Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Federal Attraction

Before we begin today's sermon, check out MrLefty's take on yesterday's horse race, where "a horse travelled around the track at Flemington slightly faster than the other horses". Marvellous. I was going to post on how little I care about the Melbourne Cup and how the journalistic hyperbole used to astronomical proportions (ha ha) to cover said race shits me, but MrL as usual has done a much better job than I ever would.

This week's SX column below.

Is it really too much to hope for a viable opposition to the Howard government?

In light of various and possibly dangerous legislative initiatives proposed by the government, particularly relating to “anti-terror” measures, true opponents of potential civil liberty infringements and further racial isolation are increasingly being sought and found not in the ALP, but on the Coalition backbench. This is perhaps not surprising, given Labor’s current parliamentary redundancy, but when Opposition Leader Kym Beazley is claiming not only will his party support the government’s laws but also himself proposing even more extreme measures, something is very wrong.

Beazley out-did himself once again this week, addressing the aggressively anti-queer lobby group, the Australian Christian Lobby (organisers of last year’s anti-gay marriage forum in Canberra). Like any good politician, Beazley told a special interest crowd what they wanted to hear, speaking “as a Christian” and essentially disregarding the tenet of separating politics from personal religious beliefs in his pitch to court the Rancid Religious Right vote. This was yet another example of Beazley’s “me too” style of leadership, often emulating John Howard in policy and belief with only minor watered-down concessions to the latter’s extremities.

There has been much negative reaction to Beazley’s leadership this week regarding his support of the anti-terror measures, with many people lamenting, as I am, the absence of a clear political alternative. Sadly, however, I don’t believe as some do that the solution to the ALP’s current woes is to replace Beazley with a less right-wing leader, such as Julia Gillard. Such a move is not going to garner any more votes in an electorate that Howard has helped to shape in his own ultra-conservative image. Labor may have clawed back some of the voters it lost to the Greens in 2001 over its Tampa stance but ultimately, the Coalition still finished ahead in the two-party preferred, highlighting the real problem: Labor is not winning back the voters it has lost to the Coalition.

No doubt, it was such voters Beazley had in mind when deciding to speak at the ACL, in a relatively ideal climate where many of the major religions have expressed concerns over the government’s IR changes. And even while addressing such a homophobic audience, Beazley managed to re-assert, in a very non-specific way, his party’s commitment to a legislative audit and reform of laws discriminating against queer people and same-sex couples. But this one ray of light was overshadowed by the usual hollow, meaningless rhetoric about protecting marriage and families as Beazley reminded the crowd how unreservedly Labor supported the government over the gay marriage ban.

A party and a leader that’s willing to integrate religious dogma into politics, appease extreme fringe groups and endorse prejudice to chase a few extra votes. Or John Howard.

What a choice.


At 2/11/05 7:09 pm, Blogger JahTeh said...

That horse has more brains than Beazley or Howard and is better looking and no I didn't back it.


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