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  • Writer's picturepeter grose

A mighty zephyr

It's hardly a state secret that I supported the independent Zali Steggall (pictured above) in the seat of Warringah in the recent Australian election. For full disclosure, see the entry below 'Been there, got the T-shirt'.

You might also care to look at my blog entry for 26 April 2021 under the headline 'A mighty wind?' In that blog entry I suggested that we might be witnessing the first faint rumbles of a tectonic shift in the public mood around the world. If those rumbles grew louder and more insistent in the Australian election well ... that would be in keeping with Australia's pioneering spirit.

The been-there-got-the-Tshirt entry looked at what worked in the recent election. Let's now take a look at what DIDN'T work, because there's even more encouragement there.

First of all, Ms Steggall's principal opponent Katherine Deves of the Liberal-National Party Coalition had a clumsy shot at reopening the LGBT culture wars. She avowed that transgender people had been 'mutilated'. This didn't work, and she was widely ridiculed for it. As a former Olympic skier Ms Steggall was in a strong position to contradict the sentiments below, which she did. I doubt if a single mind was changed by all this nonsense. Not even among those who watch Rupert Murdoch's Sky News.

The next attack was both more vicious and more dishonest. It was issued by the Australian Christian Lobby and authorised by M.Iles of 4 Campion Street, Deakin ACT, Australia 2600. It showed Ms Steggall taking a wrecking ball to a Christian church. The text on the back accused Ms Steggall of voting 'against protecting people of faith from discrimination'. Ms Steggall's crime? On 10 February 2022 in Federal parliament she had voted against the Religious Discrimination Bill and had voted against the repeal of Section 38 of the Sex Discrimination Act, which prevented ALL schools, including private religious schools, from discriminating against staff and pupils on the grounds of sexual preference.

For the record, the innocent-sounding Religious Discrimination Bill would in fact have allowed more, not less, religious discrimination by freeing up religious schools to discriminate against LGBT pupils and particularly transgender pupils. No fewer than five government MPs crossed the floor to vote against the bill, thus siding with Ms Steggall. Hardly a wrecking ball.

Finally, at the last minute Ms Deves resorted to the familiar buzz words of right wing mythology. Australia's economy was now 'in a strong position'. But 'these are uncertain times and we cannot take this for granted'. Her headline promise was a 'strong economy, stronger future'. Strong, strong, stronger. Well, it didn't work. Zali Steggall trashed her.

Finally someone in the Coalition seems to have realised that their biggest threat came from independents contesting their 'safe' seats.

So. again at the last minute, the Coalition issued leaflets warning voters against the horrors of a strong crossbench. There would be a 'hung parliament', a 'weak economy' and 'gridlock' they avowed. Although the leaflet was authorised by the Liberal Party alone, it struck me as a bit rich that someone from a group regularly identifying itself as the 'Coalition' could warn against the horrors of a 'hung parliament'. Has no one in the Coalition understood what the word Coalition means? Without joining forces with the National Party (formerly and rather bucolically known as the Country Party) would we have endured gridlock and a weak economy under a Liberal Party minority government? It's a mighty admission for any political party to make, and I'd suggest they take a long, hard look at whichever advertising copywriter wrote this particular piece of political nonsense before allowing the mistake to be repeated..

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