10 May 2010

Who is he?

He replaced his party's long-suffering dauphin as leader, in a party-room ballot nobody expected him to win, and became Prime Minister. His gesture toward Aborigines was a mile wide and an inch deep, but its heart was in the right place: it extended the fair go, a respect for the humanity of a marginalised people, a recognition that they have a better of a place in the life of the nation than we often recognise. He tapped into public goodwill at a time of intractable war, a mining boom, high immigration, and an opposition with more vigour than well-thought-out policy ... but his own policy development left much to be desired. Too much responsibility was placed on his own office, on young staff thrust into senior roles. At one point, all the Premiers were from his side of politics.

(I was referring to John Gorton, who did you think I was referring to?)

The analogy falls flat with Gorton's carefree spirit versus Rudd's buttoned-down uxoriousness - and the Opposition, though. A vote for Abbott is a vote against 2007, in which Howard and the Coalition were so tired they could not get out of their own way. In 2010, The Coalition are like dogs chasing a car: full of sound and fury but are they seriously going to jump in the driver's seat and seize the controls? They need to have more of a clue than "now, where were we?", and they just don't. I wanted these right wing losers thrashed and thrashed and trashed again until they began to look as inadequate as they are. I wanted them to be so exposed that even the timorous moderates might have some heart.

It's stupid that Labor are content to give a head start to such poor opposition. They're not doing them slowly, they're not doing them at all. I thought Labor was a broad-based party. And if it was such a broad-based party, and if a leader could choose any of its Orders* to gather around him, why would he choose the hapless NSW Right?

In Gorton's day, the DLP took middle-aged moderate votes from Labor and channelled them to the Coalition via preferences. Today, it is the Greens who are taking disappointed younger voters who might have been moderates if only, if only there was something to show for eleven fucking years of Liberal-in-name-only government and funnelling their preferences to Labor. It's a funny old world.

* The freudenbergism of equating Labor wrigglings with religious activity is deliberate. While Freudenberg sought to portray Labor as divinely inspired, it's more accurate to compare modern Labor to the flatulent and complacent bunch of reactionaries who run both the Anglican and Catholic churches in Australia.


  1. This is the best political writing in Australia today.

  2. I'll take that as an indictment on political writing in Australia today.