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Who’s actually into La Guillotine?

July 26, 2010

Alan Kohler, the super respectable finance guy from the ABC, has let loose on La Guillotine in his weekend note to subscribers. What is fascinating about this piece of his is that not only is he publicly quite apolitical, he very rarely indulges in this kind of rant.

Citizen’s Assembly

I think Julia Gillard is telling us that she thinks Parliament is past its use-by date. The election on August 21, she seems to be hinting, is nothing but an archaic and empty ritual, in which complete idiots are given well-paying jobs in a vast Canberra nonsense factory.

Clearly the best way to run the country is not to elect Members of Parliament to pass laws and choose a Government, but to get an Independent Authority to approach 150 good and true citizens with an offer they can’t refuse: to Decide Stuff. This is truly a massive breakthrough and a political innovation on a global scale. Oh, wait a minute – that’s right, it’s a copy of a mess Canada made.

What a joke! Four weeks from an election and we have no policies on anything and a plan for a Citizen’s Assembly.

Nothing on climate change beyond a vague promise to reduce carbon emissions by 5%; a “sustainable population policy” that is not about the birth rate and not about immigration, which means it is aimed at slowing down the spontaneous creation of human beings from Murray River sandbanks; and nothing on economic policy apart from an absurd Dutch auction of unnecessary spending cuts.

But it’s hard not to like election campaigns. We enter a Twilight Zone where no one believes in anything and nothing is as it used to be; where all that matters are gaffes and ruckuses; and where everybody – the watchers and the watched – all simply want to endure, and to not make a mistake.

The result, however, is that belief itself is assassinated.

Tony Abbott clearly believes in labour market reform designed to remove power from the unions, but has pledged in blood to do nothing about because it might be unpopular. He used to believe that climate change was a load of crap, but now he has a policy of “direct action” to deal with it.

Gillard used to believe that climate change was a great moral and economic challenge; now she has promised to do nothing about it for at least three years and, in the meantime, to gather together 150 people who know nothing about it to tell her what to do.

God knows what she believes about asylum seekers and immigration.

Her policy on asylum seekers is for offshore processing in a centre run by someone else and located Anywherebutnauru. Anywherebutnauru is an island somewhere in the Pacific or Indian Ocean ruled by a benevolent despot desirous of Australian dollars and happy to put up a few miserable, desperate wretches from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka while flint-eyed assessors interrogate them about their misery and desperation.

Oh, and it’s not Nauru, which wants to do it and is a perfectly good place, but was once favoured by, gasp, John Howard and Phil Ruddock, and is therefore forever toxic.

Her policy on population is to ensure that no one else lives in western Sydney who isn’t already there.

Failing that, it is to lie to the good people of western Sydney that no one else will come and clog up their roads or buffet them on the trains or occupy their pokies. They must be reassured, apparently, that the drawbridge on their castle has been raised behind them, even though, of course, it can’t be.

The main thing is to ensure that no one focuses on the manifest failure of the Labor governments of NSW and Queensland to maintain the infrastructure of their states so they can cope, sustainably, with population growth.

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