Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Election '07 - 25 Days To Go


And the topic of the week will be...climate change! (I'll resist the enormous temptation to make a joke about politicians and hot air).

We've got a clear pattern for the campaign. One party launches a theme, the other attempts to trump them, and they slug it out until everyone gets bored and they move on to the next excuse for blather. After tax cuts and interest rates, this week we've arrived at climate change.

Labor got the upper hand early on when it was reported that Malcolm Turnbull asked John Howard to ratify the Kyoto Protocol six weeks ago, but Howard refused. I think the real point here isn't that Howard doesn't really understand or care about climate change - we knew that already - but the amusing lack of cabinet solidarity the Liberals are displaying.

Still, the reason Howard gives for refusing to sign Kyoto is that the agreement doesn't include the world's major emmitters, China and the U.S. But hang on, the reason that the U.S. isn't included is that the Americans refused to sign the thing, just like Australia! And even if countries such as China aren't included, why should that stop us? Our involvement is symbolic. I wish the same logic had been applied when it came time for Australia to decide whether to join the Iraq invasion.

Being the wily political operators they are, the Liberals - or at least their henchmen at News Ltd - have come back swinging. According to The Australian, Peter Garrett's "political credentials were in tatters", after he was "forced" to make a "humilliating" backdown over his "blunder", following a "crisis meeting", where Kevin Rudd insisted he "clarify" Labor's position on climate change - after "Mr Howard and other Coalition ministers began to publicly question the policy".

I think I'm beginning to understand why most people don't read newspapers. Trying to make sense of who's saying what, and what they actually mean, has been like snorkelling in porridge. There's still over three weeks in the campaign, and we haven't even gotten to national security, Work Choices, politicians superannuation, States' powers... what will the next issue of the week be? And when will all this be over?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Elecion '07 - 29 Days To Go


As much as those of us who live and/or work in the inner city may like to think we're at the centre of the universe, we actually have little or nothing to do with the practicalities of the election. The seats of the inner cities and suburbs are almost exclusively safe Labor, and the leaders don't come here. It's the outer suburban shopping centres and country towns that become their stomping grounds in the elction campaign; for once, what's happening in the inner cities has no influence over things. For the pollies, campaigning here would be a waste of time, and they know it.

~~~

Follies to come later today, all going well.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Time Has Come To Talk Of Other Things...Food.


Can I just take a break from Election Blogging today? I meant to post about the Debate this morning, but ran out of time, and all the good bloggers beat me to it.

Anyway, recently I've been dining out a lot (thank you...) and have had, frankly, some mixed experiences with the service. These have ranged from the mildly annoying, such as the (ordered) bread arriving with the main courses, to the very annoying, such as being seated for at least twenty minutes before anyone even took our drinks order, through to the debacle on the weekend...

In an almost empty restaurant, we were given a table near the entrance to the kitchen; our entree order was completely forgotten, until the main courses were brought out; and when I tried to order dessert, I was informed that, not merely were they were out of what I wanted, but they hadn't actually served it for months, although it was still on the menu. Home made menus, I might add. Also, not specifically poor service, but amusing: the CD playing in the background began to skip, and wasn't rectified for many minutes.

Although great progress has been made in recent times, Australia still has a way to go to offer levels of American-style customer service. However, it's not like Sydney doesn't have so many restaurants that any can afford to be slack. Because it's always fun to have a whinge, does anyone have other tales of woeful restaurant experiences you'd care to share in the comments? They don't have to be tales from Sydney, as this post proves that when it comes to mediocrity, pub food knows no geographical divide.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Election '07 - 35 Days To Go


Oh, dear Lord, the Coalition have had a poll bounce.

Sure Labor have been a steady 10 points (at least) ahead all year, but there's nothing like dangling a juicy tax cut in front of people to make them roll over and play dead.

Friends have been telling me this would happen, but I wouldn't listen. I couldn't bear the thought of going through all this again. Anyway, I really should have known better - if there's one reason why John Howard would never be turfed out of office, it's because the man never, ever underestimates the stupidity of the general public.

Who are these people, returning their wobbly minds to the Coalition? Don't any of them pause to think about where $34 billion of tax cuts are coming from? Heck, does no one watch Clarke and Dawe? I just hope they are in love, because they're getting screwed.

Well, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: compulsory voting must be abolished!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Election '07: 38 Days To Go


As part of the inevitable scare campaign, a figure that the Liberal Party are adoring throwing out there at the moment is that 70% of the Labor front bench are former Trade Union officials. For all I know it's true but does it really matter? After all, think of the generally-held perceptions of the most despised occupation groups. Journalists, used car sales people...and lawyers.

What percentage of the Coalition front bench are former lawyers?!?

(This isn't a rhetorical question. Does anyone know?)

EDIT: The answers are here. So why aren't Labor asking these questions?!?

Anyway, also high up on the list of most-despised occupations are politicians. And no matter who we vote for, 100% of the front bench are going to be politicians.

~~~

Last night, watching Rudd's response to the newly announced Coalition tax policy, I thought, "I may be naive, but I’ll admit I was astonished to hear Kevin Rudd say that he will not reveal Labor’s tax policy until he’s has time to study the Coalition plan. So, he freely admits that Labor has no new policies, just reactions to Coalition policies? Reason number #598 why, for the first time ever (and it’s my fourth election where I’ve been eligible to vote) I’ll be voting Green this time around."

And I've since been told, "It’s a perfectly sensible response, Nico. The tax cut announcement was accompanied by new mid year fiscal numbers which means that any work Labor has done so far has to be done again on the basis of new assumptions about growth, the size of the surplus, etc."

In case you're wondering why I just make snarky comments instead of exploring the issues, this is why - I'm much better off leaving that to the smart bloggers.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Election '07: 39 Days To Go


Everyone keeps speaking of how this will be the first Australian election where the internet will have a big imapct on the way people vote. It could be a bigger imapct than anyone even realises. Of course there's You Tube, campaign websites, political blogs, leader's Facebooks, and Lord knows what else out there to inform one on the issues and help decide how to vote. But if that's all too much trouble, just go to one of the helpful tools that will, straight out, tell you how to vote.

If you'd like to take this at least semi-seriously, then at OzPolitics they have a fifty question test that will take you through pretty much all the issues, and give you a matrix on how closely your beliefs are aligned to those of all the major parties.

But if that's slightly too heavy going (and let's face it, if you're deciding your vote as a result of a quiz, then it probably is) then News Limited has the answer for you, literally, with their election decider. It's got a helpful little video of a guy who looks like a reject from a Fat Pizza audition to explain all the issues, and questions with amusingly leading answers. Anyway, it recommended that I vote for the Australian Democrats, and also that I buy a VCR and learn the Macarena. (I know, this is pretty unfair - Lyn Allison seems nice).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bring It On!


Woo-hoo! The Election is called! Yippee!

(Sorry, I've just been breathing into a paper bag).

Anyway, the weeks of uncertainty are over. John Howard has finally succumbed to the inevitable, and called the Federal Election. And if you've been waiting for this, you have me to thank. No, seriously, for weeks I've been planning a trip on the Manly ferry, which goes past Kirribilli; so of course I intended to yell "Call the election!" as we passed. However, various irritating circumstances meant the trip had to be put off until yesterday. As I felt enough time had been wasted, as we passed Kirribilli I hollered my demand with gusto; it caused enormous embarrassment to my company, but I was not to be deterred. I promised them that the election would be called today, and sure enough...(if there's anything else you'd like me to make Howard do, let me know and I'll call it out next time I'm on the Manly ferry).

As excited as I am about this, I'm a procrastinator, and there's over 40 days till the polls open (how Biblical). So I'll let those more dedicated than myself explore the issues for today, and I'm going to lunch.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hard To Say He's Sorry


Maybe an old dog can learn new tricks. Last night, after admitting he's struggled with Aboriginal reconciliation throughout his Prime Ministership, John Howard announced a plan to hold a referendum on including a statement of reconciliation in the preamble to the Constitution.

Considering his record on reconciliation issues over the last eleven years, for Howard to announce a move like this with the genuine intention of healing relations between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, seems about as likely as my announcing I'm going to be a grid girl at the Melbourne Grand Prix next March.

So has Howard undergone a volte-face in his attitude? Perhaps we can believe this...until we remember there's an election coming up. The chorus from the left is singing, "Of course it's the right thing to do, but why now?". Meanwhile the general response from Aboriginal leaders has ranged from mixed, to poor. Olga Havnen has said, "Given the period of his term of office, where there has been very little improvement for the well being of Aboriginal people, I think this is too little too late." And, as Warren Mundine has pointed out, "Here we are probably 48 hours from a federal election being called. This should have been done years ago."

We've become a deeply cynical nation. Of course, if you really want the voice of The People, you can't go past reading the comments from the Daily Telegraph website. Ranging from misinformed diatribes through to racism, heartlessness and the whole shebang, there's no better argument in favour of abolishing compulsory voting. The general feeling on this idea according to Terror readers is, We ain't liking it. Some though are more positive, such as one commenter who wrote:"I hate it when people say "he's just trying to get extra votes". Isn't that what politics is about?!?!?! Getting people to vote for you. The only extra votes Mr Howard is going to get from this are from people who believe its a good thing." (He probably believes in the tooth fairy as well).

But the fact is that the only people more likely to vote Liberal as a result of this were never going to vote Liberal in the first place. Yes, that statement doesn't make sense, but neither does John Howard on this. Not the idea itself - who could possibly oppose it? Labor has of course promised to also hold the referendum if elected, but these days Labor's me-too-ism is so entrenched that if Costello announced a plan to replace the 50c coin with a 47c coin, Kevin Rudd would claim that this was Labor policy all along.

By not making sense, why is Howard doing this now? It is, as I said above, not going to win him any votes (not least because Labor has immediately matched the policy). The old Howard would have known this. No one really believes he's undergone a Damascene conversion. So we're left with two pretty unsavoury alternatives:
1. Howard is completely losing it; or
2. There's Something Big about to emerge, and he wants to distract us with this (he could have just waited till Melbourne Cup day).
Either way, it's not a pretty picture.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tragedy Always Creates Confusion


"Afghanistan? Is that thing still going on?"
- Co-worker on the death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan

Well, John Howard was looking to pull something out of the bag in the lead-up to the Federal election. Who knows if the death of an Australian soldier as a result of a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan yesterday will be the suprise twist he was after? It's hard to tell at this stage - the news was only confirmed early this morning, and the details are still filtering through. It has the potential though to get the people who think about these things enormously worked up - a reminder that The War On Terror is still a threat, and that we need Howard's safe pair of hands!

...and the whole thing is likely to slide right past the conciousness of the average voter. As the comment from my co-worker shows, Afghanistan is truly the forgotten front in the War On Terror - but for most, it barely registered awareness in the first place.

Anyway, I tried to formulate a suitable response to my colleague's query. "By Afghanistan," I replied, "Do you mean that thing, as in the landlocked Central Asian nation of nearly 32 million people, or that thing in the sense of the original front in the War On Terror, which is still being fought there?"

I was just met with a blank look, so simply said, "In either case, the answer is yes, that thing is still going on."

Anyway, it might be at least a mildly interesting distraction if the soldier's death does become an election issue. But you know, even if it does, I really don't think it's going to matter.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Follies - It's All Real!


Congratulations to this year's Ig Nobel Prize Winners (am I the only one who thinks the Gay Bomb is an awesome idea, with hundreds of non-military applications?)

Now that is one ecstatic potato

A chance to cash in on Sydney's current plague of moths.

Crikey's week in one liners (scroll past the ad...)

The Eight Most Awful Minorities (It's not who you might think!)

When the no-carbs fad is a good idea

Thank Follies for The Onion...I'm not sure if this is a joke though...

Well, till I post again, Adultswim your LANs down a sewer in hell.