The end is nigh


I started watching Years and Years during the weekend and boy, did it strike a chord. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s an English program that looks at a family group based in Manchester. It starts off in present-day and then tracks the family for the next 15 years (our future) as the world and society deal with a series of challenges – political, economic and social.  It’s pretty full-on, but what surprised me most is how much it aligned with my vision of our dystopian future.

I don’t know why, but I imagined that I was a bit of a pessimistic outlier. I’ve never really been a pessimist, but the last few years have hit me hard. It’s only a couple of weeks ago I realised how alienated I had become from the world I live in. Most of what passes for discourse these days is superficial and antagonistic, and there’s fuck all intellectual enquiry. I have serious fears about our climate future, and in the back of my mind figure we’ve just about run our race. Politically we’re up shit creek, and that’s most of the world. Authentic leadership is a lost art, and in its stead, we have a variety of shonky and inept characters whose prime motivation is self-interest.

I used to think that would change, but I reckon the only thing now that’ll upset this wretched status quo is a catastrophe, and I’m not sure I want to wish for that. Politicians govern for the here and now. t’s all about political advantage and while there’ve always been shysters like that, there were fewer of them before and you could rely on them getting the arse at the ballot box. My idealistic soul held true to that right up to the federal election in May, then choked on the reality. The shysters were re-elected, and it killed a part of me. What chance do we have when we don’t boot out the charlatans when we have the chance? After that, we deserve what we get.

I still wonder how many are as bitter as me, but it was a surprise to find how many others are disillusioned and lost in these awful times. That’s the thing about being disaffected and alienated – you feel on your own and as if no-one else could feel what you do. It’s comforting that others might, but so depressing also.

I haven’t watched the full series yet, but what I’ve seen marries up very realistically to what I see of the world. The most out-there premise is a Trump re-election, but who’s going to bet against that after last time? It’s like a play where the characters take the stage and extend their performance from what we know to what becomes realistic conjecture. We know that Trump is a nutter and that Putin a machiavellian schemer – let them play out in the years ahead, what happens then? China is in there, and the contentious South Sea islands, as well as refugees and racism and labyrinthine social channels and fluid identity and language. And the continued rise of authoritarianism, let’s not forget that.

I was surprised that Brexit seemed played down – presumably, it happens, and I expect it will be worse for England than this portrays. The biggest surprise – in what I’ve seen so far – is that climate change is only a peripheral player. There’s reference to tsunamis being a modern invention, but beyond that, not a lot. Perhaps that’s in episodes to come. It’s all quite depressing.

I wonder if climate change was played down because this is an English program? If it was Australian then I ,think climate change would be front and centre, because as a nation it’ll likely hit us harder than most parts of the world.

There are few Australians walking down the street these days that don’t believe in the reality of climate change and global warming (those who don’t are at home with their heads in the sad, or in parliament). I’m always shocked when I come across a doubter. Forget the science, I’ve experienced the difference. Most of us have. It’s both warmer and more volatile these days, and the scale more tumultuous. Extreme weather events are no longer unprecedented.

It’s November and the, first bushfires started weeks ago, and more massive fires on Friday. The scale and ferocity of these are unlike we had before, and summer hasn’t even started yet. Prolonged droughts have contributed to this, and the damage compounded by governments who refuse to believe in climate change, and so don’t prepare for it (and defund those who might fight it).

Hundreds of homes have been lost, people have died. The images are apocalyptic. But this is the world now. Even if we do something now it’s not going to get better for years, and will get worse first. But then we’re not doing anything really and this is the best of it. I hate to say that’s my attitude, but it is. I’m like the people who wrote Years and Years. I’ve lost faith in our leaders and any real intent to make a difference. It would be nice to think this was a dystopian warning shot: watch out, this’ll happen unless you do something! Unfortunately, I’m now of the belief that when finally something might be done it’ll be too late to make a difference.

I believe I was born at a good time, and those after me less fortunate. I had the best of childhood, I think, and grew up to straddle generations. I had carefree years and was full of belief in myself and the world. I’ve lived to see the decline of all things that make for a healthy civilisation. I’ve lived a good life and there are years of good living ahead, but in the shadow of looming catastrophe – that’s not something I’ve ever felt till now. I will go and, unless there’s a miraculous intervention, it will get worse for those who stay. They’ll never know the life I had, or those before me. And then? Personally, I think there’ll be a breach. Something will break and much will be lost. What comes out of that is anyone’s guess.

Maybe, sooner than you think, I’ll be one of those characters waving a placard prclaiming the end is nigh. Maybe this time it’ll be real.

How not to protest


For most of the week, there have been quite violent protests at the Convention Centre where an international mining conference has been in progress. Hundreds of protestors have picketed the place hurling abuse and accosting attendees, upset at the impact mining has on climate change. Dozens of police, some with horses, have wielded batons and pepper spray fending off the protestors.

Right from the start, let me say it’s protests of this type that give me a sick feeling. I’m sympathetic to the cause and believe our politicians, and many of our industries are climate criminals. However, I think protests of this type are close to imbecile.

I see two particular problems. The first one is that this is an indiscriminate protest. Had it been a conference of coal miners, it would have made sense. This was a conference of miners of all different types. Now you’d have to be particularly blind to suggest that all mining should be banned. Like it or not, the fabric of our day to day life is composed of materials very often mined from the ground. The cars we drive, the pots and pans we cook with and the plates we eat from, the chips in our phones and watches and PC’s, the planes and trains we catch, the buildings we live and work in – all this and much, much more, rely on our mining industry. I’d suggest every one of the protestors either carried on their person something that had been mined or had something at home. It’s just stupid.

Add to that, not everyone attending the conference was actively digging things out of the ground. I saw one person interviewed (after being abused and harangued by the protestors) revealing that they were actually a sustainability expert. And in fact, that’s what this should all be about. We can’t stop mining; we rely on it too much, and even if we could, the world economy would fall apart. What it should be about is sustainable mining – mining that has minimal impact upon our environment and ecology; and looking to source alternative materials to replace those mined.

So that’s the first thing – it’s a dumb protest. But secondly, how it was conducted was plain stupid also.

Wave your banners, cry out your chants, even non-violent obstruction, absolutely ; don’t, democracy in action. But when individuals trying to go about their business are abused and manhandled and spat on, then that’s a no-go. I may be showing my age now, but save that for the real criminals, not our fellow citizens. It’s plain bad manners, and it plays very poorly in the burbs.

That’s the real stupidity of this. The protestors are probably celebrating today, saying what a good job they did disrupting the event, when, in fact, their real achievement was to drive the wedge deeper between them and middle Australia. It’s all very well to be sanctimonious and be ringing with idealistic fervour, but I’d have thought the purpose of protests such as this would be to send a message to the average Australian that could be understood and appreciated.

If there was a message then it was lost in the general noise of the protest. Many of those middle Australians sitting in their lounge rooms watching the news would have been offended by the way the protest was conducted. Only the converted would have approved, and surely they’re not the desired audience? As someone broadly sympathetic, it’s this woeful stupidity that disappoints me most.

Unfortunately, that’s the flavour of the times. I’m perhaps a member of one of the last generations capable of discerning nuance. By nature, I seek to assess and understand, but few others do these days. Movements are broad tabloid headlines without subtlety or sophistication. They’re emotional rallying calls with scant relationship to the rationale that inspired them. Thus there is violence between opposing forces and very little debate. And so if I disagree with you, I’m not someone who has a different opinion; I’m instead an evil person to be despised and abused. There is no middle ground anymore, very little critical thinking, and bugger all civility.

I have to say this is one of the things that causes me the most disquiet these days. Not only because it is so ugly, though that’s true, more so that it’s virtually impossible to come to a reasoned understanding when we’re so caught up in hurling abuse. Like it or not, change has to be negotiated in a democracy. Make the argument, don’t just state it.

The protestors this week fell into the trap that much of the progressive side of politics has in recent years. It’s why Trump got elected, why Brexit twenty-year-olds for, and why Labor lost the election. The progressive extreme is violent and noisy, and they offend the average bloke. In a way, Morrison and his ilk are right when they speak of the silent majority. They can be persuaded, but they’re over being hectored and abused and told what to think and feel by the sanctimonious left. How do they react? They defy it with their vote, just as they’ll defy the purpose of this protest in their opinions.

Now I’m guilty of this as well. I was bitter after the election defeat here and despised those I thought responsible for it. There are many reasons that Labor lost, and I’ve articulated that previously, but a good part of it was that middle Australia was sick and tired of being talked down to by self-righteous twenty year olds. And it was the same in Britain before us, and States before them. In effect, it was a vote of protest.

If we intend to win these people over it must be through reason, but that’s why I despair, because reason is so scarce these days, and it’s not getting any better.

Thoughts from the outside


I wrote this during the week to a Labor shadow minister. It’s been on my mind for a while, and I just had to say it. I got a polite response to it, but expect that’s where it will stop.

Anyway, here it is, just for the record:

Hello xxx,

As it was for many, as I’m sure it was for you, the election defeat in May came as a devastating blow to me. An optimist by nature, I became bitter and angry afterwards. For a while I gave up hope and vowed to care no more. I cursed the voters I felt had sold us down the river for the illusory promise of trinkets. I was an angry man.

I am an optimist though, and it’s not easy to stop caring, let alone look away. The point is, I understand the angst and soul-searching after the election result, and discussion about where Labor is at and where it should position itself is natural. I’ve heard your comments on this subject, which is why I’m addressing this to you. I can’t give up hope, and as a proud Australian I feel compelled to share my perspective with you.

I’m a discerning, independent voter. My allegiances don’t hold with any particular party, though my inclinations – liberal and progressive – tend me towards the left. Back in the day, I was a devotee of Paul Keating, which probably brands me as a type. I believed in many of the things he espoused quite naturally – an open-minded, more adventurous society, progressive and confident. At the same time, he delivered economic reform that set us up for the future. He had what few do these days – a view of the big picture and a vision of how things could be better.

The reality is that I don’t remember the last time I didn’t vote for Labor, though sometimes for want of a better option.

It may surprise you to hear that when I cast my vote back in May, I did so feeling more hopeful than I had for many years. Indeed, while the prospect of ridding ourselves of the diabolical Liberal governments we’ve suffered was very alluring, I was also very definitely voting for something, and for the first time in ages.

I consider myself a well informed person. I’m a committed Australian, and I believe there is something better in us if only we can tap it. By nature, I’ll read deeply and seek different points of view. I’ll come to my opinions independently. And independently, I came to the realisation that the policies Labor took into the election were sensible at the very least, and potentially nation-changing. Dare I say it, Keating-esque in ways.

In the wash-up of the election, it appears that Labor is suffering an identity crisis, and the defeat is blamed in large part upon those very same policies. In retrospect, they’re considered too bold. I disagree.

Not every voter is going to be as discerning as I am, and that’s a fact of life. Unfortunately, much of the electorate is swayed by base considerations and broad stroke commentary and advertising, but that’s what you have to deal with.

Looking from my perspective as a voter, the election was lost for several reasons:

  • Policies were so poorly communicated that most didn’t understand (e.g. the implications of franking credits), let alone did they take root in the public mind. These were worthy policies, but they needed to be sold better. The electorate needs to understand what it means for them. These were good stories, but outside Kristina Keneally, no-one seemed able to tell the story.
  • The flood of negative advertising in the last fortnight, particularly from the Palmer camp. This might have been nullified if the fear-mongering had been met with more precise communication.
  • I’m not a fan of negative advertising, but for the life of me I cannot understand why when the Libs continually brand themselves the better economic managers that it isn’t countered with facts – like how the Liberal government has actually doubled the deficit (contrary to the vibe they give), or how they’re bigger taxers than Labor (again, contrary to the vibe).
  • And, sad but true, the Australian public never warmed to Bill Shorten.

They say we get the politicians we deserve, and perhaps that’s true. I’ve been around for a while and never has our polity become so dispiriting. I’m typical of most Australians, disenchanted with the politicking and self-serving nature of the government and opposition, and sceptical it might ever improve. Politics in Australia and much of the world have trust and credibility issues.

I can’t do much about the government but hope they get voted out. Very clearly they govern on principles of self-interest and political advantage rather than – as once it was – for the good of the country. They’re a terrible government full of terrible people, prepared to sacrifice the future for their political advantage now. I’m old school perhaps, but they appear without either ethics or honour and beyond redemption.

I’m writing to you now because the Labor party has the opportunity to differentiate themselves from what we have now, if only to define yourselves as the party that represents the best interests of the nation.

It confounds me why Labor should seek to become more centrist when the centre has moved so far to the right. It smacks of populist pragmatism when most of us would be thrilled to have an alternative based on core-values and integrity. There’s more talent in your party than there is the Libs, what’s lacking is belief. That can only come from the inside, not from opinion polls and focus groups.

What I’m saying is to stay true to your principles, and that means being consistent. If the policies you took to the election were good, then stay with them. You won’t be rewarded by ditching them now because the electorate will see that as inconstant, and as if you never really believed in them – or anything.

Stand for something. Be something. Stay true, and the trust that has been eroded from Australian politics might start returning to the party that believes in something. These are momentous times that call for brave and committed leadership. Stand for that.

By now you’ve probably got me pegged as a pure idealist, great in theory, no good in practice. I’d counter with the assertion that no party has practised this in years. And that the Australian electorate has become so cynical in recent times that they may actually respond to something authentic. That’s the pub test really – are you fair dinkum?

(To that end one of your best assets is Albo, but only as the irascible, earthy Albo, and not Albo lite doing the numbers in his head.)

Of course, I don’t believe this email will make any difference – but it’s the spirit that urges me to write it that is the spirit you should be engaging with. Let’s all be better together.

On a final note, I’ve despised the Greens for many years, ever since the ETS. The way it stands, I may vote for them next time, especially if Labor becomes Lib-lite, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one. It needn’t come to that, especially since I reckon this government will be exposed soon for the mediocre and corrupt rabble they are.

Never before have the stakes been so high. It’s no time to play it safe. Be brave. Stand for something other than mediocrity and compromise. The people want something better. We want to believe in something, too. We’re aching for it.

Regards,

H

Fools and buffoons


I just want to put on record that I think Greta Thunberg is a force of nature. Her passion, her determination, her stubborn insistence is an inspiration to the likes of me and many millions more, and a source of frustrated rage for millions of others.

By and large, she has the people onside. It’s a rare person these days who doesn’t believe in the fearful spectre of climate change. Unfortunately, many of those who oppose her are the dinosaurs that rule the world – mug leaders like Trump and Morrison, the right-wing media, not to mention vested interests, particularly in the fossil fuel industries. The rest are fools and reactionaries and the little men whose masculinity is threatened by a teenage girl with a mighty voice.

To see and hear Greta Thunberg speak at the UN yesterday was to witness a moment in history. How we look back upon it depends on how we respond now. It may be a turning point, but it may also be recorded the last futile words in defiance of a doomed fate. I tend to the pessimistic on this score – not because I’m a pessimist, but rather because self-interest and disorganisation are the ruling attributes of world polity in 2019.

Speaking of, our esteemed PM is in the states at the moment and making a right royal fool of himself. He’s cosied up to Trump and even attended one of his rallies – a bad look that betrays impartiality, and something that will badly both here at home as well as with the American Democrats. He was denied an invitation to the UN climate summit because of his government’s recalcitrant policies regarding climate targets and most recently snapped visiting a McDonalds in Chicago. Inspiration he isn’t. Embarrassment, definitely.

While much of this is cringe-worthy, there are consequences. Presuming Morrison is PM next year it’s more than likely he’ll have to do business with a Democratic government in the US. He’s started out on the wrong foot by appearing a Trump partisan. And in cosying up to Trump, he offers implicit support to the anti-China rhetoric coming out of the states. That’s how the PRC see it.

Let’s face it, Morrison is a buffoon, but surely he has an advisor smart enough to know the perils of his clownish behaviour? China is our biggest trading partner by far. We may have longstanding cultural links to America, but the days of American pre-eminence are gone, never to return.

Assuming there’s still a world in 50 years then the Chinese will be running it. Who would bet against their monolithic will when their ‘rivals’ are so disorganised and narrow-minded? And what the Chinese have is the long term view that no western nation can match. Democracy is a great thing, but populist electioneering that predicates short term goals undermine progress. It’s not democracies fault for it wasn’t always the case – only since politics has been corrupted by individualism. The ‘greater good’ exists but in isolated pockets in western democracies.

That’s very true in Australia also. The world may burn tomorrow but how good is it today? It’s a short term view that betrays future generations, not just in terms of climate change, but also economic prosperity. A truly wise Australian government would know it’s in our interests to stay close to the Chinese. Like it or not, our economic future is hitched to them. That’s not to say we should be compliant, as the Chinese will try and dictate. Retain our independence and use our currency wisely – not fritter it way in useless support of a Trump administration that may well be impeached shortly, and which in any case is corrupt and hopelessly inept.

One of these advisors needs to tell Morrison that ‘it’s not about you’. The bromance may flatter him, but the rest of us despair and the damage it’s doing may be terminal.

The cost of free speech


I don’t know that I’ve written much about Julian Assange over the years, but he’s always been someone I’ve taken a keen interest in. He’s a divisive figure, particularly so after the 2016 US presidential elections. Many blame him for Hillary Clinton losing.

If you discount the disengaged and uninformed – always the biggest part of any society – then people fall into one of two opposing camps when it comes to Assange, and Wikileaks in general. You either support the purpose of Wikileaks, to expose what is hidden and make news democratic; or you see it as the crime that governments purport it to be and a dangerous tool in the wrong hands.

I’ve always been of the former view. I haven’t always been comfortable with the methods, or the consequences, but Wikileaks has done much more good than ill. As a natural democrat, I want our governments to be held to account. Shining a light on shady dealings and shonky practices is never wrong. And when those practices are often corrupt or illicit or plain old anti-democratic then we as a people are entitled to know. When it comes to information I’m a socialist: we’re all entitled to a share of it.

Wikileaks was revolutionary. They exploded onto the scene, and their revelations had a profound impact on international discourse. The scale of information previously hidden was a shock to almost everyone.

Since then they have been under attack by international governments, particularly the US, been constrained by the combined efforts of financial corporations, and been subject to prosecution whenever the US got their hands on them. Chelsea Manning was imprisoned. Another whistleblower, Edward Snowden, fled, and now lives in exile. Assange himself until recently had taken refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, until he was kicked out after seven years. He’s now ill and in an English prison, battling extradition to Sweden on dubious rape charges, and ultimately to the US to face charges of espionage. That would be the end of him.

I’m profoundly disappointed by the general reaction to all this. As an Australian citizen, he should expect support from the Australian government, but that has been sadly lacking. It is as I expected, unfortunately – everyone knows the government is in the pocket of the Yanks. It’s just plain wrong.

Assange lost a lot of support after Hillary was beaten. In my mind, much of that is irrational. He’s accused of being in cahoots with the Russian attempts to subvert the election. Personally, I would understand if he was bitter towards Clinton given some of her rhetoric regarding him, but I hardly think he’s a Trump supporter. What he released might have been controversial, but none of it was untrue. In general, Wikileaks has acted without fear or favour, but the dump of information regarding Hillary’s emails lost him a lot of support.

This has also seemed to me an emotional reaction. As a darling once of the left, he broke their hearts by being seen as turning on one of their own. It was wasn’t meant to work that way. As long as he was attacking the establishment and the right-wing governments around the world, he was a hero; as soon as he turned on someone on the left of the equation, he became the villain. So he has remained, but the truth knows no allegiance.

Who knows what happens to him now, but he’s in a dark spot, and the actual purpose of Wikileaks has been lost in the prosecution of Assange.

I’m more sympathetic to him than most. It may be that he comes from my home town, and very much a product of it. There was curiosity value a few years back also when a friend looking at my dating profile on OkCupid found that Assange was highlighted as someone similar to me. There’s no doubt he’s a maverick. He’s complex and challenging and strong-willed. It may be he’s hard to like, though there are many devoted to him. I admire his independence and determination and resolution in seeking out the truth. He’s clearly highly intelligent, but also uncompromising and blunt, which does him no favours. I don’t know that he can be easily summarised, but that’s in his favour. End of the day whether he is likeable or not is immaterial, though it is something he will always be judged on.

He is a great figure of our times. What he has done has not all been good, but overwhelmingly has been. We should be thanking him for the truth he brought to bear. Instead, he is forgotten or dismissed. Odds on he’ll ultimately be extradited to the US where he’ll face trumped-up laws that basically infringe on free speech and the profession of journalism, and every chance he will be undefended by those who owe him a debt.

Ironic it would be that he is prosecuted by the type of tyranny he sought to expose to the world.

Time to endure


In Sandringham, on Saturday I walked past a bottleshop with a chalked sign outside proclaiming that if the LNP won the election the full purchase price of anything bought today would be refunded. At first, I took it as a rusted on Lib supporter, but as I reflected further I figured it was just a commercially savvy owner trying to spur sales. That’s how confident he was the Libs would be out of government. Well, he was wrong, as was just about everyone else, including me.

It was a horror show watching the count unfold. Right from the start the pundits were bewildered. For years Labor had been in front in the polls. Leading into election day they were ahead 51-49, and even the exit polls conducted on the day were showing a 52-48 advantage. But as the numbers came through they were different from that.

There’s going to be a lot written about this, and already has been. In the wash-up Queensland pretty well cost Labor the election – it was a disaster. Not only did they fail to pick up seats there, but they also lost seats they’d held. A couple more seats lost in Tassie were unexpected, and while Victoria swung to the ALP it was smaller than expected and didn’t have the cut through it might have.

Right now the coalition is poised to just get a majority, maybe. As a passionate advocate for change, this has been a killer for me, the only positive being that finally Tony Abbott is out of the parliament.

It’s hard to explain how devastating this was for me on Saturday night. It was like having served a prison sentence on the day I was finally to be released they said, no, sorry, you’ve got to serve another three years. I had serious concerns about my mental health. I didn’t want to get out of bed yesterday. I didn’t want to come to work today. I didn’t want to face the world.

I was disappointed in the result, naturally, but it went beyond that. I’d proclaimed this the most important election for many years because it was a contest between ideas and no ideas – and no ideas won. In itself that was depressing, but the message from that was clear – if you want to win an election its best to present a small target and go negative, as the LNP did. They gt elected on a platform of no policies and lies. It worked, and it shouldn’t, and the probability is that it will condemn us to mean spirited election campaigns for years to come.

On top of that, it hit me thinking about all the good things that won’t happen now. All the good policies that were killed off. I’d have thought climate policy would have been enough to swing the election, but inexplicably wasn’t. We won’t get the federal ICAC now either, not with any teeth.

Finally, and most devastatingly, I felt betrayed by the Australian people. For years I’ve thought and believed the best of them. When they’ve been called racist or disinterested I’ve said no, that’s just a few bad apples spoiling it for the rest of us. This election was lost because of self-interest and ignorance. People were either selfish or uninterested or ignorant. This was like a gut punch to me. I wanted to think Australians’ were better than that, but I was wrong. I don’t know if I will ever really recover from that. I know that half of Australia basically voted for the ALP, and most people I know, but I can’t get over this sense of vast disappointment. I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed.

Gradually you adjust. In the short term, I’m avoiding politics. I can’t face that smug, shit-eating grin of the buffoon we’ve got for PM. I need to look after myself for a while. Then I have to choose but expect despite the shame I’ll end up doubling down. I can’t give up the fight.

In the meantime, Labor must pick itself up and learn from its mistakes. Shorten has announced he will step down and the leadership seems a choice between Albanese and Plibersek. I think Albo should have been made leader when Shorten was. Had he I expect we’d have a Labor government today (antipathy towards Shorten a big factor in the election). I like Albo, he’s passionate and authentic and smart. But I think his moment has passed. Plibersek is smart and tough, I’d be voting for her. If Wong was in the house of reps I think she would be the best choice, but that’s not an option. A smoky for the future is Jim Chalmers. Maybe it’s time to give him a run – perhaps as deputy.

The other lessons come from the election campaign. I hope Labor aren’t scared off and will stick by their guns. Be bold. Don’t go down the narrow road the Libs have taken. Just do it better.

Better means properly articulating policies better, as Keating and Hawke once did. Bring the electorate with you. Take them on the journey.

The one policy that killed Labor was the franking credits, which the Coalition called a retirement tax. Many people voted against a policy that would have no impact whatsoever on them. They were scared into making a rash decision. Explain it better – it affects only a minority, and then those who are independently wealthy. Sell the benefits – we get $6 billion back into the coffers for schools and roads and hospitals and – hey! – guess what, it’ll pay for your dental care as a senior. But nope.

The other thing that’s riled me is the refusal by Labor to defend themselves against the lies of the Coalition. This has been going on for years, the most egregious being that Labor are bad economic managers which is repeated every campaign. This is a myth that needs to be killed off for the good of the party going forward. The evidence is that Labor are better economic managers, and you only have to point to Hawke/Keating to see excellent economic management. More relevantly perhaps, all the ALP had to do when the Coalition pointed to the deficit Labor created (on the back of the economic stimulus during the GFC) was that since coming into government that the Coalition has doubled it. Go hard, don’t stand for it.

Now I’ll go quiet for a while and lick my wounds.

A beautiful day for an election


It’s a beautiful day to change the government.

It was bloody cold first thing this morning, as it has been for the last couple of weeks, but the sky was clear and blue and the sun bright and quickly it warmed up.

I had an early appointment to get my hair cut in Sandringham. I chatted with the hairdresser as he snipped away. I’ve been going to the same place for 5-6 years now and we know each other well, but today I discovered he was a Liberal voter. Like many, he confessed he didn’t follow politics and didn’t know much about it, but as “a small business owner” he always voted Liberal.

I drove back to Hampton after and, parking the car, walked up the road to the nearest primary school. Even from a distance, I could smell the democracy sausages being cooked with onions on the side. I was there for that, and no other reason. I waved my hand at the how to vote cards presented to me as I walked the gauntlet. At the sausage stall, I was exuberantly told there was a plethora of choice, I could have anything I wanted for $3. “Democracy in action,” I responded, similarly exuberant.

It’s been a wearying and occasionally dispiriting election campaign, but there’s something about how elections days are done in Australia that is splendid. It’s a tiresome act in many ways, but the democracy sausage has become iconic. Add in the stalls manned by volunteers selling cakes and the like for the local school fund, the banter along the way, and there’s a light-hearted, almost celebratory fizz to the day.

I had an invite out tonight, but tonight is one night I never go out. Any time there’s an election I’m there in front of my TV watching every development. I’m all in. This time around that’s especially true. This is a watershed election. This is the chance to remake Australia – or slide back into the mire. I’m confident we’ll see a change of government.

There’s always the footy on the other channel, just in case.