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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Opposition? What's that?

In a real democracy - or a false two-party state like Australia - opposition parties can be expected to challenge government legislation or spin.

When Prime Minister John Howard announced today that he had received information about a specific terrorist threat in the country, opposition parties and media outlets should be laughing the man out of town. A terrorist threat may indeed exist in Australia but the timing of such an announcement - when the government wants to push through draconian anti-terror laws - smacks of political opportunism. "This is not a political issue", Howard said today, a grin sitting just behind his smug face.

In Australia, Opposition leader Kim Beazley represents the kind of alternative government likely to please the Howard government. Historian Clinton Fernandes analysed Beazley in February this year and found a man in love with the US alliance, military hardware and "foreign affairs pragmatism":

"In his first press conference as Labor leader on January 28, Beazley emphasised that Australian troops in Iraq would stay for as long as Australian diplomats were in Iraq - that is, indefinitely. He also called for Iran to comply with US demands. In other words, Labor’s new leader is once again attempting to knock the members into policy subservience. Whether they obey is another matter."

Australian democracy is in meltdown.

5 Comments:

Blogger Rich Bowden said...

Bomber's performance this week - at a time when Australians are looking for an effective Opposition to safeguard our civil rights - has been disgraceful.

But then we shouldn't be surprised. Why he allows himself to be outscored by Howard ever time the political heat is stoked up (remember the Tampa) is beyond me.

I think the old criticism of Bomber's "lack of ticker" has been proven once again in this sad week for human rights!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005 8:35:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

Yes, yes, Beazley is a spineless waste of space (except to the Liberals). That is now a given in Australian politics.

The more surprising thing to me is that Howard would try-on the "Last Minute Immanent Threat" trick AGAIN after the Tampa "threat" was so thoroughly revealed to be an out-and-out lie by the government.

This would seem to be a case of the boy who cried wolf paradox: he's probably lying, but dare we not believe him just in case?

The paradox is only apparent however when one looks carefully at what his very carefully chosen words. From the press conference:

"the Government has received specific intelligence and police information this week which gives cause for serious concern about a potential terrorist threat"

The word "serious" is a redundant word that can be thrown in for emotional effect, so we can forget that. (A genuine terrorist threat is always cause for serious concern - never, say, mild concern.)

The important words are (a) "concern" and (b) "potential".

(a) A concern is a worry, a suspicion about something - certainly not knowledge, and not even belief about something.

(b) As to potential threats, there are ALWAYS potential threats/dangers associated with all sorts of things. (Just like there are potential dangers associated with going shopping.) And there is almost always specific information about such potential threats. (Just like the specific information in the offing about the sharp edges on the stairs at the shops.) But these are not the ones governments ordinarily worry about. They worry about ACTUAL threats. Is there any hint at all from Howard or Ruddock that there is any ACTUAL threat? That there is any REAL danger? Nope. Not a peep.

So what did Howard really say at the press conference? Let's express it in the negative: He has specific information that provides no actual knowledge of any actual threat to Australia in any way.

No wonder the official Threat Level has not been raised.

Thursday, November 03, 2005 3:29:00 am  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Guys:

Can I give you a little advice from the other side? You guys are just going to keep getting played as long as you keep whining that Howard keeps gaming you. Sure, of course that terror warning he made was horsesh*t, and I support the man. But going and bitching about how he's a liar and can't be trusted and why-oh-why-doesn't-anyone-see puts you in the exact same position as the Republicans were in the US under Clinton - shrieking again about media bias and lies and why-doesn't-everyone-SEE-dammit!?

You know why the Libs are dynamic and keep rolling you? It's not just because JWH is a skillful pollie. He is. But where are the ideas coming from? The only real policy debates in Australia right now are intra-party within the Libs, rather than between the parties (witness, say Turnbull v. Costello on tax cuts).

Stop complaining about the other guy and start showing voters what you would do differently. Float policy trial baloons every week. Some will work, some will be laughed out of town. Encourage debate within the party, don't make everyone go lock-step with the left. And stop acting like middle class voters who care about their family and their prosperity are crass scum. It might just work.

Thursday, November 03, 2005 9:04:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Shab, why can't you see beyond two party politics?

Thursday, November 03, 2005 11:16:00 am  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

"But where are the ideas coming from?"

The nineteenth century.

I agree with you however, that the ALP will never have a chance of winning office unless it takes this opportunity to put its thinking cap on and come up with some actual policies all of its own.

Thursday, November 03, 2005 12:47:00 pm  

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