Is the Genie out of the bottle?

On Monday a convoy of trucks and supporters are travelling to Canberra to protest against the proposed ‘Carbon Tax’. Some of them are staying in my town overnight and will be travelling on the already awful Barton Highway early Monday morning, which is going to make things interesting for commuters who already loathe the drive (i.e. the vast majority). Some reports expect bumper to bumper traffic, Sydney style, and others are suggesting take the day off work if you can. I go into town in the other direction so no day off work for me.

But this protest got me thinking. Bluemilk had a blogpost about why some people in the US actively vote against their own interests based on a book by Joe Bageant who was basically writing about his own family. I don’t think we are there yet. I think, in general, Australians still expect a lot of their politicians, perhaps it comes with compulsory voting? Julia Gillard’s government isn’t popular for a number of reasons and as a lefty politically I am disappointed that the current Labor government hasn’t done what I think it should do. Which is of course completely different to what the next Labor voter thinks they should do etc etc. Which is fine. I’m not moved to protest against this government, although I do sign petitions relating to matters that interest me. But some, like the convoy on Monday, or the protest earlier this week live tweeted by Grogs Gamut, do protest this government. I won’t get into generalisations about gender/age/demographic splits, although many of them are probably Alan Jones listeners. But now having been awakened to the possibility of protest and making their voices heard, will they then go quiet if there is a change of government?

What if the Abbott/Turnbull/other Liberal? government doesn’t give them what they think they want? What happens when the Carbon Tax is ditched but electricity prices and the cost of living continue to rise? What happens when pension increases don’t cover the increased costs of medicines or accessing medical care? What happens when the next GFC comes along and there isn’t a handout from the government, or the handout goes to big companies? When the tax cuts don’t cover what they thought they would or don’t apply? Will they be moved to protest again?

Has the political landscape changed? Is it for the better? Or are we in danger of becoming a nation of whingers who don’t know how good some of us have it, while ignoring those who really do need a hand up? Is the genie out of the bottle, will we ever be content again and what will it take to get it back in?

Categories: Culture, culture wars, economics, media, parties and factions, Politics, work and family

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8 replies

  1. I’ve been thinking about this more lately….. And I think the 97 election gave voters a real sense that they had the power to get rid of a leader. Which certainly did happen, but isn’t typically the result of an Australian election – we choose individuals, who belong to parties, who then choose their leaders. My feeling is this is why so many people felt personally offended and outraged when Julia Gillard came to power, and are so unhappy with the government we have now. No conclusions, but food for thought.

  2. The protests don’t worry me that much, honestly. The trucks make this one particularly inconvenient for bystanders, and will provide striking imagery for the nightly news, but trucks have converged on Canberra before and ended up with sod-all for their efforts.
    Generally I think people being moved to protest rather than staying snuggled up in apathy is a good thing. Even when I don’t agree with them and think that they’ve been horribly misinformed.

  3. But now having been awakened to the possibility of protest and making their voices heard, will they then go quiet if there is a change of government?
    Not likely. Look at the Tea Party in America. The machine Republicans used them to change the House of Reps and now have found themselves shackled to a tiger they can’t control. All of the [redacted] outlandish [ed.] libertarian and religious ideas that the Republicans used to promise every election campaign but then conveniently forget afterwards are now having to be taken seriously just to get boring mechanics-of-government issues like the debt ceiling issue passed.
    Abbott has no idea what he has unleashed here. Or he does and agrees with it. The right-wing lizard brain can never be satisfied because they are soaking in a constant propaganda stew that says that they are the victims – of government, lefties, uppity minorities, the UN, etc. So when the government changes and nothing happens to stop the Hated Enemy (because it is only in their heads), the [redacted] people who think this way [ed.] will double down.
    If we do get an election, it can only be for the House of Reps for constitutional reasons. The Senate has to wait. Which means that no [redacted] outlandish [ed.] Australian Tea Party bills will get passed. Democratically, that’s considered a necessary balance, and even a double-dissolution has a built-in time period that must elapse. But for them, it will merely escalate the war against the Hated Enemy. If the facts over climate change mean nothing to them, then the clear text of the Constitution certainly won’t stop them.
    [some edits made to unintentionally ableist language]

  4. Interesting discussion Mindy, thanks.
    I tend to agree with tigtog’s view on this one.

  5. Yes, feeling a little bit ChickenLittle now, but we will see what the morrow brings. Certainly haven’t noticed the expected crowds. I do get some satisfaction out of the idea that Tony Abbott may have unleashed a wave of whinging that will follow him should he (flyingspaghettimonsterforbid) become PM.
    I don’t have a problem with people picketing. I giggled about the truckies who were going to protest about live export bans but couldn’t because they had to go an pickup another shipment because live export is back on again.
    I’m more than a little annoyed that people who are doing reasonably well, are well represented politically, and who are more than likely going to be compensated under any ‘carbon tax’ are complaining when other voices who truly are in need of help are being drowned out.

  6. It would seem that once a politician lies you just can’t trust them anymore and they must go. I can see the tumbleweeds rolling around Parliament House now. But somehow they are still following Tony Abbott. I wonder what the difference is?
    They are also threatening to protest again. Good on them. Protest as much as you like, but somewhere along the line, if you remember that the Liberals lost the last election [not by much but they lost] then you might save yourselves a lot of time.
    I know I’m harping on about this but I learnt as a kid that whinging doesn’t get you what you want, and I’m sure that a lot of the people at these protests who have children have taught their children the same thing and were taught that themselves as well. So why go on with this?

  7. Don’t you only get three wishes from the Genie? and oh dear, isn’t the genie found by a Persian?
    I had dinner with my cousins when I was last in Sydney. We grew up in an extended family envionment which had us subjected to the same life experiences well into our 30s, their wishes were so far from mine the dinner flowed from food to heated argument. Mostly they now live in “The Shire” which may explain the basis of their wishes. Their top three wishes were;
    1. Juliar should be assinated
    2. The UN Agenda 21 should be recinded as should be UN be disbanded (I had never heard of Agenda 21 but apparently is stops them cutting the grass on their holiday property
    3. The carbon tax should be abolished
    And of course all our problems were caused by “the Mussies”.
    Then followed a string of “wishes” all of which showed they had been left behind and that “things” were moving far too fast for them.
    They were angry and confused.
    We are all from working class families but their political allegiance had shifted and maybe in the tradition of “Deer Hunting with Jesus” they may well vote against their best interests (although the consevative religious influence has not been a factor).

  8. I love the AEC. The cost of the last election was $161 342 861 . Much as I like our lovely Amazing Kim to have work with the AEC, I do think that most of those funds could be better spent elsewhere than on an election that someone has stamped their foot and demanded.
    But at least from today we should have a slightly better educated populace as DD insisters learn that at DD election can’t just be called by a PM there has to be a trigger and the endlessly patient Antony Green gets more followers.
    Apparently the traffic into Canberra has been as usual, some saying better than usual, and twitter has been harsh. @ACT_pol has been really good with updates of movements and lights being sequenced to allow smooth flow of the traffic.
    On ABC 666 (I kid you not) one of the organisers is saying that there aren’t as many trucks because they realised early on that they would cause traffic gridlock and decided that wasn’t a good thing to be doing so they made phonecalls and asked lots of people to turn around. Ross Solly (announcer) said “But on the weekend you were still saying thousands were coming, when did you start making phonecalls?”
    It would seem, as with Slutwalk, take the number of Facebook attendees and divide by 10 or so to get a reasonable estimate of people attending.

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