30 November 2007

Friday Follies


Whilst there are many, many good things about the election being over, there's one drawback for me: I'm going to have to start thinking of post titles again. I'm not quite ready yet though, so I'll take the easy way out today.

Finally, The Australian confesses the truth.

The Chaser's suprisingly moving final tribute to John Howard.

Crikey presents it's Election Award Winners

A friend of mine was terrified upon seeing Therese Rein on TV, but couldn't really say why. Now we know (scroll down to the second picture...)

This is what I pretty much expect every time I post (surely the Cheesecake Incident was of international signifcance?)

26 November 2007

Election '07 - Disjointed Afterthoughts

It still hasn't fully sunk in yet - John Howard isn't the Prime Minister anymore, and Peter Costello never will be. When you've hoped for, wished for, and in your own small way worked for something this long, there's bound to be a sense of disbelief and perhaps even mild letdown when it actually happens.

  • Being an hopeless (and infuriating) channel surfer, I actually watched the Election coverage on all three channels. Each went for their own little angle, from Channel Nine's shredder to the Footy Show style panel on Seven, and the earnest tone of the ABC. Of all the guests across the networks, I thought Tanya Pilbersek was the most eloquent and inspiring in how she described Labor's readiness for this moment. (And calling Alexander Downer a sook was the soundbite of the night). Contrast her manner with the not-quite-tears of Joe Hockey, sitting right next to her. 


  • Was I the only one who didn't realise that the woman holding hands with Tim Howard during his father's concession speech was in fact his girlfriend and not Melanie Howard? I mean, I knew the Howard kids were creepy, but not that bad.


  • A big surprise was the decrease in the Greens primary vote in nearly every seat I looked up. I guess people didn't want to take any chance that the Howard government might be returned if they voted Green instead of Labor. Me, I thought it was the chance to send Labor a message whilst knowing they'd get my preference, but what do I know?


  • It's always amusing to see the opinions of the "ordinary voters" at the polling booths, such as the elderly lady casting her vote in Bennelong who declared if anyone in her family didn't vote for the Coalition, they were out of the will. Contrast that with a little "news" story I saw yesterday, proclaiming that Nicole Kidman had voted despite doing something overseas - I didn't pay attention to that part, just the quote from her mother, saying that Nicole's father would disown her if she did vote Liberal.

    Well, there's still no official word on the Bennelong result, but lots of other stuff going on, apparently. I'm feeling a little worn out right now, so unlike the people who get paid to write this stuff, I'm going to take a break and see how things go. I must express my gratitude to those who have put up with six weeks of fevered political ranting from me - even Xander now knows everything about the preferential voting system.
  • 25 November 2007

    Election '07 - The Wrap Up

    Can there be a sweeter moment than this?

    How long have we had to wait? How endless did it seem? How we dreamed of the moment when it was all over - the nation was no longer under the Howard regime. And yet how far off it seemed sometimes.

    To be honest, tonight did come as something of an anti-climax, simply because once the result was known, round about the 8:30pm mark, it was an eternity to wait for the official concession and victory speeches. Also...because I am of a slightly doubtful frame of mind, I couldn't trust in this till the very end.

    So, I thought Howard sounded like a sore loser, and Rudd less inspiring than he should have been.

    But I'm too tired for any rational analysis now. It's been an awesome night. And apparently I've been linked to by the Wall Street Journal. Tomorrow, I'll attempt some sensible analysis.

    24 November 2007

    Election '07 - Election Day


    11pm

    Well, we wanted to see him lose, and he has, and watching Howard concede defeat has been a great, great moment.

    I'll leave it to the Labor MPs to not be sore winners. Because, the hell with it, we've sufferred many defeats and much pain. This vindication could not be any sweeter. Was this better than Rudd's victory speech? Well, I've hated Howard so much longer. As a blogger, I've no duty to toe the morall ine whatsoever.

    It's been a long night...hopefully we'll hear from Rudd soon.

    Incidentally...the highest ranking Liberal poltician in the nation is now the Lord Mayor of Brisbane.
    8:30pm

    Almost there. The Government's not conceding, but they can't put it off much longer. Nor can Howard reasonably do so in Bennelong...

    I wasn't expecting this to happen so soon. No words can explain how I feel right now.
    6:30pm

    Well, the polls have closed and we're all waiting for the first results to come in. I can relate to how Helen Razer feels - but there's nothing to do now but wait.

    Voting was pretty uneventful for me; there were no candidates or Chaser team members at the polling place. As I was voting outside of my electorate, I wasn't even given any how-to-vote cards. I have a small confession to make, though...

    Whilst I intended to vote Greens for the Senate, I wasn't entirely happy with their preferences, so I decided to number every box below the line. It took ages, but as I put an 80 in the box next to the last candidate (Christian Democrats), I felt a small sense of triumph - "There, take that!"

    Then I saw on the ballot paper the instructions to number the boxes from 1 to 79. Somewhere along the line, I'd lost count.

    I started counting through the boxes, trying to figure out where I'd lost my way. But when I got to around preference 25, I gave up, remembered people were waiting for me, and just shoved the ballot in the box.

    It was only later that it occurred to me I should have asked for a new paper and just voted 1 above the line, accepting the Greens' prefences. If the Greens miss out on an NSW Senate seat by a small margin, I'll never forgive myself.

    But that's for later. In case you place any stock in these exit poll things, here's the final results from the Election Poll we ran here:

    (Just as I've always thought - the readers of this blog are mostly lefties, with a few lunatics thrown in).

    Apparently some results are coming in now, so I'll be back later. Looks like being a long night.

    EDIT (much later) - I wish I'd read Anthony Green's How To Vote guide before Saturday. My Senate vote ended up being informal...but if I'd just numbered 1 above the line, it would have counted (I wouldn't even have had to get a fresh ballot paper!)

    22 November 2007

    Election '07 - Two Days To Go


    In all the discussion of Work Choices, interest rates, working families and the economy, no one seems to have talked about the real issues of the campaign. Not the things which will define the nature of the nation long after any current economic conditions have changed.

    There's something deeper here - what sort of tone, even morality, we want for the nation. I'm not speaking of hypocritical "Christian" morality used by politicians whenever it suits their purposes, but just the ideas of helping out those worse off than ourselves, tolerance, and a fair go for everyone, including giving extra assistance to those who started from behind. Those finer ideals that Howard has done so much to destroy in the past eleven years.

    No one seems to be mentioning the things that the Coalition has done over their years in office - from mandatory detention to work for the dole - that have created a national attitude which disdains help for those less fortunate (unless they happen to be truly tragic, and pretty).

    Tuesday's post (below) lamented the unlikelihood of a new, "caring and sharing" Australia arising from a change in government. But it can't possibly be worse than what we've had during Howard's reign, as outlined by Paul Keating in today's SMH - one of the few voices of conscience in this election (and you think you know someone...)

    Anyway, it really wouldn't suprise me if senior Liberal party figures really are responsible for, or at least were aware of, the fake flier. That's how desperate they are. That's how little any of us can trust them.

    It's taken me this long, but I feel safe enough to call the election now. Sorry Libs, it's all over. You shan't be missed.

    20 November 2007

    Election '07 - Four Days To Go


    We've published far fewer election posts here than I would have expected in the giddy moments of excitement as the campaign kicked off. Some of it has admittedly been due to my heavy work schedule and even a little laziness, but the main reason is that it's just so hard to get excited. Although I do very much want to see the back of Howard, it's hard to see what practical difference it will make, come next Monday morning.

    It's not that there's anything wrong with Kevin Rudd precisely. But - screaming schoolkids aside - there's nothing to get excited about either.

    It was all so different three years ago. Mark Latham was different, all right. At the time I had the feeling that, come the Sunday after the Latham victory, a different Australia would form. So when that didn't happen, it was incredibly disappointing (and to more than myself, although how many would admit that now?).

    This time around, there's no such hope. I had trouble articulating precisely what was wrong with Rudd, until I read this article from Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald's News Review:

    "In some circles, Labor Party people and Labor fellow travellers, Rudd, if not exactly hated, is deeply distrusted. It's not just Latham who thinks Rudd will lead a conservative government even more conservative than the Howard Government. It's not just Latham who reckons this is a Seinfeld election - he always had the knack of producing the memorable and resonant phrase - an election about nothing at all.

    Some of these people, most of whom believe Howard has been a mendacious and politically soul-destroying prime minister, are hoping that Peter Garrett was not joking when he told the radio shouter Steve Price that once elected, a Rudd government would change everything.

    For Rudd is Australian Labor's Tony Blair without Blair's easy charisma. Like Blair, he may know Labor's history, but he is unsteeped in it and he is untouched by Labor's ethos and its union roots. He is a man of faith, a Christian, a social conservative. He accepts and embraces the inevitability of globalisation, which sections of his party believe is a plot by multinational American companies to keep the developing world poverty-stricken.

    Blair was always despised by the true believers in his party. And perhaps like Blair, Rudd will never be loved by the true believers in the Australian Labor Party, by those who fervently want nothing less than the remaking of Australia when Howard is gone. Rudd will, almost inevitably, disappoint them."

    For years, I've longed to see the end of the Howard government, as I felt that it would usher in a new era for Australia. This Saturday may well bring about the end of Howard, but I feel like a person who wishes for a million dollars, and receives them in compensation for the death of a loved one: "It wasn't supposed to be this way!"

    Be careful what you wish for...I asked that Rudd and Gillard not f**k this up. I just didn't know they'd be so spineless and derivative in their attempts to do so. Did it have to be this way? Was this the only path Labor could have taken to get rid of Howard? Maybe the damage the Howard Government has done to Australia has been so great that the answer is yes. The remaking of Australia is just not possible. I guess we'll never know. come Saturday night, we'll know if the softly-copy approach has worked. And I'll be happy if Labor wins, I'll just turn my mind to wondering what else might have been.

    EDIT: There's more on this in an interesting article today from Crikey.

    19 November 2007

    Election '07 - Five Days To Go


    Overheard on the Election hustings:

    Two Kevin07 shirt-clad Labor campaign workers were leafleting outside the local supermarket when they were approached by a third person who apparently knew them both. His greeting of, "How's it going?" was met with the response, "We were just discussing whether the term Comrade is gender-specific".

    I guess Rudd's Labor isn't as New as it would first seem.

    ~~~

    I've really got to get better at speaking my mind.

    Having noticed posters for the local Liberal candidate around the place, I've wondered, Why is this man bothering? This morning, I had my chance to ask. He was standing outside the train station, handing out leaflets of his own. Given the opportunity to ask why he's wasting his time, when he tried to hand me a leaflet, I replied..."Sorry, no thanks."

    This was the best I could do? What's likely to be my only chance to express my disatisfaction with what the Liberals have done to this country, all I could come up with was a polite dismissal. I guess I should rule out ever standing for parliament myself.

    12 November 2007

    Election '07 - 12 Days To Go


    An argument against the federal Labor party that's being bandied about lately is, "Look at what a terrible job state Labor are doing in NSW - can they be trusted to do any better federally?"

    The only possible comeback to this is to acknowledge the failings of the NSW state government, but to point out that the only reason that they were re-elected last March is because the NSW state Liberals are even worse.

    It's hard to believe that such a thing is possible, but there it is.

    Last week the Government gave up on the proposed T-Card system, cancelling the contract with the company hired to develop the thing, after spending ten years and $60 million dollars. An integrated ticketing system for buses, trains and ferries; how hard could that be? It certainly sounded easy enough that when the project was first proposed, it was anticipated it would be in use by the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Instead, seven years later, a passenger can go to Circular Quay, which could be a great transport interchange, and travel via bus, train, or ferry; but they'd need a seperate ticket for all of them.

    So we're stuck with the old ticketing system. The government does at least ensure that the decreases in service are equated with fare rises, as happened today. Apparently, one of the justifications for the ticket price rise is that the average income of rail commuter households is over $100,000 a year. It sounds pretty unlikely to me, but nevertheless ever since I read this article I've been wearing low-cut tops and plenty of make-up to work, in the hope that I'll meet me a sugar daddy on the train. So far though, no dice.

    Oh yes, and the hospital system is in crisis, drunken crime is out of control in the Sydney CBD (which is a mess anyway), the Dpeartment of Community Services keeps ignoring children at risk, many of whom end up dead...that's what you get from a leftist government, apparently.

    And the NSW Liberals can't be trusted to do any better? What would they be like with the whole nation?

    06 November 2007

    The Race Australia Should Stop


    I've never been a big fan of Melbourne Cup day.

    This is kind of hard when one works in an office - I refuse to take part in any way, including watching the thing.

    For this, I'm often chastised for being anti-social - and frequently told, "it's just a bit of fun". I don't get it. I really don't see the fun in watching a defenceless animal being whipped.

    Even if all the horses happen to be masochists, there's always the risk of horrific injuries, like this. In the story they mention how some observers were in tears; but I wonder how many of these left the track and refused to participate any more in such barbarism.

    (I'd planned a milder post expressing my general disdain, but the thought of that poor animal staggering towards the finishing line before being put down - well, I'm too upset and angry to be moderate).

    02 November 2007

    Thank You for Smoking


    We're endlessly being told that we live in an angry society these days - and it's true. It seems there's no human activity these days that doesn't have its own form of "rage" attached to it. This blog post from Gary Linnell details some of the many incidents of fill-in-the-blank rage that have occurred recently - including, most tragically, a retiree beaten to death on his front lawn in an argument over water restrictions (as it turns out, it was legal for lawns to be watered at the time the man was killed).

    Why is this happening? Oh sure, we live in a more stressful society these days, and we're all short on time...but I think those excuses rather miss the point. At times of extreme stress, such as during war, communities often pull together with deep solidarity. Of course, people also have developed short tempers and limited patience due to our instant gratification society. But I have another theory - which you sure as hell won't hear from the mainstream media.

    We're all angry because no one smokes anymore.

    I'm not just referring to what may be the angriest creature on Earth - the just-quit smoker - but to everyone. The act of smoking a cigarette makes you take at least a couple of minutes time out, and the nicotine of course acts as a relaxant. In the days when everyone smoked, we were all getting those relaxing little breaks through the day, and a dose of stuff that made us relax even more; now we don't have that, and people often step outside their offices from the moment they arrive in the morning till when they leave (late) at night. No wonder we're all angry.

    So everyone should start smoking again. Of course, average life expectancy would plummet as Medicare costs soared - but we'd all be a lot happier in the meantime.