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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Listen up

"This was not the speech of an independent conservative thinker, like, say, Family First's Steve Fielding. It was the speech of a party hack from a hick party."

Sydney Morning Herald's Mike Seccombe, on Barnaby Joyce's maiden Parliamentary speech

The speech itself - and how to respond to a man who claims the corrupt Sir Joh Bjelke-Peterson as an inspiration? - will resonate little around city Australia. It was parochial, conservative and fearful of progress. But to simply dismiss the speech is a mistake, I believe. Seccombe's superior attitude is dangerous because it opens the city "elites" to ignoring voices from the bush or rural Australia. Joyce and I are worlds apart but he represents a proportion of Australia that shouldn't be so easily dismissed.

Remember what happened to Pauline Hanson, who last weekend praised Joyce and hoped he would finish the work she'd started. "It is good to see a man in Parliament who has got some intestinal fortitude and say I'm here to represent all Australians. I congratulate him," Hanson said.

Seccombe's contempt for Joyce and his views should be reserved for those in Canberra with real power, not a Queensland National MP. But then, that would actually involve taking a professional risk.


Blogger Shabadoo said...

Really, Ant, I would have thought there would have been a fair bit in there that you would have approved of, especially the anti-corporate-oligopoly, anti-Telstra sale, anti-VSU, and the infrastructure/planning area (i.e., getting people - presumably not yourself - to live elsewhere outside the cities) bits.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 11:14:00 am  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Indeed, I do agree with some areas, but I have concerns about some of his more fundamental values. Questioning the lure of the corporate dollar is welcoming, to be sure..

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 11:31:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Shab, did you read Joyce's rationale for supporting each of these positions?

He seeks to defend farmers and growers (why else would he identify a retailing duopoly as a major problem in Australia?). His defence of student unions stems from the reality of rural and regional campus amenities which are dependent upon student associations/unions to run them and fund them.

What, no ideology? Just reality?

The response to Joyce will demonstrate exactly how far removed the Howard-Costello nexus is from the Nats. What would happen to Australian conservatism (besides the chattering classes that surround the likes of Tim Blair) if the coalition were to break down?

Joyce's views - like Hanson's and those of other "maverick" pollies - show that you don't need to be a Howard-hating-chardonnay-lapping-innner-suburbanite to oppose the long term strategy of the current government.

What do you think, Shab?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 11:35:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Just reread the reference to Steve Fielding as an "independent conservative thinker". Tee hee.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 11:49:00 am  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Seccombe's piece is lazy journalism at its worst. Fielding is as independent a thinker as Joyce, albeit in a totally different way. In fact, they probably share many values...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 3:34:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Dirt: Sure, but look where Pauline Hanson and John Howard each are today. Pauline, despite being tagged as a hard-righty, was basically a populist socialist without very well-thought-through ideas. I think (and I'm at work so I only had time to skim the Joyce speech) Joyce may very well turn out about the same. Either way, it's at least interesting to have some sort of debate about ideas and policies coming from somewhere - even though I'm a JWH man as readers of this blog will well know - since Labor is so utterly incapable of mounting a coherent intellectual charge.

On the duopoly, I'm not a huge fan of it either as a consumer (have you ever bought an onion from Coles that wasn't rotten?), but because I live in a trendy inner-city electorate I have my choice of alternate providores, and because I'm a foodie I also am willing to pay a premium. But I don't think the heavy hand of government will do anything positive for the consumer. ("You two! You're too successful! Yellow card!") On VSU, if students are so upset about it, well, no one will stop them from paying the dues if they want to, and if the activities are so damn popular, then there should be no problem there. But I don't believe individuals should be forced to subsidize other people's fun, and I suspect most of the manufactured outrage comes from the hard-left campus types who run the unions finally getting some real-world blowback for their silliness.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 4:22:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Thanks, Shabba! Points well made.

I am also in an inner-city electorate. Like yourself and Antony, I feel that Joyce's views - like Hanson's a few years back (I even voted for her when I turned 18!) - should be considered and taken seriously, even if they do grate against the party line. We cannot afford to ignore the opinions of those in rural and regional Australia, especially in terms of the telcomms sale.

Your view of student unions is in line with Howard's - and I could argue that point strongly from my own experience (associations provide many essential services for studying kids). Howard and Co are obsessed with (as Laura Tingle puts it) "weeding out the pinkos" that emerge from the NUS. Joyce shows that you don't have to be a pinko student to see the value of student bodies.

And he should know. Read about his background - he's more of a "battler" and working bloke than many on the front bench at the moment. (Most of em are chardonnay sippers through and through.)

The "retail duopoly" is a funny one - ask Tassie farmers about it. We don't necessarily need the "heavy hand of government" as you phrase it. It's just that Howard and the ideologues that support him don't like admitting that problems arise when their policies are allowed to run away on them. Anyway...

As for the ALP's intellectual charge, you are preaching to the converted. ;-)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 4:39:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Look, Dirt, Mrs. Shabadoo is not very far removed from the world of higher academia, and I've been on campus to see Student Union/Association shenanigans. While a case could be made that everyone should kick in a few bob to pay for basketballs or rowing shells, she/we objected mightily to the most public forms of SU activities, i.e., hard-left radical propaganidizing. Why should my wife, a Howard voter, pay money for other kids to charter a bus to Canberra to shriek anti-war slogans and feel morally superior with one another?

Likewise the services, etc, on campus were all expensive jokes (talk about your monopoly!) and there wasn't even an ATM machine anywhere to be found - apparently the Union wouldn't let one on the property because they didn't want some outsiders making money off fees!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 6:46:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Shab, at the risk of letting the discussion digress...

Visit a regional campus (perhaps UNE at Armidale where I study now, and where I believe Mr Joyce studied at one time) and try to apply your generalisations there.

Your wife's experience sounds like a shocker - my experience of student associations has been a small rabble of ratbags, yes, but mostly the services were useful: a sports association and inexpensive facilities, affordable tucker, advocacy services, a second hand book shop, study room, provision of study materials not otherwise available, a shuttle bus service (essential on the campus I attended owing to pathetic public transport), an employment service...

So no, it's not all about basketballs and propoganda. Why do you feel the need to be patronising? No one is impressed here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 7:48:00 pm  

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