Topic: election Oz 2007
The ABC PM show and ABC 7pm tv news and 7.30 Report are all carrying the unusual speech of PM Howard at the Sydney Institute at 6 pm or so earlier tonight.
The "mea culpa" speech recognising the special position of indigenous Australia will have the journalists running to make their deadlines for the press tomorrow. [The SMH carries a report here next morning: PM's 'new reconciliation' as does the rival SDT here Howard's reconciliation backflip and The Australian here Howard's 'new reconciliation' ]
We detect a real politik convergence in this latest development:
1. Howard's career has involved variously "bucket loads of native title extinguishment", and broken election promises in both 1996 and 1998 over a $40M funding of the Cape York Land Use Agreement which effectively became a dead letter after so much pioneering work by so many, the attempt to promote the Jabiluka uranium mine and lots more. Nothing can sanitise these sins of commission.
2. Howard is chronicly losing in the polls and has been failing to wedge the Rudd led ALP from the right flank of politics with variously capital punishment, logging of world heritage forest/pulp mill, intervention in the NT and Cape York welfare reform, guilotine of the Sudanese refugee programme and no doubt others. This has resulted in the infamous 'me tooism' of ALP 'leader' Rudd. The PM might as well have a go at some traction trying to wedge Rudd from the left flank on reconciliation with the Indigenous. Nothing else is working. Aboriginal tactician Noel Pearson might even call this Karl Rove inspired triangulation.
3. Another aspect of badly losing in the polls is that PM Howard needs to take out insurance on his impending legacy. Point 1 combined with point 2 above means he needs a mitigation strategy and perhaps the biggest figleaf in Australian political history if the upcoming election really is the annihilation he himself contemplated months back. This mea culpa is ideal if and when he loses the election. Alternatively we hear some (abc) journos are already interpreting this speech as a 'man of the future' pitch to rival oppponent Rudd's comparative youth.4. Minister Andrews is being swamped by incredulous criticism from the big media and little media about the factual underpinning of a new Sudan refugee policy mentioned above. All made worse by a heartbreaking funeral getting alot of visual coverage over an 18 year old murder victim by two alleged white perpetrators in Melbourne in the last two weeks, as here p3 The Australian 10th Oct 2007:
But we believe Andrews is 'taking a bullet', in the old West Wing tv show sense, presumably for the Cabinet decision to outflank the predatory Pauline Hanson from the ultra right flank, who caused so much splitting on race in the 1998 election. Howard needs a new focus in the 24 hour media cycle of a colour coded nature to rescue Andrews in yet another sticky PR predicament. A good old gazump is needed to 'mind f*ck' the big meeja.And sure enough here it is sans Sudanese black face replaced with Aboriginal one in today's News Ltd broadsheet front page of their website and filling p1 of the press 12th Oct 2007:
5. The unemployment figures are such - a theoretical 4.2% or 'lowest in 33 years' - that the industrial sector needs more employee cannon fodder, including Black Australians to keep the economic machine ticking over. Willing wage slaves of all colours, race and creed are welcome. For those lost in poverty traps, then of course intervention and training is a basic pre requisite as per intrusion into domestic affairs in the NT to get the workers job ready.
6. Cardinal Pell in charge of Sydney Catholics has given grudging approval to the ALP's education and independent schools policy on page 2 of the Sydney Daily Telegraph pictured in his black penguin suit 11 Oct 2007:
This is an overt signal, including via front page of the sister broadsheet, to conservatives Rudd is 'safe' to switch to, and thus very damaging to the Coalition conservative voter base, hence the squealing by Minister Tony Abbott last night on PM about meddlesome priests? Howard needs a big ticket moral riposte before this Pell bushfire gains ever greater traction because then it won't just be 10-12 points gap in the polls.
7. Last but likely most profound is that Howard, as he conceded in his speech, has finally travelled into the heart of Aboriginal Australia and been embraced by young kids who just want someone from the govt to care about them and help them. Even new grand dad Howard would find it hard to ignore their innocent embrace. And so the great laggard and cultural philistine has arrived where so many others have walked decades ago, to recognise a grand timeless culture that makes white fellas look like blow ins - people like ex diplomat Bruce Haigh on the conversation hour on ABC radio earlier this week: A man of uncommon impressive experience in the Kimberley, the military and foreign govt service including South Africa, and now farmer. And a worthy exemplar for such as media junkie John Howard?
The fact PM Howard's mea culpa is virtually throwing his personal record of the last 11 years on the bonfire of old news is no sweat for a real politik warrior like John Howard. A little bit of personal embarrassment is nothing compared to points 1 to 6 above. Ever the power politician. Nor should JH feel too bad about losing in the next election as we think is inevitable - he's changed the country (for the worse regarding the environment) and can laugh at the thought that the ALP has resorted to a genuine facsimile: Kevin Rudd, who on the other hand may cry on election night with emotion over the 'successful' transmogrification into his nemesis. Similarly environmental carpet bagger Peter Garrett will be reflecting he finds himself mutated into chief apologist for logger thuggery and vandalism, Michael OConnor of the national logger union.
Such is the price of love with that thrilling mistress Power, and the road to hell is paved with ....