Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Rudd’

Dear Australian Labor Party,

I’ve never voted for you.

And I only just realised it.

This is my third election. Ours is a two party system. I cheered when Rudd got in, and booed for years at the failure of Howard to fall in a well and die. But until I came back from the polls today, I hadn’t actually realised that every vote of my life – local government, Senate and Representatives, above and below the line – has been for the Greens.

In 1975, my mother – who was then the age that I am now, give or take a few months – protested the Whitlam dismissal. As a teenager, I found the shirt she wore to those rallies stored in a trunk in our attic. It’s bright yellow with black lettering that says: REJECT FRASER’S COUP D’ETAT: VOTE ALP. When the Liberals introducted VSU, I wore it to the protest rallies. One man of my mother’s vintage raised his fist in solidarity, grinned and told me to maintain the rage, just as Whitlam once did to their generation. I said I would, and feel as though I have.

But you are not my party. You have never been my party.

Because in my lifetime, you have never been sufficiently left-wing.

Possibly you should have taken notice when, earlier in the year, Gordon Brown’s Labor Party in Britain lost government to a hung parliament, which was resolved by a groundbreaking and very weird deal between Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats and David Cameron’s Tories. Tonight, even as the TV pundits are yet to call a firm result, it is clear that the same thing is about to happen here: a hung parliament, wherein the traditional Labor vote has been crucially splintered by a smaller, left-wing party that can never hope to take government.

Splintered, in other words, by voters like me.

I do not want Tony Abbott to be Prime Minister. Although I have only ever voted Green, should he triumph at the end of tonight – or tomorrow, or Monday, or however long it takes Canberra to sort itself into some semblance of order – my mother’s shirt will once again be brought out of retirement. I will go back to waving my fist at The Man, for all the good it does, and protesting the inevitably hideous decisions he will make. Should that future eventuate, the fault will, in part, be mine. I was content for the election to be decided on preferences. I voted Green.

But in all good conscience, I couldn’t bring myself to vote Labor.

It’s not just Conroy and his ludicrous internet filter. It’s not just the party line against gay marriage. Had she had any policies worthy of my enthusiasm, I would have welcomed the chance to vote for Australia’s first female Prime Minister. But I will not vote for the semblance of progress at the cost of its tangible equivalent, even if the cost is something worse. The Labor Party has forgotten that it is meant to be left wing, and by slowly sliding more and more to the centre-right in order to capture a handful of Liberal swing votes, they’ve completely abandoned a key voter base: actual left-wingers.

The swing to the Greens isn’t about Kevin Rudd, or even Julia Gillard. It’s about voting for what we believe. And right now, what the Labor Party believes is just a little too compatible with Liberal Party policy for my taste. Yes, I’d rather Gillard than Abbott any day of the week. But on the basis of policy, I’d sooner the Australian Sex Party ran the country – not least because they (a) actually have policies that (b) make a whole lot of fucking sense.

I understand that the buggery of politics is compromise. But not every whore has a heart of gold, and right now, the Labor Party has taken on a foolish sheen. When the supposedly major left-leaning party is competing for votes and seats with a smaller left-leaning party to such an extent that neither is fighting the right-wingers, perhaps it’s time to redraw the party line? Politicians are whores so that the rest of us don’t have to be, but if the Labor Party thinks we’ll vote for them out of respect for their pragmatic efforts to move further and further towards the right, they’ve got another thing coming.

Well, actually, we all do. Because there’s going to be a hung parliament.

I just hope someone learns from it.

Yrs sincerely,

Foz

1. My essays are done. Assuming they weren’t so piteous that I fail either subject, or that my other academic efforts don’t entirely suck, they represent my last ever university essays. Joy eternal, people. Joy eternal.

2. In accordance with the $900 tax bonus initiative of the Rudd Government, my Manna from Kevin has finally arrived. Oh, sweet federally-funded moolah, how I love thee!

3. The new Tamora Pierce book, Bloodhound, is completely awesome. I’ve always loved her writing, but she’s really outdone herself with the Beka Cooper series. Yay for well-plotted, well-scribed fantasy¬†girl power YA¬†excellence!

4. Today is Friday, meaning I can listen to Friday I’m In Love and Friday On My Mind with special emotive resonance.

5. I have no uni work this weekend! Huzzah!

6. My mother burned me the double CD soundtrack for The Boat That Rocked, which I’m now listening to. Viva la sixties rock!

7. It’s almost lunchtime.

8. Next Tuesday, I’ll find out the results of a short story contest I recently entered. Anticipation is a pleasant, tingly feeling.

9. My boss likes the¬†geeky t-shirts I wear to work, and thinks they’re becoming progressively more eccentric. In a good way.

10. Life is sweet.

Dear Mr Rudd,

Australia is a nation of drinkers, and, indeed, has been ever since the first boatload of raggedy, starving convicts and their bored, resentful gaolers landed on the pristine beaches of Sydney-to-be and realised, somewhat belatedly, that their only form of viable entertainment for the next hundred years was distilled from sugar. The fact of historical precedence does not make alcoholism palatable, nor should we accept drunken violence as an unfortunate cultural side-effect. I am happy, Mr Rudd, to endorse social policies the like of which, had they been implemented a century past, would have seen Brumby Innes locked up, sent to AA and anger management sessions, served with a spousal restraining order and generally kept off the streets. However, I am not happy to pretend that alcohol  Рor, more specifically, its effects Рare all bad.

Which brings me, firstly, to your new anti binge-drinking campaign,¬†examples of which¬†already seek to instil youngsters with a healthy fear of government-issue puns, and, secondly, to the resigned conclusion of at least one educated commentator, who¬†doesn’t believe it will work.¬†As both a card-carrying member of the targeted demographic – that is, a young Australian fond of a tipple –¬†and someone who voted Labor at the last election, I feel¬†moved¬†to point out that the latter pundit is, in fact, correct, although he doesn’t¬†quite seem to understand why.

Allow me to elaborate:

We know you are lying to us. No rational-thinking¬†drinker – and these¬†not only exist, but¬†constitute the majority –¬†buys the government’s¬†theory that having more than two standard¬†drinks¬†per day¬†is bingeing. This is¬†because the word ‘bingeing’ itself, while certainly implying destructive behaviour,¬†does not differentiate¬†abuse from¬†normalcy¬†through so naively simple as a means as¬†scaling. More importantly, we as consumers recognise, even if the government cannot, that the simple¬†act of drinking regularly does not make one an alcoholic, any more than the act of taking drugs regularly is synonymous with addiction. In both instances, what makes a user one or t’other is choice: their ability to control consumption such that, even where it occurs frequently, it is not¬†a frequency born of need. Nor¬†should it impinge on an individual’s ability to function socially: to pay rent, maintain domestic stability, hold down a job and enjoy healthy relationships. Within those astonishingly reasonable bounds, there is easily room enough for a little – dare I say it – friendly hedonism. By itself, a hangover¬†does not¬†signal delinquency.

Yes, there is a dark side to liquor. Drinkers can behave rudely, badly, violently and get sick in public places. Often (if not primarily) they are young, sometimes under eighteen. Bad things can happen, but neither are they all that happens Рwhich means, Mr Rudd, that your scare campaigns are lying by omission. Perhaps you view this as lies-to-children, and therefore harmless, conscionable in service to a Greater Good. But we are not children. We, Gen Y, are self-aware teens and adults. We recognise condescension when we see it. We do not like to be patronised.  And we know, from experience, that drinking can be fun. 

Much like¬†abstinence-only sex education,¬†trying to scare¬†young folk¬†off¬†alcohol doesn’t work, because – Lordy! – they’re just¬†going to try it anyway. But teaching damage control – how to¬†drink in moderation,¬†how to tell if you’ve had too much, how to¬†eat first and¬†look after your¬†friends –¬†is life-saving. The best advice I ever received on liquor consumption was to¬†call it a night when¬†I started to hiccup,¬†have a glass of water every second or third drink, and to eat plenty of carbs beforehand, none of which vital information was forthcoming¬†either through school or government propagandising. And yet, if the aim is not to stop people from¬†drinking altogether but¬†rather to ensure a culture of responsible joviality, this is exactly what needs to be done.

In short, Mr Rudd, you are looking at things from entirely the wrong perspective. I understand you abstain from having a drop yourself, which is all fine and fair enough, but if Australia really wanted a leadership under which the new broom swept dry, we’d move to Saudi Arabia.

Yrs hopefully,

Foz

Dear Mr Rudd,

Since your triumphant¬†ascention to the Prime Ministership, there seems have been some confusion about who, exactly, was elected. It’s true that I (and others of like mind) voted for the Labor Party under your erstwhile helmsmanship; but that does not mean, Mr Rudd, that we voted for you. You were merely the vehicle with which we ousted the long-loathed Howard. This is not to say we don’t appreciate your governance, or rather, the governance of your party. We do. We are really ecstatic at the prospect of a Labor federal government. But¬†the honeymoon has ended, Mr Rudd – as, indeed, was¬†inevitable – and the time has come for straight talkin’.

Let me be frank. We don’t like Kevin the Man. He is not who we voted for. He might share flesh with our PM, but as far as we’re concerned, he’s a totally different entity. We are interested in his opinions only insofar as they mirror those of Kevin the Prime Minister. We are extremely uninterested – not to say unimpressed – with any effort to make Kevin the Man a spokesman for our nation. Kevin the Man is entitled to his opinions, just like any other citizen. But he is not entitled to lend them Prime Ministerial authority.¬†¬†

Which brings me, Mr Rudd, to the subject of Olympia Papapetrou.

When you tell an 11-year-old girl that her naked self constitutes an abusive image, it is you Рnot the photographer and not her subject Рwho has brought abuse to the party. Consider her portrait as a Rorschach test for your psyche. Where it is possible to see beauty, innocence, fragility, youth, childhood, art, you see only naked sexuality, adult, abusive and paedophelic. This says nothing about Olympia Papapetrou, Mr Rudd, but considerably more about you. Personal opinions aside, you did not become Prime Minister through an inability to compromise, act tactfully or otherwise shut up on cue. Such evasions are your meat and drink, Mr Rudd, just as they are for all effective politicans: and you are very effective. Shaming Olympia Papapetrou was not your only option, because whatever morality is professed by Kevin the Man, Kevin the Prime Minister holds right of veto Рor should, when it comes to public speaking.

Here is a photo a mother took of her child. Here is a photo that child loves Рcherishes as an image of herself. If it comes to hold a taint for her, that taint is your doing, Mr Rudd. Because in your capacity as Prime Minister of Australia Рwhich capacity you are in whenever the cameras are rolling Рyou told an eleven-year-old girl that her naked body is ugly, wrong, and a symbol for the most depraved act that could ever be perpetrated against it.

Child protection advocates seem curiously uninterested in Olympia’s right to defend her portrait, and for no better reason than her age. In another five or seven years, if she still loves the photo, will they listen then?¬†Perhaps such advocates are, ultimately, used to speaking¬†for children, not to them. There is condescention in the view that children cannot think for themselves, which assumption children’s rights advocates have spent the better part of a century trying to correct. To then turn around and claim the exact opposite – that Olympia cannot know her own mind, and is utterly unentitled to enjoy a photograph of herself, or to comment intelligently on it, because of her age¬†– is deeply, insultingly hypocrtical.

Mr Rudd, the office of Prime Minister means more than a right to be heard or to make political judgements: it means the responsibility to do so with intelligence, forethought and a measure of objectivity. We ordinary citizens may complain on blogs or at the pub, in the street or to friends with more freedom than you now possess: because we are ordinary. When you stepped into the top job, you did so at the expense of your right to free and public opinion, because although the Prime Minister is a person, their office is not. Australia cannot speak with the voice of Kevin the Man, but only with that of Kevin the Prime Minister, his government and their people.

In that sense, Olympia Papapetrou – naked or clothed¬†and regardless of age –¬†has more entitlement to her public opinion than you. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, Mr Rudd. And you are neither.

Sincerely,

Foz

Among other things, I’m getting well and truly fed up with celebrities, politicians, organisations and newsworthy individuals blasting one another. The term is becoming so rabid with overuse that, were it Old Yeller, we’d already have taken it quietly out back and¬†done the decent thing, only without remorse.

Just witness:

PETA has blasted Jessica Simpson for wearing a T-shirt.

Mel B has blasted Eddie Murphy in a new song.

The AMA has blasted the Rudd government.

U.N. blasts celebrity drug use.

Pope blasts Europeans.

Kevin Rudd blasts the Chaser.

Anthony Albanese blasts Brendon Nelson.

A quick Google reveals blasting headlines as far back as 2000, but in the past year or so, there seems to have been an explosion. From memory, it feels like blasting¬†began as¬†a common gossip-mag headline, the kind of sensationalist claim that implies a killing verbal tirade without actually necessitating one.¬†For instance, a¬†headline like Shirely Temple Black blasts Paris Hilton gives a cozy, familiar sense that the next story over will be something equally vacuous, like teen ‘pregnancy pact’ has 17 girls expecting. You know. Trash, of the morbidly curious, staring-at-a-trainwreck ouevre.

But when did blasting go mainstream? Did I miss the memo? Was there a memo? And can I slap whoever was responsible?

In other news, the sixth human foot to wash ashore in British Colombia has been found, on closer examination, to be an animal paw. Which is all very well, but I’m still none too happy wondering where the other five¬†came from.

Who knows? Maybe they’ve been blasted.

Oh for the days of Gough Whitlam, Paul Keating or Bob Hawke! In the happy glow of memory and anecdote, one feels these were Labor Prime Ministers that the erstwhile citizen could not only vote for, but like.

Not so Kevin Rudd.

As pleased as I am to see El Blepheron* Howard removed from¬†his decade-long foray into Australian leadership; as cheerfully as I voted for Labor; as riotous my applause when –¬†grinning,¬†bespectacled – Kevin Rudd ascended to the Prime Ministerial podium,¬†the bloke is, nonetheless, a wowser, a killjoy and a philistine.

There’s no¬†way around it. For my¬†generation of left-wing voters,¬†who have grown up with Howard and for whom Keating¬†exists in just the dimmest corner of childhood¬†recollection, it seems that the price of finally having a leader who¬†signs Kyoto, apologises to the Aborigines, funds universities and brings the troops home is that he be the humanoid equivalent of a Vogon.

A clarification, for those unfamiliar with the late and very great Douglas Adams:

Vogons are one of the most unpleasant races in the galaxy. Not actually evil, but bad tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous. They wouldn’t even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without orders signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public enquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters. On no account should you allow a Vogon to read poetry to you.

“Vogon poetry is, of course, the third worst in the universe.”

Which description seems alarmingly apt of our new PM – at least as concerns the Federal Public Service and Bill Henson.

Still. No matter how distasteful one might find Young Kevin’s personality or methods, there is comfort in the knowledge that the Liberal Party candidates are immesurably worse, not only because they won’t achieve anything beneficial to offset their own officiousness, as Rudd has done, but because they’re a pack of scheming, greedy, ugly-minded liars, who, when it comes to accountability,¬†Peter Reith¬†and the AWB, have tended to collectively resemble the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, viz: “a creature so mind-bogglingly stupid it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you.”

Ah, politics.

 

*Blepheron: anyone with abnormally large eyebrows.