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So that’s the way you want to play it

When we are children, we are taught that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game – or at least we used to be. Do your best, play by the rules, show humility in victory and graciousness in defeat. Share in the joy of other’s successes fairly won.

Likewise, we teach our children the importance of being truthful, trustworthy and respectful – crucial elements in any successful relationship whether personal or professional.

But how can we ask this of our children when the example set by our government is the exact opposite?

It started with Howard’s core and non-core promises. He saw nothing wrong with promising to match Keating’s superannuation guarantee increases and then immediately abandoning them as soon as he was elected – a strategy also used by Abbott with his “no cuts” lies.

Howard lied about weapons of mass destruction. He lied about children overboard. Both of these lies seemed entirely political, designed to regain electoral support by scaring the population into thinking they needed protection – with devastating consequences.

But we really hit rock bottom with the advent of the Credlin led Opposition.

Anything and everything proposed by Labor was to be opposed, not with reasoned debate and better alternatives, but by unleashing the hounds.

witchAbbott was gifted the leadership in return for becoming a climate change denier but, as we all know, Tony’s grasp of science and technology is basically non-existent so, instead of arguing the world-leading decision to price carbon on scientific grounds, he stood in front of a frenzied crowd of talkback radio listeners holding signs saying “Ditch the witch”, and calling Gillard “Bob Brown’s bitch”.

The Liberals started looking for dirt.

In 2010, Credlin’s husband, Brian Loughnane, recommended James McGrath as Queensland campaign director. In 2011 it was revealed McGrath had paid disgruntled former Labor staffer and candidate Robert Hough for dirt on government MPs.

The LNP dirt file detailed a minister’s epilepsy and childhood adoption, claims about some politicians’ sexuality, sex lives, drinking habits and health matters, and included details of the schools of the children of government MPs.

When the media broke the story, McGrath was “strongly reprimanded” but apparently only for getting caught because he is now a Senator.

And who could forget Credlin striding around the House with her huge white folder titled Gillard/AWU. A ridiculous amount of time was wasted in Parliament trying to smear the PM for some legal work done almost twenty years ago. Not to mention the expense of the grilling both Gillard and Shorten received at Abbott’s union-bashing Royal Commission, only to be found to have done nothing wrong despite Heydon’s prejudicial comments.

Then there was the parliamentary time spent in pursuit of Thomson and Slipper, and more recently, Dastayari.

Add to that the shameful attacks on Gillian Triggs’ character for daring to tell the truth and the demeaning dismissal of Sarah Hansen-Young’s claims.

This is how we play the game now. Forget about policy, forget about keeping promises, forget about goals – hit the player with low blows. Abbott proudly told us that, to be the best and fairest, you have to throw the first punch. No need to tell the truth as Scott Morrison revealed when he said the debt and deficit disaster was “politics”. Attack people’s character and identify scapegoats to blame. Boo and hiss and point fingers. Question Time is a disgrace.

Any hope that this would change with the ousting of Credlin and Abbott has been dashed. Malcolm Turnbull has great ambition. Sadly, it is personal, which has meant abandoning all trust people had in him to drag us out of the gutter – and there we will remain until we remember what we used to teach our children was important.


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  1. Jaquix

    No humility by government but lots and lots of hubris !

  2. Bill Shaw

    Spot on Kaye. Whilst we have Abbott still around the ill mannered, adversarial, belligerent and ugly political landscape will remain. Turnbull has no strength nor courage to change this. Howard is responsible as he utilised Abbot’s modus operandi.

  3. helvityni

    Scary looking women in those two pictures, yet the words ‘bitch’ and ‘witch’ are saved for the girls of the other parties, to be caring and compassionate is seen as a fault in good women like Sarah an Gillian.

    They hound men like Dastyari, Thompson and Slipper, but don’t delve in the wrong doings of their own kind…..

  4. Susan

    Sadly true. Well said once again Kaye Lee.

  5. Marilyn R

    Sadly true. This adversarial form of politics has led Australia down the gurgler and spread to the people!

  6. Miriam English

    Good job, Kaye, in succinctly putting your finger one of the very important things that is so wrong in politics.

    I wonder if it has always been, to some extent, like this, but that we’ve become sensitised to it. Perhaps it took the shameless lies-on-lies-on-lies of a truly embarrassing prime minister Abbott to really wake us up.

    Our politicians, especially the LNP mob, are not fit to be in a primary school playground, let alone the government of our country!

    A message to Laborites: don’t be tempted to descend to those depths to do battle. A number of Labor people have already tried and it doesn’t work. An old saying comes to mind: “Don’t wrestle a pig in a mudhole. You both get all dirty, and the pig enjoys it.”

  7. keerti

    The rot set in long before howard! in fact howard was a symptom of the demise and disease not the originator. Hislies found fertile ground for their reception. So fertile in fact that they swayed an election..Australian’s concept of fairness has only ever extended to “Us”. “Us” being white male and occassionally white female. Australia’s reputation as good sportsmen and women generally stops short at it’s borders.

  8. bobrafto

    I’ve been banging on about our PM and MPs should be role models since Howard.

    The new code ‘You can lie and cheat your way to success’, that’s great leadership from the LNP aholes.

  9. townsvilleblog

    Kaye, as children we are also taught to share, and not to be greedy, however when our children grow to adults and they discover that only 1% of the global population owns 50%+ of the global economy through their massive corporations who our government and many other conservative world governments in developed countries legislate loop holes in their taxation legislation so that this 1% can avoid paying any tax, what do we then say to our children?

    I know what I would like to say, I’d like to say that we, the people fought hard to have this situation overturned for our sake and their sake, but sadly I am unable to say that to my daughter.

  10. Patricia creswick

    And as for question time! What a disgusting example to our children!

  11. Steve Laing -

    I watched a recording of Sunday’s Insiders this morning. The issue regarding Turnbull’s response to the plebiscite was raised, and why he couldn’t change his position on that because “mandate”, yet they could change the position they took to the election on superannuation and the backpackers tax.

    Gerard Henderson stated (and I paraphrase, so don’t quote me!), that whilst Turnbull had promised the party room that he wouldn’t change on the plebiscite, he hadn’t done so on either of the other two issues, so this was ok.

    It seems to me that only promises made to the party room matter. Promises to the electorate? Not so much. And yet none of the panellists, nor indeed the host, appeared to have any issue with that premise. The electorate are very much Fifth Business in this democracy, aren’t we.

  12. diannaart

    At home my menagerie is peaceful as well as playful, calm and very loving …. but they are animals and not politicians.

  13. Terry2

    Abbott back on 7.30 Report and told lies about not knowing anything about the deal done with Senator Leyonhjelm on the Adler rapid-fire shotguns, even though the agreement was sanctioned by his office and the incriminating email to Leyonhjelm was cleared by the PMO. The email trail just shows what goes on, this is an extract :

    “Government will amend the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 to insert a sunset clause of 12 months into the recently amended provisions which ban the importation of lever action shot guns with a magazine capacity of more than five rounds.

    “The effect of the sunset clause would be that 12 months after this amendment comes into effect the ban will automatically cease to be in place.”

    In return, Senator Leyonhjelm will vote against the Labor amendments to the Migration Amendment (Strengthening Biometric Integrity) Bill 2015.”

    Senator Leyonhjelm has been entirely forthcoming, the sunset clause was due to expire in August 2016, and whether you agree with his views on the Adler or not, the Abbott government did a deal and failed to honour that deal. I’m not a religious person but I would think that Mr Abbott should hasten to confession and seek absolution – or watch out for lightening bolts !

  14. guest

    Question Time, Wednesday. Dutton fired bullets at the CFMEU, including a broadside because the union stopped work until the union flag was raised. He named Labor parliamentarians who had been associated with the CFMEU.

    This and more from a minister who is widely criticised for the horror of the Manus (called illegal and unconstitutional by the PNG government) and Nauru gulags. Not under our jurisdiction, says Dutton and the Coalition – as if they are as pure as the driven snow.

    It is time we heard more about the scams and misbehaviours of big business and banks – and any other rorts going on under the aegis of the Coalition. We have yet to hear the full story of submarines and fighter-bombers, for example, or guns or coal vs renewables…etc.

  15. Ian Parfrey

    Bullies understand one thing and that is their own ‘language’. You cannot argue with a bully.

    So, until the ALP get some mongrel and give back what they get, then they shall remain in Opposition. True, it’s an abhorrent situation bought about by the LNP but turning the other cheek will not stem this tide of puerile behaviour. On the contrary, it will give the perpetrator more courage to go in harder.

    Don’t get angry – Get even.

  16. Miriam English

    townsvilleblog, I live below the poverty line here in Australia, but I’m part of the 1% most wealthy on Earth. All of us here in Australia and New Zealand, so long as we’re not living on the street or actively discriminated against (like the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders) are part of that much-despised 1%. When we talk about the 0.01% ultra-wealthy as parasites, that’s how the rest of the world sees us. When we wonder why they don’t shed some of their obscene wealth and privileges to help the rest of the world, that applies equally to us.

    I’m on the dole, but I volunteer some of my time for a charity, I donate a large part of my dole to several other charities, I’m involved in letter-writing campaigns for Amnesty International and some other good causes, I help people in my area with their computers for free, also people give me dead computers and I reassemble them to make working machines that I give to people who can’t afford computers. I’m not saying all this to make out that I’m some angel (I’m certainly not that), but because this is a tiny bit of what I think I — we all — owe the world. It amazes me that most of us help so very little. We think the bills are high and that we’re barely making ends meet, when really we live in the lap of luxury. We overspend on things we don’t really need and then think we don’t have enough to spare for those who are genuinely impoverished or oppressed.

    I’m sure the 0.01% have similar “excuses”: they’re not actually wealthy compared to those who are far more wealthy than them, they’re only barely keeping up with payments on the two holiday properties (one in Tahiti and the other in Spain), and the daughter’s BMW needs another service soon, and trying to come up with the cash for the necessary renovation of the conservatory downstairs is gonna be difficult, especially when they have to put on that horrid social event for all those freeloading politicians.

    Almost all the way up the line it goes like that. We are really a big part of the problem. Australians have become self-obsessed. I don’t think most of us are evil, just as I don’t think most of the 0.01% are either — just lost in a narrowed world where we don’t want to know about “other” people because our own worries exclude everything else… even though our worries are not even remotely as important as they seem.

    Hell — something like 16 million people die each year simply because they don’t have enough food to put in their mouths. The biggest problem facing most of us is trying to avoid obesity because we each eat enough to healthily sustain a dozen people.

  17. Miriam English

    Ian Parfrey, I disagree. Descending to their level normalises that behavior. It should instead be seen as disgusting and unacceptable. People already see politicians as repulsive. There will be blowback. My prediction is that it’ll come when Abbott gets the numbers in his party to do a hatchet job on Turnbull. He’s already an embarrassment and generally seen as a retarded compulsive liar. I think that will be enough to tip most Australians over to being fed up with it and not standing for it anymore.

  18. Kaye Lee

    Miriam, that is one of my real concerns. Lying, nastiness, dirt files, personal abuse….we see this daily from our supposed leaders. Debating is no longer about winning the argument with facts, it is about belittling and demeaning those on the other side. This is a dreadful example and hugely counterproductive. No organisation can be successfully run this way. They have paved the way for people like the Hansonites to crawl out from under their rocks and empowered them to start throwing rocks instead.

    I cannot see a solution under our current system of “whatever it takes to win”. The goal isn’t improving the lives of Australians and protecting our inherited legacy and the common wealth – it’s beat the other guy and then grab what you can.

    They talk about entrenched welfare – what better example than the Downer dynasty.

  19. Florence nee Fedup

    The attack on Gillian Trigg was renewed today.

  20. paulwalter

    On the Drum also, as a desperate move to distract attention away from the shotgun issue.

  21. Anomander

    Why do we tolerate this type of behaviour? So many people are fed-up watching our representatives act like petulantly children, rorting, scamming and bullying, lying, cheating and generally being obnoxious to a level we would never tolerate in normal society.

    There are millions of us and a few hundred of them. Why to we allow it to happen?

  22. Miriam English

    Good question, Anomander. I guess the short answer is that they’ve rigged the “game” (and they do think it is a game) so that we think the only time we have a say is once every few years. In truth we could turf them out on their little pink ears any time we decide.

    The other part of the swindle is that they’ve used the mainstream media in a sick, mutually parasitic way so that many people in society are convinced that half of the politicians are the good guys battling the other half of the politicians who are the bad guys. And in that battle they are allowed to do or say anything to beat back the dangerous ones. (We even see that behavior here.)

    We desperately need to re-rig the system. A basic flaw in human psychology is that people can not be trusted with power — it almost always corrupts. We need strong limits on the power of politicians to make ruinous decisions, to rort their privileges, to deal under the table with corporations and wealthy individuals, and to propagate lies. Until we have those controls almost all politicians will natually continue to be corrupted.

    Note that only politicians happy with anti-corruption limitations can be trusted. Those who argue most strongly against anti-corruption limitations will naturally be the most corrupt.

  23. Möbius Ecko

    Kaye Lee at 9:52 pm

    For me one of the most galling aspects of that is the use public money, time and resources to carry out their attacks, and that especially goes for the L-NP. These are resources that should be used for governing but instead are used solely to bring down the opposition by any means.

    The use of government to bring down unions is one example and Abbott in opposition spending far more than a sitting PM in every area except international travel is another.

  24. Kaye Lee


    There has just been a review of government advertising in which they found that the ads about the changes to tertiary education were false – Pyne said fees would be a 50-50 split – the review said that was crap. They were critical of several ad campaigns saying they did not pass on important information and had no specific purpose. But will there be any repercussions for them using our money to tell us lies? Of course not.

  25. Anomander

    The most frustrating aspect is the public apathy. The pollies have been allowed to game the system to such an enormous extent we all feel as though we are powerless to change the way they act. They have so distracted the public with consumerism and pointless issues that people have become thoroughly disinterested – which leaves the pollies with a free rein to act however they like, with no repercussions for appalling behaviour, cronyism and outright corruption.

    Surely we can;t be the only ones outraged? Surely we have the right to demand an acceptable standard of behaviour? Surely there are enough of us to affect the changes needed?

    But how do we change that?
    How do we engage people again?
    How do we get them interested enough to actually stand-up and say “enough!”?

    Or is it all a lost cause? Are we we few the only ones trying to hold back the tide?

  26. Marlin101

    Anomander, you sum it up perfectly when you say ‘public apathy’. Regrettably the consumerist ideal of ‘what’s in it for me’ has blinded people to the universal aspects of government spending, your NBN’s and Medicare, Parliamentary Procedure, political corruption etc. Many people are concerned that their child care benefit will stop or that they won’t be able to negative gear but very few are concerned about the genuinely important stuff because the apathy of which you speak allows them to think ‘well, that won’t happen to me’. The problem is, for them, that it will happen to them in the end. They will lose their jobs (Holden etc) and wont be able to get the dole as they have to many assets. I would love to know what percentage of Holden workers voted LNP prior to the announcement of the closures, 25 maybe 40%? And why, because the LNP governments had previously been a cash cow.

  27. diannaart

    The bar of accountability has been lowered incrementally over the years, till we have reached a stage where few have a huge impact on the general population without any damage to themselves.

    Tony Abbott – completely abandoned promises made prior to being elected as PM – although was ousted by Turnbull his policies remain either in effect or still on the table for implementation.

    Nigel Farage & Boris Johnson – changed England instantaneously and well into the future and then ran away! Not only was the very racist Farage NOT brought to account but Johnson earned a place on the new ministry.

    There’s more, but I don’t have the time, so I will skip forward to the latest megalomaniac; Donald Trump.

    Whether he wins or loses, we are going to pay a huge cost for Trump. Reasonable public discourse has been gutted and we are left with locker-room bullying style adversarial discourse.

    The USA may even face a lot of civil unrest, if not outright war, if Trump loses.

    I can’t even begin to imagine our world if Trump wins – my mind refuses to think on such an outcome.

    These men are just a few of the alpha-males predators on the world stage who are or have inflicted damage to democracy, equity and freedom of speech for the ordinary citizen. We are the people who are being silenced, not the Andrew Bolts, Alan Jones or their ilk.

  28. totaram

    Marlin101: I am not sure it is “apathy” entirely. If someone rushes at you with a sharp-edged weapon you are unlikely to just stand there and be apathetic. So the problem is really that people do not see a clear and present danger in many of the actions of governments. The reason is the complexity of our society and therefore the ease of spreading misinformation, ably abetted by the mainstream media. The privately owned “free” press is now losing its primacy, but during the last 50 years or so it has done its work. Certain ideas are so deeply embedded in the consciousness of the public that prising them loose will take ages. In the meantime, the public is aware that something is not quite right and the promised good things haven’t trickled down, but they don’t know what the solution is. Once more it is easy to misinform them that one of refugees/immigrants/ foreigners/free trade/budget deficits/govt. debt/population/etc. are to blame, when the truth lies elsewhere. Hence the rise of the Hansons, Trumps, Brexiters, UKIP etc.

  29. jimhaz


    In a world of “equality” the term may become meaningless. There has always been a percentage of women who pursue domination activities, and under “western equality” that percentage has been increasing in the economic world.

    I do actually tentatively place a portion of blame on the non-dominating women in politics for our current state of affairs – possibly their submission to these alphas has given the alpha’s free reign in policies of self-interest. It gives certain macho alphas in politics the voting numbers they might not have had if competing only with other alpha males, and makes some many males more compliant. This comment may be rubbish as the decline in political standards may be almost entirely related to such things as the effects of technology (allowing far more women paid work) and large scale organisation on our emotions or it might just be a matter of the stage we are at in evolutionary terms (think of the issues relating to the decline of Rome, the empathy and principle destroying downsides of affluence). In any case it is hypothetical, as even if it is a downside, equality of political power (gradually over time) is necessary under the principle of democratic fairness.

  30. Kaye Lee

    Blaming women for the pissing contest some males indulge in isn’t fair. The fact that they haven’t evolved beyond survival of the fittest is hardly women’s fault. I agree we need to stand up to bullies but not everyone has the strength to do so. There are a shit load of wimpy males doing exactly what Gina Rinehart tells them to do – I’m looking at you Barnaby.

  31. Kyran

    It seems entirely odd to note that this is the weirdest ‘shotgun wedding’ of all time. Notwithstanding marriage equality, tiny and talcum are the oddest of bedfellows. Both liars, assured by their equal assertions that the ‘other one’ was lying.
    Their progeny, the 2014 budget, lurks in the background.
    There’s granpa, little johnnie, rocking himself to sleep in the chair.
    Clarke & Dawe had a wonderful session this week.,-a-very-active-retiree/7950234

    So, dutton and keenan sucker punched layonhim, on behalf of tiny.
    They’re politicians. It’s not like they are real people.
    Then there’s bananas. He’s a politician, not a real person. He did speak with real people, prior to the election, who had lost loved ones that lost their lives at work, in the construction industry.

    “He said to us, if his party or the Government get re-elected, ‘I promise you that there will be a Senate Reference Inquiry into industrial fatalities and it would be prior to having the voting on the ABCC’.”
    “Given that Barnaby Joyce is our Deputy Prime Minister, I would have thought that his word was gold and I am still hanging on to that, it’s not too late … if it’s such good legislation then it shouldn’t matter if it is put up now or in six months, or eight months, whatever timeframe is required,” said Mr Garrels.

    It is now appropriate to demean his constituents, by denying his undertaking, when their only intent was to believe his assurance.
    “Add to that the shameful attacks on Gillian Triggs’ character.”
    As for Ms Triggs, those bastions of truth in the senate, Erica and ol’ Mcdonald are on the warpath. She mislead them.
    What she said was;
    “In the interview in question, Professor Triggs lambasted Australian legislators as “seriously ill-informed and uneducated”, particularly about international law and the rule of law. “They don’t even understand what democracy is,” she said.
    The human rights boss also expressed frustration about a fiery Senate estimates hearing last year, in which she was grilled for nine hours about alleged political bias and her controversially timed Forgotten Children report.
    “I knew I could have responded and destroyed them – I could have said, ‘You’ve asked me a question that demonstrated you have not read our statute. How dare you question what I do?’

    In her recall of the interview, she forgot that bit. Does anyone know any politician who protested their innocence with those words?
    “I don’t recall”.
    For what it’s worth, I believe she was far too kind. “Ill-informed”, ‘uneducated’. That would be an excuse for their appalling behaviour.

    As for the apathy notion, there will be marches around the country tomorrow. ‘Welcome to Australia’ are the convenors. The protest is about our barbaric attitudes to asylum seekers/refugees, our loathing of foreigners. How many politicians will be there?
    totaram @4.08 said it well.
    ‘So the problem is really that people do not see a clear and present danger in many of the actions of governments.’
    Tomorrow is a brand new day. How do we use it?
    Thank you, Ms Lee, and commenters. Take care

  32. helvityni

    Thank you Kyran for Clarke & Dawe, seen this one, but it was very enjoyable on the second viewing, love those two…

    If we can’t laugh at the world, or at least at our little Oz part of it, we might as well be dead.
    Today I did many things I don’t usually do, tomorrow will be another day of doing more ‘unusual things’…Take care.

  33. Miriam English

    jimhaz, of course! Why did I never realise that? The weak-willed women are responsible for letting lying alpha males get their way and the strong-willed women are responsible too… somehow. And technology, always an easy culprit, is also to blame for allowing women some equality. Yep.

    The scales have fallen from my eyes! Your absolutely clear and logical argument has persuaded me.

    I don’t for one minute think you hate women. You love them… so long as they know their place, of course. And their place is naturally to take the blame of… well, whatever you want to blame on them.)

  34. townsvilleblog

    Miriam EnglishOctober 20, 2016 at 8:32 pm, Miriam, you make a great point, I’m now a bit embarrassed that I don’t help my community, I live with fibromyalgia and severe depression but if you can do it so should I. You are an angel, and I expect most of the people you help see you that way.

    On your last post long live strong willed women, I’m married to one of them and she treats me better than I deserve to be treated, I think women are wonderful and I ‘hate’ DV, those men are simply cowards.

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