Sunday, August 26, 2007

The dark side of Australian politics

With the re-entry of Pauline Hanson into Australian politics, we are seeing the return of the kind of meanness that is determined to protect white privilege. Here she is on ABC radio:

DONNA FIELD: Ms Hanson says she knows a lot of white South Africans who have immigrated to Australia, and they've been subjected to medical tests. But she's concerned the same can't be said for black Africans.

And on queue, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Kevin Andrews issued a press statement that refugee intake from the African region would be reduced to 30 per cent, with a likely further reduction in the future. Let's hope that someone can let some light into the white fortress.

Crikey - Politics - Pauline whistles, Howard jumps. Again

Saturday, August 18, 2007

São Paulo unveiled

Under the control of its mayor Gilberto Kassab, São Paulo has implemented a Lei Cidade Limpa or Clean City Law, which outlaws outdoor advertising. Kassab argues it is part of an anti-pollution campaign:

The Clean City Law came from a necessity to combat pollution . . . pollution of water, sound, air, and the visual. We decided that we should start combating pollution with the most conspicuous sector – visual pollution.
Adbusters : The Magazine - #73 Carbon Neutral Culture / São Paulo: A City Without Ads

The advertising ban appears to be popular with the majority of Paulistas, though there are reports of people getting lost without familiar landmarks. The demolition of billboards has revealed strange scenes, such as Bolivian migrant communities. Some companies are responding by painting the outside of their buildings in bold colours reflecting their corporate image. Will this set a trend in the metropolitan centres of the south?

See for yourself in this short film.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The end of the Rudd era

After his historic win against the long-standing John Howard in November 2007, Rudd has counterbalanced the political ledger with four terms at Prime Minister. But like his predecessor, the elusive fifth-term seems beyond his reach.

The Rudd era has seen a number of radical developments. Australia's close relationship with China has been the cause of much consternation, particularly given the country's poor record in carbon emissions and human rights in Africa. Kevin Rudd's support for China's invasion of Taiwan in 2015 has been the subject of growing protest.

The past eleven years have also seen a wholesale change in state politics, as Labor governments have all now succumbed to Liberal victories, leaving the Federal stage as the only remaining bastion of Labor power.

While initially supported as a fresh new leader, Rudd's popularism seems to have worn thin with both media and voters. For many years, his 'focus group' approach has been for long effective in countering Liberal opposition. But Rudd is now perceived as weak and lacking in vision.

Opinion polls in the middle of 2018 show a dramatic surge of support for the Liberal party, under its dynamic new leader Richard Howard, son of the former Prime Minister. Rudd is trying to counter this by a frantic series of new legislation, including Indigenous health support and a ban on old-growth logging in Tasmania. But to the cynical public, this is perceived as a desperate attempt to add vision now the end is nigh.

So what will Richard Howard be like as the new Prime Minister? Many critics see his close ties to the US as playing a major role. The recent election of Jenna Bush to the US Presidency has returned conservatives to power after years in the wilderness during Hillary Clinton's rule. Australia can once again turn to the US as its primary ally. Howard has already promised to boost Australia's already extensive troop commitments in the continuing war in Iraq.

And how long is Howard's reign as Prime Minister likely to last? Time will tell.