Friday, September 10, 2010

Real Julias 2, Rabbitohs 1

And don't you ever try that again. Kodakotype by Pants

The Punch & Judy Show that is Australian politics has thrown up a result at last. That happened on Tuesday. The country managed perfectly well without an elected government for a couple of weeks. I don't think the sheep knew the nation was in crisis. Asylum seekers got a brief reprieve while our constitutional viability hung by a thread and no one started any wars or introduced any taxes.

I have been in no real rush to pronounce on the denouement. It is something of an anti-climax after the nail-biting seventeen days, three hours and forty-nine minutes-but-who's-counting in which three unknown country independents played a very long hand of Texas Hold'em with our GDP.

Real Julia (aka Muzgalard, aka Judy) won. Her opponent Rabbitoh (aka Mezdarabbit aka Punch) also won - in his imagination. It seems the Rabbitohs do not think the result is 'fair'. The Australian people clearly wanted 'a change of government', they say. The Rabbitohs got more seats, more actual votes and a higher percentage of the preferential vote, they say.

Well, no, no and no, actually. The Australian Electoral Commission hasn't quite finished counting but the Real Julias (aka Australian Labor Party), are ahead of the Rabbitohs (aka Liberal/National Coalition) on all three measures. Admittedly, there's not a lot in it but it's difficult to see how less can be made to appear more in this instance.

The Rabbitohs would have us believe that, by this flimsy token which also happens to be a giant porkie, the Real Julias have not achieved 'legitimacy' as a government. I could be wrong, but I don't think it quite works that way.

It's a bit like saying the bigger the jar of Marmite, the more authentically Marmite it is. This is plainly erroneous. Even a hospitality sachet of Marmite is still Marmite. Unless of course it's mislabled and is, in fact, marmalade. Although not terribly pleasant if, like me, you love Marmite but are pathologically ambivalent towards marmalade, such an occurrence is extremely rare in politics.

You may not be able to fit a policy Rizla between the fiercely opposed teams vying for control of this great land, but it's still fairly easy to pick the players who've had Marmite for breakfast.

Then there is the question of the collective intent of 'the Australian people'. Now, to take up the Marmite metaphor again. Say I am a single molecule in a jar of Marmite - you wouldn't be the first, believe me. We may all be able to recognise that collectively we comprise Marmite but I very much doubt that we would be able to collectively will ourselves to turn into marmalade, no matter how desperately the politician holding the toast might desire it.

I also suspect that we would find it equally difficult to convince someone spreading their toast with Marmite, that they would prefer to be eating marmalade. It would be an uphill battle with me, I can assure you.

So, I hope that clarifies the situation for my international friends. These things are enormously difficult to understand, aren't they?

I must say, it does seem a very good time to be a 'regional Australian'. Larrikin's End, while possibly not the sort of place most people would consider to be a good investment prospect, is set to prosper from this particular roll of the electoral dice. It's what Vernon God Little would call a new 'power-dime'. If anyone can jiggy a fucken lurk from a shifting power-dime, it's the layabouts of Larrikin's End.

How has this miracle of fortune come about? National government in Australia has basically been a two-hander for all of my longish life and beyond. There have occasionally been other parties. In the time I lived abroad, the peculiar Australian Democrats came and went. For a period they ruled our upper house, the Senate. From July next year, the Greens will wield in the Senate, hopefully with gentle intent.

For reasons I cannot explain, we elect a batch of Senators a year in advance. Perhaps they need to go on preparatory viaduct-building seminars and attend workshops to perfect their theatrical hissing and snarling skills.

Sorry, you wanted to know about the Larrikin's End windfall. Australia's political arsenal always has a couple of time bombs in it. You will usually find them described as 'colourful', meaning you can safely assume they are mad but no one else was willing to stand so they are it.

When the numbers had done with their crunching and the dust finally settled on the world's driest continent, three dudes were left holding the balance of power. Incredibly, only one of them was mad.

The nation's media, whose cultural reference palette runs an impressive gamut from HBO to Hollywood and back on a good day, dubbed them 'the three amigos'. They are three country independents whose natural affiliation would have been with the Rabbitohs except they'd been chucked out or something else generally unpretty had happened.

Real Julia needed only two of the three. Real Julia had the high hand. The payout to 'regional Australia' is one billion of our fine Aussie dollars. Not a lot in today's money. What does a billion get you? An Olympic swimming pool? It's rumoured that Rabbitoh promised a lot more. The game was up when 'due process' revealed that Rabbitoh's offer was made up of betting slips and pawn tickets.

Ever the optimists, we Larrikin's Enders look forward to a chip off that billion coming our way. We probably won't get enough for a new gas cylinder for the community shark'n'neeps fryer but we might get a new awning over McDunny's. That would be handy as the one he's got up now doubles as the respect quilt for road fatalities and I'm not sure that's entirely hygienic.