FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Pettiness of Australian Politics

by BINOY KAMPMARK

The stumbling of the Australian Labor Party into a realm of dark psychosis is being affirmed on an hourly basis.  With the party being torn apart in true civil war fashion (the enemy, in such wars, is always within the household), the blood is flowing onto the streets.  No one is caring to mop up as yet, though there are many willing to take snap shots.  The coverage of this entire bonanza began on many news networks at 5 in the morning.  Oh, the waffle!

The Rudd-Gillard drama has come to its predicable conclusion – at least in terms of numbers.  Rudd garnered 29 votes to Gillard’s 73, a significant prod, but only a prod. Australian citizens will retain its unpopular, error-ridden Prime Minister.  Bodies will have to be buried.  Ministers who claimed they would not serve under a Rudd ministry will continue under Gillard’s leadership.  Pity, given the fact that they should have never served in any ministry.  Dissenters will be vanquished. Supporters will be rewarded.  In that sense, the ALP, far from a democratic organisation, resembles a squalid tribal collective, a heaving, puffing cosa nostra in action. Favours are factional and distributed accordingly.  Those who refuse to worship the party totem are ostracised.

Rudd’s avoidance of that genetic tendency in the ALP doomed him from the start.  ‘I know I’m up against it in terms of the combined horsepower of the factions of the ALP. I knew that from the beginning’ (Nine News, Feb 26).  His politics was clever and futile – playing to stalls outside the party; charming the non-partied electorate.  He has repudiated the blood line, the tribal line, in favour of the demos, the ‘people’.  As the Labor Party is not, by its nature, a democratic entity, such talk not only seems anathema, but dangerous to the members.  After all, they, not the broader electorate, select their representatives to be elected.  It’s a fact they reminded the Australian electorate when Rudd was knifed – democracy is too dangerous to be left to the public.

His defenders, while they are unlikely to write sonnets for democracy, see Rudd as the only way to keep their party in government. This views would not have changed, even after this ballot.  Amongst them are the Emergency Management Minister Robert McClelland and the virtually unintelligible Resources Minister Martin Ferguson.  ‘We will rue the day, just as is occurring now, with respect to some of my colleagues and how they have conducted themselves over the last week’ (ABC Online, Feb 27).

Not only is Rudd not popular with the party machine, he is disliked by his colleagues for an assortment of personal characteristics that seem to violate the Australian book of behaviour.  The sense of the brute, the slave driver, the ruthless, flawed leader who rarely sleeps, does not fit well with the Australian character.  His work regime is fanatical, and no one wants it.  He is not ‘laid back’; he seems incapable of hedonistic excess.  He is also, at heart, a philistine.

All of these characteristics have been subsumed under one title: ‘psychotic’.  In June, 2009, the Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce ventured, in the vernacular, to call the then prime minister a ‘psycho chook’. ‘Who in their right mind gets onto a plane and because he doesn’t get the right colour birdseed has a spack attack?’ (Sydney Morning Herald, June 1, 2009).  His colleagues and Gillard’s supporters have milked this for all it’s worth.  Wayne Swan, who was Rudd’s not so loyal deputy and Treasurer, claimed the former prime minister was responsible for ‘dysfunctional decision making’.  Then, the telling remark that Rudd ‘does not hold any Labor values’.  (Where’s the knife, comrade?)   All of this has made the shock jock columnist Andrew Bolt ask the question why they made a lunatic a Prime Minister to begin with.

In the past, the ALP has won elections in spite of its factional handicaps.  This time, it’s defeat in the federal polls will be richly deserved.  Rudd, even in defeat, will still be there in the wings to be called upon as the Gillard machine approaches the cliffs.  This story of blood letting is far from done.

BINOY KAMPMARK was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail