I can’t believe I just referenced an Olivia Newton John song in my title. I can’t believe I know that that song is an Olivia Newton John song… can I get any sadder.
Yes I can. I’m about to go where only the second nerdiest blogs in the Internet go (the nerdiest of course deal with technology and Star Trek and stuff). I’m going to write about politics. I’m not normally a divisive person. Obviously I try to steer clear of discussions that ostracise half my audience. I’m all about unity and stuff. But today I’m going to nail my political colours to my political mast and then I’m going to chop the mast down and sink the ship. I like to tell people that when it comes to politics I’m a nicely centred bipartisan citizen. Claiming to lean neither to the left or the right. This is only slightly true. Naturally I lean a fair way to the right – I am after all a university educated, middle class, suburbanite with history in a farming area. I don’t belong to any unions. I once financially supported the Wilderness Society, but that was only because I was trapped by their street vendor and couldn’t say no. I withdrew my support when my $10 donation by direct debit overdrew my account and cost me $35 extra. It’s ironic really that my donation to the socialist collective ended up netting the banking institution more of a profit than they got out of me. See, even in my attempts to lean to the left I can’t escape the right. I think the QUT Young Liberals “rack of lefty scum” and “we put the fun back into funding cuts” stickers are the funniest things ever. While in theory and political philosophy I’d happily support the Democrats (Australia’s nominally central party) they’re just a spent force politically. My loyalty to the current government and my ability to defend Messrs Howard, Costello and co from all comers has been sorely tested in recent times. I’m not sure how many times you should turn a blind eye to political stupidity before changing sides but they’re skating on pretty thin political ice as far as I’m concerned. Unless they learn how to walk on water soon they’ll sink.
Before I talk about my complete dissatisfaction with the government’s performance I’d like to take a step back and applaud a truly decent politician who I have nothing but praise for. Former Deputy PM John Anderson was on Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope last night. John Anderson is a committed evangelical Christian who allows his faith to shape his political stance in a way that many people would complain is an anathema in the minds of anti-antidisestablishmentarians (people who are for the separation of church and state). In his interview with Denton John Anderson was able to present the gospel with clarity, handle political grenades with dignity and panache and at the same time appear to be a warm, gentle and genuine husband and father. He’s a clear example of the right gone right. My favourite bit of the interview was when Denton asked him about a scar on his forehead from a recent farm accident – he replied farming was just one of several dangerous occupations along with politics and taxi driving… which I assume was a reference to Mark Latham’s indiscretions.
So, onto the terrible state of the Australian political landscape… The Federal government is in danger of becoming a joke. It’s not a two party system any more – it’s one party and a wake. The Labor party is as good as dead. The Liberal Party has become complacent and irresponsible. The new Industrial Relations laws I could take – despite the Union’s objections there are good things economically that will come from the reforms. Curtailing to the US’s foreign “aid” demands I can understand. Our defence policy pretty much relies on the US stepping in to defend us – it makes sense to support your allies – although in the Iraq intervention it was morally reprehensible to be going to war on the basis of lies. Ousting Saddam and removing his barbaric government’s controlling share of a large oil reserve kind of made sense by itself – the WMD claims were terribly inaccurate. I could forgive them that. The AWB scandal is aptly named – essentially paying for your enemy’s weapons (the AWB kickback money – while it may not have directly gone into a weapon slush fund it boosted Saddam’s coffers) is grossly irresponsible. Lying or forgetting or ignoring the issue is negligent – I can’t help but feel that this is an issue that has failed to engage with Average Joe Public though – no one cares.
The Kovco debacle is probably the straw that broke this camel’s back. We have a defence force that is incredibly well trained, well paid and costs the taxpayer a substantial amount every year. Our soldiers are a costly commodity. As far as I can see from the reports I’ve read in various outlets the government’s handling of this tragedy has been inexcusably bad. Firstly the circumstances surrounding the death of Jake Kovco are shadowy at best – snipers are gun experts – they don’t accidentally shoot themselves while cleaning weapons. It would seem from the autopsy that Private Kovco was not holding his weapon when it discharged which would appear to suggest an accident did indeed take place. The government’s inability to provide a correct account has placed an untold emotional burden on the family – they’ve faced shameful accusations at the hands of some members of the trash media (channel 7 – their time will come in another post I’m sure). Not only have they failed to provide adequate explanation – they then arranged to fly the body home on a commercial flight – granted it’s a sound economic decision and all that but it lacks a certain dignity. This guy died serving his country. Not only that – they couldn’t even pick the right casket in the mortuary. This was another unacceptable bungle. All these stuff ups have made this possibly the biggest bungle in the Howard government’s history – bigger than the Tampa, bigger than AWB. I can’t think of a situation that has reeked more heavily of incompetence. In previous eras politicians would take a dignified exit and fall on their political sword. Every scandal that erupts leads to a call for resignations – calls that inevitably fall on deaf ears. The left is guilty too – probably more so – Peter Beattie promised to resign at the end of the year if the health system wasn’t fixed, made zero changes and two weeks later declared the problem solved. So next election I’m voting for the Fishing party – at least they stand for something I believe in – the killing and eating of animals.