Bad to worse

I’ve just come from voting, with little joy. I wanted to get it out-of-the-way, out of my mind. I want to avoid the crowds tomorrow, the hustlers pushing how to vote cards, the sausage sizzle, the general sense of cloying unreality.

I voted ALP in the end in the House of Reps, and Wikileaks – Julian Assange – in the Senate. I’m left with a very sour taste. As is the norm these days the election campaign was unedifying and occasionally ugly, but hardly informative. One mob is nearly as bad as the other in 2013, but the less bad mob I voted for is likely to be kicked out, which makes a bad situation worse.

I was never going to vote for the Libs while Tony Abbott is leader. It’s hard to imagine a less impressive Prime Minister in waiting. No doubt he has some decent qualities, but being an inspiring, courageous leader aren’t among them. I’m certain as PM he would/will be an embarrassing buffoon. It’s not all about that, but you have to question whether he has the intellectual fibre to guide us through troubled times. For an allegedly devout Christian he has shown a great propensity for pragmatic policy making on the run with little reference to what is just, decent or reasonable.

That’s Abbott, but there’s a bunch of Liberal policy pledges and campaigning tricks that would have me avoid them like the plague no matter who the leader is:

  • They vow to do away with the NBN and replace it with a cheaper, third-rate option. This alone is sufficient for me to vote anything but Liberal. I cannot conceive of a government so short sighted as to cancel a national broadband scheme to all Australians, city or country, far in advance of anything presently available, and certainly more capable than the Liberal alternative. This is a time to be ramping things up, not down, for whatever we need, and think we need now, the likely reality is that we’ll be needing much more when the time comes. The NBN is essential for business productivity in the 21st century as technology becomes all-pervasive and more and more people work remotely. The likes of the NBN are a force multiplier – the potential of it creates things things that were never feasible nor considered previously. This is an initiative of utter nincompoopery, but there’s no way around it if the LNP gets into power because they need the savings they make from cutting this to pay for other election promises. (As an aside, the LNP released a policy last night about internet censorship. They claimed afterwards it was in error, but you really have to wonder now. That would be the last straw.)
  • Tony Abbott is one of the small breed of climate change deniers. Consequently he proclaims loudly how he is going to repeal the carbon emissions scheme (the carbon tax). He makes loud noises about it being a disaster, whereas in fact it has made a significant difference to actual carbon emissions, and the additional costs associated with it much ballyhooed at the time, have been negligible. It’s politics, but bad for the country to repeal something we need and which has proved to be good for the country.
  • The perpetually vexatious issue of asylum seekers. Back a month or so ago Rudd pulled the rug from under the LNP with his proposed PNG solution. The backroom fascists of the Liberal party got together and came up with a policy even further to the right. It was clear at this point that the fate of these refugees is incidental to the politics concerning them. And so the LNP came up with a plan whereupon these people have what remaining human rights they possess basically trashed in order to play to a political audience. Worse is better. Bad is good. Evil wins votes. Never mind that their plan is probably not legal, it makes them look bad ass, which is the important thing. In the mix as well is a laughably stupid policy to buy back Indonesian fishing boats so that they can’t be used by people smugglers. Cue a boat building boom in Indonesia, Indonesian fisherman looking to get rich off Australian taxpayers money, and Australia stockpiling leaky fishing boats. Seriously, this is a policy?
  • The LNP intransif=gence in not revealing their budgetary costings until a couple of days before the election, and after the advertising black-out. Even then the costings are incomplete, without details to verify them. Regardless of what the costings say this should ring very large alarm bells with every Australian who votes. What reason would the LNP do this? To avoid meaningful scrutiny of their figures. And why so? Because, logically, there is something in the figures they’re afraid will upset their delicately poised apple cart. Bottom line is, they’re not trustworthy – and if you can trust the figures, why would you vote in support of them?

They’re the four main reasons I’m agin the LNP, though there’s much more I could complain of with quiet passion. These are all good reasons to vote for anyone but the LNP, and I’ve put them more succinctly and effectively than the Labor party has at any time this election campaign.

The Labor campaign was so fucking dumb again. As always, they never bothered to highlight the achievements of the government, let alone do some kind of comparison. Explain to people what the NBN is and does. Reveal the detail of the carbon tax, and the positive effect on the environment. Explain why marriage equality is just. And so on. They attacked Abbott, but it was sort of half-hearted. I’m not a big advocate of negative campaigning, but if you’ve got to do it, then do it properly. Finally there is Rudd. Always great talk about what a great campaigner he is, but they got carried away with it. Less of the man of the people shtick, the glad handing, the selfies. Give us more of the leader, the statesman, the man of intellect and learning. For God’s sake anyone can see that Rudd shits all over Abbott in terms of substance and intellect, well use it! Make it a point of fucking difference! Too late. The last few days there’s been some of that, notably Rudd’s performance on Q&A, and it might make a small difference, but likely not enough.

Chances are by sometime tomorrow night Abbott will be proclaimed PM. That’s not a definite – there will be surprises, and I expect a late swing back to Rudd – but it is likely. It will be interesting thereafter as Abbott tries to enact his policies. I just don’t think it will happen. The dollars won’t add up and he will have to deal with a senate where he doesn’t have the balance of power.

One last word about the Murdoch press. Lots of discussion throughout the campaign about the blatant bias towards the LNP. It’s laughingly obvious, but a very serious matter. This is what it has come to in Australia, and other places too. The media is so concentrated that true balance and freedom of opinion is barely represented. Instead you get media outlets taking sides and looking to sway the contest. Murdoch has almost certainly done that with its one-sided reporting.

Rupert Murdoch has never been an impartial observer and his press never a passive reporter of events. He wants to influence, and with the power of his media empire has the voice and the audience to do it. Unfortunately there are sufficient nuff nuffs out there who read the lurid headlines and believe them that the course of an election can be changed. It’s more than a disgrace, it’s a travesty of democracy. What’s to be done about it? Nothing. The LNP laud Murdoch, as they would, and would be silly to muzzle such a powerful advocate in their favour – regardless of the rights and wrongs of it.

It’s a very sad state of affairs. There should be hue and cry about it. Instead there is fuck all outside the twitterati. The media as an independent voice is pretty well dead in this country and no-one seems capable, or willing, to lift a finger to do anything about it. That means that I’ll likely must endure 3 barren years of Tony Abbott’s rule. What a world we live in.

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