Tag Archives: Julia Gillard

What if Gillard Were to Lead?

English: Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gil...

Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Published at Independent Australia 19 Jan.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s October parliamentary speech, in which she systematically tore down Opposition Leader Tony Abbot for his persistent misogyny, got a big reaction world-wide.  Why?  Because it is a problem not often addressed in mainstream politics, and because of her obvious passion and authenticity, delivered with devastatingly articulate precision.

In all the discussion that followed, about whether this was routine parliamentary posturing, about why the commentariat was caught off-guard, about whether she is hypocritical about other issues, one question was missing.

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The Real Howling Mob

[A condensed and modified version published at Eureka Street, 7 Feb.]

The Australia Day “riot” at the Lobby restaurant in Canberra was the subject of hysterical misreporting – I know, I watched it.  We would be wise not to dismiss this episode as just another example of media sensationalism.  Rather, it is symptomatic of a growing nexus in Australia of fear, hysteria, racism and ignorant ranting.

These phenomena are rapidly degrading our capacity for decency, our democracy, and even our perception of reality.  We are moving rapidly away from the decent, laconic Aussies of our stereotyping, and into being a fearful, intolerant, nasty and brittle society.

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Aboriginal protest, rattled security and a dragged Prime Minister – Australia exposed

[We happened to witness a demonstration last Thurday, “Australia Day”, which commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet, with convicts, and so of course also marks the beginning of the dispossession of Aboriginal people.  I gather pictures of our Prime Minister being dragged by a security man have gone around the world.  I have sent this account to media, we’ll see if it gets a run.]

[Posted on The Drum, 30 Jan.]

The bias, hysteria and divisiveness of our public political conversation is never far from view, but this week I encountered it first hand.  I watched the Aboriginal protest unfold at The Lobby restaurant.  The event reported in the media and reacted to by many commentators is a lurid parody of what actually happened.  Perspective and balance are hard to find.

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Asleep at the Wheel, Accelerating Towards the Precipice

[This was published at On Line Opinion 29 Nov 2011.]

It is characteristic of some past societies that their highest accomplishments occurred just before a precipitous decline in their fortunes, according to Jared Diamond in his book Collapse.  It is less common that a society’s trajectory comprises a slow rise, a plateau and a slow decline.  Diamond does cite some societies that were able to shift their strategy and successfully negotiate a crisis, so a crash is not inevitable.

The former pattern, accelerating into a crash, is a signature of a society oblivious to imminent peril.  At least, the leadership of the society is oblivious to warning signs of a crisis, and they just keep on doing what they have always done.  Or perhaps they become more and more dissolute, like the later rulers of ancient Rome.

There is an eerie sense of unreality in Australian public life.  The things our leaders argue about, and the evidence they pay attention to, are largely irrelevant to our real situation, which is one of rising multiple crises.  The longer the crises continue unattended, the worse will be the consequences.

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Exports – Coal, Uranium or Harm Minimisation?

The Modern Labor approach to serving the workers is, it seems, to allow private enterprises, any enterprises, to create jobs, any jobs.  If the enterprises bring in export earnings that is even better.  The quality of the employment, the usefulness or otherwise of the product, the pay and conditions, or even if the work occupies more than one hour a fortnight, all of those issues are secondary.  The important things are that the unemployment statistic is kept down and that the Government can say money is flooding into the country.  Oh, and that the employers are not threatening an advertising campaign criticising the Government.

It is in this spirit that we export vast amounts of coal, though it is by far our largest contribution to global warming and our grandchildren will suffer mightily for it.

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