-called ‘Education Reform’ legislation is undoubtedly his number one hit for the year – and a continuing chart-topper from 2014. Its title suggests that he is doing something to improve the way we educate. But not so much. In fact the only thing the Bill is seeking to reform is the way that higher education and research are funded – he’s effectively doing Joe Hockey’s work for him. But reform is a much nicer word than ‘taxation’ – making it easier to package up this pile of snoutiness for an attempted sale.

But unfortunately for Pyne and his LNP colleagues – nobody is buying it. The draft Bill has been knocked back by the Senate twice already. Further, both Australia’s top universities and one of the experts who provided input to the design of the original Education Reform Bill say the proposed Bill is fixing a problem that doesn’t exist while leaving the real issues unresolved – suggesting even more that the Bill is primarily a revenue-raising exercise by the government rather than actual reform – and definitely on the snout.

The Black Knight of Snoutiness

It was Nick Xenophon who first pointed out our People’s Choice Snoutie winner’s similarities to the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail:

Just like the Black Knight, Pyne keeps on keeping on with his much-on-the-snout Bill, despite the disdain almost everyone else has for it. Which brings us to . . .

Taking Research Scientist Jobs Hostage

No-one could forget Pyne’s attempt at a ScoMo tactic back in March this year, when he took 1700 Research Scientists’ jobs hostage. His initial ransom demand was that the Senate must pass his Education ‘Reform’ Bill.

In doing this, he was following Scott ‘ScoMo’ Morrison’s tactic from the end of the previous year, when he managed to get changes to the Migration Act passed by the Senate. ScoMo did this by telling the crossbenchers in the Senate that if they didn’t pass the changes, 150 children would not be released from detention before Christmas. As you may recall, apparently ScoMo even had some of the actual children – who could have been released at any point without the Bill being passed – call Ricky Muir, pleading to get him to pass the bill.

It’s difficult to get snoutier than that.

But Christopher Pyne is always up for a challenge it seems. And so, our first People’s Choice Snoutie winner decided to emulate ScoMo – this time holding Scientists’ jobs hostage, saying:

There are consequences for not voting for this reform and that’s very important for the crossbenchers to understand. The consequences are that potentially 1700 researchers will lose their jobs.

Luckily, after significant outrage from pretty much everyone, Pyne magically found the money needed to fund these jobs, and he released his hostages without harm, declaring himself to be ‘the fixer’.

Taking from the Poor to give to the Rich (the Anti-Robin-Hood)

In 2014, Pyne has cut funding to certain state schools and increased funding to a significant number of private schools. Apparently he feels a “‘particular responsibility for non-government schooling’ that [he] doesn’t feel for government schools“.

Magically finding funding for one of Abbott’s Pet Projects

Despite the emergency in university funding, it turns out that there is still money available for one of Abbott’s favourite climate-contrarians – Bjorn Lomborg.

As you may recall, four million dollars was offered to any university who would allow Lomborg to establish a ‘consensus centre’ on climate change – of which up to 70% was to have been spent on promotion, marketing and events. The University of Western Australia was originally going to give Lomborg a home, but withdrew due to strong opposition to the centre. Apparently Flinders University is currently considering whether they will take him and his four million dollars worth of funding on.


Any single one of these entries would have been enough to win Pyne a Snoutie award in the normal run of events. Combined, they paint a picture of a worthy winner of the inaugural People’s Choice Snoutie award.

Take a bow Christopher Pyne – you are most definitely on the snout.

Thanks to all for voting. If you’ve got further examples of Pyne’s Greatest Hits this year that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear your comments below.

This article was first published on Progressive Conversation.

 

The stage is set for a Turnbull challenge

Malcolm Turnbull will only get one likely chance to be Prime Minister, and that chance could be offered to him within days.

Both Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten have laid down his challenge.

The trigger will be Warren Entsch’s cross-party bill to legalise same-sex marriage, on which Tony Abbott has warned that Coalition front benchers who supported this bill would be sacked, should it came to a vote.

Turnbull supports same-sex marriage.

Shorten knows this, and has urged all Coalition MPs in favour of same-sex marriage to “stick to your guns”:

“We say to the Liberals like Malcolm Turnbull, stick to your guns. Stick to your guns Malcolm, stick to your guns Christopher (Pyne), Josh (Frydenberg) and George (Brandis)”.

If Turnbull has both the guts and the desire to challenge Tony Abbott he will indeed stick to his guns. I’m assuming, of course, that he does have the guts and does want to be Prime Minister.

We’ll find out.

If Turnbull votes for the bill and is sacked from the front bench then he is in the best place to launch a challenge for the leadership: the back bench.

If he doesn’t cross the floor and the cosy Liberal status quo is unruffled then he would be obviously happy to go to the election with his party facing a heavy defeat. Or he could also wait for Tony Abbott to eventually implode, but when might that be?

And let’s not forget Christopher Pyne. Knowing that he could be facing political oblivion at the next election, might he be the one who stands up to Abbott and goes on to launch a challenge? It might be his only chance at saving his political career.

Politics is about to get even more interesting.

 

When the PM normalises lying

“It is an absolute principle of democracy that governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards.” Tony Abbott, August 22, 2011

Every time Abbott lies to the citizens of this country we become increasingly disaffected, and not only from our Prime Minister, but from the institution he represents. Abbott has normalised the discourse of lies. He has taken the dishonesty of politicians to a whole new level. We barely expect anything else from him, and from his fellow politicians. Under the leadership of our mendacious Prime Minister, we have increasingly abandoned hope of fairness, straightforwardness, belief and trust. Our Prime Minister doesn’t think we are worthy of the truth.

One of the many unpleasant effects of being lied to is that the liar insults and patronises me by creating a false reality that I have to inhabit, until I discover I’m the victim of deception.The liar denies me the right to know the truth, a serious offence against me, because truth is something no one has the right to deny me.

Whether it’s on a personal or a political level, lying to me signifies the liar doesn’t consider me as entitled to the truth as is he or she. This infantilises me, is disrespectful to me, and denies me the knowledge I need to make informed decisions about my life. There’s little more insulting than being lied to, kept in the dark with lies of omission, and intentionally misled because the liar doesn’t consider you capable of handling the truth, or is acting entirely in their own self-interest because you knowing the truth will in some way threaten them.

The Prime Minister of our country, Tony Abbott, has never made any secret of his ambivalent relationship with truth. There is his notorious assertion that nothing he says is “gospel” truth unless it’s written down.

There’s his prescriptive declaration that “It is better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.” While this isn’t necessarily an endorsement of lying, it is a ruthless and callous prescription for relationship with one’s fellow humans. It recommends that one do that which one desires and if it backfires apologise, but it isn’t necessary under the terms of Abbott’s prescriptive to negotiate with or communicate intention to others, prior to taking an action. This has a similar effect to lying, in that it assumes an inferiority of some kind on the part of another that doesn’t require Abbott to enter into an equal, respectful relationship in which another’s opinions and wishes count for the same as his own.

We have a liar for a leader. When the lies start at the top, there’s little hope truth will ever see the light of day. Abbott is leading us into an abyss of normalised deception that will damage every one of us, because when dedicated liars are in power, the country will inevitably lose its way. If you don’t think this country is losing its way, you’re dreaming.

First published on Jennifer’s blog No Place for Sheep

Why I vote Labor

I first wrote this popular post mid 2012, but with the election this year I took the liberty of updating it and reinforcing why I vote Labor.

I was too young to vote for Gough Whitlam (the first time) and until then I had no interest in politics, but it wasn’t hard to get swept up in the wave of excitement of his anticipated victory. I would have voted for him. The Vietnam War was still raging and kids my age and older were dreading their 20th birthday and the subsequent prospect of conscription. We didn’t like the idea of fighting another senseless war. I think we were the first generation to take that stand.

Although I still wasn’t interested in politics in 1975 I voted for Gough as I wasn’t happy at the way he was dismissed by John Kerr (with the help of Fraser, in my opinion).

I stayed with Labor until the early nineties. Yes, I voted for Hewson and I voted for Howard. Hewson’s loss disappointed me, probably because at the time I was not a big fan of Keating’s, while Howard’s victory brought out the champagne, as by this time I quite despised Keating (for his arrogance). In my eyes Howard couldn’t do anything wrong. He was perfect.

It wasn’t long, however, before I would mumble to myself: “Come back Paul. All is forgiven”.

With the benefit of hindsight, looking back at their prime ministerships both history and I will/have judged Keating to be the far better of the two. And by a country mile!

But I digress.

After securing work with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) it soon became obvious to me that Howard was nothing but a political opportunist. Aboriginal people became political footballs and he soon caught on that ATSIC bashing provided him with the Midas touch. Despite having at his disposal skilled policy makers and Aboriginal people with their pulse on community needs and real contemporary issues, he found it was better politics to be driven by media demands and editorials. There were more votes in helping with the bashing than formulating some real beneficial programs to help these marginalised and disadvantaged members of our society.

It was sad having to visit remote Indigenous communities and make excuses as to why they were continually being ignored by Canberra. “Oh how different it might have been under Keating” I would silently mutter.

The disappointment I detected in the Howard Government in remote Aboriginal communities in South Australia was nothing compared to the detestation of him I felt within the Public Service when moving to Canberra. Frankly, it was quite a surprise and one that found me asking questions as to why.

The answers weren’t that complex.

From working closely with him and his government, Public Servants saw first hand what a mean-spirited, conniving, lying bunch of pricks they were. It didn’t take me long to discover this either. Policies were formulated to ensure their own political survival while ignoring the needs of wider Australians. Lies were told to the media about how successful their policies were when in fact they were failing miserably. Public Servants were bullied into providing them with confidential information in order to secure a political advantage over the then Opposition. I am not at liberty to disclose what I witnessed, but let me say that in my eyes Howard was still perfect. The perfect asshole, that is.

I often wished that those people interstate who still worshiped him could come to work in the Public Service and see first-hand for themselves what a miserable turd he actually was. It’s a pity that the truth never ventured past the boundaries of Canberra.

On the Monday morning after he lost office, the sight of public servants going about their business with a spring in their steps and a smile on their faces gave Canberra a good feel about it. The bullying had stopped and the Public Service was again apolitical, which is how it should be.

But it was after they lost office that I saw how miserable and mean-spirited this Liberal Party is.

I can not give exact details, but I was involved in formulating many policies that were aimed at assisting both disadvantaged and mainstream Australians. To see something finally being done for the wider community was inspiring. Sadly, the programs went nowhere or somewhere at a snail’s pace, keeping disadvantaged Australians disadvantaged. Why? Because the Opposition made every attempt possible to ruin these programs because the delivery of them would bring credit to the Government. And naturally, the Opposition would then shout to the media that this Government was doing nothing and the wider community started to nod in agreement. If the wider community knew of the billions of dollars that were wasted because of the Opposition’s tactics they might not have nodded so obligingly.

At about this time it was very easy to become demoralised as a Public Servant; working your arse off to get this country moving then watch everything crumble because the Liberals didn’t want it to move. They exhibited no interest whatsoever for the community or its needs. Adopting Howard’s manipulative trait, they were only interested in ruining a duly elected Government and having parties in The Lodge. They haven’t changed much, have they?

I’ve seen enough of the Liberal Party in my dozen or so years as a Canberran to carry a hatred for them for many years yet. I’m definitely Labor to the core and not afraid to admit it.

I couldn’t care less about all the media speculation of ‘the faceless men’ or ‘union hacks’ of ‘leadership speculation’. I couldn’t care less when people scream that the ‘new’ Labor has drifted from its traditional base. I like the Labor of now. I ignore the rants from the rabid right that this Government is ‘toxic’ or that Julia Gillard is the worst Prime Minister ever. It’s all shit, spoken by ignorant fools.

I can also take the abuse and taunts from right-wing nut jobs over my political leaning. I don’t care if I’m the last Labor voter in the country, for I’m not changing.

This is not to say that I’m entirely happy with the current Government or Julia Gillard, but these are over issues that don’t affect me personally, such as gay marriage and the refugee impasse. I’d like to see gay marriage legalised and I’d like to see ‘boat people’ processed here in Australia. On the latter, I don’t like the way they’ve played into the Liberal’s grubby hands on the asylum seeker crisis.

I also think that since 2007 Labor have done a lousy job selling itself. Here they could take a leaf out of John Howard’s book of telling anybody with a microphone or a TV camera how good they are. Howard drummed it into us, and we heard it that many times that many actually believed it.

It’s the same manner Tony Abbott uses to shout to everybody how bad the Gillard Government is. And the friendly media are happy to keep printing his lies.

Again I’m digressing.

The point is, I will always vote for a party that puts Australians first and there is only one party that has shown me they have that commitment: the Australian Labor Party.

Can I really believe that the LNP would put ordinary Australians first? Can I really believe they’d be a better alternative for pensioners, parents or minority groups? Can I really believe they’d offer a better system for education, health or technology? No.

Can I believe that they would offer a better form of government for the upper class, the media barons or the mining giants? Yes.

I repeat: I will always vote for a party that puts Australians first and there is only one party that has shown me they have that commitment … and that’s the Australian Labor Party.

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Interviewer – Good morning, on today’s show we have a representative from the Liberal Party who promises to reveal his name closer to the election, but wishes to be known as Mr Pink, for this interview. Good morning, Mr Pink, and what’s in the Real Solutions Document. Mr Pink – Good morning, well, Terry, real…

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The Scourge of the Swing Voter

mandate Happy Australia Day! Last night I went to the inaugural Adelaide Wonk Drinks. It was, as promised, heaps good. I had my very first offline Twitter argument, which was interesting. This particular argument reminded me why I would prefer to debate a die-hard right-winger than an ‘undecided voter’. At least the right-wingers know what they want and understand immediately what I want, and we can disagree to our hearts’ delight. But an undecided swing voter who seems to be tempted to use his valuable democratic right to deliver an informal vote is, in my opinion a very frustrating person. What would the people of Syria think?

The reasoning that this particular undecided voter gave for his indecision was an assortment of arguments that I think can fairly be filed under the heading of there’s no discernable difference between Labor and the Liberal National Party. I guess it really depends who is doing the discerning. And if you’re just assessing your individual life experience under either party, instead of looking at the way their policies affect society as a whole, then I would argue that you’re evaluating the parties’ differences through a far too narrow, short-term view.

The idea that we’re just as well off or just as badly off under either party is quite a trendy response to politics of late. It’s the same attitude that most of the mainstream media seems to hold – politicians can’t be trusted and the outcomes of their policies are not so different that they’re worth analysing or even discussing – a pox on both your houses. In my view this is a load of bollocks. I can’t help but notice that those who propagate the notion that the parties are no different from each other are also the ones who enjoy patronising the views of anyone who they view to be ‘rusted on’. To support and campaign for a political party these days seems to be akin to being viewed as a ‘fanatic’. Or as my sparring partner said last night ‘a barracker’. I was told that people like me, who obviously support one party passionately over another, are acting as if the Labor party is a football club. I am in fact a one-eyed supporter of a football club and so I find this suggestion particularly irritating. I am very passionate about my football club and my politics, but my support of the Port Adelaide Football Club and my support of the Labor Party are too entirely different beasts.

The choice of which football club I support was made at a young age. Choice is probably the wrong word here. I inherited the club from my father, who inherited it from his father. I was ‘rusted on’ to the club from birth. But choice is the most important word when it comes to supporting a political party. Because that’s what politics is all about – one option versus another. To say that both choices are the same is blatantly untrue. If you’re trying to find similarities between the Labor Party and the Liberal National Party, sure, you’ll find many. You’ll also find times (not so many recently) when decisions are made jointly by the government and the opposition in a bi-partisan approach. But ultimately, the entire reason that there are two major parties in Australia is because one is progressive and one is right-wing. Those who think they are being smug and clever, or winning some award for cynicism by proclaiming that both parties have come so close to the middle that there is no longer daylight between them, need to take a closer look. And they need to consider their own values and ideas in relation to the policy agenda of each party.

As an example, let’s use the policy area of the environment. As a progressive voter and a supporter of action to reduce the catastrophic effects of climate change, I will support the major party which is most likely to implement policies that align with these values. Many will argue that the Greens are a better choice in this policy area, and that may be true. But ultimately, a Greens voter still needs to choose between Labor and the LNP when assigning preferences, even if it is just the decision as to who gets the last number on the ballot paper. Since the last election, the Labor Party has implemented a Carbon Price. There are many voters who think this policy didn’t go far enough, and that’s a valid argument to have. But when choosing between the policy of Labor – action on climate change – and the policy of Abbott’s Liberal National Party – scrapping the Carbon Price – it’s blatantly obvious that the two parties are poles apart and my choice is an easy one to make. My adversary, the undecided voter, was really overreaching on this topic. He said that he wants action on Climate Change too, but whatever Tony Abbott says, as Prime Minister he won’t be able to repeal the Carbon Price, so it ultimately doesn’t matter who you vote for. Really? Is this not like saying ‘I like apples, and I don’t like bananas, but this banana doesn’t really taste like a banana so it doesn’t matter if I eat a banana instead of an apple’. This is nonsensical.

And what about the topic of redistribution of wealth, something else I am very passionate about. When I am assessing the effect Labor’s policies will have on social and economic equality in Australia, versus the LNP’s policies, it’s obvious to me which party is offering the outcome that most closely aligns with my values. For example, the Mining Tax is an important reform designed to share the wealth from the natural resources that we all own. The Labor party introduced this policy, the LNP have vowed to scrap it. It’s probably a good time to also mention that I don’t consider middle class welfare to be a policy of wealth redistribution. Wealth distribution maybe, but not redistribution.

Another policy area that is important to me is education. Access for all to quality education is vital for social equity. The Gonski policy proposals more closely align with my ideals in the area of education policy than anything I’ve ever heard the Liberals say on the topic. But does this really surprise anyone? The very definition of being right-wing means that you prefer ‘small government’ over ‘big government’, and small government invariably means cuts to government funding for education, health and welfare.

The attitude ‘there is no difference between them’ has resulted in a lot of angry Queensland and Victorian voters. It’s a bit late now to remind them that a protest vote against the Labor party will help deliver a conservative alternative. A lot of Queenslanders and Victorians who voted for their right wing party now appear shocked that these right wing governments are executing a right wing agenda. Cuts to education funding, cuts to public service jobs in the area of health; slash and burn, and Newman’s version of austerity, not stimulus. But can you really blame Newman and Baillieu for doing what they were given a mandate to do? If the voters were too uninformed to understand the policy agenda of conservative governments, they’ve got no one to blame but themselves. This is a really tough way to learn that the two parties are not the same, and that the outcomes of their policies are completely different.

It might sound trendy and intellectual to deny the very simple concept of choice between two opposing sets of political principles. It might seem simplistic for me to say that my choice between Labor and Liberal National is an easy one based on which platform best aligns to my vision for the country. But I really do find the choice incredibly simple. This does not mean that I barrack for the Labor Party. It does not mean that I think that everything the party does is perfect (as many things the party does are clearly far from perfect). It doesn’t mean that I agree with every single policy that the party develops, nor does it mean that I blindly support everything that Labor members say. I’m not a mouthpiece for the Labor Party. I have not been brainwashed to adopt their ideas and policies from some propaganda machine. But I make a considered choice between two different options. The Labor Party is just a vessel for me to get the Australia I want, not the other way around. Going back to the football club example – I was a Port Supporter before I ever watched a game of football. But I was a progressive before I chose a political party to support.

By Victoria Rollison