Tuesday, July 17, 2012

LNP State Conference and reality clash as 100 days are up!

A State Conference by any political party is an interesting few days. There is always a decision made somewhere along the line which baffles the population and one or two which don't make it through for unexplainable reasons. It's worth noting also, that generally decisions made at these Conferences are the creation of policy. That does not guarantee them any traction in real terms, particularly where the policy is a Federal one and the Conference a State one.

That said, there are many Motions passed at a State Conference which DO become part of legislation, so any and all of those passed over the weekend at the LNP State Conference in Queensland, could come to fruition for the wider community.

So, what went on? One of the most interesting facets of the conference was the rise to prominence within the LNP of the members of Young LNP. Many of the Motions put forward to the Conference Delegates came directly from their ranks and several of those which scored the most public scrutiny, were Young LNP Motions.

Most notable of those was the Motion to remove Abstudy altogether and instead have Austudy as the only method of assistance for secondary, TAFE and Universary students. This gained significant time in the media and is a touchy subject at the best of times. The view from Young LNP is that it segregates and divides the community, according to skin colour. One Federal MP Paul Neville, noted that Abstudy is an essential tool in the process of bridging the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. His belief that education is the best way to achieve that fell onto deaf ears and the Motion passed. After the vote he expressed his opinion by saying that it was 'not uncommon for the young members of a political party to have radical views.'

Also on the agenda was the removal of Climate Change teachings from the Science curriculum. The reason given for this one was obscure but appeared to be that it is seen as a Left/Green view of the world and that Climate Change science is not proven, therefore should not be on the curriculum. Interestingly, on the same day, another Motion passed which would see the revoking of Indigenous History from schools. The reason for this was much the same as the Climate Change discussion, with the added input that it was placing white Australians in a less than flattering light which (again) was apparently a Labor thing to do. There was much discussion about the new National curriculum as a whole and several times it was mentioned that it is predominantly Labor teachings and we should be removing most of it.

All very fascinating, especially given that Howard was the person responsible for the National Curriculum and hand picked the team who worked on it's content.

Also, given the fact that Indigenous Australians have worked very hard to get a more accurate version of Australia's history taught to students, it must be quite deflating to be told that your history is too 'negative' and should be watered down.

As for climate change. I'm unsure if we have to have water lapping at our front door and out of control weather patterns daily before the science is seen as 'real' but it's getting a bit old to continue denying what is surely obvious. Climate change is reality. Is it the fact that human interaction with the environment is being blamed for it's quickening rate of influence perhaps? If we instead said it was the fault of cows alone and no human being would have to alter their lifestyle or pay for the privilege of continuing to over-use resources, would the population have a different view of the science?

Whatever you personally believe, is it not more beneficial for our children to be taught both sides of the debate, which they currently are, so that they are informed? I believe the commonly used phrase is 'learning to think for themselves'. God forbid we should allow that. Could have catastrophic repercussions.

There were plenty more decisions made throughout the three days of bonding and some (including the restriction of Unions to enter workplaces and building sites) have been reported on and will face further scrutiny in the coming weeks and months.

All in all, a very busy and productive few days, depending on your point of view. Beginning with a speech by Newman that included references to Queensland's criminals, saying they should be very afraid of the Government, including in the middle several statements that branded Gough Whitlam as the second worst PM in Australia's history, and ending with a speech by National party President Mr Truss stating that Labor consistently produces the most disastrous Governments and the focus should remain now on Federal Labor so they can spread the negative sentiment that caused the Queensland election results nationally.

More interestingly perhaps was not the Conference itself but the fact that outside it's doors, in the 'real' world, Campbell Newman was inching up on his 100 day milestone. And the honeymoon period was officially ending. Mass sackings have resulted in huge protests and marches. The fire and ambulance services are joining forces to protest against new regulations and unsatisfactory work and wage agreements. Surrogacy laws banning same sex couples from utilising surrogacy to have a child is seeing the rising movement get active once again. The news that the reduction in solar tariffs will now be passed to the next owner of a home with existing solar power, rather than protected over the 20 year period as it previously was is also causing an uproar. The introduction of tougher penalties for child sex offenders against the advice of those on the front line has child safety workers concerned about possible increases in murders and the increased likelihood of drawn out trials.

The list goes on.......disbanding and sacking of staff from Skilling Queenslanders for work, sacking 2'000 plus from QR, sacking up to 500 from Department of Justice and the Attorney-General etc, etc, etc.....

So it seems that whilst those within the conference walls were lauding the recent win for Queensland's LNP as the greatest victory in political history, those outside are feeling the effects of a lopsided Government and are wondering what's around the corner for them.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Abbott the Evangelist.

Last night I sat and soaked up the speech by Tony Abbott in it's entirety from the opening day of the LNP State Conference in Brisbane. It's riveting stuff.

Words like these:  “I believe that all of us in this room all of us in the Liberal and National parties around our country stand on the threshold of something great,”

“We stand on the threshold of riding to the rescue of our country.

“I stress it is not about us ... It is about building a better country. We can do it. We can do it. We are a great people whose best days are in front of us, a great people held back momentarily by a bad government.

“Can’t you feel it in the streets? The Australian people are willing us to succeed.”

And then there's this:  “Like you, I remember and I cherish, I will never forget, the 24th of March, 2012. The 24th of March, 2012, a day that will live in the history of this great state because never was it more truly said of Queensland: beautiful one day, perfect the next.”

Those words are not necessarily untrue, nor are they particularly horrific when taken as words alone....what they do however, is mark Abbott as a man consumed with the need to gain power. A man who is almost evangelical in his phrasing and his wording. Similar to an evangelist, he is not necessarily working in the best interests of his 'followers'.

He wants to win, nobody can blame him for that as it is his role to do so. What I find repulsive is the way he chooses to do it, peddling untruths and feeding the undue fear of the general population.

He'll win. There's not much question about that. But at what cost to the health of Australia's people and it's environment? At what cost to its psyche? THAT is what is so frightening about this speech and others just like it.

While so many await in anticipation the downfall of Federal Labor, I question whether they have thought through properly what the alternative will mean for them.

While Labor continues to push people in Abbott's direction, it seems to me that there is little need for him to have effective policy or to even sell those policy choices (after all nobody is talking about Direct Action or any of the others in the multitude of LNP Federal policies) and when nobody is bothering to scrutinise the alternatives, the people end up with an unknown entity they voted for with the only thought in their head being to get rid of what they currently have.

It happened in Qld, in NSW, in Vic and in SA and now we have strike action, marches and a whole lot of bemused people wondering what on earth they voted for. 

 It must be noted that media outlets are feeding the frenzy by giving equal time to Abbott on the main stage as they give to the Government. An interesting turn of events to say the least. Abbott is professional at repeating his message consistently and it is well known that works......whether the message is a good one or not.

Labor are floundering about trying to find their place in the new landscape where extreme right wing politics make it much harder to find the middle. It's happening the world over, in America political commentators have written comprehensive books on the topic and the common belief is that dissent within the parties is the only way for changes back to a balanced viewpoint to occur.

The right wing of any political party is always loudest and when the entire scene shifts further right, that view becomes extreme. What it also does, is make the left look extreme as we have witnessed from the Greens. In actual fact, the Greens have not moved in either direction, instead being the only party to remain exactly as it was initially intended. It's everyone else who's moved over........

Right now we are witnessing a major party fall-out with the ALP as it comes to terms with it's shifting goals. That movement to the far right has reached it's crescendo and is causing uproar within the party structure. Over the next few months we will see the final attack from the right, before the quietly building left and centre movements (along with those in the right from areas not within NSW in particular) begin to get noticed via the steadily increasing public displays of dissent in the form of marches, strikes and the like. If the voice is clear enough and strong enough, it will force the shift back to centre ground within the ALP and make the LNP once again the voice of the right and far right.

If they are not successful, mark my words, another party will be formed and nobody wants that.

We still have many who are glad for the results in recent State elections and those have always, and will always, vote LNP. Then there are those who swing between the two, who like to keep their options open and moved toward the Greens and Independents at the last election because they couldn't face the alternatives. Those are the ones who will bring Abbott to power and those are the ones who deserve to be treated with more respect by the media and both major parties. Starting right now.