Monday, September 6, 2010

On Abbott's "Why I'm the one to govern"

For those not aware, Tony released an open letter to the independents in a last ditch attempt to further smear the ALP and scramble onto the ministerial throne. So, here's what I think about Tone's letter:

Australia is far more likely to get a fresh start from a new government than from a Labor Party that's humble only because it has no choice.
In contrast to the triumphant sneering that you were carrying on with just over a week ago, Tones?

Why would the country independents throw a lifeline to a seriously bad government that's just got worse since it executed a democratically elected prime minister?
OK - correct me if I'm wrong, but, in my understanding of the political system, we don't actually elect a PM. At least, I can't remember voting 1 for Rudd in 2007.  There is no option for, 'I want this person to be PM.' We vote for representatives, they are of a certain party, the party with the most representatives form government, and the leader of that party becomes PM. So, Julia became PM, in a way startingly similiar to how Tony became leader of the LNP. Oh, and Tones, executed. That's a fighting word, that is.

Nine weeks ago, on the prime minister's own assessment, the government had lost its way. Two weeks ago, it lost its majority and its legitimacy but it still has not lost office and might actually cling to power through ruthless exploitation of incumbency.
Ah Tony, just a little problem here. In the Australian political system, the incumbent government has first dibs on forming a minority government. That's the way it's always been. I would have thought that someone who loves traditions so much, you would be aware and approve of this one: it's old. Oh, and by the way, as there is only one Prime Minister, she gets capitals. Mayhap you had better look at some adult literacy programmes, Tone.

Independent and minor party MPs have every right to make their own assessment of the respective merits of the caretaker government and opposition.
 But, as you will see, if the assessment isn't "Tony for PM," it's a wrong assessment.

Still, if they decide to back Labor - or decide not to decide (which amounts to the same thing) - they will be endorsing factional warlordism, the political execution of an elected prime minister, and the kind of incompetence that produced the roof batts tragedy, the school hall rip-offs and a $43 billion commitment to turning back the clock on telecommunications without even a business plan to justify it.
Factional warlordism? Huh, I'm getting images of crazed knight-dudes on horses. But Tony keeps going.

  • The roof batts: look, no-one is going to deny that that was a shitty episode for all involved (and in the case of loss of life, that is a major understatement). But, the thing is, the government didn't directly employ the scoundrels that did the wrong thing, so it puzzles me that this is all somehow, their fault. They just provided the funding. 
  • The school hall rip-offs: is this the BER project that recieved a 93% satisfaction rating?
  • Turning back the clock on telecommunications: this one has got me. Tony, please explain how in the ninth level of hell a major investment in telecommunications infrastructure is 'turning back the clock.' Oh, and perhaps you could read some ICT industry literature: the experts all support this. I know it's not traditional and you did just fine without teh internetz, but if Australia is going to move ahead, we need to invest in our ICT infrastructure.

So far, the caretaker prime minister has won the support of one Green MP and one former Green who is now an independent. 
 Wilkie is also an ex-Liberal. Convenient for you to leave that one out, Tony.
The Greens have already changed Labor's climate policy from a 150 person citizens' assembly with no predetermined outcome to a parliamentary committee dedicated to setting a carbon price.
 There are two things at issue here. Firstly, the citizens' assembly was majorly disliked, I think even by Tony himself. Secondly, it is clear that the majority of the Australian people want a price on carbon. That's what we voted for in 2007, (and for some reason, I would swear that the LNP were supporting it too, correct me if wrong), and the failure of Rudd to do it contributed to his fall in popularity. Further, the fact that the people may just want this can also be attributed to the pretty large swing that went the Greens way.

Then there's the Greens' commitment to reducing irrigation and turning at least 30 per cent of Australia's coastal waters into marine parks.
Oh no! Let's just keep plundering the river systems; at this rate, there will be no river eco-system to think of. Bad idea! And again! Let's not protect our coastal waters; we only have world heritage on our coast and who needs that! No-one makes any money outta the Great Barrier Reef, anyway! (cough) And well, all that other water, it's there for our use; we're the humans and God made it for us, after all.

A Labor/Green alliance spells doom for regional Australia's economic base. The slightest move towards Green defence and foreign policies would put the American alliance at risk.
Really? How? And last time I checked, Obama has committed to getting out of Iraq, BTW.

By cutting funding for independent schools, abolishing the private health insurance rebate, and ending offshore processing of illegal boat people it would damage the social fabric too.
Scaremongering at its best. When and where has it been said that funding will be cut for independent schools? Regardless of that, the fact that independent schools receive more funding than public schools is a problem. I guess it's not a problem for upper-middle classians who can afford to send their children to independent schools. Perhaps, in Tony's mind it is pretty much a matter of 'bugger the rest of them!' And on 'abolishing private health insurance rebate' - that's a little bit of an exageration. In regards to the 'ending offshore processing,' I thought that at the start of the article, one of your issues with Julia's policy was that people would be processed on East Timor. Now you're saying that that won't be happening? And how the fcuk will this damage the social fabric?

They can opt for the Labor Party, in defiance of the expressed political preference and the economic interests of their own electorates. Or they can opt for the Coalition and form the most country-oriented national government since World War Two.
Hmmm.. I seem to recall Katter stating that:
  • He saw more in the last three years for his electorate than he did in the LNP decade preceeding
  • And that in between him and his Daddy, his electorate was a Labor seat....

In regards to the 'most country-orientated national government since World War Two,' I am going to give you a little hint: the majority of us do not want to return to the 1940s/50s. We know that you do, and it has sorta caused this little issue for you.

If the Gillard government limps on, the waste will continue, the debt will mount, the new taxes will accumulate and the boats will just keep coming. There have been seven boats in the fortnight since the election.
 The debt will mount? Debt is a part of life. It's not that scary - I mean, you  have a huge mortgage, don't ya Tone? Oh, and BTW, Australia has the lowest levels of debt in the developed world, and went into that debt to get us through the recession (and we did mightily well, comparatively)

I gotta take issue with your fixation on teh boats. They have been coming for years; indeed, many came during Howard's reign. And they will keep coming. In fact, 2766 more refugees arrived by boat during 2001 under Howard, compared with in 2009, under Rudd. We know that numbers are not your forte, but Tony, try to make an effort.

The soap opera of leak and counter leak between the supporters of Gillard and Rudd will resume.
 Haven't seen any leaks for a bit, have we. Oh wait, there were those nasty leaks from Treasury, and from Windsor about your budgetary problems. Who is it, exactly, that has a leaks problem?

Buying off potential critics and surrendering to the unions will be the only policy agenda.
 Like how Julia totally laid down to the Teachers' Union?  The right needs to decide on this and create a cohesive narrative. Either Julia is an evil representative of the unions, or she isn't; you can't keep changing your minds.
A government addicted to spin and spending will continue to be all announcement and no delivery because there can be no new politics from an old government.
 This sentence doesn't add up. Either they are addicted to spending and are therefore doing something, or they are sitting around spinning their arses off and not committing to or doing anything.

Yee gads Tony, I think your little letter personifies your politics: mediocre shit-slinging based on untruths and half-truths, an appeal to combative language and behaviour, complete lack of ability with numbers and a fixation on teh evil boat people in an attempt to manipulate the inner racist that lurks inside.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Looking to the Past for an Idea of the Future: LNP in power

John Howard - End Of An Era - tea towel
Bernard Keane of Crikey provided a brilliant retrospect of the Howard governments so-called political competence on Friday.   

Reading Keane sparked the nodes, reigniting my most shame and anger filled political schema: immigration laws under the mighty LNP. After three years, where, although we haven't greatly improved things, we still haven't been making charming headlines like oh, say:

  • Cornelia Rowe
  • Haneef
  • Children overboard
  • Vivien Stone
 The actions of the immigration department under the various immigration ministers were appalling, disgusting, and shameful on an international scale. And Tones has made it clear that 'teh boat people' are a big priority. Stopping them, that is.

Which brings us to the question: with Tony so tough on teh boat people, what type of headlines are we going to be creating if Tones is at the helm? The imagination runs wild - as the only policy Tones has released is that he will 'stop teh boats.' Oh,and the boat phone. But seriously, the boat phone is not a policy; it's a ridiculous gimmick that, if the election wasn't run on whistle blowing and the MSM wasn't asleep at the wheel, would have never made it to the light of day.

Boat phone aside, if Tones runs this country, we will be creating textbooks that, in 200 years, some LNP
culture warrior will be demanding be rewritten, because we have 'no reason to be ashamed of our history.'

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The $11 million black hole

While the giant, gaping $11 million dollar black hole (ok, it is 10.6, but primary school maths tells us to round upwards from five, new ltd take note) is almost old news now, I thought I might harp on it a bit. Aside from the fact that amount is more than I have in my wallet, what does this entire debacle tell us?

Tony is a lying toad
Tony Abbot knew that his budget wouldn’t add up. This is why he:
  • Refused  to submit his budget to Treasury during the election. A law that was passed by his own party when they were in power. 
  • Refused again to submit his budget to the independents and walked ran out of a press conference when asked about it, 
  • Thought about an excuse, stated it, changed it to another one and still refused to submit.
  • Eventually submitted because he realised that he looked like he had something to hide.

Seriously, the LNP's actions made it clear that they knew that their costings were rubbish. No-one practices such evasive action unless they have something to hide.

The alternative is that they screwed up economically. Although I would seriously love to think this is the case, and would provide me with great fodder each time someone replies to my anti-LNP rhetoric with, "but what about the economy?", it's rubbish.

They lied. 

Image by Cinephobia / CC BY-NC 2.0

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: Review

I've been in a reading slump lately. For about the last three months, the amount I've been reading has reduced drastically, based on the fact it has seemed like the quality of speculative fiction being released has been fairly mediocre; for what I like to read anyway. Regardless, I pop into the bookstore every couple of weeks and grabbed a couple of Tamora Pierce novels for my re-read project and a copy of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

And wow. Rating of 5/5 - on the shelf for re-reading.

I read it voraciously. In smoke breaks, while I waited for my computer to start up at work, when I got home, when I got up in the morning. Nora K. Jemisin has restored my belief that speculative fiction publishers believe that there is a market for well written, complex novels that fit into the feminist speculative fiction paradigm.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms revolves around the  first person narrative of Yeine Darr; the daughter of an outcasted Princess. Upon her mother's death, Yeine is summoned to the city of Sky and thrust into a battle for ascension when she is named heir to throne, alongside her two maternal cousins. To make matters metaphysical, Yeine becomes entwined in the separate but linked strivings of the gods of the realm, who are chained to the city of Sky, in subservience to the ruling class.

One of the most fascinating things Nora has done is created a character who comes from a matriarchal culture. While that in of itself isn't out of the ordinary, Nora's character construction of Yeine as a "bit of a chauvinist." She explains:

she does tend to casually assume that the men around her can’t take care of themselves, are more emotionally fragile than women, and generally aren’t much use outside of bed. This is because in her land (which has undergone changes much like our own Sexual Revolution), men have historically been valued solely for their muscles and pretty faces. They’re expected to direct their greater physical strength toward the protection of the home and children, while the women go off to war.

It is exciting to see thoughtful world and character creation. Given the patriarchal nature of society in Sky, it would seem that Jemisin decided to give Yeine a background for a matriachal society to provide a basis for the strong, female character. Yet, it is ridiculous to assume that any type of system wherein one social group is dominant based on gender will not result in some form of bigotry. Thus - we are presented with a character who makes sense in the construction of the wider world that she inhabits. That is not to say that women born into a patriarchal culture must always be submissive internally. But Jemisin recognises that nothing happens in a vacuum.

Indeed, in another score for Jemisin, Yeine isn't another one of those gorgeous, skinny, tall, white characters - who still manages to kick arse with lipstick on, wearing a corset. Yeine is self-described as dark skinned, small - and altogether unremarkable in appearance. It's great to see that publishers (and writers, of course) are releasing fiction that doesn't create female heroines that are completely un-relatable - while they are busy pushing out Joe-comely-neighboor stereotypes for male heroes.

N.K Jemisin has released a number of delicious short stories, many of which are linked to from her blog.

The Nope Series: Tony Abbot - Post 1

Inspired by the creator of the above image, titled: "The Audacity of Nope," here is the first in an ongoing series on the audacity of attrocious Abbott. I have to admit, when Abbott was elected to lead the Liberal Party*, I was.... amused. Brought up by staunch -anti-Liberal parents, I thought - fantastic - the Liberals don't have a hope in hell of being re-elected.
The amusement was shortlived.

Abbott has proceeded to strut in front of the media spreading his patriarchial, nasty, simple-minded filth nation wide. The latest for Tony sure is a doozy. Apparently, in view of the fact that homelessness is a choice, Abbott does not support Rudd's push for halving homelessness by 2020. Interestingly, this is yet another point that Turnbull supported. (I'm starting to see Turnbull in a great light).

Hold on just a second... homelessness as choice. I guess it depends on what you view as choice. The choice for many young homeless people who choose between being beaten and/or sexually abused within their home and that of a cold, hard existence without the guaruntee of a nightly beating on the street.

Or, perhaps Abbott is referring to the choice made by the hundreds of homeless people who suffer from untreated mental illnesses - who of course choose to remain homeless, when due to their condition (whether that be mental or financial) are unable to afford treatment (whatever that may be) or able to take productive control of their existence. Indeed, I wonder what Abbott thinks about the ''choice'' many mental health inpatients who were released with the massive closures in psychiatric wards in the last ten years (under the Howard Government)

Tony doesn't do things by halves - that's not the manly way. To further support, his lack of support, Tony went all biblical on us:

"The poor you have with you always..."
 Now  - SWM have a fabulous history of using the great book as a backup for their patriachial supremecy. Let's follow the logic here - there are always going to be poor people - so, there isn't any reason to help them - even Jesus said so.

But - wait a second - Jesus thinks that we shouldn't help the poor?  OMFG - great reading of the bible there Tony. No wonder Tony wants to institute reading of the bible in school children - clearly this is something that good catholic Tony could have done with himself. (note the sarcasm here - I don't agree with institutionalised reading of the bible at all) Or perhaps Tony has issues with interpretation - perhaps a decent literacy program could aide with that. For a fabulous take-down of this, grounded in biblical interpretation, please hop over to Tony Abbott, the poor and Jesus.

I'm a little behind the baton here, for a roundup of Tony's utterances, please visit Hoyden about Town's, Tony Said What Now thread.

For any American readers, the Liberal Party in Australian politics is the equivalent of the Rebulican Party. Simply put, Liberal = liberal economics and the rights of the white, male individual.

Children with Disabilities in Australia

On a whim I brought a copy of Marie Claire, earlier this week. As per usual (I do this maybe twice a year - for reasons unknown to me) I was generally dissapointed. Pictures of too skinny women, expensive clothes and makeup - boring...  However, there was one article and a related petition that I am driven to share with my small audience.
One of this month's features for Marie Claire is a harrowing article on the closure of Kingsden School in Sydney - the only (I believe) boarding school for disabled children open in Australia, due to a withdrawal of funds from Anglicare (a funding body of the Anglican Church). The article provides a truly saddening exposure to the financial and emotional costs that are associated with raising severely disabled children with so very little support. Indeed, according to Marie Claire, families with severely disabled children:

 Typically receive just $105 in benefits a week, plus a lump sum of $1000 a year.
 Gee - I can see how that is such a benefit to receive.

Rather than rehash the article, click on the link above. If you believe that we as a society should support people with a disability and their families and believe that Kingsden should remain open, please sign the petition created by Marie Claire here

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Of Teachers and Tests

The Australian media is currently in a flurry about the refusal by some teachers to take part in the next round of National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) scheduled for May. Here is the situation in its greatest simplicity (by my understanding):
  • All school children will take a standardised test
  • Those results will be published
  • Teachers of 'underperforming' schools will be punished accordingly, for failing our children!
Indeed, according to a commentator at the Gold Coast Bulletin, this will "empower parents," enabling them to judge how "teachers are teaching their children."

That's one take.

Another take is a little more cynical. While it is certain that these tests will highlight underperforming schools, the results shouldn't come as a suprise and won't necessarily demonstrate teaching standards. Here's my prediction: these tests will highlight what we should already know. The underperforming schools will be those situated in low socio-economic areas, and especially those areas with a high population of refugees. While, I would imagine that high scoring schools will be private educational facilities.

First and foremost, low socio-economic status does not equal dumb. It does, however mean that the children in these areas come from homes that are statistically more likely to not have a high level of parental education and a host of other societal problems. In areas with a high population of refugees, the students may also face cultural and language barriers - not to mention the post-traumatic nature of being a refugee; coming from a hell hole and, once being 'processed' being thrown into Australian society with what amounts to sweet FA government support. (Money doesn't count)

Oh, and lest we forget - these lower socio-economic schools receive less government funding than those fancy private institutions that upper middle classians pay $15,000 a year to attend.

And you know what - the government knows this.

However, by framing this issue as somehow the teachers fault it deflects the attention away from issues of say: government funding. Indeed, I find it convenient that before the results of testing are released the government has already framed the blame so to speak.

This way - when the results are in there will be no major impetus on the government to actually investigate the outcomes and perhaps divert funding and instigate programs where they are needed most. Rather - they will save themselves money by docking individual teachers pay.

How fucking cheap.
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