Some Thoughts on the Election

Like a lot of Australians, I’m still digesting the results – or rather lack of results – from Saturday’s election. I thought I’d share a few thoughts while it’s all still fresh in my mind.

  • At the moment we still don’t know the final result and won’t know until Tuesday at the earliest, probably later. Right now the most likely outcomes look like being either another hung parliament or possibly the Turnbull government just hanging on by the skin of its teeth and forming a slender majority by one or two seats. Either way it’s not what most people expected.
  • My overall impression of all this is, well, what a mess. The prospect of another hung parliament isn’t something I particularly relish; while the 2010 parliament did actually pass some good legislation, the whole process was so chaotic and there were so many wasteful promises that in the end it just seemed incredibly disorganised and unstable. Likewise the Turnbull government being returned with a tiny majority doesn’t seem very workable either as Turnbull would have to keep his entire party in line and that seems unlikely to say the least after this result.
  • Personally I was hoping that, whoever won the election, we’d get a clear result to end the chaos we’ve seen in the recent past. But now it looks like the only way to get that would be through another election, which would be expensive and after such a long campaign already, there’s very little appetite for that. And even if another election were held, there’s no guarantee we wouldn’t end up with a similar result either. So, yes. It’s all looking like a pretty big mess unfortunately.
  • To be honest, though, Turnbull only has himself to blame for this result. This should have been a fairly comfortable victory given his popularity after replacing Tony Abbott last year. But that support disappeared and then the Coalition’s entire campaign felt lacklustre and uninspired – we barely even heard about the main premise for the election throughout the campaign, the government not being able to pass its ABCC legislation, when you’d expect that to be one of the main issues. And that’s just one example. Likewise Turnbull seemed strangely disengaged, like the whole process was taxing and something he was simply enduring before getting back to the main business of running the country. Add a clever campaign by Labor built primarily around Medicare and this is the result, a government that may be on its way out after only one term.
  • So what went wrong? Honestly I think you’d have to say that most of this result is due to people becoming very frustrated with Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition in general. When Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as PM there was a feeling of relief in the community, like Turnbull would be able to change direction and align the government more closely with public sentiment on issues like climate change and marriage equality. But the Turnbull who emerged as PM was not the one people expected; he was hamstrung by the right faction of his party and it gave the impression that he stood for nothing and had sacrificed his convictions to become PM. In the end it seemed like very little had changed, just the face of the government, and when you add in the disappointing campaign performance by Turnbull and the Coalition as a whole, it’s not that surprising that people turned to Labor and the minor parties as their trust evaporated.
  • To be fair to Turnbull, much of the public expectation when he became PM was unfair. He was never going to be the PM they wanted, not just because the right would go after him if he even dreamed of trying to be, but also because that simply isn’t who he is as a person or as a politician. He is a pragmatist and realistically the best chance Turnbull had to change the government’s direction was after the election, by winning with enough of a margin to claim a mandate and to slowly move the government more towards where he wanted them to be over time. The irony though is that he’ll probably never get that chance now as the result means he’ll have to be even more beholden to the right to survive – saying he can survive after this result.
  • While the Coalition’s campaign was lacklustre, I also don’t want to take credit away from Labor either. Labor did extremely well in the campaign and Bill Shorten performed extraordinarily well as leader. He transformed himself into a true alternative PM during the campaign and his enthusiasm and enjoyment for the process was infectious, which was particularly impressive given it was such a long, exhausting eight weeks.
  • Looking objectively, Labor ran a very professional campaign, particularly at the grassroots level, and they successfully presented themselves as a party with new ideas for the country. It’s no surprise that they emerged reinvigorated and that is the truly good thing to come out of this election; at the very least it’s shown that they’ll be a strong opposition and as any democracy is only as strong as it’s opposition, that’s a good sign. And they look capable if they do somehow claim government too.
  • The one thing I didn’t like about the Labor campaign though was the Medicare scare campaign. I thought they pushed it way too hard, particularly in the last week of the campaign. I don’t think it was accurate or necessary to go so far as to suggest that the government was thinking about privatising Medicare when there was little evidence of that; there was already enough concern over GP co-payments for Labor to make their case about health and Medicare and it took their campaign into negative territory which I didn’t like at all. But it worked and ended up being one of the biggest issues for them, so I can’t really argue with it, I guess.
  • Labor did very well but I think the big winner, though, was Pauline Hanson. At the moment it looks like One Nation has secured two senate spots and may end up with as many as four. It’s a remarkable resurrection for Hanson and will give her much of the balance of power in the senate.
  • I can’t begin to say how disappointed I am to see Hanson not only back but potentially wielding that much power. As far as I’m concerned One Nation is a party based on fear and ignorance and I despaired when I saw the result. Listening to Hanson today, it seems One Nation wants to abolish the Family Law Court and will be pushing for royal commissions into the science of climate change and to examine whether Islam is a “religion or a political ideology”. All of which sound utterly bizarre to me.
  • One Nation’s views don’t surprise me – it’s the same old ignorance, just with new targets – but I guess I am disappointed that, after twenty years, people continue to not be able to see through them as hollow and xenophobic. But to be honest One Nation’s success is not unique or even that unexpected, if anything it’s just another example of the continued rise of far-right parties and figures that we’ve been seeing around the world over the last few years. The same fears about immigration, muslims, the economy and the decline of the working class that drove the Brexit outcome and are behind a lot of Donald Trump’s support are the same reasons many people voted for One Nation too.
  • Given that trend and how many votes One Nation received in this election, you’d have to say that the main parties have good reason to be worried about the growing power of the far right fringe. It’s becoming harder to dismiss that support as just a small number of people; it’s a growing and very vocal minority that is very dissatisfied with the political system and wants to shake it up or overturn it entirely. I’m not sure what the parties can really do about those people either except to try to find a way to reengage with them, which would be very difficult, perhaps even impossible at this point. Either way, it gives a voice to some of these kinds of views for at least the next few years and will make negotiating with the senate a nightmare.
  • So how is all this going to play out? At this stage I really have no idea; the election is so close that pretty much anything could happen. I think the most likely scenario is a hung parliament with the Coalition getting about 74 seats but I honestly do not know how it would play out from there. If that were to happen I’m not sure I could see Labor securing enough crossbench support to form government, and while theoretically the Coalition could, I’m not sure how workable it would be or how tenuous Turnbull’s position would then become, particularly given the senate.
  • If I had to guess I’d say that I think the Coalition will just manage to form a minority government but I would not be at all surprised if it all falls apart very quickly. I also wouldn’t be surprised if neither party can form government and we have to have another election. Which honestly no one would be happy about but I think would probably be the fairest outcome at this stage.
  • Either way I just hope we get a result soon and that somehow, some way, whoever forms government manages to provide some kind of stability. The chaos has gone on for far too long. But I doubt it unfortunately.
  • What a mess.

5 Things (redux)

So this is my first post in a little while. Actually in a long while when I think about it… I’ve barely updated this blog all year really. I’m sorry for that. I still see blogging as a major part of my writing life and I keep meaning to update more often. I’ve just had other things on my mind, particularly for the last few weeks.

I haven’t been feeling that well recently. I’ve hardly slept and I’ve had an awful migraine for the last few weeks. I blame the weather; everything seems worse when it’s cold and it’s been bitterly cold in Sydney this past month. It’s the coldest winter we’ve had in a long time.

We’ve also been gearing up for a national election and it’s been kind of surreal. Just a few weeks ago Kevin Rudd was our Prime Minister; now Rudd’s gone, we have our first female PM in Julia Gillard (long overdue) and we’re rushing to the polls on August 21. It’s all happened so quickly that it’s almost draining.

Usually I quite enjoy elections but after the brutal way Rudd was brought down and how both parties have gone so negative already, it’s just ugly. Neither party seems to stand for anything and it’s more a battle of personalities than policy. The way both parties are treating asylum seekers is frankly appalling to me. I may have to flip a coin at this rate.

I’ve actually had some good news about my writing, though, during all of this which I’m very excited about. I was contacted by a scouting agency last week who sound interested in looking at some of my work. I’m thrilled… it’s just what I need at this stage. I’ve had some minor interest before as well, so I guess that shows I’m on the right track.

I haven’t worked out what I’m going to send yet. I’ve only just started working on my first novel so I haven’t really finished enough to show to anyone yet. I’ve been thinking about putting together a collection of short stories, so that might be an option instead.

Either way, it’s encouraging. I feel like I’m finally starting to get somewhere, so I think I’m going to focus more on writing my novel for the next few months. I feel like I’ve come far enough to seriously think about publication now and if I can have a draft finished by mid-September then at least I’ll have an idea of if it’s good enough to send away.

I’ll probably have to put some of my other projects aside while I work on the novel but I’ll be continuing with Sleepless at the same time. I may change a few things about how I’m writing the story (I’ll probably hold onto a few updates rather than posting them all live, so I’ll have something to post when I’m busy with the novel) but I’m still really excited about it and some of the ideas actually complement the novel, so it shouldn’t be a distraction.

If you’re following Sleepless, by the way, you’ve probably noticed I haven’t updated it for a few weeks. I took a break from writing to plan out the rest of the story but I’ll be getting back to it later tonight. With everything planned out now, there shouldn’t be any more delays. Thanks again to everyone who’s followed the story so far. I really appreciate it and all your feedback.

Anyway, as it’s been a while since my last post I thought I’d do a fun post to get back into the swing of things. So how about a meme? About two years ago I did the 5 Things About Me meme and as it was one of my favourite posts, I thought it’d be fun to do a follow-up now and see how my answers have changed… kind of like digging up a time capsule.

I’ve answered the questions differently where I can and I’ve added a few new ones as well to show what’s changed in the last few years. Just looking back at the original post now, it’s amazing how much has changed since then… we’ve changed Presidents and Prime Ministers, gone through the GFC, watched Haiti suffer, Michael Jackson become a memory… I’ve made new friends and lost others, watched from overseas as my grandmother nearly died… you don’t really realise just how much can happen in two years until you look back.

I hope you enjoy the meme. Has much changed for you in the last two years?

5 things found in your bag
I’ll use my messenger bag again

  • Camera
  • Glasses (mainly for reading these days)
  • iPhone
  • Sunscreen
  • Notepad and pen

5 favourite things in your room

TV Corner

  • Favourite pen
    I have a number of pens but my favourite is a custom-made Amboyna Sapwood pen that I’ve had for a couple of years. I tend to prefer wooden pens to metal ones; I write by hand and they’re just more comfortable when you’re using them for a long time. I use it mostly for writing letters and editing and I always use it for the first page of a new story.
  • Writing area
    My computer died earlier this year, so I took the opportunity to get a new desk as well. I loved my old writing desk but it was too small for the monitor, so I’m saving it for when I have more room. I’ve got a nice area set up now. Now I just need to get on with writing!

Computer & Desk (side on)Computer & DeskComputer, Desk & Chair

  • Memory box
    Everyone probably has a memory box somewhere. Mine’s mostly filled with simple things – photos, trinkets, my school prefect badge, a copy of my favourite book from when I was a child (The Velveteen Rabbit). It also has my first acceptance letter from when I was published and my first email from a reader.
  • Statues and figures
    I mentioned that I collect these in the original post as well but I’ve added a few more since then. The Egyptian figures are made by Veronese from cold cast resin; most of the pewter ones are by the Tudor Mint. The Le Morte d’Arthur piece (right) is my favourite.

Egyptian CollectionPewter Figures

Pewter Fellowship sculptArthurian Collection

  • Wall plaque
    I got this for a bargain $2 on eBay a couple of years ago. I love Asian-themed art and it’s one of my favourite pieces. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find out much about it, though; I only know it came from Melbourne and has a “Partos” sticker on the back.

Asian Wall Art

5 things that have changed in the last two years

  • My writing
    My writing’s come a long way in the last two years; I’m much better at editing in particular now and finally feel confident enough to try a full-length novel. Also, I’ve really taken to poetry, which has been a surprise. I’ve never really thought of myself as much of a poet.
  • My philosophy
    I’ve been an atheist for about two years now. It was a gradual thing; I lost my faith after 9/11 and Bali and considered myself an agnostic for several years, before I started to drift towards atheism. Atheism isn’t what a lot of people think it is; it’s a philosophy based on the absence of personal belief, not the worship of science. I don’t pretend to have all the answers but I feel more content now. Most people seem to respect that.
  • My family tree
    I’ve always had an interest in genealogy and I started researching our family tree last year. So far I’ve found several distant cousins and an entire side of our family we knew nothing about. I’ve also learnt a lot about Isaac, my great-great grandfather.
  • My taste in music
    I’ve never been that into modern music but I’ve found myself drifting more and more towards indie and alternative artists and music from the 60s and 70s over the last few years…. I can’t even remember the last pop song I bought. I’ll take Sarah Blasko over Katy Perry any day.
  • My hair
    I guess it’s just a part of getting older but I’ve started to lose a little of my hair over the last year or so. It’s not that bad but still, I wasn’t expecting it just yet! And the icing on the cake? I found my first grey hair the other day as well…

5 things you want to do in the next year

  • Finish my novel
    I feel happy with where I am with my writing at the moment, so I finally started work on my novel a few weeks ago. I’ve been developing the idea for almost a year; it’s a modern fable exploring racism, terrorism and religious extremism. I won’t know if it’s good enough to publish until it’s finished but I think it could be excellent if it all comes together… something quite different to what’s around at the moment.
  • Study
    I’ve been thinking about this for a while and at some stage during the next year I want to get back to studying. Now that I’m finally working on a novel I want to have something to fall back on as well and I think now’s a good time to think about studying again. I’m looking at library studies atm; I could do a Masters later as well, which would allow me to teach, something I’ve always wanted to do.
  • Meet someone
    I don’t talk about my love life that often. I don’t date that much but the last time I had something close to a relationship was about two years ago, when I met someone I became very close to… I’m not sure if it was “love” but it was certainly the most intense connection I’ve ever had with someone. It ended quite suddenly; I don’t know why exactly, though I suspect it was because I became an atheist as she was quite religious. I haven’t really been looking to meet anyone since then, but I’d love to meet someone during the next year, someone I could be myself with. I don’t know if it’ll happen but it’d be nice if it did.
  • See the Australian Open
    I love tennis and I’ve been wanting to go to the Australian Open in Melbourne for years. Hopefully 2011 will be the year! It’ll probably come down to whether I can afford it closer to the date but it’s something I’d love to do to start off the new year. I’d love to see a cricket match at the MCG if there’s one on as well.
  • Get a good night’s sleep
    I’ve had insomnia for about three years now. I only get a few hours sleep a night and frankly it drives me nuts. I mean, what are you supposed to do at 4 in the morning? Just once in the next year I’d love to get a good night’s sleep. That’s not too much to ask, is it? 😕

5 things you have always wanted to do

  • Perform a poetry reading
    I’ve always enjoyed poetry readings and I’ve often thought about sharing some of my own work in public. I’ve always been worried about embarrassing myself as I’ve not taken my poetry that seriously before but I still love the idea. I’ll have to do it one of these days.
  • Learn to play the piano
    I’ve never been that talented as far as music goes; I’m completely tone-deaf and the only instrument I used to be able to play was the little plastic recorder they made us play in school (I still wasn’t very good!). But I love music and if I have the time and money one day, I’d love to learn to play the piano. I’d have to get soundproofing for the neighbours first, though.
  • Travel to Egypt and Japan
    There are a lot countries I’d love to visit one day – India, Canada, New Zealand, the US – but if I had to choose two, I’d really love to see Egypt and Japan. I’ve always loved the idea of trying to find my way in a completely foreign city, of seeing the Pyramids, the Asakusa temples in Tokyo. Hopefully I’ll make it to both one day.
  • Be an extra in a movie
    I’m a big movie buff and I’d love to be part of a movie as an extra one day and see how they’re made. Maybe I could be a red shirt in the next Star Trek film and die a horrible death. What do you think?
  • Ride an elephant
    I’ve always loved elephants. Some treks in India and Africa actually allow you to ride on the back of an elephant and I’ve always thought that would be an amazing experience. I’d only want to do it if it was safe and the elephant was comfortable with it, of course, but it’s something I’d love to do… a real once-in-a-lifetime experience.

5 things you are currently into

  • She & Him
    I’m a big fan of M. Ward’s and one of his side projects is a folk duo with Zooey Deschanel called She & Him. Deschanel reminds me a little of Julia Stone (who I love as well) and they’re kind of a throwback to 60s music with a modern twist and sound refreshingly different to anything else out there right now. Their latest album’s one of the best I’ve heard in years.

  • Scrabble
    I have a kind of ritual I go through before I start writing; I do a word game or a crossword to start thinking about different words. Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Scrabble and I’m hooked. I got my highest score the other day (425) and still lost! I’m still not quite sure how.
  • The West Wing
    I’ve been working my way through all the DVDs of The West Wing over the last few months and it’s become one of my favourite shows. The writing and acting are incredible and it’s interesting, seeing the parallels to both Bush and Clinton administrations. It’s brilliant. I can’t believe I missed it on TV.
  • Catherynne Valente
    I hadn’t heard of Catherynne Valente until recently but she’s quickly become one of my favourite authors. The best way I can describe her is that she writes modern fairy tales, with some of the most beautiful, haunting prose I’ve read in a long time. If you like Margaret Atwood or Kelly Link, you’ll love her books. I can’t wait to read Palimpsest next.
  • Natalie Portman
    Because she’s Natalie Portman. What? Some things never change. 😉

5 people you want to tag

I won’t tag anyone as I did it in the first post. But if you’d like to do the meme yourself or do it again, feel free to use it… I’d love to see your answers.