The leaderless country*

So yesterday we had the wash-up from the great debate and the ‘news’ which followed. It was disheartening, to be kind, and gobsmackingly awful, to be more frank.

First we had the summary of the supposed polling/responses to the not-so-great debate in the Melbourne Age. And what a wild swing they revealed with Mr. Rudd empathically winning on the Ten network and equally emphatically losing with Channel Seven. Mark Kenny, the political writer for its sister publication The Sydney Morning Herald described the debate as a ‘crushingly dull affair’, more ‘mock and bore’ than ‘shock and awe’, a ‘male talkfest which was a turnoff for voters’. An even better wrap up came courtesy of Greens MP, Adam Bandt, on the ABC’s QandA when he described the debate as ‘drab meandering around increasingly diminishing points of difference.”

They are both right, of course.

The only vaguely interesting sidenote was the suggestion that PM Rudd was cheating by having notes on the podium. And in an attempt to be generous, Mr. Abbott jumped in where angels fear to tread, declaring that no one can be a suppository for all wisdom.

Of course he meant to say ‘repository’, but the slip made for great headlines and even better twittersphere references on #suppository and #enema.

A truly dark day for politics in a leaderless country.

What did we learn in The Age

Not a lot, in The Sydney Morning Herald

Tony Abbott makes CNN headlines in a way he will wish he didn’t

(* with thanks to Senor Oso, you know who you are)

Opinion: No political choices

Dear Kevin and Tony,

Well congratulations. This election will be the 17th in which I have voted since I turned 18 in 1972. And between the two of you and your hapless followers, there is not a hope that I can front up and support either party.

On 3 December that year I enthusiastically gave my vote to the Labor Party – agreeing that it was time for a new direction. And I even got to see the great man himself, the towering figure of Gough Whitlam at an old style town hall meeting in the electorate of Casey, in outer eastern Melbourne beforehand. Whitlam was swept to power in an euphoric rush of hope, dreams and plans for a bigger and better Australia. These, of course, were dashed when his political nemesis, Malcolm Fraser, denied supply and forced an election in 1975 that delivered a Liberal coalition government until 1983, when Bob Hawke (AKA a drover’s dog) fought his way to power in just 31 days. Since then we’ve had four Prime Ministers – Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd (times two) and our first female leader, Julia Gillard. And each election I have attended a local polling booth with a firm sense of mission and purpose.

But well done, guys, the 2013 Election is fast approaching and I am faced with the choice I previously failed to understand – no choice. I used to think people who voted informally were copping out, but this election, I simply cannot endorse either of the major parties.

I was happy with the minority Labor Party, supported by the Independents and the Greens, and the life affirming, life-changing legislation they pumped through despite the strongest efforts of Dr. No’s, AKA Mr. Abbott, Mr. Hockey and Ms. Bishop. But on the last day of Parliament the man who had actively destabilised his own party had his revenge, and the hard working Ms. Gillard was relegated to the back benches with a very sanctimonious Mr. Rudd now heading the party of social justice.

Give me a break.

I look to the other side of the house seeking inspiration, and quite frankly, there is none. Despite half-hearted attempts by the Canberra Press Gallery and the odd insistent independent journalist, no member of the coalition will go near the water when it comes to revealing the true costs of its promises. All they can do is don their blue ties and chant the same tired three-word slogans, promising to ‘balance the books’, ‘stop the boats’ and ‘build new roads’ – all at once, apparently.

To say I find this depressing is a massive understatement.

Yes, I know, I can turn to independents or greens, but I like to think my vote will support a party which is capable of forming government. A hope which seems increasingly unlikely as the days go by.

So, Kev and Tony, I (and my vote) have ‘gotta zip’. If you come up with any original ideas, or funding detail, feel free to get in touch.

What about you? What do you think? Are we left with no decent alternatives for 7 September?

Written by Kaye Fallick