Goodness me! Didn't the Australian government get itself into what my male staff's Auntie Ethel would have called "a pickle" this week? Another of Auntie Ethel's favourite expressions was "Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I'm right." For those of you who have the misfortune to live beyond our burning shore I will re-cap. Since the current government first came to power in 2007 they have lurched from one crisis to another. Mostly self inflicted. Nevertheless, they steered the nation through the storm of the Global Financial Crisis and came out the other side in pretty good shape compared to Europe and the USA by investing early and copiously in infrastructure. The parliamentary opposition criticised them roundly for spending so much money, but what was the alternative? Allow unemployment to grow and the economy to stagnate, or more likely slide into recession? It must be remembered that a large part of the GFC was directly caused by corporate greed and the lack of regulation - something that the Australian parliamentary opposition is all in favour of.
The trouble is that almost all of the good policy releases - the National Broadband Network, the so called Mining Tax and the Gonski education reforms have been so incompetently managed and sold to the public that even a second rate rodent like a rat could have done it better. In 2010 the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made the mistake of turning his back on Julia Gillard and was stabbed in it multiple times and Ms Gillard then led the ruling Labor Party to the next election, just before which she pledged that there would never be a mining tax under any government led by her. Fortunately she changed her mind shortly after she was re-elected. The mining tax was good policy, or at least it would have been if it hadn't been watered down so much and left with so many loopholes for mining companies to exploit that the tax raised hardly and funds at all in the first year.
Anyway, the latest debacle is Communication Minister Senator Conroy's media regulation. Good legislation by any fair minded standards, not that such a thing exists in the Australian media, most of which is dominated by Fairfax and Rupert Murdoch's News Limited. The main focus of these reforms are to encourage more diversification and to force newspapers to publish more prominent apologies when they make incorrect statements. Nothing wrong with that you would think, but the good old Labor government gave the parliament about ten minutes to read through about a thousand pages of legislation and said that they wouldn't contemplate any changes. Consequently the opposition, supported by the press have been hyperventilating, comparing Senator Conroy to Stalin and Robert Mugabe amongst others; a threat to the so called free press and democracy itself. What bush chocolate! What free press? How can you have a free press when there are only two major media companies, both of which are beholden to their own interests and that of big business. The journalists they employ are not free to write what they want because if they are stupid enough to write something that their employer takes exception to they are not likely to get a job elsewhere. The only truly independent writers these days are guinea pig bloggers.
All the kerfuffle about this chaotic way of putting forward legislation upset former party leader Simon Crean so much that he decided to cause a leadership spill, hoping that Kevin Rudd would challenge for the leadership. Trouble is he forgot to tell Mr Rudd and was left flapping in the breeze. He must have felt like a platoon leader in the first world war who'd called his men to charge the enemy trench only to find that he was the only one charging when he got half way across no mans land.
Where does all this leave the rest of us? Well the government is now less popular than a plague of guinea pigs on a basil farm. This means that nutty opposition leader Tony "climate change is crap" Abbott is likely to find himself living in "The Lodge" after September's General Election. Actually, come to think of it, maybe that's why the mainstream Australian media is so keen to see him elected as Prime Minister - they can already envisage all the headlines his bizarre statements and behavior will generate.
I don't really care who the Prime Minister is so long as they provide free foot care for all cavies.
This is me pictured with a book written by my favourite author Brian Meeks. His books are always written on the best tasting paper.