Sunday, September 7, 2008

Domestic Disputes

It's been an interesting weekend in Australian politics, and I am pleased to say that I payed very little attention to any of it (it was Father's Day, it was my wedding anniversary, and my kids' soccer team was in the Preliminary Final). But now that things are settling into place, a few things are worth mentioning.

Firstly, NSW politics is totally corrupt. It has been corrupt since before Neville Wran played kingpin, and nothing has changed except the names, the pay cheques, and the media complicity. Now the farce has become so transparent that it threatens to derail public confidence in Teh System. Good.

Ordinary voters around the nation are slapping the major parties with a very big stick. And the beating is well deserved. Did they really think that after 11 years of Howard all we wanted was more of the same, with a different brand?

You won't see the mainstream media making much of it, but the Green Party's performance in Mayo was probably even more shocking than the Socceroo's triumph over Holland this weekend (we beat them at their own game, can you believe it?).

This is from
Greens Leader Bob Brown says the Greens' near-win in Mayo, Rob Oakeshott's landslide in Lyne, and the 4% state-wide swing to the Greens in Western Australia spell disintegration for the two-party system in Australia.

"Had the Greens' Lynton Vonow got the column inches or TV time given the Liberals' Jamie Briggs, Mayo would have gone to the Greens," Senator Brown said.

"As it is, the seat will be decided on absentee and postal votes and we Greens are keeping our fingers crossed."
Bob Brown is not the only one with his fingers crossed. Stephen Smith says the ALP may still be able to govern WA if everything falls its way, but it looks more likely that the Nationals will hold the balance of power (see this story) and choose their partners accordingly.

That's all the more incentive for the Nats to walk away from John Howard's Liberal Party, who have become an embarrassing liability. But would the Nat's seriously consider forming a coalition with the minority ALP? And if they did, would that spell the death knoll for the Liberals?

I think somebody (me! me!) might have actually predicted this a while ago: the Greens taking over the role of "The Left" in Australian politics, while Rudd Labor moves to the right (now "The Center"), and the Lib/Nat/One Nation detritus fight over the "Far Right" mantle.

Meanwhile, it's interesting that some (relatively very minor) positives finally seem to be emerging from the debacle of John Howard's last-minute decision to do something - anything! - about Teh Aboriginal Problem. I wonder if JWH will dare claim credit for highlighting Aboriginal illiteracy levels?

I read a very strange Op-Ed in The Independent last week, by a man called Rupert, which was desperately trying to paint a rosy picture of how history might judge George W. Bush's legacy. All the positives the author managed to pull together were in fact issues where Bush had been forced to back down, if not completely reverse his position. For example, the current (100% forced) changes to the US financial system might be seen as a positive in years to come. Or the removal of Saddam might be seen as a positive if the USA is forced to hand power back to the Iraqis and leave the Middle East stage.

But will Bush really be given credit for these changes? Only if the GOP is writing the history books.

And what about history's view of John W. Howard? Five hundred years from now, if this delicate little planet still exists, will people talk about how Howard opened the doors for the Greens to take power, which not only saved the planet but also opened the door on a whole new era of transparent, democratic politics? And if so, will they dare give him credit for that?

PS: As I write, Mick Keelty is desperately trying to explain why his AFP attack dogs didn't let go of the Haneef case for so long. Dare we hope for a resignation statement later today? Err.... no:
"I look forward to making some public statements once the inquiry delivers its findings," said Mr Keelty, whose evidence was given in camera.
Poor man. It must be so hard to do your job when you are not allowed to talk to the media. Err.... Well, whatever.