Sometimes I’ll give you stories, but today I’m giving you my thoughts on whatever headlines I find on a news page. This will never get stale for Australian news is seldom dull.
Australia is in election mode right now. The Federal election will probably be in May, but hasn’t yet been called. We’ve been in election mode for months and months, partly because we’re at that stage of the government cycle, but mostly because the US has such a long election mode that the press has kinda filtered it to here and starts the campaign up to a year before we have an excuse for a campaign.
It’s possibly to start and finish an Australian election within six weeks, so one of the public reactions to the increasingly long media addiction to the next election is for us to say “Can we get it over with now, please?” Our current election could have been over already and last week’s news was an archbishop being convicted and a bunch of Ministers saying they will not stand next election (by this you can calculate when I’m actually writing this post if you check Australian news headlines) so we’re already beyond election fatigue… and the election date is yet to be set.
This puts the Prime Minister at a disadvantage when he ought to have an advantage. Australian voting is compulsory and it’s pretty standard for the undecided “I don’t care” and the “A plague upon both your houses” voters to vote either for the government or to do donkey votes. Donkey votes are when one numbers one’s ballot from the top down, in order, not even looking at the names or political parties.
What the press seems to be suggesting is that more and more people really don’t want the government option. It might be our PM’s comments on International Women’s Day (where he was worried that improving things for women might hurt things for men – equality didn’t actually enter his mind) or it might be a previous prime minister giving a character reference for a convicted criminal. It might be how this government has treated refugees (which is one of our national shames) or the Opposition saying, “We really need a higher minimum wage.” There has been missing water, millions of dead fish, drought, fire… so much.
Every day there seems to be something that pushes the Morrison government further into freefall. The longer the election is delayed, the worse the governing parties (for they are a coalition and we, with our amazing wit, call the “the Coalition”) will suffer.
Yesterday’s political headlines suggested that if it weren’t for compulsory voting, we’d have our own Trump.
So what are today’s political headlines? Which chapter of the Australian political soap opera are we in?
Labor (our centre-left opposition party) has started releasing election policies. It’s not waiting for an announcement. Its big election policy concerns incomes. This makes good sense, timing-wise. This week the big economic announcement was that our economy is problematic. Labor has potential solutions (income for everyone!) and the Coalition didn’t really say much when the announcement was made. This is one of the first times they’ve not blamed Labor for their problems and they’re shedding ministers (it’s autumn here and most of our trees are evergreen, and one must shed something), so it’s really not a good week for them. Not as bad as the week before, but not good.
To be fair, they did manage to blame Labor for all future problems. It was a don’t-pay-attention-to-economic-problems-now-because-the-Opposition-will-cause-them-later-on. I think our election roller-coaster soap opera is a comic one.
Local issues are different. Canberra is a city, and a territory, and the seat of government and the headlines really don’t overlap that often.
Canberra had its first traffic accident from the light rail yesterday. The light rail won’t actually be functional until April, so this is an impressive moment in the history of the nation’s capital.
The outstanding local political headline for today is about drones. In the test suburb for Google drone delivery Google is being challenged. The local government is hearing very angry statements from residents. Canberrans are heavily in favour of gun control, yet some Bonython residents say that if the Google deliveries go ahead, they might shoot them down.
My guess is that the drones were very noisy and very invasive – we are the bush capital and even bangs can send us whizzing to the Canberra noticeboard on Facebook and arguing wildly. We’re also a wildlife-filled city. Kookaburras to wake up up, attack magpies, and evil-sounding possums… and the drones might have interfered with this. That would be another trigger for a really angry public. We could train the magpies to attack the drones. That would solve the problem of us not actually having guns to shoot.
I need to finish on a note. An historical note. The reason the Labor Party has the spelling it has when Australian (the dialect) is far closer to British English than the English of the USA is the fault of a politician named King O’Malley. He named the party and he was from the US originally. His main modern claim to fame is a landmark pub. We love it. Great pub and the perfect name. So very Australian.
Why is it so very Australian? King O’Malley was a teetotaller.