Of roots in brothels and dreadful campaigns

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Earlier today I set up two A-frames on the side of a busy local road and campaigned for my old mate Trevor Evans, if standing next to two A-frames on the side of a busy local road can be dignified with the description of campaigning.

Coincidentally, I set up outside one brothel, and looking across the street onto another brothel. I’ve always wondered whether this co-location was just a quirk of town planning (no pun intended, I’m sure Lord Mayor Quirk had nothing to do with it) or an analogue to petrol stations setting up on the opposite sides of the road to service both directions of traffic. I still don’t know the answer. If you do, message me.

It was a meaningful choice of location because it has allowed me to contemplate Labor Party’s complete inability to organise a root in one or either of the said buildings. Thank God for private enterprise. Jobs and growth, and all that.

It has been a dreadful campaign, probably the most tedious I can remember in my 22 years of political involvement, certainly on the federal level, where you expect a bit more. It has been tedious to watch, and I can only imagine how tedious – and exhausting – it must have been to all those running the campaigns and being out on the hustings every day. Please, everyone, no more two-month election campaigns.

I’m of course biased in my assessments since in general I tend to think that any Liberal government will be better than a Labor one (there are perhaps some historical exceptions; the first two Hawke governments arguably have done more for Australia than the last two Fraser ones). But with that open caveat, to my mind one of the main reasons for the dreadfulness of the campaign as a whole has been the utter dreadfulness of the Labor opposition. It is a sad statement on our politics, and perhaps a sad reflection on the Liberal government that this election is so close. It really shouldn’t be.

Perhaps the highlight – or rather the lowlight – of the campaign came for me this morning on the Today show when Karl Stefanovic asked Bill Shorten how old he was when Labor last delivered a budget surplus. I don’t quite know what the sound was that Shorten made in reply, but it was priceless.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROjSlJcvdBw

The answer, by the way, is 22, and the year was 1989. This really made me think – 1989 was my first year in Australia. Since then, in my whole adult life here in Oz, Labor governments have run a deficit after deficit. I feel like I might have jinxed it for Labor and for Australia. Maybe if I had stayed in Poland, Labor would be great economic managers today. Then I remembered that every Labor government in Australian history has left the country with more debt than when it came into office and suddenly I felt all better about my migration.

At least Shorten didn’t try to defend the indefensible, though his response “When was the last time you saw the Liberal Party deliver a surplus?” was rather weak. In 2007 actually, which is a lot more contemporary than 1989. Yes, the fact that the Liberal government has failed to deliver surpluses the past three years saddens me too – and unlike Bill, genuinely so – but if I still have some, however small, amount of faith that the Liberals will at least try, I have less than zero faith that Labor will.

In as far as I can gather, Labor’s election pitch this campaign consisted of three promises:

1) to actually rack up an even bigger deficit in the short-term

2) to save Medicare from a completely factious threat of privatisation

3) to introduce the same-sex marriage bill as the first piece of legislation in the new parliament

With the greatest of respect to all my gay friends – and my straight friends – who feel strongly about this, there are dozens of more pressing issues in Australia at the moment. But of course Labor always goes for the symbolic to win the moral vanity pageant, just as Kevin Rudd’s first actions in government were to sign up to the Kyoto Agreement and to say “Sorry” to the Stolen Generation. The former action has done bugger all for the environment, and the latter has done bugger all for the lives of Indigenous Australians, but oh, how enlightened and how caring Labor was!

The good news, people, is that the horror is nearly over. Do your patriotic duty on Saturday, sleep in on Sunday if you have been campaigning the past two months, and then go to church and pray that we might get some decent governance in this country over the next three years.

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