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Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

So, the ‘iconic’ (obligatory adjective) Sydney Opera House is our biggest billboard, so sayeth PM Scott Morrison aka ScoMo, endorsing NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s approval of advertising on the famous roof sails of this UNESCO Heritage-listed building, to promote a horse-racing event. 

It’s a quintessential Sydney story, where Shock Jock Supremo Jones pulls the strings on Our Gladys, and we then learn that his business partners have nags running in the race – a redolent whiff of his ‘cash for comment’ era. 

I’m not sure that’s what UNESCO had in mind, but maybe it’s the epitome of OzCulture for crass gambling promotion to prevail over aesthetic considerations in a display of rampant philistinism (a word to put back into common usage). To cap it off, ingenuous ScoMo doesn’t get what all the fuss is about. I believe him.

The Pentecostal PM evinces a daggy soccer dad image, and as self-styled marketing guru who in a previous gig at the Australian Tourist Commission oversaw the cringeworthy ‘where the bloody hell are you’ advertising campaign, he has a track record as Chief Philistine. And is Our Glad channelling Edna Everage?

The horse racing event is called The Everest, so how the image of that word on the Opera House will promote tourism here is a mystery only explained by bluster and bullshit. And make no mistake, the Sport of Kings is for gambling, and certainly not for the benefit of exercising the poor nags and jockeys.

Cultural cringe at being Australian is the only response to this travesty, at least amongst us elitists, but it’s not a comfortable feeling. Optimists thought we had left fundamental philistinism behind us in the maligned 1950s, but it’s in our DNA!

ducks in a row

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Well, it wasn’t rocket surgery for KC to correctly predict the PM’s imminent demise.

The political circus act in the big top tent in Canberra had its inevitable denouement yesterday with the elevation, so to speak, of the egregious ScoMo to the top job, after all semblances of personal loyalty and party unity were rudely trashed in a week of bald-faced lying and treachery amongst thieves.

Amongst the many Brutus look-alikes the Big Belgian aka Mathias ranked highly in his treasonous volte-face: one day standing photogenically alongside our erstwhile PM Malcolm of Point Piper, and the next day embracing the assassin’s cabal.

It’s another sad day for Australian politics, when once again personal enmities and hard-nosed ideologues behead their own leader in an orgy of self-destruction. The three As choir boys Abbott, Abetz and Andrews, all inspired by Christian self-righteousness and revenge, got their man. But they over-reached when their anointed Trojan horse Dutton went down to ScoMo, who of course is another bible-basher – is something Machiavellian going on there?  

Malcolm’s valedictory speech predictably also, was full of self-congratulations for a PM job well-done. He looked like he’d won the lottery instead of unceremoniously chucked out on his ear. That man’s ego is bullet-proof. An insincere opportunist, who will disappear into the ever-growing dustbin of minor prime ministerial figures who strutted and fretted their time on the political stage and signified nothing. 

A threnody to the disappearing Australian body politic, may it not rest in peace!

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Since this yummy headline appeared over a Paddy Manning article in The Monthly on 30 July, I’ve been hoping for an opportunity to recycle it, shamelessly. Regular KC readers know already that we favour and savour two-word ‘rhyming’ captions, and this one is a beauty: it’s short and sweet!

Manning was looking at the results of the ‘Super Saturday’ Federal elections, where Labor scooped four of the five electorates contested that day. Alternative PM Bill Shorten’s prospects of continuing as Labor leader and prevailing at the next election got a sugar hit indeed.

Well, today that recycling opportunity arrived, as PM Malcolm of Point Piper was metaphorically wounded (mortally?) in his own party room while staving off a leadership challenge from arch-conservative Peter Dutton. I agree with the pundits that Malcolm will not survive as PM, and the coup de grace may even come later this week.

Political soothsaying may be a sucker’s game, so to speak, but I reckon Shorten’s odds of electoral success just shortened again, and he’s definitely looking very sweet for the upcoming elections, not to mention the rest of his party in general.

The proverbial drover’s dog would also be looking pretty sweet against the motley Coalition crew running around like a mob of sheep in ever-diminishing circles, or is that lambs to the slaughter. Dutton is on the nose, outside a few supporters in the Shallow Deep North just up from Brizzie, so another feckless challenger may eventually claim the Titanic captain’s guernsey and get to re-arrange the deck chairs. Plus ça change!

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Neil MacGregor’s book is a real tour de force, to use an expression from south of the Rhine. Ex-director of the National Gallery in London and the British Museum, he has produced a unique and brilliant history of Germany, through close study of its monuments, landmarks, buildings, artworks and cultural artefacts.

I agree with (who wouldn’t?) R.J.W Evans of the New York Review of Books: it’s a ‘necklace of burnished cameos, witty and cunning, intricately constructed, but highly readable’. Each chapter offers an original and deep insight into the German universe and deserves to be digested slowly, with breaks between them to allow the ideas to settle. 

For example, MacGregor looks at the fascinating collection of ‘emergency’ banknotes (called Notgeld) produced by each German town towards the end of WWI as the central bank faltered, through the hyper-inflationary period of the Weimar Republic and Nazi use of them for their propaganda.

The book’s excellent photos do much more than illustrate his themes, they give it another cultural dimension, as a brilliant artefact itself. It was published in conjunction with a BBC 4 Radio program and 2014 exhibition at the British museum. 

As you can see, I was mightily impressed by this brief history of Germany. Apparently it’s also been translated into German and become a trending best-seller there! Finally, I also agree with Antony Beevor: ‘Anyone who wants to understand Germany should read this’.   

bruchhausen

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Mea culpa: Professor George Williams, Dean of Law at UNSW, and KC’s legal affairs correspondent got it wrong. The High Court decided that our Federal Government could indeed pretend that having a dodgy postal survey on ‘marriage equality’ (the quotes are restored!) is an emergency. Hence it can proceed to waste $122m of taxpayer’s money.

Putting aside this sideshow, it seems that yes vs no is the only game in town. Nobody is challenging the idea of the institution of marriage as the new holy grail (so to speak!) for gay couples. In other words, having lived outside state-sanctioned domestic bliss for decades and fought for larger freedoms, why clamour for the same bourgeois recognition? I wonder if feminists aspire to this traditional symbol of historical subjugation.

Today Dr Caroline Norma presented (in Sydney Morning Herald) a compelling anti-marriage argument as an answer, which is below:

“The same-sex marriage campaign makes me wonder when my fellow Australian lesbians lost their political backbone? Where’s the sparky radicalism of the gay and lesbian community? When did chasing after marriage become our life’s work? Or for that matter any feminists’ work?

Our heterosexual sisters must be wondering why we’re so keen to dignify an institution – which for so many women has led to violence from their partners and drudgery for themselves. They surely notice the hypocrisy; lesbians becoming cheerleaders for an institution which has caused so many so much pain.

We get the “gold rings and honeymoon” appeal of marriage; but I feel embarrassed for our collective selves that the public now sees us as grovelling for the chance to wear white wedding dresses. How are women going to recognise lesbianism as an alternative to heterosexuality, if they don’t see us protesting against institutions that have been harmful to us: like marriage, prostitution and the nuclear family?

The “yes” campaign’s slogan “love is love” equates marriage with love when many married women experience it as anything but love. The slogan trivialises the heroic efforts of some who have had to escape the institution.

The “yes” campaign casts rainbows and throws glitter over an institution that many women and children struggle to survive. It romanticises a pre-modern social arrangement that secures most men a wife and all the perks that come with husbandhood: sexual servicing, household labour and public esteem disguising all manner of wrongdoing. It peddles pro-marriage propaganda that lesbians, of all people, should not support. We should remember why we became lesbians in the first place, and reflect on our own heroic efforts to evade the social role fixed for females worldwide. Marriage is a conservative institution developed in order to organise the servitude of women. For many women it remains so.

Women see state sponsorship of sexual relationships as a safeguard of their interests in children and property held in common with men. But this guarantee is a mirage. The frequent experience of mothers losing custody of children to sexually abusive former husbands, for example, now sees Rosie Batty and Hetty Johnston campaigning for a royal commission into family violence.

Israeli parliamentarian and women’s rights’ campaigner Merav Michaeli is in Australia advocating for the “cancellation” of marriage (including the same-sex kind) because of the lifetime of unpaid labour and unequal wages she feels the institution forces upon wives, which usually involved a contract between two men – a husband and a father – over the rights of a woman. Similarly, University of Cambridge philosopher Clare Chambers in her recently published ‘Against Marriage: An Egalitarian Defence of the Marriage-Free State’ advocates the abolition of marriage because, even if the “most egregious aspects of legal inequality in marriage no longer apply in liberal democratic states”, still “marriage remains an institution of inequality'” It’s a Victorian middle-class invention she says – usually not in favour of the wife.

In Australia, marriage equality campaigning rages, while on TV farmers and bachelors are being offered their pick of wives from parades of immaculately presented young women. The wedding industry booms here, and women abandoning their surnames upon marriage continues unabated. In this conservative climate, there is every temptation for lesbians to assimilate. But now, more than ever, we must vote no in the postal plebiscite to register our protest at marriage; it’s hurt us for too long”.

Final thought bubble: to continue a feminist perspective, I also wonder whether gay men are more motivated by traditional ‘male’ values to get married, than lesbians, who come from that historically subjugated half of the marriage dyad? Just saying!

* Thanks to Caroline Norma & SMH for permission to reproduce her article.

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Not seven-year-itch, or bitch about the beloved partner. Actually that’s probably the average life span of a marriage these days? No, today’s sermon (appropriately) is about all the stuff and nonsense over marriage equality (ok I’ve removed the quotes now). That is, marriage of a gay (or LGBTI) couple. Why bother, has already been canvassed!

We already gave the thumbs down to the previous proposal for a wasteful $160m plebiscite on marriage equality, designed to cover the cowardly arses of some of the people’s representatives in our Federal parliament, who were trying to shirk their duty in a so-called conscience vote.

(Does that mean MPs otherwise park their consciences outside the House while they slavishly follow the literal party line?)

Occasionally I have a visceral reaction of repugnance and distrust of a public figure, like Howard and Pell, for example. Unfortunately I have the same contempt for Matthias Cormann, now Acting Special Minister of State, and Finance Minister in the so-called Turnbull government. He’s acting all the time, and he’s not at all special, so what a confusing new moniker.

That man’s superficial, leaden, soporific, moronic and robotic verbal offerings are insulting to any intelligence, and were particularly dire during the last election campaign when he thought he had mastered Tony Abbott’s repetitive three word mantra (see Jobson Grothe) technique. Now he’s put his name to the latest wasteful arse-covering, a $122m Federal postal survey on marriage equality.

It’s a half-baked voluntary thing, technically not even worth the reams of wasted paper to be mailed out. As a corporate marketing research manager in a previous life, I can assure you that the results cannot possibly be valid and reliable. The Australian Bureau of Statistics was given the survey gig against its mandate, as the government could not use the Australian Electoral Commission, although electoral rolls are being used for the mail-out of survey papers.

A survey without consideration of sampling error and bias is a complete waste of time. The ABS is scurrying to set up some analytic stats to accompany the results, but the bureaucrats must be professionally insulted by this abuse of government resources for partisan political manoeuvres. The head of the ABS is wonderfully titled the Australian Statistician, and he should resign in protest.

The High Court is hearing challenges to the constitutionality of the survey on grounds that the expenditure is not approved by parliament. Gormless Cormann is pretending that it is ‘urgent and unforeseen’ expenditure, so as to bypass parliament and plunder special contingency funds. Eminent law professor George Williams agrees with me (oh yeah) that the High Court will rule against him.

Cormann is also arguing that he has sole discretion to decide what is ‘urgent and unforeseen’. Our Matthias takes hubris to another level! So if he loses I reckon he should be hoisted by his own petard and resign as minister. Obviously that would be an honourable course of action, which by definition he will blithely ignore.

It’s a pity he’s not caught up in the dual citizenship kerfuffle – surely this adornment to his Belgian origins actually still owes allegiance to King Philippe or some such? (Dutch joke: Q. how do you recognise a Belgian pirate? A. he wears two eye patches.)

An unintended consequence of survey preparations has been the rush to electoral rolls by a young cohort of presumably pro marriage equality voters, which may come back to bite the Federal government on the bum at the next election. Oh, sweet irony indeed. Meantime parliamentarians should dust off their consciences and get ready to do their voting duty on marriage equality.

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In this post-truth Trumpian world we now all inhabit, public interest in unveiling the falsehoods, falsity, fictions, fabrications, fibs and flim-flams of political discourse seems greatly diminished. Of course Australia has followed the trend, taking mendacious pollie-speak to new heights (depths?) of untruthing. The old expression a ‘trumped-up story’ is somehow prescient.

A prevailing ethos of bald-faced lying means that pollies are encouraged to flagrantly and shamelessly parade their untruths in full view of voting punters. The fourth estate and public opinion rarely bring serious offenders to account.

The latest lying by Australian federal politicians about their dual citizenships and therefore constitutional unfitness for office is an egregious example of decline in political morals.

Matt Canavan, erstwhile coalition minister still literally holding onto his seat, and Malcolm Roberts, One Nation senator, have both gone off to the High Court to defend their parliamentary positions against Section 44 of the constitution. Whereas Canavan was previously unaware that his mum had requested Italian citizenship for him when he was 26 years old, now his barrister says that he was Italian from birth or some such. Let’s not even mention the hapless kiwi Barnaby!

Climate change denialist and serious whacko Roberts, who apparently never had dual citizenship, now says that he renounced his UK citizenship just as he was entering parliament, but isn’t sure if it was accepted by the British government. Or some such. It’s amazing how hiring QCs as barristers in the High Court (acting as Court of Disputed Returns) flipped their stories around.

Puh-lease!  In olden days, MPs would be drummed out of the service for misleading parliament, let alone blatantly lying. Imagine if the High Court could charge the scoundrels (no, the MPs not the lawyers) with criminal lying and put them on the stand with a bible. Or apply the polygraph? Problem is they’ve had so much practice lying they’d probably pass with flying colours.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided that immigrants could not lose their citizenship because of lying about ‘irrelevant matters’ in their applications. So maybe it’s ok after all for our pollies to lie too in this 51st of the United States?

Oh, and you’ve gotta admire the chutzpah of our serially-lying erstwhile PM Abbott, who just confessed, eight years later, that he was indeed too drunk to attend parliamentary votes in the house, despite strenuously denying it all this time! This unreconstructed ex apprentice priest is the epitome of deceitful hypocrisy.

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