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September 23, 2008

Question Time: Excruciating Answers

When I was in year 10, our history class went on an overnight excursion to Canberra. One of the highlights of the excursion was taking time to watch the  House of Representatives in action. The Labor Party was in power that time; Bob Hawke (then prime minister) and Paul Keating (treasurer famous for "the recession we had to have" - because he had no financial qualifications to begin with) were there, and it completely altered my mind. There, in the public gallery, people quietly looked on as these political bigwigs argued; you can't really classify Question Time as a debate because many politicians bring to mind primates. Even primates are more intelligent; primates get to the point. A male primate has a beef, he thwacks his opposition. End of story.

The House of Representatives is a different story. They argue, they resort to petty asides, and use creative verbal diversions to justify their points. I've recently started watching the House on the ABC channel, and it's better than Seinfeld. Treasure Wayne Swan has absurd body language that probably gives his incompetence away. He'll begin his argument, and he'll stop to repeat the previous sentence - probably because he has to remind himself what point he's making? Then there is Anthony Albanese, minister for infrastructure and transport, member for Grayndler (which is my local area - I'm still coming to terms for the idiots that voted for this dude), trying to justify a 41 billion injection (from the federal surplus) to infrastructure (states like NSW are still trying to figure out what to do with public transport; it's taken them a decade to decide, some of us ride trains from the Seventies) and being unable to provide anything concrete, but he spent most of his time making asides, and transforming into a Shining Knight, defending PM Kevin Rudd's trip to New York. I can understand a treasure taking a trip to New York, but a prime minister? This is the dude that wants to be hailed as a global leader; yes, the man who greeted George W Bush with a military salute (because he didn't know what to do - it was like a big celebrity moment, and Rudd was like a deer in the headlights).
One of the major issues that led to Labor entering federal parliament was the Liberal Party's support of the AWA (Australian Work Agreement). My short view on the AWA is the following: occupational blackmail - if you wanted a permanent job, you had to sign a contract that stipulated salary, bonuses (depending on your position) etc. And while this may seem reasonable, it wasn't. It favored corporations, or gave corporations more power. For example, if I refused to sign  an AWA contract, I wouldn't qualify for the accumulation of long service leave; I wouldn't be a permanent employee, and would have to return to working on a contractual basis (renewed each year). Also, the AWA didn't allow for penalty rates on public holidays (for me in my line of work). Thus, the AWA for me, was bullshit. When a company CEO clears five or six million as an added bonus, and employees are in a dilemma over an AWA but have to sign it, the gap is obvious. Glamorized exploitation.
The only person in the Labor Party who made a coherent argument about AWA's was deputy PM Julia Gillard. She had statistics to back her up, detailing that ordinary women were losing an average eighty dollars a week on these agreements (AWA = serf agreement). I call them serf agreements; my AWA was really amusing to me, the company having the audacity to determine my future employment should I be unsatisfied and resign; I wasn't allowed to look for work in a similar industry for an entire month. The AWA may work for those earning high salaries (executives) but it doesn't work for those who earn a standard wage in service industries. I mean, to be on -what is a minimum salary after GST and income tax - and sign a contract, is completely fucked up. When a company adds a clause that says, 'should you resign you're not permitted to gain employment in a similar industry,' that - to me - is like a form of extortion; you may as well work for an underworld figure. At least you know what you're getting or what you're likely to get if you screw up.
Julia Gillard continued, but she failed to answer the second part of the question: what obstacles, and how are they to be dealt with (relating to the abolishment of the AWA). She was already in her seat, for the Speaker of the House to call her again, to clarify. This was prompted by the opposition stating the obvious (her not answering). Then she returned, and she chose the most simple answer which, in my opinion, wasn't the right answer. She blamed the Liberal Party (as the obstacle), when really, it's The Corporation (collectively) that is the obstacle.
Don't get me started on this carbon scheme either. Our prime minister couldn't really provide sufficient evidence. But what pissed me off is that there will be all this funding into research, but for this carbon scheme to work, a definite number of countries have to implement it. What gets me is that Australia is sitting on a big pile of uranium; its cheaper to use a tiny portion of that uranium to power the entire nation, but this nation is willing to spend billions for questionable schemes to appease the enviro-warriors and enviro-corporations (yes, enviro-corporations) for questionable technologies, when they have a definite answer on reducing carbon emissions - nuclear energy - which would reduce (significantly) coal burning. But that is politics. Politicians would rather use uranium to create weapons of mass destruction than reduce carbon emissions; it's so phallocentric it's nauseating. Some countries guard their nukes like a man guarding his cock and balls. Nuclear warhead proliferation/accumulation is like adding an inch to a penis. So far, the US has the biggest dick, this is followed by China (second biggest shlong) and so on. And believe me, I'm tired of people saying, 'but we need these weapons for security,' the biggest bullshit argument in the world. Disarm every nation, and let men fight it out in the natural way. Hiding behind a nuke doesn't make anyone more 'of a man.' More of a pussy, yes. Humans may have evolved in terms of intelligent (scientific) and technology, but we haven't really evolved that much if some of us really think that a nuclear warhead maintains peace. After all, fighting for peace is like fucking for your virginity. It's never really going to work.

Question Time in the House of Representatives was a bundle of laughs. What made me laugh this morning was new opposition leader, Malcolm Turnbull's response to the media, about yesterday's Question Time - and he's not wrong (Treasurer Wayne Swan is robotic; his body language is repetitive, his arguments are repetitive):

"Have you ever had a straight answer out of Kevin Rudd?" he asked.

"I mean, question time is excruciating, it's just blather, words and words and you get to the end of a seven-minute answer - sometimes I sit there and I can't take a note because I can't see what point he's making."

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We do (collectively). I think the same result (economically) would occur with the opposition as well, neither party can resolve this economic shake up, it's far too big for them. If the United States can't come to an agreement about the current bail out proposition, the Australian government isn't going to fare any better, even though they like to think so.
It's a big power trip. When I think about it, Kevin Rudd's wife - had she retained her business - is a multi millionairess, and Kevin didn't have to run for PM. So at this moment, I'm trying to figure out if he's smart or (in a practical sense) dumb.

It's a (perceived) power trip (imaginary) to be a politician in this country. I don't know why, because they are paid shitfully, and the real people who are running the country, the public service heads and industry chiefs, are paid three to 'many' times as much. Who would go there? Well, we know who, because we voted for them!! Or somebody did.

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