Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A busy day in Australian politics, and other things.

He said, she said - the war of popularity between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard has been going on ever since the latter deposed the former in what at first appeared to be a shock backstabbing, but later appears to have been planned for some time beforehand (see the seventh question in this article). Not that such a thing would have been unreasonable - he had been warned of his likely fate if his failures continued, and continue they did - so out he went. But lately things had been escalating, to the point where leadership challenges had been talked about, and then it got to the point of the suggestion being made that he'd have to be sacked from the ministry if he didn't either challenge or shut the fuck up and get on with being Foreign Minister.

I'm not the only one to think that his continual white-anting and self-promotion would have long since constituted grounds for removal from the ministry (and possibly Parliament), save for the fact that the Gillard Government has always held on to constitutional legitimacy by the thread of one sitting member. However, the defection of Peter Slipper from the Liberal Party to the Speaker's Chair and the resumption of Parliamentary voting capability by his predecessor, Mr Jenkins, means that Gillard has the ability to deal with her recalcitrant predecessor and current underling.

Except that he has now pre-empted any move to sack him by resigning his Ministry portfolio. And in spectacular fashion, too - he called a press conference while on overseas business in order to do it in (Australia's) dead of night. And so the leadership spill is on. The expected choices are Gillard to continue or Rudd to topple and succeed the woman who replaced him. There are other theoretical options, of course, but it mainly comes down to the two heavyweights. Economic journalist Terry McCrann thinks this isn't much of a choice, and Professor Bunyip agrees with him. So does the Herald Sun's editorial, which offers (as does the Professor) a plea for whoever comes out of this as Prime Minister to simply call an election, give the people a say, and (if the polls are anything to go by) have this farce of a government over with.

I think Rudd pushed too far too fast, and has now resigned rather than face the ignominy of sacking. He now has to put up or shut up - the question is whether his Parliamentary career can (or indeed should) survive defeat in the inevitable leadership ballot to follow early next week. If he fails and resigns from Parliament, that's his political career over. It likely also means the Opposition will win his seat in the subsequent by-election, and that shifts us back to the razor's-edge balance that has brought us to this point, with the Australian Greens holding the balance of power and making the government legitimate... but in turn giving them the right to dictate policy to that government.


Rudd, elected as a Labor mirror of John Howard, has turned out to be a complete failure, turning a comfortable surplus into repeated budget deficits and helping to blow out the national debt to unheard-of levels (over twice what his Labor predecessors Hawke and Keating did in thirteen years) for little or no gain. His policies have been disastrous, and his defeat over one of them began the downward slide that eventually cost him his job. He was headed for electoral disaster and was removed as a failure. The only thing in his favour when it comes down to a showdown with Gillard... that she is an even worse failure. She was, it is true, an adequate (a more than adequate) acting Prime Minister while Rudd was out of the country (which he was frequently), and as Deputy Prime Minister was the logical choice to put in when he was deposed. She even did the correct thing, doing not much in the way of active policy initiation and going to an election as a popular decider to cement her legitimacy. HOWEVER, she was part of Rudd's inner Cabinet-within-a-Cabinet and as Education Minister oversaw the horrifically bungled "Building the Education Revolution" policy, which boiled down to $16bn of schools infrastructure, the State School portion of which was centrally managed, hideously over-cost and poorly thought-out (while the Private and Catholic School sectors got exactly what they wanted at a good price), and smacked of payoffs to larger construction firms with heavy union representation (the unions were the founding point of the Australian Labor Party and have justifiably called the Party's tune since then).

Plenty of people wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, especially starry-eyed young "feminists" for whom the first female Prime Minister was all their political wet dreams come true. Indeed, even I was willing to let her prove herself - provided that the dysfunctional bullshit which had gone on until that point really was Kevin Rudd's insane megalomania and not the entire Inner Cabinet simply fucking things up in grand style. Alas, it was not to be. Among other things, Gillard swore up and down that "there will be no Carbon Tax under a government I lead", right up to the day before the election, and her ministers smeared everyone who said otherwise as a fear-monger. It can be argued - given the narrowness of the result - that had the voters known the eventual outcome (a Carbon Tax was tabled in Parliament and passed with the help of the Greens and the Independents), they might have voted differently. Whether Gillard was forced into it by the Greens who supported her government across the line or whether she actively lied on a major policy issue is irrelevant - she brought it in, and she's stuck with the responsibility for it.

Maybe we will learn that it is a bad thing to put in a "minority" leader (woman, black, gay, whatever) for the sake of equality; maybe not. There are two more tranches of starry-eyed "feminists" who have reached voting age since this mistake was made, and a third may yet do so before the deciding moment. I hope common sense outweighs "feminist" loyalty and they consign this worthless Emily's-Lister to the dustbin of history. There is no point in increasing the number of women (gays, blacks, etc) in Parliament solely to "balance the numbers". What we want is talented women (gays, blacks, etc) not to be blocked because of their gender (sexuality, skin colour, whatever). That is what constitutes equality.

Another thing she has utterly failed on is illegal immigrant policy. Indeed, her own words during John Howard's long tenure as Prime Minister - "Another boat, another policy failure" - bid fair to haunt her as much as does the "No Carbon Tax" gaffe.

I want rid of both of them - gone from the Prime Ministry, gone from Parliament, gone from public life and with their pensions denied them (and all their colleagues) in order to start paying back the massive debt they have incurred. The only thing I cannot decide is which of them I most want to see delivering the concession speech on Election Night.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Links roundup 6 February

"A sceptic's crime is a warmist's virtue". From Andrew Bolt. The short version - the Sierra Club, which among other things campaigns against coal-fired power, savages a denier of climate-change propaganda for taking Big Oil's money. Later, the same Sierra Club is found to have taken $26m from a company dealing in natural gas energy.

Tim Blair gives us a further example of why "environmentally friendly" tech does not work.  The lowdown - a school in the US installs low-water-usage toilets. Like, really low water usage. The urinals literally DO NOT FLUSH. From Blair's post, excerpting the primary source:

School officials at Spanish River High School thought they had found an environmentally-friendly, cost-saving solution for their bathrooms when they installed Falcon Waterfree urinals in their boys bathrooms.

But with no water moving through the school’s copper pipes to flush the urine into the sewer system, the waste produced noxious gases that ate through the metal, leaving leaky pipes that allowed urine to drip into walls and flow onto floors.

‘It was pretty disgusting,’ school board chairman Frank Barbieri told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

‘The girls had to step over a river of urine. I could smell it as soon as I walked into the hallway.’
Leave it to the fucking Greenies and their starry-eyed followers to ignore basic sanitary engineering principles. They might as well have just invited the boys to piss on the floor.

Professor Bunyip meanwhile descants upon the competence or otherwise of the Left media. Unimpressed with Fairfax, whose fortunes and performance are accurately mirrored by its share price and the number of papers handed out free to those buying a coffee at various places, he has a look at the latest (heftily funded) entry into the Lefty media arcana and finds nothing short of complete incompetence. From the link:

Total time to find and open those three .pdfs: 4 minutes and 47 seconds by the Billabong's stopwatch. This included several brief interruptions when the cat attempted to occupy the keyboard.

Now it is true that the business of finding those records could be a bit more streamlined, but one imagines any hospital administrator examining Jones' CV and performing a pre-employment background check would be familiar with where to go and which tabs to click. Yet five investigative journalists -- quality, advertising-averse investigative journalists, no less -- leave Global Mail readers with the impression that Nurse Jones' record of shame cannot be found.

Prof Bunyip refers to the Global Mail as a "sheltered workshop", and frankly I think he is not too far wrong. These people wouldn't last a month in a newspaper which actually had to turn a profit to survive. But the Global Mail will last only as long as rich and either stupid or ideologically crafty people continue to pump money at it. After that, it will go the way of all flesh.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Long pause between drinks, posts.

Real life has a way of getting in the way, you see.

Anywhere, where were we? Ah yes, Julia Gillard is sinking into a sea of complete fail. Along with the economy going steadily south, illegal arrivals at an all-time high (not to mention drownings thereof) and the Damocles' Sword of Craig Thomson's "did he commit a criminal offence for which he must leave Parliament or did he not?" everlasting inquiry, we have Liberal defector Peter Slipper (now officially an independent) with his own spending issues (he's had them for a long time, before Gillard even offered him the post) and the recent kerfuffle in which Aboriginal activists surrounded a restaurant and offered aggression to the person of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

A rather dismal episode, that: Mr Abbott was alleged to have said that the Aboriginal Tent Embassy should be pulled down (a statement he did not actually make, but which IIRC Aboriginal former ALP president Warren Mundine has on one occasion made), and someone within Ms Gillard's office - allegedly operating alone - reported his whereabouts (through the agency of another person allegedly somewhat associated with Ms Gillard) to the madding crowd nearby. In the rush to get away, Ms Gillard lost a shoe, someone took it, and it briefly made an appearance on e-bay.

In the aftermath, it has become quite clear that (a) Abbott did not make the statement attributed to him, (b) the more reasonable among the Aboriginal activists are well aware of this, and (c) some prominent Aborigines feel as though they were used by at least one known person (since permitted to resign) operating within Ms Gillard's office, and are not impressed. Plausible denials emanating from the person of the Prime Minister are finding a cold reception in some circles; and whatever the truth of the matter, this is no surprise.

The Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Tony Abbott, has done much unpaid work in Aboriginal communities, to which he draws little official attention. To suggest that he is a fire-eating race baiter seems rather improper to say the least. For the Prime Minister's Department to have done it shows rank unprofessionalism. And if the Prime Minister had an actual hand in it, it would say little that is good about her fitness to remain in office.

The Left media - which can be understood for the purpose of this blog to be the Fairfax press (Age and Sydney Morning Herald primarily) and the ABC - is understandably saying very little about this which reflects badly on the Labor Government and the Prime Minister. Or at least, as little as it can. However, Fairfax is in grave trouble - its share price is below a dollar and falling, a symptom of a dying organism. Attempting to pump some life into the near-corpse is Gina Rinehart, the incredibly wealthy and successful daughter of the late Lang Hancock. Rinehart is a mining magnate by nature - her companies rip things out of the ground and sell them, an activity which is anathema to many of the navel-gazing intellectual onanists who excrete their waffle on the pages of the Fairfax rags - and her purchase of Fairfax shares would give her a sizeable influence within the company.

Understandably this is something they do not like and do not want, and the government which they put a lot of effort into defending has made noises about making such share acquisitions illegal. This is the same government which would like to filter the Internet on a national basis and is currently exuding a horrible animus for the Murdoch press - 30% ownership of Australian media with 70% readership - which is on the whole hostile to its nefarious bumbling. In other words, the Government is setting out to protect its dying media support while hobbling its wildly successful opponents - an activity which no government in any nation that wants to call itself democratic should ever engage in.

Ultimately the Fairfax share price may drop so low that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will be able to acquire a controlling share. Sometimes I think this is what ought to happen - the journalists in both organisations pretty much write with one mind in any case. The only problem with that is that Fairfax would then go on permanent life support at taxpayer expense and we would have what is effectively an Official Government Newspaper. We are at war with Eurasia. We have always been at war with Eurasia...

Roll on, the election.