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February 02nd 2013 print

Philippa Martyr

Rodents overboard!

Labor's ship is foundering and some of the nastiest creatures Australian political life has seen in living memory are bolting for their comfy, pension-padded holes behind the skirting board. Hallelujah!

Recently there’s been a bit of chatter – from the class that specialises in this – on the apparent quietness of those two or three fanatical anti-Gillard misogynist swivel-eyed loonies who live entirely on the internet. After all, Mrs Mathieson and her government have managed to claw back two or three points in the opinion polls. Their cheer squad in the press gallery has turned this into a clear sign that the next Federal election will be a shoo-in for the ALP. Gillard will be returned to power with a clear mandate, and all will be hippety-hoppity, as of old.

And yet for some reason, senior Labor MPs are not taking heart from this. Some months ago I queried just how many more desertions there would be from the good ship ALP before the next election. Now that an actual date has been set – and some scary polling results have come in from the marginal seats — it seems to be having the same effect on Labor MPs as the sight of the gallows on a condemned man.

It has led to a touching reprioritisation in some people’s lives. It’s amazing how many MPs have suddenly found that they need to spend more time with their families. And the biggest and most startling trophy of them all since Bob Brown’s departure must surely be Nicola Roxon.

Roxon’s performance as Attorney General was one of the most shameful in this country’s history. In just a few short months, she managed to interfere disgracefully in the Slipper case and draft a diabolical piece of legislation which, if passed in the way she intended, would have effectively shut down freedom of speech in Australia. Roxon has shown no regard for due process of law and no understanding of, or respect for, principles such as freedom of expression.

Roxon belongs to a joyless, hateful tradition of government interference in everyday human life. She comes from a class of people who believe with utter simplicity and conviction that they really do know what is best for everyone else, and heaven help us if we dare cross them. Every citizen of this country should be rejoicing, not only to see her step down as Attorney General, but because she is leaving politics altogether. (editor’s note: unless someone has descended into the crypt and driven a stake through her politician’s heart, that remains to be seen.)

Meanwhile, Rob Oakeshott has gone mercifully quiet. Tony Windsor has predicted that one of the major parties will win the election outright, and has said, “I don’t care who wins the next election.” This is entirely consistent with his decision last time around to give us, pretty much single-handed, the worst government in our history.

Philippa Martyr blogs at Transverse City, but lives in a seat held by the ALP for 80 years, where some suburbs still have no proper sewerage and the urban infrastructure is dying on its feet, and whose local Federal MP has just formed a close personal relationship with a billionaire she met at the opera