2019 Federal Election Virtual Drinking Game

I had so many good intentions for this blog in 2019.  For example, I intended to do a proper write up of who wound up in the Victorian  Legislative Council, and indeed, I have started that post, and even continued that post… I just haven’t finished that post.  It’s been that sort of year.  I hope that I will do so soon, but I think I’d better not make any more promises on that score.

Anyway, with the Federal Election looming, it looks likely that we will be seeing some really ugly and stupid politics playing out over the next few months.  Which… will make the next few months not all that different from the last few months.

I was going to create a bingo game to solace us all in the toxic lead-up to this election, but when I shared some of my ideas for a bingo card with a friend he said “That’s not bingo, because all of those things are guaranteed to happen.”

And, while I don’t think he is *quite* right, there is a seed of truth in his remark.

(Certainly, at least one thing I planned to put on the bingo card has happened in the two days between me coming up with this idea and today.  So while I originally planned not to write this silly post until I had been good and finished my Victorian Election post, I’m putting this up now regardless, before every single thing on it has a chance to happen.)

Which is why I’m turning this into a drinking game.  Or rather, a virtual drinking game, because I don’t want to encourage irresponsible drinking and I think we will all be thoroughly potted if we follow the game plan below.  Mix up the virtual cocktail of your choice and start playing!

Alternatively, if you’d like this game to have some more meaning than our politics currently does, pick a charity – or indeed, a political party – that stands for something you hold dear, and pick a dollar or cent amount for sips, swigs and sculls.  Every time one of the items on the list comes up, put the appropriate amount into a piggy bank, and when the time is right, donate the amount you have raised.  Everyone wins!

(Well, except the Coalition, I hope.  And yes, this drinking game is just as partisan as everything else I write.)

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A new Prime Minister – Lest we forget what he stands for

I made fondant from scratch today.  Then I flavoured it and dipped the results in choolate.  I’m pretty sure this makes me more productive than the entire Federal Government put together this week.  And probably much happier, too.  (And definitely more hopped up on sugar!)

So, in case anyone missed the news, we have a new Prime Minister, and it isn’t Peter Dutton.  Unfortunately, it is Scott Morrison, who, while marginally less appalling than Dutton, is not precisely a cause for celebration.  But we’ll get onto why that is in a bit, because I think it is proper to finish recounting the events of the day before we get onto the evaluation.

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No, but seriously, what the hell is going on in Australian politics this week?

I have to say, this is not how I had planned to return to my politics blog.

But good God, Peter Dutton as Prime Minister?  I mean, I don’t even know where to start with this.  I’m torn between my personal revulsion and queasiness at the idea of someone who is this destructive and lacking in empathy as PM, and a certain awestruck astonishment at the sight of the Liberal Party apparently self-destructing before our eyes.  I mean, we thought the ALP was self-destructive and stupid back in 2013, but this is looking less and less like a spill and more like an actual split in the party.

I’m not going to attempt a lot of analysis here.  I have been at home with a nasty cold all week, my eyes glued to the ABC News channel and to Twitter, and I’m not sure how much analysis I am capable of.  But I feel like the situation is getting so convoluted that it’s worth trying to take a step back and write out the timeline.  Also, I’m feeling bad for all my overseas friends whose timelines have suddenly been taken over by Australians expressing visceral horror about potatoes, or incomprehensible glee about Section 44.

So this is going to be my attempt to disentangle the week’s events so far.  I’m going to make it as complete as I can, but there is just SO MUCH going on that I am bound to miss something.  And I’m fully aware that if this takes me two hours to write, I might miss a change of government, but hopefully this will not be too far out of date by the time I manage to post it.

Also, there will be links to sarcastic commentary because this is frankly a horror story, and I, for one, need a little bit of humour to cope.  And, after all, this whole situation would be genuinely hilarious, if it wasn’t the actual government of our country which affects actual people, and the punchline wasn’t the potential installation of a racist, conscienceless, cruelty-embracing, right-wing politician as our next Prime Minister.

Phew.

Now, this has all been brewing for a while, but I think I’ll start with Monday.  Because God knows, there is enough that has happened since then to keep us all on the edges of our seats.  But first, a little background.

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So apparently I need to write about asylum seekers after all

I realise that the appropriate response to the news that the Australian Government plans to turn asylum seekers living in the community out onto the streets with no income is not exasperation, but rather horror, fury, or grief, but I have to say, exasperation was what I went with on reading the news yesterday.

I mean, is it too much to ask for the government to only be appalling on one front at a time?

Seriously, guys.  *Either* you get to destroy the Great Barrier Reef, *or* you can find new ways to pick on poor people, *or* you can waste $122 million on a divisive, non-binding postal survey about marriage equality which will do absolutely no good to anyone, *or* you can continue to pursue counterproductive policies that worsen the situation for indigenous Australians, *or* you can do horrible things to asylum seekers while calling the people who help them unAustralian.  But you have to choose.  You don’t get to do all of them.  It’s not fair, and it’s just being greedy.  What are the other politicians going to do when they want to be terrible, if you’ve already done everything?

You need to learn to share.  Pick one horrible cause, and leave the others for someone else to play with.

Actually, no, don’t pick one horrible cause.  Pick none of them.  All of those things are disgusting, and I can’t honestly believe that everyone in the Coalition is as awful as those policies make them sound. There must be someone in there with a heart, surely…

Anyway, for me, the five stages of dealing with politics are exasperation, anger, depression, writing letters to politicians, and blog posts.  I’ve done the first four, so here we are with number five.

Here are a couple of quotes from the letter that was apparently sent to asylum seekers:

“You will be expected to support yourself in the community until departing Australia… If you cannot find work to support yourself in Australia you will need to return to a regional processing country or any country where you have a right of residence.

“From Monday 28 August you will need to find money each week for your own accommodation costs. From this date, you will also be responsible for all your other living costs like food, clothing and transport. You are expected to sign the Code of Behaviour when you are released into the Australian community. The Code of Behaviour outlines how you are to behave in the community.”

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Equality and Marriage

I’ve never been told that there is something wrong with me because I love my husband.  When we got engaged, everyone was excited for us.

I’ve never had to pretend to colleagues that my husband was just my flatmate.  I have his photo as my screensaver.

I’ve never had to think about whether it’s safe to hold my husband’s hand in public. Sometimes, we even skip down the path near our house. It’s obnoxiously cute.

I’ve never had researchers study people like me in order to be sure that we aren’t somehow harming our children.  Though I do get asked pretty often if we are going to have kids soon.

I’ve never had to be afraid that if I were sick, my husband would not be allowed to visit me in hospital. He can even pick up prescriptions for me.

I’ve never had to worry that if I died, my family might contest my will and my husband could be left with nothing.  Even if I don’t write my will, the government knows he is my next of kin.

I’ve never been madly in love and simultaneously desperate to tell my friends about my new relationship – and terrified that if I do, they will no longer be my friends.  Even though my taste in men has been questionable at times.

I’ve never had people ask me personal questions about exactly what I do with my husband and how it ‘works’.  Most people over the age of five know that this is intrusive, and also none of their business.

I’ve never had anyone tell me that they can ‘cure’ my love for my husband.

I’ve never had an elected politician tell me that wanting to marry my husband is the same as wanting to have sex with a dog.

I’ve never been told that I need to repent of loving my husband, or that God hates me, or that bushfires are God’s punishment for tolerating people like me.

I’ve never had to ask the entire population of Australia if I could get married to the person I loved.

I’ve never been told that if I am depressed and anxious about all this, it’s because I’m disordered, rather than because it is utterly stressful and dehumanising to be treated this way.

*****

The Marriage Equality plebiscite is expensive. It’s cruel and degrading.  It’s going to hurt LGBTQI people and their families.  And it’s not even binding, which means that in addition to being unkind and costly, it is also pointless.

It’s also un-Christian – we are called to love one another, not judge those who simply want to have their loving, consensual relationships recognised by the state.

Marriage equality is not a threat to my marriage.  It’s not a threat to my religion.  It’s not going to harm children.

It’s just going to make life a little bit safer, a little bit easier, a little bit happier for the 5% (give or take) of Australians who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, transgender, genderqueer, or intersex.

Which is what equality is about.

I’ve baked a lot of wedding cakes for my straight friends over the last ten years.  I hope that in the next ten, I’ll get to bake just as many wedding cakes for my gay friends.  I’d rather be baking for my friends than writing letters to politicians on their behalf.

But the time for baking isn’t here yet.  No, right now we are decidedly in the season of letter writing.  The Greens have promised to block the plebiscite (and all idealism aside, they have nothing to lose by doing so); Labor have said they will do so, but are a bit more vulnerable to polls.  And the Liberal party has its supporters of Marriage Equality too.  I’ll try to draft some letters in the next day or so and put them here, in case anyone wants to borrow them.  If you’ve already written, and want to share what you wrote, please feel free to do so in the comments – I think a lot of people find it easier to get started when they can see what arguments other people have made.

May we reach the baking season soon!

Meet the Small Parties – Australian Progressives

On first glance, the Australian Progressives look like a party after my own heart.  Their front page, which looks a little bit like the cover of a science fiction novel, and is brought to you by the Letter E, which stands for:

Ethics. Empathy. Equality, Evidence. Engagement. Empowerment.

Please note the use of full stops, because you are not going to get nearly as many of these on the policy page.  These are their party values, of which more later.

The Australian Progressives believe in the advancement of an empathetic society – one in which all citizens of this country can reach their full potential and find fulfilment in their lives within a thriving environment. We want to be a government with the guts to advance society through laws, services and infrastructure, rather than gambling on the off-chance that “the free market” will look after everyone and everything. Government and communities should work together to develop creative, passionate and driven individuals who can improve the world around them, embracing education, technology, science, culture and global leadership.

These are good goals, in my view, and this is another party that is aiming to be a party of government, not a single-issue microparty.

Let’s see how they plan to achieve them.

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Meet the Small Parties – Australian Liberty Alliance

And once again we are veering across to the right wing of politics, with the Australian Liberty Alliance, who have kindly put this statement up front and centre so we can see what they stand for.

Our Australia stands for individual liberty, small government, Western values, social fairness and an integrated multi-ethnic society. Our Australia has no place for big government, racism, moral relativism, divisive multiculturalism or tolerance for the intolerant. Migrants do not dream of a new life in Australia because we are a Socialist, Islamic or tribal society. Migrants come for the freedom, justice and prosperity only Western civilisation creates.

You know, that’s actually a pretty decent mission statement.  I don’t agree with very much of it, but they have done a first class job of stating right there on their front page what they stand for, and everything else you will read is going to follow from that. And at first glance, they don’t appear to be attempting to halt all immigration and kick out everyone who wasn’t born here, so already they are doing better than the Australia First Party in my book. They evidently don’t like Muslims, but on the other hand, they do not seem to be white supremacists, so… yay?  (I will note, though, that their candidates are all white.  And if you are in New South Wales, you can even vote for Angry Anderson!)

They are also disappointingly non-hilarious in their headlines.  I’m trying to decide whether I prefer my scary right wing parties to be well-spoken or clearly unhinged.  I think the latter – the former are far more likely to achieve their goals…

Let’s see how this translates to policy…

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Meet the Small Parties – The Mature Australia Party

The Mature Australia Party is many things!  According to their header they are “Your voice for change”, “Honesty, Truth and Respect”, “The catalyst for the changes YOU want”, “The VOICE for the PEOPLE”,  “The Party of the People”, and, a little disturbingly, “Never be ALONE again”.

They hammer this home in their banner, rephrasing most of these core messages, and adding in large, friendly letters the words “You will never be alone”.

No, you will never be alone.  Not at all.  Not even sometimes.  They see you when you are sleeping, and they know when you’re awake.  No matter what you do, no matter where you try to hide, YOU WILL NEVER BE ALONE.

So far, this party has unexpected horror movie potential, especially when you add headlines like “Budget – Devil’s in the Details” and “It’s the ‘smell’ of pork!”.  This last one would be even better if they put the inverted commas around the ‘pork’, because I am totally speculating on their interest in Long Pork now.

You will be glad to learn that, accidentally creepy slogans notwithstanding, the MAP does not appear to support cannibalism.  (Of course, they don’t actually have a policy against cannibalism…) (OK, I’ll stop being silly now.) In fact, they were founded in 2014 as the Mature AGE Party for similar reasons to the Seniors United Party – a desire to reform home owner conditions in private residential parks and over 50s villages.  It evolved from there, and now wants to be ‘a catalyst and a spearhead for major changes.

Specifically, the core principles of the Mature Australia Party are equity before the law (one law for all.), no discrimination for or against anyone (on wide-ranging grounds), more open and public accountability by government to the people, and more direct say for the people at all levels of government.

The party’s loyal following today includes members aged from 18 to 80, who come from many different backgrounds, and its policies cover all of these demographics.

However, the Party does not shirk its very special and specific commitment to the interests of the “over 50s” on whose shoulders, contributions, and efforts the party was launched and has grown. The Mature Australia Party does not owe any allegiance to any organisation or corporate body – only its members, and the 18 to 80+ electors and other Australians it seeks to represent.

They feel that Australia was built on “multi-culturalism, hard yakka, supreme tolerance, and compassion for those in need”, and want to keep these qualities as part of Australia’s identity.  They also have this thing where MAP also stands for Maturity, Attitude and Perseverence.

(I think this post has already established that I while I probably have the last two of those qualities, the first still eludes me.)

The MAP are a bit cross about the money spent during the financial crisis on school halls, housing insulation and Rudd money, but on the other hand feel that if we can spend $42 billion on this sort of thing, then surely we can and should spend this much on solving Australia’s water supply problems and building better infrastructure generally.  And they want a peaceful revolution.  I agree that this is the best sort of revolution to have, so I’m on board for now.

Let’s have a look at these policies, then.

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Meet the Small Parties: 21st Century Australia Party

Welcome to the 21st Century Australia Party, which bills itself as the Party of the Future. Their banner has a picture of Australia with the flag superimposed on it and colourful call outs saying “Financial planning commissions banned”, “Banish mining tax”, “Establish a sovereign wealth fund”, “Remove Stamp Duty” and “Provide Australia with a value for money National Broadband Network”, and they tell us they are “Bringing Australia’s education and political systems into the 21st century”.

Also, you can enter your email to ‘access free magazines, books and political resources, including our policy document’, which has to be the classiest way of saying ‘click here and we will spam you for eternity’ that I have ever seen.

Apparently, this year I am a curmudgeon about websites, so I’m just going to say now that this is a very busy one.

The party’s founder is Jamie McIntyre, and he is very eager to tell you about himself.  Here’s a little bit about him:

It was almost 20 years ago that Jamie found himself in an unenviable position. He was completely broke, in debt to the tune of $150,000, had no job prospects and was sleeping on a friend’s couch.

Jamie grew up on a farm in rural New South Wales, Australia and from an early age had dreams of being successful, however he soon discovered that no part of his education had actually taught him the skills he needed to succeed.

15 years ago Jamie McIntyre decided the world needed a modern day ’21st Century’ education to replace the outdated 19th Century education system. A “21st Century” education that was better than school or university and taught by those with a PhD in Results, not just theory. An Education – For Life!

Only 5 years from being almost bankrupt, he had succeeded – Jamie had become a self-made millionaire.

It’s the great American dream!  Jamie is an entrepreneur, the founder of 21st Century News, and Think and Grow Rich Inc and is also a ‘success coach’ and ‘the author of numerous globally applauded publications such as the best-selling books ‘What I Didn’t Learn At School But Wish I Had’ and “Think & Grow Rich For The 21st Century” and is the founder of 21st Century TV, which provides a “21st Century” education and entertainment to over 500,000 subscribers worldwide.’

Wow.  This is reminding me very much of Landmark, I have to say – one part self-improvement, nine parts cult.  But perhaps I am being unfair…

… OK I’m going to be unfair for just a little bit longer, because he has a testimonials page, and a photos page, and this really is feeling more like a sales pitch for a product that I don’t trust one bit than a political party.

To be fair, that’s a pretty good description of politics in general.

But let’s stop the mockery and actually see what sort of policies young Jamie has to offer us, because it turns out that he has 25 ways to improve Australia, and I’m going to be here all night…
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Meet the Small Parties: The Australian Mental Health Party!

The Australian Mental Health Party is a very new party indeed – so new, that their website hasn’t entirely caught up with the fact that they have successfully registered with the AEC (congratulations, guys, you have!).

As such, they have, at this stage, a single policy statement, rather than a larger raft of policies, and they do not yet have any candidates listed.  (This is where it’s a pity I’m going to be overseas for five of the next six weeks, because this post cannot really do them justice – so if you think that a single-issue mental health party might be your cup of tea, I’d strongly encourage you to visit their website again closer to the election).

The AMHP also has a Facebook page, which is more up to date, and mostly seems to collect news about how various policies affect the mental health sector.  Quite a useful resource, actually.

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