Some pigs are more equal than others mate

Nicholas has   very kindly invited me to contribute to Club Troppo. This is my first post. So it’s virgin territory for me. Please be gentle. And, of course, I hope you will enjoy it”¦

I was driving to the shops last night listening to this PM story about workers in Melbourne not being paid for a week’s work for imposing a “gentle” industrial ban on working overtime.

I awoke this morning to the news that workers at Radio Rentals had been locked out for a month, apparently for having a four hour industrial stoppage last week.

Then I opened the Advertiser to see that headline that super for the Class of 2004 of Federal politicians will be lifted. This deal was done a bipartisan basis.   And per Howard in the paper, it could only be done on that basis. The story was also on PM.

This is what Beazley had to say on PM,

“The system needed to change back in 2004, but I think there is common agreement amongst those of us in political life that those changes went too far. The changes that have been put in place are in line with community standards.”

Really?! The first sentence is incontrovertibly true, although not mooted when Latham was setting the agenda in 2004. The second is false and vacuous, as vague appeals to “community standards” generally are.

Now I know that porcine images of snorkelling snouts are not far away, but let’s eschew those. Do you reckon the Opposition could have, just maybe, exercised some self-restraint and opposed them in order to gain some credibility   for its opposition to the Howard IR changes? In order to demonstrate some solidarity with what could be Labor’s “base”. And to force the government to pass them on its own. Which it wouldn’t have done given the PM’s intimation of the necessity of bipartisanship.

So I feel the next time Kim is waxing and wheezing prolix on the base injustice of Work(no)choice, I think the worker on the “Elizabeth train” will be entitled to raise a sceptical eyebrow.   And the Government will somehow find a way to use this capitulation against him.

Finally, I liked this line from Bob Brown,

“Well you can argue that if you pay more peanuts, you get gorillas.”

Quite.

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23 Responses to Some pigs are more equal than others mate

  1. Aj says:

    Welcome Gaby,

    I think the timing is perfect for Beazley to round on Howard in question time for this reason.
    This payrise was agreed to by Howard and Beazley and the MPs as a united collective agreement, and workers are not allowed by workchoices to bargain collectively.

    I think that if Howard really wants to give credibility to workchoices, then put all MPs on AWAs or let the working population get the same rights and fair conditions as the MPs.

  2. Amused says:

    Exactly. It is high time those who lack the appropriate deference to the rule of property understood that while they are employed, their time, their whole time and all their time, is at the complete and limitless disposal of their master.

    As for pollies super, the bit I like best about this latest bit of welfare to the deserving middle, is the $30,000 redundo payout to pollies who are declared redundant by the electorate. Please explain, as the red head said to the PM. How does this scheme enable those of us who are paying for it, to distinguish their loss of employemnt from sacking for operational reasons (partly or wholly,)or for reasons of non performance of the required tasks, or for malingering, or from wilful refusal to carry out a lawful direction? Dearie me, how can we employers of these fearless tribunes be sure this payment will be confined to a genuine redundo circumstance? It can’t possibly be, because the job they lose is by definition, carried on by someone else, aka, the person who beat them in the election. Guess we will have to wait unitl some fearless journo asks the quesiton. How long do you think we will have to wait for that?

    As for Kimbo, he is psychologically incapable of acting in anyway other than as a member of the political ruling class. It is his birthright, and the main reason he is having such trouble going for the rodent’s jugular.

  3. James Farrell says:

    Nicholas could have been reading my mind, but he wouldn’t have needed to.

    I wonder if you saw Beazely in the flesh as he was saying those words. He looked like someone who just tossed an old lady out of the life-boat. ‘There’s a consensus that those with the shortest life-expectancy should make the sacrifice’, he might have been saying.

    Looking forward to many more posts from your stylish hand.

  4. James Farrell says:

    ‘in the flesh’ was an inept way of saying ‘on TV as well’.

  5. It’s interesting what politicians choose to be principled about. Beazley was being principled here – in the sense that he was given a political ‘free kick’ but he didn’t take it.

  6. James Farrell says:

    Nicholas, surely you don’t think Howard would have announced it without getting Labor’s agreement first.

  7. Yes, fair point. Still someting tells me that Beazley was choosing to be principled – that there were mealy mouthed ways of taking advantage of it as a pollie. One of the things that always amuses me is the myth regularly rehearsed around the traps that the Libs supported the ALP’s reforms in the 1980s. They flat out rejected, campaigned against and promised to repeal the capital gains tax and the fringe benefits tax two absolutely crucial integrity reforms.

    They claim to have supported the ALP’s industry reforms – tariff cuts and so on – but in fact took whatever political advantage they could have out of the pain they produced (and appeared to produce). I think the Beazle could have done a bit better than he has on this.

  8. Gaby says:

    Thank you all for the encouraging comments.

    Aj, I didn’t think that this could all be part of Bazley’s “cunning plan”!

    And Amused yes, the so called “resettlement allowance” of 3 months’ salary must be because the PM thinks that losing at an election is an “unfair dismissal”. It truly is a mad, mad ( and baddening world) world when this level of hypocrisy can be so easily flaunted.

    I don’t know whether Kimbo suffers from a “born to rule” complex. Maybe he sees that politicians are entitled to his many and various perquisites. I suppose I’m less fussed about them because it is a dirty, dangerous job that they do. It was more the surrounding circumstances of this particular example of self-interested pork barrelling.

    But I do think it does raise the question of Beazley’s “ticker”. He seems to be constitutionally timourous and incapable of ever taking a risk. And I think this is the essence of his “small target” strategy, which is basically cowardly.

    I think a politician should set out his wares honestly and bravely. I know that is idealistic. But then I think it is more important how you play any game than whether you win or lose.

    And fundamentalyl, I don’t think we know or believe what KB stands for.

  9. Didn’t Kim’s dad once make a famous, oft-quoted remark about the decline and changing composition of the Labor Party?

  10. Chris Lloyd says:

    “I think a politician should set out his wares honestly and bravely….it is more important how you play any game than whether you win or lose.” Mark Latham’s epitaph?

  11. “I think a politician should set out his wares honestly and bravely. I know that is idealistic. But then I think it is more important how you play any game than whether you win or lose.”

    Well, I’m generally in support of a bit more courage Gaby. If you’re smart about you can not only get away with it, but it can do you good – even from Opposition if you pick your moments and your issues (though it’s much easier in Govt).

    But if you want to get into noble failure, then if you’re in politics you’re in the wrong game (and generally the noble failure trope is a ‘try on’ after the failure itself – not before viz Keating and Whitlam).

    If you want to get into noble failure go into religion, not politics.

  12. sean fitz says:

    Bob Brown also said words to the effect of, there is nothing that brings the two major parties together quicker than a proposal to line their own pockets. Bob hits the mark again.

  13. Amused says:

    My point about Kimbo is not that he suffers form a ‘born to rule’ complex exactly. It is that he suffers from always being, and seeing himself as being, part of the ‘political ruling class’, at ease with opinion makers, high level bureacrats, the US/Australia Forum, the Defence establishment and the like. Now don’t get me wrong. My point is not that I disagree with that kind of politics (although it is very conservative for my taste) it is more that a whole lifetime among the ‘great and good’ has rendered him psychologically incapable of breaking out of the mould and ‘going for it’, hard and fearlessly.

    Latham had this talent, but was of course a complete lunatic. Howard and his supporters also have this talent, because for them, any government other than one they control, is, ipso facto, an outrage and an affront to natural law. That is why they are so ruthless in the prosecution of their political goals, in ways which the ALP seems unable to emulate. For example, where is the ALP eqivalent of Minchin? That man would restablish the property qualification for voting, if he thought he could get away with it. The way things are going he just might succeed.

    Keating had the measure on this aspect of his opponents exactly, but unfortunately, by the time he got to lead, was enervated and self indulgent to a degree. Kimbo is a good man in my opinion, but until he learns to stop sounding as though he actually is in government, and more like he wants to shred his opponents, he will fail to convince a good part of what he needs to win-and that part is his own poltical base. In my view this is why he is not doing well in the opinion polls, despite, in my view, a general and growing dislike of Howard and his works.

    Kimbo has to sound as though he really, really means it, and that he is as ferocious and as focussed as his politcal opponents. That is his challenge, far more than complicated policy prescriptions so beloved by policy wonks.

  14. Gaby says:

    Ouch, Gummo!

    Chris, I think Latham started his game very well but then as the election approached started to play more defensively and cautiously. And perhaps started to listen more to his advisers and counsellors. One of which may have been Beazley.

    Nicholas, I agree you have to be smart about progressing your issues. And I thought that it would be easy to make me look naive when I wrote my comment. But fundamentally I don’t see politics as about winning or losing, but trying to do good. And yes, you can always do more good in, rather than out of, government.

    I see Hewson as an example of what I am thinking of in particular. Give your ideas a whirl, and if they are not accepted, then move on to do other things. I don’t think politics should be seen as a career.

    I suppose I always appreciate the nobility in “noble failure”. And I don’t see politics as far different from religion in goals. Both want to do good. But I would never consign anyone to religion. I find that far too distressing to contemplate.

  15. Gaby says:

    Amused,I agree in particular with your last para that this is Beazley’s big problem. I just don’t believe that he would do things all that differently or make that much of a difference on the big, important issues. Other than IR now I suppose.

    Now doubt about the political single mindedness of Howard and his government in comparison.

  16. Amused says:

    IR is what he is pinning his hopes on, but it is not the whole picture, it is just a piece of the jigsaw that he should be talking to people to about in ways they understand. People know these palukas (yes, that includes the CIS and the IPA) are out to screw them, or they do when some of their choice morsels are copied and circulated to battlers. It’s just that Kimbo can’t seem to get it. Draw back the curtains, open the windows, let the sun in, and tell it like people fear, deep down, it is going to be, for them and theirs. F**k IR. Others can do that campaign better, more grassroots and closer to the actual places where people live and work. The battlers are creaming themselves when they see the details. They are ready for a heads up on alternatives- He should start talking big picture.

    Just do it!

  17. Gaby says:

    Amused, big picture would mean for Beazley giving up small target. And having a picture at lwast sketched. Hopefully a figurative one so that we can see that he has left his abstract phase behind. IR could be the foreground of his economic and social vision.

    By the way, I was only talking loosely about a “born to rule” complex. I think the way you put it as a strong identification with ruling elites and their interests is better and more accurate.

  18. Gaby,

    Politics is about the trading off of ends and means – pretty much always and particularly in democracies. Ends and means are always in play. It is often desparately difficult for politicians – or anyone else to see the wood from the trees.

    But the great politicians, even the good ones, are not noble failures – they’re conflicted successes but their nobility comes through some alchemical process by which they triumph and so something worthwhile occurs against the backdrop of endless improvisation while they manage the crises that history hands them – or they bring on themselves.

    As the Great Lincoln said (I quote from memory) “I don’t pretend to have controlled events. Events controlled me.” I think it’s a great pity that Hewson failed. His loss was the failure of a new direction for the Liberals that they never took.

    And I don’t think he needed to mislead anyone or act in an underhand way – Hewson just needed to act with less hubris and more prudence. There was plenty of time in Government to develop the program. As politics right now is demonstrating, if you get in, have a bit of an idea of what you’re doing and don’t stuff up, you can work towards what you want – and you can let people in on what you’re planning as you go, in your second, third and fourth term . . .

  19. Gaby says:

    Nicholas, I don’t dissent from anything you say about the instrinsic nature of democratic politics. I think they are very accurate, but sagacious, words.

    It is only your last sentence that I find troubling given recent political history and practice. Politicians are the fiduciaries of power for the citizenry and there has been, it seems to me, a significant increase in the amount of lying, deception and subterfuge in its exercise.

    The current practice seems to be minimal pre-election promising, and then a lot of post-election programming. So minimal letting people know what you are doing when it matters. GST and Noworkchoices are two examples for me.

  20. Yes fair point Gaby,

    But I was at pains to try to make clear I wasn’t endorsing lying or deception – short of the usual political obligations to put your case in its best light. I was just arguing for prudence in prosecuting a program.

    I wouldn’t want to sing the Howard Government’s praises on the subject of honesty. But the two examples you choose don’t seem to be hanging offences to me. The GST was brought to an election. The only quarrel people have with Howard on that is that he said to journos going on and on that he wouldn’t introduce one. Well fair enough those words are supposed to mean something. But it’s a pretty minor sin when you then change your tune AND go to an election on the very subject to give people a voice on the matter.

    On WorkChoices I’m less sure of the detail so correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it pretty much in his platform, and wasn’t it pretty much what Howard tried to introduce several terms ago but couldn’t because of the Senate. How does Work Choices violate the IR policy Howard brought to the last election?

  21. Gaby says:

    Sorry Nicholas, that was just my inept writing. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that you were endorsing lying or deception. My apologies.

    I meant it as a partial response to your point about letting the citizens in on what you are planning in subsequent terms. I don’t find much evidence for this. Rather the opposite.

    On the GST, I must be “mis-remembering” and that’s my mistake. I thought it wasn’t taken to an election. I think I got confused with Howard’s stated views on a consumption tax post- Hewson.

    On Work Choices, no doubt the so called “unfair” unfair dismissal changes were foreshadowed. But I don’t remember the radical “Union busting”, arbitration, fining and stopping wages etc. aspects of the changes being given any prominence, and which are of increasingly current significance. Certainly came as a surprise to me. And I feel these all significantly increase the bargaining power of employers to the extent that I now reckon we have unfair “fair bargaining” laws.

    I’ve been thinking about your characterization of a “great politician” as essentially an artist at pragmatically effective politics and to which I would subscribe. I remember you have a great expression to describe this.

    I think exemplars of this could be both Tom Playford and Don Dunstan.

    And perhaps Gough, although I don’t know or remember enough about how he went about things. He certainly got a whole lot of good reform through in his three short years.

    What do you think? No doubt it could be the subject of a post….or several.

    PS I thought the Denton interview of Chipp was candid, interesting and a good laugh. Gorton must have been something to know.

  22. Gaby says:

    Nice one James.

    Pace Don Chipp, got to “keep the bastards….happy”….

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