Hear their capes flap in the wind. Admire the spandex stretched over their taut bodies. Breathe and lose yourself to their pheromone feast. Suits won’t woo Western Sydney. As the election nears, our pudgy political class is turning into superheroes.
They used to be lawyers, doctors, businessmen, academics, mindful of their every word, shoving paragraphs into sentences, knowing that they would be judged by the soundness of their logic. But now that they’re talking to simple voters, they do away with making sense, and focus on larger and bolder claims.
Their side is responsible for all the good that has come to this country, while the other slashes jobs, racks up debt, drowns refugees. Forget the power the people have vested in them: to make laws, manage budgets, oversee the civil service. Super politicians can do so much more: conjure growth out of thin air, create jobs by the tens of thousands, breathe passion into our children’s teachers.
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Julia Gillard will return to Canberra at the weekend convinced her week in Sydney’s west was a roaring success. And so she should. The PM’s ventures are now measured by the absence of disaster rather than the appearance of achievement.
The greatest criticism of her visit was that it was a stage-managed stunt. But the mere fact it didn’t descend into the shambolic epithet of her declining leadership was a significant accomplishment.
And, to that end, it served the intended purpose.
The PM may not have won the west, but this adventure was not only about the election in September - or the real needs of western Sydney’s 1.6 million residents. It was all about the next two weeks. It was all about Kevin Rudd. And it was about shoring up support in caucus.
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It’s the biggest game in town, as some politicians in private like to say. But who wins the federal election is of far less practical consequence than most Australians believe.
Forests of column inches and hours of television will be devoted to who will emerge triumphant in the federal election slated for September, but it will affect few people’s lives apart from the politicians whose salaries and perks ebb or flow dramatically.
A game might be the appropriate analogy, after all.
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Prime Minister Julia Gillard has done the right and brave thing in telling the country when the election will be. Right because it focuses the year on policy and takes the focus off process.
Brave because it cedes her prime ministerial prerogative to keep Tony Abbott guessing.
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Despite her denial, Julia Gillard has indeed called on the world’s longest election campaign by nominating September 14 as polling day.
The Prime Minister today was daring Tony Abbott - and to a lesser extent Kevin Rudd—to put up issues of substance or fall behind in the political debate.
And in yet another of the demonstrations of strength she has come to feel necessary, she has made clear she does not intend to be cowed into an early poll. Even if the May Budget is badly received or public opinion surveys don’t lift the way Labor wants, she will go to the voters on her terms, and on her timing.
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There’s no better case for Australia’s compulsory voting system than the current wave of voter suppression laws sweeping the United States.
In the late 1800s, after African Americans were given the vote, Southern states made it a requirement that voters pass a literacy test and pay a fee to vote. It took the Supreme Court until 1966 to rule these methods of voter suppression unconstitutional.
This year, in this election, Americans in 32 of 50 states will be required to present identification in order to vote. They will be required to show photo ID in 17 states, including the crucial swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and New Hampshire.
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The rapidly expanding cheer squad for an early election doesn’t include Julia Gillard and might not even have Tony Abbott within its noisy ranks.
A poll before August 4 next year most likely would resolve nothing and only lead to a succession of elections, each compounding the problems they were hoped to resolve.
It’s a sign of frustration that a general election is seen as the answer to difficulties. For some it has been a demand since the inconclusive 2010 national ballot.
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Fear can be a powerful motivator but it eventually wanes, unless you can find a new bogeyman.
Take Australia’s retail sector, where it is fast becoming clear that we have a case of too many shops and not enough customers.
Despite our solid growth, there’s been a structural shift in behaviour away from debt-fuelled demand towards frugalism. The change has exposed a lot of small and medium businesses and if RBA Governor Glenn Stevens is right, the old days will not be back.
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Barack Obama was always going to have a tough presidency. He set the bar so high for himself during the arduous two year lead-up to his election that he was always at risk of sailing right under it when it came time to start enacting the “Change we can believe in”.
Indeed, back in 2008 there were times when it seemed his strategists took their cues from Napoleon Dynamite’s Pedro, as he essentially promised the electorate: “vote for me and all your wildest dreams will come true”.
In the nearly three years since he took office, he has made some important steps – passing a (slightly watered-down) health care package, most notably – but so many of his promises have gone unfulfilled and, although it pains me deeply to say it, his presidency thus far has been a bit of a wet firecracker.
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Few people are more loathing of Tony Abbott than my amicable husband, Max.
An Australia under Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull? Maybe. But Tony Abbott? He’d rather have his eyeballs waxed.
So it came as a shock this week to hear him suggest it was time for an election.
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The hung parliament experiment has failed. Prime Minister Julia Gillard must call an election immediately.
Ms Gillard famously told us before the election that “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”. The Prime Minister has been accused of lying. In my view we have never seen Gillard actually lead this government.
Today all of the Prime Minister’s policies are owned and operated by the cross benchers while those who actually voted for Gillard have been forgotten.
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The basic thrust of the strategy for Labor to escape the March 26 NSW election with a respectable loss is to put the focus on the Opposition and away from the Government.
Well, that’s coming along nicely, isn’t it?
On the day that MLC Tony Catanzariti revealed he would be the 22nd Labor MP to quit at the coming poll, and news reports rehashed charges against a senior public servant and minister’s husband for allegedly buying an illegal drug, it remained an academic exercise.
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Summer’s not over yet but those of us lucky enough to have secured a decent break over Christmas/New Year are mostly filing back into work this week or next.
So too our politicians where at the national level, a snap poll theoretically can be called at any time.
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For those who might have been pondering the issue, I can today tell you that Health and Ageing Minister Nicola Roxon has great breasts.
This is not my personal rating. I have taken the advice of an expert. Two Fridays ago mother-of-one Roxon gave a speech and then took questions from an audience in Canberra. A woman rose to compliment Roxon on the number of ministerial tasks she was managing. Slightly embarrassed by the praise she replied, “I have broad shoulders.”
“Yes,’’ continued the voice in the audience, “you do have broad shoulders. And great breasts.”
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To put it kindly, Nathan Rees’ Premiership has been a rocky ride.
His own inexperience has been exacerbated by a decaying Labor Government, no shortage of scandals and a selfish bunch of incompetent Ministers who were focused on personal gain rather than the public good.
To make matters worse, he is about to fall victim to the very same process of which he was once a beneficiary.
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With lots of talk about Kevin Rudd wanting to have an election before the next budget what are the options?
Most attention is given to a double dissolution – that is an election for both the House of Representatives & all Senators allowed because a piece of legislation has failed to pass both houses of Parliament twice with a gap of three months between rejections.
But he could choose to have a House of Representatives election only and leave the Senate until later. This he can do anytime before the May budget provided he can convince the Governor-General.
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Whilst becoming a journalist holds as much interest to me as being a Liberal MP does for Laura Tingle, I find a great deal of attraction in using my inaugural contribution to thepunch.com.au to make some predictions for the next 12 months in Australian politics.
The golden rule for an MP is not to become a political commentator, and long term predictions in politics are a dangerous business.
This high risk indulgence is completely irresistible to our competitive friends in the Canberra Press Gallery. Often they will be based around election timing, leadership and of course who will win the next election.
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