The Australian people don’t deserve this government, nor this Prime Minister. The unfortunate closeness of the 2010 election and the subsequent shonky deals between a motley handful of Independents and Greens that allowed Julia Gillard to cling on to the Prime Ministership, a position to which she has proven manifestly ill-suited, were supposed to usher in an era of enlightened, co-operative government that would be, in Rob Oakeshott’s words, ‘beautiful in its ugliness’. Only the last part has been fulfilled. What we now have is a Labor government so completely compromised, so bewildered and dazed about what it is supposed to stand for, that there is no principle nor promise it won’t abandon or overturn in order to retain power.

We deserve better than a female Prime Minister who accuses others of misogyny, without a skerrick of evidence (see Derek Parker on page vii), yet is so wedded to power that she would support a Speaker, holder one of the most important offices in the land, and a man who enjoys a lavish taxpayer-funded lifestyle wandering the globe comparing female genitalia to shellfish. We deserve better than a female Prime Minister and female cabinet ministers who repeatedly accuse male opponents of sexism — again without evidence — yet did not utter a single word of condemnation when their own colleague and future leader disparaged a female journalist as a ‘skanky ho’ (that is, a dirty whore), not in a private setting, remember, but on the record in our nation’s parliament.

We deserve better than a female Attorney-General who abuses her position to aid a political crony accused of sexual harassment, who uses the court system to further the interests of her political party, and cannot distinguish between her incredibly important government job and her tawdry political role.

We deserve better than a Treasurer who creates class warfare for his own political ends at the expense of the Australian economy. We deserve better than a Foreign Minister who is prepared to sacrifice our principles in order to curry favour with unsavoury regimes for a seat on the UNSC. We deserve better than a ruling party who shrug off 20 charges of fraud and corruption levelled against their former national president. We deserve better than a policy to tackle climate change that has no hope of achieving any worthwhile outcome, yet endangers our standard of living. We deserve better than a government that readily abandoned secure borders.

Australia has been served well by nearly four decades of sound governments from Fraser to Hawke, Keating to Howard. Perhaps it was inevitable that one day our luck would run out. Now we have a Prime Minister who has trashed the dignity of her office and hypocritically cries sexism and misogyny rather than having the guts to debate policy. When it falls to Peter Slipper of all people to be the only politician with enough integrity to put the interests of Australia before their own desire for power, we really do deserve better.

Tony, meet Mitt

Tony Abbott, rather than making stupid and crass references to a government ‘dying of shame’, could do worse than sit down for 90 minutes, pour himself a cold beer and watch in detail the recent Presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. He may find a few parallels worth contemplating and a few clues as to what he needs to be doing.

The Republican challenger had been languishing in the opinion polls for several months. He was bedeviled by clumsy gaffes and inane comments, viewed by many moderate secularists with suspicion because of his Mormon religion, derided as Mr Monopoly Man without the cane and top hat, and dismissed as lacking empathy. Seasoned Washington observers had virtually called the race over. Yet Mr Romney defied the critics and came roaring back into contention for the Presidency, with some polls now even putting him in the lead.

How did he do it? Not by gratuitously insulting his opponent, nor by playing it tough, nor by pretending to deny his own philosophies and ideology. Mr Romney did it by explaining his values clearly and consistently. He explained why he did not believe in big government: because he put more faith in the individual spirit and talents of the American people to overcome local problems than in unelected ‘experts’. He explained how and why he would cut future government expenditure, with the simple formula: ‘Is it worth borrowing more money from China to keep this program going?’ He explained that it is small business, not more federal bureaucrats, that create a society’s wealth and individual opportunities. The contrast with not only Mr Obama, but also Ms Gillard and Mr Swan, could not have been greater.