Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

So Long As You Don't Eat a Baby, You Can Be Prime Minister

A few years ago, I told my girlfriend, shortly after she moved to the country, that Tony Abbott would be the next Prime Minister. "So long as he doesn't eat a live baby on television, that is," I added.

Perhaps, if I had sent him a live baby.

In hindsight, I should have asked my friends for donations. A few of them have young, supple ones where the bones break easy.

At any rate, the inevitable happened, and on Saturday, Tony Abbott, surrounded by his daughters in virginal white, with his wife in a dark, worn out colour like she was the used husk of a middle aged wife from a dystopian film, became Prime Minister Abbott. Short after, I heard people discussing that it would be two to three terms (six to nine years) before the count against Abbott and his Coalition turned. I felt a moment of despair, and then reminded myself that Labor had not been a progressive government, and that frankly, Australia had been in the control of conservative social politics since the turn of the century. The rights of homosexuals and asylum seekers would still be denied; the divide between the rich and the poor would continue to grow (perhaps faster now); comprehensive environmental reform would struggle; and so on and so forth, with the voices that called for equality struggling to be heard.

It could be that this is the best thing for Labor, however. After playing centre right wing politics with the Liberals and losing, perhaps they will take a long hard look at things that drove people away, and drag themselves back to the centre left and unify.

It's a long shot, though. The party has shown a long streak of political weakness in its two terms in office, from the dumping of Kevin Rudd and the failure of the mining tax, to the dumping of Julia Gillard and the failure to get anything out of Kevin Rudd. That he still remains in the party is, honestly, the most mind boggling thing ever, and I can only imagine that the lack of rush to take his place as new leader is due to the fact that whoever replaces him knows they will have to deal with Kevin, and Kevin has, frankly, lost the plot. From moments on the campaign trail where he suddenly announced tax zones for the Northern Territory to fears over foreign investment, to living out his moment of acting like a TV President like Martin Sheen on the West Wing (the correct answer, in case you're wondering, to any religious figure who asks you why you're going against the Bible is to say, "The right for homosexual men and women to marry is an equal rights issue, not a religious one.") and that weird twenty minute concession speech where he announced his triumph over the Labor Party but the loss of the country, Kevin has gone off the ledge and sailed clear into crazy, crazy open space.

Still, no matter the future of Labor, there were some interesting things to come out of the election. The Greens' Adam Bandt won his seat in Melbourne despite preferences going against him, Palmer's United Party became the fuck you protest vote, and on a ballot sheet for the Senate so big you couldn't fit it flat in the booth gave a bunch of minor and micro parties a chance to go to Canberra. Including, from NSW, the Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, whose pro-gun, charge the asylum seekers stance should go down well--though it is worth noting that the party platform does support gay marriage and the right to die, though, um, you do have to ignore that opposition to affirmative action, smaller government, and other odd things they believe. Their seven percent jump in support is reportedly due to their number one spot on the senate ballot and confusion with the Liberal Party, but perhaps more people recognised Leyonhjelm's name from when he was part of the plain ol' Liberal Party and left in 1996 when Howard bought in gun control (or perhaps they recognised him from the Shooter's Party, or Outdoor Recreation Party, or the secret meetings he has with the NRA in quiet, empty back lots in a white hood, who knows). Perhaps eight percent of NSW just said, "Fuck it, this is as close to Howard before he went soft as we'll get," but probably not.

But there was Clive.

Clive to save us all, Clive 'I'm Rebuilding the Titanic' Palmer.

Billionaire Clive Palmer looks to have won a seat, much to the horror of conservative politicians everywhere, who say without a shred of irony, "The man bought his votes," as if they never took Palmer's money for decades to finance their own campaigns. In some, such as Barnaby Joyce, a conversation can be about Palmer using his wealth and connections in such horrible, horrible ways, while shortly after, he can talk about Gina Reinhart and her donation to Joyce's campaign, saying, "That money has to come from somewhere," and giving her a hug when she comes into his campaign rally. This is the billionaire Gina Rinehart, by the by, who is so crazy she initially proposed the tax zone in the Northern Territory while saying Australians are paid more than those from Africa--and this is why we don't do business in Australia--and recently suggested that rich, white collar criminals be able to buy their way out of prison. No doubt Palmer will eventually side with the Coalition on a number of issues, but it is rather amusing to watch the horror, and if his mere presence there causes all in the room to feel bad because somehow democracy and the sanctity of government is ruined, well, then at least they know how I feel when I see them.

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