Posts by bikewalkeat

Julie Ihle is a Sydney-based freelance writer, specialising in soft adventure.

Government? Who needs it?

So, Australia hasn’t had a proper government for around three years. The Abbott experiment was a mad scrum of throwback ideas, awkward doorstops and daily outrage followed by months of inaction.

The start of the Turnbull experiment was a melee of ideas, broad smiles and a collective sigh of relief that we finally had a prime minister who spoke in complete sentences and didn’t walk like Donald Duck.

But as it turned out, a prime minister who spoke in complete sentences was too much to hope for too. Fasttrack to a year later and we still have a prime minister who speaks in three word slogans and looks like a ghost of his former self but with a manic grin on his face. Meanwhile Prime Minister meekly submits to the schoolyard bullies and nothing gets done; nobody is obviously in charge and the government limps on. At least I think it does – no-one is paying attention.

But it’s got me thinking. Do we need government at all? Maybe we are a self-governing society. People are still going to cafes, going to the beach, going to work and getting paid. They are still getting married, going to the doctor, going to school and catching up with friends. They are going on diets, they are exercising, they are planning holidays and continuing to ignore politics. Life is going on as normal.

In Belgium a few years ago a hung parliament meant that a caretaker government with very limited powers was put in charge for nearly 18 months. And exactly the same thing happened. Life went on! Who knows, maybe it was better with fewer politicians. I do realise Australia has a majority government, but in a way it is similar to a hung parliament – we have a gridlocked agenda and a parliament not able to make decisions.

So, here’s my solution – a plebiscite question as follows: Does Australia need a government? Yes/No.

And … make the result binding, please.

 

 

 

Jobs for Pollies

The politicians of Australia are not doing a very good job. If they were, things in the 45th parliament would get done. But it’s not the pollies fault. Many of them are in the wrong job and should be in an entirely different profession altogether. Like these:

Malcolm Turnbull – with his posho voice, old-man handsomeness, tailored suits and didactic hand gestures, he is like the headmaster at an exclusive boys school on the last day of third term delivering his address. By then students are long past caring. Occasionally he may raise some good points but no-one’s listening.

Bill Shorten – is hard to get an occupational handle on, but Operations & Logistics Manager for Woolworths seems like a reasonable fit. He gets to be the nerve centre of Woolies, but in a behind-the-scenes kind of way. It’s a respectable job that pays well but he gets to deal with truckies and, if he’s nice to them, they sometimes let him drive the truck.

Richard di Natale – Richard loves the countryside, otherwise he wouldn’t be a Green. He’s got acreage, runs livestock and makes his own pizza. I’m thinking cheesemaker. He’d look great in a white coat and, being a doctor, can handle the cheesemaking chemistry. Let’s let him loose with a Wattleseed Gloucester, a Kumquat Colby and Red Gum Honey Runny and he could be the best cheesemaker in the land.

Tanya Plibersek – hands-down vet and a damn good one too. With her short blonde hair that won’t get in the way of angry animals, calm yet slightly worried face your pets are in safe hands. Whack on a white coat and she could have her own TV show.

Julie Bishop – it’s hard to get a handle on what the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister is suited to. She looks immaculate, toes the party line, is hardworking and will never be Prime Minister. But there not much personality going on so we’ll stick with the superficial. A brand manager for a high-end make-up company, say L’Oreal, is more her calling.

Let’s break for a minute and chuck in Annabel Crabb who clearly wants to be a pollie’s granny bearing baked goods and wearing weird vintage. Now back to Canberra ….

Penny Wong – another pollie who can rock a white coat AND a suit. She’s private, detailed, boring and good with a precision hit in the senate. She’d make a fine forensic detective. She could have a great future ahead of her.

Barnaby – just be Barnaby. Nuff said. He’s already doing it – Tamworth farmer. Dog lover, actor-hater – Barnaby, stick to what you’re good at.

Christopher Pyne – The Fixer has escaped from the toy box and needs to return! He’s like a jack-in-the box – just when you think he must have run out of batteries, up he pops with his manic smile and recorded message.

Christopher Pyne and Albo – together it’s different. They are like the two old men from The Muppets who sit in the stalls throwing commentary and digging at each other but secretly can never be parted.

Albo without Christopher Pyne is another escapee from the toy box. But he’s the cuddly teddy one, dressed in a miniature footy jersey.

Tony Abbott – is like that mildly pervy guy who is employed by the gym doing no-one knows what and roams around selling big tubs of protein and maybe a rogue steroid or three. Either that or he could be an onion farmer.

Peta Credlin – not strictly an elected official, but someone forgot to tell her. Clearly she is an Amazon, something out of Game of Thrones, riding through the forest, claws at the fore, ready to pounce.

KRudd – with his ever so perfect hair, perfectly round face, bleak eyes and pretend folksiness, he’s like a parson. A parson in a well-heeled suburb in a nice parsonage, that is. Either that or he is Mr Sheen. Or a dentist.

Nick Xenophon –  St Nicholas of Adelaide, the patron saint of Whyalla has the whiff of an enigmatic Greek orthodox priest. He lives a simple life, wears black, lives alone and has a past (but no-one knows what it is) and is champion of the underdog. Amen to that.

Pauline Hanson – Jill of all trades, this one-time fish and chips shop owner, turned pollie/jailbird/reality TV star is in a career rut. What to do? She can’t go back to the fish and chips biz, her shop is now run by Vietnamese immigrants. Perhaps life art model – she would get the attention she craves and she doesn’t get to speak. As for her fanbase of older white men – they’d love it.

Has Sydney lost the plot?

Yes. It. Has.

Sydney’s a bit of alright for a weekend fling or as a place to show off to overseas visitors, but basically Sydney is not a place in which to live an actual life.

Here’s why Sydney ain’t working so well anymore:

It’s too tribal – east, west, north, south are all separate kingdoms and never mix.

It’s too expensive – a meal out is the same as a small Pacific Island’s GDP without the smiles. Also finding a park for said overpriced meal will involve yet another mortgage.

People aren’t that nice here – but in fairness no-one who spends at least two hours a day commuting to their boring job is going to act all that nice.   

Speaking of which …. the city is now an apartment ghetto, with none of the requisite schools, transport, roads, infrastructure. No planning. Zilch. How very Sydney.

It has no arts soul. Unlike Melbourne, it is a follower not a leader in the hipster movement, it slavishly follows overseas trends. It hasn’t had an original idea in its life.

It’s good looking but that’s not enough anymore. No conversation, no soul, no originality, no purpose. As a place to visit, there’s no better. I really believe that but living in Sydney has lost its gloss.

Sydney International Airport: a rant

Sydney International Airport is a joke. This is one of the richest countries on earth, so why is the toilet door off its hinge? And why are there always queues outside the women’s toilets. Also why does all the food taste like photocopy paper and why does the immigration area feel like you are trapped in an iron blouse? It’s airless, there’s a smell of yesterday’s donut mixed with armpit and the constant threat of an anal probe.

Sorry to get political, but this is what happens when you outsource to the private sector. Turns out it’s fairly efficient not to clean the toilets properly and not to build enough in the first place (let ’em queue, let ’em queue). It it costs nothing to lease to food outlets at extortionate prices so they cannot provide food that doesn’t taste like a service station. It’s fairly easy to cut off natural light and even easier to provide bad chairs. Comfort, be gone! They want you as uncomfortable as possible so you will get out of your annoying chair and go shopping.

Sydney Airport can get away with being third rate because we have the world’s finest harbour, so anything else, like say infrastructure doesn’t matter. Also Sydney Airport is not on the way to anywhere in particular. We are not Singapore or Dubai, vying to become a gateway airport and not much publicity is ever given to Sydney Airport. As soon as visitors arrive and are shunted into the blinking sunshine their airport hell is forgotten, just a piece of airport roadkill in their great overseas adventure. Ditto as soon as we locals leave, Sydney Airport just becomes part of the pre-travel lead up nightmare. No-one talks about it, no-one mentions the airport in blog dispatches, it’s ephemera in the travel experience.

I realise there are more pressing issues in the world, like say fiscal economics and the scourge of deconstructed pop-up food trucks but Sydney is meant to be a world class city and that should mean it has an airport that doesn’t smell like a hellish bus ride. We’ve already had a hellish bus ride in the skies to get here or we are about to have one, so is it too much to ask for someone in charge to give a flying kangaroo about making the airport a nicer place?

The insatiable craze of tasting plates

The current fad for tasting plates makes me want to break some dishes. Preferably Greek style. I want to break them one tiny tasting plate at a time until all the world’s tasting plates have been eliminated and we can get back to one square meal on a non-square plate.

According to this self-styled foodie, tasting plates are a cunning, not to mention, successful way to drive profits. These tasty sharing plates come with a rather hefty price tag, usually retailing at $16 and upwards.

According to restaurant marketing people, the ethos behind the whole tasting plate craze is that you share them and make the meal a convivial experience and in so doing make the world a better place. Possibly even create world peace between Greeks and Germans. At least until you get the bill.

It seems that tasting plates are really just a pimped up entree. How else can you explain that menus now offer the option of tasting plates followed by the main meal? How else can you explain the augmented price tag? How else do you explain words like pulled pork belly on a bed of cauliflower puree and passionfruit sauce? Not to mention duck and Bunya nut cream or any words involving spanner crab and lettuce.

I reckon tasting plates are a good way to spend good on garnish and a weird meat and the sooner the tasting plate craze gets unceremoniously sent back to the kitchen to wash dishes, the better.

Blue ties, nothing but blue ties …

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Tony Abbott and his gang members need to sack their colour therapist, who I suspect is Madam Credlin.

This surreal sea of blue ties we’re seeing lately is not looking safe, secure, responsible and adult. It’s looking like a poor excuse for some actual policy and credibility. Do they really think that if they wear a blue tie people will think they are all grown up now?

These ties are not only boring but they show any speck of dirt plus any egg or tomato that’s been thrown at them. Also they only look good when they are done up properly – the PM’s tie has been strangely skewiff lately. Yes, Peta, you have to dress him now too!

And don’t think that the women get off scott-free either. I’m sick of women in a slightly controversial position wearing white. Julia G. and Julie B. both have worn white when in a sticky situation (which in itself is not a good idea!). Also Margie, the usually missing-in-action First Lady, wore white during the reset speech at the National Press Club a few weeks ago. But during spillgate, she was back in a boring blue suit.

La Bishop, again white on Strange Sunday, the day before the spill, then a white jacket during the spill and then back to navy blue a few days later in parliament.

White does not make you pure, above it all or unbiased. Blue does not make you safe, secure or reliable. Being unbiased makes you unbiased. Being responsible makes you responsible.

Pollies – please don’t mess with colour. It’s making me see red.

Sir Tony and the Chief Corgi

“Hark, Sir Tony”, exclaimed HRH Queen Elizabeth, Royal Garter to the British Empire and Dame of the Oceanic Colonies, far far away.

It was a shame Sir Tony lived in these afore-mentioned colonies. She rather fancied Sir Tony and felt a little flutter every time he frogwalked into the palace. She’d reprimanded Prince Phillip many times for calling him the court jester.

If she had her way she’d like to play Spot the Corgi with Sir Tony in the double poster while Sir Phillip was taking a nana nap. After all she’d done it with Sir Rolf Harris after the life drawing session and that had rounded out one’s afternoon quite nicely.

Those colonials went off at the sight of a tiara in a four-poster bed!

Sir Tony entered the room in his funny walk. “M’lady, ma’am”, he blubbered. She motioned the servants and real court jester out of the room.

“Sir Tony”, she extended a sequined arm and she could feel a little stirring in her own southern colony at the sight of those strange skimpy red knickerbockers she’d been told were so popular in the antipodes.

“Ma’am, milady”, he said. “If it’s ok with you, um, ah, I’d like to knight your husband.”

Elizabeth HRH blinked and her royal garter shook with astonishment and then she said this.

“Sir Tony, you’ve had a long sea voyage. Many days and nights, you’ve risked life and limb to see me. It’s natural you should feel a little delirious.”

“On the contrary, m’lady, I’ve never felt so sane. After all he’s done for Australia, it’s only right.”

“Oh, well, alright then. He is running a little short on titles. It might cheer him up, he was beginning to feel like a useless, pompous old git, but if he is made Chief Colonial that might pep him up.”

Sir Tony beamed. “I was hoping you’d say that.”

Elizabeth HRH’s eyes narrowed. “But there is this one condition.”

“Anything, your eminence. Just name it and you can have it” Tony burst out.

“Well old Sir Phil isn’t up to a little Spot the Corgi these days”, she said. “So you’ll have to do. And make sure you wear those red knickerbockers, one would be most amused. I myself will be in the royal drawers”.

Sir Tony went pale. HRH was HRH, not girlfriend material. He was more a fan of the animal print Amazon with the drink driving charge. Speaking of whom, once Peta found out that he’d bonked the queen he’d be needing his own new set of underwear.

But duty beckoned. And so did the queen.

Meanwhile elsewhere in the palace, Sir Phillip nana napped the noon away, dreaming of far-flung outposts where aboriginals still threw spears at each other.