Friday, October 08, 2004

god forbid

There is a Federal Election in Australia tomorrow. From the public opinion polls it appears that the conservative Coalition Parties led by John Howard will be returned ahead of the almost equally conservative Australian Labor Party led by Mark Latham.

But it will be a pity if Howard is re-elected. Labor has more of a social conscience, even if it has voted against same-sex marriages, will still probably do little to improve the health of indigenous Australians (who have a life expectancy of at least twenty years less than the population average) & has not mentioned the question of humane treatment of refugees.

Latham, at least, is promising to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq. Howard is still claiming he did the right thing sending them because even if Saddam didn't have WMDs he was working on re-acquiring them. & Howard publicly agreed to send troops – even though there were already elements of the Australian Special Forces in Iraq – only after George W. acceeded to his request to phone him twice to show the world what an important person he was.

There are the usual collection of "minor parties" contesting the election. They have little chance of winning seats in the Lower House, the House of Representatives which is based on single electoral districts. But in the Upper House, the Senate, which is made up of representatives from the States, & where election is based on achieving a quota, usually through the exchanging of preferences, of that State's votes, they do get elected.

Many of the minor parties are single-issue, though some, like the Greens & the Democrats, are traditional broad-based political parties. There are the usual right-wing crazies that derive from their U.S. equivalents & are usually supported financially by them. & this election there is a fundamentalist Christian party, Family First, loosely (?) aligned with the Assemblies of God, which is fielding candidates in every electorate as well as the Senate. Its logo is a stylised Australia with the stars of the Southern Cross displayed, put together in a form that replicates a Bishop's mitre.

& their policies? Well so far one of their volunteers has had to be reprimanded because he advocated burning lesbians "because they are witches" (kari edwards also referred to this at transdada) & a Senate candidate believes that brothels, bottleshops, Freemason temples & Moslem mosques should be torn down because they are visible manifestations of Satan.

& the Prime Minister? (Who, I must point out, just like the owners of pets are popularly supposed to grow to look like their animals, is resembling his political caricatures more & more. A fat little irritable mouse with (George W. (?)) bushy eyebrows.)

Well the Coalition has brokered a deal with Family First, agreeing to consult with them over policy in return for their preferences. & The Australian newspaper reports that the deal was personally brokered by John Howard.

Some Liberal candidates have been asked to sign three-year voting agreements before being included in the deal.

Family First has ruled out some Coalition candidates who "don't necessarily reflect the family agenda we have" – such as lesbian Ingrid Tall, and supporter of gay marriage Warren Entsch. The party will however give preferences to Ross Cameron, who is a conservative Christian but who recently moved out of his family home after publicly confessing to having an affair while his wife was pregnant.

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