I caught up last night with one of my favourite shows currently on the box. The Thick of It is the TV spin-off (or possibly the inspiration for?) the movie that came out last year In The Loop. It’s sort of an updated Yes, Minister, just as cynical, but much less polite, with Peter Capaldi playing the unforgettably in your face political advisor with a potty mouth that is corrosive and hilariously inventive. He’s one of the great characters. I loved the movie. It was one of the funniest things I watched last year. The TV series is patchy-ish but just as funny at it’s best. It’s one of those few shows that makes me laugh out loud – or LOL, if you prefer.
While I’m happily tuning out watching this fictional political world the usual melancholy combination of political incompetence, terrible judgement, and insane nonsense is playing out in Australian politics. I’m politically engaged as a very general rule, but I don’t want to have a bar of what is going on here. Much as it sounds defeatist, Australian politics is just too miserable, bitter and depressingly low-brow for me to even contemplate it. Yet here I am, oh Magoo, you’ve done it again.
It really is quite hilarious to witness the depths of sheer ineptitude our elected representatives descend to. If it was TV comedy you’d tune in every week to have a laugh, grateful that real life isn’t like that. That’s the problem though: we’re now living the comedy, and no-one’s laughing.
I do try and steer clear of politics. Oh I do, really, but it keeps dragging me back. What I’d give for a sedate and sensible government, and an opposition with scruples. Foolishly idealistic, I know, but I fear I’m getting an ulcer just living in this place now, sort of by osmosis – and that’s while refusing to read or listen to the latest ridiculous report on government bloopers, the corruption, the misjudgements, the grandstanding, and, in the case of Tony Abbott, the evil. It gets me anyway. Give up H, you can’t win.
I’m hoping one day that things will improve to the point that we look back upon this era and think of it as an aberration. We have a government, well meaning I’m sure, and generally insincere, but laughingly incompetent. They’re just not up to it. It’s like we’ve elevated the council of some remote locality to govern on behalf of 20 odd million people. You shake your head more in pity than anger. What makes it even weirder is how talented they are at shooting themselves in the foot. Their aim is unerring. Had perhaps they sought to govern on principle rather than convenience I reckon they would have avoided half the shit they’ve dropped themselves in. There’s a depressing moral in that somewhere, very much like some cynical TV screenwriter might come up with. The irony: by choosing to do the wrong thing for what they believe are the right reasons (political advantage) they manage to make themselves look weak, and fuck it up anyway. Had they chosen to take the high moral ground and govern on principle (even unpopular principle) then at least they would have appeared to have some resolve, even an identity, and might even gained the respect they so desperately lack.
I’m being harsh perhaps. The carbon tax, dreadfully communicated and sold to the general public, at least has some merit – it’s good policy I think. But then we consider the backdown on the supertax in the face of ignorant general opposition, and a Liberal opposition more interested in scoring political points than doing what is right for the country. It was a weak backdown and has cost this country badly – and it did nought for the credibility of the government.
In the last few weeks we’ve had the controversy erupt about Craig Thomson’s credit card rorting (alleged). I don’t give a toss if he went to a prostitute – that’s not my business. If he’s engaged in corruption though that’s another story. Regardless of outcome it’s a dispiriting episode. You wonder how someone as clearly dumb as Thomson can get elected to parliament.
Then of course there’s the latest setback on the so-called Malaysian solution. It makes the government look like a bunch of clowns. Maybe it’s time, given the big hairy balls they so clearly lack, for the government to make a stand. Asylum seekers and refugees are not an issue. It’s fucking stupid to think that a mere 5-6,000 a year coming here on boats can cause so much controversy and angst. Let them come in! For christs sake, we possess one of the biggest land masses in the world, sparsely populated. Let’s return to the humane Australia I grew up in. Enough of demonising these pitiful people for political gain. Let’s tell it as it is: that we get a mere fraction of what half of western Europe gets for example; that no-one gets in the a leaky boat for the pleasure of it: these poor people are general fleeing from poverty, oppression, misery – why would they not seek greener pastures?; that we can easily absorb them into our community and make of them productive citizens, as has happened time and again; and that there are many more ‘western’ tourists here illegally on expired visas than ever get reach our shores as illegal immigrants. Finally, it’s time for society that these are people too, not abstract symbols as they have become. They might speak differently, look different, but they are families, parents, children, they have the same desire for a happy, safe life as we do, but their dreams are smaller because they have less. We have much to offer, much too share. Why not take in these poor people and give them the shelter and support they crave? That’s the story that should be told. A brave government might do it. This government has to begin standing for something worth believing in.
- Govt ‘dying of shame’, says Abbott (news.theage.com.au)
- Julia Gillard criticises ‘Amercanisation’ of Australian politics (telegraph.co.uk)