Monthly Archives: June 2013

Goodbye Julia Gillard

Cognitive Dissonance As A Way Of Life

I never warmed to Julia Gillard as our PM. I felt bad right through the 3years and 3days that she was Prime Minister of Australia. I found myself mourning for Kevin Rudd’s time in office, which is overstating my affection for Kevin Rudd, but all the same I never found anything that comforted me about Julia Gillard being Prime Minister. This is alarming in hindsight given her considerable accomplishments in a difficult, minority government she had to run as a result of a hung Parliament. The thing about these accomplishments is that she had wonderful way of putting a grey cloud on every silver lining. None of the things she accomplished were the full glass of water. There always seemed to be something glaringly wrong with the picture.

Take the ETS and carbon price she is so proud of. Initially, she went to the election promising not to do it. The hung Parliament forced her to negotiate with the Greens, who made her commit to it, even though it went against her election promise. As history has shown this was a crucial point that lost her much support. The resulting ETS sported a fixed price of $25/ton of carbon, which had nothing to do with the market, and taking the rising Australian dollar, ended up being over-priced and counter to the notion of a market.

The Mining Tax renegotiated turned into a tax that hardly raised any money, much to the ridicule of the opposition. In the crucial negotiations, they locked out treasury officials from the room to get a deal, and of course it turned out she and Wayne Swan lost their shirts at the negotiation table.

It’s this kind of self-defeating thing that just kept coming up with all of her government’s achievements. The Gonski reforms might be great, but to fund it, she cut funding to tertiary education. Tertiary education and the pricing of degree remains a huge problem in this country, but no, she just robbed Peter to Pay Paul. The NDIS, which is universally lauded and passed with bipartisan support, is also un-costed. The Fairwork Australia act, for all the trumpeting has contributed greatly to the drag in productivity in Australia. And these are the big things. Then there were the little things, but they really aren’t what I want to be writing about.

The Gillard ALP government doesn’t really have a bad record, but closer scrutiny of these bigger reforms bring you the sense that they got a lot of things done in a half-arsed way under Julia Gillard. And while it might have taken a good deal of negotiation and administration, in the end she piled up as much red ink as black ink. Clearly she was ambitious, purposeful and driven, but also in an awful hurry. She sure didn’t wait long to metaphorically knife Kevin Rudd in the back to get the top job, and this was possibly her worst mistake. As Paul Keating observed at the time, “it was only one bad poll.”  She, along with the faceless men, jumped the gun in ridding themselves of Kevin Rudd at the first opportunity. They were careless because in democracy you cannot kill the king, and the exiled king has now returned. In the worst way possible, Julia Gillard’s own narrative got coloured by this Shakespearean Lady Macbeth sort of narrative. Perhaps this was even unfair, but it was her own doing.

There might have been a Gillard government born in due course when Kevin Rudd’s historic mission had ended. Instead she sort of inserted her 3year narrative into the interrupted narrative of Kevin Rudd’s mission in history. In other ways, Julia Gillard was a very backward looking politician. In the dying days of her office it was abundantly clear she was the champion of the unions, above all else. Her declaration that she is not a social democrat, and not a progressive, but a labor Prime Minister did more to narrow her appeal than expand it. Similarly, her presentation of the gender war, the class warfare and so on cut her own base ever narrower with the ‘us-and-them’ rhetoric. In that sense her 3 years represent a rearguard action for the waning powers of the union movement. She is just as retrogressive as Tony Abbott who is forever chasing the 1950s as a Golden Age.

Compared to the slice-and-dice rhetoric of Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd’s ‘us-and-them’ rhetoric is a lot more inclusive. Just watching him last night made you wonder at all the missed opportunity Julia Gillard had to speak for all ALP supporters, social democrats, progressives and the greens alike – but didn’t. Instead she kept dividing and segmenting the people – women here, disabled there, elderly here, students there; all the while running caveats about how she’s not one thing or another. In hindsight, it’s easy to see the one thing she wasn’t, was somebody who was for all of Australia. The Australia she talked to was very different to the Australia as the electorate understood it.

There is already discussion about how she will be viewed in history as Australia’s first woman prime minister. Indeed, this is the essence of her time in power. She was the first female prime minister of Australia, (which is a good thing) but she was a mightily disliked one (which is bad). The black ink and the red ink, side by side. The hung Parliament, caught in the balance. The deals, the agreements, the less than optimal outcomes. The dislike that was directed at her was at times totally unpalatable sexism and irrational, hateful contempt. Yet, at the heart of that dislike that came back from the electorate had a lot to do with the way she came to power. It wasn’t that she was a woman that was the problem; it was that she had deposed a popular ‘man of the people’ to grab power. All the attempts to deflect the electorate from this understanding failed her, and with it went her office.

Leave a comment

Filed under General

And In The End…

Long Live The Donkey

Long time readers would know that I was dreading the upcoming Federal election. Given the choices of parties and leaders, I couldn’t see myself a way out from donkey voting. I’d even given myself a handle – Don Quivote – in large part so I could tell as many people of my great political discomfort at the choices being offered.

Thanks to the ALP Caucus finally dumping Julia Gillard as their leader, I am spared of the need to donkey vote.

I imagine there will be much parsing of the nuances and events that led to the spill that ousted Julia Gillard, our first female Prime Minister. When I think of her accomplishments, I have to say that they are a decent amount of them and that I had no issue with her policy positions in most part. If anything my great dissatisfaction with Julia Gillard was always the manner in which she couched the issues. I have written of those things at great lengths so I won’t rehash them here. I am however surprised that Julia Gillard tried to smoke out Kevin Rudd with the challenge and forced the loser to quit – which in the end has sealed her own fate.

When I think back I can recall that the first incarnation of the Rudd-Gillard teaming in opposition was a great compromise in order not to blow up the ALP in opposition as it sat there without a clue as to how to remove the monolithic Howard-Costello government. Riddled with factional warfare the ALP had the option of going with the popular but tether-less Kevin Rudd or the party apparatchik (no pun intended on chick by the way) Julia Gillard. The compromise as it were, was to run with Kevin Rudd as the leader and win the election and sort it out later. It’s not surprising then that the sorting out bit turned out to be the Rudd coup and installation of Gillard as Prime Minister, which obviously put the same conflict back in relief.

Julia Gillard has complained that this infighting has been the hallmark of her time as Prime Minister, but when you think about it, it has been the hallmark of the ALP after the demise of the Keating government, and you can count luminaries such as Simon Crean, Kim Beazley, Mark Latham as well as the first Rudd office as participants and victims of this factional brawling. And really, the division has never healed. Although one imagines the whole NSW Right getting found out by ICAC in NSW has sort of lent a helping hand in blurring the factional lines quite a bit. How can you go around being a bossy-boots NSW Right faction member after it gets found out that the leaders of the factions were only in it to line their own pockets?

Isn’t the meltdown in NSW poll numbers essentially related to the disgust with the ALP? Doesn’t the Rudd coup fall under one of the things the electorate deeply resents about the Gillard-led ALP?

All that being said, there has been a long standing feeling that Kevin Rudd’s mission in politics was incomplete, while Julia Gillard’s historic mission as Prime Minister might have seen its last day partly as a result of the Gonski reforms passing the Senate late this afternoon. It’s easier to understand the last three years as the years Julia Gillard decided to get her bit in – but now she is done. It looks as if she burned all of her political capital in 3 years to make her mark and now all she has is the legacy of her minority government in the history books – oh that and a fat superannuation pay out, but they all get those.

The big surprise today was Bill Shorten who looked like he swallowed a poison grenade and holding in the explosion as he announced he was backing Rudd. One imagines that must have  been quite uncomfortable given his wife’s support for Julia Gillard as well as his role in installing Julia Gillard as PM, knifing Kevin Rudd three years ago. I guess he’s had his public humble pie moment. The recognition there might be that the Rudd project had not run its course, and that in fact he was mistaken in having moved against Kevin Rudd back in 2010. That his personal animosity towards Kevin Rudd didn’t amount to a hill of beans. One imagines these would be really tough things to get one’s head around.

When you line it all up, it’s not entirely clear if the divisions can be healed by Julia Gillard leaving politics. Or will Kevin Rudd fill that vacuum left behind with his vision for Australia? To do that, he still needs to win the next election. It will be interesting to see what the next polls are going to say.

It sure has been a heck of a day. At last I get to retire my donkey.

Leave a comment

Filed under General

Movie Doubles – ‘Django Unchained’ & ‘Lincoln’

The Slavery Double

Slavery is the biggest blight on American history. There are other big blights, such as the fate of the Native Americans and The Great Depression, but let’s be honest – the brutality inherent in slavery is pretty much the same kind of brutality that went into say, Nazsim. It’s the same racist trope. Living it down is not an option, so America lurches from one moment of racist diatribe to the next, forever trying to extinguish the evil fire of racism that launched and managed slavery in America.

It’s not a popular topic, and in most part Hollywood has stayed right clear of wanting to talk about it. Certainly up until the 1960s when the civil rights movement came of age, Hollywood didn’t exactly examine this part of American cultural history too closely. Judging from these two films, you get the feeling that maybe Hollywood can finally try and get at this vexing topic. Both ‘Django Unchained’ and ‘Lincoln’ are attempts to frame slavery in the centre of the American picture.

The N-Word Goes To Work

Quentin Tarantino loves to use the n-word in his films. He’s come under a lot of criticism for that, but in ‘Django Unchained’, he’s devised a film where he’s allowed to have the word repeated over and over and over without having to answer to the brigade of people who would level these accusations at his films. It’s almost as if he’s gone and devised this film so he can stick it up the brigade’s collective noses. ‘Django Unchained’ relishes in the use of the n-word. Freed from contemporary nuance, the cast freely toss the word around like it is going out of fashion, because in a very real way, it has.  Even the main character Django played by Jaime Foxx seems to relish the use of the word.

The effect is a perverse affirmation of the word in isolation to its more recent-historic baggage. The white Americans in this film are so repugnant (now, there‘s a word Samuel L. Jackson has patented for himself), the generous doses of the n-word bandied about becomes a cloud of bad faith and bad will.

In contrast ‘Lincoln’ uses the word as well, but you get the feeling that everybody’s forgotten the actual invective invested in the word; That not only is a black man born inferior, doomed and forsaken, that they should wear the dishonour like a manacle.

When you watch the two films back to back, you get the feeling Spielberg is trying to skirt the word because he doesn’t want to end up in front of the critical brigade that usually rounds in on Quentin Tarantino. The avoidance is palpable. There is a lot of talk about the immorality of slavery and a lot of characters seem to need convincing of this in ‘Lincoln’, which I suppose is meant to highlight the context of the struggle, but you get the feeling the film’s words slip by you because there’s this strong urge to be polite about something that is fundamentally impolite – and therefore impolitic.

White Guilt On Parade?

Quentin Tarantino is probably a little bit more radical than Steven Spielberg in making his movie the way that he has. He has essentially reached into the racist slavery-ridden past of the South and packaged up what is ostensibly a spaghetti western entertainment that’s loaded with the squirm-worthy pungent past of the South. Spielberg on the other hand has delivered a kind of history lesson about just how great Abraham Lincoln was – just in case we missed that at school. Abraham Lincoln is of course trying to bring an end to slavery in his film, but because the film is sanitised, it doesn’t really show the brutality of slavery. Instead it shows the brutality of the Civil War, which, while being brutal is not really the central problem.

Spielberg’s film is even more curious as it trundles to the end, where Lincoln is shot off-camera and dies in bed on camera, but then we’re left with him making yet another important speech and fading to black. It’s pretty clear that Spielberg doesn’t want to go warts and all into his subject, but rather deliver a kind of secular hagiography of one of the more respectable Presidents of the USA. While this might be perfectly sensible for the film (it is more than a little tedious to watch), when compared to Tarantino’s film, it is obvious just how much Spielberg would not want to tangle with the banal brutality that was slavery in the USA. Tarantino wants to embrace the shame and try and make the entire audience share in the shame, and make sure it becomes part of the lore. Where Spielberg trembles with white guilt, Tarantino enforces in us the shame.

Recoiling At The Horror Of Equality

Both films naturally get to feature characters who laugh at the thought that a black man could be the equal of the white man. This is probably one of those types that have to turn up in movies about racism. In ‘Lincoln’ we see straight-faced arguments why slaves should not be free, including the fearful notion that if black men were equal, then maybe women might be as well. ‘Django Unchained’ is also shot through with the discourse about equality, though it is also undercut with significant irony as white people make quite a bit of fools of themselves in Tarantino’s film.

It’s interesting how both films clutch at the notion of equality as the rallying point but both films deflect themselves away from how such equality can be delivered. In other words, the seemingly finished conflict is actually very much alive, just off screen. Spielberg’s film in one sense argues that legal equality is all there is, and once this is established, then all things will lead to equality. You sort of wonder if he really lived through the 1960s at all. Tarantino’s film says that equality comes from the muzzle of the gun; that violence is the great leveler – not the law.

Tarantino’s film is a proper film masquerading as a B-movie. Spielberg’s film is an ordinary tele-movie masquerading as an A movie.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cinema, Film, Movies

Shooting The Messenger

I Hate Cory Bernardi Too, But…

Cory Bernardi, the fascist ideologue of the Liberal Party got into a world of grief last year when he spoke against Gay Marriage. The gist of his statement was that if we allowed gay people to call their unions marriage, where would this stop? What about threesomes? What about people in to bestiality who wanted to marry their animal ‘partners’? The storm of criticism was such that he had to quit his job as Tony Abbott’s adviser. (They replaced him with a marmoset who had a higher IQ than Cory. Oops, no, that’s just a joke. A JOKE!)

Anyway… you sort of had to wonder if people who were dissenting to  the notion of gay marriage were actually steamrolled by hysteria rather than being beaten in logical argument. The issue may actually be a non-issue in the not-too-distant future because apparently 70% of Gen-Y is fine not only fine with it, they don’t see why it’s even a hot-button issue. That sort of leaves it to the Baby Boomers and Gen X to do a bit of explaining and the explaining of it is in fact a bit harder.

Certainly when I went through High School, the average garden variety homophobia was the norm. I think back on it and it was totally accepted that homosexuality was wrong, “perverted” and best avoided. The AIDS epidemic bursting on the scene didn’t exactly help with the general climate of homophobia. So I don’t really know how it is that Gen X may have traveled the distance from such homophobia to the point that there is significant support in Gen X – not as high as Gen Y – for gay marriage. Speaking for myself, it’s sort of an issue that’s popped up and in most part I’ve decided, “well why the hell not?” I’d imagine this is true of most Gen-X support for gay marriage. And those who are holding out, are holding out because they’re still the sort of schoolyard bullying homophobes.

Which is exactly how I imagine Cory Bernardi –born 1969. Baby Boomers, have had a tougher time of traveling that distance. Here’s Hillary Clinton getting ridiculed for her late, late, late conversion to the cause. But in what was a less enlightened time, – and I cant stress this wasn’t that long ago as Gen-Xers and Boomers know and can attest – homosexuality was viewed pretty much as I described above. It’s hardly anything to be proud of, but it just so happened it was like that. However, I do want to remind everybody of this fact because without it, you can’t begin to discuss Bernardi’s outbursts.

Today, we find this article that Cory Bernardi is insisting he was right.

Senator Bernardi’s latest comments come as a Greens bill to recognise internationally sanctioned same-sex marriages is set to be debated in the Senate on Thursday.

The same sex-marriage bill was also debated last night in the Federation Chamber, with Labor MPs Greg Combet, Stephen Smith and Bernie Ripoll all saying they supported legalising gay marriage. As Kevin Rudd did recently, Mr Ripoll said he had changed his mind and would now support the bill.

Amid these developments, Senator Bernardi told Fairfax Media that some sections of society were now moving in the “abhorrent and disgusting” direction he had predicted.

“There is actually now a petition been put together for the House of Representatives by Green activists to legally recognise multi-member unions,” Senator Bernardi said.

He was referring to a recent petition by the Polyamory Action Lobby in which the group said: “We demand nothing less than the full recognition of polyamorous families”.

“Now I said that would happen,” Senator Bernardi said. “It’s happening.”

“I think there should be alarm . . . If you’re going to re-define a word to satisfy demands of a minority then you’re going to face continuing demands in that space.”

Senator Bernardi also stood by his controversial comments last year that the “next step” after recognising same-sex marriage was to support “creepy people” who chose to have sex with animals.

“Bestiality, of course it was an extreme example, but once again it’s linked to the radical agenda of the Greens Party,” he said.

Now, reading that reminded me of the Economist’s article here:

A second argument that has always been a bit weak has been the attempt to minimise the extent to which allowing same-sex marriages will change the definition of marriage for straight married couples. When conservatives have argued that gay marriage would “devalue traditional marriage”, the response has often been to ridicule the idea that straight people’s marriages will change at all. (“OMG! Marriage is now worthless!”) This isn’t a serious response. Obviously the legalisation of same-sex marriage represents a major change in the institution and in the meaning of the word, much as the meaning of phrases like “all men are created equal” changed significantly when they began to be understood to include, say, women. For people who have a strongly gendered understanding of their own marriage, this is a paradigm shift. The government is now saying it understands marriage as a long-term legal commitment between two people who are assumed to have a sexually attached relationship to each other. Gender is irrelevant; marriage is simply a paired relationship. It’s a big deal when social institutions change this way, and if conservative heterosexuals feel their marriages are affected, they’re right, even when the way they phrase their complaints is wrong.

Which brings us to moderately off-the-mark argument number three. One of the assumptions that gay marriage calls into question, for many conservatives, is: why pairs, then? If not man-woman, then why not man-woman-woman, and so forth? Again, the response of gay-marriage proponents is generally ridicule. I don’t think this is a ridiculous question. “Why can’t you marry your dog, then?” is a ridiculous question; marriage, in our society, is between consenting adult persons. (Though states where girls can marry below the age of legal adulthood violate this premise, and show the traces of a premodern understanding of marriage as a reproductive contract between extended families that few Americans would say they support today.) But “why only two?” isn’t a ridiculous question. It’s easy enough to show that gay marriage does not empirically lead to pressure to legalise polygamy; that hasn’t happened anywhere that gay marriage is legal. But this is different from explaining why opening up the boundaries of the 20th-century understanding of marriage shouldn’t raise the possibility of legalising polygamy. Why shouldn’t it be legal for more than two consenting adults to marry each other?

And I remind you that’s the Economist discussing the exact same point; not the halfwit hate-monger that is Cory Bernardi. It’s a sensible person asking a question. And you begin to see that those who shouted down Bernardi last year never really presented an answer. As is the way in politics, the other halfwit Sarah Hanson-Young took the tack that somehow Cory Bernardi had likened gay people to bestial people. Yet, if you’re going to take Bernardi to task, you pretty much have to draw the line somewhere. Once you draw the line somewhere, you have to then defend why you won’t move the line beyond where you draw it. It’s not good enough an argument to ridicule people who have for a lifetime drawn a line elsewhere.

You’ll note Hanson-Young didn’t draw a line, she just accused Bernardi of something he didn’t say. Ain’t politics grand? “Gay people are different to bestial people! They’re not perverts!”  It would’ve been very unconvincing for the likes of Bernardi who can well remember when gay people were the perverts.

While bestiality is hardly something people are likely to accommodate in droves, there are plenty of polygamous societies on the planet. You could argue that the portion of Homo Sapiens cultures that allows for polygamy is higher than the proportion of gay people. So it is actually a legitimate question to ask, why gay marriage, but not polygamy? Mormons and Muslims would want to know. A conservative in Australia – I would hazard to guess – would probably argue that this is a country founded on traditional Christian beliefs, and this is why they refuse to countenance gay marriage, polygamy and bestiality alike. As progressive agendas go, we’re now saying as a society (in most part) that gay marriage is okay, but polygamy and bestiality are not. The line goes between gay marriage and polygamy.

I really don’t get this. I’m okay with legalising gay marriage and when I think it through, I don’t really a see a problem with legalising polygamy either. I do draw the line at bestiality, not because it’s disgusting, but because you can’t get consent from an animal. In the same vein, paedophilia is forever out because consent from minors can’t count. But you can see the onus to explain that placement of the line between gay marriage and polygamy fairly rests with the people who want to redraw the lines.

While Cory Bernardi is a hateful halfwit, it’s not like he’s not on to something. Polygamy is correctly up next. There’s some explaining to be done by those who are pushing to legalise gay marriage, why polygamists can’t get equal treatment under the law.

Leave a comment

Filed under General

Terminal, Interminably Terminal

There Actually Is No Cure

The business of the ALP Leadership has gone beyond a farce – it did that back in March this year when Kevin Rudd refused to contest the leadership. Since then it has veered towards the kind of tragedy the Ancient Greeks thought was cathartic, and if things go the way they’re going it will indeed by cathartic when the ALP government get flushed out of office by an angry electorate.

This morning’s leading news was that Julia Gillard’s primary vote support had collapsed to 29%.

In a finding certain to ratchet up pressure on the Prime Minister’s besieged leadership, the latest Fairfax-Nielsen poll has found Labor’s standing has continued to slide, led entirely by a 7 per cent exodus of men, while failing to lift substantially among female voters.

According to the monthly survey, the ALP’s primary vote now has a psychologically devastating ”2” in front of it with less than three months to the election on September 14.

Ms Gillard also has gone backwards as preferred prime minister, giving her the lowest approval rating in a year.

Which, when you look at it, means that Julia Gillard has more chance of being run over by a bus than being Prime Minister on 15th September this year. The word still, is that she’s not quitting; that Kevin Rudd isn’t challenging; and that Bill Shorten is being leaned on mightily to do *something*. Then of course we learn Mrs. Shorten is sort of a cheerleader for Ms Gillard.

One would have to surmise there’s no way Bill Shorten is going to be that trigger to “lance the boil”.

All of this has had me thinking about what this means and basically it is this: the ALP as a party that represents a significant portion of the electorate is finished. The great alliance of interests that rallied for Gough Whitlam and then Bob Hawke and Paul Keating is now gone. It has been whittled back down to a bunch of Unionists who have essentially captured the castle, and they’re not giving it up. This would explain the expressed desire on the part of Julia Gillard to disavow being a social democrat or a progressive, and stake her position around unionism.

The immense popularity of Kevin Rudd is also vexing as it is fascinating as it seems to hold so much hope. But then again it did the same in 2007 and somehow we’ve ended up where we have ended up. This suggests that Kevin Rudd is probably nowhere near as good, as he is widely believed by the electorate. Or maybe it is the instant nostalgia for 2007, a year before the grinding Great recession and a term well before the frictions of the hung Parliament and minority government. I am suspecting that Kevin Rudd wasn’t all he’s cracked up to be. I had my doubts back then and in many ways I still have my doubts now.  Of course if I could choose, I would still choose Kevin Rudd over Julia Gillard.

Whatever the case, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a coup to oust Julia Gillard, which means the electorate has made up its mind and it’s going to be Tony Abbott who is going to be Prime Minister. Not surprisingly, there are many people who are rolling their eyes at this prospect, and some are even looking for their passports. The ALP is holding out hope that all the people who deserted it in the polls would actually vote for them, even if through preferences, once it comes into sharp focus that it is Tony Abbott who will be Prime Minister after the ALP lose on the 15th September. My own view is that a lot of people would take a dim view of such blackmail from the ALP. After all, the ALP has resisted its own constituents who have asked for Kevin Rudd to be brought back. How can such insults be repaid but with a ballot for the other party?

So little is known of Tony Abbott’s policies apart from stopping asylum seeker boats ad towing them back to Indonesia, repealing the carbon tax and taxing top companies to fund maternity leave. Just as it is the case every time the government changes, it is important that the new Prime Minster is just not the previous Prime Minister. The years that the ALP spent in opposition were actually quite terrible and humiliating. By the time Kevin Rudd won, there was only Simon Crean left from the previous ALP government in the lower house. This change of generation and shortage of expertise prompted Kevin Rudd to hold a short leash and tight rein, which of course led to the coup.

If one thing is certain for the Rudd coup plotters is that the vast majority of them won’t be part of the next ALP government, if that day ever arrives. If they are ministers now, they sure as hell won’t be back, because it’s going to be a long time before the ALP can rebuild the Labor brand. If it becomes even more captive to the interests of the unions, it’s going to be nigh impossible to build a broader agenda.

To be strictly honest about it, I don’t see how the ALP can continue being the major party that represents the progressive left. If John Robertson’s Labor Party in NSW is any indication, they won’t even begin to be relevant once they lose office this September. It’s going to be a very miserable and humiliating time for Gillard, Rudd and Shorten after the coming election day. The chorus of “I told you so” is going to be thick and fast.

Leave a comment

Filed under General

I Want This To Stop

How About You Howard Sattler? Are You Gay? Do You Fuck Pigs Perhaps?

Good heavens. Why on earth does the Prime Minister of Australia have to answer questions like these?:

Howard Sattler offered the Prime Minister a chance to dispel ‘‘myths, rumours, snide jokes and innuendo’’ at the tail-end of a digressive interview on Fairfax-owned station 6PR this afternoon Perth time.

‘‘Tim’s gay,’’ was the first rumour Mr Sattler raised.

‘‘Well, that’s absurd,’’ the Prime Minister’s replied flatly.

‘‘But you hear it – he must be gay, he’s a hairdresser,’’ Mr Sattler said. ‘‘It’s not me saying it.’’

The Prime Minister dismissed the suggestion. But Mr Sattler pressed the point.

“You can confirm that he’s not?” he asked.

‘‘Oh Howard don’t be ridiculous, of course not,’’ the Prime Minister said, while remaining cool and composed. ‘‘On the internet there are lots of […] nutjobs, people who peddle and circulate vile things’’.

“Howard let me just bring you back to earth, you and I have just talked about me and Tim living at the lodge, we live there together as a couple, you know that.”

I never would’ve imagined we’d come to this. Nobody asks if Tony Abbott or Malcolm Turnbull or Joe Hockey or Warren Truss or Barnaby Joyce or Mal Brough if their spouses are gay, let alone press the point like there’s any kind of doubt about their sexuality. Nobody ever asked if Janette Howard was John Howard’s beard. Nobody is ever going to ask Tony Abbott if his wife is a lesbian or whether he can really prove if he procreated his children by having sex with his spouse. Just writing that last sentence fills me with revulsion because it is revolting – so why in the hell is it fair game to be asking these kinds of questions to our Prime Minister? Why does a prurient, venal maggot like this guy even have a job doing interviews?

If the next 90-odd days until 14 September are going to go like this, and stay as pathetic as this, I think I want to holiday somewhere far away from Australia until all this is over. As for Howard Sattler, I hope a Great White Shark takes him.

UPDATE: Howard Sattler has been sacked.

Radio 6PR General Manager Martin Boylen has confirmed presenter Howard Sattler has been sacked, following his controversial interview with Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday.

In a statement read on air late afternoon (AEST) the Perth radio station apologised “unreservedly” for allowing questions about the sexuality of Ms Gillard’s partner, Tim Mathieson, to be raised by Sattler on his Drive program.

“In the wake of yesterday’s interview, Radio 6PR suspended Mr Sattler from Broadcasting pending a review of the matter today,” the statement said. “The station has now decided to terminate Mr Sattler’s engagement.”

That is as it should be.

Leave a comment

Filed under General

News That’s Fit To Punt – 12/Jun/2013

The Search For Donald Mackay

This is surprising.

“A search is under way today on a property near Hay as part of an ongoing investigation,” a spokesman said.

Australian Federal Police, local police and members of the Unsolved Homicide Squad were seen buying hundreds of dollars worth of shovels in town before heading to the property on Maude Road, outside Hay.

Tents have been erected and an excavator was brought in about 4pm to assist with the search.

Father-of-four Mackay went missing after leaving the Griffith Hotel on July 15, 1977, where he had been drinking with friends.

They might just find him after all this time, although I don’t know what else will be dug up with his body. The whole disappearance of Mackay is tied up with all kinds of strange dealings in the shadows of the international drug trade. Goodness knows what kind of metaphorical skeletons are going to come out with Mackay’s body.

Gender Wars: Attack Of The Clowns, Revenge of the Feminists

Where does one start with politics this grubby? First, there was Julia Gillard talking to a cohort of the usual suspect saying  that an Abbott Government would be tough on women and that Abortion would be on the issue thanks to Tony Abbott being a Catholic and all. It might be true. It likely is true on some level, but really, one really wonders if this is this the way the Prime Minister of Australia wants to proceed? Even proper Feminist-credentialed people (read female journalists) are not entirely convinced this is the right way to open an attack on the obvious boys-own-club, old-school-ties Coalition. I guess, if one were the Prime Minister, one might look at the contest as trying to extract as much differentiation, but I sort of wonder if there are enough men – blue collar, union types at that – who would be happy to take the free kick in the pride and still support the Prime Minister.

Julia Gillard batted on today with this stuff.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has accused Opposition Leader Tony Abbott of ”a pattern of behaviour” that would lead to ”a lack of respect for women littered throughout all of his government’s policy document”.

Ms Gillard has also slapped down government MPs who criticised her for raising the issue of abortion in her speech to the ”Women for Gillard” event in Sydney on Tuesday.’

‘Neither [Stephen] Jones nor [Ed] Husic were in Parliament when Liberal Party women rebelled when Tony Abbott was health minister, so concerned were they about the attitude that he was taking to RU486,” Ms Gillard said in Perth on Wednesday.

”Well, I was in Parliament, I was shadow health minister. I saw those Liberal women rebel again Tony Abbott as health minister and consequently I think Mr Abbott’s conduct at that time and the fact that many in his own political party felt the need to rebel tells you something about Mr Abbott’s attitudes.”

Ms Gillard defended her decision to question the attitude a Coalition government would take to women saying there was a ”pattern of behaviour” displayed by conservative politicians.’

‘Mr Abbott has personally gone and stood next to signs that describe me in a sexist way,  we’ve had the Young Liberals hosting a function where jokes were cracked about the death of my father,” Ms Gillard said.’

‘And now we have (shadow treasurer Joe) Hockey and (Liberal Party candidate Mal) Brough hosting a function with this grossly offensive menu on display. Join the dots.”

Ah yes. There’s the menu thing, yes. The breaking news of the day was that there was some fundraiser dinner where a menu was allegedly used wherein the Prime Minster was denigrated.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Liberal candidate Mal Brough should be disendorsed after a menu that made lewd and offensive jokes about her anatomy was used at his fund-raiser.

Ms Gillard slammed the menu as ‘‘grossly sexist and offensive’’ and criticised Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for standing by Mr Brough.

‘This is Tony Abbott’s Liberals,’’ she said. ‘‘This is what they’re like.’’
The menu, used at an event in March, lists ‘‘Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail’’ before going on to describe it as ‘‘Small breasts, huge thighs & a big red box’’.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek agreed with Ms Gillard, saying she thought Mr Brough’s position as the candidate for the Queensland seat of Fisher was ‘‘untenable’’

Except by the end of the day, the restauranteur came forwards and claimed it was an in-joke that got out. As jokes go, it’s pretty bad; it’s mean-spiritied and particularly nasty in a partisan way that makes you squirm – not for the politics itself but for the ugliness of attitude and idiotic brazenness.

And this is what I mean by grubby. Contrary to the starting point where Julia Gillard kicked off with talk about Abortion and women’s rights none of this actually has anything to do with policy. It’s just a kind of slanging match to try and paint Tony Abbott as this kind of Neanderthal Knucklehead (which, as far as we can tell, he is). Doubly, the problem is that whatever shade of Neanderthal Knucklehead Tony Abbott might be, there those who stand behind him who are deeper and darker in the shade of reactionary unreconstructed male chauvinism (as evinced by the the joke menu – even as a joke it says far more about the people that enjoyed it).

It’s a bit like Julia Gillard gets to call Tony Abbott a moral idiot, because he is one, and in fact he is the leader of a party of moral idiots. He may indeed be the biggest moral idiot amongst a great throng of moral idiots. Except the moral idiots wear their moral idiocy as a badge of pride, so there is absolutely no point in indulging in this exchange of idiotic remarks.

I guess it takes the attention away from the leadership speculation; but it sure as heck does not improve my regard towards Julia Gillard as leader of the ALP. It’s hard to feel for any of these bastards.

Talk Is Cheap, But It’s Fun

This business of Kevin Rudd lurking and stalking Julia Gillard’s position is getting out of hand again. It was only 3 months ago that given the chance – handed to him on a platter by Simon Crean – Kevin Rudd decided not to contest. Since then, Julia Gillard’s support has stayed decidedly low, thus casting a long shadow over the ALP’s prospects for retaining dignity, let alone government. What seems to escape the strategists in the ALP is just how powerful and entrenched the resentment in the electorate happens to to be.

Everywhere Kevin Rudd goes, he is popular and people call out to him, asking him to come back.The point is, Julia Gillard has no traction because nobody wants to give her the traction. it doesn’t matter what policy victories she achieves in a difficult hung Parliament. The hung Parliament itself represents the great disaffection the electorate had for the ALP in 2010 – and the polls say things have gotten worse since then.

You’d hate this if you were watching it in ALP headquarters because you just want him to go away like Mark Latham did. Instead he’s likely to be last man standing in Queensland. You’d hate to be Wayne Swan. but we know Julia Gillard is stubborn and she won’t walk away, which means she is going to lead the ALP right over the waterfall.

So the only question now is will somebody who supported Gillard in 2010 when ousting Kevin Rudd, now withdraw that support and swing that support back to Kevin Rudd?
Enter Bill Shorten. This is going to be a long quote, but it’s worth reading through as it shows just why the situation is coming to a head again, a mere 3months after the last rattle of the cage.

The catalyst for this devil’s choice is recent internal Labor polling, and more from the ACTU, that has ignited fear and loathing in the breasts of ALP members and senators across the country.

An almost bearable resignation had settled across the party for many months about its loss of support in NSW and Queensland, where Labor voters had never forgiven the party for tossing aside one of their own, Kevin Rudd, for a southerner, Julia Gillard.

Labor MPs and the union movement knew it was serious – and in Western Australia, too – but they had little idea of the scale of the catastrophe down south until internal polling and research undertaken by the ACTU in Victoria began returning figures in the past couple of weeks that flabbergasted the most hardened.

The definition of a marginal seat had to be rewritten. Electorates on what might normally be considered comfortable margins of 8-10 per cent were suddenly facing wipe-outs, according to those professing to be in the know. There was barely a Labor seat in outer-metropolitan Melbourne or an industrial or migrant-dominated area the ALP could be sure of holding.

More polling showed South Australia had joined the rush, with the likelihood of the Labor Party losing almost two-thirds of its 11 seats.
Victoria and South Australia were supposed to be relatively reliable Labor strongholds. Further south, all Tasmania’s five seats were considered in great jeopardy.

Thus, when Kevin Rudd journeyed to Geelong, an industrial city with two ALP seats facing disaster and was mobbed by voters crying ”come back Kevin”, the TV cameras whirring, lightbulbs began blinking among panicked Labor MPs.

They needed someone, somewhere, to do something. Quick. In the absence of a better idea, the fallback was Shorten, whether he liked it or not. Some of his colleagues, knowing Shorten’s own polling figures in his seat of Maribyrnong had taken a big hit, too, sensed he might be up for it.

To this point, however, he’s not. Shorten is smart enough to know he alone could not persuade Gillard to blink. It would need a posse of her supporters, or a declaration by an authority like Bob Hawke.

The Labor Party’s last desperate throw of the dice is this: how does a federal government persuade itself and voters it is a sensible or even halfway attractive idea to change leaders twice in three years?

The deeper dilemma is even less digestible. The choice is whether to remain deeply unpopular or to hope that the party might emerge from a leadership change as simply less unpopular.

The options, then, are all negative. They are choices that will be made from a position of weakness.

You would very nearly pity Shorten if you were prepared to forget he’d already played the Grim Reaper with another Labor prime minister almost exactly three years ago.

You shake your head in incredulity at how these ALP party apparatchiks can’t seem to get their heads around a simple fact: Kevin Rudd is still the electorate’s choice. No amount of packaging and branding and bow-tying ribbons around Julia Gillard is going to get her over the line with the electorate. So once again, as it was clear 3months ago, and for 29 straight weeks in a row, we can reaffirm that Julia Gillard is headed for an epic fail.

You get the feeling this isn’t going to work out the way the people of Australia are hoping. Bill Shorten is hoping to pick up the pieces after the electoral demolition job. I wonder if he seriously thinks that would make him a popular man – popular enough to become Prime Minister.

Leave a comment

Filed under General