The hossie trap

The Hobart Mercury, 4 September 2010


Honesty and integrity are great things in a politician until it’s your bloke knocking back a billion clam bribe to give the libs the nod after your electorate’s been written off/taken for granted for the past two decades.

But seriously, too much pork is bad for your health and while the Royal Hobart Hospital does need knocking down and starting again, there’s a pretty good chance that Tony was talking about a Barnaby Billion or someone would have nicked his wallet out of his sandshoe while he was going for a bodysurf, or Joe would have blown it on a hundred million takeaway pizzas while preparing the 2011 Budget or it would have gotten lost down the back of Andrew Robb’s couch and subsequently sucked into the black hole created by the implosion of Bob Katter’s head when it turned out that we weren’t really going to Turn Back The Bananas…. anyway, you get my drift.

Far better just to get a half-arsed commitment from the ALP that won’t be nearly as much of a letdown in the long run.

The 5 stages of minority government

The Hobart Mercury, 25 August 2010

Today it’s the turn of Steve Fielding (democracy’s strongest argument against minority government) to get a bit of attention by ranting cheerfully about blocking supply* on the grounds that the rural types in the big hats have had their go and he’d quite like his foot massage now. Let’s hope it all has a happy ending, so to speak.

I think the good burghers of Australia starting to see why secret back room deals are best done in the back room and in secret.

Come back, sleazy faceless men, all is forgiven.

*It has been pointed out that he might have missed his window as this year’s supply bills have already passed, but that’s a very family-unfriendly attitude.

Last one to turn purple wins

The Hobart Mercury, 23 August 2010

Apart from the obvious bonanza for the Australian satire community, the glass half-full view is that a hung parliament will in some way lead to an improvement in democracy. While a bloody good kick in the pants may well get both major parties to stop picking their noses in public (though a restoration of majority will immediately restore bad habits), anyone who thinks the independents aren’t going to get what they can get while the getting is good is displaying a level of optimism commensurate with deciding the glass is made of diamonds and brimming with the Elixir of Eternal Youth*.

Having seen it all unfold after the Tasmanian election, I am happy to inform you that while you will be hearing quite a lot about the national interest, the only motive you can safely rely on is self interest and any resulting democracy is merely an inadvertent byproduct.

After the Tasmanian election, both major parties swore blind that they would not be doing any deals with the balance-of-power-holding Greens and the only surprise was when it turned out that Liberal leader Will Hodgman actually meant it, presumably in the hopes that he would get to be premier no strings attached because otherwise he was going to hold his breath until he went purple in the face and fell over.

The incumbent ALP Premier David Bartlett took the more pragmatic approach of realising that the hung parliament result meant that nobody believed a word any politician was saying anyway and cut a deal with the Greens all the while insisting that he wasn’t cutting a deal with the Greens in order to avoid confusing the public by acknowledging a self-evident truth and giving everyone some sort of false expectation that a hung parliament was going to lead to a sudden outbreak of honesty.

So if you’re holding your breath waiting for behaviour to improve, don’t, because this is going to take a while. You might as well just enjoy the theatre (you’re paying for it after all) and keep in mind Will’s hard-earned lesson that nobody cares if you turn purple and fall over anyway.

*Note, this may well be on Bob Katter’s list of demands.

It’s nearly all over, shout the bar

The Hobart Mercury, 21 August 2010

It’s nearly that time again. Anthony Green’s been taken out of cryogenic suspension and bunged into the ABC microwave to be thawed and ready in time for the frantic speculation to begin. Yes, I could just go out on the piss and wait for the adding up to be finished, but failing to attempt to second-guess the voting public based on statistically inadequate data would be to negate the one thing that modern politics truly stands for.

Sure, it’s been a shithouse election but bugger it, it’s going to be close and it’s downright unAustralian not to love a contest. Let us all celebrate The One Poll That Matters in all its obsessive, bewildering, 3-D graphical glory and for goodness’ sakes, somebody buy Abbott a proper beer tonight.

Can a boat jump a shark?

The Hobart Mercury, 17 August 2010


Call me Ishmael if you like, but I can’t help thinking that our two aspiring leaders’ collective obsession with stopping the boats is becoming a little, well, obsessive. Part of the trouble could be that the issue of beating up on the small number of refugees that take the aquatic option is failing to capture the imagination of the non-bigot voter demographic.

Julia did a marvellous job tying the NBN to healthcare, and I don’t see why the same thing can’t be done with boat people. If Australians could watch high definition video of boats moving away from our shores at the rate of one gigabit per second in real time on their iPads, that would really help us all stand up for Australia and move forward together in an optimistic fashion. It would also neatly distract us from trivialities like whether it might be more polite to treat boatloads of asylum seekers as human beings rather than an opportunity to scrape up the pinhead vote in marginal electorates.