Dear Tony your hubris is poking out…

Dear Tony

Since the media and the commentariat, not to mention Errand-Boy-in-Chief Christopher Pyne, are already celebrating your imminent accession to the Prime Ministership, despite your success as Eternal Opposition Leader and before you get Margie, or more likely Peta Credlin, to measure the curtains and before you put the second-mortgaged joint in Forestville on the rental market we thought we’d better run a few things past you.

We thought we should remind you that there is a small matter called an election which is to be held on the 14th September this year. Trivial indeed for the latest in a line of Tories who have believed they are Born to Rule.

That means unfortunately for you that the people of Australia actually get to vote to decide whether your party becomes government. And not before.

Damn nuisance this secular democracy stuff – I’m sure you yearn for a simpler time as you share a bottle of vintage plonk with the Cardinal.

We are sorry to disappoint you. We know you thought it was going to be the MSM, the shock jocks, the polling organisations, the mining magnates, the ACL and your party donors who would decide and deliver your imprimatur, but that’s the way it is in this country for now.

So given that you are still deeply unpopular with over half the voting-age population and that these women are not easily fooled by any hints of sudden backing-down on your previously strongly – held repressive positions, it may not be such a done deal.

After all your own daughter aptly describes you as a “lame, gay, churchy loser”. We don’t know about the second descriptor but your behaviour certainly indicates you are far more relaxed and comfortable with your own gender, doing blokey things while wearing lycra and interfering with the OH&S of production lines of hapless Queanbeyan factories and their workers.

For instance you have already indicated whom you would pick as Governor-General. That’s a big step to take before the polls have been declared and while the present incumbent enjoys the confidence of the present Government and the Australian people.

We know the position of G-G is largely ceremonial but the prestige attached to the position of de jure Head of State means that it is important that the person selected be someone who will attract the respect of the whole community.

The current G-G certainly does that. Quentin Bryce is probably the most popular incumbent since Bill Dean and has been an admirable ambassador internationally for this country as well as a fine representative of the monarch. It would not be wrong to say that only her long-serving NSW counterpart, Governor Marie Bashir, would attract the same level of respect and regard.

However it seems that you regard the position as a sinecure for your preferred type of Australian.

Your preferred G-G, it seems, would be either a former soldier or a former judge. That’s a fairly convenient way of excluding just about anyone who is not male, not white, who is Indigenous and who does not belong to any other ethnic or religious groups which may make you feel unrelaxed and uncomfortable.

Your errand boy has also made it quite clear that Things will Change in Education when you take the Prime Ministership. Lots of imperialist chest-beating fantasy history, no doubt rote-learnt to be regurgitated at exam time. Guess that will make up for your own total lack of comprehension about what war is really like.

Perhaps you could ask your preferred G-G?

We are somewhat in the dark about the rest of your policies. Perhaps after your imminent court appearance next month to face David Ettridge, formerly of One Nation, you may be inspired to Please Explain, as his former leader was wont to say.

You cannot continue to disappear from scrutiny in a puff of smoke for much of the week once you are PM. You would think Peta would be on to that – she has more time to make sure you were all polished up and Manchurian Candidated for the media than Andrew Robb had. He was a Shadow Minister with an electorate to service and a man with his own problems. He was wise to toss in the job.

You see, the people of Australia are totally in the dark about what you really stand for, as was evident when your Shadow Medicine Man Dutton appeared on Q&A, devoid of policies, mumbling alarming forecasts of a US-style two tiered health system and muttering the No mantra which is still your response of choice. Dutton only was able to appear to be on the ball when the non-controversial topic of palliative care for kids came up, because no one can oppose the notion of palliative care for kids with terminal illness.

Even a Coalition party member.

Though Dutton was a bit hesitant even on that point – perhaps he secretly believes the same as Toby Ralph ?

You see Tony, we don’t trust you. The people of Australia should not trust you. You will never be our Prime Minister, and if that dire day ever comes when you move into the Lodge, you will be regarded with even more alarm and apprehension than was John Howard. And everything you do, every breath you take, every aspect of your life past and present will be scrutinised and critiqued by us.

Be afraid

Three Little Words

The news that Britain’s Conservative and Liberal Coalition Government has just passed an Act which legalises same sex marriage may give our Parliament and our Prime Minister some food for thought.

The effect of Britain’s legislation, openly championed by Conservative Party Prime Minister David Cameron, takes the issue of same sex marriage out of the domain of some sinister left-wing plot to undermine “traditional values” and into the realm of an underpinning of conservative (small c) values. It places same sex couples on the same social and cultural level as heterosexual married couples – something which legal safeguards alone such as complete equality in superannuation for same sex couples does not do.

In the UK legislation religious organisations are allowed to choose whether or not they will perform same sex marriage ceremonies. Since according to the last UK census in 2010 68% of marriages in England and Wales were civil ceremonies (a similar percentage to Australia’s), it is likely that religious bodies are not going to be inundated with pressure to perform same sex ceremonies.

ABS statistics do not tell the full story but could be regarded as our most accurate measure of possible demand for same sex marriage. ABS says

The total of 33,714 same-sex couples in 2011 was 32% higher than the number in 2006. Same-sex couples increased both in number and as a proportion of all couples in every Census after 1996, when this information was first compiled. The increases may in part reflect greater willingness by people to identify themselves as same-sex couples in the Census. It could also to some extent reflect an increased awareness that counts of same-sex couples are compiled from the Census – giving more reason to supply this information.

If we extrapolate a figure of 60% or thereabouts for same sex couples who wish to marry in Australia out of an estimated 33 714  couples then we are looking at around 20 000 couples who may wish to marry. Or who may wish to have the choice, as all de-facto heterosexual couples potentially do.

Hardly a tsunami of social change and revolution.

The beauty of such a humane measure will be it is virtually cost free. The folk at Canprint the Government printer might have to change their marriage stationery templates. There might be some pencil chewing at the various state registries of BDMs.

But legislating for same sex marriage is virtually a cost-free legislative reform which will probably make at least 20 000 couples, their families, friends and their kids and potential kids happy with no repercussions for the rest of us.

For Prime Minister Julia Gillard, under pressure as she is from trogdolytes like Joe de Bruyn the solution is simple. We are even happy to draft some legislation for her for free. No scary stuff. No polygamy, polyandry or bestiality. The curtains won’t fade, the horses won’t be spooked.

All that is required is the following:

A Bill for an Act to amend Section 5(1) of the  Marriage Act 1961.

that all words after the word “marriage” be replaced by other words.

The other words being

…means the union of two adult persons to the exclusion of all others voluntarily entered into for life.

More than 60% of Australians cannot be wrong

Through the eye of a camel

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.

coalition garbagebig

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.

Summers writes:

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.