Australian Politics, Part 1: Basic Structure, and the Prime Minister
Australian politics is defined by three main factors: beer, frustration, and Murphy’s Law (2).
Beer: it is common knowledge that the sense Australian culture makes is directly proportional to your blood alcohol content (3). As a result, good old C2H5OH has had an impact on virtually every level of Australian democracy (4).
Frustration: For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, across most of Australia, there is a widespread discontent with politics (5). This general atmosphere of indifference, spite, and cynicism has caused a sort of infinite loop in which bright, good-hearted and sincere young things, the hope of their nation, take one look at politics and become undertakers instead, leaving the business of governance to the burgeoning ranks of the treacherous, selfish, vindictive and paranoid (6). As a result, people take a look at the megalomaniacs they just voted for, throw up their hands in despair and adopt a policy of bitter indifference and contempt.
Murphy’s Law: It’s well known that political parties can propose and execute virtually any utterly pointless (7), elaborately unhelpful (8), or straightforwardly insane (9) cockeyed scheme so long as it’s not too close to an election for the spin doctors to move in for the kill. As a result, the victor of an election can usually be determined by seeing who drops the ball in spectacular fashion closest to the election (10).
The Prime Minister
The Prime Ministerial candidates are, in theory, the cream of a 22-million-strong crop. They have run a bloody gauntlet of betrayal, deception, greed, corruption, power, ambition, paranoia, greed and injustice (11). They have sunk years into it. They have neglected their families. They have been forced to choose between virtue and convenience (12). They have been faced with inducements. They have set foot at least once in every major city and most of the towns in Australia. On the final leg, they have to engage in a bare-knuckle brawl with the nightmarish ghoul, soulforged from the ghosts of Lachlan Macquarie and Sir Henry Parkes, which lurks in the corridors under Parliament House (13) (14).
And at the end of this ordeal, the two who remain standing are Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott.
At this point, no matter who you are, it is considered socially acceptable to weep for the nation (15).
Tune in at some undecided future date for part 2: Parliament.
– OSM out
- And footnotes.
- This is distinct from American politics, which is defined by vice, condescension, money and round count.
- Kind of makes life a heck of a lot harder for those of us who can’t stand the taste of the stuff.
- Effects range from people showing up to vote tanked to the entire career of Bob Hawke.
- And it’s a rotten shame. I mean, what is it about a century packed with underachievement, treachery, venality, cowardice and vice that turns people off politics?
- The few true believers who do make it in tend to end up marooned on back benches or join the Greens, and thus are effectively marginalised. Several of them were given faulty maps of Parliament House and have been trapped in the labyrinth of secret corridors ever since. They live off vending machines and sleep in disused offices (16).
- The highway upgrade going on near my place, which has been in progress for more than a decade and has still only provided about eight feet of actual road.
- “Hey, you know what would be awesome? If we spent a ton of money on an ugly painting.” – Attributed to Gough Whitlam.
- And that’s how WorkChoices saved Australia.
- “You said greed twice.” “I like greed.”
- We’d probably be in a slightly less boned, skinned and filleted state if virtue won occasionally.
- Shady powerbrokers used to bet on these matches, until Kevin Rudd turned out to be surprisingly adept at Muay Thai kickboxing and absolutely cleaned them out. True story (17).
- A similar arrangement exists in most modern nations. Contemporary Turkish history would be significantly different had Kemal Ataturk not become a cyborg in 1938 and faked his own death, the US forces each would-be President to participate in a cage match against the tag-team wrestling ghosts of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, and Britain makes them spend a night in the Tower of London on the anniversary of King Henry VII’s death. Only Russia is truly an exception, and that’s because Vladimir Putin scared the ancient vampire Ivan the Terrible so much he stayed up to greet the dawn, and they haven’t found a replacement yet.
- Even the candidates themselves do, because they’ve just realised they fought a two-headed ghost-monster for the right to spend four years kissing up to the US and Chinese leaders.
- I do not wish to imply that Australian politicians are, for the most part, corrupt rodents. I wish to state definitively that morally, most are actually located several notches below rodents, in the space shared by Nephandi, bull ants, about half of 4chan, the 2e Ebon Dragon, the Fox executives who shafted Firefly, Dan Backslide and people who don’t clap to save Tinkerbell.
- One of them sold the rights to Hollywood, and after the execs were finished with it, out came Avatar. Gotta love those focus groups, huh?