Australians go to the polls: it is a choice between Tony, Julia or the wilderness?
Posted on August 19th, 2010

By Surangani Seneviratne

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Short of the term an elected government could rule the nation, Australian political parties in power have the tendency to call an early election. And it is usually done to have an advantage over the opposition. Reading the electorate in these rapidly changing times can be tricky. An omission here and a bold move made months ahead in anticipation can have an impact on the increasingly jittery electorate, especially on uncommitted voter that swings from one party to the other. Hence this election appears difficult one to call even for the pundits.

The AbbottƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s show

During the Howard years, Anthony John Abbott (Tony Abbott as he is known) was largely in the shadow of John Howard. When his party lost government in a landslide of historic proportions, Mr Abbot had the insight not step forward to lead the party. Choosing the right moment, a buffed and fit Tony Abbot made various public appearances in several forms of under dress for public office, especially for the office of PM, at the beach and other sporting events months ahead of the polls being called by the Governor General.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  While Australian women argued over whether they preferred their men in the skimpy and all bearing briefs (popularly known as Budgie Smugglers / Speedos) or the board shorts sported by the hip, young and new age man. The ultra conservative and strongly Catholic Mr Abbot was seen in public in the all bearing Budgie Smugglers (an event not missed by the media, especially the stand up and political comedy shows) on a couple of occasions prior to the polls.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

Conventional wisdom would say this was a bad move for Tony Abbot -the new leader of the opposition. Taking off upper body garments and bearing a six pack / lack of it may have helped some politicians. Vladimir Putin has made a career of this! Yet the sport loving Australians do not like to see their politicians in any form of undress or in the beach (having lost a PM at sea). A few conservative politicians that made appearances at the beach in briefs did not survive for long in leadership. Yet if various surveys / polls are accurate, these appearances have helped Mr Abbot.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  What is it that they say? Size does not matter! It appears that the voters are ready to embrace the buffed and fit to rule Mr Abbot in spite of what the critiques say ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” lack of policy, especially dealing with the Australian economy that was growing even during the global recession. Are Mr Abbot and the opposition heading towards victory?

Any victory for the opposition would not have been foreseeable during the early years of the Rudd government. How did the Australian Labor government move so rapidly from a convincing victory to possibility of losing an election in such short time?ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  The ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”most popular PMƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” Kevin Rudd disposed in a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”palace coupƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, the Australian Labor party is heading towards disaster. A government that led the nation through the worst recession in history with less pain to the people than that was felt in US, UK and EU nations now facing possible defeat at the polls. Why?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Julia, our ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”galƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢

The way the Labor government disposed of their leader and PM ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” Kevin Rudd did not go without notice in the minds of the Australians. Months prior to the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”coupƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, the ever powerful cooperate media groups that appear to work in union on most issues,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  published negative stories about Kevin Rudd / his leadership style. When Mr Rudd tried to impose the Resource Super Profits Tax on the mining industry that was making massive profits, it was easy for the cooperate interest to get into top gear and instigate the demise of Mr Rudd. Within the Australian Labor Party there were individuals such as Bill Shorten, with close ties to the mining industry and the Governor General – Quentin Brice (his partner is the grand daughter of Ms Bryce) who wanted to ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”dismissƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ the PM. As this was a palace coup, the lovely Ms Brice / loving grand mother did not have to get her hands bloody as in the famous Whitlam / Kerr dismissal. The partyƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s own apparatus ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” the widely diverse and divisive factions -played the BrutusƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s role and pushed Kevin Rudd.

The ambitious Julia Gillard waiting in the wings was right for the picking. She had friends- friends in powerful places and some say friends with privileges! Ms Gillard made the history books as the first woman Prime Minister in Australia. Would the Australians elect a woman as PM? If Ms Gillard looses at the polls, it will not be because Australians are not ready to elect a woman to lead them. It appears that demise of Kevin Rudd did not go down well with the Australians who believe in ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”a fair goƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ / fair play.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The Australian voters are getting tired of the short term an elected government is in power / the increasing cost of an election paid for by the public. They are also tired of the two party system / both parties with similar mandate, and are looking for other choices. For a while the Australian Democrats gained ground as the third party -the party that picked the protest vote. Yet their demise was as fast as their rise in the Australian political scene. The vacuum left by the Democrats is currently being filled by the Greens.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  While none of the smaller political parties have the political will and structure to govern in their own right, they can hold the balance of power- block the passage of legislation. The Greens / Democrats in parliament are ineffective in achieving any real changes with a desperate and diverse range of issues as their mandate.

In to the wilderness

In the 2010 elections, the Greens are posing a minor threat to the two main parties, and poised to pick the protest vote.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  They have presented a desperate range of issues- environment; water; energy; immigration; refugees/ people trafficking, and no viable plan for government. The lack luster campaign it has been to the end- several issues raised by the political parties failed to engage the electorate. The increasing boat loads of people from Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka has pushed the issue of refugees/ people trafficking to the front. Yet the Australian people are not concerned about this issue as much as issues dealing with the economy and the environment, and appear to be contained by current methods of dealing with refugees / people trafficking!

The Greens have selected Brami Jegan, Tamil ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”refugeeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ from Sri Lanka for the NSW senate ticket. The 30 year old Ms Jegan has appeared in a brief pair of shorts, keeping with the dress code for this election campaign. She has describes herself as a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”refugeeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, while she states that she recently visited Sri Lanka -the country she had to take refuge / flee from! Brami JeganƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s uncle ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” Arunachalan Chrishanthakumar (alias- AC Shanthan) was charged and currently in jail in UK for supplying and funding the LTTE / the most violent terrorist group in the world. And Ms Jegan- the Greens ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”refugeeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢candidate says she will not offer any apology for her uncle / supporting a deadly terror group. On her partyƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s own projected outcome, she will not win a seat nor would she get many votes in spite of the support and backing from the remnants of the LTTE terror! Will Ms Jegan be a sore loser, like MIA / Maya Arulpragasam, whom she has a link on her web page? After MIAƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s recent album ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”MayaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ failed miserably / was a flop including her recent concert, Ms Arulpragasam gone on rampage on her website and in the media against Lady Gaga, Justin Beiber and Oprah Winfrey (who helped her with the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”15 minutes of fameƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ at the Grammys / the maximum exposure she got in the media during the war).

What a lack luster campaign it has been?ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  A new government or not, this campaign has changed a thing or two ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” the dress code for politicians and that the Australian public can be taken in by a terrorist masquerading as a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”refugeeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ in a sexy pair of shorts. Let us not forget this is the only nation in the western alliance that has not banned / outlawed the LTTE terror!

Surangani Seneviratne is on Facebook and Twitter.

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