Family First finds fame


Who could not feel rage and nausea on learning over the last few days that ALP preferences appear to have propelled an Evangelical ghost of Brian Harradine into the Senate on 1.9 per cent of the vote? Depending on whether you read the Australian or a Fairfax paper, Steve Fielding, the 43-year-old wowser Melbourne super fund manager, will/will not support the sale of the remains of Telstra.

And then we have riveting issues such as media laws that at present stop Packer buying Fairfax or Murdoch buying Seven or Nine. Any of those lovely Family Values there, Steve? It looks as though he likes the idea of people gouging their super to buy a home, thus having a house but no money for their old age. Still, that would be great for the super funds.

One can only be bemused by the way the Wonderworld of the Senate is put together. There Labor’s vote was up 12.4 per cent to 35 per cent of the vote, while the Lib-Nats was up just 1.6 per cent to 25 per cent (the Dems plunged 5.2 per cent, One Nation tanked by 3.8 per cent, while the Greens rose by 3.1 per cent).

But with all the major commercial media behind him, except for some pathetic fence-sitters, John Howard did not do well in the House of Reps in Victoria and NSW. In fact, so far Victoria has elected 18 ALP MPs, compared to 16 for the Liberals, while in NSW the Libs’ 21 members are just one ahead of Labor. It is in Queensland (16 Libs to six ALP) and WA (10 to four) that the pain is seen.

By mid-morning Monday with 73 per cent of the vote counted, seven seats were still undecided, making the Reps line up: 71 Libs, 12 Nats, one CLP, three Independents and 56 ALP. And yet only 5 million voters chose the Coalition; 500,000 more than went for Labor.

To Australia’s abundance of crude conservative commentators, who can be easily spotted by their joyous quoting of the dreadful Thatcher, the Labor Party is roadkill, run down by the Coalition semi-trailer. Howard is the slaughterer of Keating, Beazley, Crean and Latham and of the hopes of the True Believers. The language of violence and hate adds to the nausea.

There is a feeling that Howard has about two years to go. In the meantime the bloodbath that is Iraq seems unlikely to change, we await with trepidation the next terrorist outrage in the West, and the so-called free trade deal that will rip the muscles from our economic strength, watch the worsening environment, the degradation of indigenous people, the decline of the Murray Darling, devastation of Tasmania (by Tasmaniacs?), running down of Medicare, propping up of rich schools and richer businesses, successful or not. The list is long.

And Howard the mendacious, proud father of the Pacific Solution, the jailer of children and other vulnerable people who came to Australia with hope, the dissembler on war, will still rule, propelled by the spavined, the frightened, the ignorant and the greedy. What will thrive? Political activism, one hopes. And comedy.

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