Thursday, 14 July 2011

Stop The Spin - I want to get off...

PJK raised a bloody good point on Lateline last night: "...where is the quality of the national debate and why isn't Abbott being flogged by the media for this position (on the Carbon Tax)?" This was followed by the equally good point, "What about that sleepy press gallery of ours? What are they ... ? I mean, is there no premium on quality?"

He's absolutely right.

It's utter bullshit that a man who so courageously says "no" at any opportunity should be given such an obvious free pass. Have we really become that resigned to news companies' bias that we just swallow their "backing" as Joe Hildebrand put it on The Drum last night? And what's worse is people/media/political commentators say Abbott's a good communicator. What?! Are you fucking serious? Even a two year old understands the word "no".  Give me a break.

I think there are several salient facts we need to remember in this current environment of continual election campaigning.

1. The Opposition is a Coalition

Any time one of those termites makes snide remarks about The Greens running the country, remember the Nats are part of the Coalition. If lefty-loonies are part of the stereotyping deal, then we get to remember that we've got yokels at the reigns of the Coalition. Bucked-toothed incestuous yokels in big hats who can't count to eleventy.

2. Tony Abbott only became the leader of the Opposition by one vote.

After John Howard was voted out of his own Bennalong seat, Brendan Nelson was elected as sacrificial lamb leader of the Opposition to take over the steering of the Coalition's sunken ship. Once his popularity had hit rock bottom and began to dig, Malcolm Turnbull was installed as leader to save the day... and it worked! Approval ratings against Rudd soared and the Coalition looked like it was alive... ALIVE! Even lefties I know have a soft spot for Turnbull, myself included. But he dared to be progressive or at least he was seen to be bending over for Rudd to make a deal on CPRS. How dare he have vision and try and drag the Coalition kicking and screaming into the 21st century with a CPRS?? After the party went into melt down on the issue and held a leadership ballot, Abbott was installed as leader by ONE VOTE.

This raises two interesting points.

First: that's 3 leaders in 1 term. Don't give me this shit about Rudd being knifed - if anyone knows anything about it, it's the Coalition.

Second: does this mean that about half of the coalition believed in taking action on climate change as early as 2009? And if so, how awfully frustrating it must be to be led by this regressive luddite. This is oh-so-basic unit who only knows the words "no", "absolute crap" and "shit happens". Again, PJK made the astute point that Abbot's focussing on the industries that mattered 100 years ago.  Fast adaptation to changing environment will ensure survival of the species... you'd think a Rhodes Scholar would know that at least.

3. Hysterical rhetoric gets media coverage. Especially if accompanied by high-vis clothing.

Abbott's full of shit. I'm sure no one was as shocked as his own party when the Coalition had the level of success it did in the last election, and I'm sure they were even a little scared they might win. Imagine how embarrassing it would have been if Abbott had been PM!?

Why do I think that even Abbott's own party thinks this? Because before becoming king pin, Abbott's principle role was that of Chief Head Kicker for Howard (a role now championed by the truly repugnant Christopher Pyne). It's easy to point the finger and call people names, especially over the shoulder of Howard - the sensible patriarch. 

So now, without Howard to apply the gag, Abbott's at it full time. And not only am I sick of hearing it, I'm worried that this is being perceived to be genuine political debate. That scaremongering, sloganism, opposition for opposition's sake and vacuous/non-existent policies are seen as a viable alternative for the leadership of this nation. Fuck me, what has become of our expectations? 

And where does this sometimes hateful shit end? We've already seen one redneck threaten to take up arms against the government, and today Julia Gillard's old school has been attacked by arsonists the day after she speaks of her time there at the National Press Gallery. Do our politicians need to get to cross hairs and Giffords before we start applying some sensible self-censorship to avoid invoking this sort of moronic reaction? Talk of a People's Revolt and Toxic Tax, whipping the public into a frenzy over what comes  down to policy statements is a specious attempt to "raise the issue in the public consciousness" by getting media coverage. I call bullshit. My only hope is that Abbott becomes so exhausted from his endless appearances in high-vis clothing that he implodes. After all, there's only so many Abbotts you can pull out of a hat.

We need to demand more. 

More from our politicians - don't give it to me in an easy-to-follow, easy-to-swallow format. Educate me and let me decide. Think about what you say, how it can be perceived and its possible ramifications - don't give into the temptation to generate hysteria in order to get media coverage. We're all exhausted by it.

More from our media - I see enough drama in fictional TV shows - give me the unbiased facts. Hold our politicians accountable through thorough fact-checking and thoughtful questioning. And while you're at it, hold yourselves accountable too and let go of those fucking egos.  

Finally, we need to demand more of ourselves.  Don't focus on the stoush - ask what happened to cause it and the motives of each side. Remember the history of what brought us here but most importantly think about the sort of exciting and productive future this country can have. We are very lucky to live in Australia, and despite what people say, it's not going to the dogs. See beyond the hype to a future you want and make it happen.  As PJK said last night, "You know, if it gets this bad that it's that hard to get a plus for something this right, what hope does a country have?"

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