So, John Howard hates the worm. Well, obviously, the feeling is mutual.
Channel Nine’s dirt-loving critter only dived lower, and faster, when the Prime Minister’s heir apparent, Peter Costello, chimed into the great debate from the cheap seats.
But, what does it all mean? This is a multiple choice question and, by way of preparation for November 24, the options are: a) bugger all, b) sweet FA, and, c) not a lot. See, isn’t democracy wonderful.
What we got in the great debate was two boring white men, chanting the party line to an audience of sycophants who weren’t supposed to interject, boo, or, even, clap politely. Not exactly the material for a ratings winner. Little wonder the majority of Australians flicked to Kath and Kim or did something relevant, like checking the Melbourne Cup form, or going for a walk.
Those who sat through the bore-a-thon, however, would have understood what this federal election has come down to – cretins at 20 paces – or 2000km, depending on the campaign schedule.
The 2007 contest is more an auction than a contest of ideas and, it raises the question, what are modern governments supposed to do? Pretty much nothing, if you listen to Howard and Rudd.
Handouts are at the centre of their worlds and they were slap-bang in the middle of the debate. Our choice, apparently, is about what disguise we would prefer them to travel under.
Howard and Rudd love Australian families. They express this devotion by lavishing short-term handouts and completely ignoring the nation-building, society-strengthening options that could make a real difference to the way they live.
Howard rocked into the debate swinging multi-billion tax cuts like an engorged todger. Rudd responded with a quick peak at shapely computers that will flicker in kiddies bedrooms across the continent, courtesy of some tax-break or other, before he signs off on Howard’s programme.
By the time this pair have finished, we’re going to have tax breaks, vouchers and Christ-knows what other form of individual subsidy, coming out our ears. All means-tested, of course.
How does this mentality flourish under “economic conservatives”, wedded to the ideals of personal responsibility, hard work and aspiration?
Wouldn’t it be better if you just restored our rights to negotiate our own wages, and working conditions, instead of pushing everyone onto the public teat?
Fellas, in case you haven’t noticed, the country’s got a health crisis; a housing crisis; the technological revolution is passing us by; public transport, in the big cities, is rooted; the bush is short of water; and the whole joint is going to burn up if we don’t do something substantial about global warming. Meanwhile, our armed forces are off pouring petrol over the fires of international terrorism.
Multi-billion surpluses mean a government worthy of the name could make significant inroads into some of these problems. Unfortunately, on the evidence of the great debate, such a government will not an option at this election
The only time, in 90 dreary minutes, anyone came near nation-building was when Rudd spoke about his plan for high-speed broadband, across the continent.
Even the worm perked up and looked, briefly, for a better world.