Perspectives (Each Way)

The Australian election was not kind to the Coalition. After nearly a decade in power any government would have struggled to win. Morrison, albeit an improvement over Turnbull, has not been much of a leader. There has been a lot of drift, there have been many half-decisions made that haven’t exactly endeared the Coalition to working class suburban and provincial voters. The Coalition survived the last election in no small part thanks to Queensland mining seats swinging heavily in their favour. Now, they’ve lost 22 seat on a swing of -6pc.

Labour, the winning party, managed to win eight seats giving them a narrow majority at Canberra. Yet… Labour also did worse in 2022 than they did in 2019, facing a swing of -.9%. Their negative swing was simply not as significant as the Coalition’s. The biggest winners were the “teal independents”, largely concentrated in the suburbs who gained six seats. The Greens won seats in inner Melbourne and inner Brisbane. Mark McGowan’s strength in Western Australia helped Labour secure a number of marginal seats in greater Perth.

These results are reminiscent of the 2019 Canadian federal election. The Canadian Tories won more votes than the Canadian Liberals. The Liberals were able to hold onto power only because their share of the vote in the Greater Toronto Area held up and they were able to hold onto that vote-rich area even if they were swept out of entire provinces. Of course, Albanese won an outright majority — something that Trudeau the Lesser did not. What does, however, seem likely is that Labour will make the most of their hand. They do not have a true mandate for change. Their share of the vote declined. A collapse in confidence in the Coalition was the reason for their majority. Yet… Albo understands power more than the hapless No Mates ScoMo ever could.

Author: Christopher-Dorset

A Bloody Kangaroo

20 thoughts on “Perspectives (Each Way)”

  1. As usual, Christopher, you have produced a pretty good summary on the politics of another country!

    However, it should be remembered that the electorate was pretty unkind to the so-called ‘winning’ party as well. Labor actually received a smaller percentage of ‘first preference votes’ than the LNP and it was the smallest percentage of first-preference votes to gain power for, I think, around 100 years.

    The clinch for Labor were the preference votes.

    So I have to dispute your claim that Labor has won an ‘outright victory – just over 70% of first votes were cast for parties other than Labor – and Albo should remember that. He will need to get a lot more people on side if he hopes to get a chance at a second term.

    And I don’t see him managing that. Some of his ‘promises’ are clearly inflation boosters and / or will add to our debt – unless he raises taxes – and no one wants that. For some reason, I’ve never worked out, Aussies, in general, hate Government deficits. Other countries might have them, but the general population here likes its Government to be in surplus. Although, that may have changed. But if Albo raises our debt it had better be in a very good cause.

    There were 7 names on my voting slip. It’s compulsory to rank them all. We are not allowed to ‘waste’ our vote and say that it stops after 1 preference – the vote is not valid unless the ballot paper is filled up – so my preferred choice wouldn’t get even my first vote. It’s one of the things that I really don’t like about the system.

    To be honest I struggled to find where to cast my remaining 6 votes… they were all too far woolly-minded for me – but I will tell you that the Greens were at the bottom of my preferences… but more of that later! So I voted for all the independents next.

    It now appears that the independents (now called teal candidates) have been funded by a multi-billionaire whose activities include being the senior advisor to the Climate and Energy College at Melbourne University, as director of the Smart Energy Council and the Australian Environmental Grant-makers Network. There are claims that Holmes à Court and his family could make a profit out of a “potential boom in clean energy”. In theory, I have no problem with Independents – but they do tend to be a little too extreme (both left and right) for me.

    Now as to the Greens’ policies: scrap all student debts to the tune of some $63 bn, slash all defence programs (great idea with China on our heels), tax the super-rich so they take their money off-shore, and the ultimate stupid idea, as far as I’m personally concerned, is to legalise cannabis.

    So what happens? Last night I found that I am now in a Greens’ electorate. I’m still getting over the shock. But am consoling myself with the fact that it is only for three years…

  2. Boadicea: Of course. The Coalition did better than Labour on first-choice votes, but Labour eked out the narrowest of majorities in terms of MPs through transfer votes. Much like Canada, Trudeau never received the support of the majority of Canadians. If anything, he lost the popular vote two elections in a row. The centre-left were able to form governments only because their share of the vote held up well enough in places like Greater Toronto, Greater Montréal and Greater Vancouver. Labour did well enough in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to gain a majority of MPs. The Greens did improve their share and that probably helped in a number of marginal seats. In parts of inner-suburban Sydney and, even more so, Melbourne the difference between the Liberals and Labour was small — sometimes a fraction of a percentage. I was a bit taken aback by the performance of the Greens in Brisbane. That they did well in Melbourne was no surprise. Victoria is quickly turning into the California of the south seas and I don’t mean that as a compliment. Drongo Dan has been an unmitigated disaster as premier, but Labour keep winning and it looks likely that they’ll win again this spring no matter how awful they are. Much like California. The state has gone from being the golden Coast of Dreams to being a third world rathole with mediaeval diseases, South African levels of crime and a coast of living that makes the Swiss and Norwegians wince yet the Democrats keep winning by wide margins.

    I do not think that the Coalition were doomed to lose this election. Labour leave much to be desired and Albo has not been a great leader. That he did better than Rapey Bill isn’t a big surprise. Rapey Bill was tone-deaf and had absolutely no ability to communicate with voters. Albo had major issues with authenticity. He’d take a moderate, almost traditionalist Labour stance on key issues in Capricornia, the Hunter and Gilmore but take a quasi-Greens stance in Melbourne, Ultimo and Griffith. People who casually followed the antics of the party leaders would have noted that right away and many did. The problem, I think, is that ScoMo allowed too much drift to occur. He wasn’t pure poison like Turnbull, but he wasn’t a particularly strong leader and when put on the spot could come off as petulant.

    The next few years will be interesting for Australia. To be honest, I’m glad that I don’t live there right now — not that it’s any better where I am or will be later this year. (Ireland has its own problems and Irish politics leave much to be desired) Albo went to the weight on Mexico’s shoulders to study Dementia 46’s electoral and governing strategies. It seems as if he got into power the same way that Dementia 46 did. If he governs like Dementia 46, you’ll need all the luck you can get. Even the Lucky Country will struggle to weather that. Dementia 46 had the narrowest majority in the House of Representatives and a deadlocked Senate. He was given a mandate to tone down the rhetoric, not do very much and let politics be boring for a while so people can get on with their lives. Instead, he’s been trying to rule like he won with Obama 2008 margins. That is, large majorities in Congress and an electoral landslide. There is a reason why his support is in the low 30s at best when push-polls (polls designed to skew the margin in favour of one side) are excluded. Albo, to keep the Greens on board, will probably do the same. I doubt that will turn out well for him. Australian voters can be utterly and they’re not shy about chucking out governments after three years. The fathers of federation knew what they were doing .

  3. It has been suggested that the rise of the Greens in Brisbane is due to the large influx of Victorians who fled Victoria during the covid-lockdowns there – and who have, unfortunately brought their politics with them.
    The first time I’ve agreed with Shorten is when he said that voting Green is a luxury vote for people who know they won’t have to pay the cost…
    They could certainly afford to buy homes in some of the nicer parts of Brissie and I know one such family, a very young couple from Melbourne, recently moved in just down the road! And rather snooty as well… quite unlike the majority of my neighbours!
    It’s certainly contributed to the steep increase in the cost of housing here – although as we know that doesn’t benefit anyone in the long run. I don’t think Scomo impressed anyone by telling us to move out of our large comfortable houses to solve the housing crisis – especially when we know that we will just be taking up houses elsewhere!
    I don’t think too highly of Albo’s financial expertise – but I have to own that I hope he gets that final seat so that he doesn’t have to rely on the Green’s support.
    As to the fathers of the federation knowing a thing or two – so does the Australian electorate. There was a referendum some years back to increase the term to four years – it was soundly rejected!

  4. Boadicea: Hmm… Sounds typical. There’s an old story from southern California. One of the USA’s worst-run municipalities is overwhelmingly Democratic Los Angeles. One of the USA’s best-run municipalities is traditionally Republican Orange County. Since they’re neighbouring counties, many people from Los Angeles who had good jobs in LA but couldn’t stand living there any more moved to northern Orange County (and, for that matter, southern Ventura County, another traditionally Republican county — to the north/north-west of LA County) As a result, both Ventura County and Orange County have shifted dramatically. Both now have narrow Democrat majorities. It’s happened elsewhere, too. Arizona, a traditionally Republican stronghold, has become a marginal state. It still narrowly favours Republicans, but people who fled the politics of California, Oregon and Washington far too often brought the same voting trends with them. Colorado and Virginia, one Republican states, have become Democratic for the same reason. Although it’s too early to tell, it’s quite possible that many marginal seats in the West Country will also veer left. Many Londoners have left because London has fallen off a steep cliff. Already in places like Bath the Liberal Democrats have gained the upper hand.

    It seems as if Labour will win enough seats to secure a narrow minority : 78-80. I agree that the worst case scenario would be Albo being beholden to the Greens. As it stands, they already have to make too many concessions to Bandt in order to secure Greens second-preference votes in Sydney and Melbourne. If Albo is far keener on using his power than ScoMo was, then Bandt would take it ten steps further. Austria and Germany should be warning enough. Greens, when given a taste of power, demand the universe as a starting point for negotiations. If there is one thing I will grant Albo it is that he is an astute politician. He might be Labour Left, but he’s rational and calculating. Honestly, I have a grudging fondness for the man. As much as I dislike his politics, I admire his ability to herd his cats relatively effectively. Actually, I rather suspect that not much more than noise will come out of the new parliament. There will be a majority, but a narrow one. MPs from marginal seats will not be keen on rocking the boat too much. Albo will probably make a lot of noise about becoming a republic, social justice, indigenous rights, etc. What he won’t do is actually do much about anything. The noise will probably placate the left wing of his party for a time and it will allow MPs from marginal seats to tell voters that they didn’t do too much to damage Australia. Much, I think, will rely on the path that the Coalition takes. It’s not an easy position. If they go the Turnbull way, they’ll lose support in regional Australia and the outer suburbs. In New South Wales, the Hunters, Shooters and Fishers are already nipping at their heels in many regional parts of the state. One Nation can never be counted out entirely, though they have their ups and downs. I’m not enamoured with them, but Hanson and Latham argue their points very well and they provide a clear set of principles. I’m from the lower rungs of the working class. I have lived in poverty more than once in my life and know quite a few battlers. People like Hanson and Latham hold appeal because they at least have rational, consistent arguments and aren’t hostile to battlers. On the other hand, the Coalition still have to appeal to suburban voters. Even if the inner suburbs are mostly gone at this point, many suburban seats are still fertile ground. Bennelong, Wentworth, Warringah and Chisholm are still very winnable for the Coalition, even if their priorities don’t entirely match up with Groom, Curtin and Nichols. Abbott might have made a few blunders, but I wonder if hostility towards him was more of a media confection than anything real.

    In a way, I think the Coalition were given a bad hand and they played it poorly. They had to give Australian voters the illusion of “safety” during the pandemic, but they had to do so at the expense of running up massive budget deficits — always a poison chalice in Australia, especially after the Peso of the South Seas era. The federal government had to hammer out a workable compromise with the six states which wasn’t always easy when the states were going in different directions and the federal government, ultimately held responsible for everything, even that which it had no power over, seemed incapable of reining in excesses in states like Victoria and Western Australia. That Australia had to function as a country rather than a geographic expression was an inevitability. When it was all a damp squib in the end and ScoMo seemed incapable of charting any direction, old, middled-aged or new voters turned on him. He seemed tired, exhausted. He was never power-hungry like Drongo Dan, Dictator of Victoria. Nor did he have the zeal of a Mark McGowan. Whatever his economic shortcomings (and I agree that he has many — and watch for the boats!), Albo clearly wanted power. He craved power and he, as leader of the opposition, did not have to take the blows for popular disappointment and frustration vis-a-vis the pandemic and the government’s response to it. Australia has earned a certain reputation globally and it’s not a good one. Perhaps the one saving grace is that New Zealand looks even worse now.

  5. Christopher:
    I don’t follow U.S. Politics in much depth – other than to get pretty annoyed when a U.S. President describes himself as ‘Leader of the Free World’! But even I, from my limited reading, have picked up that in the U.S. people move and take their politics with them and then wonder why they end up with the same problems that they were fleeing from.

    Albo’s already made clear his stance on Australia becoming a Republic with his Oath to the Governor General. It has not gone unnoticed that he made no reference to our Head of State. It has also not gone unnoticed that he is determined to push through ‘The Uluru Statement from the Heart’.

    He seems to have forgotten that any change to the Constitution must incur a referendum and that to pass must have, I think, a 60% majority in at least four States. As I’m sure you know, it has proved notoriously difficult for would-be Constitution-changers to get a proposal past the Australian public.

    I was interested in your comments re Albo. I don’t find him at all impressive – he seems, like Sturmer, to change his policies according to the audience he is addressing. And I guess I rather fear that he will use his power to change Australia far too Left. I simply don’t trust him.

    I’ve always considered myself as a conservative with a Social Conscience – so I actually approve of Albo’s plan to build more social housing. We need more – much more. The housing situation here is deplorable – and I simply cannot see why any Government, that understands the economic benefit of a healthy population by providing relatively free Medical Care, cannot appreciate the same benefit for providing social housing for those who will never be able to buy their own homes. Of course, it needs to be monitored far better than it was in the U.K. – something which I feel very well qualified to speak on. The situation will not be helped if Albo gives in to demands for an ‘Open Border’.

    As to our poor reputation on the World Stage – I think you will find that most Ozzies don’t care – we stood up to China when we demanded an enquiry into the origins of Covid.

    So I suspect you are talking about how we dealt with that virus.

    I know you, and a lot of the world, didn’t like our covid-policies. We, in Queensland didn’t have too much problem… and, frankly, don’t care what the rest of the World thinks. Far too much World coverage was given to Victoria and NSW.

    Here in Queensland we had an initial 6 week lock down. And then it was lifted – by which time I was already doing my own shopping. O.K we had to wear masks for a week or so at odd times – but most of the time we just went about our normal everyday activities – and, to be honest, I hope that ‘Social Distancing’ becomes a normal part of life! It is so civilised.

    I loved your comment re the Greens starting any negotiation by demanding the universe.

  6. Boadicea: Please don’t think I’m fond of Albo. I think he’s a disaster in the making. The only thing that he has going for him is that he’s more effective in holding his party together than other Labour leaders have been. Shorten was less capable a leader than Albo is. Albo is utterly insincere and he changes his stance depending on the audience, but he comes off as less unlikeable and less smug than Shorten did. Shorten might not have been quite as left-wing on balance as Albo, but he was either less willing or less able to hide his actual positions and what he would have wanted to do as PM. At the time, Morrison was still not tarnished by his own set of mistakes and shortcomings.

    Here is what I see coming from Albo… He has already spent a fair amount of time with the USA’s Dementia 46. He wanted to see how Dementia 46 campaigned and how he’s ruled. Dementia 46 won by default and under dubious circumstances. He has no real legislative majority and no real mandate. Yet… He has tried to implement transformational change. Of course, the USA has a Senate filibuster and the opposition can block legislation going to the floor for a final vote which has stymied the current régime. Likewise, the Senate will be a problem for Albo. I doubt One Nation will prove very helpful and Lambie is notoriously hard to work with. She’ll play ball, of course — she’s ruthlessly transactional — but she will get her pound of flesh. Albo will, of course, attempt transformational change but he’s going to have a hard time getting his agenda through. The tone will, as a result, take a sharp leftward turn. Whatever failures and shortcomings Albo has, he will attempt to paper over with lots of rhetoric and proposals that he well knows will be hard to accomplish. It’s an effort to keep the Greens and Labour-left happy. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but Australia doesn’t seem to be in the mood for transformational change at the moment.

    The Australian Constitution cannot be changed or amended without a double majority. There must be a majority on the national level and a majority in four of the six states. The NT and ACT, since 1977, count towards the national total but not the state total. It takes time to convene constitutional conventions and agree on a compromise to submit to voters. There will, of course, be other matters to attend to. At best, it will take 2 years to agree to something. If Albo follows the Dementia 46 path (which he seems intent on doing) he’ll lack the political capital to push constitutional changes through, especially if (as seems likely) Australia will have at least a million more pressing matters to deal with.

  7. Christopher:
    I tend to think that being in charge at the moment is one very huge poisoned chalice – prices aren’t going to go down and interest rates have only one way to go and that’s up.
    And after all Albo’s promises to keep the cost of living down – he won’t just have one egg on his face.
    I tend to keep an eye on the sales of property around us and was stunned to find that a property one could buy for around $500,000 ten years ago was recently sold for $1,333,000 – that’s a ridiculous increase. I hope the purchasers had a hefty deposit – because we’ve already been told that there are another 5/6 interest increases in the pipeline. I foresee a debt crisis here and Ozzies have no problem with laying the blame at the top…
    Despite all the left-wing-trending M.P.s heading for Canberra, I think you are right many Ozzies aren’t ready for ‘transformational change’ – especially those outside the cities. It’s quite noticeable that the Nationals didn’t lose seats – and votes against them tended to go to One Nation.
    As for Jackie Lambie – even when I disagree with her, I love her style! And as you say, she gives no quarter.
    At the moment, Albo is saying the right things – well it is only a few days! But, I think most of us will be relieved to take Religion out of the equation – we are very proud of the fact that Church and State are separate here – although the Churches still have too big a say as far as I’m concerned – render unto Caesar and all that.
    Again, I think you are right re getting a referendum up and running. Many people here (myself included) have very little idea what this ‘Heart of Uluru’ is about. It will take a lot of time to ‘educate’ us all into what it means – and from what I’ve read so far I’m not in favour – and then working out the right question to ask to get the result they want…
    … and in the meantime there are many, many more pressing issues to be dealt with.

  8. “There were 7 names on my voting slip. It’s compulsory to rank them all. We are not allowed to ‘waste’ our vote and say that it stops after 1 preference – the vote is not valid unless the ballot paper is filled up – so my preferred choice wouldn’t get even my first vote.”

    I don’t really see the point of this particular ‘democratic’ process. It seems despite it all, the country still ends up with a government that has won considerably less than 50% of the popular vote. Forcing people to vote appears to be no better than giving them the freedom not to. The country still gets a leadership that most people do not want.

  9. The element oxygen, some 20% or so of our atmosphere (the simple ingredient we rely upon for survival), has the formula O2.

    Add an extra atom of oxygen, to make it O3, and its name AND behaviour changes totally.

    New name? Wait for it – ozone. That’s OZone! Result: dramatic new differences in operation and behaviour!

    No prizes for guessing why that particular name was adopted!

    Look at the manner in which the voting system has been “progressively” tweaked in Australia and one can see why percipient folk, with an eye to the future, decided – decades ago – to rename the new variant of oxygen as OZone!

    Teeny weeny additions to the norm can add radically new and unexpected departures from expected behaviour.

    Any chance that Oz will at some point in the future return to standard voting patterns?

  10. Boadicea: Even Dementia 46 made some positive noises early on. As soon as it became clear that not much was going to be accomplished, the rhetoric was ratcheted up. You hit on an important point, however. If you are a supporter of the Coalition, this is an election you wanted to lose — albeit narrowly. The next few years are going to be a political abattoir. In Germany, the new government are already hitting the skids after a mere six months. Of the last three state elections, the senior party has lost two. The only state election it fared well in, tiny Saarland, can at least partially be attributed to the fact that the centre-right premier was a right gob shite who managed to alternately antagonise and disappoint. When the Greens have a more muscular foreign policy than you, you know you have problems. It looks like Trudeau, Jacinda, Sánchez, Draghi and Dementia are on their way out. So far, American voters are proving themselves to be fairly unsympathetic and unsparing. The primary elections are well on their way and a lot of incumbents are being unseated. The manure is hitting the fan. In some cases, like in Canada and New Zealand, the culprits will (unusually for politics) get theirs at the ballot box. Albo will be left holding the bag. Inflation is awful in Europe and North America, I rather suspect Australia is not immune from these pressures. All factors included, inflation in the United States is over 16%. Of course, Americans are masters at manipulating statistics and they like to leave factors like petroleum, food, housing and utilities out of the official totals. As we all know, petroleum, food, housing and utilities are utterly irrelevant for people like us!

    So far, it looks as if only a few governments are going to survive re-election. Some, like Sweden’s, are likely to fare well because they have actually done better than most. The Swedish prime minister has proven willing to accept responsibility and acknowledge the failures of her predecessor — and to learn from them! Of course, Sweden doesn’t have a trashed economy and fractured society afraid of its own shadow either making it almost unique in Europe. I won’t count Boris out. It’s not because I like him. It’s because that, like in France, there isn’t a truly credible opposition. Starmer might be better than the Cur-bin, but that’s like saying TB is better then Ebola.

    The Uluru Declaration is a classic piece of woke wonkery. It sounds good on paper, but it’s unworkable and it will be used in the worst possible ways. The devil is in the details and the details aren’t particularly pleasant.

    Sipu: There is good and bad. On one hand, you will get governments that aren’t particularly appetising or inspiring. On the other hand, you will avoid truly horrific governments. For example, Trudeau has survived (just) the previous two elections because the opposition failed to enthuse anyone. A lot of people who couldn’t stand him just didn’t turn up at the polling booth. Likewise, Macron won merely because there wasn’t a viable opposition. The winner of last month’s French presidential election was “none of the above”. Turnout was low by French standards and there were an unusually high number of blank ballots returned. In fact, there were about as many abstentions as there were votes for Macron. On the other hand, I agree with you about ranked-choice voting. It’s a daft idea. It is seemingly designed to prevent any meaningful change. If the aim is to get more representation, then a mixed-member system like that of Italy, Germany or New Zealand might be a better solution. Let half the constituencies be first-past-the-post and the other half be proportional. That way, you can force parties to negotiate and allow for other voices to be heard.

  11. Sipu:
    I have no problem with being able to make a first preference and then pass my vote onto another candidate whose policies are akin to mine – it makes the overall winner aware that s/he needs to be aware of the concerns of people who did not give them their first preference.

    But, I do object to being forced to give my vote to any party that I wouldn’t trust to organise a p**s-up in a brewery.

    It has not been a problem until this election, when I realised that there wasn’t one other candidate that I could trust to organise the proverbial orgy…

    I have to admit that I don’t like the fact that I have to vote – if I don’t I’m fined. Personally I think people have the right not to vote – as long as they don’t complain about the results of an election. There have been times when I’ve spoiled my ballot paper with the comment that ‘They don’t’ care about me and I don’t care about them” – but such comments are never published – so there was no point it my making that declaration.

    Colin
    you are quite right the election process here in Oz has indeed been ‘tweaked’ – and like the frog in the water we haven’t noticed it. No chance whatsoever of Oz returning to a more ‘traditional’ form of voting – I don’t think that ‘first past the post will ever return. But I’m hopeful that people like me might make a fuss about having to vote for people we don’t want anywhere near Canberra.

    Christopher: will respond tomorrow.

  12. Christopher:
    I am, by and large, an LNP supporter – I voted against Howard when he got his ‘God Complex’ and there are some LNP policies that don’t quite gel with my ‘social conscience’…

    … I suspect that all those who voted for the pinkie side of politics, blaming Scomo for the hike in the cost of living, are in for a big shock when it becomes apparent that we have no control whatsoever over what the world is charging us for their goods. So far our inflation rate is below overseas rates – but I won’t hold my breathe that they will stay that way for lomg.

    Already Labor are blaming the LNP for the astronomically high level of debt – but sufficiently large numbers of people seem to remember that they (Labor) called for even greater levels of Government spending during covid.

    As for the Uluru statement, even from the little I’ve read I doubt it would get past the Australian electorate – although after this election I do wonder a bit!

    I may have mis-read the details of the document. But, I find it utterly ridiculous that a population of a mere 25m has to support two levels of Government – we really don’t need to give any sort of power (or tax-payers’ money) to a body that only 2% of the population can vote for who can ‘advise’ a Parliament elected by all eligible citizens. We know all too well how ‘advising’ can be converted to ‘stopping’.

    Sipu:
    I was so fed up with the restrictions on my voting ballot – that I tried to find an organisation to join that realised that the system was wrong…
    And lo! I found a report for the improvement of democracy in Australia (published in December 2020) on the web-site for the Parliament of Australian which included the following statement:

    “To maximise voter choice compulsory preferential voting should be replaced by optional preferential voting.”

    So the problem has been recognised – but not been acted upon…

    … like 95% of all such reports here!

  13. Boadicea: I’m surprised that Australia hasn’t been harder hit. One reason why the US is suffering from out of control inflation is that so many transport and manufacturing hubs/nodes were severely disrupted. Even worse, there is a severe shortage of lorry drivers. Rail helps to an extent, but only to an extent. Many have been pointing out for years that Australia is far too reliant on imports. With the USA self-immolating, with China seemingly content to destroy itself and with Europe a basket case, with major exporters partially or fully offline Australia is going to have to compete for fewer resources. For example, Ghana, Uganda and India are banning exports of food some foods and India is controlling the export of a lot of medications.

    I’ve also always been a supporter of right-of-centre parties. I ended by decades-long voting streak last year when I voted for a liberal party and a social democrat in the Rheinland-Pfalz state election. The centre-right were simply hopeless, Merkel utterly ruined the party and left it rudderless.

    The Uluru Statement sounds like a good idea. The problem is that it’s simply not workable. Jacinda Price’s experiences are proof of that. She’s very much an indigenous Australian. She’s very active in supporting indigenous Australians. Yet… She is constantly attacked by “some” indigenous Australians. Some take it on themselves to try and isolate her. That goes as far as people from other indigenous nations travelling to any event where she is supposed to speak and pressure organisers to stop her from speaking. The legal definition of an “Australian” is very clear and concise. It’s a citizen of Australia. Whether immigrant or native born, an Australian citizen is an Australian citizen “in the eyes of the law”. The legal definition of what an indigenous Australian is, on the other hand, is very, very vague. There was that Australian Supreme Court case from two years ago (or so) which determined that nobody with indigenous Australian blood could be removed from the Commonwealth — even if that person is not an Australian citizen. That creates this perverse situation that someone like me who is neither a citizen nor resident of Australia would, through my distant indigenous Australian ancestry (and I mean distant — probably centuries ago) have rights in Australia that you, an Australian citizen and resident — do not. My life is a working class/lower middle class European life, not an Australian life — indigenous or otherwise. I really hope it fails. Australia got a lot of things wrong in throughout its history, but it also got a lot of things right and it has proven to be a big enough country to acknowledge its wrongs and grow as a society. This sort of regressive (and lets face it, American-inspired) thinking is a disaster that the country does not need.

  14. Christopher:

    I’ve no doubt that things will get a lot worse here. Our home-grown crops have been severely hit -but to be honest I can’t see why anyone worries about the price of lettuce (which featured highly in the election debates) – it’s just a bit of green stuff with little nutritional value as far I’m concerned.

    It may be that people have to go back to basics – and re-evaluate their priorities. I wasn’t too impressed with an ABC interview where the interviewee was complaining that she would have to rethink her ‘eating out’ activities and her holiday plans. Very rarely having eaten out or been able to afford even one holiday when my girls were young – I didn’t have too much sympathy with the woman.

    And to be brutally honest, I didn’t have too much sympathy with the family with 10 children who were finding it hard to cope… I’m definitely with Christina here: “don’t breed what you can’t feed.”. As far as I’m concerned the biggest problem in the world is over-population – the earth is reeling from being expected to provide for three times the number of souls at a higher standard of living than those living in the 1940s. But no country has the guts to say so.

    Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t let any of them starve – but I do think it’s time that countries tried to slow down the rate at which we are reproducing. I’m not holding my breath – and I will be gone before the truly horrific effects of over-population are felt world-wide.

    And we also need to become more self-reliant. Globalisation has not worked.

    I’ve read the Uluru Statement – which says nothing much really. I’d be quite happy to vote for recognition in the Constitution – but not happy to give an Aboriginal Assembly the right to veto laws for the other 98% of non-aboriginals.

    And you are quite right. There is no definition of what ‘a First Nation’ person is. When I came here, I travelled through Aboriginal communities quite freely – they have now become ‘closed’ communities – this is wrong… it’s almost a form of apartheid.

    Jacinta Price is my heroine! She talks good old-fashioned sense. But she is reviled by her own people and the left-wing goody-two-shoes because she says that her own people should take responsibility and do more to help themselves. This does not go down well with the present climate of blaming everyone else for their own problems.

  15. Boadicea: Well, that certainly doesn’t help. Perhaps it’s similar to the loaf of bread index. Even if bread isn’t that important any more, I rarely eat it myself, it still sparks an emotional response. It’s certainly gone up in the US. I spoke to someone in Greece today. She said that a lot of staples have doubled in price since last year, I’ve heard similar things from Poland.

    A lot of things have changed in the past decades. A lot of basics such as housing are far more expensive than they used to be, but other things — such as travel and clothing — are cheaper. Of course, quality isn’t what it used to be and lodgings can, arguably, be more expensive than they once were. Six of one, half a dozen of another, perhaps. Still… Having a moan about not being able to eat out quite so much and having to skip a holiday or two isn’t in the best of taste when many have been displaced and many more or having to choose between heating/cooling and eating anything.

    In general, birthrates are declining. Compare birthrates in India today with those in the 1940s — they’re well under half. In fact, it’s only marginally positive. Mexico, Brazil, etc. have all seen similar declines. Countries once known for their fecundity: Spain, Italy, Greece, Poland and Ireland have critically low birthrates. South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, etc. are all facing demographic cliffs — as is China. Only parts of Africa and Asia still have positive birthrates. Paradoxically, countries where people are best able to care for families — France, Sweden, the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, etc. are far less likely to have larger families! My grandmother had five children, my mother had one and it’s obvious that I won’t be having. Countries where people are less able to care for large families — Zimbabwe, Nigeria, etc. are also the countries where people are most likely to have large families. Admittedly, it’s one reason why I don’t feel that great of pity for poor people in Chad, Niger or Ghana. Of course it’s terrible when children go without, but putting one’s own social position (the more children a woman has, the more social cachet she carries) above the well being of one’s own children in such a raw way makes one wonder how much sympathy is really due.

    Globalisation has been an absolute calamity. Of course, countries like the UK, Netherlands and Australia have always been trading nations. Australia has a long history of importing many goods. The occasional imbalance is perfectly normal and not unhealthy. The problem is that this only works when countries broadly play by the same rules and have the same basic aims. Australia might import more finished goods from Japan and Taiwan than Japan and Taiwan import from Australia, but Australia exports far more food and raw materials to Japan and Taiwan. None of those three have parasitic economies and none treat trade like a zero-sum game. An argument could also be made that while the UK doesn’t have reply heavily on exporting finished goods, it does export many high-quality parts and services. When countries like China treat trade like a zero-sum game and use market access to bludgeon countries into submitting to Beijing’s will, it becomes something very different entirely. For a moment, it looked as if the powers that be had finally taken a lesson. Instead, they’re trying to carry on as if nothing happened.

    A few years ago I read the biography of an indigenous Australian elder from WA, now deceased. He was active in its writing. He told his biographer that even during the hard times of the 1930-’50s, indigenous people have their pride intact and largely maintained a sense of purpose. By the ’80s and certainly during his final years, the 1990s, indigenous communities imploded. This was well past the time Australia scrapped its worst policies. It’s not unique to Australia. In North America, indigenous nations are faring worse now than they did during the first half of the 20th century. In the United States, African-American society has nearly collapsed since the 1960s. It’s hard to argue that Australians, Canadians or Americans would accept treatment that shoddy these days. Yet… For all their decades of efforts, they’re blamed for problems that are comparatively recent. This culture of blaming everyone else is of American origin and it’s just as toxic in South Africa, Australia and Germany as it is in the United States.

  16. Boadicea, I read that your new Prime Minister is making preparations to ditch the Queen and declare Australia a republic. Fair enough, provided this is the will of the majority of Australians. Other reports I have read from the Caribbean islands, some of which are proposing to do the same, suggest that the majority of their citizens do not want to ditch the Queen. But then their bank accounts are not stuffed full of Chinese cash as are those of many of their “leaders”.

    I’m a monarchist and am looking forward to watching all the pomp and ceremony of the Jubilee celebrations. If Australia becomes a republic who becomes the boss man? Could we offer you Tony Blair? Or perhaps Harry and his tea-throwing wife? I’m looking forward to learning the full story of that.

  17. Sheona: In Barbados, which became a republic some six months ago, well over 60% opposed the move. The numbers are similar in Jamaica. Between Chinese meddling and American propaganda, governments are doing their worst. It’s a way for the Chinese to dismantle networks not favourable to their interests and also to needle the Americans in a way that they cannot easily protest.

    Australia has a very, very different constitutional set-up. In Barbados the constitution could be amended with the support of 2/3rds of MPs. Since there is no opposition, the PM was able to get her way. Not that it mattered, the former government was just as supportive of dancing to Beijing’s tune. Jamaica is fairly similar. In Australia, any constitutional changes require a double majority. A majority of voters nationally have to agree as to majorities of voters in a majority of states. Albanese can talk all he wants, but it’s unlikely that he’ll get that change through. It’s unlikely that voters in NSW, Queensland, Tasmania or Western Australia would back the change. South Australia isn’t all that republican. Victoria might go for it, but that would make Victoria the outlier.

  18. Christopher:
    Shock horror! It was reported today that one lettuce costs $12! I despair of anyone who pays that – I’d just leave it on the shelf to rot – and so should everyone else.
    As far as I can make out (not that I’ve looked that closely) the cost of bread has risen – but not so drastically… As you know, there isn’t a lot of competition here between the two major supermarkets – although to be fair the government did step in a few years ago and remove the right of one supermarket company to demand sole rights in our shopping malls. But it’s still not enough. Lack of competition here in Oz is a big problem.

    As to population expansion… I started to look at my family tree some many years ago… and worked out that all the people with this one odd surname can trace their family back to one, single man who died in 1657 in Lincolnshire. There are thousands upon thousands of them all over the world with that surname, and who knows how many are descended from the female descendants of that one man.

    As you rightly say, Globalisation can only work if countries adhere to the same rule-book. I was heartened to see the Pacific Islands (Solomon Islands apart) rejected Beijing’s advances – but I’m not sure that our economy can carry the sole cost of keeping them out of Beijing’s embrace for ever.

    As for the problems in our indigenous communities – many, like the rest of the world, have caught the ‘I’m-entitled-to-bug’. Jacinta Price is one that hasn’t! I think we might keep the ‘bug’ away for a while longer – but it will consume everyone sooner or later and then it will be chaos as everyone demands that their ‘rights’ be put above anyone’s and everyone’s entitlements.

    I only have to look at the so-called discussions as to whether I must accept ‘female-identifying males’ being allowed in my safe places.

    Sheona: We are well aware that Albanese wants to get rid of the Monarchy – he made no mention of the queen in his swearing into Government to the Governor General. It’s a first.

    He has also appointed someone to some sort of Portfolio – I haven’t bothered to look – he’s over-stepping the mark if he thinks he can, like Barbados, just declare a Republic. I’ll follow it more closely if and when he decides to over-reach his authority.

    Our Constitution can only be changed if a majority in four out of our six States approve. NSW and Victoria are the most populated and the bench-mark was set so that the larger States could not over-rule the smaller by virtue of their larger populations. I have a feeling, though I haven’t checked it out – that a majority is set at about 60%.

    It’s quite a high bar to get over – and only 8 out of 44 proposals have ever got through.

    We’ve already had one referendum on the issue and it was rejected. People didn’t like the alternative that was being proposed…

    … I don’t think that it will be accepted unless some really good alternative is offered. We really do not trust our pollies here one bit.

    The queen costs us very little – but a President would.

    I read a comment on a U.K. newspaper recently by someone in the U.K. who said she had been a Republican most of her life – and then thought about Tony Blair becoming President of the U.K. and has been a Monarchist ever since.

    I have a feeling that the Ozzie population just might feel the same about some of our ‘celebs’.

  19. Boadicea: You are correct vis-a-vis competition in Australia. In Dorchester with its some 20,000 people there is a Tesco, an Iceland, two Waitroses, a Lidl, a Spar and a Sainsbury’s. In Amador County with its 38,000 people there is a Raley’s, a Young’s IGA, Pine Grove Market, Safeway, Cost Less, Grocery Outlet, Save Mart, Ione Market, Dollar General and Wal*Mart. Even Lodi with un underwhelming 58,000 people has a Trader Joe’s, a Costco, a Raley’s, a Safeway, a Rancho del Sol, a Cost Less, an Indian market, a South East Asian market, Save Mart and Grocery Outlet. Even in Melbourne and Sydney, with the exception of ethnic markets, it was Cole’s or Woolworths. Of course, the UK has some 67 million people and California on its own has 40 million people. (With the exception of a few national chains like Trader Joe’s, supermarkets in the USA tend to be highly regional. When I lived in Minnesota it was a struggle because I was so familiar with California chains — Hawai’i, for obvious reasons, is a world onto itself)

    My family name is similar. It’s a geographic name and everyone with it can trace their ancestors back to this one particular village in Cheshire which, as for 2011, didn’t even have 700 residents. Virtually everyone who is “local” is related whether or not they share that name. You can find it in the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada. There are more people with that name in Kentucky than there are people in that Cheshire village!

    Tonga seems to have gone for China, unfortunately. I wonder how long it will last. Even New Zealand has started to inch away from its former pro-Beijing stance, probably because Queen Jacinda has lost her shine and she can no longer get away with everything. Australia on its own cannot do it, but the Americans are slowly grasping that they have to be more proactive. Trump was the first to really “get it” and make overtures. The current excuse of a regime has, to its credit, continued making overtures and the United Kingdom is beginning to show more interest. Japan and now South Korea (its new president can hardly be called sympathetic to China) are eager to curtail China’s ambitions.

    Being a woman, or man, for that matter, is about a lot more than just how one “feels”. There are rites of passage, there are stages of life and development, there is also a lot of awkwardness in being female and being male. There are things about being a woman that I will never understand simply because I am not one. I can try to understand and relate as much as possible, but there are limitations. Likewise, there are things about being a man that women will never understand for the same reasons. No matter how much effort is put into “looking” the part, into “sounding” the part, it will never be the same. Of course, that is no licence to bully, belittle or demean people who wish to live as the opposite gender. It still stands, however, that most men have no interest in dating a transwoman. Few women have interest in dating a transman. For lesbian women and gay men that holds just about as true. A medical approximation is a weak imitation of the natural.

Add your Comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: