Friday, December 08, 2006

Who’s Your Daddy?

With the exceptions of the current account deficit and poor balance of trade figures, it seems there’s nothing that escapes Federal Treasurer Peter Costello’s desire to claim the credit. In question time on Thursday, Government backbencher Phillip Barresi obligingly pitched this Dorothy Dixer to the Treasurer:
My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Would the Treasurer inform the House of the latest ABS statistics on births and fertility rates? What policies has the government put in place which have helped families in my electorate of Deakin and right across Australia? Why is this important for the future?
The Permanent PM in Waiting was pleased to announce that fertility rates were up – from 1.78 births per female over her reproductive life to 1.83 – the highest rate in 11 years. And of course, it’s all thanks to the Howard government that Aussie couples are rooting more and, more to the point, rooting more productively. That’s more than you can say for what they’re doing in the workplace, where productivity hasn’t grown over two years.

We’re still a bit shy of the Treasurer’s fertility target – 2.1 births per reproductive female, so the Treasurer repeated his call for Australians to have “One for Mum, one for Dad, and one for the country.” Don’t forget, there’s a total of $1800 in baby bonuses for couples who meet their quota.

I’m happy, this inaugural Blue Balls Day to partially endorse the Treasurer’s call – Aussies should be shagging more. So tonight would be a good night to get into the bedroom and have one for yourself, one for your partner and one to video-tape and send off to the Treasurer. Gay couples too – the Treasurer can sort out which tapes he actually wants to watch for himself.

Cross-posted at Larvatus Prodeo.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Word of the Day: Slum

slum, n: 1. a place inhabited by impoverished people who are despised for living there; ~ -dweller, despicable person who lives in a ~. 2. An unsuitable place for a private school.

Time to shoot down the bomber

Perseverance, n. A lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious success.
(Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary)

If I hadn’t been long convinced that Kim Beazley has to go, if the ALP is to have any chance of winning back government, Jacques Chester’s paean, at Club Troppo, to Kim’s “bottomless reserves of patience and comebackitude” – in plain English his perseverance – would have done it for me. Kim reminds Jacques of Doctor Who and:

… another famous opposition leader, one who eventually made it all the way to the top.

John Howard, of course.
The idea of “Doctor Kimbo” is a bit of a laugh. Confronted by a Cyberleader determined to convert the whole of humanity into robotic drones, his most likely response would be “Don’t forget the Cyberdogs and Cybercats.” Daleks threatening to exterminate humanity? “Not good enough. Here are a few other species who warrant extermination.”

The remainder of Jacques’ post argues, mainly, that it’s time for the ALP to lower its expectations of the leadership, in much the way that members of the Liberal Party have learnt to live with John Howard as Prime Minister.

Here’s one of the principles of governance that the Liberals have learnt to live with:

I think in public life you take a position, and I think particularly of the positions I've taken in the time I've been Prime Minister, I have to live with the consequences . . . and, if I ever develop reservations I hope I would have the grace to keep them to myself,
(John Howard, reported in The Hun, November 22)
That’s what Howard expects of himself – would he expect any less of his colleagues? Phil Ruddock’s rise from Immigration Minister to Attorney General gives a very strong clue to the answer. Petro Georgious conspicuous exclusion from Cabinet, and the attempts to strip him of his pre-selection are a pretty good indication of how Howard’s “broad church” deals with those graceless individuals who won’t keep their reservations to themselves.

The Howard government – not just Howard – has to go. In a better world – not the perfect world of my imagination where all the women are leggy, bi-sexual blondes with identical twin sisters but one close to it – a drover’s dog could lead the Federal ALP to victory in the next election. But we don’t live in that better world. And for that reason, the ALP needs more energetic leadership than this:

The time that really counts as a leader — and it's 50 per cent of your task, the other 50 per cent leading up to that — is in the five weeks of the election campaign.
(Beazley to Michelle Grattan in The Age, November 25)

Cross posted at Larvatus Prodeo.