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Don’t blame me: I voted for Kodos

March 6th, 2014

Former Queensland Transport Minister Rachel Nolan (whose argument for privatisation I discussed here) has a piece in the Brisbane Times attacking the Electrical Trades Union (disclosure: I produced a report on electricity privatisation for the Victorian branch of the union). The headline is “The ETU is nobody’s friend“, and that pretty much sums up the article – Nolan’s complaint is that the ETU has had the temerity to attack both the previous Labor government and the current LNP government over the same issues, broken promises and support for asset sales.

As Nolan admits, Labor suffered from a

a widely perceived breach of trust – the fact that Labor went to the 2009 election on a slogan of “Jobs, not cuts” and then announced a program of asset sales seemingly as soon as the result was declared

With the exception of the weasel words “widely perceived” and “seemingly”, this is spot on. And the voters reacted long before the ETU had a chance to mount a campaign. Labor’s support plummeted in the polls and, with the exception of a brief blip after the 2011 floods, never recovered.

Now, Nolan complains, the ETU is doing the same thing to the LNP government whose victory they assisted by campaigning against the asset sales. Why? Well,

LNP members’ willingness to stand by the ETU[1], hands on hearts telling us they didn’t believe in Labor’s asset sales, is an act of breathtaking hypocrisy – perhaps bettered only by the pre-election reassurances they gave public servants – with which they now have to live.

So, the crime of the ETU is not to criticise asset sales or dishonesty. It would be fine, according to Nolan, if they made these criticisms of one side (preferably the LNP) and ignored similar actions by the other. But to attack both sides indiscriminately is to undermine the very foundations of the two-party system.

All of this makes sense in Nolan’s world view. As she says in her Monthly article “ Australians have little philosophical grasp of the (rightful) diminution of governmental power which deregulation has brought”. Hence, it is necessary for the two major political parties to lie at election time, in order to secure office and implement the policies on which they both agree. A good friend, in Nolan’s world is a person who picks one of the interchangeable teams, and sticks to it.

And finally, there’s this little gem where Nolan (Ipswich Girls Grammar and UQ alumna) makes clear her contempt for ordinary workers, and for hard-won working conditions, abundantly clear

It might be fun for the bruvvers to chant on their RDO before heading off for a few beers but most people aren’t just troglodytes who are opposed to everything – they do not share the distorted world view of the ETU.

Perhaps if she rechecked the results of the last election, she might conclude that “most people” with whom she mixes are not a particularly representative sample of the Queensland public, and that the “bruvvers” are actually a bit closer.

fn1. As far as I can tell, the claim of “standing by the ETU” is bogus. To the best of my knowledge, the ETU never gave the LNP any support or expressed any faith in their promises. But, thanks to the two-party system, attacking one party is seen as equivalent to supporting the other.

fn2. Thanks for alerts on this from my wife Nancy and from commenter Megan.

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  1. Crispin Bennett
    March 9th, 2014 at 15:34 | #1

    Megan :
    And Crispin: I have spent most of my life in those environs and I can tell you that the patina of racism does not in the majority of cases run deep. Very few act out racism and most live their lives in peaceful coexistence with their ‘non-white’ doctors, cabbies, lawyers, cooks and so on without giving race a second thought.

    Yes, I think that’s true: we are fairly free of the nastier, historically-entrenched ethnic rivalries and hatreds that exist in many places. This perhaps makes our situation relatively tractable to empathetic and intelligent leadership. Not that there’s much of that around.

  2. Fran Barlow
    March 10th, 2014 at 05:09 | #2

    Oh FPS …it seems that Abbott has appointed David Evans, husband of Jo Nova (Codling), 9/11 truther and all purpose climate conspiracy nut as his Climate Change adviser.

    This is surely a lefty Green hoax to make Abbott look like a dangerous post-reality ideologue. Abbott couldn’t really have done this, surely?

  3. Fran Barlow
    March 10th, 2014 at 07:02 | #3

    Hmm … It’s not April 1 but even so I’m beginning to doubt this story of Abbott appointing David Evans as climate adviser as none of the majors are reporting it yet.

    Although I obviously have no sympathy for the regime, I do feel uncomfortable about the regime soiling itself in public and inviting the world’s ridicule upon the country. Perhaps I have a patriotic streak after all. Greg Hunt was bad enough in that infamous post-bushfire interview on BBC. Maybe this story really is someone’s idea of a joke.

  4. kevin1
    March 10th, 2014 at 20:03 | #4

    @Megan

    A bit late getting on board as usual so don’t know if anyone is still talking about this. As they say in Indonesia, anjing mengonggong kapilah kejadian berlalu, the dog barks but things move on. But about changing what I see as entrenched views on asylum seekers in a large minority of Aussies (your view is more kind towards them), IMO we’re never going to change many of them, but the positive is they are essentially a bunch of sheep, and I a higher profile by those with positive views can shut them up. In UK in the 70s-80s, a mass movement of people against racism, Anti Nazi League, Rock against Racism, and standing up where it matters – in the workplace, in the streets, with families and friends – cowed them, and changed the dominant nastiness towards brown and black people.

    I agree with you that focusing on the pale imitations of life in the major parties is a dead end, and therefore not the main game They will jump in response to what their paymasters (electors) will tell them loud and clear. That’s the saving grace of our democracy. And a numerical majority is not required. As Margaret Mead said. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

  5. kevin1
    March 10th, 2014 at 20:20 | #5

    It even put the racist comedian Jim Davidson on the back foot – pretty important in the UK club culture. See The Guardian article of 7 March 2011 “Jim Davidson: ‘If I could say sorry I would’”, though he has relapsed. As Paul Keating said, a dog always returns to its vomit.

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