Saturday, September 14, 2013


Sophie Mirabella

One of my favourite people [NOT the woman pictured above!] has been a lifelong member of the Labor Party. She likes and stands for their all but abandoned set of values – values that recognise the worth of people regardless of class, and seek to provide people with opportunities they might otherwise not have.

In truth, I am not qualified to quote chapter and verse how the Labor Party itself defines its values, but I doubt I'm the only voter who has just a vague notion of what any party stands for. I also doubt I'm alone in feeling quite disenchanted with what I perceive to be an increasingly undemocratic political system.

I admire and respect A's tenacity and loyalty to the Labor Party. There are many, regardless of their political philosophy, who hold that the best way to change a system is from within that system. Perhaps it is only because of people like A the Labor Party has not lost the plot completely.

Australia's story is the story of a people prepared to fight for social change and, having achieved change, fight to keep it. I suspect this is part of what drives A to try and protect Labor from its own party machinery.

It's easier for me to whinge and criticise from the sidelines than put myself through the party mill. I lack the stomach for fighting stacked memberships, or fighting the pursuit of government as an end in itself. It seems less draining and personally self-destructive to lose without a fight than to fight a losing battle.

If this last political cycle has been cynical, negative and devoid of vision, ultimately leaving me devoid of hope, do I only have myself to blame? Do I have any excuse for carping from the sidelines rather than entering the fray?

It might seem to some that my 'reasoning' is a transparently hollow rationalisation, but there is a part of me that resists the notion of total allegiance to ideas not yet formed; ideas that might test my conscience. The offence to offend legislation is probably a good example, or Labor's gutless stand on gay marriage. Oh yes, there is also a little matter of our blind allegiance to U.S. military policy.

Peter Costello once observed that people join a party because its philosophy is clear, not because of specific policies.
If the Liberal philosophy is all about reward for effort and the sanctity of the price system, about the evils of redistributing income, the Labor philosophy has drifted so far towards the same set of principles that I fail to see the point of Labor at all.

The price system might well be the best available but it is nonetheless flawed. Reward for effort and an incentive to improve oneself are essential to living standards, but the question has become one of who is to be rewarded for effort and who is not.
I don't think it is purely a coincidence that a trucking magnate lives on the Mornington Peninsula and a freeway – with no tolls – now extends to where he lives but public transport is deemed un-necessary. I doubt it's a coincidence that there are plans afoot for a new commercial port on the peninsula [on the other side from his own backyard]. And I doubt it's a coincidence that despite the public's preference for spending on public transport, plans are also afoot to join two freeways no matter how much damage the plans will do to public parkland and the living standards of those in the bulldozer's path.

Examples of this pandering to capital abound. If the reward for effort mechanism is good for the country and its economy, wouldn't it be in everyone's best interest to extend rewards to those with smaller bank accounts?

The best political outcome of the year has been the success of Cathy McGowan in toppling Sophie Mirabella from the seat of Indi. As personally pleasing as the electorate's sacking of Sophie might be, the real victory lies in the way a grass roots campaign was able to effectively do battle with the Liberal Party's national machinery. It's a modern David and Goliath story and, reading the details, a little of my hope has been restored.

Whether Cathy McGowan proves to be someone against gay marriage or for US military might is almost irrelevant. At least she will be answerable to the people who elected her, not some unwieldy and self-serving party machine.

Post Script

Mirabella was widely criticised for not helping when GetUp! director Simon Sheikh slumped forward on the set of Q&A. 
While searching for a[n unbiased] image of Sophie I must confess I cracked up when I saw this:

[To be fair, Sophie was not the only person on set who had no idea what was happening.]


  1. Clever head line.

    I feel no reason to be fair to Mirabella, but I am not sure how anyone sitting next to Simon would have reacted. She may have thought it was a stunt or joke. I did not know what was happening as I watched.

    1. In any crisis, I'm hopeless. Sophie's explanation was that she had to turn around to see what was actually happening because her right eye ain't crash hot. Sounds reasonable to me.

  2. Yes. I snorked involuntarily at that image that cracked you up.

    That trucking magnate has a helicopter on his front lawn as well. The Morn Peninsula has never had anything other than a LIB Member. ever. None of them have ever got the 788 bus which stops twice in every kilometre all of the 90 minutes it takes to travel from Franger to Rosebud.

    and I agree completely with your 'If the Liberal philosophy is all about reward for effort and the sanctity of the price system, about the evils of redistributing income, the Labor philosophy has drifted so far towards the same set of principles that I fail to see the point of Labor at all.'

  3. I'm pretty sure the laser beam image really happened. Yep.

  4. Wow! Seriously I think you should run FC, you have a wonderful way of seeing things as they should be.. Simon didn't really stand much of a help from any of that panel..just look at the different expressions...what the! I hope I don't collapse in front of any of them :)))))

    1. If you are anything like me, Grace, you wouldn't go within cooee of those people OR that show. Q & A is one of the few decent current affairs programs around, and I still can't bear it. Why don't people just say what they think instead of using all that double speak?

      I'm sure you'd be calm in a crisis. You would have to be to even consider extensive kitchen renovations. Just the thought of relying on other people is enough to give me an ulcer.