Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

The Western Suburbs of Sydney

For the last week Julia Gillard has been out in Rooty Hill. It has been awful to watch.

You wouldn't know it from the media, but the Western Suburbs of Sydney (covering the majority of Sydney) is reportedly home to a population of close to two million people, not all of them white. You may not know this, because to find anyone from a Non-White background on the TV is a rare thing, and you certainly wouldn't want to ask those 'minority' populations what they thought of the state of their country's politics. No, Non-White people only know about the Sudan, or Vietnam, or China. Instead, you might have seen what is politely referred to as bogans, found outside chicken shops, wandering malls, occasionally without teeth, vaguely employed and all with an opinion that the carbon tax, brown people and, oh, I dunno, Obama, are to blame for their various ills. We call them bogans. You may call them trailer park trash. You may call them inbred. Everyone has names: we call them bogans. Originally, the word came from Victoria, or so I understand it.

Despite the fact that these people are the true minority of Western Sydney, not because of the colour of their skin, but because they're poorly educated and stupid, something, I might add, anyone can be born into... despite this fact, this is the face of Labor's lost Heartland, the disenchanted voters of Labor who have been cast aside and need reassurance that people from overseas on foreign worker applications don't come in and steal their jobs. They need reassurances that the evil illegal boat people aren't terrorists. They need this so much that the underlying message from the Prime Minister during her visit was so racist that Australia's own racist politician, Pauline Hanson agreed with her. But despite this farce, what it really highlighted was just why Labor has been losing voters in its heartland: because it no longer knows what it looks like, because it has been unable to view it as the multi-cultural city centre that it is, that there is no one voice, no single voice, and it is certainly not a voice that responds to racist election promises and hate campaigning.

Why would it? A glance around the Western Suburbs of Sydney will reveals thousands and thousands of first generation migrants, people who have left their country for the stability of Australia, for the future it promises. Rather than the narrative of a fear of the other that is so popular in today's media, a large portion of the Western Suburbs understand why refugees risk a boat journey to enter the country, and they understand why draconian detention facilities are a failure on a number of levels. But of course, the real point of the refugees has never been what voters think: it is a low cost political football that be kicked around for political rhetoric without many consequences. Well, or so it has been believed by the major two parties. Given the ever growing multicultural population of Australia as a whole, you have to wonder just when they will realise that their rhetoric is racist on both sides of the narrow political divide and that it has started to cost them more than they realise in electorates of all colours.

It has been said that Julia Gillard has come to Rooty Hill and the West of Sydney because Labor need the votes, that they cannot hold power without the seats. The belief is that they have lost it, and by large, I would say it was likely. It is hard for the average person in Sydney as a whole not to look at the current federal Labor Government and not see a similarity between it and the State government that was removed not so long ago. Swamped by corruption, ineptness, and a general level of infighting that was, frankly, embarrassing, Barry O'Farrell's trip to power was ensured so long as he did not eat a child on national TV. Tony Abbott's trip to power is, at least as far as I am concerned, pretty much on the same path. It is an unappealing notion, since Abbott and his Coalition aren't very inspiring, but it's a reasonable response to Labor in a two party system. Labor has bought its potential downfall upon itself by its political failings in regard to the taxation of miners, the introduction of a carbon tax, and so on and so forth. Neither of my two examples were bad, or hated, they just went about it all wrong, and ended up, in the first, with a weak tax, and in the second, with an easy football villain for people to kick to them. Even the presence of Kevin Rudd is nothing but an embarrassment for the party and himself. Once removed, he should have gone quietly, like so many other ex-leaders, or he should have been tossed from the Labor Party, where he could no longer be present as a viable leader. You can't go back, after all. It didn't happen, of course, and Rudd has just contributed to be a disgrace that the Labor Party has presented to the country.

It would not, lets be honest, be entirely unfair for the Labor Party to disappear from the political map like the Democratic Party some years earlier. The Greens, having recognised the chance to become the Left leaning mainstream party of Australia, are a much more competent and reasonable Party, and if there wasn't still the lingering belief that they'd value trees above everything else (a false belief), the party would rightfully surpass Labor. But, it won't, not yet, at any rate. The Western Suburbs of Sydney, much like the rest of Australia, are not quite willing to replace Labor with the Greens. But should the party fail to realise that they are completely and utterly alienating this huge, diverse population with their overtly racist politics that allow Pauline Hanson to nod wisely, then that day will not be so far in the future.

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