Tag Archives: Labor

Australia voted…

On May 18, 2019, Australia voted in an election that we all thought was in the bag. We all thought Labor would win because their policies would be good for the whole country…and because the hard right conservative government was so on the nose. We were wrong. The hard right conservative government was returned for another three years.

The talking heads on the tv were stunned as the unfolding result went against the last 50 polls. I was stunned because this expletive-deleted government was not only being voted back in, it was being voted back in with an increased margin.

Peter Dutton, the most hated man on #auspol, retained his seat of Dickson…with an increased margin.

George Christensen, a politician who posted a photo of himself shooting a handgun and spent more time in the Philippines than in his own electorate, was returned…with an increased margin.

Why? I still don’t know. The voters of Queensland were certainly sending a message, but they were not alone. Even in Victoria, the state considered the most progressive in Australia, Labor did not make enough gains to make a difference.

For a while, I hoped that the results were skewed out of shape by the huge number of pre-polls, but by the end of the night it became clear that even if the pre-polls all favoured Labor, it still wouldn’t be enough. To put it quite brutally, Australia has done a trump, and we have no excuse. All of us voted. Half of us ignored the scandals, the corruption and the actual economic record of the LNP and voted in favour of fear and self-interest.

I am more shocked than I can say. But. The people have spoken, and that’s what democracy is about. The fact that I don’t like it is neither here nor there.

The only bright spots to come out of this election all centre around Independent women:

  • Zali Steggall beat Tony Abbott in Waringah
  • Helen Haines won the seat of Indi after the former Independent [also a woman] retired from the seat. That’s a first.
  • Dr Kerryn Phelps may, possibly, retain the seat of Wentworth.

Whether these Independents will be able to change things for the better is doubtful. There are just not enough of them, and it doesn’t look as if the conservatives will have a minority government. Ergo, they won’t have to compromise to get the votes of the Independents.

To be honest, at this point I’m pinning all my hopes on people who don’t even have the vote yet. In three years time, the 15, 16 and 17 years olds of today will be eligible to vote. Many of them care about the future. I hope they vote in a government that’s prepared to do something about it.

Meeks

 


The psychology of inequality

I read an amazing thread on Twitter today. It was written by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  [@AOC on Twitter], the young woman who is making huge waves in US politics. As an Australian, I knew very little about her and just assumed that she was someone from the usual privileged classes. Wrong. Apparently, AOC used to be a waitress, living on a tiny wage and making ends meet via unpredictable ‘tips’.

That was surprise enough, but then she went on to say:

…1 of the greatest scams in US is the idea that financial struggle is due to “poor character.”

AOC was talking about the poor in America, but I suddenly understood why the Liberal National Party coalition here in Australia has no problem with the growing inequality in our country. It’s because they see the poor as ‘dolebludgers’, ‘leaners’, parasites on the body economic. Furthermore, they believe the undeserving poor are poor because they are too stupid, uneducated, or lazy to contribute to society. Helping these undeserving poor is seen as a terrible waste of valuable resources.

Those who stand for the LNP can heap disdain on the undeserving poor because they see themselves as the source of all prosperity. They see themselves as the ones who create the wealth that’s wasted on the undeserving poor. They see themselves as the good guys because…well, because they’re rich. Obvious, right?

This unquestioned equating of wealth with goodness and value is at the heart of the inequality in both the US and Australia. The rich deserve to be rich; the poor deserve to be poor. End of story.

But as AOC goes on to say in her thread, many of those living below the poverty line in the US actually work two or more jobs. They work just as hard, if not harder, than wealthy people, but the value of their work is so much less. And who determines the value of that work? The top 1% who own all the industries that generate the wealth.

To be honest, until today, I thought that most of the people who voted LNP did so because they lacked compassion, or were fundamentally selfish and greedy. Now I understand that it’s not so much a lack of compassion that’s at the heart of our inequality, it’s a lack of experience. It’s ignorance.

I can’t speak for the super rich, but I can speak for what used to be called the ‘middle class’. My parents sent me to a Catholic primary school and then on to a Catholic high school. They gave me piano lessons, and ballet lessons and even singing lessons. Books, ideas and music were an integral part of my life growing up. University was the natural next step.

But while my parents voted Liberal, I never did. There were two reasons for that. The first was the Catholic insistence on charity and compassion for those less well off than myself. The second was that despite their insistence on a good education for me, my parents were not rich. Dad was an engineer, but he was the sole bread winner. My parents bought a house but never bought a car because it was an unnecessary expense. They gave me the best education they could afford, but I grew up wearing op. shop clothes.

Seeing both sides of the poverty divide turned me into a Labor voter. Living on Newstart for 5 years because I was too old to be offered a job made me realise that anyone can drop below the poverty line. More importantly, it made me see that people without the benefits I had growing up can never rise above the poverty line.

That’s why AOC’s words had such a profound effect on me. Yes, there are a few, rare individuals who manage to make an absolute fortune through their own efforts, but very few [if any] do so without some of the benefits we all take for granted. Most wealthy people inherit a good start in life. Some wealthy people inherit so much wealth that they can play the ‘who’s the richest woman in the world?’ game. But none of these people are inherently ‘good’.

Wealth does not make anyone a good person, and poverty does not make anyone a ‘bludger’.

Until we can provide the kind of stable society that allows all children to grow up with equal opportunities, the economic divide will continue to grow. As it does, our democracies will turn into oligarchies and our countries will begin the slide into global ‘has beens’.

For those who are interested, I’ve taken screenshots of a couple of the tweets AOC posted:

If you’re already a Labor voter, then good for you. See you on the 18th of May!

If you’re a centrist of the Liberal persuasion, then please think about some of the assumptions you make about your world. Society works best when most of the members of that society belong to the ‘middle class’, just like you. If the middle class continues to be eroded then one day, your children or your children’s children may find themselves below the poverty, unable to better themselves because they can no longer afford the opportunities that make prosperity possible.

We all need to ‘walk a mile’ in the shoes of someone less prosperous than ourselves. Only then can we pat ourselves on the back for having ‘made it’, or not, as the case may be.

Meeks


Shame, Aussie, shame!

angryThis is not my Australia!

If the Queensland State Labor government allows native title to be extinguished in order to give freehold title to an international mining company [Adani], then all the gains made since Mabo will be wiped out in one hit, and our national integrity will never recover.

Does the saying ‘Indian giver’ ring any bells? Or how about ‘shafted’?

At a more personal level, if Federal Labor doesn’t put pressure on the Queensland government to stop this madness, I certainly won’t be voting for them. What’s the point of Shorten making grand claims about Climate Change when this shameful business is happening right now, in our own backyard?

But before you think I’ll be voting for the Liberals, think again. It was the Liberal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, who made sure the Adani owned Carmichael Mine was re-approved just two months after the Federal Court set aside the original approval. And oddly enough, he made sure that the environmental protections written into the new approvals would actually be softer than the original ones.

So, is Greg Hunt a weak, easily swayed minister who was shafted by the pie-in-the-sky promise of 10,000 jobs [in reality 1500 only]? Or is he the lying, underhand minister intent on shafting us?

I don’t know, but it seems that both sides of government are determined to ride rough shod over all of us. Well, guess what? We don’t have to vote for either of them!

I’m not advocating that everyone vote for the Greens, but I am suggesting that we should all vote for Independents. Anyone but the Libs or Labor. They’ve all let us down and I’m furious.

Meeks


Tony Abbott stays. Not happy Jan.

angryI just watched Phillip Ruddock announce that the Spill motion in the Cabinet was defeated in a secret ballot. Quite substantially too. So the Mad Monk stays.

For those unfamiliar with Australia politics, the Prime Minister is not chosen by the electorate. He, or she is chosen by either the Coalition Cabinet [Liberals] or the Caucus [Labor]. The Cabinet [and Caucus when Labor is in power] is made up of those elected representatives who have been invited to ‘front bench’ positions in the Ministry – i.e. positions of power such as Treasurer, Foreign Minister etc.

As the Cabinet [and Caucus] elect the Prime Minister, they are also capable of unelecting the Prime Minister. One way of doing this is to call for a Spill motion. Essentially this means that a majority of Cabinet Ministers are dissatisfied with the current Prime Minister and vote to have the position opened up.

If the Spill motion succeeds, anyone is free to put their hand up as a potential Prime Minister [including the current one]. Cabinet then has another vote to decide which of the possible candidates will be the next Prime Minister. And sometimes, the previous Prime Minister ends up being re-elected to the position.

Sadly, this particular Spill motion was defeated. As a Labor voter I’d far rather see Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister than Tony Abbott, but for the moment at least, we don’t get a say in the matter.

Fortunately for us, I don’t believe this Spill motion will be the end of the matter. When one third of the Coalition government is unhappy with the Prime Minister, that discontent doesn’t go away just because the other two thirds dig their political heels in.

My prediction is that after a period of ‘walkee lightly lightly’, Tony Abbott is going to go back to being just the way he has always been. After all, why shouldn’t he? Didn’t he defeat the Spill motion?

As discontent builds, both in the Coalition and in the electorate, things will come to a head again. We saw it with the Rudd/Gillard debacle, and I believe we’ll see it again in the Abbott government. Either way I can’t see Abbott’s government being voted back in at the next election.

cheers on this sunny Monday morning,

Meeks

p.s. and for younger Aussie readers, the ‘Not happy Jan’ came from a very funny, and very popular TV commercial. The phrase sort of crept into the national lexicon for a while. For us oldies, it’s still there. 🙂

 


The end of an era – interesting times indeed

Just watched KRudd’s concession speech online, and the thing that struck me was that he looked as if he had been planning this all along. 

I’m no political pundit, but I’ve wondered for a while what kind of deal the Caucus struck with Kevin Rudd – and Ken Shorten. Now I think I know. I believe that stepping down after the election was on the cards all along. I think that’s how the coup was structured – let KRudd leave in his own time, with his head held high, in exchange for his ability to save Labor from complete and utter defeat.

Well, he did that. Labor is leaner than before, but it is not demoralized. This gives me hope that new Labor will be better than the old. And I fervently hope new Labor will learn the lessons of the past six years – there are some things you just can’t do, not without consequences. 

On the subject of hope, the Daughter and I were talking about who the next Labor leader will be. Obviously Ken Shorten is a contender. Perhaps that’s the deal he struck for his about-face at the last leadership spill. The trouble with Ken Shorten is that he has no charisma.

Is charisma important? God yes. A political party is as much about its ‘faces’ as its policies, and young people like the Daughter go ‘Ken who?’

But if you mention Penny Wong, their faces light up. Not just because she’s a woman. Not just because she’s ‘ethnic’. Not just because she’s gay. But because Penny Wong has charisma as well as integrity. 

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a female PM who’s young, Chinese and proudly gay? Wouldn’t that say something amazing about how far Australia has come?

Who knows, maybe by the time the next election rolls around we can start being proud of our political system, and our politicians again. I hope so.

Good night all!

Meeks


Meeka Votes

Like most Australians I am politics weary. I want it over with… but despite that, I still care.

1. I would like to punish Labor for backstabbing 1 AND 2. Those machinations revolt me, but

2. I believe Kevin07 deserves a chance to finish what he began. He, like Gough Whitlam, has a vision for the big things. Sadly that vision makes him a bad ‘politician’. But if the NBN, Kyoto and The Apology are all we get out of his two terms of office then that is still a damn good legacy.

3. I hate Tony Abbott. I hate his he-man wannabe posturing. To me that is just vanity, the kind of vanity that makes football stars believe they can do no wrong, especially to women. Not saying Abbott would ever rape anyone. Just saying his posturing appeals to a certain kind of attitude I hate. It may make him come across as an ‘every man’ kind of guy but he certainly doesn’t come across as the ‘every’ man this woman likes.

4. I hate the Greens too. They played politics with Climate Change, and much of what we have, or don’t have six years down the track is thanks to their stupidity and holier-than-thou posturing.

5. I hate the spin. I hate the spin so much I start to feel physically nauseous when I hear politicians start parroting whatever crap the spin doctors think will win hearts and minds. “We will send back the boats”. “We will buy up fishing boats.” Puleeze… Does anyone in Australia really believe the Indonesians are just going to roll over and accept this kind of bullshit?

6. I actually believe this period of hung parliament/independent influence has been a good thing – not in every detail, but as an exercise in co-operation. At best, every ruling party will have just over 50% of the first preference vote. No matter how you play with the numbers, that means an awful lot of people don’t agree with their policies. So forcing parties and independents to co-operate allows more of the voting public to get what they want. The standout exception to this was the Liberal Party. They voted against anything and everything, even the things they originally voted for.

7. I believe the role of government should be similar to a not-for-profit. The benefits from taxation should be plowed back into the country to create more wealth and well-being for people. Yet the stated aim of Liberal governments is to create a surplus while supporting business so business will support people. To me this is like putting money in the bank while allowing your kids to go barefoot in winter.

8. And last but not least, Julian Assange and Wikileaks are heroes of mine. The Big Brother mentality triggered by 9/11 is not that different to the anti-communist hysteria that swept the world during the McCarthy era in the US [1950’s]. Destroying people, and their rights, – because you fear some bogey man – is a cure far worse than the disease. Sadly that is what is happening now in this new century. I have to support the few madmen who say this is wrong.

For all those reasons I voted for Labor in the House of Representatives, and Wikileaks in the Senate.

Some people may agree with my reasons, but vehemently disagree with my choices. Others may agree with my choices, but for completely different reasons. Yet more may disagree with absolutely everything I’ve written.

That’s okay. Debate is the single most important benefit of a democracy. All I ask is that any debate that happens here on Meeka’s Mind be reasoned, and respectful of others. Please argue your point with as much passion as you want, but do not try to win that argument by putting others down. That’s just not on, and those kinds of comments will be deleted.

cheers

Meeks


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