I can’t say I have agreed with Jeff Kennett on all (or even most) of his public statements but I have to say I have always had respect for his political courage and leadership (doubly so after the experience of Malcolm Turnbull supposedly in charge). I was listening to news radio the other day- must have been ABC because they didn’t mention reality TV non-personalities once- and they were running a story about the Australia21 group’s call to decriminalise a number of illicit drugs.
Elon Musk’s intervention into the national energy debate was timely last week. Call me a pessimist if you will, but I don’t have high expectations of Musk being taken up on his offer to solve the South Australian power uncertainty issues within 100 days, even with the money back guarantee he offered. Just because the man says it can be done, doesn’t mean it will be done. There are still plenty of details to be worked out around the economics and there are also Australian technology companies who claim they could provide the same capacity (but who have been ignored by a government which is considering changing the Clean Energy Corporation’s charter to allow it to invest in coal).
A slow clap to the people of Western Australia. Giving well-deserved simultaneous black eyes to the pathetic Liberal government that has so failed them so comprehensively and to the deceitful opportunism of Pauline Hanson is an impressive feat in today’s political climate.
But while I allowed myself some relief that the ‘silent majority’ that Bernardi and Hanson claim to speak for looks more like a tiny minority, I am not getting to carried away with celebrations around the impending national fall of either One Nation or our hard right Coalition government. The eulogies (which if based on the maxim that, “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all,” will have to be very short) can wait a little longer.
It’s neither ignorant nor foolish to feel you have been poorly treated and even failed by our government of late. You probably have been and it is no wonder people are disillusioned with both our political system and the major parties that control it. Most of us would probably agree that the government and many of its bureaucrats serve themselves far more than they serve us, but I have to admit I am one of the lucky ones. Those in dying industries and those who can’t find work, or are locked out of the housing industry have far more reason to resent the seemingly out of touch political establishment than I.
This comment does not only apply to our current government. While the Abbott-Turnbull government has set a new standard (at least in the Australian context- let’s not look across the Pacific) for outrageous ineptitude, heartlessness and avarice, they didn’t create our political system complete with its cronyism, its lobbyists and its entitlements on their own. Past Labor governments also have to take responsibility for the conditions they have contributed to in the power duopoly they have enjoyed for decades.
Am I still able to bemoan the poor quality of the news reporting without sounding like the oafish American President shouting “Fake news,” at any report that points out he is a liar?
Because we do need to be aware that the filters used to determine what is reported and how it is reported in mainstream news are multilayered. As such it is important readers look past the headlines and hyperbolic editorialising to consider the facts of what an article is really about.
Okay can we stop about the bloody chocolate slice?
If you followed commercial news you could be forgiven for thinking that the most significant events of the last week were the mundane interactions of a bunch of B-grade celebrities (I’m probably being generous there) moping about in a South African jungle reality TV series and that a teacher had politely asked a parent not to send chocolate slice into school because it went against what they were trying to teach about healthy eating.
In case you didn’t see any coverage of the latter, that was pretty much the story. A parent sent some food to school and a teacher sent a note home about it. Oh actually that is not quite the story. A busybody friend of the parent took umbrage at this behaviour and wrote a long internet rant that obviously resonated many other parents. As a result, this rant was widely shared online and reported on in the mainstream media.
When a man as spineless as Turnbull has to negotiate with someone as cut-throat as Trump, Australians should be very worried. In his much-publicised gaffe, if Sean Spicer had referred to our PM as Mr Tremble instead of Trumble, we could have been forgiven for thinking it wasn’t even a mistake. It would describe the man perfectly.
For someone who had considerable success in merchant banking, Mr Tremble seems to have difficulties making deals without giving out major concessions. I make this comment based on his complete capitulation to the ultra conservatives in his party and his inability to make deals with either the Nationals or the cross bench, without giving up everything he stood for.
It is possible we are seeing the final death throes of the two party system, as the popularity of independents and smaller parties rises and with the likely defection of Bernardi from the Liberal Party. As such, Coalition moderates (if there is still such a thing) have an interesting decision coming up.
Do they continue to court the conservative vote at a heavy disadvantage to Hanson and soon Bernardi, who don’t have the inconvenience of having to be reasonable, truthful or even logical in order to retain their core constituency? Or do they eschew the hateful politics of the extreme right and define themselves according to the principles they actually believe in (some of them must stand for something right)?
We may be living in what many are describing as a ‘post-truth’ era, and while I don’t disagree with this nomenclature it does imply that in the near past we lived in a time of truthfulness from our media and political representatives. Let’s not get too carried away with that narrative.
Manipulating and even fabricating information to suit one’s purpose is nothing new to the media and it is certainly is not to politics (as The Chilcott Enquiry made pretty clear). Still, I must admit that soulless human shells like Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and Nigel Farage have taken this disdain for the public and the truth to a whole new level, but propaganda has many forms and many don’t require any outright falsehood, just a strategically framed disingenuous question.
Okay wow. Surely Malcolm Roberts is going to lose his twitter privileges soon. Twice this month he has had to delete tweets after realising how stupid or offensive they were. This first effort was his tasteless clapping of David Leyonhjelm’s appallingly narcissistic and uncaring response to the loss of lives in the Bourke Street tragedy. The second was in his embarrassingly petty and ignorant response to the Change the Date protests around Australia Day, where he demonstrated he had no idea that Labour Day was not connected to the Australian Labor Party.
Now there isn’t a lot wrong with not knowing what Labour Day (or 8 Hour Day as it is also known) is about, but when you are a politician, if you don’t know something you need to find it out. That is why they have overpaid advisors (well it should be). Politicians who just guess what something means don’t just embarrass themselves, as Roberts did. This combination of laziness and arrogance is dangerous. When else has he not bothered to check he understands something before making a decision and just gone with his instinctive guess? Is this where his views on Islam and climate change come from (admittedly in the caser of climate change it is probably more based on the money he received from coal industry donors)?
I think it is important to be able to reflect on our own thinking and be willing to change our minds. And when you share a lot of your opinions in a public forum such as this, you also need to be ready to openly admit when you might have been wrong about something (unless you're in politics where it seems acceptable to just avoid the question). Last year I published some thoughts about Australia Day. I am mostly happy with what I wrote, especially the point that you are not demonstrating a love for the country by expressing bilious hatred for those Australians you deem unworthy. Wearing the national flag and take no effort and as such is a poor illustration of patriotism (Pauline Hanson take note). If you want to show how much the country means to you, start by not being an inconsiderate or hateful jerk.
On the other hand I do feel my views around the date of Australia Day are shifting and I now disagree with some of what I wrote. As I said in last year’s article, I have no attachment to the date, January 26. It was neither the date the country was discovered (by aboriginals or Europeans) or founded. Having said that, last year I did not support calls for changing the date.
Wow that really was disgusting. Leyonhjelm, Hanson and Roberts showed not a shred, not even a pretence of basic decency, respect or compassion for those affected by the horrible events in Melbourne this week. They didn’t act like it was a tragedy. They treated it as an opportunity! It seems every time I write about what a poor excuse for a human being David Leyonhjelm is, he finds a way to go even further. But surely he hit rock bottom when his first response to the tragedy was a sarcastic tweet using the incident as some sort of bizarre argument against gun control.
Unsurprisingly, most of Australia was horrified at this utter lack of class or humanity, but not Malcolm Roberts, who cheered it on like a pathetic sycophant. What a creep.
Who knew children on billboards could be this scary?
Something is really wrong when a billboard with an Australia Day image featuring two young girls waving Australian flags is taken down due to threats of violence. That is terrorism.
Did I forget to mention the girls were wearing hijabs and the threats of violence came from right wing extremists? No I didn’t forget, I left it out because that detail isn’t important.
“One nation candidate says …” seems have been a fairly common headline over the last 12 months.
I have some mixed feelings about the fact that being a One Nation candidate makes your opinions more newsworthy than it really should be.
I mean I get it that the people do need to know if a prospective politician who is asking for your vote is a tinfoil-hat wearing nutjob (I know I usually treat those I’m writing about with a little more respect but they usually deserve more) so it is kind of incumbent on the media to report it. But it is how they report it that I would like to see improved.
I’m a teacher myself but I’m not angry about Andrew Laming’s bizarre attack on my profession.
A common cliché teachers and parents use when someone fails to show the expected responsibility or maturity is to say “I’m not angry, I’m disappointed,” but I’m not even disappointed. It is not like I expect a greater level of maturity and responsibility in his social media usage. Not after Laming’s previous forays including his ill-informed comments on an outbreak of street violence in 2013 and his Facebook feud with a group called The Simpsons against the Liberals (he is pretty much following the trump playbook now that I think of it).
So I have already explained why I feel the narrative that 2016 was such a terrible year is a bit overblown. There were many things that happened during the year that I was extremely grateful for. Indeed I spend January reflecting on many of these events.
But something that we often forget are the small acts of kindness and generosity that we often greatly appreciate at the time, but quickly forget amongst the ‘bigger’ events taking place.
David bloody Leyonhjelm. I detest the man for many reasons, but right now he has me in a bit of a double-jeopardy situation. You see, last year I wrote a short piece titled, David Leyonhjelm has no respect or empathy. Nothing controversial about that statement, I know. But it does present me with a bit of a problem as to what do I name an article about his complete disdain for pensioners? David Leyonhjelm has no empathy 2 seems to lack something as far as headings go (and no, Mercury writers, I’m not talking about the lack of ‘witty’ alliteration you people seem obsessed with).
Happy New Year to all the Quietblog readers and contributors out there. I thought it seemed an appropriate moment to post a short thought about the year that was and the one to come.
There seems to be a loud chorus of public opinion that 2016 was a terrible year. I won’t deny that some pretty awful events have taken place in the last 12 months. I’m not talking about celebrity deaths here (even though that seems to have been the most significant thing to have happened this year for some), but the terrible impact of natural disasters and human-wrought atrocities on millions of people throughout the year.
A fairly common theme I have heard from a number of conservative and progressive commentators has been to blame Donald Trump’s election on the air of moral superiority taken by Democrats and social rights activists. The exact way this was phrased varies, from the very progressive Jonathon Pie imploring people to have conversations with people with differing opinions; through to the much less progressive Steve Price telling Jamila Rizvi on air that people voted for Trump because, “People like you lecture and heckle them.”
That’s right, all you leftards and bleeding hearts need to start showing greater respect for those with differing opinions. I say that a little facetiously, but I actually agree to some degree. There are some lessons for the left side of politics if it wants to be heard by a broader base who right now seem willing to vote against their own interest.
I would like to see Corey Bernardi make good on his threats and break away from the Coalition in seeking to form his more conservative party to represent Australians who feel the current government isn’t far enough to the right- can there really be that many people like that?
Voters are fickle and hard to predict so I can’t say for sure that it would fail though- and the possibility of it somehow mobilising a far greater number of voters than I anticipate is a little frightening- but I still would like to see it happen.