Being the bigger person

A privilege of office that neither big old party can resist abusing: drawing from the public purse to bankroll political advertising campaigns.

Labor now has a huge fight on its hands, trying to explain a difficult policy to voters in respect of which the media and certain vested interests are, it turns out, implacably hostile. Gillard – who before the election made it very clear she saw a “carbon price” and a “carbon tax” as two different things, and that whilst she ruled out the latter she believed in the former – is being pilloried by the shameless for supposedly “changing her mind”. (Misrepresenting her is easy: all you have to do is take her remark about a carbon tax out of context, pretending that she didn’t publicly support one and oppose the other, and then argue that the carbon price policy is a tax and therefore she broke her own promise according to your definition you know perfectly well she didn’t share – and made clear she didn’t share – before making the earlier remark.)

The Government will be sorely tempted to do what got John Howard’s “never ever” GST over the line: go absolutely nuts with political advertising on the public purse.

If it does, it might succeed in scraping over the line next time. But eventually the Liberals will win another election, and they’ll use the precedent to spend even more promoting their pet project (The Policy We Formerly Called WorkChoices, probably).

Whereas, if Labor stood back now and took this moment to pass legislation restricting government “education” campaigns, to put an independent, bipartisan body in charge of determining whether a campaign is political or not, and therefore whether it is to be funded by the public or supporters – well, then it would truly have achieved something for democracy. Something lasting, even, since it would be difficult for the Liberals to repeal without looking like absolute scumbags.

Then again, the pessimist in me says that not enough voters would even care. Labor could hobble itself in this fight and thereby lose the next election, and the Liberals would promptly come in and repeal the Act. And, although the hypocrisy of claiming to be the “small government” party whilst taxing voters to pay for their own ads might seem embarrassing, it will only be a problem for them if the media make it a problem. Which, since the media are the beneficiary of those advertising dollars, they almost certainly won’t.

That’s the problem with being principled in politics – it just helps your more unprincipled opponents win, and thereby helps them destroy all your other principles.

If only political discourse in this country was at a level where not wasting public money on self-promotion was actually a drawback for a political party in Government, rather than a prerequisite.

ELSEWHERE: Talking of corruptly taking benefits from incumbency, US Republicans are boasting about how they’re going to be able to use their control of specific states to gerrymander the hell out of the next Presidential election. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them to be ashamed of what is a flagrantly undemocratic scheme – they’re quite open about it.

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69 responses to “Being the bigger person

  1. It’s been ever thus, Jeremy. When in opposition political parties rail against the wasteful use of public funds on party political advertising, only to ramp it up when they attain office. And the somnolent public merely groans a little.

    Not that the Liberals need it with the Murdoch media being little more than a Liberal cheer squad and with the proliferation of right wing content on commercial radio.

    Whatever happened to a media that was about the accurate presentation of news and the fair presentation of views?

  2. I have a feeling, advertising is not her style. She has shown in the last couple of weeks she is confident enough in Jeri own ability to communicate, to take the fight into the lions den. I believe as long as Labor stays on the defensive, she just maybe right.

  3. “Not that the Liberals need it with the Murdoch media being little more than a Liberal cheer squad and with the proliferation of right wing content on commercial radio.”

    You know what, maybe the Liberals should do it when they’re next in. They don’t need the public purse; they don’t believe in the public purse; and it would seriously screw over Labor next time it’s in government, since it doesn’t have a supine media running its line for free like the right-wingers do.

  4. Splatterbottom

    Jeremy, given your past insistence that politicians stick to their promises I thought you might comment on this issue. However, I had no idea that you would shamelessly shill for Gillard instead of calling her out for her cynical behaviour.

    Even Gillard is not stupid enough to try to kid the public that the carbon price mechanism is anything other than a carbon tax. She said that it was ”effectively like a tax” and that ”I’m happy to use the word ‘tax’ .

    Gillard is going with the line that the hung parliament has changed things. On your previous view, that would not be an excuse for not keeping your promises, so you are forced into the ridiculous position that a carbon price is not a carbon tax. If you really want to persist with this ludicrous argument you might begin on enlightening us about the practical difference between the two, bearing in mind Gillard’s comment that they are effectively alike.

  5. This isn’t my issue. I’m not sure what Gillard was saying the distinction was between a carbon price and a carbon tax. It may be a meaningless one. The point is that she repeatedly said before the election that she was in favour of a carbon price. The footage of her saying she was opposed to a carbon tax obviously has to be taken in that context – that she saw them as different (and made it clear she saw them as different) and she was promising to do one and not the other.

    Funny that in all of this “what she promised before the election” talk, nobody’s playing the footage of her promising to investigate a carbon” price”.

    So, she’d be breaking her promise if she refused to implement one.

    Since she made it clear before her “carbon tax” remark that she wasn’t talking about a carbon price, it’s thoroughly disingenuous and misleading to pretend that her carbon price breaks that promise.

  6. narcoticmusing

    All organisations with lots of power suffer this, whether they be government, a large corporation or even a large department within the first two.

    Everyone demands more communication. Everyone says they don’t understand the policy.

    So, the government spends money to communicate and explain the policy.

    Everyone bitches that public funds are being used on an advertising campaign (due to a) the govt being greedy and throwing a political line or two in, or b) the other side misleading the public into thinking the ads were something more than what they are ).

    So you are left with the conundrum: how does one communicate and educate the public on mass about a policy they need to understand without mass advertising?

    Also, if you want to know what the groaning in unison is about, it isn’t whether a carbon price is a carbon tax or not, it is all this talk of her keeping to her promises before the election, which would be fine if it wasn’t for the ‘friendlier politic’ promiser demanding it. Seriously, we’ve seen nothing but hostility from the opposition. I get it, we have an adversarial system, but Abbott and Co made assurances of a’ friendlier politic’. So, why do they get to not keep promises and she must? He never said it was conditional on winning.

  7. Splatterbottom

    Jeremy: “nobody’s playing the footage of her promising to investigate a carbon” price”.

    So, she’d be breaking her promise if she refused to implement one.”

    You do understand that a promise to investigate something is not a promise to implement it, don’t you?

    “Since she made it clear before her “carbon tax” remark that she wasn’t talking about a carbon price, it’s thoroughly disingenuous and misleading to pretend that her carbon price breaks that promise.”

    ROFLMAO!

    Please tell me now what the difference between the two is before I kill myself laughing!

    If the Government sets a price, but does not impose any obligation on any emitter to pay that price, you might argue that there is no carbon tax. However, once there is a government impost related to that price then it is a carbon tax.

    Why not just admit that you are very pleased for politicians to break their promises when it means implementing a policy you support?

  8. “You do understand that a promise to investigate something is not a promise to implement it, don’t you?”

    Sure. But refusing to implement it isn’t consistent with promising to investigate it.

    “Please tell me now what the difference between the two is before I kill myself laughing!”

    You’re being disingenuous again.

    When before the election she promised to review a carbon price but not implement a carbon tax, did you really think that meant she was opposed to a carbon price? That she was promising not to implement a carbon price? Whatever the distinction is, however small, she made it clear before the election that she was relying on that distinction.

    The other issue, of course, is – do you consider that a political party is “lying” or “breaking a promise” every time it negotiates down a previously-held position in parliament because it doesn’t have the numbers to do otherwise? What an interesting and unworkable parliament that would be, with all parties adamantly refusing to negotiate with each other lest they be portrayed as “liars”.

    Of course, the people attacking Gillard over the carbon price are not people who ever voted for her in the first place, so I’m not sure what their problem is – she doesn’t represent them. What are they going to do, once again refuse to vote for her?

  9. narcoticmusing

    Sorry, SB, I’m not sure why you are confused… I think Jeremy is suggesting that JG sees them as different (based on that she’d said she supported a carbon price before and after saying she did not support a carbon tax). Ergo, she at least, must see them as different, and this context was present when she said she wouldn’t bring in a carbon tax.

    This isn’t an objective debate of whether they are the same or not (where say, the practical realities of their implementation would be up for question); it is a subjective question of whether Julia thinks they are different or not, and given the above, she obviously does, and made that clear.

    I will, however, be very interested to hear exactly how a carbon price and a carbon tax are different – although I dare say it will have a similar explanation to how a levy and a tax are different (which will lead me to gnash my teeth appropriately) despite that I support, in principle, a price on carbon (not sure I support the mess that the ALP thought up to put the price on it though).

  10. narcoticmusing

    “she doesn’t represent them. What are they going to do, once again refuse to vote for her?”

    I’d say she is meant to represent all Australians and shouldn’t simply be advocating a policy to buy votes… so it shouldn’t be about how someone will retaliate or not. But I should know my Pollyanna’s place by now.

  11. “how does one communicate and educate the public on mass about a policy they need to understand without mass advertising?”

    This is something I never really understood. The government licenses airspace to media organisations (radio and television) and requires them to have certain amounts of local and news content. Why don’t they also require a certain level of government advertising time generally and party advertising time during elections?

    The important thing about the whole tax vs price argument is that once again the media is playing the man.. so to speak.

  12. It is simple. She promised a price on carbon. She promised not to bring in a carbon tax. She promised nothing would be put in place before 2012.

    All we can really say is that she reneged on not bringing a carbon tax.

    In her favour, the carbon tax proposed is interim process to get to a market based ETS in three to five years.

    We know that the Greens, during the campaign proposed a carbon tax as a

    We know that at that time, Labor rejected the Greens proposal at that time.

    We do not know if the PM did or did not have the intention of implementing a carbon tax, before the election. Evidence does indicate, it is possible she had no intention of introducing a carbon tax. If that is so, she did not lie but she did renege on what she said.

    We do know that the election resulted in a hung parliament and circumstances changed.

  13. Gillard has broken a pre-election undertaking. We’re dealing in semantics to suggest otherwise. She’s apparently as good as fessed-up now anyway. The reasons for her doing so have been well canvassed.

    The pity of it is she’s breathed some political life into the oxygen thief who leads the Tories and whose leadership was looking shaky.

    Of greater moment for me is a change of approach on her part. It seems to me she has been attempting to be presidential post-election and above the gutter tactics of the Tories. The way I now read it is she’s decided to mix it with the oxygen thief and his flunkies.

    One of which she gave it to during the week. How dare the Prime Minister of our country be ten minutes late for an interview with a has been rugby coach and pseudo journalist. How dare she!

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/02/25/3149267.htm

  14. Splatterbottom

    Jeremy: “When before the election she promised to review a carbon price but not implement a carbon tax, did you really think that meant she was opposed to a carbon price? That she was promising not to implement a carbon price? Whatever the distinction is, however small, she made it clear before the election that she was relying on that distinction.”

    A carbon price is relevant to either an ETS or a carbon tax. Before the election Gillard promised that there would be no carbon tax but did say she would investigate an ETS in 2012. Now she is doing what she promised not to do which is to implement a carbon tax.

    Gillard also promised a Citizens’ Assembly to look at the issue. She appears to have realised that the Citizens’ Assembly was a hopelessly stupid idea and broken that promise as well.

    The only sane way to look at this is that Gillard was spooked during the campaign. She thought that she could satisfy all sides by promising first to have first have a Citizens’ Assembly and to look at the ETS issue in 2012 while at the same time promising that whatever system was to be adopted would not be a carbon tax. Now there is no Assembly and there will be a Carbon Tax and we are not waiting until 2012 to make a decision.

    The ‘no carbon tax’ promise was made to assist struggling ALP candidates in outer urban electorates. The ALP can kiss them goodbye in the next election.

  15. I think she did more than say she would investigate, she said there would be a market based price not a carbon tax. It would not before 2012.

    We could be in the position, if the election went the Opposition’s way, hoping that he did not keep many of his promises, especially on climate change.

  16. I’m looking forward to when the debate moves on to the actual substance of the proposal. When Labor reveals what that is, precisely.

    Anyway – political advertising. Should Labor be principled or pragmatic? Anyone who supports the latter can hardly oppose the Liberals doing the same thing next time.

  17. narcoticmusing

    The problem with the advertising thing, is that in the ideal situation, the media would act as the informal 4th arm of accountable government – it would play a legitimate role in informing its citizens, without the requirement for funds from the public purse.

    Perhaps the solution is requiring the media to do just that, rather than paying for advertising space each time you need to explain a policy or inform the public. I am not talking every little policy – but then, why not? Why aren’t political editors/writers of newspapers providing explanations on new policy rather than just their latest fear campaign where government is damned if they do, damned if they don’t. We aren’t going to get good government if we crucify them regardless of what they say/do.

    For example, one of the main barrier’s to implementing the SMS warning systems prior to Black Saturday was cost – the charge per sms offered to government was in excess of what one would pay on a pre-paid phone. Why can the government not demand this service due to its life saving capability? Or if that is too harsh, at least be able to demand it for only the cost of provision – why is it legal to blackmail essential services to the public?

  18. You can’t achieve much from opposition. Winning elections is tough enough for Labour with all the support the Tories get from their myriad of flunkies in the commercial media. So giving them another free kick by pulling out of the public funded advertising caper would be a poor political strategy for mine. So I’m for pragmatism on this one.

  19. narcoticmusing

    Jeremy – apologies, I believe I again dodged your question.

    “Should Labor be principled or pragmatic?”

    Is it dodging again to ask them to be inbetween? I mean, come on the advertisements for health reform were completely unnecessary, costly (in excess of $100m) and were for law that hadn’t even passed, or even been introduced into any jurisdiction. They didn’t even have basic agreement on some of the fundamentals, just an in principle agreement to negotiate an agreement. And no one was actively opposing it either, not in a way that it needed to be defended (although the ad was so stupid it couldn’t have defended it anyway). My point is that it was political because there was no public interest because there was no policy to explain.

    However, the mining tax, which was a legitimate policy that was completely up to the feds to introduce, no need to get all the States – I think it should have had its advertising campaign – at the very least it was in the public interest to hear the other side of the argument (seeing the mining groups were certainly funding a big effort against it).

    Again, the keeping cigarettes out of view – what a coincidence that big tobacco is funding a campaign [sarcasm warning] clearly because it doesn’t work, and big tobacco care so much about the little merchants [- end sarcasm]. It is in the public interest for that to be refuted, if, evidence suggests people actually believe the shit big tobacco are saying.

    So, my nice fence sitting answer to your question is that it should depend on legitimate public interest, such as to encourage debate or to provide balance to debate or to inform on an impending policy shift that is significant to the target group.

  20. There is no question there are many legitimate publicly funded government information/advertising campaigns. Many in the health field for example. The public information campaigns in relation to the screening and early detection of cancer have been success stories that no one could question.

    However, both major political parties have become adept at using the public information cover in order to advance their political cause. Auditors General in almost all jurisdictions have drawn attention to these misuses of public funds.

    There are bodies set-up to oversee these matters but they have no powers of enforcement as far as I can see. One such body is the Strategic Communications and Government Advertising which operates in NSW.

    Until such time as we get independent national and state bodies with clear guidelines and some teeth the misuse of public funds for political purposes will continue. And while it would be laudable for one party to refrain from indulging in it on principled grounds it would be politically stupid to give their opponents that advantage under the current system.

  21. “The pity of it is she’s breathed some political life into the oxygen thief who leads the Tories and whose leadership was looking shaky.”

    Indeed…. However, after Abbotts performance in question time tother day(Shakespearean no less) Julia will not only get through the carbon tax, she will be able to put a tax on, Oh I don’t know, what about ingrowing toe nails? Erm maybe bollock warts? What did Shakespeare write? Much ado about F.A.

    Oh and SB not yet! Not this issue anyway, to be sure. Besides you know full bloody well, that your side of the fence made this type of political theatre an art form. How could we forget? Never ever, ever, a GST. Work choices is dead. Yeah of course it is. Haneef, Haneef come back Haneef we love you Haneef..How much Haneef?. We’d better clear that with our cultural attaché first, Scott Morrison. Oh s*&# he’s the shadow immigration minister isn’t he, and only the shadow knows.

    Yawnnnnnnn.

  22. As to whether she broke a promise or not: who cares! This was a promise “not” to do something rather than a promise to do it. Why do we care that “not” promises are broken?

    For example, a party promises to “ensure that all children under 10 years have proper dental care” during an election campaign. If they don’t do it, then that’s a broken promise that can really hurt a lot of people that the service is not available. But if the party promises “not to provide dental care to children” but then goes ahead and does it anyway, why would anyone except political opportunists care that the promise was “broken”?

    Introduce a carbon tax/price/levy/whatever and in the process we may help save the planet for future generations. I don’t care if someone promised to “not” do that at some point. I only care that they’ve changed their mind back to the non-insane position.

    Gillard is playing the cards dealt her by the upcoming Greens balance of power in the Senate. She’s doing what the country elected her minority government to do – compromise! Abbott on the other hand prefers to remain insane …

  23. The upcoming advertising scare campaign looks like focusing on the price of petrol. But that’s the whole damn point of a carbon price/tax/etc! To make it more cost-effective for people to switch to greener energy sources.

    In a perfect world, the government advertising campaign would be simple: “Scared about the price of petrol? Buy a more fuel efficient car! That’s the whole point!”.

    Combine that with subsidies for the poor to trade in their bombs and get serious about electric vehicles that meet Australian conditions. The less petrol people are using, the less the price rise will hurt them.

    Other than some squawking about public transport from the Greens, no one is making this point. And public transport is a furphy – it doesn’t work in most of our cities and towns and cannot be made to work. Personalized transport (cars, utes, motorbikes, etc) are a fact of life.

    We’ve done this before with the change from leaded to unleaded petrol – massive change over a number of years to better vehicles that don’t pollute as much. Only insane idiots trying to protect their oil/coal industry buddies think we cannot do it again.

  24. Splatterbottom

    Jeremy, I owe you and Gillard an apology. Of course she has not broken her promise not to introduce a carbon tax. Hers is a tax on carbon dioxide not a tax on carbon. Silly me.

    Lynot “your side of the fence”

    This highlights the problem of having a mind colonised by one particular ideology. You seem to think that because you have signed away your capacity for independent though that there must be another ‘side’ who have saddled their mind with a different ideology. In fact what you have is a little walled garden populated by leper leftists licking each others’ sores all the while believing they are in Nirvana. Outside is the real world brimming with a whirl of unconstrained ideas – some silly, some sane and even some that are stunning in their sublime splendour.

    Uniqerhys: “Why do we care that “not” promises are broken?”

    That is certainly a unique proposition. I take it then that if a government promises not to build a coal-fired power station you would be cool with the government building such a power station immediately after the election?

  25. SB: “That is certainly a unique proposition. I take it then that if a government promises not to build a coal-fired power station you would be cool with the government building such a power station immediately after the election?”

    A decision to build a coal-fired power station can be judged on its merits: carbon sequestration, management of other pollutants, megawatts generated, comparison with other alternatives (nuclear and hydro have their own environmental problems). A decision not to do something cannot be judged on its merits – there’s nothing to judge.

    If a government is elected on a platform of “no new coal-fired power stations” and then discovers that the only alternatives are managing radioactive waste from nuclear power stations or flooding entire ecosystems to build hydro-electric dams, then only an idiot would expect them to keep to a promise that doesn’t make any sense in light of new information.

    Government is hard, involving lots of trade-offs. Decisions aren’t made in a vacuum – sometimes there are worse alternatives or situations change. Promising “not” to do things makes society ungovernable over the long term.

    Witness the flood levy – it’s only necessary because Gillard promised not to impact the surplus right in the middle of the crisis when the true nature of the dollar cost was still unknown. That was stupid and has left Gilllard between two hard places: raise the debt and be pounced on by Abbott for lying, or raise taxes and be pounced on for that. The fact that Abbott has no plan – at all – to govern the country in the face of these crises, is conveniently forgotten.

    “Not” promises should be ignored. Put a proposal on the table and let’s judge it on its merits.

  26. Splatterbottom

    Unique, a promise not to do something can be just as important as a promise to do something. The distinction you made has no logic to it at all. Breaking a promise not to commit troops to a particular war can be as consequential as breaking a promise to do any particular thing.

  27. What the PM has done is introduced two stage plan for a introducing a carbon price mechanism.

    The PM has reneged on the promise not to bring in a carbon tax.

    The PM has kept her promise to bring in a market based charge on carbon.

  28. SB is 100% correct on this issue. There is no difference between what Gillard is currently proposing and a “carbon tax”. Gillard’s policy is now exactly what she promised six months ago would not be her policy. She has broken an election promise and no parsing of her words or semantic nonsense should be allowed to obscure that fact.

    Whether or not her current policy is good policy or not is a wholly separate question, but it is ridiculous to insist that she is being misrepresented here. She’s gone back on her word and there’s just no other legitimate way to look at it.

    Jeremy – you need to accept that the politician currently pushing the policies you favour is no more principled, honest or reliable than the politicians who push the policies you don’t. The distinction between Abbot and Gillard is not something so trite and simplistic as she’s a good person and he’s not, or that he’s a liar and she’s not – it purely comes down to policy.

    Bloody hell.

  29. The being principled request was on the subject of advertising. Gillard’s already revealed herself to be unprincipled. The only Party that has been consistent and upfront on this issue, as on many others, is the Greens.

    That said, whatever the difference between a price and a tax, she certainly didn’t rule out the former before the election.

  30. Splatterbottom

    Jeremy: “That said, whatever the difference between a price and a tax, she certainly didn’t rule out the former before the election.”

    Is that meant to imply she didn’t break her promise?

    AS to the other issue, Rudd to his credit introduced advertising guidelines. The problem was that he exempted himself from those guidelines. It is rapidly becoming clear that Gillard is more cynically unhinged than even Rudd was and it is ludicrous to expect her to behave any better. Now that Tim Flannery has assumed the Goebbels mantra as climate propagandist-in-chief the money is going to flow and the Greens will applaud.

  31. That said, whatever the difference between a price and a tax, she certainly didn’t rule out the former before the election.

    Whether or not this distinction is meaningful on any level is irrelevant since Gillard has now announced an intention to implement a carbon tax. She did rule out a tax, but has now proposed one.

    I understand that you support the proposed carbon tax but I fail to understand why you are pretending that it isn’t a broken election promise when it quite clearly is.

  32. jordanrastrick

    That said, whatever the difference between a price and a tax, she certainly didn’t rule out the former before the election.

    In my mind the only honest, reasonable interpretation of such a difference is that a tax refers only to a fixed per-tonne price while a price can more generally refer to other mechanisms such as an ETS. Certainly that is the commonly made distinction in discussions of carbon pricing: “Tax” vs ETS.

    By this understanding (and I’d love to have any other possible one explained), Gillard has of course broken her promise, which was too unequivocal for any of her current get-out-clauses to apply: “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”

    Unless she wants to argue that she doesn’t lead the government because it is in Minority (which is what the Libs are trying hard to convey, thoughtfully aided by Christine Milne’s recent comments…), or that she whispered the word “permanent” before the word “carbon” but none of the microphones caught it, this is clearly a broken promise.

    The real problem is that there is too much expectation for politicians to make ridiculously overreaching iron clad promises that they probably won’t be able to keep. For instance a politican should never make or be asked to make a promise that lasts longer than an electoral term – policy makers clearly need to be able to change their minds as the world changes, so why shouldn’t they be able to seek a fresh mandate from voters?

    But of course everyone wants highly specific soundbytes, and trying to make allowances for the complex demands of shifting reality just sounds untrustworthy in that environment.

    And I don’t think there are any easy answers to the questions of government funded advertising. An independent body might help, but its hard to say until we try it out.

  33. “This highlights the problem of having a mind colonised by one particular ideology. You seem to think that because you have signed away your capacity for independent though that there must be another ‘side’ who have saddled their mind with a different ideology.”

    SB it has been pointed out many times on this blog, where people think you are on the political spectrum. Pot kettle you know the drill.

  34. Splatterbottom

    Jordan: “The real problem is that there is too much expectation for politicians to make ridiculously overreaching iron clad promises that they probably won’t be able to keep.”

    Major parties are extremely sensitive to the polls and the need to win over particular electorates. Hence the Jeckyll and Hyde approach to policy. Saying different things out of each side of your mouth is a prerequisite for leadership of a major party. And nowadays it seems that when the public wise up to you, you get a knife in the back and a new talking head is installed.

    One very good thing about the Greens is that they prefer to adopt a principled position rather than appearing to be all things to all people. there is much less likelihood that they will break promises even though in this case they seemed happy enough to aid and abet Gillard’s betrayal of her promise.

  35. jordanrastrick

    One very good thing about the Greens is that they prefer to adopt a principled position rather than appearing to be all things to all people. there is much less likelihood that they will break promises even though in this case they seemed happy enough to aid and abet Gillard’s betrayal of her promise.

    Agreed. Dogmatism has its uses.

    Major parties are extremely sensitive to the polls and the need to win over particular electorates. Hence the Jeckyll and Hyde approach to policy. Saying different things out of each side of your mouth is a prerequisite for leadership of a major party.

    I wonder how a party would go with just flat out refusing to make those pesky “non-core” promises. As in “everything we say is only an intented plan of action that may change, unless we put PROMISE in big bold capital letters on the announcement. Our promises are only good until the following election, at which time we always reserve the right to change our minds after explaining our reasons for doing so to voters.”

    Of course Abbott was, infamously, trying to say something along these lines on the 7.30 report, but he hadn’t thought it out and couldn’t have articulated it worse.

    To pull it off I think they’d have to go on the offensive against journalists who try to corner them to making stupidly broad commitments.

  36. “Dogmatism has its uses.”

    The Greens will negotiate. They don’t sell out.

    That’s the advantage of being a party that actually stands for something, as opposed to a party that will try to be all things to all people.

    “As in “everything we say is only an intented plan of action that may change, unless we put PROMISE in big bold capital letters on the announcement. Our promises are only good until the following election, at which time we always reserve the right to change our minds after explaining our reasons for doing so to voters.””

    I wouldn’t vote for such a party.

    The only reason the big parties find themselves needing to engage in such mental gymnastics is that they’re built on a lie: of claiming to be able to represent opposing voters and positions simultaneously.

    The parliament would be a lot more democratic and honest if the big parties picked a general philosophical position, concentrated on persuading voters to their way of thinking, and gave up on the idea that getting just over 50% of voters to vote for you (or directing their votes away from third parties towards you) by flim-flammery is something they should be doing.

  37. What the PM has done is introduced a two stage plan for an introducing a carbon market price mechanism.
    The PM has reneged on the promise not to bring in a carbon tax.
    The PM has kept her promise to bring in a market based charge on carbon.

  38. The only reason the big parties find themselves needing to engage in such mental gymnastics is that they’re built on a lie: of claiming to be able to represent opposing voters and positions simultaneously.

    So very true. I would also prefer a political party that clearly stated its principles and then simply argues passionately to try to bring the public around to its way of thinking.

    Not an easy task, of course, given today’s current media environment – which neatly brings us back to the original topic. Perhaps an advertising blitz actually is the modern-day equivalent of “persuading voters to their way of thinking”?

  39. narcoticmusing

    “The real problem is that there is too much expectation for politicians to make ridiculously overreaching iron clad promises that they probably won’t be able to keep.”

    This I agree with, but not in the context of something like an ETS – that should be up for grabs or not, depending on their promise because it is within their power. But government shouldn’t mislead people as to what their power is – ie. don’t tell people you’ll fix the health system if it is outside your power to do so, you only mislead people.

    “For instance a politican should never make or be asked to make a promise that lasts longer than an electoral term…”

    No polician does, that is part of the problem. Nothing gets done because things take longer than a single term but no one starts anything because they never know if the next term will be their last. Labor had over a decade in Vic and did stuff all about public transport – why? Because in the first term (Bracks) they only just scraped through. Next term, wow – we actually got that? Last term, crap, did we actually do anything to deserve to stay? Electorate’s thoughts on that: No, no you didn’t. Now anything they did start in the last term, will be discarded.

    We already have enough disincentives for government to do nothing longer than their term. [sigh] Yes, I get that you can’t bind an incoming government and that there are very good reasons for that, but we should also attempt long term policy – which we don’t – because it is long term planning, with yes the flexibility to cope with change – that makes society more robust.

  40. narcoticmusing

    “Our promises are only good until the following election, at which time we always reserve the right to change our minds after explaining our reasons for doing so to voters.”

    Even worse is, ‘our promises are only good until someone in a marginal electorate needs cash, then the rest of you that actually voted for us, actually gave us power, can get fucked’

  41. Splatterbottom

    Looks like the fake Julia we saw at the start of the election campaign was there to the end. Now she is in power the real Juliar is shining through. Forget her election promises. If you want to know what the future holds read the Greens platform!

  42. Well that is better than reading the One Nation for the Coalition platform. What we are seeing is what most who care believe the real Julie is. What we saw before the election was a Julie that took on a position before she expected. A Julie, like all new leaders took a little while to find her style.

    What I do not know what these snide comments add to the debate of what is going onto day. Because you do not like a person, does not really make her any less of a PM.

    I did not like Mr. Howard, but I am told he was a good PM. I definitely did not like his policies or beliefs and that is what I judged him on.

    PM Gillard may not be perfect but please tell what her lack of religion, not married, living with a man and no children have with her ability to do the job of PM. Many will be surprised that many woman and men lead similar lives. It is acceptable today by most reasonable people. Living in sin is no longer a social crime. Not believing in religion is not anyone’s business. Having or not having children, is a choice that modern day woman are able to make. Sadly it is still a prudent for a woman to seriously deny herself a child if she wants to achieve in politics.

    What is of concern is the hate that the those against Labor, including the Opposition is showing. Some Opposition members in parliament yesterday where actually shaking with hate and anger.

    Surely no one has all the answers. Most thinking people accept that there are different ways to do things, neither necessary wrong or correct for that matter.

    I believe it is time that we drop the adolescent behaviour in the way we judge politicians and behave in an adult fashion.

  43. Splatterbottom

    CU: “I did not like Mr. Howard, but I am told he was a good PM. “

    Howard was a very bad PM.

    “PM Gillard may not be perfect but please tell what her lack of religion, not married, living with a man and no children have with her ability to do the job of PM. “

    Nothing.

    “Some Opposition members in parliament yesterday where actually shaking with hate and anger.”

    They were probably disgusted at Julia’s blatant lies. The most deranged person in parliament yesterday was Wilkie, who decided to grab a bit of attention by slandering people as racists. Maybe he was jealous of all the attention given to that tosspot Oakeshott.

    “I believe it is time that we drop the adolescent behaviour in the way we judge politicians and behave in an adult fashion.”

    Why is it adolescent to attack a Prime Minister for cynically breaking a promise so soon after it was made? On that basis I’d much rather be adolescent than some smug elitist pretending it is no big thing to deceive the Australian people.

    People who excuse Gillard’s contemptible behaviour purely because they agree with her policy position are deeply disgusting. This is a classic case of the triumph of postmodernist thought where truth is irrelevant and only power matters. At least Howard had the decency to submit his new policy to an election when he reversed himself on the GST.

  44. narcoticmusing

    Howard also had the two biggest protests of all time (the war and workchoices) against his decisions – those demonstrate that sometimes it si a good thing to consider other options and listening to the people.

    “People who excuse Gillard’s contemptible behaviour purely because they agree with her policy position are deeply disgusting. ”

    SB – do you honestly believe that? Do you honestly believe the two parts to that
    1) people are excusing Gillard’s policy flip b/c they want it – there are many that contend it wasn’t a policy flip – you really need to consider that. Also, many would defend any politician who changed their mind based on a clear public view – certainly Abbott had to defend many of his previously held views as being ‘I’ve changed my mind and moved on’. What you are talking about is the sort of trash we saw with that George Christenson asshat – a misongyinst (not merely a sexist), racist, homophobe who simply ‘changed his mind’ about the views he published because they were politically inconvenient. That isn’t what is happening here with Gillard, so I think your first contention is flawed. It is politically inconvenient for her to go ahead with this, it’ll be a tough fight, but she did clearly say before the election she supported a carbon price (albeit I concede that pragmatically, at least in the minds of the layman, there may not be much of a difference between it and a tax, but then, the law has lots of semantics like that).

    2. Are they really ‘deeply disgusting’? Why? Because they disagree with you? Let’s assume you are right and Gillard is outright breaking a promise and person x is in favour of that break in promise so supports the break. Does that make them “deeply disgusting” simply because they feel they were heard despite the circus that was the last election? Or even if it was more cynical than that, “deeply disgusting” SB? Really? C’mon, to even put the words Howard and Decency in the same sentence given his contempt for the Australian public (who he saw as nothing more than economic units for business that he could also sell to the US war machine).

    Let’s not forget Abbott ALSO breakign a promise they made to the electorate for a nicer politic – which CU points out would make things a lot more constructive. Lib Co break their promise every time they open their mouths and with the vitriole and hate in Parliment this week, why is it no one is pulling them up?

    So, SB, you excuse Lib Co in breaking this pre-election promise (which they said was not contingent on winning) because you agree with the Lib Co position. Does that make you ‘Deeply disgusting’ too?

  45. Splatterbottom

    Narcotic: “there are many that contend it wasn’t a policy flip – you really need to consider that.”

    Gillard has admitted that she is introducing a carbon tax. What is there to argue about? This is not something about which reasonable people can disagree.

    “Also, many would defend any politician who changed their mind based on a clear public view – certainly Abbott had to defend many of his previously held views as being ‘I’ve changed my mind and moved on’. “

    There is a world of difference between a change in policy prior to an election, when the electorate gets to vote before the change is introduced, and what Gillard did here.

    I actually appreciate people who take their word seriously. That is why I have time for the Greens even though I disagree with some of their policies. But look at the stunts Gillard pulled before the election to win outer urban seats – appearing on a gunboat with David Bradbury, promising a Citizens’ Assembly, the East Timor processing centre and promising no carbon tax. Yet none of those promises have come to pass. It’s not as though she has even tried tog et them through. And now she is sponsoring the carbon tax. This at least as shameless as anything John Howard did.

    I think ‘disgusting’ is an appropriate term for all of those journos and the rest who seem happy to give Gillard a pass because they actually agree with the policy. That attitude corrodes our democratic system. The end does not justify the means.

  46. Catching up

    “Why is it adolescent to attack a Prime Minister for cynically breaking a promise so soon after it was made? On that basis I’d much rather be adolescent than some smug elitist pretending it is no big thing to deceive the Australian people.”

    Nothing wrong in attacking PM Gillard or any other politician for that matter. I am suggesting it can be done in a more mature manner. I also suggest that most do not have to destroy their opponents to prove their point. If you need to do that, you have not got much of an argument in the first place.

  47. narcoticmusing

    SB- Points taken, particularly with reference to journos and commentators not being critical of Julia; but I contend they are equally not being critical of Abbott’s pre-election promise to be, as catching up has put it, more mature. I fully appreciate the adversarial system we have, I just don’t think they understand that it is about debate, not a slanging hate fest designed to encourage and incite aggression – consider where this lead to the US (to a senator being shot) – and here we already have threats being made to journalists, politicians and climate scientists who dare advocate for what is quite clear science.

    So we have a situation where Lib Co are inciting violence and using violent language, much the same as the Palin camp in the US (which ended very tragically). And yet, it is ok for them to behave like that (despite their promise not to) because the exact same type of people you call disgusting, just in the other camp, agree with them.

    I would also debate that clearly hating women (as in the Christianson example) or clear racism/sexism (in the Abbott example) – it is as bad to say ‘oh, we totally change our mind on that’ to get votes and then immediately resume racist, sexist policy positions (albeit from opposition).

  48. Splatterbottom

    CU a mature tone in politics would be nice. A few wild cards like Mad Mark Latham or Iron Bar Tuckey add a bit of spice, but you are have a point in that they should not be put into leadership positions (as Latham was). I don’t have a big issue on Gillard being vigorously called out when she cynically reverses a promise she made a short time ago.

    Narcotic:“consider where this lead to the US (to a senator being shot) …. So we have a situation where Lib Co are inciting violence and using violent language, much the same as the Palin camp in the US (which ended very tragically).

    Firstly Gabrielle Giffords was not a Senator. Second, there is no evidence that political speech had anything to do with her shooting. That was the work of a troubled young man who liked his drugs.

    What did happen was a bunch of sick-fuck leftists thought they would cash in on Gifford’s shooting and blame it on conservatives who, as everyone knows, are the only people on the US political scene to use nasty language. Obviously you bought this hook line and sinker. Please take this opportunity to review the facts and stop beclowining yourself.

    You are completely out of your tree on this one. You seem happy enough to throw around baseless accusations, blaming people for shootings and the like without a skerrick of evidence. That kind of gutless slander, borne of political malice or pig-ignorance or some sad combination of both, is a whole lot worse than the things you are complaining about.

    By the way what racist and sexist policy positions are you talking about?

  49. FFS The country voted for a price on Carbon, or a tax or whatever four years ago. Now its starting to happen and some people are saying “Ohh you promised you wouldn’t do that.”

    STFU morons. We’ve already waited too long.

    Anyway to jeremy’s main point:

    “Then again, the pessimist in me says that not enough voters would even care. ”

    Maybe not right now. Give it a few elections tho and I think people would be thankful.

    “That’s the problem with being principled in politics – it just helps your more unprincipled opponents win, and thereby helps them destroy all your other principles.”

    Its a sad state of affairs when it seems there isn’t a great deal of principle in the political system. One side of politics has one principle – trash the govt whatever the story. It doesn’t matter what you think of the govt – if the opposition is only concerned with power for its own sake (see Windsor’s comments on Abbott for example) then things are not good.

    Its this sort of situation that needs the creation of the independent oversight you refer to because any group concerned with power for its own sake cannot be trusted.

    (BTW This is comment recognises the obvious truth that the opposition is not interested in anything other than power. It has no actual positions and seems if anything to be trying to inspire a “Tea Party” in Australia. Its not a justification of the govt position, other than to recognise that the govt is actually trying to do its job, the way the Howard Govt did. The opposition is just chasing power, and has no principles or policies AFAICS.)

  50. Splatterbottom

    The fact is voters care very much that they are being ripped off by a tax that is worse than useless. Not only will it directly impoverish people it will also screw up the economy. And it will have zero effect on global warming.

    What you will see now is massive public outrage. The Greens will stick to their principles but Labor will turn to jelly. Blood is in the air already! I love the smell of napalm in the caucus room.

    Maybe Gillard can be excused for saying that there will be “no carbon tax under the government I lead”. As Bob Brown rightly points out, on this issue at least, she is not leading the government: “We certainly have ownership of this scheme”.

  51. narcoticmusing

    “no evidence that political speech had anything to do with her shooting. That was the work of a troubled young man who liked his drugs.”

    I suppose you also think that it’s people’s own damn fault for eating too much junk food and/or smoking – it is all just the fault of the individual huh? Because we all make our own completely rational choices. That is why SOOO much money is spent on marketing, because it doesn’t do anything. That is why there are laws against inciting violence, because it can’t be done. That is why there were links drawn to putting crosshairs over a persons face and using language like ‘take her down’ and her being shot, it was clearly all rubbish because we are never influenced by anything we see or hear. Particularly not people who maybe are, as you described the man ‘troubled’ who committed the shooting – he totally made his own decision without any influence. Sure. I don’t consider the demonstrated links between inciting violence and violence occuring as baseless accusations borne from ignorance (I won’t include your insults which, as you have no idea who I am, are just as baseless, borne literally from ignorance with the only rationale being you disagree with me).

    Regardless, the current level of vitriole in parliament is unnecessary. We have adversarial systems all over the place, and they don’t have to resort to petty name calling, hate, and calls for violence.

    You still seem happy to support Abbott and Lib Co for reneging daily on their pre-election promise because you support what they oppose, yet you attack people who support Gillard’s carbon price (which was voted for with Rudd) on the same basis.

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  52. Splatterbottom

    You argued that uncivil speech led to Gifford’s shooting. You were wrong. There is no evidence of this. The only thing you have to go on is the pathetic slime campaign by political opportunists to damn their opponents.

    What do you call someone who gratuitously exploits another’s tragedy for political gain when there is no legitimate connection? Funnily enough the morons screeching the loudest on this issue had precious little to say when Obama said “We bring guns” and a Democrat politician said of an opponent “Put him against the wall and shoot him”. At least you could have blamed both sides instead of exhibiting Palin Derangement Syndrome.

    As to you, I do know you are happy to slander people with no evidence at all to support your lurid claims. I also know that you mostly make civil and thoughtful comments. That’s why I didn’t let you have both barrels on this one. Please, just step back and think about it – you are calling for civil debate while callously damning others for a charge that you have absolutely no evidence to support. Please Narcotics, just think about it for a minute.

  53. SWB while I agree that Gifford’s shooting can not be blamed on the rhetoric of the Kochtopus, I also think its clear that bigotry against people cos of their “race” and their gender is soemthing Abbott excels in.

    His call to make an honest woman of the PM wrt to a Carbon price is about as sexist as it gets. And the obvious policy of the Liberal party to dog whistle at every opportunity, and Morrison,s cynical attempt to exploit other people’s racism and anti Muslim bigotry. Bernadi’s racist call of Senater (he he ) Woong on Question Time last night (yesterday actually) while he promoted his Tea Party anti “socialist” bullshit all add up to a party that is giving full voice to arseholes and jerks while those with some basic human respect don’t say much or are replaced by potential psychos.. (Petro Georgiou being replaced by Josh Frydenberg for example.)

  54. narcoticmusing

    Your patronising aside, we’ll have to agree to disagree SB.

    As I’m sure you were aware but decided to misinterpret anyway, I wasn’t suggesting that the Democrats, nor Gillard et al, have behaved well. Merely that there is significant evidence that links violent speech to inducement of violence and then actual violence. If you disagree, then we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    You talked as if I blamed Palin for the shooting. I said:
    “…Lib Co are inciting violence and using violent language, much the same as the Palin camp in the US…” I did not say they advocated or supported anyone to be shot. I suggested there is a link between this sort of poor behaviour and people, possibly already troubled people, acting on it – and that we saw someone act violently, consistent with the encouragement of the Palin camp. Now, the Palin camp very quickly corrected their websites and strongly expressed that they did not support such violence, I accept that. However, I am not suggesting they are to blame, merely that that sort of behaviour has the potential to influence a troubled man who liked his drugs.
    It was an example, I concede I was being simplisitc because it was an example on a blog, not a bloody thesis – I didn’t realise I’d be asked to footnote a blog comment. I don’t think it is slander or callous to argue, by analogy and example, that people can be influenced by their leaders and that if their leaders speak with hate and violence this can lead to hate and violence. Much like marketing can lead to a purchase. I do not have the time or care, for a blog comment, to trawl through psychology papers – if you doubt this link then you must believe all advertising does nothing and companies just enjoy seeing their product on TV for their own ego.

    We have further evidence in Australia, in the current reports regarding journalists and politicians receiving death threats and other violent abuse relating to climate change policy. What this suggests is there is a problem and I do not think feeding it with more hate and violence in parliament is the solution. But I suppose we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    You insist that I should be balanced and raise the democrats poor behaviour (for a moderate you are pretty obsessed with which side of politics is being cited) – nevertheless, you still refuse to acknowledge that you continue to support the poor behaviour of someone who promised a nicer politic – this was your original complaint no?

    Let me remind you, the gist of your complaint was that Gillard broke a promise and people supported her because they supported the policy – yet you do the same with Abbott. Where is your balance? For a moderate, defending Abbott for doing what you are pissed with Gillard for doing, doesn’t look very moderate.

  55. Splatterbottom

    Jules you may be clutching at straws here. The point at which political debate goes down hill is when you start reading vile motives into things people say (and I acknowledge I am sometimes guilty of this).

    There is enough to criticise about Abbott where he is perfectly plain in his perfidy without casting every ambiguous statement as evidence of a black and malicious heart.

  56. Splatterbottom

    Narcotics the truly objectionable part of your earlier statement was to assert a causal link between speech of the “Palin camp” and the shooting of Giffords. That is just cashing on a tragedy to make a political point without a shred of evidence to support it.

    If you really want a nicer tone in politics don’t do fucked-up shit like that. That is as bad as what you are complaining about.

  57. narcoticmusing

    SB – by purposefully misinterpreting my post, you missed the entire point – that such tragedy’s as what happened to Gifford, can be due to the sort of hate and violent language we are seeing in our Parliament. None of us know why he shot Gifford as we haven’t spoken to him nor has he had his day in court, I was only suggesting that violent speech can lead to violent behaviour. You say I haven’t a shred of evidence for that.

    Here is some shreds of evidence for you:
    “When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government… The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
    -Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.

    “Propaganda has long been the hand-maiden of violence: inciting, justifying
    and naturalising it; ploughing the ground for violence by softening our
    psychological defences to it and desensitising us to its brutalising effects” [This includes] “expressing views which… foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts; or foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence…”
    – Saul, UNSW Law Journal, published on the Auditor General’s website.

    Incitement for ‘[a] person who urges the commission of an offence’ is a federal offence in Australia (s 11.4(1) of the Criminal Code). Now, I do not disagree that Palin et al lacked the prerequisite mens rea for this; however, the legislation was put in place because there IS more than just a shred of evidence that hate speech can cause violence.

    Further light reading, but may not be free to access like the above:
    Regel ‘Hate propaganda: a reason to limit freedom of speech’ Saskatchewan Law Review OR Dr M Toomey ‘The Price We Pay For Using Bullying And Verbal Abuse As Our Primary Way Of Communicating'(January 2011).

    ‘The rationale for including a public element [in the NSW anti-discrimination legislation] is that the prohibition is not directed against conduct causing personal offence or humiliation, but against conduct which may incite third parties to act’ – See O’Donnell ‘Hate speech , freedom, rights and political cultures: an analysis of anti-vilification law in the context of traditional freedom of speech values and an emerging international standard of human rights’ University of Technology, Sydney Law Review

    The Australian Law Reform Committee discussion paper 71 asserts that sedition should be scrapped in favour of a law against ‘urging violence’. A snippet for you: ‘The ALRC recognised that Australians place a very high value on free speech and robust political debate and believes there is no reason these offences, which properly target the urging of force or violence, cannot be framed in such a way to avoid capturing dissenting views and opinions or stifling the work of journalists, cartoonists, artists and film makers, either directly or through the ‘chilling effect’ of self-censorship.’ In other words, we can have political debate without this hate filled language because it is dangerous.

    An interesting blog here shows some examples of the sort of hate speech that came from the right prior to the shooting. While it is not a right wing site, the article itself is simply making the point that hate speech is not constructive.
    http://integral-options.blogspot.com/2011/01/when-does-free-speech-become-inciting.html

    So, about 5mins of research without access to my online psch database because it is down for the weekend. Is that sufficent or am I still without a shred of evidence that violent, hate filled speech can lead and/or influence violence ? Does the old adage (and criminal offence) of yelling fire in a crowded theatre ring a bell? Stop purposefully reading into my posts words that didn’t exist – it is not slander to suggest connection between violent language and actual violence. What is slander is you claiming I am happy to slander others.

    SB, forgetting all the above for a moment, may I ask if you honestly believe what politicians say does nothing? If so, why then would they say it? Isn’t the point to incite a response? Granted, Palin et al never intended that particular response, but I’d say, given their quick response to correct their websites etc they think it is at least in reflection see there may have been a risk.

    Regardless, is it not a good thing for Abbott to be held to his promise of a nicer politic? Ie. enough of all this hateful speech already.

  58. Catching up

    We need to keep asking those who comments are full of insults and name calling why they do it and what does it prove or add to the debate.

    Returning the abuse or name calling achieves nothing.

  59. narcoticmusing

    Agreed CU.

  60. Splatterbottom

    Narcotics, you must have misunderstood me for you haven’t made any attempt to address my point which was:

    the truly objectionable part of your earlier statement was to assert a causal link between speech of the “Palin camp” and the shooting of Giffords.

    Don’t you want to take ownership of your own vile statements?

  61. narcoticmusing

    SB, a peace offering.

    1. Every one of my posts was answering your assertion. I apologise if I didn’t make that more clear.

    2. If my post could be interpretted as a causal link between Palin et al’s violence and the shooting, I apologise, not the intention. However, the intention was to bring people’s mind to the fact that there is, indeed, a link between violent language and actual violence (hence incitement laws) and as such there was much concern and debate in the US as to whether Palin et al was an influence. I was attempting to demonstrate, obviously not very well, the very real debate going on in the US about a tragic circumstance – as I’d already conceded we don’t know what was going on in the man’s mind so we don’t really know what motivated him, what we do know is that there is a current debate and concern on the issue, one that even the Palin camp took seriously enough to modify their materials and website over. I think this is a good thing (debate and the cautionary response of modifying the website).

    Taken completely out of context, without any of the things said before or after it (including me conceding it was an over simplified example pointing at the reaction – ie others too see a link b/w violent language and violence) I can see where you reached your conclusion. Either that, or I very poorly articulated my view and I apologise.

    3. As a further peace offering, please consider the (admittedly very basic) research to demonstrate that there is indeed a link between violent speech and violent behaviour. Note, this is not about Palin et al, merely about the link between violence and speech.

    4. I was not insulting people in my posts nor did I use violent speech or nasty adjectives (like ‘vile’), hence I agreed with CU. I understand you call that ‘spice’, fair enough I have no problem with that.

    5. My agreement with CU was also a concession to self-correct. Ie. he put forward a proposition and I agreed to it – similar to the Christian concept of repentence.

    I am not sure what more I can do to satisfy you SB. You have not answered even the most basic questions I put forward several times, both after and prior to the mention of Palin which I regret if for nothing else you misused it to dodge answering.

    If you do not wish to answer, that is your choice. I apologise for any offence, not the intention.

  62. Yet you have no problems standing up for ‘vile’ ‘religious conservatives’ such as Abbott and Morrison who often claim that the Govt is directly responsible for the deaths of asylum seekers just because they have a slightly less despicable policy than the Coalitions.

    Anyway, when you get ‘vile’ pricks like Palin and the The Fox shock presenters spewing their hateful rhetoric why is anyone surprised that some nutter takes it to heart and acts?

    We’ll have the same problem here if the wingnuts don’t tone down their ‘vile’ comments… People’s revolt????

  63. Catching up

    I have just glanced through the Sun-Herald and Sunday Telegraph, NSW papers that my son bought home. I no longer read the papers, mainly because of failing eyesight, but for a person who obsession used to be reading, I do not miss doing so. Yes good books I miss, but keeping up with what is going on in the country, my computer and access to the web is much more enlightening.

    Why I have raised this, in glancing through both papers, was the lack of stories on how angry the people are and the political debate that is alleged to be raging, they have very little to say. You get to about page 43 in both paper before anything is mentioned, then you are looking at an article by Miranda Devine in the Telegraph. In the Sun-Herald I spotted nothing.

    What is more worrying, the MSM does not see what is happening in the Middle East as being a topic of interest to Australians, it is first, mentioned on page 34 or thereabouts.

    If anyone was interested in where the Coalition is at, I suggest they watch a repeat of Meet the Press. I am not saying you will become any the wiser. Mr. Robb’s attempt of pushing the Coalition’s platform left me very confused. His attempt at muddying the waters was very inept.

    Where is the people’s revolt?

  64. Splatterbottom

    Narcotics, what are you on about? The idea is to comment without fear or favour. That means that you don’t make peace-offerings and you don’t have sides. You just call it as you see it. Sooner or later you will disagree with everyone, and if you don’t you should then start worrying. In the scheme of things you are one of the more thoughtful and less doctrinaire commenters here. I get hammered day in day out. I don’t take it personally. It is an opportunity to refine and correct your opinions, as Jeremy rightly did on the supreme Court thread.

    Also, in this case apology is the wrong concept. You didn’t offend me. I took exception to assertions you made.

    Now, much as I would like to drop this discussion, I can’t in all conscience let you get away with stuff like:

    If my post could be interpreted as a causal link between Palin et al’s violence and the shooting” — Is there any doubt?

    “Taken completely out of context, ” — It was the culmination of your argument!

    “I was not insulting people in my posts ” —- If this is about a better tone in political speech, how does it help to say that someone’s hateful speech somehow caused or contributed to a shooting without any evidence whatsoever? Isn’t that exactly the sort of rabid reckless excess you were complaining about?

    Narcotics, I don’t know what your memory is like, but here is what you said (emphasis added):

    “consider where this lead to the US (to a senator being shot) …. So we have a situation where Lib Co are inciting violence and using violent language, much the same as the Palin camp in the US (which ended very tragically).”

    The main thing wrong with this is that you blame the “Palin camp” for incivility which led to a politician being shot. The trouble with this is that there is no evidence to support that assertion. None. Thus it is a nasty and unwarranted thing to say. You didn’t need to bring US politics into this to make your point at all, much less to make false assertions.

    The other thing wrong with it is that you seem to think that uncivil discourse is a problem for only one side of politics. You are entitled to your opinion, but it does seem more than a little biased.

    Now, as to your wider point, I think you are overstating matters. There is a temptation to see cause and effect where none exists. The assassinations I’m aware of usually involve insanity or strong political beliefs or a combination of both. Lee Harvey Oswald may have spent too much time in the Soviet Union, but he also seemed mentally unstable.

    I don’t take notice of people who are basically guessing. I also ignore people who can see only one side of the equation, and refuse to admit that uncivil speech is a problem for both sides.

    No one is seriously suggesting banning uncivil speech. It is more something that voters should take into account when voting. A lot of the squawking you hear now is directed to that end. Ultimately if the public thinks a politician is uncivil they won’t vote for them.

    There is a related angle to this, which is the effect of wanton vilification of groups of people on the attitude of society towards those groups of people. One of Howard’s many unforgivable acts was the children overboard affair, where he made statements which effectively dehumanised a group of people when he knew, or ought to have known, that those statements were untrue. Gough Whitlam couldn’t help himself when he called Malcom Fraser “Kerr’s cur” and, although said in private, his “fucking yellow Balts” description of Vietnamese refugees was appalling. In the end the voters work these things out.

  65. Splatterbottom

    RobJ, unlike you I can’t just shrug off the drowning deaths of refugees. These deaths clearly had a connection with government policy.

    This is a difficult issue for people who opposed Howard’s harsh policies. My view was and is that we need to greatly increase the refugee intake and manage it better so that people don’t have to cross the ocean in unseaworthy boats and so they have adequate facilities to help them integrate into society when they arrive here. The current Russian Roulette policy is despicable, and the government must share part encouraging refugees to make the hazardous journey.

  66. narcoticmusing

    SB, I disagree with you. The Palin reference was not key to my point, it was a side reference to a debate where significant numbers of people, many with qualifications that out-do both of us to make these sort of judgments, believe there may have been an influence. I don’t know, I haven’t spoken to the man nor would I have the qualifications to ascertain blame. I am not trying to. You disagreeing with me doesn’t make you correct, nor everyone who believes in a link between violent speech and violent behaviour wrong. It means you disagree. Fine.

    And btw you still dodged my question asked (over and over) before and after the mention of Palin. I answered yours and gave you evidence, that you likely didn’t look at or perhaps you would not be so polarised on the issue. I’m not suggesting censorship, I’m asking our politicians to calm down on the hate and inciting of violence, that is very different – particularly in a climate where many of the people at the receiving end of that hate are also receiving very real threats of violence. Again, to qualify, I’m not suggesting the threats are due to what is being said, but it is concerning (given all that evidence I pointed you to).

    I don’t care which side it is coming from. What Abbot et al are saying atm is relevant due to the thread topic and that Abbot promised a nicer politic, Gillard did not.

  67. Catching up

    “No one is seriously suggesting banning uncivil speech. It is more something that voters should take into account when voting”
    No way should any uncivil speech be banned unless it is libellous, slanderous, or straight out lies.

    What should be done, is to ask a person why they use uncivil language, what does it mean, what does it add to the debate. This type of language tells more about the speaker and their lack of facts to back their argument, than contributing to the debate.

  68. Splatterbottom

    Narcotics: “The Palin reference was not key to my point, it was a side reference to a debate where significant numbers of people, many with qualifications that out-do both of us to make these sort of judgments, believe there may have been an influence.”

    Put it this way Narcotics, if it was actually true that there was strong evidence of a causal connection between Palin’s speech and Giffords’ shooting your argument would be a lot stronger. In that sense it was a key point you were trying to make.

    I don’t give a shit about the qualifications of people who make statements if they have no evidence to support them. In fact it is quite clear that the people who tried to pin the Giffords shooting on Palin are despicable human beings. You just don’t hold someone responsible for mass-murder without evidence. In spite of their alleged qualifications they deserve to be treated with contempt.

    I have no real issue with what Bernadi has said about islam. I wouldn’t have put it that way, but he has a very valid point to make about the unsavoury nature of particular religious teachings. Morrison’s statement was disgusting. He was trying to exploit a tragedy to score political points. Probably not as bad as the attempt to pin Giffords’ shooting on Palin, but disgusting just the same.

    CU that is exactly what happened with Morrison. His statement lost him credibility and engendered great sympathy for the refugees concerned.

  69. Bernadi is a jerk. Then again his name is Cory, so he probably can’t help it.

    At the moment Christian’s are doing a better job enforcing their version of Sharia Law in Australia anyway – with their faux moralistic bullshit about Gay Marriage, anti Euthanasia (I’m not a big fan of Euthanasia myself but…) the Exclusive Brethern and their secret lobbying of govt, fundie wankers influencing drug policy etc etc etc.

    So you know when the Christians stop doing it and we get an actual secular govt then I’ll start worrying about Muslims implementing Sharia Law.

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