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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Fellow pundit Mungo McCallum, the oracle from Billinudgel, has clearly debunked the Australian Christian Lobby’s use of God’s fine words to justify its virulent opposition to gay marriage. I mean ‘marriage equality’.

Unfortunately fine words were not matched by deeds, and Mungo outlines God’s deficiencies in the parenting of his son, and the neglect, even abuse, of the boy’s mother. It’s not a pretty saga, and hardly a role model for Christian naysayers of gay marriage today.

I have to confess that I’m not that fussed about the idea of encouraging more marriages, but I understand that it somehow means a lot to some gay/etc folk. And if civil union or other ersatz marriage substitutes don’t suffice, then by all means let them join the happy matrimonial club. No skin off anybody’s nose. But I do find ‘equality’ a strange label.

And of course we don’t need a $160m national plebiscite to change the laws. Just get on with it in parliament with so-called conscience votes all round, and stop wasting everyone’s time. Particularly as we could put that energy into more pressing matters, like boat-stopping and opening new coal mines.

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During this interminable Australian Federal election campaign the Coalition has shortened their notorious three-word slogan format previously practised by the erstwhile Tony Abbott. Maybe due to the short attention span of voting punters, Coalition candidates have been parroting a two word catchphrase (exclude the joining word):  Jobs and Growth.

Its mechanical repetition by all their candidates has given rise to the idea that a messianic figure is coming to save our greedy asses, in the person of Jobson Grothe. Apart from the moronic and insulting nature of this tactic, my problem is that both those key words are so yesterday.

In reality the government has little control over jobs, apart from the public service, which it is busy down-sizing. Okay, it wants to reduce company taxes to encourage investment, trickle down effect, blah, blah, but critical economists have debunked that impoverished idea. In this post-industrial society, where are jobs meant to come from? Oh yeah, the services sector of call centres, hospitality, digital thingamajig, health, etc.  Hmm!

As for Growth, another impoverished concept well past its use by date, it has taken us on a merry ride of exponential destruction of our natural environment. Sorry, I meant operating environment for business, aka corporate profits. Folks, we’ve got to get our brains into some existential thinking: where will endless growth and despoliation of our planet and atmosphere get us?

In this marathon election campaign politicians of both major parties have ignored, to use econo-speak, the huge ‘externality’ of economic growth known as climate change, which is almost a euphemism for endangering our own life support systems. Ditto any mention of our renewable energy future. So, without further ado and need for explanation, I’m launching a new campaign counter slogan identity: Colleen N. Green.  Go girl!

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(French, present participle of revenir, to return – when used in English curiously it is more dramatic, from the dead, like the recent film or book.)

Ok, you’ve been afraid to ask, why has the strident voice from Kookynie been quelled since this time last year. Rumours that KC was bought out by Murdoch almost came true as we were very willing to sell out for a small consideration, but negotiations fell over when Rupert insisted we go quiet on his Jerry Hall liaison. I wonder what fine qualities he has to keep pulling these babes, huh?

Nah, we’ve been too busy realising the Great Orstralian Dream out here in the back of beyond. With no shortage of deserted blocks to snap up, we decided to DIY a new shack, thus expanding Kookynie’s housing stock by about 25%. So it’s done, home beautiful is extant. We’re here for the long-haul, mate, not speculation, unless of course a property developer offers a motza. Have a gander below and swing by when you’re next heading north from Coolgardie.

So time now for keeping you abreast of the latest wonderings, which brings us inevitably to today’s sacred rendez-vous with history, and the temptation to recycle last year’s Anzac Day diatribe. But I’ll resist it, and simply mention ‘Unnecessary Wars’ by Henry Reynolds, just released, which traces Australia’s ignominious tradition of uncritically joining in faraway imperialist or neo-colonial wars at the behest of our great and trusted allies. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s bound to add more grist to my over-full mill of anti-war resentment and resistance.

So instead of wallowing in the faux sentimentality and over-wrought nationalism of ‘remembrance’, I recommend that we do ourselves and future soldier generations a service, by reading Henry’s book. And think about what was actually achieved in those foreign lands where our boys made the supreme sacrifice. Yeah, that was think, not feel.

Have a trawl through KC’s archives on our most recent war in Afghanistan. Objective conclusions about Australia’s involvement are rarely discussed, and the lack of debate when we commit to war perplexing indeed. Henry may help to elucidate these blind-spots in the national psyche and political DNA.

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The Abbott Australian government was quick out of the starting box in its environmental demolition derby. Any government body with climate or science in its name is good for the chop. As are annoying environmental protections, otherwise known as red tape. Which of course means that approval processes for development applications, aka mining, have to be streamlined. Already the Abbott Pack have an impressive list of all the above, but they ain’t done yet.

No Science minister in the Federal cabinet. Climate Commission abolished. Ditto the Climate Change Authority. Legislation to abolish the carbon price. Ditto Federal environmental safeguards for biodiversity. Murray-Darling off the threatened ecosystems list. Rolling back no-fisheries provisions in Australia’s marine national parks. Review, that is reduce, Australia’s renewable energy targets. Approval of the world’s largest coal port construction near the Great Barrier Reef. Cuts to CSIRO staff scientist numbers. Abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Extract 74,000 hectares of World Heritage listed Tasmanian forest for logging.

Wait till Abbott’s merry band of environmental thugs really get in their stride, and pull the whips. We’re all in for a rough ride, so this list will no doubt grow much longer. Unfortunately Abolish Abbott day is three years away!

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So-called Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has approved the construction of three new coal loading terminals at Abbott Point and a gas processing plant on Curtis Island north of Gladstone in Queensland. The projects involve dredging 3 million cubic metres of seabed, which will probably be dumped in the nearby Great Barrier Reef Marine National Park.

Water quality is already a significant problem for the Reef due to pollutants from agricultural run-off through river systems, resulting in damage to corals and sea grass. The Reef’s coral coverage has actually declined by a half in the last decade or more.

Thankfully help is now at hand, as apparently the massive dumping of dredged soil will, according to Hero Hunt, actually improve ocean water quality. Yep, all is well, because of his compensatory “offsets’’. Reducing run-off pollutants combined with dumping will actually improve water quality by 150%! Finance Minister Mathias Cormann: ”we are actually making things better”. Of course!

No matter that Reef scientists say this is impossible. The accuracy and certainty of the government’s 150% figure is impressive. When our leaders say that Australia is open for business they mean it. Hopefully UNESCO will be good sports too and avoid putting the Reef on their ‘’World Heritage in Danger’’ list. Thanks Greg, for saving our reef with industrial over-development and massive pollution: you’re a saviour, who would’ve thought?

Eric Blair (aka George Orwell) must be spinning in his grave, with the outright lies and abuse of political language which are the hallmarks of Abbott and his merry band even as they assume the reins of power. Abbott Point indeed!

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Australia’s military is finally pulling up stumps, so to speak, in this blighted land. Our longest war (12 years) has been declared over. New PM Abbott was on the ground there to wave the flag and send the troops home by Christmas. He admits that it did not end in victory, but will not admit defeat either. He hopes that Afghanistan is ‘better for our presence’.

Vain hope and dishonesty are bad enough, but it seems that the new Australian government will also drastically reduce future aid there. The contradiction is flagrant and so cynical. The logic is that warlords and Taliban will resume control and so disbursements of aid cannot be realistically overseen as our government would wish. Even the fate of Australian-built schools in Oruzgan is unknown and their futures problematic.

The plain, painful truth is that our ‘war’ in Afghanistan has achieved little of lasting value. In fact with the reversion of the country to traditional tribalism and Taliban control, it has to be considered a monumental defeat – an exorbitant foreign failure that cost 40 Australian lives, 260 wounded and $7.5 billion. The damage and cost in Afghan casualties of our operations has not been quantified.

So, it’s a wrap and retreat in the Land of the Afghans. And adieu! To god indeed! Shame on successive Australian governments for spinning the pretense of progress with their weasel words, and sacrificing Australian and Afghan lives. Lest nobody forgets!

And a pox on both major political parties for their fawning attitude to Uncle Sam. So, until he again rings the tocsin of terrorism and sends us off to war in another poor corner of the world, it’s probably more au revoir.

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Following Gillard’s guillotining we’re wondering what Kevin Rudd’s mass appeal is all about. Psychoanalysis of the Australian body (brain?) politic is called for.

At the risk of serial re-blogging, Michael Duffy’s analysis in SMH in February last year during Kevin’s failed coup may help. An edited extract follows.

“Some say the people like Rudd because they’ve never met him. This is true enough, but it fails to tell us why they like the unmet Rudd, the one they’re familiar with from TV.

TV Rudd is a pretty unusual creature when compared with most other politicians we see on the screen. Strange as it seems, it is this difference that many people are attracted by. He reminds them of people – or characters – they see often on the telly, and they like that. Such creations are far more warm and interesting, after all, than real politicians. In the context of television, Rudd’s artificiality has been his greatest asset.

Rudd’s face is a smooth circle with relatively small features. It’s almost child-like and can remind you of TV cartoon characters, whose faces are often based on children’s.

The exception is the mouth. All politicians have to smile a lot when they don’t want to, but few have been less successful in pretending to be sincere than Rudd, whose ghastly smile can look so false it seems to come from another face, creating the effect of something constructed using an old police identikit.

Then there’s his voice. I can’t recall a prime minister less capable of speaking simple English than Rudd. His attempts at the vernacular – the Vegemite and the sauce bottle – are gruesome. Often his sentences sound like they’re constructed in another language and turned into English by a cheap translation app.

In terms of political character, he represents conveniently little. Changing his mind on climate change symbolised this. He seems to stand for nothing except the sound of his own voice. The general impression this creates is of a virtual personality, and possibly Rudd knows this. His spooky references to himself in the third person suggest an awareness of himself as a construct, a work in progress.

When Rudd’s smooth face is immobile, he looks like a cartoon character. When his relentless perkiness and utter certainty are to the fore, he’s like a program presenter. And when his use of language collapses and his depthless self-pity and ambition are given a run, he resembles a participant in a reality program.

Rudd is a creation of television. Sunrise in 2001 turned a politician without any base and few friends in the ALP into a celebrity. Ever since, he has been as dependent on his ratings as any other TV star.  He is the ultimate product of the digital age and 24 – make that four – hour news cycle. All form and no content”.

Apparently during the execution last Wednesday social media went berserk with a record 500,000 tweets. Over half were re-tweets, so my recycling of Duffy is the norm. Anyway gotta zip, as Kevin would say. Hope my programmatic specificity works for you.

(Illustration by Michael Mucci)

Cartoon Rudd by Mucci

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