Tagged with Tanya Plibersek

The Labor leadership, and why Shorten should fuck right off

Bill Shorten, Leader of the Opposition? Really, Labor, this is your response to the election loss?

This may come as a surprise, but if you’ve been banging your head against a brick wall for six* years and your head hurts, it’s almost certainly not because you haven’t been doing it hard enough. If you pick Shorten as the next Labor leader (or Albanese, or Bowen, or Swan, or Burke…) you might as well hang out a sign saying “we are useless and we will never change.”

You’ve had a bit of a loss. As unpleasant as that might me, it’s also a rare opportunity to try something new, see how it goes. Pick a leader who represents generational change, give them the authority to reform the party, and craft a new story about who you are and what you stand for. Shorten is up to his neck in the leadership dramas of the last few years, and no-one will take you seriously with him at the helm.

There’s plenty of alternatives. Plibersek would be brilliant, then there’s Dreyfus, Butler and Clare, although the last two don’t have Cabinet experience. Any of them would come to the leadership with (relatively) clean hands.

Get your shit together, Labor. Your primary vote is so low now it consists almost entirely of people who are so rusted-on they wouldn’t vote for another party if their lives depended on it. Stop bashing the Greens and focus on your real enemy. Find a leader who will reconnect with the base, emphasise your considerable strengths, and break away from the back-room squabbles of the past.

In other words, not fucking Shorten.

* actually, 17 years

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With Iron Mark sentenced to wander forever down the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, the battle for the leadership of the Labor Party is hotting up. Although the Three-Time Loser remains the only person to have formally declared his candidacy, there’s much talk about Rudd, and, to a lesser extent, Gillard as potential challengers.

The blogosphere is all a-titter at the thought of a contest for The Ultimate Prize of Australian politics (OK, technically the Prime Ministership, not the leadership of the ALP, is The Ultimate Prize, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here). Nic White at The 52nd State has a useful round-up of who’s backing who among the cream of the Australian bloggerati.

I’m a bit saddened that no-one seems to be thinking very creatively about the possibilities: White’s tally board has Gillard on 6, Beazley 5, Rudd 3. The only person outside this triumvirate of true believers to get a guernsey is WA Senator Chris Evans (who?). It’s hardly a Melbourne Cup field, so I decided I’d cast my eye over a few of the ALP’s less likely leadership contenders. Continue reading

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A line in the sand

I really should have more respect for myself than to listen to ignorant bigots raving on about their stupid, mean prejudices, but here I am, listening to Parliament on the radio.

The House of Representatives is debating the Marriage Act Amendment Bill – the proposed law which would “outlaw gay marriage” (notwithstanding the fact that same-sex marriage is not legal anyway) and ban same-sex couples from adopting children overseas.

Right now, Tanya Plibersek is speaking, and of course she is the voice of reason, compassion and common sense. The lone voice. The honourable gentleman preceding her (didn’t catch the old bastard’s name) is more typical of the discourse around this issue. The argument goes something like this: marriage is the fundamental institution of society (so homosexuals must be excluded), marriage is traditionally between a man and a woman (and it can never change), and children are better off with married parents (and here’s the catch-22, kids: queers can’t marry, so they shouldn’t be parents).

It’s a very neat and tidy circular argument. And it completely ignores reality. Family – not marriage – is the fundamental unit of society, and families come in many forms. Marriage is only one way of forming families, but it also carries special rights and privileges, and in a pluralistic society, while those special rights and privileges continue, marriage should therefore be available to all. And children are best off in loving, supportive families, no matter how those families are constructed.

The honourable old bastard can’t see any of this, of course. Instead he talks about the “threat” to marriage and society posed by same-sex marriage and the need to “draw a line in the sand” to stop it.

This is the nub of my feeling about this issue. It’s all about the line in the sand. We queers didn’t draw the line, we have only ever argued that we deserve equal rights, we have never asked for marriage. But the line has been drawn. Its purpose is to contain us.

Our duty is to cross it.

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