The fable of the giant canetoad and the fat man

When Tony Abbott gets into his jim jams at night and hops in the sack, he must surely dream of a time not so long ago, when he made the government look ridiculous.

Those halcyon days when he was Opposition Leader.

Nowadays he is making the government look ridiculous for another reason. He’s in government and the no-surprises-no-excuses government has turned into a big fat disaster. With him at the helm.

The Liberals certainly have kicked some home goals (I’m talking paid parental scheme, GP co-payments, ill-advised winks), but they couldn’t have known that Fat Clive would mess with them so much.

Tony Abbott must be having nightmares about a fat cat in a blue and red checked loose shirt, who despite being a shirt size of XXXXXL is so politically nimble he outmanoeuvres the government at every turn.

No matter what the policy, even the ones Clive Palmer actually likes (free M&Ms to mining magnates for instance) there’s another false start and another rabbit comes out of Clive’s Big Bag of Tricks. He scoffs, he rails, he gives an interview, makes a folksy joke, walks out of another interview and generally throws magic dust at the media.

Meanwhile, the Liberals, Tone E. Abbott, in particular, are looking weak and King Clive reigns over all of us.

It’s surreal to watch the Liberals look chastened. They who looked so masterful and in control the last election now appear to have the political nous of parsnip and are attempting to govern as though they are starring in a Lego movie and Everything is Awesome. The budget is resembling a limp lettuce sandwich and only now, months since the budget was handed down, are they realising they need to sweet-talk the crossbenchers after all.

I do not mean to sound in any way judgemental, but a reasonably intelligent labradoodle could have done a better job at selling the budget.

But, as usual in this wide brown land, we get the government we deserve. If the voters thought that Tony Abbott, with his cane toad eyes and Medieval policies was going to be any good, they too must be dreaming.


St Julia – Patron Saint of Earlobes

Sainthood could be Julia’s toughest gig yet. Only a week ago she couldn’t even fart without stuffing it up according to the media. Everything about her was wrong: legs, bum, hair colour, jackets and earlobes. (I never understood the earlobes thing – I mean, seriously?).

Never mind she was the most productive prime minister ever, in terms of legislation passed averaged over days spent in office  (if you don’t believe me see The Guardian’s analysis and cute red chart on respective Australian Prime Ministers’ productivity).

Fastforward one week. Now the media don’t have her at their disposal to criticise, they have taken to eulogising her. Poor Julia, she wasn’t listened to, she wore too many white jackets and people were mean about her earlobes. One day I sincerely hope Laurie Oakes takes a look in the mirror himself. Just saying.

I think it is a real shame that people have to die or be publicly humiliated for the media and people in general to finally say nice things about them. Why can’t people say some nice things at the time? Not when they are politically or actually dead.

I think Julia might have preferred a fair go by the media when she was actually in charge of the joint. There’s no point the media offering her a sainthood now out of guilt or need to fill screenspace. Because I’ve got a feeling Julia isn’t interested in sainthood. White’s not really her colour.

A political life is full of woe

Who would be a politician? At least in Australia. (It’s probably pretty good in Italy where you can bonk underage Middle Eastern prostitutes and then lie about it, be convicted and still be a hero).

As for Australia, all you have to do is keep the economy strong, introduce a disability scheme and educational reforms and put a price on carbon to help the environment and they’ll hate you.

I know what happened to Julia was partly of her own making. I know she should never have hung out with the faceless men, donned the pearls or slowed down her speech to pre-kinder level. It was all, well, not the real Julia. But then what is? The sad thing is we never got to find out.

So now, as a relatively young woman (I don’t know about you but 51 is looking younger and younger all the time), she’s lost her career, along with so many others in the Labor party. These are people who devoted their life to the joint and probably started out with some grand ideas and are now unceremoniously cast out. I guess they get to keep their parliamentary pension, a bit of super, and some can land a book deal or hop on the speakers’ circuit if they are interesting enough. But it is a shame that our political system and the 24 hour news cycle doesn’t allow politicians a little breathing space and we are all the poorer for it.

Middle America should get out more

In some states of America only 10 per cent of the population have passports. Heck, why d’ya wanna leave the greatest country on earth? God‘s own country has malls! Deep fried chicken! Guns ‘n’ Jaysus!

Other places on earth are commie hellholes, where people dream of ‘Merica. That’s certainly the view of middle America, ie the middle of the country, where passports are as rare as a garden salad and gun control is a swearword. It’s no surprise that most of the good ole mid west votes Republican. Democrats are pinko gay tree-hugging tax whores. Yawl got that?

Right, good.

So, here’s the thing. Most states who vote Republican are in the middle. Something about seawater makes people vote Democrat. Or at least makes them aware there is a sea and that there are other people out there. Other people mean other ideas.

So, why not do a bit of a swap?

It was easy enough to do Wife Swap on telly; so why not organise a bit of a Life Swap, and get the mid-west out a bit more.

The view from the couch on the other side of world, is that the mid-west needs some education not sponsored by Fox. They need some new experiences, ideas and maybe a glimpse of the sea.

And then, if they still want to vote for a fat cat capitalist billionaire who belongs to a religion where they wear strange underwear, well that’s completely up to them.

But first sniff the sea air and have a walk on the beach, drink some pina coladas and … well you never know, they may end up holding hands with a Democrat.

US Politics make us look like the P&C

US politics may be bad for the world. Think unwinnable wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq plus some ill-advised skirmishes in Africa. It’s also a bad influence on weak minds. You can’t tell me Barnaby Joyce doesn’t read 50 Shades of The Tea Party Diaries at night.

But despite the loonies, whackjobs, nastiness, bad hair and gun politics, it’s still the greatest show on earth. Tell me I’m wrong?

Does anything, even a speech on The West Wing, come close to a black US candidate promising change. Sure it came to nothing, like it always had to. I mean even Jesus himself couldn’t change the world, but what a great soundbite. What a great youtube moment!

Is there anything more adorable that a Cindy doll nodding in the background to Newt Gingrich‘s pronouncements on marriage when his ex-wife lobs a bombshell? Is there anything more ridiculous than Rick Santorum. And is there anything better than seeing Bill Clinton still playing that crowd like the old pro he is, while Hilary jets about like James Bond‘s M?

As I say – supersized entertainment.

Meanwhile back in Canberra, it’s looking more and more like the local chapter of the CWA. A bunch of old women scrabbling over scone recipes. And that’s just Tony and Malcolm.

The biff of Australian Federal politics is about as exciting as the Southern Idaho Baptist Democrats Mini Convention. It’s got the sex appeal of limp lettuce and the smug self-importance of Deniliquin.

I could forgive them if they were doing something important, say passing laws that I tell them to pass, for instance. Or finding a cure of cancer and creating world peace on the side.

American politics is nowhere near finding well peace and at its core, it too, is all about biff. But it also is other things too. It’s entertaining, and at times enthralling, blood boiling, idealistic, and just plain big.

And it’s a change from local politics. And that’s change I can believe in.



Julia’s bad ass speech is no bum steer

The latest political poll since the political hoo-ha a fortnight ago, when Jules told Tone what’s what, seems to be working for her. Up, up, polls are up for Julia. Technically not up enough to win an actual election but at this point, the Labor party is after as many Facebook friends as it can get.

In a surprise move, men have taken their bat and ball and joined Team Julia (however temporarily) and Tone is left with, well I dunno, I guess his wife and daughters he is so keen to parade around.

This is good news for anyone who thinks the political atmosphere has got out of hand and that everyone needs a smack. It is good news for anyone who suspects that The Real Julia might actually be someone they could share a cup of International Roast with and anyone who thinks pearls is a bad look on her. She needs a footy scarf not pearls!

It is also good news for anyone who enjoys watching Tony Abbott look as though he’d rather bury himself under a pile of ironing or hit himself in the head with a muffin tray when Julia gave her famous bad ass speech.

And it’s good news that the men of Australia don’t mind a strong woman giving a lecture. Actually they quite enjoy it. Either that or they’d like to biff Tony Abbott with a rolling-pin too.

World standard scrooge

Apparently Joe Hockey, who I had thought was Shadow Minister for BBQ‘s, has made a speech while he was on a tour overseas, saying that our welfare costs are too high.

According to Joe, we should fall in line with world’s best practice, which he thinks is Korea, in order for us to remain competitive as a nation. We apparently spend around 16 per cent of our GDP on welfare and Korea spends under 10 per cent.

Top of the list of caring nations is – quelle surprise – France, which spends 28 percent of its GDP on welfare. Also ahead of us on the list are all the blonde, good-looking nations (Scandinavia), other Euro nations, Canada and even the UK.

But Joe should be happy as we are in good company with Estonia. But still Joe’s not happy. He wants us to be on par with Korea and Vietnam.

What the !?$%%^&*)* ?

It’s not enough that Australians are now working as hard as Koreans (not me personally – take that Joe!); in Joe’s ideal Australia, he wants the government to spend the same amount of money as Vietnam on the dole, aged care, sickness benefits. And this is a fair go, how exactly?

Now, apparently the sweetener is that he says that these countries have strong family ties and we should work on strengthening our own family ties. And this is meant to make us feel good? Spend more time with our families?

Maybe Joe on his magnificent overseas adventure didn’t think his feel-good comments would be picked up. Maybe he was just hungry and had low blood sugar. Maybe he had eaten too much and left his brain in the soup bowl. But no matter. The day our benefits for those who are generally more marginalised in society, are on par with Vietnam is the day I really pack up for New Zealand.

Gay marriage – it’s the economy stupid

Factoid for today: the wedding industry in Australia (according to the SMH via IBISWorld) has a turnover of $4.3 billion and employs about 54,000 people. The wedding industry makes roughly the same contribution to the Australian economy as the baby products and cheese manufacturing industries.

I’m not good with numbers, but that sounds pretty big.

The average cost of a wedding is around $36k – but many people spend as high as $48k. The reason it is so high is that we can’t outsource it to Chindia. (Generally). Most people still marry in Australia, which means high local labour costs, high function centre costs – food, drink, flowers etc. Apart from the dress, there’s not that much you can get cheaply overseas.

So, here’s my plan. We have a two-speed economy, right? WA is through the roof and the east coast in the doldrums. SA? Who cares. So, let’s stimulate the economy by legalising gay marriage. Most people couldn’t give a rats anyway.

The economy of Sydney in particular would go through the roof. They are cashed up and ready to go, and well, don’t mind a bit of OTT stuff that only a wedding can provide.

Julia – it’s a votewinner and the only thing I can think of that will stimulate the economy. Plus small business is the winner, not fat cat mining giants. It’s sounding better and better.

It’s not a moral issue … it’s the economy stupid.

Rack Off Julia’s bum, Germaine!

Germaine Greer is an icon, a trailblazer. She probably should have her own font named after her (the GerMaine Block Capitals or G.E.Maine Sans Serif perhaps?). At the very least the Germaine App which can sprout out WTF moments at the press of a button.

There’s been a few WTF moments over the last decade, but the latest attack on Julia’s bum from one of the world’s most renowned feminists is a bra too far. Come on, Germaine – what about the sisterhood here? At least even up the score with an attack on Tony’s budgie smugglers. Here we have our nation’s first female PM and the best Germaine can do is criticise her her booty.

(For the record, I would take Julia out of the short white jackets, and put her into a green or blue slimming longer jacket. But hey, she is a big girl now and she is the prime minister of Australia, she can dress however she bloody well likes. Maybe she likes a big bum. Take that Germaine!)

Why doesn’t Germaine pick on someone who she hates (there’s plenty of those) instead of picking on someone she might have some ideological connection with.  Why are people with no opinions about policies and, (if you look at Germaine’s outfits), no clue about fashion being invited on Q&A anyway? Tony Jones – ignore Germaine, if booty-bashing is the best she can come up with she’s not worth it, and let’s stick to actual policies and give fashion the bum steer.

Nigella’s bum bites Julia

There’s been a lot of coverage on the way Julia Gillard looks. Shoes, missing shoes, hair, White Lady Funerals jacket, nose and bum, bum, bum. Cartoonists and Alan Jones have gone crazy for that bum. Slow news day? Big bum shot and problem solved. Julia on the world stage hobnobbing with Hilary and swapping card tricks with Barack? Bum shot. Whatever the event, the bottom line for TV networks is  – go the bum.

Nigella on the other hand, that’s a bum you’ll never see. Shrouded in secrecy and a long black skirt, she’s clearly more than happy for a cardi cleavage close-up, but bum? I’ve never seen footage of Nigella from behind, or in fact of her behind.

Now, I’m personally not cranky about this. If I was Nigella’s bum, I’d insist on that kind of clause too. If I was Julia, however, I’d be pretty cranky. Because she’s just an average middle-aged woman (truth be told she’s a lot slimmer than the average middle-aged Aussie) and she’s getting a disproportionate amount of unflattering bum shots. Whereas Nigella is getting off scott-free. And you can’t tell me all that chocolate isn’t wobbling around somewhere.

OK, so Julia’s a pollie she signed up for this. Well, yes she did, but probably when she started her career she wasn’t worrying about wall-to-wall bum shots. And it’s probably not her biggest worry at the moment.

So, the moral of this is, cooking is a lot kinder than politics. But as Malcolm (“Trousers”) Fraser said, life’s not meant to be easy.