Rudd’s Greatest Moral Challenge

Kevin Rudd has begun his second term as Prime Minister in much the same way as he ended his first, with back-flips and dog-whistles on immigration. Through his latest capitulation to Tony Abbott, Rudd 2.0 is providing more than just neat symmetry. He has left no doubt that win or lose this election, the conservative side of politics will continue to shape Australia’s asylum seeker policy. It’s an error that will have serious consequences for his party and our nation.

While it’s been in office for almost 6 years, many Australians are still unsure about what their Labor Government stands for.  Part of this stems from Labor’s inability to use the authority of incumbency to set the political agenda.

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Be Afraid, Very Afraid: Vigilantism and the Culture of Fear

Vigilantism is in vogue. Whether it’s TV hits like Dexter and Arrow, box-office heroes like Batman and Superman or even the outing of alleged criminals on social media, popular culture is saturated with stories of people taking the law into their own hands; righting wrongs when an impotent justice system fails them.

The concept of the vigilante isn’t new. From Robin Hood to Rambo, it spans the centuries. It is curious however that it is still largely romanticized at a time when crime rates continue to fall.

Why the celebration of those who subvert the law of the land? The explanation for this enduring disenchantment with our justice system lies in established narratives around crime.

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Rainbow Revolution: Why Mitt Romney’s Defeat is Bad News for Tony Abbott

While predicted by most pollsters, the defeat of Republican Mitt Romney in last week’s presidential election confounded some of the orthodoxies of modern politics.

In spite of a stalled economy and a poisonous political environment, on election day Romney’s lead among white Americans, evangelical Christians and the elderly was no match for Obama’s’rainbow coalition’ of Hispanic, black, single women, gay and younger voters.

Obama has become the first President since Roosevelt to win re-election with such a high unemployment rate and only the second Democrat since World War II to win a second term. So if it wasn’t the economy then what was it?

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Malcolm in the Middle?

For more than a year the Coalition has held a seemingly unassailable lead in the opinion polls. But after a bruising few months of media gaffes, speculation about his university days and damaging outbursts from some high-profile supporters (Corey Bernadi and Alan Jones), Tony Abbott’s march to the Lodge is looking less like a sprint and more like a hurdle race.

While Abbott has continued his ‘Great Big Campaign Against Everything’, Malcolm Turnbull has been busy carving out an alternative vision for his party and the nation. It may well prove attractive to his colleagues if the tide continues to move Labor’s way in the opinion polls.

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Risky Business – War on the Greens Will Hurt Labor

Moves by leading figures in the ALP to ‘declare war’ on the Australian Greens appear to be part of a strategy of political product differentiation that risks further undermining the former’s electoral appeal.

In recent days Labor politicians have derided the Greens as “extreme” and “immature” and some in the ALP have even advocated directing preferences to the Coalition and Family First ahead of the minor party at the next federal election.

This seems to be based on the belief that by attacking the Greens Labor can return some of its disillusioned base to the fold. While Labor’s Left faction may argue this represents an opportunity to break the minor party’s hold over left-wing politics in Australia, the political antidote they propose is in effect a shift to the right in the form of a Labor/Liberal pact to ‘lock-out’ the Greens.

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Life after Brown for the Greens?

The shock resignation of the Greens’ popular leader and founder Bob Brown has left many questioning the long-term prospects of the party he leaves behind. Despite the temptation of some to compare the Greens’ fate with that of the Australian Democrats, it is too soon to eulogise the environmental party and the Greens are better placed to manage this leadership transition than their senate predecessors.

There is no doubt that Brown is an irreplaceable figure within the Greens and the parliament. The party he created has grown from to strength to strength during his 16 years in the senate and the Greens are the only party in the country to have achieved swings in their favour at every federal election of the last decade. He is a revered and galvanising figure within the Greens – instrumental in moderating the internal differences around policy and emphasis that are inevitable in any political party.

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