Today, our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced we'd go to the polls on 21st August, to elect a federal government to lead Australia for the next 4 years, or thereabouts. Julia recently took over the Primeministership in one of those political moves that newspapers and political commentators love, i.e. she was a loyal deputy, but was advised by key and senior members in her party that if she ever wanted to be Prime Minister, now was her chance. Kevin Rudd, the former Prime Minister was elected in 2007 (Kevin 07 was the political slogan for that election), after about 12 years of Liberal (Conservative) government, under the leadership of John Howard, Leader of the Liberal Party.
Mr Howard lost the confidence of his own party, his own electorate of Benelong on Sydney Harbour's North Shore, and generally of the people of Australia. He was seen as considering himself and his ideas, his views, invincible. Mr Howard saw himself as a tough politician, ready, willing and able to make tough decisions. He basically relabeled racism, and called it "border protection", it was a matter of too many boat people, queue jumpers. It didn't matter that these people considered themeselves genuine refugees. Sadly, to a degree both sides now frequently use the term border protection, when they really mean racism. The people that both parties want to keep out of Australia are those whose only crime was they scrimped and saved to pay exhorbitant amounts of money to unscrupulous people, in order to attempt a hazardous, sometimes life threatening vovage; to come to Australia for a better life for their children and grand children, for a new start. Because these people had the temerity not to wait in a bureaucratic queue for their claims to be processed he, and Mr Howard and his party labelled them crooks, cheats and thieves, when they were genuine refugees.
Mr Abbott, who could double for Kaa the Python, or Slippery, Sleazy Sam didn't have the backbone or temerity to run as leader when John Howard's eyes boggled and his voice faltered on election night 2007 when his party lost seventeen seats federally (including his own). Two loyal party members tried to bring a softer side to the leadership of the Liberal Party, understanding the feeling of loathing that the populace had for Howard and his croneys. Mr Abbott knew the going would be tough, so he sat it out, and watched Brendan Nelson, and Malcolm Turnbull implode under the back stabbing chicanery of the Liberal Party, who for the most part still thought they were in Government and could be as ruthless and domineering in Opposition as they were in Government.
Kevin Rudd, who won the 2007 election, was more a diplomat than a leader, and was found to be getting gradually out of touch with the populace. So the Australian Labor Party officials decided it was time for him maybe to consider his options. He didn't want to walk the plank, and sadly saw his loyal, competent deputy, as a threat, and said some stupid, foolish things which she took umbrage over, and decided it was time to step up to the plate.
Australia gets the chance to step up to the plate, and move forward on 21/8 (8/21). The unthinkable alternative is a move back to the dark ages, to a racist government, to a homophobic government, to a patronising government of snakeoil salesmen and women who will say one thing and mean another. There are clear choices in health policy, in education policy, in fiscal policy and in the way Australians are treated by and served by those they elect to govern them.
I hope, for our sake, we move forward.