Monday, 22 October 2007

Why Howard lost the debate

I thought I’d add my thoughts about last night’s debate to the mix, for what they’re worth!

I have to say upfront that I am not a fan of John Howard, and so quite possibly I was less eager to hear his point of view or award him brownie points than in the case of Kevin Rudd. But despite that I was really surprised by Mr Howard’s lackluster performance, his refusal to answer questions asked by Mr Rudd as well as the panel of journalists and his seeming inability to engage with Mr Rudd on issues where I thought he could have scored a few points. He seemed, quite frankly, old and snippy, and much more negative than Mr Rudd, which is strange as it’s usually the Opposition who comes across as the most negative.

I think Mr Howard’s first mistake was to elect to go second. I would have understood the decision if he was planning to rebuff some of Mr Rudd’s opening remarks in his own opening statement, but all he did was deliver a prepared speech that seemed almost nonsensical. In his opening remarks Mr Rudd put forward a clear plan for the future without unnecessary negative remarks. Mr Howard spent much of his time going on and on about Labor claiming Australia’s current state of prosperity was because of the mining boom – but it didn’t make sense because Mr Rudd hadn’t talked much about the mining boom in his opening remarks. If all Mr Howard was going to do was deliver a prepared speech, he should have gone first.

His second mistake was to blunder around not answering questions. On Iraq, climate change, interest rates and child care he just did not adequately answer the question or explain his reasoning.

Thirdly, and most oddly, he totally misused his questions for Mr Rudd. Asking the leader of the Opposition why he didn’t spend more time talking with the US President about climate change when he himself has ignored the issue for 11 years was just plain stupid. Voters are particularly anti-government on both Australian/US relations and climate change, and for him to bring it up in the same question was a spectacular mistake, as testified to by the worm. This was compounded by him saying we as a country needed to protect “America’s prestige” – may I ask why? This didn’t go down well at all. Then he asked a vague question about Mr Rudd guaranteeing his election promises – which gave Mr Rudd the opportunity to freely electioneer for a few minutes before closing statements. He also missed the opportunity to point out that if Labor wins, we will be a completely Labor-dominated country, which does worry voters.

Fourthly, he was just too negative, calling Mr Rudd “pessimistic” just seemed petty and pathetic, and quite untrue, as Mr Rudd was almost bounding across the stage with energy and enthusiasm, while it looked as though Mr Howard might need a good lie down.

Of course, Mr Rudd should not escape our criticism either. He should have been clearer about his interim targets for climate change and he needed to explain clearly why he supports disengaging from the Iraq war while at the same time leaving troops in Afghanistan. Though it is clear the situations are markedly different, it needed to be spelled out, as Mr Howard directly attacked him on this point. Mr Rudd did also rely a little on slogans. But it worked – at the end of the debate I could quite clearly pinpoint what Labor were planning to do if elected, and name several policies, whereas I really had no idea what the Liberals were offering. However, Mr Howard has never debated well, and has won the previous two elections…but I think that this time that might change. Labor has not been a worthy opponent for the past few years, but now they seem to have their act together there might be a different tale to tell on November 24.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Human rights in Australia

For all you facebookers out there, I recently joined a a human rights group on there which had this story to tell:

"Before dawn yesterday morning (Tuesday 16 October) a 40 year old Sri Lankan man was deported, after spending the night in solitary confinement at Maribyrnong Detention Centre. His last terrifying night in Australia can only have exacerbated his already fraught mental state - which had already passed the point of cutting open his throat and writing a letter in his own blood to detention staff, begging for psychiatric help. Despite his begging, on his last night he was not allowed to speak to friends and supporters who have been his only comfort in the past 2 years of his detention, for reasons that the detention centre staff sourced to 'the Privacy Act'. He has now been sent back to Sri Lanka, to his history of torture and terror, the memories of watching his infant daughter beaten and his wife raped. Back to the land where he had his penis burned with hot irons, his legs bashed and bruised, his face broken, all because he changed his political affiliations.Australia is - and ought to be - more than an economy. It is a nation that prides itself on giving people a fair go, providing opportunities, not to mention respect for freedom, justice and human rights.In the first 3 days of the election campaign those ideals have already been so dramatically flouted that I am compelled to write this letter, in dread anticipation that it's only going to get worse. I have visited people in detention for over 5 years and have seen these horrors time and time again. Tax cuts are all very well, but what is it to be economically rich, and morally bankrupt? This nation is more than an economy. "
by jessie@thejusticeproject

Being half Sri Lankan, I can testify that these things happen in Sri Lanka. I can't believe we sent him back.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Just a link

I found a web site named revolution in Jesus land and while I haven't read enough of it to have an opinion yet, I can say it looks interesting.

Of much interest is a partial transcript of a litergy by Shane Claiborne (whom I am about to Google to find more info on).

With governments that kill…
…we will not comply.

With the theology of empire…
…we will not comply.

With the business of militarism…
…we will not comply.

With the hoarding of riches
…we will not comply.

With the dissemination of fear
…we will not comply.

But today we pledge our allegiance to the kingdom of God…
…we pledge allegiance.

To the peace that is not like Rome’s…
…we pledge allegiance.

To the Gospel of enemy love
…we pledge allegiance.

To the poor and the broken…
…we pledge allegiance.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Birthday musings

As I'm turning 30 tomorrow I have felt rather reflective today, and so this post will be slightly more personal than usual.

It occurred to me that I have spent most of my 20's unlearning everything I thought I knew when I turned 20! And most of that has been to do with my faith. I've been reading an essay recently which sums up where I am right now in terms of theology, faith and culture, how we relate as Christians to other faiths is an extract:

"Theology is incomplete. We have not captures the singular truth for all times (despite what we may think), but theology is a continual process of interpreting and understanding God in the contexts of new situations, new experiences and, in the light of new knowledge and new insights. Theology is about understanding the now in light of the present revelation. The Christian faith is ever renewing itself, as it works for and longs for the coming of the kingdom...All thought is shaped by the society which produces it. We inherit unexamined mindsets that colour all our ideals."

So I hope you can ponder on that for a while.