Time for Labor to bind on marriage equality

Buoyed by growing momentum for marriage equality, Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek is leading the charge for her party to put its money where its mouth is by making support for this reform binding.

While some in Labor’s right flank might resent being forced to toe the line, ultimately the ALP only stands to gain should it finally show some backbone on this human rights issue.

Continue reading “Time for Labor to bind on marriage equality”

Life after death: the art of political resurrection

“Can a soufflé rise twice?” was the question asked by former prime minister Paul Keating following his adversary, Andrew Peacock’s return to the Liberal leadership.

In the end, Peacock’s leadership fell flat but it hasn’t deterred other politicians from attempting comebacks. John Howard, Kim Beazley and Kevin Rudd all tried political resurrection – while in the United States, Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney are considering comebacks of their own.

Continue reading “Life after death: the art of political resurrection”

Whitlam’s legacy belongs to all progressives

The passing of former prime minister Gough Whitlam yesterday saw the eruption of a rare period of multi-partisanship as figures from across the political spectrum paid tribute to the man who changed the nation.

Among them were the Greens who shared an image online celebrating Whitlam’s abolition of university fees in 1974. The image, accompanied with the text, ‘Whitlam’s legacy for a progressive Australia will be remembered – Vale Gough Whitlam’ and a Greens logo, was met with ire from some Labor MPs who accused the party of “body snatching” and “appropriating a leader’s death” for their own political ends.

Continue reading “Whitlam’s legacy belongs to all progressives”

Reality bites as winner takes all on The Block

The much anticipated Block finale fell flat on Sunday night when three of the luxury properties struggled to attract bids above the reserve at auction. While two couples celebrated big wins in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, others wept as months of work came to almost nought.

The finale might have had a funereal vibe but the Nine Network certainly had cause for celebration as it smashed ratings records. The shock outcome has sparked calls for Nine to tweak the format of the show and even offer the failed contestants compensation.

Continue reading “Reality bites as winner takes all on The Block”

You already knew Thorpe was gay? No, you didn’t

 

Ian Thorpe’s declaration that he’s gay has been met with a combination of celebration and mockery. While many have praised the Olympian for speaking out, others have joked that he has simply revealed what everybody already knew.

Finally! What took him so long?

But did we really already know and who determines when it’s time to come out?

Continue reading “You already knew Thorpe was gay? No, you didn’t”

Forgetting others in the quest for self-improvement

‘Work hard and you will achieve. The only barrier to success is your own imagination. You can be whatever you want to be, you just have to want it badly enough.’

These kinds of feel-good clichés have become mantras for the modern era.

From The Secret and Angela’s Ashes to the Biggest Loser, popular culture celebrates the idea that with hard work and determination there is nothing we can’t overcome. Today it seems we are all masters of our own destinies. Give us lemons and we’ll give you lemonade (and make a killing from the lemonade stand in the process!).

Continue reading “Forgetting others in the quest for self-improvement”

Abbott left little wriggle room on promises

‘Tony Abbott is a pathological liar who has lost the respect of the Australian people. He leads a beleaguered government, held ransom by extremists in the Senate. His government is illegitimate. He must resign and end our collective misery!’

Of course, no one is calling for the head of our PM just yet but this is precisely the kind of hyperbole Abbott used to demolish Julia Gillard’s prime ministership when she confronted similar political circumstances just three years ago.

Continue reading “Abbott left little wriggle room on promises”

Voters give Green light to resurgent party

“It’s not easy being Green.” Or, at least that’s been the claim of pundits eager to write-off the environmental party after a challenging few years.

In 2012, the retirement of leader Bob Brown sparked speculation that the Greens were heading the way of the ill-fated Australian Democrats. Swings against the party at last year’s federal election and a string of state elections added fuel to the fire. The party has also lost its mantle as the “new kid on the block”, jostling for media space with the outspoken Clive Palmer in a much more crowded Senate.

But while Palmer might grab the headlines, it is the Greens who are making history. The re-election of Senator Scott Ludlam at Saturday’s election will deliver the party 10 federal senators from July (along with Adam Bandt in the lower house) smashing the minor party record it previously shared with the Democrats. Indeed, there is reason to believe the Senate election will mark the beginning of a Green resurgence and should leave no doubt that the party is a permanent fixture on the nation’s political landscape.

Continue reading “Voters give Green light to resurgent party”

Personal attacks don’t advance the cause

Australian politics is certainly not for the faint-hearted and vitriol is levelled at politicians of all stripes. John Howard was famously described as a “lying rodent”, Julia Gillard a “bitch” and a “witch”, while Tony Abbott has been derided as an “economic illiterate” and an imbecile. But how much is too much and where do we draw the line?

It seems in answering these questions it’s difficult to stray far from partisanship and here both sides are guilty of hypocrisy.

Continue reading “Personal attacks don’t advance the cause”

Confessions of a Facebook Addict

The New Year is a time for reflection and goal-setting, and so like any good Gen-Y’er, I shared my New Year’s resolutions on Facebook. As I basked in the approving likes and comments that followed, I was hit by a shocking realisation: I am a Facebook addict!

I take some comfort in the knowledge that I am not alone here. Indeed, millions of people around the world are devoted to Facebook and a host of other social networking sites. But my grim realisation gave me pause for thought: why this obsession with social media, what does it say about me, what does it say about our society and what are its consequences?

Continue reading “Confessions of a Facebook Addict”

Coming-out myths and why we fear fluid sexuality

Olympic diver Tom Daley created a media splash on Tuesday when he announced that he was having a relationship with a man. The response provides an interesting insight into community attitudes towards sexuality and suggests that while there is growing acceptance of difference, most people still have a pretty narrow view of what it means to be “not straight”.

Some media outlets greeted the news with rapture, enthusiastically proclaiming that Tom Daley had “come out as gay” while others on Facebook and Twitter burst into spontaneous applause as Daley finally confirmed what “everybody already knew”.

Continue reading “Coming-out myths and why we fear fluid sexuality”

Playing The Man?

Julia Gillard came under fire for playing the so called ‘gender card’, but a closer examination of the Rudd v Abbott contest reveals that it is her male adversaries who have been using gender as a political weapon.

The relationship between masculinity and ‘strong leadership’ is a persistent theme in Australian politics. Hawke positioned himself as an Aussie larrikin, while Keating used his aggressive style to establish his authority. Howard channelled masculine concepts of power when the War on Terror saw him emerge as a ‘Man of Steel.’ Both Rudd and Abbott have sought to draw on these themes, projecting their own versions of masculinity and using this to define their opponents.

Continue reading “Playing The Man?”

Primaries Won’t Solve Our Political Problems

As the ALP battles to wrest control from the ‘faceless men’ of its party machine, Labor leaders from Steve Bracks to Mark Latham have argued for the co-option of US-style primaries.

While US elections may appear to be the ultimate festivals of democracy, all that glitters is not gold and we must be wary of embracing an alternative political system that is far from perfect.

In fact, primary-style pre-selections would radically change our democracy.

Continue reading “Primaries Won’t Solve Our Political Problems”

Stand for Something or Fall for Anything

March 2013 will long be remembered by political tragics as a month of brutality that would surely have made Brutus himself wince.

Labor’s botched leadership coup may have been Rudd-less but it certainly wasn’t bloodless, with a series of ministers caught in the crossfire. Meanwhile, on the conservative side of politics, a premier and a chief minister were knifed after a string of unfavourable opinion polls.

Leadership change and renewal are inevitable in any democracy. Ultimately, even the most successful leaders must eventually step aside or face their makers, be they in the parliament or the electorate. However, the frequency of the leadership changes of recent years suggests a disturbing trend in our politics.

Continue reading “Stand for Something or Fall for Anything”