As the Federal Election looms it is time to take a look at some of the campaign issues which are going to be centre stage.
This election will be unique in that this is the first hung Parliament since the Menzies Government of 1940 and the first time the governing party in a hung Parliament has gone to an election after serving a full term (the minority Fadden Government was defeated on the floor of the House when the two independents crossed the floor and voted against the 1941 Budget)
It will also be unique in that we have a female Prime Minister leading her party for a second term of government.
The unique circumstances will be reflected in the shape of the campaign. We can expect the Coalition to attack the government on the issue of its “legitimacy” given its somewhat precarious numbers situation, we can expect attacks from the crypt by the masters of voodoo economics on government spending and presumably we are going to be treated yet again to the rehash of the Coalition’s favourite bogeyman of “failed” big-ticket government programmes which actually worked – the NBN, the BER and the solar rebate.
However expect a new and nasty dimension to be added to the campaign if this propaganda currently circulating via e mails and through social media is typical of what is to come.
This anonymous contribution to what will be an ever-growing tide of disinformation between now and election day came from an e mail sent to a friend of ours.
Whoever put this together using Excel and a couple of media shots basically sets out its creator’s odd notions of what constitutes an ideal PM.
Apparently a “good” Prime minister is a volunteer. According to Anonymous Creator, referred to from now on as AC, volunteering is the most important attribute someone aspiring to be PM can possess. That’s why it gives volunteering three mentions and puts it up the top of the list
In fact since it is so obviously important to AC that we are now trying strenuously, albeit with with great difficulty, to recall if John Howard was actually a volunteer anywhere while he was Prime Minister.
So just watch all those Pink Ladies, Men’s Shedders and primary school reading tutors heading off to Canberra to lead the nation.
Julia Gillard sadly loses out yet again because she doesn’t have an Economics degree.
We are hoping that (again) John Howard (Law) and Kevin Rudd (Arts) will not be feeling too put out at this stage as they await the argus-eyed gaze of AC to sweep across their qualifications. Peter Costello (Law) and Joe Hockey (Arts/Law) should be a tad nervous as well. After all both have had more than a fleeting aspiration to be leader of their party at some stage.
So would AC like to explain how to judge one of Australia’s most successful PMs and Treasurers, Paul Keating, who has but a NSW Intermediate Certificate?
Now AC, having dismissed the PM’s very respectable arts/law degree and subsequent substantial legal practice (Abbott has never either practised law nor worked as an economist) then ventures into the murky waters of people’s private lives to declare that the PM has – gasp – had affairs with married men.
We suspect that this statement may border on defamation, but having read the whole of the laughably loopy presentation we will treat the statement with a corresponding amount of contempt.
(By the way how’s your sex life going AC? Found out how to do it yet? Nudge nudge saynomore )
Flailing about like a chocolate frog in a bushfire, AC now traverses the fertile landscape of Australia’s favourite obsession – real estate – specifically the domiciliary status of the two Leaders.
We are informed that Tony Abbott has three children and a mortgage. Just what this fact is supposed to convey we are not sure. Might one expect that a politician earning $342,250 a year plus the odd perfectly legal perk, with a working spouse and adult children might be doing just a little better on the mortgage front? Does the word overcapitalise peek over the horizon at any stage here?
The PM on the other hand has done far better. It is tough for a single woman, even one on a good salary, to pay off a mortgage, but she has done so. And probably well before she became PM
AC then passes with some effort through the eye of a camel from the reality of realty to more spiritual realms to reveal excitedly that Tony Abbott is a Christian.
Yet nobody else would share his excitement. Nor is most of Australia excited by the PM’s atheism. In a secular country non-belief is surely the default setting.
And we might take this opportunity to remind both Tony Abbott and AC at this point that Australia is not a Christian country thanks to Section 116 of the Australian Constitution or a country which mandates any other variety of religion for that matter.
For which we should probably thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Whether Tony Abbott was a successful Health Minister is open to much speculation. Current Health Minister Tanya Plibersek questions his attitude to RU486. Anne Summers does likewise as she outlines the proposed cuts in acess to Medicare benefits to IVF and the subsequent ducking and weaving of Abbott, his colleague and Shadow Minister Christopher Pyne and his ever-loyal staffer Peta Credlin.
As Health Minister in 2005, Tony Abbott proposed cutting back government subsidies for IVF treatments. Interestingly, one backbencher who urged him to reconsider this decision was the member for Fisher, Peter Slipper.
Slipper’s representations were successful and the measure did not proceed. Contrary to assertions quoted in today’s Australian newspaper by shadow education minister Christopher Pyne, Mr Abbott proposed and defended these measures.
So women’s reproductive health was to bear the main burden of a future Abbott Government’s eagerly sought budget cuts. What was that about Abbott being a successful health Minister? What was that about Abbott not being woman-averse again?
AC then dips into the realm of the silly by reassuring us that Abbott supported his Prime Minister. We have to assume AC is referring to events around the time of the APEC Leaders’ Week meeting in 2007 but we would not be surprised if AC’s recollection was faulty – often the case when someone is so strongly attached to the right that he/she perceives them as doing no wrong.
Here’s Paul Kelly on the topic.
And what Abbott conveyed, perhaps subconsciously?
Open to the option that Howard might go and struck by the firmness of Downer’s position, Abbott left the impression he favoured a change. Perhaps Abbott, the Howard loyalist, was wavering. That was Downer’s conclusion; he noted that Abbott wanted a change as well. But Abbott said later there was a difference between being aware that Howard might resign and supporting his resignation, which he did not.
Loyalty? Or Abbott’s realisation that he might be on the stairway to heaven?
And did Julia Gillard really “knife” Kevin Rudd? Perhaps the most objective analysis comes from James Button, bringing as it does to the memories of old Labor hands the long-ago spectre of the brilliant but erratic H V Evatt:
Rudd’s prime ministership failed, and the failure was above all his own. The story of his government, and of its end, has still not been fully told.
However the departure of Kevin Rudd revved up yet another bandwagon for AC and its audience to leap on – the fallacy that in Australia we elect our Prime Ministers.
A whole raft of people who in normal times would never vote for anyone to the left of Pauline Hanson could be heard wailing and gnashing their teeth because somehow their Prime Minister had been deprived of his rightful office by a dastardly Shakespearean coup, complete with a rich layer-cake of factional conspiracies.
Sorry to puncture illusions people, but it’s the way we do things under the Westminster system. It is much the same in the UK, New Zealand and Canada.
So are you sitting comfortably?
Now slowly and simply so even AC will get it –
when you go to the polls you vote for a person to represent you in Canberra. You do not decide who the Prime Minister is. The party who wins the most seats in the election does that. Parties can and do remove leaders and replace them any time they feel it necessary to do so, whether you like it or not.
And for Tony Abbott to have stopped the boats he would have had to have been Prime Minister at the very least. Or Moses. Going to sea in a patrol boat Steven Seagal style with a pump action rampant smuggled budgie and his best Vlad Putin persona on will not do it.
Asylum seekers, boat arrivals and the whole sorry saga of the refugee crisis in our region takes far more diplomacy, awareness and subtlety than has been exhibited by either major party so far, though the potential is there for Labor to educate the electorate and to bring it with them if they can stop being timid when faced with the raucous minority – the raucous minority that the junk e mail is meant for.
And I do wish my de facto would do my hair. Save me a bucketful on hairdressers.