24 June 2010

So We Have a New PM (Or, Labor Eats Its Own)


Remind me never to serve in a Labor government. I'm rather a sensitive sort, and I don't think I could handle the hurt and monumental ingratitude of being dumped by my own party, in my first term, so shortly after being Australia's most popular ever PM. But hey, that's me.

It's a ridiculous situation when looked at that way. The Australian electorate, it must seems, are pretty darn ungrateful. It's not enough that Rudd saved us from the GFC, oh no; at the first thing people are brainwashed into not liking (the mining tax) everyone gets cold feet. It's like walking out of a marriage at the first argument over which in-laws to spend Christmas with. Even that may be understandable (the electorate have pretty short memories, after all) but what's unforgivable is that Labor, instead of standing by Rudd, threw him out on his ass at the first opportunity.

That's what's wrong with non-Conservatives. They care too much about being liked; they spook too easily. Howard never wavered. He sat there grinning as he sent us into Iraq, sent troops to the Northern Territory to tell traumatised communities how to raise their kids, as he sent us to do two-hour shifts thanks to Work Choices. I despise him and what he did to Australia, but dammit he and the Liberals have the courage of their convictions. He stayed the course, with the party's support, till the (very) bitter end.

I had my own problems with Rudd - mostly over social issues. The Apology was great, but what about gay marriage, ending the Intervention, standing up on the asylum seeker issues. But we owe him a debt of gratitude for getting rid of Howard in the first place, and for all that we kept our jobs (this from someone who lost hers). Rudd's press conference this morning was unexpectedly moving. If only he had shown such emotion before, acknowledged he was a human with feelings and flaws, we may not have been in this situation.

As it all built up last night, I hoped Gillard would refuse to run. Realistically she didn't have a choice. She is giving her press conference as we speak, admitting she wasn't elected PM and will not delay the upcoming Federal election. It's a bit of a worry. Abbott and co will argue that Labor couldn't even get through one term intact, how can they be trusted with the ongoing stewardship of the country? It's not an invalid point. I shall not be sending my vote their way, though. It will be interesting to see if this means my local seat really will go to the Greens.

Of course now we have our first female Prime Minister. Yes, that's a good thing but do we have to keep pointing it out? It shouldn't be a factor that decided a vote (God help us if we had Julie Bishop PM, let alone President Palin). It's a shame it happened like this. Labor needs to harden up, frankly. Let's strap ourselves in; it's going to be a long nasty election campaign ahead.

19 June 2010

Where I Apologise


We've been enjoying the World Cup around here lately, but it turns out I'm quite out of touch. I thought Ronaldo was this guy:












But it turns out he's someone else now:

















Who's to know these things? I wish someone would call and tell me. Anyway, to get to my title, unlike in 2006 I am unable to devote my blog to the World Cup or anything else right now. I'm frantically trying to write my portfolio to prove I can be a good youth worker...once that's done, I've so much I'm dying to share with you all but for now, I need to devote what little brain energy I have to the writing I have to do, not the writing I want to do!

06 June 2010

Sunday Arts - Mark Ryden

I do more than just launch half-assed ramblings about how things ought to be. So today I'd like to share with you the work of one of my favourite artists, Mark Ryden.










I just really dig the awesome combination of nursery rhyme cute and creepy. The guy's done more than just this stuff though - he actually designed the album art for Michael Jackson's Dangerous, along with art for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Ringo Starr and Jack Off Jill (so he doesn't have a "type"). For more, I enthusiastically refer you to Mr Ryden's website. Next week - Victoria Frances (who else?!)

03 June 2010

Tenants' Rights, By God!

I'm a big fan of "Modern Guru" in the Good Weekend, where dilemmas of modern manners ("What's the appropriate response if a friend invites you over for an exquisite dinner...then requests $50 a head for the meal?") are explored. 2010 is a confusing, crazy place. We need help. But there was one correspondent recently who made my well-mannered blood boil. She asked was it okay, since her household no longer received delivery of the local paper, for her to help herself to copies from the letter boxes of rented homes? It's not as if those who rent care about the local community.

This was in contrast to the tears of envy I felt when reading of five-year leases in Europe. One third of NSW households are now rented, up from one quarter ten years ago, but there's still a sense that renters are the scum of the Earth. Everyone wants to own their own home, surely; it's the great Australian dream, so the only people who rent must be young or poor.

New changes to tenancy laws have been proposed, the first major changes in twenty years. There's still very little to protect tenants, apart from an increase in the number of days a landlord has to evict a tenant from 60 to 90. There are not the changes we need.

What we need is a new culture when it comes to tenancy. There are many reasons why people choose to rent. As someone who has lived in seperate rental properties for five and seven years respectively, a great start would be long leases, along with the rights to make minor changes to the property. Not all tenants are transient. Long leases, available to tenants who choose to take them up and with fair provisions for rent increases, would benefit everyone - less work for agents, less cost for landlords, more security for tenants. With such a high proportion of tenants in the population, We're not all just renting because we're too poor to buy - as for my family, we think that we can give our children a better life without a mortgage; we may move interstate in the next few years; and what with rising interest rates, the inevitable property crash, or both, you'd have to be an imbecile to contemplate entering the property market right now. (We don't want to be these people - whom I'm sure thought everything would work out for them. I wonder whatever happened to them in the GFC?).

Anyway, we're staying put. And caring deeply about the local community while we're here - more so than most McMansion owners who are to busy struggling with the mortgage to plant trees, volunteer, petition for local services or anything else. I just wish I could paint the bedroom.

01 June 2010

Oh, Israel


Imagine having a friend who has had, let's be frank, a whole heap of shit happen to them in their life. They, for the main, haven't let it overwhelm them. In fact, they've triumphed in spite of the obstacles. They've gone on to achieve amazing things, more so than many others with fewer resources. You're really proud.

But sometimes, just sometimes, what they've suffered gets the better of them. They act out. They behave in a way you find reprehensible. You can sort of understand, you can try to forgive. But when it gets too much, you can only shake their head and hope they'll snap out of it.

So it is with Israel. They've done it again. They're unrepentant...so far. You don't understand. They have problems. You're not always there. They did what they had to do. They're sorry you're upset, but not sorry they did it.

It's nothing new for Israel, as I wrote last year. There's a sense in sections of the international community that Israel is a special case, to whom the normal rules don't apply. Are they? Two wrongs don't make a right. But saying so never gets us anywhere. Australia, unlike NZ and most of Europe, has not criticised the Israeli assault. Maybe the tide is turning; once Israel was seen as a beacon of socialist hope, whom it was fun for lefties to like. Now, well, just because you've been picked on doesn't make lashing out okay. The world will not forget Rachel Corrie (one of the ships in the blockade was named in her honour). Israel, if you are a special case, then we really expect more of you than this.