Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New Titanic captain?

The Lib leadership tussle is interesting. If you really wanna piss yourself, read about Tony Abbott's conviction that he has 'people skills'. I sincerely hope Bernie Banton heard that little quip in his final moments, just so he could go out with a grin on his face.

As if his nomination isn't enough of a joke, Abbott has already committed to carrying on the Howard legacy with little change. Yeah - good luck with that Tones. Sit back and watch the votes pour in come 2010/11.

Self-delusion is a powerful thing.

The Libs will have to adapt over the coming years and repudiate Howard's extremism if they ever hope to see the light of government day again. Malcolm Turnbull and Brendan Nelson both know this and are already making appropriate noises.

I must say, I'm surprised Turnbull's jumping in for it so quickly. Not because he's not insanely ambitious or absolutely convinced he's the next Liberal PM (president?), but I don't think he's being terribly strategic. Assuming the sky doesn't fall in economically over the next 3-4 years, Labor should also win the next election - and I certainly cannot think of an Opposition leader serving two or more consecutive, uninterrupted terms in Opposition before transitioning into government. Turnbull should let Nelson and Abbott battle it out, lead them to a defeat at the next election, then pounce. Assuming he wins the leadership now - and it sounds as though he's the current favourite - he may have a hard time hanging on till 2015 (bearing in mind Rudd's plan for fixed four-year terms). He may have to play it like Howard and have a bypass or two throughout.

My money's on Julie Bishop winning deputy, thereby creating the Lib equivalent of a Rudd/Gillard package. Yeah - I'll call Turnbull/Bishop.

Then again, y'all know how wrong my calls have been lately. Based on current form it could just as easily be Abbott and the OTHER Bishop lass!

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As Sideshow Bob would say, 'yee-harrrrrrrruhh'.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007


OH. MY. GOD!!!

I've never been happpier in my life to be wrong about something as I am tonight.

John: See ya 'round mate. It hasn't been fun.

Kev: Please don't fuck it up.

:-) :-) :-)

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Oh crap

I have to shave my head. The Australian - The Australian - has given a Vote Rudd editorial.

In fact, Uncle Rupert seems to be having a bob each way - Vote Rudd in the Oz, Terror and Courier Mail (that one I understand, supporting the local lads); Vote Howard in the Herald-Scum and 'Tiser (can't find what he's saying down in Tassie).

Over at Fairfax, The Age's cock is surprisingly soft while the Smuh's pro-Rudd is probably the editorial with which I find myself in closest agreement. Apparently FIN is pro-Howard, which I guess is no huge surprise.

Hard to suss out Rup's agenda here other than covering all his bases. I honestly believed all his rags would sing from the same book as they did in 2004.

Almost as confusing are these bloody opinion polls - 14 point lead to Labor in Nielsen, but only a four point lead according to Galaxy. I guess both are within a 2.5% margin of error, i.e. the average of both would be 54.5/45.5 on 2PP, which has been roughly the overall median since Rudd took over. On the plus side, Nielsen's sample is twice as big as Galaxy's - but on the down side, Galaxy was the closest poll at the last election when it put the Coalition at 52/48.

Look, for certain career issues that I can't really go into on a public blog I can't shave my head just at this very moment. But I will. I'm a girl of my word.

Fingers and toes we're cracking out the Queen Adelaide and footy franks tomorrow night!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

10 reasons why I'm preferencing Labor at this election: The finale

2. Teh gay Guess you were wondering when I'd get to this one.

Over my nearly three years of blogging, and several more years' involvement in all things teh gay, critics from both sides have questioned my 'preoccupation' with same-sex couple rights and empowerment of the queer (insert gender ambiguous noun here) generally. A couple of Trots I know reckon I'm too caught up with relationship rights/recognition on account of my middle-class upbringing, and that far too many single queers have greater issues at hand - isolation, drug addition, physical and psychological abuse etc - than worrying about who they can or cannot nominate as their private sector super beneficiary. Folk on the right try less successfully to use a similar argument as apology for John Howard having done next to fuck-all for queers in his 11+ years of power.

Maybe there's an element of truth to these accusations. Maybe if I had been effectively kicked out of home when I came out, like my partner and several friends were/have been, I might have different priorities. Maybe I focus too much on teh gay because, apart from that particular minority trait, I'm cruising pretty comfortably in life as a white, middle-class male.

But all I really want is a government that recognises and acts on the hardships both queers and queer couples face every day. I genuinely believe the Howard government has failed, repeatedly, to do so. Such hardships are independent of class and wealth status, and should be redressed by a government in a secular nation that has long decriminalised homosexuality and claims not to support unjustified discrimination.

I'm not just angry at the Howard government for failing to properly reform legislation to recognise same-sex couples - I'm angry it contains men in senior positions like Eric Abetz, Bill Heffernan and Wilson Tuckey, whose words of hatred and homophobia help contribute to disproportionately high suicide rates among young same-sex attracted men, particularly in the bush. I'm angry it has spent years constructing queers as threatening to both 'The Family' and 'The Marriage' while actively encouraging genuine threats to family values, such as the Exclusive Brethren cult and Family First. I'm angry that the Treasurer and third-most senior figure in the government argues that gays and lesbians should be happy that we're not locked up for our 'crime' anymore and that it's unreasonable to expect anything greater. I'm angry that the Prime Minister would be 'disappointed' if his own child came out to him.

At a federal level, Labor have been disappointing on this issue. They are committed to action on HREOC's 'Same Sex: Same Entitlements' report but this was reactive rather than proactive. They caved too easily to the gay marriage wedge in 2004 and they're still too influenced by rabid homophobes from the catholic right union(s) like Joe de Bruyn or SA No 1 Senate candidate Don Farrell. Kevin Rudd has not spoken out often enough against the Howard government's many failures in this area for fear of frightening the horses and I really wish Penny Wong would lead by a more inspiring, empowering example.

However, Labor is the party that actually has a direct policy on same-sex couples and queer people in its platform. It is the party whose AG-to-be deigns to talk to queers at public functions, and not just the activists. It is the party that at a state level has reformed the laws to ensure much, if not total equality. It is the party that has acknowledged the problem of violence against queers, both by outsiders and within our domestic relationships, and offered strategies to resolve this problem. It is the party whose ear can perhaps be bended over time to the idea of civil unions - it will at least make a pretence of listening. It is the party that does not necessarily assume one's sexuality is an impairment to effective parenting.

The Howard government has failed on teh gay. Labor deserves a fighting chance.

1. Climate change I've fallen for the wicked-witch-green conspiracy. I do in fact believe we're at a precipice, where the choices and decisions we make now could have potentially catastrophic consequences for the next generation. Not in a thousand years, but in a hundred years. After a while, I just had to give up thinking that every single legitimate environmentalist, scientist and expert in the field were all part of a great global swindle, and started accepting that they might just be onto something after all.

John Howard has not yet reached this point, no matter what he might otherwise claim at his death-bed conversion. He and too many of his senior government members have always believed at heart that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy. He only 'changed his mind' this year because he finally tweaked - rather late, by his standards too - that this was a vote-changing issue to many, many people, including more than a few rusted-ons.

I do believe there is a Greenhouse mafia operating within the Liberal Party and it's only now being exposed. When even the Liberals' own are acknowledging the Howard government's appalling inaction on climate change, you know that somethere there is a significant hurdle in operation.

Howard believes the environment only operates within the confines of the economy. I question the point of a strong economy within the confines of a polluted, dying planet where more and more people are struggling to breathe clean air, drink water or not exhaust their habitat's resources. Seems pretty pointless having a strong economy if we're not around to enjoy it.

And what is the Howard government's (eventual) 'solution' to climate change? 'Clean coal' (the greatest oxymoron since 'friendly fire') and nuclear power. This in a nation that has an abundance of sun and wind, but oddly not much serious investment in wind and solar power. The fuck?

Climate change is bigger than simply ratifying Kyoto - but it's a good start, as Malcolm Turnbull well knows, and Kevin Rudd has committed himself to doing so. Similarly, his 20/20 target - 20% renewable energy target by 2020 - is by definition better than the Coalition's 15% target within the same time frame. Kevin Rudd actually uses the terms 'solar power', 'wind power' and 'renewable energy' without sneering - I saw him do as much on the 7:30 Report tonight - so of course I have more confidence leaving action on climate change to him and his government than the alternative.

That's not to say it's all up to a single government - think global, act local and all that. But individual goodwill only goes so far; at some point,
new targets, policies, strategies and actions from all levels of government, especially federal and state, are required. I have no confidence in the Howard or Costello governments to take the required action but I am prepared to give Rudd a go. For the moment he's earned my faith.

That's about it kids! Hope you're still awake. Wait and see now, I guess. I'm still cautiously pessimistic about the outcome of Saturday night but if this blog does nothing else than change one person's vote, then it's all worth it.

On second thought: Nah, that's bullshit. It's gotta change about 400,000 people's votes. People in marginal seats. Who probably don't read homo blogs.


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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

In which QP diverts from the 10 reasons to offer an election prediction...

...And believe me, it makes me as sad to type it as it does (most of) you to read it:

The Coalition will just win this election.

This prediction flies in the face of very wise men who know far more about psephology than I ever will. It's possible I'm making this prediction as a subconscious defence mechanism, just to brace myself for the absolute worst conceivable outcome even in the face of such broad confidence that November 24 will be Howard's last day as PM. Just remember, we didn't brace ourselves for the worst in 2004 other than a resolving ourselves to a Howard victory - then the bastards got the Senate.

The consolation I offer is that I believe a Labor/Green Senate majority is conceivable (and no more Fundies First will sprout up), so at least some stoppers will be put on the extreme Howard agenda. But come November 25 I think at best it will still be too soon to know who's won, and at worst we'll know for sure that Kevin Rudd is still Opposition Leader.

I'm basing this on a state-by-state, seat-by-seat analysis, rather than assuming that the big swing Labor will no doubt achieve necessarily equates to winning a raft of marginals. I think quite a few very safe Liberal seats will become merely safe, a few safe Liberal seats will become marginal and some marginal Labor seats will become safe - but I keep crunching the numbers in my head based on an aggregate of all reports, and I just cannot come up with 16 seats for Labor to win.

New South Wales
1. Eden-Monaro
2. Dobell
3. Lindsday
4. Macquarie

The Libs will narrowly hold onto Bennelong, Wentworth, Page, Robertson and Paterson. Net gain of 4 to Labor.

Status quo - neither Labor nor the Libs will gain or lose their existing seats.

5. Bonner
6. Moreton
7. Blair

Libs to narrowly hold Herbert and Longman. Net gain of 3 to Labor.

South Australia
8. Wakefield
9. Kingston
10. Makin

God love my home state - this is the safest horse to bet on for a strong anti-Howard vote. Labor will come close but not quite nab Sturt and Boothby.

11. Bass
12. Braddon

Nice realignment of the uniform Labor state here.

Northern Territory
13. Solomon

Western Australia, the most Howard-loving state of all, is where things get tricky. The Libs have based their electoral strategy on holding on to their marginals and winning a Labor seat or two here, and I have no reason to believe this won't happen.

Western Australia
14. Hasluck, BUT:
- 13. Loss of Cowan. No net gain to Labor. (Come on - the Libs have to win at least one seat this election.)

Net gain to Labor: 13 seats. Final result: Lib/ALP/Independents 75/73/2. Objectively, still a very good performance from Labor, who will comfortably win the popular 2PP vote, but just not quite good enough.

Believe me - I've never wanted to be wrong about anything more than I want to be about this.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

10 reasons why I'm preferencing Labor at this election: Part 4

4. Iraq + US/International relations From the beginning Labor consistently opposed Australia's automatic kowtowing to the US' disastrous invasion of Iraq based on fraudulent premises. They argued, correctly, that there were still further diplomatic options to consider and that UN directives should not be pissed aside simply because what they did not suit the US warmongering agenda.

Mark Latham was/is a lot of things, but he hit the nail on the head when he identified George W Bush as 'the most dangerous and incompetent US president in living memory'. History has since shown this to be more than true. Unfortunately, due to our PM's sycophantic urge to be besties with the idiot, the rest of us had to suffer along, falsely tarred with the same brush that we were all eager to be the No. 1 ally of a government whose corruption, arrogance and utter contempt for democracy puts even our own in the shade.

Whatever happens, this time next year the world will finally be rid of the cancerous Bush, and hopefully the US citizens will come to their senses and elect a government committed to gradual withdrawal from Iraq. It is much more credible for Australia to have a government and PM that can similarly commit to this goal without having to first perform a massive about-face on its established foreign policy.

Howard would only be an uncomfortable, shadowy reminder of the Bush legacy and I imagine reluctant to work professionally and effectively with the likely Clinton Democrat administration. The Australian and US conservatives have had nearly eight years of combined government, and look where they've got us; it's time to give a more progressive combined alliance the opportunity to undo at least some of the damage.

3. ABC Conservatives have longed argued that public broadcasting is an anachronistic waste of public expenditure. No doubt, many in the Howard government think as much even if they're unable to say so publicly. But this government's relentless attack on the institution over the last 11 years is fueled not just by this ideology, but by the hatred it harbours for any outlet that dare seriously question, examine and/or expose its operation and agenda.

In an era where commercial television grows increasingly stupider, more crass and more offensive - hello, The Farmer Wants a Wife - the role of a television station providing quality Australian programming is now crucial. Think what Aunty has given us over the years: Four Corners, 7.30 Report, Play School, Mother and Son, GP, The Chaser/CNNNN, D-Generation, The Late Show, Kath and Kim, Enough Rope, We Can Be Heroes, Summer Heights High, Frontline, Seachange, Rainshadow, Good News Week (the early years, obviously), Spicks 'n' Specks, The Librarians ... Not to mention all the various mini-series too. It's not in the commercial interests of Seven, Nine or Ten to churn out locally made news, current affairs, comedy and drama - buying overseas products is so much cheaper - so this vital role falls on the shoulders of the ABC, and even parched for funds as they are, it does so admirably.

Even some conservatives themselves recognise the vital role of the ABC, particularly with regard to regional radio services. Other conservatives have confused the ABC's scrutiny of any government of the day and trying to hold it to account with a specific, biased attack against the Howard government. Not so.

Of course the ABC has a good friend in the Labor Party - the former's ex-journos running as candidates for the latter is testament to this. But the ABC needs a friend in government now more than ever before. It will still hold the Rudd administration accountable and no doubt piss off Labor and its senior members, just as it did under Hawke and Keating, but that is only an indication that it's doing its job properly.

More importantly, its board won't be further stacked with right-wing culture warriors intent on its gradual decimation. It will be provided with a budget (or close to) that it genuinely deserves and needs, and the pressure of 'editorial balance' - a brilliant euphemism for 'Howard government propaganda' - will be lessened. The ABC will continue to lead innovation in digital technology - anybody else excited by the thought of an ABC 3, 4, etc? And the ABC will have greater liberty to produce programming that deserves international attention and kudos, so that as commercial stations sink further into the gutter, Aunty can once again hold her head high, as she did before she was so shamelessly violated.

Almost there! I'm pooped. Woine toime now.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Take five

A commenter has kindly suggested this ongoing reasons-to-preference-Labor analysis needs to be broken up with a hottie picture or two. Sorry if this has been boring y'all, it's just stuff I wanna get off my chest before November 24.

Anyways, he's an oldie, but never gets any less hottie:

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I miss Benji. Curse Nikki Whelan for thinking she'll be the next Radha Mitchell blonde Gaybores starlet to make it big in Hollywood (big hair and cans do not alone the actress make, particularly where a vacuum of actual talent is involved).

Curse the Gaybores writers for doing nothing else with Benji's character than making him Pepper's love interest such that when she left, he had to go too.

Curse the Gaybores writers for not having a storyline about Declan discovering hitherto unknown 'special', 'tingling' feelings when Benji, in cop uniform, was arresting (read: handcuffing) him for stealing that car.

A pox on all their Docklands apartments.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

10 reasons why I'm preferencing Labor at this election: Part 3

They just keep coming and coming ...

6. Reconciliation Like his alleged environmental road to Demascus (more on that later), I don't buy John Howard's claim to have discovered the value of symbolic politics as part of the reconciliation process. I strongly believe his pledge to stick around for a referendum on recognising indigenous people in the Constitution preamble is just that - an opportunity for him to stick around and delay for as long as possible the handover to Costello that party chieftains have forced him to publicly commit to.

Labor has always been consistent in committing to a formal apology for past wrong-doings. Of course, this won't solve all the many problems in one statement, but it will be a positive starting point. Whether it will be a genuine 'sorry' or a John Howard sorry remains to be seen but the expression of goodwill and desire to work together, which has been lacking for the last 11 years and especially in the last 12 months with cowboy Mal Brough and his over-inflated sense of deluded self-importance that he's single-handedly saving the poor darkies from themselves, is vital.

Labor dropped the ball playing me-too on Howard's intervention media stunt earlier this year, but hopefully when they're in a position to be dictating rather than reacting to indigenous policy they won't be placed in this situation again. At an international level Australia's record on indigenous rights and living conditions is appalling - both parties have failed. I don't know if a Rudd government will do things any better than a Howard government but I believe the time is right to try something different, something other than a government that only determines its policies according to what is expedient for the PM of the time after years of putting it in the too-hard basket.

5. Education The Howard government has shown itself time and time again to be an enemy of intellectual thought and discourse. Every Higher Ed minister from Vanstone to Nelson to Bishop has been so obsessed with finding the reds under the bed at our tertiary institutions that they've forgotten the value of proper investment in the thinking industry.

It's not necessarily wrong that the Libs have prioritised developing trade schools - the country is experiencing an unprecedented skills shortage after all. But it's bitterly disappointing that over the last 11 years the Libs have so effectively devalued the inherent value of thought and education, that rather than being a nation of ideas we're a nation of trade jobs and corresponding degree factories.

Students' higher ed debts - which, yes, were started by a Labor government - have risen ridiculously exponentially. On a personal level, I don't see myself free from uni debt until my mid-late 30s - and such a burden only encourages further personal debt. When you graduate with 20k looming over your head, it's not such a big leap to think, 'what the hell, I'm already debted up to my eyeballs anyway, what's another 5-10k in credit cards gonna hurt?' Fee increases all implemented, by the way, by ministers who had the luxury of free degrees themselves. Thanks for that.

VSU has irreparably damaged student life and culture on campus. A one-size-fits-all user pays system sounds nice in principle but by definition renders sensitive student services, such as on-campus GLBTI support groups of which I used to be an active participant, 'unnecessary' because 'users' may be too nervous to pay up-front.

Again, I don't imagine Labor will reintroduce compulsory student fees or significantly lower higher ed debts (at best they'll plateau). But getting past the 'Education Revolution' cliche, the guts of their education policy thus far is sound. In particular:
When it comes to our Universities, the Leader Kevin Rudd, in the course of his address to Conference, referred to the lack of investment which the Howard Government has made, not discharging its central obligation as the Commonwealth to our public Universities. We must make that educational investment. It’s absolutely essential for our future prosperity, our competitiveness and our capacity to be a thoughtful nation.

Contrary to the Libs' charge, it is in fact they who are the fiercest ideologues in their education policies. Consider for example what is airbrushed out of existence in John Howard's history curriculum. We need a government that genuinely values education for its own sake, not just as a tool of economic growth, encourages independent thought and is not obsessed with re-writing history to suit its own agenda.

If you get caught between number 4 and number 3, the best that you can do ... yes, the best that you can do ... is read my next post.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

10 reasons why I'm preferencing Labor at this election: Part 2

Previously, on QueerPenguin ...

8. WorkChoices/Work+life balance Even though this will probably be the issue that decides this election one way or another, the reason it's lower down on my list is that even though I was put onto an AWA after WorkChoices was rammed through, changes to my overall working and pay conditions were minimal - same shit, different contract to sign.

But I think at issue here is a fundamental difference in perspective between Labor and the Coalition regarding work generally. On the whole, Australians work very hard. We're renowned internationally for our hard work ethic and long hours. It's great that as a nation we're channelling so much productivity, but WorkChoices takes that enthusiasm too far, to the point of exploitation. Its overarching goals are firstly to lower the minimum wage in Australia so that we have an edge in the international labour force, and secondly to render unions completely redundant - John Howard's raison d'etre for his 33-year political career.

Of course, while we're cruising along the nice freeway of labour shortages and an upward wage-driving resources boom, plenty of individuals will be happy to negotiate themselves a cushy AWA - but I don't see this as sustainable in the long term, especially when the bough finally breaks. Service industries like nursing, teaching etc still rely on good collective bargaining for their basic work conditions and entitlements. Yes, union membership only accounts for around 20% of the overall work force, far less than under the Hawke glory days for the unions, but this doesn't mean they still don't have a place. Think of the key negotiating role both the ACTU and Unions NSW played in reaching a compensation agreement for victims in the James Hardie asbestos case. Under an unfettered Liberal government, unions would be neutered in this situation.

I don't say this as a particularly big fan of unions - I was a reluctant member of the SDA, the most right-wing, homophobic union in Australia, and saw absolute power corrupting absolutely an organisation that certainly wasn't representative of me or my interests. Likewise, I have first-hand experience of how quickly public sector unions abandon their members when it's politically expedient to do so. But just because unions don't always operate in practice as well as they should in principle does not mean they should be completely decimated.

I don't buy the Liberal scare campaign that the big evil union bosses will be in charge again under a Labor government - it's obvious Kevin Rudd has very few senior union friends - so I want to give them an opportunity to reprioritise, ideally to show that working long, hard hours to earn thousands of dollars to buy McMansions, gas-guzzling SUVs and plasma TVs and/or donate to Hillsong should not be the only goal to which all Australians should aspire.

This is the one election where voters actually have an opportunity to do what they should have been allowed to do last time - vote for or against WorkChoices. It only became a reality when the Coalition gained Senate control and the legislation was rammed through without any legitimate mandate. I firmly believe the hard economic warriors of the Liberal Party - Costello, Minchin etc - wish to take WorkChoices to its furthest possible extreme, and unlike this election people should be able to bear this in mind when they cast their vote. We were duped last time, but if we vote to keep the Howard/Costello government and its Senate majority in tact, we will only have ourselves to blame when WorkChoices is progressed to its natural extremity(ies).

7. Referenda on Republic and fixed elections This one is pretty self-explanatory. Both are exercises in democracy to which Howard is vehemently opposed. I believe the majority of people want both and should be allowed an opportunity to vote accordingly. Rudd is committed to both. Both will strengthen Australia's democracy, enhance our independence on the global stage and, perhaps most importantly, remove the pain of waiting for the PM in charge to capriciously determine when we go to vote according to the most favourable opinion poll. We now have fixed dates in most states and it's time for the Commonwealth (which hopefully won't be called the 'Commonwealth' much longer) to catch up.

The 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' argument against Australia severing ties with the monarchy is rubbish. The Australian Head of State should be Australian and should not be representing a redundant queen. I'll always have a soft spot for Lizzie #2 but I think Australia is all growed up now, that we can move out of her home and no longer be beholden to her in any way. The 1999 Republic referendum, which denied Australians the opportunity to express their genuine desires, highlighted that the majority of us did indeed wish to become a republic - we were just split on how to get there. I have major reservations about a directly-elected presidential model but I'd still much prefer this to the current alternative.

A lot of people are of the opinion that both these issues are just two of those things that will naturally sort themselves out - but don't seem to understand this won't happen until Howard is removed. Now's the time.

Coming up next on QP: 6 confronts 5, and sparks fly.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

10 reasons why I'm preferencing Labor at this election

The number one cliche best remembered for the 2007 Australian Federal Election will surely be 'me-too'. Kevin Rudd's strongest critics argue he shouldn't win because he's only ever parroting government policy - therefore, why not vote for the genuine article? In fact, I'll bet dollars for donuts this will be the line in the Oz's Vote Howard editorial on Saturday morning, 24 November.

(PS: My challenge still stands, that I will shave my head if the Oz or any Murdoch rag gives a Vote Rudd editorial on the day, even though they're still hilariously claiming they 'haven't made up their mind yet'.)

There's no doubt Rudd has gone for a safer, small target election campaign than his predecessor - after all, it makes little sense to present a vastly different alternative to someone who is undeniably a popular PM, even after 11 long years. And maybe the policies between Labor and Liberal are so closely mirrored because Rudd is in fact just another Howard - a ruthlessly ambitious, socially conservative populist with few genuine friends in the party - and apart from industrial relations, Labor is essentially a right-wing, as opposed to a far right-wing party.

But for me, there are 10 issues where I see clear delineation between Labor and Liberal, and based on these I will be preferencing the former ahead of the latter*. I will order them from 10 to 1, Bert Newton style, over the next week and a bit.

10. The Rancid Religious Right There is no doubt the RRR has a friend in John Howard. Both the rise of Fundies First and failure of Exclusive Brethren to be shut down can both be atrributed to him and his courting of 'Christian' extremists rather than condemning them.

I'm by no means anti-religion or anti-Christian - I know there are many millions of good folk doing great work across the world all in the name of Christ, Budda, Allah, whoever. And good luck to them. But I do believe in secular nations and constitutional separation of church and state, and I don't believe biblical passages have any place in the legislature. After all, if they did my partner and I would probably be dead by now - so consider my position self-preserving, if you wish.

This is why I find Fundies First particularly threatening - they're smart enough to conceal their Bible-thumping agenda behind a fallacy of 'secular family values'. They've noted from Fred Nile's Christian Democrats that an overtly Christian-based political party will only garner so many votes, so they need to market differently to lure more innocent prey into their trap.

Labor made their mistake arranging a Senate preference deal that got Steve Fielding a job, but they appear to have learnt their lesson, judging by this year's deal in which the Greens are rightly preferenced ahead of FF in all states. The Libs, however, continue to spoon with FF, meet with and receive funding from the EB (which Rudd did rightly identify as an 'extremist cult', so there's a clear point of difference) while hypocritically gaining mileage condemning the 'troublesome' Islamic element.

I know Rudd feels the JC love big-time too, but I believe a key point of difference is that not as many of his senior ministers/allies will be thumpers as Howard's (Abbott, Andrews, Heffernan etc). Plus Rudd has previously outlined his belief in church/state separation, so I'm prepared to give him a shot that as PM he will practice what he preaches, and keep his personal religious beliefs just that - personal.

Bear in mind too, that Godfather David Clarke's chief flying monkey, Alex Hawke, is about to begin his no doubt long and illustrious career with the federal Liberal Party - and we know how dangerous both these men are.

9. Tony Abbott, Alexander Downer, Christopher Pyne, Kevin Andrews, Nick Minchin and Eric Abetz will not be ministers under a Labor government. 'Nuff said.

Coming up next: 8 and 7! Don't miss it.

(*Quite honestly, I haven't yet decided who's getting my No 1 vote. There are 11 candidates in Wentworth and I know my No 1 won't go to the Fundies First, CEC, Christian Democrats, Labor or Liberal candidates, but that still leaves me with 6 to order.)

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Gay Bashers First

It occurs to me some might perceive my fury at Fundies First's continued obsessive stalking of teh gay as somewhat hypocritical. How can I get mad at a bunch of gay-bashers attempting to out a Lib politician, when I have form on outing myself?

I'll do a Kevin Rudd here and answer my own question: 'Fair enough point...but there's no real comparison in this particular case.' And here's why:

1. Ben Jacobsen clearly believes being gay or lesbian is a bad thing, and that a local member being such will negatively impact on their job representing their constituents. I don't. What I think is bad is when a queer pollie gets into a position of power and possible influence, and rather than lead by positive example of being out and proud (Brian Grieg, or Bob Brown on a good day), they are at best ambivalent (Penny Wong) or worst closeted (you know who) about their sexuality.

2. Jacobsen is only articulating the overall Fundies First philosophy. They don't attract candidates like this man - or supporters who seek to burn lesbians at the stake - by accident. Similarly, they don't preference all but two Liberal candidates - one openly lesbian, the other one of the party's most vocal GLBTI supporters - by accident either, as they did at the last election.

So Steve Fielding's statement that he has 'spoken to the candidate and told him that his comments were inappropriate and offensive' rings very hollow. He and his party may claim that a person's sexuality is a private thing that has no bearing on how they will deal with them, but their past acts clearly suggest otherwise.

3. Fundies First want it both ways. They go out of their way to keep teh gay down and denied equal rights in our relationships, parenting and access to the public purse, but as Jacobsen demonstrates it's not even enough for them for us all to stay quiet in the closet - we must make a public declaration too, presumably for ease of identifying targets for further persecution. Perhaps they'd like us to go around wearing pink triangles on our biceps? That worked so brilliantly the last time, after all.

4. If Charlie McKillop is a lesbian (and I don't mean to insinuate one way or the other), I sincerely hope that, if she chooses to stay in the closet, she will at least do justice to the man she is replacing in Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, by carrying on his tremendous work lobbying his party internally to act on their own alleged opposition to unjustifiable discrimination. After all, the seat takes in Cairns and its surroundings which I understand contains quite a bit of teh gay, so if nothing else it's smart and effective grass roots representation.

But given what's happened, I think it would be hypocritical of McKillop to accept any preferences from Fundies First, though I guess such a decision would be out of her hands anyway. Remember, even though Jacobsen has 'apologised' for his statement, he has still 'refused to say if it was still his personal view that all candidates should declare their sexuality' - i.e. his views, and no doubt those of many Fundies First candidates, remain the same, no matter how much the party leader tries to spin them.

Every statement like this is helpful in the sense that it scratches away Fundies First's thin veneer of pleasant secularity - they're neither - and given Labor is on track to screw them out of a preference deal and thereby not accidentally hand them a senate spot, as they did in 2004, hopefully after this election Fielding will remain the only Fundie First in federal politics we have to endure.

But on the flip side, statements like this remind you of the horror inherent in the possibility that, even if we finally get Howard out, Fundies First could control the Senate. And at that point, it wouldn't matter if Howard, Rudd or Patti Newton were PM - we'd be fucked.

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