Monday, February 06, 2012

Or what happens when "What if" becomes why bother ...

(Above: the baggage handler, as channelled by Paul Sheehan).

The world woke up this morning to read of Paul Sheehan's latest travel arrangements - which don't involve Qantas - and a poignant demand for sacrifice by the workers in the car manufacturing industry, ostensibly Australian apart from its international ownership:

It raises the question - why are Australian taxpayers being asked to make sacrifices, via subsidising higher costs, that the local auto-makers and their staff have not themselves been willing to make?

Sheehan's idea of personal sacrifice when it comes to international travel?

A few clicks on the internet and a new world of value was available: Emirates was offering a one-way business-class ticket for $3757 with flat-bed seats, five-star service (I've tried it before), a convenient late-evening departure time, business-class lounges, a limo service to the airport and a limo service from the airport to my hotel in London (blessed relief after 26 hours of travel).

Workers of the world, you must read Aussie icons now species in danger, and learn how to sacrifice, Paul Sheehan style ...

It seems it's all the fault of the unions and the workers that the last time Sheehan flew Qantas, he suffered from an aching neck and sleep deprivation, and now travelling cattle class is simply beyond him.

No wonder he's earned the nickname Captain Grumpy ...

Meanwhile, since the subject of the pond is blather - and really not giving a toss about Sheehan's travel arrangements, and his bizarre discovery that Qantas has been fucked solely by its unions and its workers, as opposed to its management, stretching back to the gory days of Geoff Dixon - we thought we'd take a random look at an example of leadership speculation in the media, which reveals an incidental capacity to build fairy floss castles that touch the sky ...

Come on down Phillip Coorey, and Bets off for Abbott after a Rudd change, in which it seems that Coorey channels the intimate thoughts and strategies of former Chairman Rudd and/or his backers.

Amongst the gems should the Ruddster be given the nod anew:

...Rudd believes he needs to prove first that Labor can govern and that a quick election would be viewed with cynicism by the public.


That'd be with the same team, bar Gillard and maybe Swan and perhaps a few hard core dissidents.

What the country needs - and needs urgently - is a fresh vision, which is why the plan for a 2021 conference - Australia's coming of age in the new millennium - will prove Labor's capacity to govern under the Ruddster (lordy, lordy, remember the 2020 Summit, why you can still find it online in all its gory glory).

It seems the Ruddster will keep the independents onside, placate the backbench, implement the carbon tax - even if it was done without a mandate - and strike terror into the heart of Tony Abbott:

The implication is that if Gillard were replaced and the poll gap narrowed, Abbott would be in trouble.

Yes, with the Ruddster on his white charger, Tony Abbott would become the man in the media spotlight:

It is impossible to predict what will happen, but if Rudd regained the leadership, settled in for the full term and proved durable in the polls, the leadership speculation would swing to the Liberals

And who should take Abbott's place?

Gossip already surrounds the ambitious frontbencher Scott Morrison, who has the wherewithal to lead and would tout himself as a bridge between the right and the left of the party.

This immensely titillated the pond, because it has an excellent red at stake with a Labor party apparatchik who touted the line that Scott Morrison is the natural leader of the Liberals and is destined to become the next Liberal PM of Australia. And was willing to put a fine red where his mouth was.

Who can argue with that, though it hints at the desperation in the Labor party, as it seeks to invent leadership dangers for Abbott. Any port in a storm when you can't pump up Malcolm Turnbull as a viable alternative and threat, but need some alternative media leadership spin ...

As it featured the "IF" word in all its glory a number of times, Coorey's column reminded the pond of Christopher Evans crisp summary of a long established definition of science fiction:

"Perhaps the crispest definition is that science fiction is a literature of 'what if?' What if we could travel in time? What if we were living on other planets? What if we made contact with alien races? And so on. The starting point is that the writer supposes things are different from how we know them to be." (here)

Yes, what if the Ruddster re-claimed the leadership, settled in, proved durable at the polls, got Tony Abbott dumped for Scott Morrison, reigned supreme in the kitchen, ousted the upstart chefs, managed the independents, managed the media, especially the clan of Murdoch hacks and thought police, and governed Australia with the calm efficiency of Louis XIV?

After all, he did so many of those things so well last time around ....

Well there were no independents to manage, but in the new world of the Ruddster, the independents don't count. For that news we turn to Michelle Grattan in Tough choices would confront a recycled PM Rudd:

... as her leadership has slipped, the independents' views are being regarded as more irrelevant. It's assumed they'd have to live with whoever was Labor leader and that they'd be unlikely to pull the pin (despite Rob Oakeshott's bolshie comments).

Yes it'd all be hunky dory, as Grattan also rolls out another generous serving of the kool-aid:

Rudd's previous inclination was to go to an election quickly but he has changed his mind to favour the long haul. He is popular now but support can be so easily squandered. Many in Labor would want him to try to consolidate, to re-establish some public trust in the government.

Don't you just love it. Consolidate and re-establish public trust. From the man who brought you the biggest moral challenge of our times ...

But after she's served the kool-aid, Grattan introduces a sober note, which suggests that a whiz policy like a 2021 Australia comes of age seminar in Canberra might not be enough:

With all the history and the complications, Rudd could hardly expect a honeymoon second time round. His start would be rocky. But he'd be there and in his mind he would be vindicated.

Vindicated? Australian politics as some kind of Shakespearian exercise in hubris, ego and tragedy? A government's policies based on a wild kind of revenge, and the hurt pride and quest for vindication of one man sufficient basis for action?

Australia's seen these kinds of shenanigans before - check out the wild ride of William Morris Hughes - but the notion that former chairman Rudd will lead the federal Labor government to electoral glory after serving out a full term with Gillard on the back bench, and half the caucus seething at his return is one of the grander bits of sci-fi the pond has read in recent times.

What will he do when it's finally revealed that - as feared - the NBN roll-out is being compromised by arrangements with contractors that are much too expensive? And the rumour that a nice little feather-bedded cartel of four companies doing the local roll-out has formed around the bidding process, and kept prices at a more than generous level? And that half-baked decisions - like the one that saw Tamworth offered wireless rather than fibre - are being motivated by pork barreling to set up for the forthcoming election, rather than being the result of sensible planning?

And that's just for starters. Rudd has boasted how he's part of a team, and he would have to own the current doings of the team.

Rudd thinking he can just rock back and take up where he left off - remembering that where he left off was considered a wretched and inept place by his current tribe of supporters, most notably that gadfly Robert Manne - is right up there with Paul Sheehan blaming the unions and the workers for the discomfort he endures in the seating Qantas management provides in cattle class.

Could it be that a simpler explanation is that the finest brahman bulls and Woollahra wankers are sensitive to a pea lodged under forty mattresses?

Could it be that columnists designated to write about politics will, when short of a column, write about leadership speculation? Instead of doing the hard yards of actual reporting ...

But bring it on, bring it on.

Anything's better than reading Paul Sheehan banging on about the unions, and how the eastern suburbs would be best served by minions working for the smell of an oily rag, and then - bored brainless - proceeding to reading empty, meaningless, witless "what if"media speculation pumping up former chairman Rudd on a Monday morning ...

(Below: speaking of worlds of IF, and monsters that walked and stalked the corridors of power).

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