Saturday, 28 August 2010

Reflections on the election: before and after thoughts

As political junkies from way back, we always watch the election results all night. It was a sober and anxious night for us. I must state at the start that had I been Kevin Rudd, I would not have announced the indefinite deferral of the emissions trading scheme, and had I been Julia Gillard I would not have had an immediate election. Politicians ought to know by now that although journalists may greet you with an initial acclaim and wave of enthusiasm, they only do so in order a) to titillate the nation and B) to soften you up so that they can roast you slowly and then carve you up into mincemeat.

Kevin ought to have pointed out repeatedly that the reason for the failure of the ETS was that the Opposition, Greens and that moron Fielding in the Senate had defeated it twice, and reiterated that they would try again as soon as an opportune moment arrived. People tell me it was not a very good scheme, and a tax would have been better, but I found it all very complicated, and (possibly in common with many others) I lack the expertise to evaluate the rival proposals.

As for the tax on the super profits of the mining industry, the howls of protest were highly predictable. The mining industry has a lot of power and influence, and can bring great pressure to bear on governments. Which they did, but it does not mean that they ought to be successful. These are national and not renewable resources, we are talking about. What is more, you cannot tell me that the mining industries could not afford to pay more tax. That magnate who crashed his plane and killed himself along with all those on the plane had a personal fortune of almost one billion dollars. He was also facing corruption charges in Queensland. I don’t feel too sorry for him and his ilk. However, any new tax needs to be carefully planned and considered.

And Julia Gillard should have ignored those so-called pundits who raved on about her not being elected by the people, and told us all that the government needed time to settle in and to rethink this, that and the other before the election – which after all did not have to be held early, as it was not due until 2011. Journalists ought not to be allowed to run the country or to make such decisions – THEY are NOT elected.

I did not notice anyone referring to the fact that there was no call for an early election when John Gorton was knocked off as Prime Minister in March 1971 by his party in favour of that superhero Billy McMahon, who was Prime Minister until defeated by the ALP in December 1972. Nor was there any such clamour when Paul Keating successfully challenged Bob Hawke for the leadership in 1991. The election was heId in 1993 and won by the ALP. In the latter days of the Howard government, during which there was constant speculation that Peter Costello might be about to challenge, I do not recollect any suggestion that should he do so successfully, he would be in duty bound to call an early election. I don’t remember any such confected and idiotic outrage by the press then, although in those days there was far more attention paid and analysis given to policy and legislation. For some reason this campaign was characterised on the one hand by a stupid and trivialising focus on the wearing of budgie smugglers, the 36 hours without sleep, the cycling, running and swimming, and on the other by an obsession with hairstyles, frequency of blow-drying, high heels, clothing, special interviews in the AWW, marital status and childlessness. None of the above really have anything to do with intelligence or capacity to run the country, nor about the important choices facing voters.

However, as, unfortunately, I am not in control of world, let alone national events, events rolled on inexorably. More to the pity.

In addition to all the focus on trivialities, the campaign was negative and in many respects, based on fear. Now I am as scared of WorkChoices as any rational human being, having long recognised that a single individual in an ordinary job has little bargaining power, and that is why trade unions were formed, to give some collective protection to workers.

And as for boat people, that is a genuinely difficult issue, to which there is no simple answer, and I swing in my views, from pity for those who flee war, or persecution, to worry about how and to whom priority should be given, and concern about the difficulties in determining the veracity of claims, and to concern about the level of immigration in recent years and whether such a level should be sustained or decreased. There are so many matters to consider, such as housing, infrastructure, jobs, and the water supply. Then there are the social issues, such as religion, the capacity of the nation to absorb and assimilate those from a different culture, or from a religion which does not give equality to women, both theoretically or in practice.  I believe we are right to be wary of it, and should have policies designed to educate and assimilate, and we should loudly proclaim that we are a nation with a secular and democratic constitution in which all people, citizens and non-citizens, have equal rights which cannot be denied on account of religion or cultural belief. Our processes need to be scrupulously fair and open, and there should be safeguards against fraud and abuse.

There are better ways of resolving such problems than resorting to tactics involving fear and loathing, and it is an enormous pity that considerations of party advantages have outweighed rational and compassionate ideas and policies. There seemed to be little attempt to appeal to people’s better instincts, and to the consideration of the general well-being rather than narrow self-interest. We cannot cast the blame on others: we must acknowledge our own failures.


Elisabeth said...

A great post here, Persiflage. I agree that the 'media' seems to have gone berserk during this election campaign and that there seem to be different rules for women as PM than for men.

Hopefully it'll all come good in the end. My heart lies with the red, but anything's possible and I refuse to get my hopes up.

It would be wonderful though if we could get some real reform going through this election debacle.

Are you familiar with Pavlov's Cat, otherwise know as Still Life with Cat?

Kerryn Goldsworthy's blog is worth reading on political issues and the like. At least I enjoy her take on matters political and I also enjoy it when she writes about her beloved cats. See:

persiflage said...

Thanks, Elisabeth. I too keep hoping but the figures so far do not indicate much to cheer about.
I do read a few political blogs, such as SLWC, and it is good to find some erudite and reasonable comments.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. The election really has been a debacle, hasn't it, from start to not-yet-finish. Not a reasonable policy in sight from either side. It should have been an easy win for the ALP after only one term in government, but instead they're facing losing power. I think the party should learn some valuable lessons here on how not to run a campaign, but that's probably too much to hope for.

Pam said...

Interesting post, though I'll just say hello since I don't know enough to comment.

Meggie said...

I love to read your 'take' on the political scene. I feel I cannot make much comment, being as I am, a non-citizen.
Politics has never been my bag, though I do follow it all, and study the resultant outcomes.
I confess to wishing Julia well, as I don't trust, or feel any connection with the Wingnut.