Project forward 100 years. Tony Abbott’s great-granddaughter is Prime Minister and leader of the Green Liberals. She’s about to address the nation – via holographic projection – to announce that Mardi Gras will become a national public holiday to celebrate a century of same-sex marriage in Australia.
It could happen. Right?
Anything’s possible. Natasha Stott Despoja could be cryogenically frozen and revive the Australian Democrats. But there’s something fundamental that needs to occur first: our elected representatives need to listen.
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AS the gaggle of screaming mostly teenage fans at New Street station in Birmingham reached a crescendo, a passer-by was well within her rights to ask the question. “Is there a rock star?” she queried in response to the Justin Beiber-esque mania that had gripped the always busy but seldom crazy train station.
Well he does has big floppy hair, loves a stage and his arrival always causes a stir but the unlikely reception was for Tory Mayor of London Boris Johnson whose arrival in the northern Labour-city of Birmingham was this week likened to the famous platform arrival of Vladimir Lenin who stepped onto Finland Station in St Petersburg to begin the Russian Revolution.
And in many ways the arrival of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson in Birmingham late last year (2012) is the start of what could be a great upheaval this year not just for the Tories but British politics in general which is as desperate for a hero as Canberra’s federal parliament is for respect, appreciation and talent.
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Barack Obama’s support for marriage equality highlights the fact that Australia is now the only developed, English-speaking democracy where the leaders of both major parties oppose the issue.
Same-sex marriage has the support of David Cameron and Ed Miliband in the UK, John Keys and David Shearer in New Zealand, the leaders of both opposition parties in Ireland, and just about everyone in Canada where it has been legal for almost a decade.
Australia’s backwardness on the issue is not a reflection on its people, with polls showing there is the same or higher support here than in the countries I’ve mentioned.
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On Saturdays, British PM David Cameron shops at his local Sainsbury’s supermarket. The rest of the week, his wife Samantha buys the family groceries online. Mr Cameron pays under 50p for a pint of milk and has very little time to pick up his kids from school.
If you found that information important, you probably think a political leader should have a full life beyond their day job. By extension, you are then interested in what sort of a real person they are. For example, where do they shop and what do they buy.
However, if you found it frustrating and irrelevant, you probably think people like David Cameron have a busy enough time running the country to worry about saving 10 pence on a bottle of milk. He’s Britain’s prime minister - who cares how or where he does his shopping?
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As one of Australia’s pre-eminent forelock-tuggers for the royal family, there was something faintly hilarious in hearing Tony Abbott firing up about the cultural cringe over the weekend.
It’s a term which dates back to the 1950s and 1960s, lamenting the drift of talented young Australians to emigrate and work in the UK in the belief there was something culturally and intellectually superior about the Old Country.
With the revelation that Britain’s conservative Prime Minister David Cameron had written to Julia Gillard applauding her “bold step” of putting a price on carbon, Abbott came over all republican, saying the Poms could do what they liked and Labor should stop kowtowing to the motherland.
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From the parliamentary precinct across Lake Burley Griffin to this correspondent’s home takes six or seven minutes by car - max.
But that was easily long enough on Wednesday night to highlight a massive contrast between the grindingly dull and scripted performance of the Australian House of Representatives and the more dynamic, and frankly more honest British equivalent on which ours is modelled.
Thanks to the storm over phone hacking and political entanglements associated with the now defunct News of the World, Question Time in the mother of Westminster parliaments was broadcast on the ABC’s News Radio.
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There’s nothing like the smell of desperation in the air and it’s never more obvious than when it’s wafting over the actions of our politicians.
The last three months of the year are traditionally known for their hectic pace, high levels of stress and a general push to “tie up” any niggling issues of national interest in time for the New Year.
But if the activities of our world leaders over the past six weeks are anything to go by, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’ve been willing to do practically anything (even other people’s jobs) just to avoid the pressures of doing their own.
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We’re now entering a Twilight Zone on our electoral calendar.
The bizarre formulation of federal three year terms will force the Federal Government go to the polls before the NSW Iemma/Rees/Keneally Governments, despite the fact this triumvirate have given the people of NSW one of the worst governments in the state’s history.
Kevin Rudd was elected six months after Morris Iemma and will have to face the electorate at least six months before Kristina Keneally, despite being a federal government with greater responsibility and a more complex agenda, the black comedy of Macquarie Street has been heritage listed till next March.
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The victory speech is probably the easiest of any politician’s career. The fight’s over. All you need to is be gracious and deliver some - let’s face it - platitudes, such as: “Now it’s time to go forward, together.” As opposed to backwards, separately.
So it was as Conservative leader David Cameron, Britain’s new Prime Minister, stood outside 10 Downing Street overnight and delivered his victory speech. “And I think the service our country needs right now is to face up to our really big challenges, to confront our problems, to take difficult decisions, to lead people through those difficult decisions, so that together we can reach better times ahead,” he said.
As opposed to not facing the challenges, and taking easy decisions, so that as a rabble we can wind up in a total dystopia. The full text of Cameron’s speech is below, and you can read about it here and here. But can you improve on the victory speech? What should politicians say when they win? What’s really on their minds? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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If you weren’t aware it’s big day in the UK today. It is general election day, and will see eith Gordon Brown ousted as Prime Minister to be replaced by the first Conservative Prime Minister in 13 years, or see Labour given an unprecedented fourth term in Government.
London’s two big tabloids have backed different parties.
The Sun, a newspaper who backed Tony Blair 13 years ago, is now firmly behind Conservative David Cameron, the man who has painted himself as Blair’s natural successor.
Meanwhile the Daily Mirror has continued their support for the Labour Party, making Cameron’s privileged upbringing the focus of the attack. They make it more explicit in an alternate front page you can see below the fold, which reminds readers he was a member of Oxford’s famous Bullingdon Club (along with London Mayor Boris Johnson) that would go around trashing pubs and writing cheques for the damage.
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Whilst the Logies and Rosemount Australian Fashion Week have kept Australian fashion commentators busy, the looks currently being critiqued in Britain are not on the red carpet or the catwalk but on the campaign trail.
The British media billed it as a showdown between Sarah Brown, wife of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Samantha Cameron, wife of Conservatives’ Leader David Cameron, but it became a three-horse race as the rise and rise of the Liberal Democrats meant their leader’s wife, Miriam González Durántez, suddenly found herself the subject of intense scrutiny. The three women all spoke to UK Grazia in this week’s issue which has hit news stands just before the poll.
As Gordon Brown faces renewed pressure after describing a Labour voter as a “bigoted woman” and one of his own candidates labelling him “the worst Prime Minister we have had in this country”, Sarah Brown has become increasingly important to her husband’s chances of reelection.
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Politics here has become quite addicted to managing our lives for us. Fat taxes, internet filters, incentives to have babies, disincentives to drink too much, bonuses for being green, you name it, a politician has promised it, and we’ve come to expect it.
But in the UK yesterday Conservative leader David Cameron pulled the trigger on a completely counter strategy, promising to not only leave Britons alone to run their own lives, but basically telling them to get off their sofas and start administering things themselves.
“Sack your MP, chose your own school, veto council tax rises, vote for your police commissioner, save the local post office - so many things to do.” Goodness, that sounds tiring.
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More than eighty years separate the publication of Evelyn Waugh’s first novel and the Tory campaign for government in the British election, but the two are oddly connected.
The narrative spring that sets ‘Decline and Fall’ in motion is the expulsion from Oxford of its hapless hero, Paul Pennyfeather; and the reason he’s expelled is an act of bullying by the members of something called the Bollinger Club.
They “debag” him (pull down his trousers and pants) and force him to run around the quadrangle. He’s caught, ‘sent down’ as they say at Oxford, and left with no choice but to take a low paying job teaching at a seedy prep school, where his humilations grow steadily worse.