Tuesday, December 06, 2005

In Defence of Kym

So I had my folks over for the weekend, which was noice.

My Dad, a very wise man who finally saw the light and stopped voting Liberal after thirty years when the true malevolence of John Howard became unavoidably clear, pointed out to me a few days ago what seems bloody obvious now - that Howard himself leaked news of the Robert Gerard affair because Costello was starting to get too many ants in his I-want-the-fucking-Prime-Ministership-you-miserly-old-bastard! pants.

A random name-dropping aside: I went to school with Robert Gerard Jnr and can safely claim he was a wanker of international proportions who, like his old man, looks uncomfortably like an Angolan lion.

Howard is not going anywhere. The party has no need to dump him for Costello and Howard now has his eyes on the prize of being the longest-serving PM of all time. Now, bearing in mind old Pig Iron had the top job for 17 years in total, that would mean Howard has to win at least 3 more elections. Which means we'd have him until 2016, if not longer.


Meanwhile...It would appear blogger is now in fact *not* on the banned workplace net sites after all. I don't want to jinx myself by saying I can publish posts again but things look quite encouraging today at least.

Here's SX to celebrate (cautiously).

As Opposition Leader Version 2.0, Kym Beazley has often come under fire – including from this column – for playing what seems to be an ongoing game of keeping up with the Jones’, the coveted neighbours in this case being John Howard and his increasingly radical government.

Beazley’s form with regard to anti-terrorism legislation, his effective defence of Howard when condemning Amanda Vanstone for quite sensibly highlighting how “anti-terror” measures are often about the perception rather than reality of increased security, and his recent address to the homophobic Australian Christian Lobby, make him difficult to distinguish from our Prime Minister, and I’ve read more than one wag label him “Howard-lite”.

But much as I’ve been disappointed with Beazley, I acknowledge the difficult position he’s in. Though it pains me to admit, Howard, with the help of the Murdoch media machine, has successfully helped to re-shape the electorate in his own conservative image, and issues of indigenous reconiciliation, severing ties with a redundant monarchy and strengthening relations with our nation’s closest neighbours – key causes of Howard’s predecessor, Paul Keating – now pale into insignificance compared to current fixations with maintaining low interest rates, national security and “protecting” the Family Unit from ever-looming threats, like homosexuality.

Sure, Beazley and the Labor Party could adopt more hardline ideological opposition to the government to maintain some left-wing cred, but unfortunately this just would not win him votes in the marginal seats that inevitably determine our next PM.

Howard’s extreme IR changes are a lifeline to federal Labor – an opportunity for both the party and the trade union movement from which it grew to reassert their relevance and dispel any myth that Howard is a friend to the worker. Beazley now has before him an ideal opportunity to show how and why these changes are less about increasing productivity than about lowering the minimum wage in Australia and smashing union solidarity – Howard’s 30-year political wet dream.

It is likely that the worst repercussions of this legislation will not manifest themselves until after the next election, and Beazley will not be kept on should he lose to Howard a third time. But there is now still at least 2 years for Labor not just to continually expose the many shortcomings of these “reforms”, but also to present an alternative national workplace relations model that is more worker-friendly, while still being careful not to alienate business and employers.

Of course, Labor cannot operate as a “one-issue” party. But Beazley’s recent interview with MCV in which he reasserted Labor’s commitment to comprehensive legislative reform for same-sex couples – and his statement that these reforms are in accordance with his personal beliefs on this issue – was a reminder that “Howard-lite”, for all his vices, is still much healthier for us than the real thing.


At 6/12/05 3:39 pm, Blogger Gay Erasmus said...

You're alive! I was beginning to worry.

At 6/12/05 5:16 pm, Blogger Riza said...

Hey - small point, doesn't he spell it 'Kim'?

At 6/12/05 7:32 pm, Blogger mikey said...

Or did you just call him Kym for a bit of boganistic flair?

At 7/12/05 9:24 am, Blogger Sam said...

Hrm, so he does. Although Kym Beazley is also returned in a Google search. And I've always assumed Kim was the girly spelling. Meh.

At 7/12/05 10:34 am, Blogger cvm said...

Ouch, stop the name diss ;) Although I prefer Kim to Uncle John he can’t have my name. Don't ask google ask www.alp.org

Not to put the cat among the proverbial but how much do we let the Labor party “conservativise” before they are not actually an alternative anymore? I know that the ALP has taken some stands on some important issues but if they are pussy-footing around in opposition could we expect them to really be more radical if/when they get into power? The eternal struggle of the reformist perhaps..

At 7/12/05 11:43 am, Blogger Sam said...

Kym: I think this sort of process cannot be rushed. Ideally, once the ALP were safely in power with clear sailing for an election or two, they could - I hope - begin to repair the damage the Howard government has done and try to bring us back to the more socially responsible, tolerant nation we were pre-Howard.

Definitely though, as you say, a post-Howard Labor government is unlikely to be truly radical - the Whitlam or even Hawke "glory" eras are long dead.

Strange days when the "conservative" party is radical and the "left" party conservative, but here we are...

Comment duly noted re name check too. Sometimes I have all the journalistic skill and integrity of a Daily Terrographist!

At 7/12/05 11:48 am, Anonymous Bazza said...

Kymmy boy is a lost cause, as is the ALP. Talk about "Arthur or Martha", the ALP as they are now could'nt run a bath!

At 7/12/05 12:14 pm, Blogger JahTeh said...

I wish the Queen would give the little pipsqueak his knighthood and then he might go. Unfortunately I think he not only wants Menzies's record but wants to out govern Bush and Blair as well.

You have a devious mind Sam, I never thought of Johnny leaking info. but now it's obvious.

At 7/12/05 1:51 pm, Blogger cvm said...

I agree that complete turnaround is unrealistic and unlikely to inspire social responsibility and accountability (witness the Ukraine recently) but it just seems all rather depressing to be hoping for something that’s just a “little bit less shit”. Maybe that’s just the remaining fragments of the student Leftie in me.

Lil John has also been very clever in creating a fearful country which needs him to be hard on crime, hard on interest rates and hard on queers. I wonder how our friends in the ALP might really be able to counteract this without going to that same space.

And Kimmy is a lost cause, maybe Julia could do it?

At 7/12/05 4:21 pm, Blogger Sam said...

My thoughts on Julia: personally, I'd love to see PM or even Prez J to da G, but I don't think the Australian electorate is mature enough yet to cope with having an unmarried childless woman with - gasp! an infrequently used kitchen - leading them. Also, I don't think a federal Labor leader ever comes from the Left faction.

If Beazley loses the next election, my money's on Rudd as the next Opp Leader with JG the deputy.

At 8/12/05 1:13 am, Blogger ziggystardust73 said...

I'm returning to Australia in the not too distant future, and your comments on the state of the current political affairs there is making me *shudder*.

It almost sounds as bad as the English political affairs.

At 8/12/05 6:18 am, Blogger Ron said...

"Hawke "glory" eras"

I don't think there was anything such thing, Sam. I think the ALP rot and the country's move to the right started with Hawke, accelerated with Keating and has become consolidated with Howard. Hawke/Keating laid for the foundations for many of Howard's 'reforms'.

People forget it was the ALP that starting privatisation with the sale of the 'people's bank' and Qantas. It was ALP policy that was responsible for the refugee concentration camps. Hawke's super union strategy and the accords are the reasons for demise of the unions.

Probably the last left of centre PM this country had, in comparison with today's government, was Malcolm Fraser.

And the state ALP govts are no better.

At 9/12/05 9:27 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I think that little Johnny is a decent little guy,it`s just that he has a load of ****wits around him. Starting with Mrs. Bucket (Janet),Ruddock,Abbott,Nelson,Heffener and the rest (almost) of the Country Party wankers. Keep up the good work, it`s a great site.


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