If I were the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, I’d get to the point quite often where I would feel the need to vent about the number of hurdles I would need to jump just to get anything done. When you keep in mind that Gillard is rather good at getting things done, I think she deserves a lot more credit, especially since we know how many people are opposed to everything and anything she does. I wonder if she does rant sometimes, maybe to Tim in the evenings, because if it was me, I would explode without some outlet. Here’s a summary of who and what the Gillard Labor government is up against in the lead up to the election in September:
Other Labor MPs
I put this first, because this stuff shouldn’t happen. With king of white-anters, Kevin Rudd, leaking like a sieve, and the likes of Robert McClelland talking about resigning before September and possibly causing a bi-election, Gillard must often wonder why she gets out of bed in the morning, let alone tries to run a government. I was a huge Rudd supporter back when we all thought he was a visionary, a progressive and a great leader. But now I think he didn’t deserve the Labor leadership in the first place if he’s going to be a megalomaniac and undermine every successful policy that the Labor government has implemented. We all know people like Rudd – he loves to talk about doing things, loves to take all the credit, but is also hugely ineffective in actually making anything happen. Yes, Rudd delivered the apology and his government’s response to the GFC was excellent. He also proposed some great policies – the original mining tax and the emissions trading scheme. But he didn’t manage to get these policies delivered and he quite clearly wasn’t a team player if his behavior since Gillard took over as leader is anything to go by. The other MPs who still support Rudd, and still leak rumours of leadership tension to the press, without having the guts to have themselves named – well – shame on you all.
The Liberal National Coalition
Gillard must expect the opposition to oppose, but this is ridiculous. Under Tony Abbott’s leadership, the LNP is the most right wing, negative, abusive, dishonorable and downright nasty Opposition that any government has had to deal with in, well, forever. When Gillard successfully formed a minority Labor government in 2010, this apparently cemented her in Abbott’s mind as she who must be destroyed. Looking for bi-partisan support? Don’t expect any from Abbott. Looking for a fair and reasonable debate about policy, using facts, community interest and responsible governing as the cornerstones of your argument? You won’t get this from Abbott or anyone in his team. The wrecking ball approach, the media stunts and the constant and repetitive abuse of government is all they know. The promises made by ‘positive Tony’ are another broken promise from a man who doesn’t have a vision. Nor does he have anywhere near the amount of government revenue he will need to have any hope of delivering the brain farts that he calls policy, so he is either totally cynical or plain stupid. Interestingly, his attitude and modus operandi seems to have been happily adopted by those in the electorate who support him. No longer is a policy discussion on Twitter about who has the best evidence to support their argument – now Abbott supporters only provide abuse, ridicule and nonsensical conspiracy theories and smear. If Abbott has achieved anything in his time as leader of the Liberal Party it is only to alienate Liberal moderates (who I suppose will still vote for him anyway) and to build an army of fundamentalist right wing nasties who inhabitant Bullshit Mountain. This army does his bidding for him on social media, independent blog comments, in the mainstream press (think Jones, Bolt, Ackerman and Reith) and in café’s and workplaces near you. There’s no doubt that Australia will be a meaner and more selfish place under an Abbott led government. And this is what Gillard is fighting against.
I have a lot of respect for Greens supporters. They’re passionate, they’re committed and they are true to themselves when it comes to policies they support. I just wish that more of this passion and commitment was directed at the end goal of a progressive government, rather than the end goal of destroying a progressive government. Without trying to start a fight with Greens supporters on Twitter (which by the way is really not fun), I can’t help but think that someone needs to remind some Greens who the real enemy is. Sure, you might not like Gillard’s asylum seeker or gay marriage policy. But are these two policies really enough to turn you into a Labor hating, venom spitting, abusive person who can’t stomach anything the government does? What about all the progressive reform that Gillard’s government has implemented? Ever considered giving credit where credit’s due? Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the comments on my posts abusing Gillard are coming from the left or the right. As a supporter of progressive policy myself, I can see that many Greens perceive Labor as having shifted too far to the right, but surely it’s obvious that when you compare Labor to Abbott’s LNP, Gillard’s policies are out in left field? That’s the important thing though – comparison. What will you get from Gillard that you wouldn’t get from Abbott? If you are a Greens supporter and you haven’t stopped reading yet, can I ask you to do one thing? Think about an Abbott government, who is promising to turn back the boats and would never in a million years even mention gay marriage, let alone consider supporting it. So who are you really fighting against?
The Mainstream Media
It’s not surprising that readership figures for mainstream news continue to decline. The mainstream media are, generally, really crap at their jobs. Fact is no longer an important journalist tool. Hysteria and scandal are the only channel that journalists seem to tune into. The ‘narrative’ is so set in stone that no amount of rational analysis can shift it. And when the ABC is following Fairfax and News Ltd down into a quagmire of Fox News-like exaggeration and misrepresentation, where are media consumers meant to turn to find out what’s really going on? It’s been clear for a long time now that Gillard can’t do anything to improve her relationship with the media. When she speaks, they don’t listen, or worse, they mock. On the other hand, when Abbott speaks, they lap it up. Even when he won’t answer their questions. Even when he walks away, they still support his campaign to be Prime Minister of Australia. It’s great that we now have an independent media, and I also can’t wait for the Guardian to arrive. But alas, the unengaged voter still believes everything they read/see in the biased mainstream media. And if people don’t think this is going to influence how the masses vote in September, they’re naïve to the point of delusional.
The other day I heard a journalist on the ABC say ‘Gillard has lost the business vote’. Really? Labor didn’t have the ‘big business’ vote in the first place, and that is what the ‘business vote’ has come to mean. Fair wages and job security aren’t in big business’s interests. Nor is ‘red tape’ and now ‘green tape’ (ie any sort of inconvenient regulation that is there to protect society and workers from unconstrained greed). This ‘business vote’ has always had a loud voice, has always lobbied, and threatened Labor governments. There are of course other ‘business’ interests that benefit from Labor initiatives, such as the renewables sector, but we rarely get to hear from them.
But now we are seeing a new phenomenon – special interests within the business sector spending millions of dollars on advertising campaigns in their own interests. The campaigns against the mining tax, the carbon price, pokies reform and plain cigarette packaging are obvious examples. Gillard now has to ‘negotiate’ with these people when she wants to implement a policy that will affect them. Somehow we seem to have got to the point where it is acceptable for special business interests to try to determine government tax policy, and where if they don’t like something, it should be ‘watered down’ until they do. But this is reality. And this is what Gillard is up against.
When you consider all of the above, it’s even more impressive that the Gillard government have achieved what they have within the apparent instability of a minority government. But the battle for this year’s election is only just starting. And all I can say at this point is you go girl.