Matthew Reddin

About Matthew Reddin

Matt Reddin has been writing nonsense about film, TV, books, music and live theatre for a touch over 20 years. He’s gone from the halcyon days of street press in Perth, to regional dailies, national magazines and major metropolitan newspapers. Now, in between bouts of sporadically yelling at clouds, he vents his creative spleen at www.lessercolumn.com.au

A stable bloody government: All we want for Christmas

There’s something we’ve long desired. Something that we had, but lost. So, where’s our stable government, Australia?

 

 

Let me tell you how old I am: I was all of four months old when the Whitlam government was dismissed.

There I was, wolfing down the then-staple infant’s diet of condensed milk and asbestos fibres (it was the ’70s, might I remind you); I saw the Governor General’s private secretary on television read the famous statement on the steps of Parliament House; Whitlam steps up, says “Well may we say…” (etc), and I figured, all of four months old, “Well, that’s going to cause a frightful hoo-har.”

Then we had Fraser. Long story short, eight years later, there was another prime minister (Hawke). Nine years after that, there was another (Keating). And then five years after that, one more (Howard). Add another 11, and Kevin Rudd gets elected in a landslide and your correspondent turns 32. In those years, there were five PMs. All of five. In the ensuing 11 years, there have been another five. And aside from the fact that it has spawned the useful joke or two (“Oops, another PM; time to check the smoke alarms…”), the whole thing has become a joke itself. We’re – and I’m being semi-serious here – we’re all but a modicum of civic discourse away from having scenes not unlike those from the Taiwan parliament where MPs just hammer and tongs on each other, fists flailing and all. Or that montage in Evita when Colonel Peron sneakily makes his way up the ranks of the Argentinian junta. I tell you, it’s a shite state of affairs when one longs for the days of asbestos gruel, Arrowroot biscuits and STABLE. BLOODY. GOVERNMENT.

I’m not 100% on the readership and demographics of The Big Smoke, but I guess if you’re into news analysis as a pastime, you have a memory back over the better part of this decade. Hey, remember that time when a first term prime minister with a sizeable majority was dumped by his own party inside his first term? And that the once-loyal cabinet minister who replaced him was then forced to take that large majority to an election, where the majority got reduced to either a wafer-thin majority, or minority (they’re practically identical), then had to navigate through their term in a precarious balance between the factions of their own party and the whims of the minor parties and independents whose brain farts basically controlled the actions of the government? Because of democracy, or something. Then they themselves got the arse because someone else behind them figured it was their turn.

And that the whole time, the opposition just had to sit there, do nothing, and basically run their election campaign based on the entire platform of “Vote for us, because we’re not those unruly, uncivil, disharmonious arseclowns”?

Do you remember that? Do you remember how a charisma-deficient wet fart got elected PM because of how hopeless and unstable the sitting government was? And do you ever remember reading a saying along the lines of “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it”?


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No? No? Well, you’re not alone. Because we’re just seeing the same thing repeat itself over, and over, and over again since then. Same nonsense. Same bickering, factional bullshit destroying any chance of stable government. It’s all about egos and divisions and retribution and petty office politics. At a time while one shouldn’t have to worry about finding a sewing needle in one’s strawberries, you’d think that a PM campaigning for a vital byelection seat – with, among other things, a massive percentage of that electorate’s voters being from the LGBTQI community – might not float a massive right-wing brain turd that would legalise prejudice against gay kids in private schools. Or the idea of relocating the Australian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Not exactly a big ticket day-to-day item for the citizens of Paddington.

And never mind that we’ve institutionalised human rights abuses and psychological torture of children on Nauru, let’s quibble about the leadership of the National Party, For fuck’s sake. Michael McCormack is many things, but he’s not done anything that would render him as incapable or incompetent in the eyes of the Nats’ voting populace. But Barnaby wants his job back, so that’s a thing now.

So, let’s just take a breather and think about things for a second. In 1975, the constitutional crisis made the cover of Time magazine, which was rare, because that was usually the domain of either US or middle east politics. But 1975 was a matter of constitutional law, and quite the exception to the rule. It was, and remains, up for scholarly debate. Now, we’re making international headlines, but for stupid shit like the strawberries or the gay students/teachers malarkey.

The world is laughing at us. We need to take a breath, put our brand loyalties aside and realise the fact that considering the whole hung parliament, leadership spills, Nauru, and a plethora of own fucking goals, the Coalition is really just Labor in disguise. The only thing that’s different is there’s more dudes on the right. Sure, Julia Gillard navigated 300 pieces of legislation as the head of a minority government, but the public never got past how she got the role in the first place – and, not for nothing, but this whole “knifing a first term prime minister” thing became the new normal because of her. So, you know, she can cram her 300 pieces of legislation with walnuts.

 

What might save us is Kevin Rudd’s last act as Labor leader – he made it impossible for a sitting Labor PM to be given the arse in another night of the long knives. Which is the way it should be. We need, and are quite frankly owed, stability. And if that means we’re going to get Prime Minister Bill Shorten for some dreadfully dull and elongated period of time, a period of dad jokes and stable government with a PM who is as about as exciting as a clock, well, so be it.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll get something done. Rupert’ll sell less newspapers, and it won’t be exciting, but good lord I think we’d have earned a little boredom.

We will, as prophesied, get the government we deserve.

 

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