Mediocrity Rules, OK?

19 May 2011

I suppose I returned to Australia hoping that politicians here had got their act together – but, in the common parlance, it’s same old, same old.  They really are an extraordinarily mediocre, petty-minded and parochial group of people.  Where’s the long-term planning,  the big picture? 

The big debate since the budget a week or so ago is whether we consider a family income of $150,000 a year to be called rich.  The tabloids have dragged out “typical” families who are struggling to make ends meet and frankly I don’t think the majority of Australians have a great deal of sympathy.  A family budget that includes $3000+ a month for a mortgage, private school fees and $500+ a month for TV/Internet/Phones is hardly typical of the “lifestyles” of most of us.   And insulting to a great many (the majority of) Australian families.

I do agree with most of the decisions of this Government but I wish they would present them so much better.  They don’t explain to people what they’re doing and why, and we’re left with Tony Abbott’s rants and those of the radio ‘shock-jocks’ being the only interpretation many of us get to hear.  A typical case was at the last election.  Economists tend to fall into two camps when it comes to recessions – spend nothing or inject money into the community.  The “spending nothing” brigade around the world didn’t fare very well this time and Kevin Rudd took what I thought was a bold decision to spend big.  And it appears to have worked.  We’re one of the few First World countries to have avoided a recession, employment figures are high, interest rates are low.  The Labor party could have really capitalised on that during the election in 2010 but were fairly silent on the subject.  John Howard would have sat on the cash and the $150,000 a year brigade really would be struggling – they probably wouldn’t be earning $150k any more for a start.

I’ve had a great interest in politics since I was a child (for some obscure reason – I wasn’t brought up in a particularly political household) but in both Britain and Australia  at the moment (I don’t know enough about American politics) we’re lumbered with not particularly intelligent, and certainly not charismatic, leaders.  The Leader of the Opposition is a good example – he seems unable to string a coherent sentence together for a start.  Is Tony Abbott a complete fool or does he just take the voters for fools? 

Or both (which I think is the answer)? 


  1. The real concern is “are the Australian people complete fools” given that the polls currently put the Liberals well ahead of Labour, and the Mad Monk only 1 percentage point behind Julia as preferred prime minister. Maybe mandatory voting isn’t such a good idea after all…

  2. Actually, one of these “typical” families who earn over $150K they dragged out even admitted, “oh yeah, we do have a house full of stuff” but after all our expenses, we don’t have very much left and so still rent. Um… you can probably get rid of that house full of “stuff” and have a start to a deposit for a house. I hate these “average” family scenarios the press pulls out. Another one is the couple who bought a house in Eastwood who claim they will start struggling if interest rates went up. If they could afford to buy in Eastwood, and will struggle if interests rates went up, then they’ve overstretched themselves to live in a suburb they obviously can’t afford.

  3. Don’t get me started….

  4. Abbott’s public persona is part of the Hanson/Howard legacy. Mr Abbott is a Rhodes Scholar and no fool. But Australian aspirational voters don’t like educated smart arses, they want people who sound like them….voila Pauline. Bjelke Petersen used to pull the same inarticulate stunts…the voters prefer it.

    Educated people are very good at communicating with other educated people….but they are not so successful with the masses….advertising people do it so much better, hence the ads from the mining companies last year knocking the proposed super tax off its feet. This govt is not communicating its successes very well, because it thinks that the figures are all there, people can work it out for themselves.

    I am reminded of a debate where Pauline and Barry Jones were on a panel discussing Aboriginal welfare entitlements. “Special Treatment” After the debate, Barry said to Pauline that she was mistaken on the facts, and he had the statistics to prove it.

    She brushed his documents aside and dismissed him: “That’s all book learning” she said touching her heart “My people JUST KNOW!”

    It’s called epistemological populism.

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