As usual, I seem to have a minority view on a political issue, but today I actually have two of them.
The first is my view on the extraordinary series of events concerning the raid on the offices of the ANU and the attempt to link Bill Shorten to some highly dubious donations to Get Up!
It seems to me that the commentators are missing the real point of this. The point is not whether it is all a piece of political skulduggery. Of course, it was, and anyone in politics who thinks it was not, is remarkably naïve.
Likewise, the point of this tragi-comedy is not whether a press secretary told the press about the raid or whether the press told the press secretary who then told the press or, indeed, whether the ROC told the AFP to raid the AWU to find the acronyms they were looking for, and then told the press secretary who told the press. (Incidentally, why do they keep calling these press secretaries ‘advisers’? Anyone who follows the advice of these ingénues is a fool, but then, perhaps we knew that).
Nor is the point whether the minister misled the parliament; it is, again, the height of naivety to think that a press secretary would be running around spreading news that the minister wanted spread around without the minister knowing he was doing it and was being paid to do it. No, the point is much deeper than that. And much more serious.
The point is none of the above but, rather, that the Turnbull government is so monumentally incompetent that it could not get through this simple piece of political thuggery without stuffing it up, showing that not even on the basest level of political opportunism is the government competent enough to be worth saving.
There was only one simple principle that the government had to keep in mind before it embarked on this blitzkrieg on Shorten and that was to make absolutely sure should that it would work. Or to put it differently, ‘Have we covered our tracks. Have we covered our faces? Have we made sure there are no fingerprints? Have we disabled the CCTV cameras? Have we made doubly sure there will be no leaks?’
As our late lamented statesman- prince, Sir William McMahon, observed in one of his more reflective moments, as he surveyed the shelves of great works of political theory in the parliamentary library, ‘the function of government is to be re-elected’. Indeed it is. And on that noble mission, if the end be good, no stratagem is too devious, no betrayal too immoral, no weapon too blunt, no manoeuvre too misleading, no thuggery too brutal, no lie too big, provided that it works. And provided you can get from A to B without falling over.
As the only rival to Sir William McMahon as a political philosopher, Nicolai Machiavelli, observed many times, roughly translated from the Italian, ’Forget the morality already; just make sure your political chicanery works and don’t get caught. Ciao bella!’. He would probably have added that it gives political thuggery a bad name when you stuff it up.
But no, the geniuses in Canberra, with all their agility and innovation, with all their serried ranks of advisers and high tech communications, could not even stop fumbling, talking and leaking long enough to carry out the simplest exercise, a political raid.
So, with its latest stratagem exploding in its face, there goes the last remnant of a possibility of a contingency of a chimaera of hope, that somewhere, behind the mumbling incoherence of the government on virtually every issue, there might yet be a small ember of ability and efficiency glowing in the dark. But no; it is not there.
The second minority opinion I have concerns the by-election campaign underway in the Victorian state seat of Northcote. Springing from a sad event (the sitting member died of cancer), the by-election is important because the electorate is part of the inner city latte belt.
Indeed, reporting as I have done courageously on many occasions from such iconic locations as the Anarchist Bookshop, it seems that every barista, Reiki healer, clairvoyant, astrologist, vegan, sandal maker, unpublished poet and short filmmaker in our state is a Northcote voter. As a result, the by-election has taken on a totemic significance as the latest battleground between the Labor party and the Greens, the latter having almost won the seat the last time.
Needless to say, both parties have engaged in a lot political thuggery and skulduggery, but unlike the fumbling and bumbling of the Coalition in Canberra when it turns its hand to the black arts, the Labor party and the Greens put some feeling, efficiency and real skill into it; this is probably because neither the supporters of the Greens or the modern Labor party have normal jobs and, hence, they have more time to engineer political dirty tricks.
The particular piece of this blackguardry that interests me most is the revelation that the Greens’ candidate, Lidia Thorpe, was declared bankrupt as the result of her then husband’s glazing business collapsing under a mountain of debt. But here again, the commentariat has ignored the main political points emerging from this revelation.
They claim that Ms Thorpe was entitled to be ‘shocked’ to find her opposition, (the Labor party, as the Liberals are not fielding a candidate) dragging up the bankruptcy to blacken her name. This is nonsense, for what is shocking in one side of politics drawing attention to the shortcomings of an opposing candidate? You have no more right to be shocked about that than the police chief in Casablanca was entitled to be shocked to find gambling taking place in Humphrey Bogart’s casino. Ms Thorpe is also ‘shocked’ that another political party should ‘try to hurt me’. Again, that is a curious complaint; as Sir William McMahon would have said ’the aim of elections is to hurt your opponent as much as you can.’ The aim is surely not to make them happy.
No, the commentariat has overlooked the two really significant points emerging from this contest and the unsavoury turn it has taken. The first, which I can now reveal as a world exclusive, is that not only was Ms Thorpe broken by her husband’s debts, which she had guaranteed, but she was actually married to a man. To a man! In fact, his name was Mr Thorpe, and it was not Ian.
In fact, I can also reveal that the Green community has been rocked to its core by the revelation that the party could have sunk so low as to contemplate putting up a candidate who had flirted with the bourgeois and repressive construct of traditional marriage and, worse, that this so-called marriage had produced three children condemned to live within the wicked restraints of having a mother and father.
The second aspect of this drama overlooked by the so-called experts is that it is the only occasion here or overseas where a Greens’ candidate has come anywhere near the real world, running a real business and having to put up with the daily trials suffered by the rest of us, like paying the staff, the rent, the debts and the taxes, and even the horrors of bankruptcy.
I just hope this does not come out and with it the revelation that the Greens have a candidate who might even qualify as a typical member of the hard-working community and qualified to represent it. I only hope you will not repeat it, for it might tilt the result in favour of the insufferable Greens, giving them more power and standing.
On the other hand, if the Greens win, the Labor party will lose and as the Victorian government is almost as bad as the federal government, it can only be a blessing to watch them squirm.
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