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Brown Study

Brown Study

17 August 2013

9:00 AM

17 August 2013

9:00 AM

You read it here first. I predicted that the Rudd revival would take off like a Roman candle, splutter around and then crash to earth. After all, you might like to wander down to the village to see the freak show in the travelling circus, but that does not mean you want to join the caravans. The more the people see of him the more they are reminded of the horror of it all, the shambles of his first government and the phoniness of everything he says and does. Hence the decline in the polls. And how symbolic of the complete lack of serious priorities it was to declare in the first leaders’ debate that the only thing actually planned for a new Rudd government was to introduce a law for same-sex marriage, a subject of interest to some, but of no importance compared to the real issues of peoples’ daily lives and their survival.

Talking of has-beens, one of the remaining pieces of business from the Rudd/Gillard coups is to consider where it leaves little Bill Shorten. Whether because the Liberal party is too gentlemanly, preoccupied with the election or not astute enough about serious political image-building, the party has overlooked this potential diamond in the muck heap dug up during the ALP’s recent bloodletting. Now is therefore the time when the party should be shaping and moulding the long-term public opinion of Shorten. After all, here is a man who professed undying loyalty to Kevin Rudd, stabbed him in the back, swore fealty to Gillard, and then ratted on her to resurrect Rudd. Worse, he took the last step with a cringe-making explanation. Shorten has such an evocative name, he is tailor-made for ridicule, the most powerful political weapon. He could easily lend himself to a dictionary definition in the same way that John Pilger has become branded. I think the definition should read: ‘shorten: a false promise of loyal support to a political leader; doubleshorten: to engage in a shorten with two successive leaders; double-backwards shorten with puke: a doubleshorten with an explanation of such hypocrisy that it induces in the listener an overwhelming desire to be sick’.


I did not know whether to laugh or cry last week when I read two pronouncements from the Fairfax stable. The first was a headline in the Age: ‘Royal Mail appoints new chef’. It illustrates that the Age is no longer a newspaper but a lifestyle magazine that is besotted with the incestuous food culture and the celebrity gods who rule it. There is no law against headlines like this, but it highlights the absurdity of a commercial organisation chasing a narrow section of the community to the prejudice of the majority, its real potential market. Even stranger is that it continues this suicide march despite collapsing circulation and share price. The Age forgets that the readers it needs to survive are not the minority who pay $100 for a meal prepared by a celebrity chef at some over-priced clip joint, but the majority, the normal average citizens who simply cannot afford such luxury or self-indulgence. But the Age has, sadly, long lost any sense of representing normal, average citizens.

The second Fairfax pronouncement came from the chairman, Roger Corbett, who lambasted politicians for having no ‘vision’. Apparently, the particular vision that is lacking is the vision to widen and increase the scope of the GST. What he means is that ordinary wage earners should carry the burden and pay more under the GST, so that companies can pay less in company tax. I used to think vision was a policy that made everything worse and that I had to pay for. Now I think it means increasing taxes to be paid by anyone else.

I have now had to agree with President Obama on two separate issues. He must be improving with age. The first occasion was when I was in Los Angeles and the President was faced with the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the alleged murder of black youth Trayvon Martin; I thought he did a marvellous job defending the jury system and at the same time explaining why there is a reluctance in the young black community to engage fully with civil society. It was a great charter for encouraging harmonious race relations; the powder keg the Americans continually fear is about to explode. Now, he has delivered a masterstroke in the deteriorating relations with Russia, a move which gives me some hope that the West will not buckle under threats and provocation. It all revolved around the protection that Russia is giving to the renegade Edward Snowden who is wanted by the US for stealing a vast cache of state secrets. President Obama was planning to head to Moscow for a summit with Vladimir Putin on his way to St Petersburg for the G20 (which Kevin Rudd invented), but he has now effectively said he is not going through the empty charade of detente and cooperation with Russia when it slaps him in the face by granting political asylum to Snowden. Russia needed a firm nyet to make it plain the US would not accept this open hostility and it certainly got it, together with an implied warning that Russia had better temper its remarks and actions before a real confrontation breaks out. Russia is now a greater threat to world peace than it was during the Cold War; at that time it could not even shoot straight and its economy was in the grip of a vodka stupor. But now, it has vast energy reserves, the desire to retain lost territory and the stimulus of a mission to restore the fame and glory of mother Russia. It was a time for Obama to take a stand and he did so. Full marks.

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