Less from the back room, please

The news story of the day yesterday was undoubtedly the selection of the Labor ministry.

Katz was probably right:

Members of the Labor factions conspired with each other to maximise factional outcomes and then complained when they felt themselves personally short-changed.

Shorten, or any other Labor leader, is the victim, not the author, of this process. Because of the process, the Labor leader is forced to give portfolios to individuals he prefers not to have on his front bench.

Clare O’Neil was positive about the leadership election.

But the fruits of allowing members a say in the leadership run deeper than yesterday’s result. The Labor Party is buzzing. Membership has increased. Policy forums have sprung up in every direction. Policy ideas that would never normally see the light of day have been hotly debated. Critically, the ballot has been marked by civility.

This civility fell away a bit with the choice of ministers being done by factional heavies behind closed doors. Anna Burke feels women in particular did not get fair consideration admitting she was bitter and disappointed.

It seems the right did not play its part selecting only three women in its 16 choices. Eight came from the left.

Shorten_5021046-3x2-340x227Returning to Clare O’Neil’s piece, she cites Tanya Plibersek on why Labor lost the election:

As Tanya Plibersek has said, we got nine out of 10 for governing the country, but one out of 10 for governing ourselves.

But to O’Neil Labor won’t regain government and hold it for extended period unless it tackles the task of reform:

It has also been said that Labor has focused too much energy and attention on itself over the past few years. This is undoubtedly true. But we cannot use this as an excuse to gloss over the internal problems of the last term. To do so would be to cover a festering sore with a Band-Aid. Our problems are clear. We face a brief opportunity in these first months of opposition to confront them. We must take it.

That’s what we owe to the millions of Australians who count on stable Labor governments to deliver fair policies on health, education and employment. Good reform through difficult conversations now will help us win government at the next election – and this time hold it for the long term.

Let’s hope it can be done with the minimum of acrimony. Both Albo and Shorto promised reform. Let’s see it happen.

Update: The Shorten shadow ministry is here.

92 thoughts on “Less from the back room, please”

  1. As Tanya Plibersek has said, we got nine out of 10 for governing the country…

    [redacted ~ please don’t post possibly defamatory comments here. Mod]

  2. I doubt that reform will be helped by disaffected caucus members rushing to vent their spleen on national TV when decisions don’t go their way.

  3. This civility fell away a bit with the choice of ministers being done by factional heavies behind closed doors.

    Until this rot is stopped the internal ructions will continue. Once again dead wood like Kim Carr get the plum spots while others are left to stagnate.

  4. David Feeney got a spot which is ridiculous. Burke’s complaints seem to be about the Right which needs to get its act together. But, I don’t think her Guardian article is such a good idea.

  5. Factions are the consequence of undemocratic pre-selection practices.

    Factions will not necessarily be destroyed by introduction of rank and file selection of candidates. If this practice were introduced, expect even more branch stacking.

    The problem is that individuals and groups pursuing special interests wield more power than those individuals who adhere to the principles of active citizenship.

  6. I really don’t want the Labour members to be undisciplined, shooting their mouths off, as I would like to see them get rid of Abbott & co asap.

    But I was cheered and somewhat refreshed by Anna Burke’s remarks about how the jobs were carved up by the ‘blokes’. She was not being ‘too polite’, or discreetly silent, unlike the deep silence emanating from the Government side, the regimented, censored Coalition with their one-woman ministry – such a brilliant bastion of free speech as they are.

  7. I am surprised at people being surprised at the resurgence of factions in choosing the ministry. That control of the process was one of the reasons for the party leader being giving the right in 2007. However, when the ALP wins a future election the then leader, with all the authority that win would entail, would have considerable control the Ministerial selection, irrespective of the formal approach.
    Not sure that I approve of having a whinge about the outcome at this stage. From the ALP perspective, it has disturbed a fairly positive post election process so far and, for the individual, probably makes future promotion less likely.

  8. Once again dead wood like Kim Carr get the plum spots while others are left to stagnate.

    Except that Kim Carr didn’t get a plum spot, or indeed any spot, and is soon to resign from parliament.

    Doh!

  9. Time for Bob to retire.

    “FORMER foreign minister Bob Carr has warned Labor it faces years in the wilderness of opposition if it goes soft on refugees.

    Senator Carr has told his Right faction colleagues there should be no “daylight” between the ALP and the Abbott government on asylum seekers.

    “If you want to embrace the Greens-Left-Fairfax-ABC position, you are going to go backwards at the next election,” he said, according to Labor sources quoted by The West Australian.”

    http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/national/stay-tough-on-asylum-seekers-carr/story-e6frfku9-1226740050651

  10. “If you want to embrace the Greens-Left-Fairfax-ABC position, you are going to go backwards at the next election,”

    Oh that’s right Bob, let’s all make decisions in which the thing that matters is winning, rather than leading from the front, so we pander to the debased, xenophobic, ignorant, mean-spirited populace so assiduously groomed by the Howard Government for eleven years and not at all improved by the following six. (NB: Please note criticism of J Gillard.) Never mind the Greens-Left-Fairfax-ABC position, I’d quite like it if we adopted the Italian position. Day of mourning, taking people into their homes, referring to asylum seekers as ‘migrants’, simple fisherfolk practically in tears over how tragic it is etc etc etc, and all this under a corrupt centre-right government. Compare and contrast. If this report is true then the sooner he goes back into retirement the better.

  11. But back to the OP. Am I a lone voice in support of Anna Burke? To quote Chloe Hooper in The Monthly:

    Politics is terrain where complexity or ambiguity doesn’t play well. If she mentions sexism, she is playing the victim card, but not to say anything is to collaborate in its denial. In Gillard’s words: “You wake up and you’re Janet Albrechtsen, and no one wants to end up there.”

  12. Well, I don’t think the Australian electorate will buy a leader who was instrumental in throwing out two former leaders while Labor was in government simply to satisfy his own leadership ambitions.
    As for all the backroom shenanigans – does anybody really believe this crew are ever going to change. They’ve been like this ever since I can remember.
    So now we just have to sort out who are the hacks and who aren’t. Their performance as shadow ministers will tell, I suppose.

  13. Sam @ 8:

    Except that Kim Carr didn’t get a plum spot, or indeed any spot, and is soon to resign from parliament.

    That would be Bob Carr, wouldn’t it?

    I can’t find a list of Shorten’s team online. There is one in the dead tree version of the AFR and Kim Carr is certainly on it. The 11 female members of the 30-member Shadow Cabinet are:

    Tanya Plibersek, Penny Wong, Sharon Bird, Julie Collins, Kate Ellis, Catherine King, Jenny Macklin, Jan McLucas, Claire Moore, Melissa Parke, and Michelle Rowland.

  14. pb @ 13:

    Well, I don’t think the Australian electorate will buy a leader who was instrumental in throwing out two former leaders while Labor was in government simply to satisfy his own leadership ambitions.

    Paul, I’m a bit surprised that you would reduce Shorten’s motivation to leadership ambition pure and simple.

  15. I can’t find a list of Shorten’s team online.

    I heard on the radio yesterday that he wasn’t going to announce the full team till Friday. Is this now wrong?

  16. Brian,
    That’s what it will look like if Abbott and his crew are smart. Perception is everything. And I never doubted that Shorten’s involvement in the various dethroning scenarios was not done without him having a very strong eye on the main chance, the leadership. I don’t think he really wanted to go this early, but he had no choice because otherwise he would have just been handing it over to Albanese.
    Bottom line: because of the major role he played in the overthrow of Rudd in June 2010, I don’t trust the guy. What Labor principles will he sell out to gain and keep power? It is the right we’re talking about here.
    Before June 2010 I was quite a big fan of Shorten. Not any longer.

  17. I think it would be much better if the leader selected his own team. Allowing the factions to provide a list of names to the leader keeps the Faceless Men meme alive and the right will use it to try to delegitimise the Opposition.

    [Mod: anti-feminist spiel redacted – off topic]

  18. @PavCat the shadow Ministers have been announced, there will be some (shadow?) Parliamentary Secretary positions announced Friday I believe.

  19. There are some fine women in the list, some of whom have missed out in the past. That is politics. It is brutal and uncertain, not a teddy bear’s picnic.

  20. But back to the OP. Am I a lone voice in support of Anna Burke? To quote Chloe Hooper in The Monthly:

    I don’t know about Burke (she was speaker but I’m not sure how well that maps back to a position in the opposition – I thought it was one of those things you got on your way out of parliament), but I think Lundy got short changed.

    If its true that MPs missed out in positions as retribution for not voting in the leadership ballot the way their faction wanted and instead for whoever they thought would be the better leader then its yet another reason to make the leadership ballot 100% member driven. Perhaps then they could also revert to the leader appointing the ministers directly. With only one person responsible its a lot harder for the leader to explain away bad choices on the system.

    Incidentally I thought Conroy sounded like he was channelling Abbott when trying to explain why the right faction only nominated a few women.

  21. The Labor Party is a much broader church than gets acknowledged. Why wouldn’t there be winners and losers? The Australian people as a whole face this expression of democracy in action.
    “There have been claims from left-wingers that they were punished for voting against Anthony Albanese in the leadership ballot.”
    Was that an Albo decision?

  22. So what do you say to Mindy?

    I dunno. Give me my regards to Mork?

    [Moderator Note: 2013/10/16 7:40am this comment restored to thread from the trash folder, where one of my fellow moderators sent it yesterday in a misplaced sense of generosity regarding not enabling Sam to show his arse. Here's Sam's arse. ~ tt]

  23. Sam @ 17

    Let me be very clear because it may well be that you are hard of thinking, so let me say in concert with Paul, but louder in the hope it gets in.

    You need to apologise to Mindy.

    Not Brian, but Mindy.

    God, I wonder if his brain cells can hear that. Ah well, one can only try.

  24. Zorronsky @25:

    “There have been claims from left-wingers that they were punished for voting against Anthony Albanese in the leadership ballot.”
    Was that an Albo decision?

    I don’t know, of course, but one report that I’ve read suggests that the Left voted against people who said they were voting for Albo but then voting for Shorten. If this it true then it puts the matter in a different light.

  25. What’s the point of having Senator Don Farrell in a front bench position? He’s only there until June 30 next year.

  26. My apologies for being off-topic @9 but there doesn’t seem to be a current topic where it would fit.

  27. Ronson @28, I read in Fairfax (I think) this morning that the plan is for Farrell to be found a Lower House seat in time for 30 June next year.

  28. @14
    What I don’t get is how Ellis can be married to David Penberthy and remain in the FPLP let alone on the front bench. Is this is not because I think that there might be loose ‘pillow talk’, it’s more that the there would appear to be irreconcilable differences between the two from an ideological stand point that have nonetheless reconciled. And I don’t see Penbo turning into a great advocate of social justice.

  29. I like how Bernard Keane in today’s Crikey refers to Don Farrell:

    “Don Farrell, the SDA reactionary and powerbroker from South Australia who lost his Senate spot at the election and who is now, like some sort of malign spirit in a horror movie, said to be looking for another host to keep him in politics ….”

  30. Paul @ 27 – it’s a secret ballot though so how would they know unless they told them that’s how they were voting?

  31. Chris @33, good question. Of course they don’t know. However I imagine that an estimate was done of the likely ballot numbers had people voted as they said they were going to, and when the vote for Albo was lower than would have been expected on that basis, people engaged in some guesswork about which votes might have accounted for the shortfall.

  32. Ronson @35, what Tristan means is that instead of each Caucus member from the Right filling out their ballot paper in private, the Right’s Caucus members were sorted into pairs, each member of which would observe how the other filled out and cast their ballot paper. QED the ballot was not as secret as it should have been.

  33. Ambi please, Patrick is obviously David Attenborough and we are actually all watching a documentary about this unnatural mating on the great savannah of the light on the Hill. He has camouflaged himself carefully amidst the fronds of the sheet patterns in their marital canopy and is observing them without disturbing them. For God’s sake leave him alone, he’s doing his pervy best to explain this weird behaviour to us. So far we know there has been some kind of pillow talk, shocking no?. And pass me a wine, there have been irreconcilable differences which have reconciled. Or shit. And now, let us conclude with a rendition of Circle of Life

  34. This is on topic, but looking at the subject through a different, longer, lens.

    Old Labor is justifiably hanging on in Australia as the political life world transitions from industrial age politics to genuinely post industrial politics. It is lost, bereft, studded with barnacles and obscene pre-modern accretions of belief which are a drag on rational practice.

    The ALP, if it is to have any meaningful future, must change into a broad based party of inclusive liberal democracy focused on policies designed to further global ecological survival. This period for the ALP is the shakedown during which reform towards the goal of democracy, institutional democracy, as a good in and of itself, is won and lost. Global ecological survival, as a rational policy end, must be its natural project.

    The democratisation of all institutions, public and private, and all spheres of life, public and private and spaces in between, built on the common interest of maintaining the material conditions for all life, is the radical project.

    Now, the ALP is either part of that solution or it is part of the problem. I’d say recent changes are a positive sign, but we don’t have the luxury of time for an extended end game.

  35. Kim Carr may or may not be dead wood and David Feeney is a factional hack but at least both of them are likely to be in Parliament until at least the next election (and now that Feeney is safely installed in Batman, I see a long parliamentary career ahead of him) but what is the rationale (beyond the fact that he is a factional boss, obviously) for including Don Farrell in the shadow cabinet line-up?

    Not only is he a factional hack who did infinite damage to the last Labor government (not that disqualifies him, there seem to be quite a few of those in the new Shadow Cabinet but I’m prepared to let bygones be bygones) but more importantly he’s lost his bid for re-election to the Senate and should be out the door come next July 1. Or is there something we don’t know about -is he planning to push aside one of the other South Australlian Senators mid-term so that the glorious contribution that he’s made to federal Australian politics so far can be continued?

    But, with the facts as we know them (with him leaving politics next year), why was he included ahead of much more talented people who are staying the full cycle?

    I feel sorry for Anna Burke. I’ve always greatly admired, valued and respected the contribution she’s made to the Labor Party and the nation in federal politics (and FWIW, I’ve been following her political career long before she became Speaker). It must have been galling for her to watch time and time again as those with considerably lesser talent than herself (I won’t name names, don’t worry) got all the plum positions in Shadow Cabinet and in the parliamentary party throughout the years mainly on their factional allegiances (I know she’s not the only one who’s been through that experience, just before anyone points that out). And then to have served so admirably as Speaker in a hung Parliament and then be totally discarded once her time in that role is over because she’s not part of the factional in-crowd

    It’s worthwhile noting that the last Labor Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Keating government, Stephen Martin, went on to serve as a senior Shadow minister in the Beazley and Crean ministries before retiring in 2002 and handing the Greens their first seat in Parliament at the subsequent by-election. Similarly, Leo McLeay -Speaker of the House during the Hawke-Keating years -went on to serve as a whip during Labor’s years in opposition. Of course McLeay was bolstered by the fact that he was a right-wing factional heavy. There is historical precedent for giving Labor ex-speakers due recognition and I can understand why Burke may feel aggrieved on that note as well

  36. My apologies Paul Norton @30, I somehow missed your initial post about Don Farrell

    But where possibly could they find him a Lower House seat in SA? All the seats that Labor holds there are relatively volatile and held by proven marginal seat winners and I doubt the constituents would react well to being forced to a by-election in order to install a factional chief who couldn’t get re-elected on the second senate spot. Last time Farrell tried to enter Parliament at a by-election (1988 Adelaide by-election), he got pummeled and lost a seat that had been in Labor hands for many years. Does the Labor Party really want a repeat?

  37. Paul @ 36 – sounds like the ALP need get the AEC in to run their elections 😉 More seriously its that sort of pushing of the boundaries which makes you wonder what else they get up to.

    Malcolm @ 41 – I think I read a news report saying that they might try to convince a sitting senator from the 2010 election to resign and create a vacancy that Farrell could take. It does seem that he and his faction has a lot of power (after all he did originally have the number 1 ticket spot until there was the public outcry about Wong missing out on it).

    Patrickb @ 31 – ideological differences aren’t necessarily a barrier to a relationship. Natasha Stott Despoja is married to a former liberal party advisor. After they were married they used to (not sure if they still do) appear on Adelaide radio shows together to argue with each other over the politics of the day. And I’m sure there’s plenty of households out there where one person votes LNP and other votes ALP or Green.

  38. Just noting that 9 and half hours later, Sam has still not apologised to Mindy for his correction of her when it was his mistake about Kim Carr/Bob Carr, even though he has apologised to Brian who backed Mindy up.

    This is exactly what many women here complain about as a pattern – the way that *some* men here are repeatedly ignoring and trivialising the contributions of women in this space, overlooking what they say and attributing it to the men here instead.

  39. Malcolm @40 I certainly think that Anna Burke has reason to feel aggrieved, but I don’t think it’s helpful to take her grievances out into the media. To continue the squabbling in public just keeps up the perception, “Labor can’t govern themselves, so how could they govern the country?”

  40. don’t think it’s helpful to take her grievances out into the media

    Can only agree. She, and others, would have a much better/legitimate case if they chose not to be factional members. Trying to have your cake and eating it too?

    As I understand it, Andrew Leigh is not a member of any faction yet he ‘made the grade’.

    Being a member of a faction is not compulsory and if ‘factionalism’ is to be relegated then it’s up to each and every ‘brave’ member.

  41. tigtog,

    Just noting that 9 and half hours later, Sam has still not apologised to Mindy for his correction of her when it was his mistake about Kim Carr/Bob Carr, even though he has apologised to Brian who backed Mindy up.

    This is exactly what many women here complain about as a pattern – the way that *some* men here are repeatedly ignoring and trivialising the contributions of women in this space, overlooking what they say and attributing it to the men here instead.

    Why you or anyone else feels a need to demand Sam apologise to Mindy I don’t know but given her previous form I wouldn’t be apologising to her either.

  42. Speaking of Don Farrell:

    South Australian Senator Don Farrell claimed taxpayer funding for a trip to last year’s AFL Grand Final despite his flights and accommodation being paid for by grocery chain Foodland.

    and

    He said the total value of Foodland’s contribution to Farrell’s grand final trip was confidential.

    Farrell’s register of interests notes that this isn’t the first time he has been flown to sporting events by private companies.

    Foodland SA flew him to the AFL Grand Final in 2011 as well. The trip included two night’s stay at the Crown Metropol in Melbourne.

    In August 2012 he “accepted hospitality from Qantas to watch the Bledisloe Cup” in Sydney.

    http://indaily.com.au/news/2013/10/15/don-farrells-grand-final-double-dip/

  43. Old Labor is justifiably hanging on in Australia as the political life world transitions from industrial age politics to genuinely post industrial politics. It is lost, bereft, studded with barnacles and obscene pre-modern accretions of belief which are a drag on rational practice.

    The ALP, if it is to have any meaningful future, must change into a broad based party of inclusive liberal democracy focused on policies designed to further global ecological survival.

    Goddess knows jungney and I have had our differences, but here I am absolutely with him, word for word. (Except perhaps “obscene”.)

    Jacques de M:

    Why you or anyone else feels a need to demand Sam apologise to Mindy I don’t know

    Really? Have you read the thread? More to the point, did you actually read the quotation from Tigtog that you blockquoted, where she explains why very clearly, in words of (mostly) one syllable?

  44. Anna Burke is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t. She speaks up now amd is canned for disunity. She speaks up later and it is why are you saying this now? There are obviously still issues in the Labor party and papering over thecracks and putting on fixed smiles isn’t going to help fix them. Now is the best time to get this sorted, Parliament isn’t in session and the next election is probably three years away. Reform now, bed it down and things are good to go.

    It is good that Andrew Leigh’s talent has been recognised but no excuse for passing over talented women again.

  45. Why you or anyone else feels a need to demand Sam apologise to Mindy I don’t know but given her previous form I wouldn’t be apologising to her either.

    My dear Knight Templar, the peanut gallery puts it to the courtroom that you don’t particularly care about this situation. No, not at all. Rather, in a passive aggressive sleight of hand you’ve just used this opportunity to waaaaaah waaaaaah waaaaah cause once ten years ago Mindy managed to penetrate your rather outmoded Parisian chain mail (have you thought of harem pants? They are much more breezy) with some particularly salient sentiment and you aint got over it yet. Now if you could just get off Sigmund’s couch for a moment, I need to ask him if these wounds, do they never heal? Or will they arrest the soul forever, so that the storm tossed soul, it bitches and moans incessantly like something trapped in Dante’s Inferno.

  46. The faction system increases the likelihood that persons with talent will be balloted off the front bench.

    Anna Burke was an enabler of and participant in factionalism.

    Because of her actions it is possible that some talented persons failed to win sufficient votes to be elected to the front bench. Anna Burke may have been one of those persons.

  47. So by playing the game that rewards so many other blokes Anna Burke is the victim of her own factions success? Funny how it is the women who suffer though isn’t it. One thinks it could almost be a case of sexism and not actually Anna Burke’s fault at all.

  48. Well, PavCat, it’s time for a common front! The ‘obscene’ referred to opposition to marriage equality which is just so absurd, just such an affront to democratic inclusiveness, that I had no other word for it.

  49. Tigtog @44:

    Just noting that 9 and half hours later, Sam has still not apologised to Mindy for his correction of her when it was his mistake about Kim Carr/Bob Carr, even though he has apologised to Brian who backed Mindy up.

    To my way of thinking what really warranted an apology was the gratuitous “d’oh!” in Sam’s comment, which was inappropriate regardless of whether he was right or wrong about the Kim Carr/Bob Carr point.

  50. My apologies PB, I missed that bit. Lots of ‘Shorten happy with the result, only leader he can’t backstab’ jokes going around at the moment too.

  51. @39
    tldr;
    Anyway my point is that Penberthy has been an absolute shocker as far as the ALP is concerned and it worries me that a senior ALP figure would get this close to someone who is, superficially at least, so vehemently opposed to any notion of progressive politics. I mean, if you’re willing to ignore that then how attached are you to those progressive principles in the first place? Obviously a person can’t be excluded from holding a position because of the domestic arrangements so there’s little that can be, perhaps should be, done.
    I also think Carr dining with Col Allen post election was terrible. There seems to be the illusion of a ‘Chinese’ wall between political and personal relationships that serves one side and not the other. Perhaps that answers @38’s idiotic sentence.

  52. PC,

    Really? Have you read the thread? More to the point, did you actually read the quotation from Tigtog that you blockquoted, where she explains why very clearly, in words of (mostly) one syllable?

    Yep but this is just childish nonsense. People make mistakes on here all the time, misread people (cough) etc yet I’ve never seen such a concerted effort to try and force someone to apologise before especially for something so minor. It was a simple mistake being used yet again to hammer that nail.

  53. @43
    That may be the case but Penberthy is a died in the wool News LTD stormtrooper not just an LNP adviser. The idea of debate is foreign to him, judging by his professional output.

  54. tigtog @ 53,

    I just saw your comment and agree Sam didn’t cover himself in glory with that response but still don’t think he deserved the howls “OMG you were wrong, Mindy was right, apologise, APOLOGISE!”.

  55. Mindy, you’re the last person that should be making statements like that. If he wants to apologise he will, if not he won’t or to use your language “Your opinion is crap and I don’t give a fuck”.

  56. Jacques de M, you are spectacularly missing the point, which is that Sam’s little moment is yet another demonstration of the way women in blog discussions are simply invisible to many male participants here and we are sick to death of it. Context is all. The appropriate response is not ‘Don’t be silly and childish about this one little thing.’ The appropriate response is ‘Oh shit, am I part of the deep and long-standing systemic problem here?’

  57. Anyone who is surprised at this show of factional power was either not paying attention 2010 or believed the spin.

  58. I haven’t studied the system of vote allocation and weighting between members and unions. It appears to me a severe imbalance exists where people who are union members and also individual party members effectively exercise two votes, one individually and one as represented by the union’s factional bloc vote. Unless this has been accommodated in the weighting rules. Does anyone know?

    It’s true that the factions will fight against losing their stranglehold on power. It needs to happen, though, if for no other reason to break the endless cycle of talentless factional layabouts getting the perks of office in parliament and elsewhere.

    A movement for democracy is our best chance for survival. Especially for the survival of a society and a planet worth living in and on. So, the ALP has made a leap, but only the first of many necessary movements towards inclusive democracy.

    Not before time, either.

  59. I have no reason to dispute the thesis that the Right faction inflicted sexism upon Anna Burke.

    On the other hand, Anna Burke knows members of the Right faction much better than I do. Yet she professes to be more surprised by her treatment than I am.

  60. Patrickb @ 31, 59, 61.
    How kind of you to call my brief @38 ‘idiocy’.

    Since you have amplified your views, I’d be idiotic not to do likewise. Your initial post seemed to be part-way down a slippery slope to a position where senior Party functionaries should engage only in Party-approved liaisons.

    Later you wrote “there’s little that can be, perhaps should be, done.” Well, yes.

    I’d go so far as to say the MP’s marriage is none of your business. There is a private realm. Her marriage, and many other aspects of her life belong to such a realm.

    ‘Bourgeois liberalism’? Yes, if that’s how some folk see it; the bourgeoisie won rights and freedoms for themselves, which by logical extension are now considered universal.

    I reckon who Senator Bob Carr dines with, is a private matter too.

    By the way, I’d suggest you reconsider your use of the description “stormtrooper” @61. Terminology of the Third Reich should be used carefully, if at all. Don’t devalue its power by misapplying it, is my advice.

    Cheerio.

  61. I thought he was referring to the star wars variety stormtrooper ambigulous. (Cos they’re goofy and incredibly inaccurate.) I agree people’s private lives are their own business tho. As someone once said – i don’t want to know who they’re screwing in private. I wanna know who they’re screwing in public.

  62. I reckon who Senator Bob Carr dines with, is a private matter too.

    I disagree. Who politicians socialise can be (not necessarily) of public relevance. One example would be if they’re chummy with a developer then the interactions the government have with that developer needs extra scrutiny.

  63. i think there is a massive difference between who someone has an intimate personal relationship with, and who they have meals with (in the context of politicians eating with journos or business people or lobbyists. It may simply be a private meal with friends catching up, or it could be an opportunity to discuss business, politics and various other things that do have a bearing on the public. Sir Lunchalot comes to mind.

  64. Katz @71 – is she surprised or pissed off? I wouldn’t blame her for being pissed off that she was loyal, took the speaker job and did what was asked of her and copped a lot of bullshit from the Opposition, only to be sidelined in Opposition. Who wouldn’t be pissed off?

  65. Katz, would it surprise you to know that one can be both surprised and pissed off by situations that are all too familiar?

    We women tend to travel hopefully, thinking, in Burke’s case, perhaps something like “surely we are not so enmired in bloke culture a la Labor circa 1970 that my contribution will be ignored? Again. Oh look at that, we are, bloody fucking buggery hell, Sodom and effing Gomorrah gnash, tear, howl” etc. Patriarchy is like that, it bubbles away under the surface of things, you’ll be loping along thinking the weather is fair, the view rather fine, when WHOOSH, a geyser of sulphurous steam and scalding water knocks you flat. A certain amount of self-mystification about living in the midst of a malodorous magma field is necessary, otherwise we couldn’t get up in the morning.

  66. Such, as you imply, you agree with me, Burke had to be surprised before she was pissed off on this occasion. A fresh surprise, according to you, roused Burke out of her condition of denial. She was surprised anew.

  67. I think it has to be lived experience Su to get it really. I’m sure that people of colour, people with a disability, etc could add even more layers to it.

  68. Only if you’re shooting for peak pedantry, in which case, go Katz! I’m trying to get a fix on the philosophical stance behind responses to Burke along the lines of ” why are you surprised”, “what do you expect”, dogs, fleas etc. Quietism? Patriarchy will always be with us? Join a different faction/party we have patriarchy with a human face?

  69. Mindy @ 85

    I’m sure that people of colour, people with a disability, etc could add even more layers to it.

    While they aren’t the same thing they certainly seem very similar. I’m never gonna experience living in the patriarchy as a bad thing the way you do. In fact my daughter, who is white with blue eyes (like my mum, dad’s black and I look like him) … i’m more worried about her and what she faces than if I’d had a son with dark skin. But she comes from long lines of strong powerful, even groundbreaking women from all branches of her family. If we give her the tools she’ll do fine. But I’ll never know the struggles she’ll face, except as an observer being told about them. Its not anything like the reality.

    Its the same thing if you’re white. There are things you’ll never experience – like harassment (and worse) from cops, especially in country towns. People not serving you in shops till they’ve done everyone else, and then being rude about it. Other stuff – comments, aggro rednecks, that look and i’m sure most people can imagine the rest. Not everyone is like that, and things certainly aren’t as bad as they were 20 or 30 years ago, when being hassled by the cops meant a beating at least and the (albeit slim) possibility of being suicided in your cell. (That is also a class issue – poor white people are likely to experience similar stuff – there’s still a belief in the idea of “criminal classes”.)

    So yes race and sex/gender (and disability) issues are similar. But they’re not the same. I spose experiencing the wrong side of one makes it easier to accept that there is a wrong side of the others. It seems to apply to LGTBI people as well.

    FWIW The women here have done a pretty good job illustrating the way the patriarchy screws them over, both here and on other blogs. Its definitely contributed to my understanding, tho I know I’m not perfect. And honestly I thought I was pretty cool with the whole sexism thing. But there are things men are oblivious to. Cos we’ve never experienced them, and we only ever hear about them, if we’re listening.

    If we’re not its not always deliberately ignoring things – sometimes its tunnel vision and being so wrapped up in our own stuff. Thats no excuse tho. More often its not tunnel vision its just arsehole behaviour and really it doesn’t matter which it is when the consequences and outcomes of that behaviour are the same. I suspect any man who is genuinely listening to the women on this blog has an understanding of sex/gender issues, simply cos they’ve listened and taken what people have said to heart.

  70. A syllogism:

    If y is a poor substitute for x, and x is a poor substitute for y, then x and y are at cross purposes.

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