Rudd: Is it clever to call back an angry mob?

Rudd quickly made the call out to Australians, most notably, young Australians, urging them to again be politically engaged.

From my discussions with others in recent weeks, I must conclude that this will largely fall on deaf ears. People that generally share similar views to myself are, put basically, over it. Without doubt the media circus of the past year has stirred up the pot to boiling point and, just like any mob, reason is left somewhere overshadowed by the desire for blood.

Not only are many people resigned to an Abbott government post-2013 federal election, but increasingly, I’m finding people defending it. Why? From the best I can understand, simply because it’s all they feel they have.

Apparently, the ALP, in the public eye, has done nothing but carry on in a like fashion to Neighbours since 2007 and the public seem only too happy to parrot off Abbott’s point about Gillard bringing in a carbon price after saying she wouldn’t (what’s the bet Mr Abbott will now go on and on about Rudd saying that he wouldn’t run against Gillard, only to be repeated by such faithful parrots). Equally, people seem to forget the 2010 election when repeating Tony again in complaining that Australian’s have been denied the chance to vote for their PM twice (obviously incorrect – we voted in 2010 and will so in the coming months).

I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

The truth of the matter has been that in recent years, the current political arena has been largely successful. Even with a wilfully ignorant, if not intentionally hostile media base, more concerned about personalities than policies and in a hung parliament, Gillard’s era saw in 485 new bills, which included the controversial carbon pricing. In such a hostile environment, Gillard did more than most people could.

The type of criticism I’m hearing reminds of that cliché image of the overweight spectator screaming advice at athletes out on the field, spitting out chewed fragments of hotdog along the way.

The inconvenient truth here is that such commentators hold an unreasonable and uncritical distaste for the ALP in general which has done little but inspired a loathsome character to be seen as the lesser evil – about the best he could hope for.

Which brings me back to the point of this piece; the mob is out for blood – ALP blood. I’ve found that people shy away from critically reviewing Abbott’s position or rapidly foam at the mouth when forced to face it.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, with so many abandoning the ALP, they choose to stubbornly support the Coalition… No matter what. To face up to the truth – that Abbott is no Messiah – leaves them in a political void. Where does one turn if they have rejected the apparent wreckage of the ALP and the decidedly unAustralian policies of an Abbott led Coalition?

A sense of unity may help Rudd in his appeal… but then again, it may not. The townsfolk have their torches lit and are sharpening their pitchforks for whatever date this election ends up being held. The print nailed to every door whispers a more tantalising story to reality and could lead us to being the first country in the world to genuinely try to run the economic model of the liberatrians, failing on each step to improve the lives of the majority in favour of the wealthy minority. Only then may the public realised that they were duped by self-serving interests and be forced to own up to the type of parliament that their blind rage voted in.

Australian Spills in the Hope We Won’t Slip

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It was said that mining interest brought down the previous Prime Minister and it is probably equally true that the media helped to bring down the following one. More concerned with her fashion, personal life and internal party rivalries than her policies, it’s difficult to see how anyone could stand against such sledging and remain popular.

It’s troubling to think that the media can have such a biased sway over democracy, but it also provides a niche for independent media, with sections of the audience in search of transparent news sources.

Courageous?

While some within the ALP were calling themselves courageous for their continuous support of Julia Gillard, many observes were shaking their heads.

Firstly, this is not an attempt to kick Gillard while she is down – I’m finding myself defending her more often than I ever thought I would in personal conversations (on NewAnthro, I’ve provided my fair share of criticism of many ministers, Julia included). She did her job as best she could and was no better or worse than her predecessor. Both were better in many ways from Howard before them and are leaps and bounds above the current challenger; Tony Abbott.

Yet, for Gillard, there simply was no future. Gremlins within the media had chewed through the break line and if they stayed on that ride… annihilation. It is not courageous to give the country on a platter to an Abbott government.

Abbott Policies are not in our favour

Abbott’s Direct Action Plan is doomed to fail (perhaps intentionally designed to fail). Even if he relied upon the more robust method of carbon sequestration – tree plantation – the scale of the project would see annual wood production grow by more than 300% in the most optimistic measurements. Most concerning, the Direct Action Plan takes our tax dollars and hands it over to private industry for their benefit, not the actual tax payer (more here).

Should our tax dollars go to replacing the light globes in Gina Rinehart’s office? And we’re not talking about something as small as light globes, but millions of dollars.

The Great Northern Development again is a pipedream. Sure, it will not fail as the Direct Action Plan will, but like the plan, this development is entirely about funding profits for private industry.

Beyond the resource boom available in the north, the climate, soil and water security all ensure that whatever infrastructure is built up north – especially in northern WA and NT – will become too costly to maintain by a large community without further avenues of revenue accruement.

Put basically, farming will not be the cash cow for a large northern population, so with mining cash gone post-boom, how will this population afford to fix roads and dams (and there will be a lot of them to ensure enough water supplies in the harsh north) and maintain hospitals and schools? Most resources will need to be shipped in at greater expense (more here).

Soon, the climate and expense of life out there will become too much for most, who will then return to the south. So the infrastructure investment in the north will only be to support mining communities so that these resources can be extracted as quickly as possible. Not for the Australian community mind you – especially if Gina gets the mining tax removed – but entirely for private wealth creation.

And it doesn’t even stop there. Rinehart complains about sharing her profits with labours – implying that Australians don’t want to work because they cannot afford to for less than $10 per five-day week.

Why Mention Rinehart so much?

Why does this matter? An Abbott led government wishes to secure Rinehart’s profits, by removing taxes and making it easier for her to hire such workers.

So, not only are the Direct Action Plan and the Great Northern Development funded entirely by you and I to pay for the needs of wealthy private industry, these same industries, under an Abbott led government, will get tax-breaks and free rein to outsource labour; moves that would remove income to the commonwealth and Australian jobs.

This is why it is not courageous to grip onto your favoured PM as the ride hurtles towards destruction, but insane that someone would place favouritism ahead of a very troubling future where Abbott has no counter-weight to temper his, quite frankly, unAustralian policies.

The election ahead

While I don’t align well with any Australian party, I have to say that I share the sentiment coming from supporters of this Rudd-exchange that an Abbott led government is very concerning. It is a threat to our way of life and the general prosperity of this country. Apart from everything else, what remains is a serious challenge to maintain some resistance against the worst of his policies. If he cannot be defeated entirely, we will need to grit our teeth until the general public wake up to the reality of an Abbott government and vote him out again, but at least, with Rudd, there is a chance for a counter-weight unlike there ever could be with Gillard.

Call Now To Vote For Your Favourite Pollie: Spills and Games of Political Media

Is anyone really convinced that the situation with the ALP is purely internal?

Sure, Australian’s felt a bit off over how Rudd was pushed out, but few seem to remember that public support for him was pretty low before the move. He championed himself on an Obama styled float that left the audience with stars in their eyes…

Something that was largely fantasy, to be quickly eroded when he stopped being a show boat to outdo Howard and got down to work. Work he did too, although mundane as it was to the voter.

Yet Gillard too was popular enough – enough being the key word here… enough and also lucky in gaining the support of independents. Work she has also done as well.

Nothing we are witnessing within the media reflects much in the way of governance, but rather trumpet boys and girls doing little more than the annoying host of a reality show screaming at the audience to pick up their phones to vote for the person they wish to save.

Would there be so much talk about polls and popularity if it wasn’t the same noise over and over again each morning in the papers and morning news? Obviously no, you cannot have talk without the talkers.

Corinne Grant wrote the most refreshing article on the subject yesterday. In short, it’s a nightmare zombie of reality TV pushed on the political arena. The Coalition is enjoying the show, because they are largely on the sidelines, effectively fuelling the fire. But they should be equally concerned if the limelight is swung onto them this coming September.

Perhaps they should be even more concerned if they plan to run with the Direct Action Plan, the proposed 100 new dams, oh and also the Great Northern Development. Such ventures are riddled with nonsense, bad arithmetic and wishful boasting.

And what of climate change; the sudden elephant in the room after Obama’s recent speak? Hard to call climate “crap” now, I would imagine.

The Coalition will be grilled by this substitute for media, harder than the ALP ever was over the Gillard-Rudd tiff.

Which leads me to why I’m currently writing… another spill is in the air tonightoh lord (sorry Phil).

I cannot help but feel that there is a level of sexism involved. Corinne Grant points to evidence of such in her piece, but even more than that, Gillard speaking at the “Women for Gillard” get-together hurt her standing with male voters, if these endless polls are to be believed. Looking through the media, the imagery they choose to use of Gillard also seems more emotional… perhaps weaker… than is ever the case for Rudd or Abbott (both whom always seem to be glaring or talking forcefully – “men of action…”).

Moreover, is the media concerned about anything political except for the ALP tiff or smug comments from the likes of Pyne, Hockey or Abbott? From a casual observer’s point of view, I cannot help but conclude, “no”.

I have heard next to nothing in the way of critiquing the Coalition’s propositions (many of which fail simple mathematics) or some of the comments Abbott seems to stand by. If he is to be the next Prime Minister, you would think a good profile of the person would be in the public eye, but yet he seems to have realised that he is more popular when he largely isn’t seen and the media have been quick to accommodate.

Seriously?

And so we find ourselves, for the umpteenth time, on the cusp of yet another spill, largely because the reality show model that the media has portrayed is sinking in. Regardless which of the two is in leadership, either one will work. Regardless which person from either side of politics is PM, they will be unpopular.

The show, as we are spoon fed it, is far more entertaining than if it stood on the merits of values, effort, results and leadership.

Gillard’s Gender Hypocrisy

Julia Gillard’s recent noise over gender equality has, perhaps rightly, been called a desperate last effort by a PM who just can’t pick up her popularity.

However, I see it as something worse.

I’m all for the equal rights of people, regardless of race or gender, yet the progressive rights Gillard seems to promote stop short of letting one of her ministers, Penny Wong, from marrying a person she happens to love.

It’s difficult to play the progressive card when you fail, horribly, on a basic right to marry another, regardless of race or gender.

Is anyone really surprised?

Turning votes into consumer items: The swine who found a way

The simile between the Australian political arena and the pigs of Orwell’s Animal Farm grows richer by the day. Sure, Orwell was writing a story about communism in Russia, but in reality, how different is it to the “more equal” message we are being force fed on a daily basis from our own “democratic” leadership in Australia?

The two major parties, The Labour Party and the National-Liberal Party Coalition, have shown us increasingly over the past five years that they cannot agree on anything of importance to Australia’s future, such as the information technology infrastructure of the country, asylum seeker policies, climate policies – or even the reality of anthropogenic climate change itself – or road upgrades or anything else you care to mention…

Except of course, for bipartisan support for their pay increases (eg. here and here) and, more recently cashing in on primary votes!

With deep cuts “necessary” to the public sector, tertiary education, research and development, all things climate / alternative energy related as well increasing threshold of the Medicare safety net etc it is amazing that they can keep a straight face when instead of trimming the fat closer to home, they pocket a little more.

Both parties are out of touch with Australia. While we squabble over trivial differences or, what he said / she said nonsense, in truth, Australia doesn’t like either party because neither speaks for the Australian any longer. Both parties live worlds away from the average Australian and donning on the hard hat and hi-vis vest makes them no closer to the blue collar that runs and maintains the cogs of this country.

Worst of all, most of us feel somewhat defeated. Either party will win the next election and so the same shameful affair will prance on and on regardless of our sentiment. Some truly are more equal…

What else can we do but throw our vote, in pure contempt for this erosion to Australian democracy, so that each less primary vote means a dollar saved for the country? Yet, would that even make a difference?

Abbott’s free ride comes to an end

A brilliant read over at The Drum;

By Mungo Maccallum.

“The mere fact that Tony Abbott isn’t Julia Gillard has propelled him thus far, but as the prospect of him becoming prime minister increases, so too does the scrutiny, writes Mungo MacCallum.

Tony Abbott’s free ride is finally coming to an end, paradoxically because of his apparently assured success.

The fact that the polls now seem to be locked into an easy Coalition win on September 14 has meant that the prospect of Anthony John Abbott, Prime Minister, has finally to be confronted as emerging reality rather than a possible future scenario, so the punters are reluctantly turning away from the easy pickings of the carcase of the Labor Party to take a few cautious sniffs at the fresh meat of an incoming government. And, by and large, they are not too keen on the smell.

Of course, many of them never have been; what the polls also show is that while loathing of the present government has become something of an obsession with a large chunk of the electorate, there is little discernible enthusiasm for the alternative; Abbott is seen not as the long-awaited Messiah but simply as the lesser evil. But so far there has been a willingness to ignore just what he will actually do when he takes over The Lodge. The mere fact that he is not Julia Gillard has been considered enough…”

Continue reading here.
 

Face-Lift Politics: Why The Aussie Voter is Unimpressed

It’s truly disappointing that the term of Australia’s first female Prime Minister (well over due as it is) will be marred in history with enough drama to embarrass Neighbours. With the ALP failing to gain grounds in popularity, even with a fairly successful history, again the knee-jerk reaction is to seriously talk of yet another face-lift.

A quick look around at Hollywood ought to give these detached politicians the necessary slap to the face; plastic surgery isn’t the answer and the more you do, the uglier the results.

By all rights, the ALP should have an easy ride to an election win, with the alternative being an individual screaming of the 1950’s, with a colourful history for sexist comments, scientific ignorance (examples here) and flawed understanding of 21st century technology and yet, this black and white stereotype has even managed to convince the audience that he is a man for Australia’s future.

How on earth has he done it while the supposed more progressive party has managed to look more like the foaming mass from some primary school volcano experiment?

The answer is probably more obvious to the audience, somewhat removed from all the meetings and chest-beating. The ALP has totally lost its way.

To anyone whom has thought about it, it must seem strange that a senior minister stands by her party while they reject her equal rights for acknowledgement of her relationship.

While the party has brought in reforms that ought to be in the best interest for the country – such as forcing barons to part with a small part of the wealth obtained from common resources and implementing a mechanism suitable to bring us into the 21st with a decreasing carbon-based economy – each step forward comes with two backwards.

Major changes to societal structure requires strong, decisive leadership. What we have instead is a paranoid body quick to run for a “nip and tuck” at the faintest hint of a negative word.

The “party line” for either the ALP or LNP is effectively the same nowadays to the voting body. Our vote goes instead to the lesser evil rather than the greatest good.

Neither a Gillard or Rudd leadership is the answer. The answer is to provide a political ideology that people would be proud to support. What is it that they stand for and how is that something that would improve the lives of the average Aussie?

You could kiss the heads of every baby within this country and it wouldn’t help. The answer for the ALP, indeed both major parties, is to draw a deep line in the sand and make it clear what the individual is voting for, or against, with full knowledge that it isn’t simple rehearsed script to be taken with a pinch of salt, but instead a declaration from someone willing to roll their sleeves up and lead.

Until either party stands up, both can expect a fickle voting body.

Australian Media Reforms: How We’re Made into Fools

In Australia, there has been a lot of talk regarding media reform bills. For the most part, I have to conclude further still that the Australian government hasn’t a clue and this is little more than an election stunt.

Only a person with a mind like a tomb would seriously argue that free media is not fundamental to democracy. Fewer still would argue that we do have a problem when popular media increasingly speaks for a minority.

Thus is it easy to conclude that we have a problem in Australia. The reach of any of the major newspapers, for instance, is far greater than the media that attempts to correct such partisan propaganda. Watching the Deniers is a very successful blog, but does Mike come close to matching the range of Andrew Bolt? I doubt it. Likewise I have no doubt that Monckton’s lunch with the AFR was read by many more people than my critique of the article.

However, the way forward cannot be as proposed by these bills and we risk damaging the tatters of our failing democratic process even further.

The Inertia of Ideas

Dawkins “meme” seems revolutionary for the same reason the notion that free will is an illusion, as debated by Harris, sits so uneasy to most. In essence, it comes back to my previous point about the power of ideas.

We hold no ownership of ideas. An individual may provide new insight or invent something that changes how a society functions, but in truth, they only did so because of the background conditions that led to a certain resolution. This is why our ancestors scratched out rudimentary agriculture around ten thousand years ago and not the tablet computer.

Ideas develop, sometimes fuse and eventually evolve, using us as hosts all along. Ideas belong to no-one. For this reason, the transmitter is of little importance while the receiver is everything.

The only the difference (and I mean only) between Chris Monckton and, say, the walking sign, screaming hysterically that the end is near is the audience. The message is manic, obsessive and irrational in both cases, but the audience provide validity to the former over the latter.

What is the public interest?

These proposed media bills suggest that the public interest can be defined, but this is simply untrue. All information that could possibly exist is of public interest. Democratic culture is defined by the the freedom to be audience to certain ideas and not to others.

Infinite ideas exist and the potential for these to be defined by the community to develop their cultural expression, either through acceptance or rejection must remain an inherent right of choice to the society in question.

Regardless of where this governing body of public interest sits, by selecting what information is available for the public, they are in fact deciding for us what is in our interest. This concern is not challenged by the fact that we indeed have a problem of misinformation within many popular media in Australia.

To be sure, there are some horrible ideas that exist, but it is us who have decided it to be abhorrent which gives credit to our cultural ethics. This should be praised.

We are made infantile if this process is stripped from us.

Buttressing Democracy

The power of an idea is in the receiver; in the audience. For this reason, regulating the transmitter is a wasted act. Our politicians may stand around patting themselves on the back over their discussions regarding these bills, but don’t be fooled; it all sounds great in an election year (noting too the fast turn over expected for these bills).

Yes, ensuring that popular media cannot be monopolised is a good idea but apart from that, this media reform is not in the public interest. How on earth could they regulate information in any way that wouldn’t be classified censorship? Such an act is doomed to fail, as nice and virtuous as all the hype now sounds.

The more difficult but more appropriate course of action would be education. The human mind is inherently lousy or lazy with information. One will, without thinking twice, tend to accept information when it is provided by someone the individual deems an authority on the matter or if the information confirms ideas already held.

A seasoned journalist can thus get away with a lot when the audience has come to accept them as an authority on the subject. A clever propagandist can take an already held idea, or a bundle of similar ideas and fuse them into something a primed audience will accept, as Chris Monckton often demonstrates.

Therefore the only course is to teach critical analysis of ideas so that the general public are sceptical, even of the potential for internal biases within them. An idea, a projected reality; such things are not personal, as much as it is seemly evident the opposite. We are not defined by the ideas we play host to if we a taught not to be. We must be taught to let go of such and learn to be inquisitive. It is empowering to do so.

If the Australian government cared truly for the accuracy of information, they would empower the minds of the people to have the ability to critically assess the quality of ideas rather than treat us like infants whom need to be directed through approved information.

So, What Do I Think of the ALP’s Price on Carbon?

I know I’ve focused upon the alternative. This is due to it being an election year, with the Coalition doing so well in the polls with initiatives that are contrary to the interests of Australia (I say this, not as a personal opinion, but based upon my analysis of their Direct Action Plan, which seems too immense and thus ineffective as well as expensive to carry out).

So, what of the ALP’s price on carbon?

In my criticisms of the alternative measures, I often state that I see sense in a price in carbon. It is a method that provides a market-based incentive to decouple economic activity from carbon emissions, which is the ultimate goal for a prosperous markets place into the twenty first century.

That said, I fear the ALP’s approach is weak and ineffective at best.

Sure, we need to buffer the market as it moves in the right direction and so using the revenue obtained from the carbon price to provide a safety net is essential. Yet, where does this buffer simply blinker spending activities, thereby undoing the motivational force behind such an initiative?

I think the APL have failed to answer this point correctly. Moreover, a large part of the revenue would better be used to subsidise alternative markets that have low greenhouse gas emissions (I do not rule out nuclear for a transitional power source, although I suspect it will end up like fossil fuels whereby we will exploit it ever more efficiently, but use more per capita, depleting the supply far quicker than initially anticipated, leaving us with an even greater deficiency beyond peak nuclear fuel).

It is here where the initiative fails the process entirely. Providing avenues for cheaper alternative markets is by no means stimulated as much as it could be.

It is likely, regardless what Tony Abbott says, that whichever party is elected in September, they will push to bring in an ETS as quickly as possible (it will be very difficult to actually remove the carbon pricing and so, by moving quickly to an ETS, the Coalition can say that the price on carbon, as it was, is now gone). However, an ETS, in my opinion, is not essential.

We hear a lot about our competitiveness on the global market, but at the same time, we sell our fossil fuels, uranium, wood and meat often in an unprocessed state at the lowest price, where instead, we ought to refine our resources, producing more local jobs and sell these resources at their deserved premium. While it remains as it is, such noise regarding our global competitiveness should rightly be ignored. In the same way, this should include the price on carbon or an eventual ETS.

So while I believe the price on carbon is the only sensible market-based method to motivate us away from a carbon base economy, the approach we currently have is sorely lacking. It is stuck within a political culture more akin to competing soft-drink brands than public representation and leadership. We have the answers, but lack the political will to achieve any meaningful and inspiring targets.