What does it all mean?


About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic at Charles Darwin University, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law) and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 12 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in he early 1990s.
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15 Responses to What does it all mean?

  1. Alan says:

    I suspect it is because the major parties have such similar programs and policies that they are forced to rely on this culture war nonsense to try and distinguish themselves from their rivals.

    That habit has spread to other areas. During the UK electoral referendum Antony Green attempted to correct some claims No2AV had made about preferential voting In Australia, and was accused of not ‘knowing’ that Australia uses voting machines to count AV elections.

    As for the level of debate on twitter, I’d invite you to look at a twitter discussion on the merits of different video games or operating systems for a level of vitriol that makes political tweets look quite restrained.

    Sadly the Internet has a history of encouraging people to make stuff up.

    • john Walker says:

      There is a wonderful Calvino fable in the colection ,Cosmicomics the fable is called : The Light Years. While written well before the digital web, it’s a eternal theme.

      As for twitter etc suspect that what they hate about each other is , exactly that they are the same.

    • john Walker says:

      A bit of Calvinos prophetic fable:

      In a certain sense, I could set my mind at rest: no action of mine, good or bad, was completely lost. At least an echo of it was always saved; or rather, several echoes, which varied from one end of the universe to the other, and in that sphere which was expanding and generating other spheres; but the echoes were discontinuous, conflicting pieces of information, inessential, from which the nexus of my actions didn’t emerge, and a new action was unable to explain or correct an old one, so they remained one next to the other, with a plus or minus sign, like a long, long polynomial which cannot be reduced to a more simple expression.

      What could I do, at this point? To keep bothering with the past was useless; so far it had gone the way it had gone; I had to make sure the future went better. The important thing was that, in everything I did, it should be clear what was essential, where the stress should be placed, what was to be noted and what not. I procured an enormous directional sign, one of those huge hands with the pointing index finger. When I performed an action to which I wanted to call attention, I had only to raise the sign, trying to make the finger point at the most important detail of the scene. For the moments when, instead, I preferred not to be observed, I made another sign, a hand with the thumb pointing in the direction opposite the one I was turning, to distract attention.

      All I had to do was carry those signs wherever I went and raise one or the other, according to the occasion. It was a long-term operation, naturally: the observers hundreds of thousands [sic] of light-years away would be hundred of thousands of millennia late in perceiving what I was doing now, and I would have to wait more hundreds of thousands of millennia to read their reactions. This delay was inevitable; but there was, unfortunately, another drawback I hadn’t foreseen: what could I do when I realized I had raised the wrong sign?

  2. Jim says:

    The major parties love Twitter as a basis for policy arguments as it is generally limited to 140 characters. No need for deal or deep thought required.

    The Liberals seem to have misread the rules of Twitter and think the limit is actually 14 characters. Just enough to say “Jobs & growth!”.

  3. paul walter says:

    I think it comes down to this. There is an underlying similarity between the Nats and Labor from the point of view that they have been identified as “Protectionist” and have come under immense pressure from constituents as neolibfree trade thinking and policy has become dominant.

  4. Tim Macknay says:

    As far as I can tell, Twitter consists of around 99% hyperbolic vitriol no matter what the topic and regardless of who is tweeting. So it hardly seems surprising that politics via Twitter is no different.

    • Bernard says:

      The meaning of Vitriol: “abusive or venomous language used to express blame or censure or bitter deep-seated ill will”. Says it all about the character of those folks who use twitter doesn’t it!!

  5. paul walter says:

    Waspish, a lot of it, isn’t it Tim?

  6. David Walker says:

    I’m still trying to figure out the basis for the claim that the country is “run by second-rate people”. Regardless of what you think about the actual outcomes, this seems just unlikely. For instance, we may disagree with Tony Abbott’s policy positions or his ability to run a government, but he was a fairly bright guy (Rhodes scholar etc) and a lot of people rather liked him when they experienced him in person. Malcolm Turnbull is no fool either. Bill Shorten is similarly highly regarded by a lot of people and as a minister managed to get bipartisan support for the NDIS, which appears to have been a good idea even if we didn’t manage to fund it properly. Glenn Stevens is a smart and capable guy who has done a good job, regardless of what David Penberthy’s Daily Telegraph thought a few years back.

    I understand that politics pushes people to ad hominem attacks pretty easily. But it seems to me that if politics has a problem in this country right now, it is connected with the fact that some first-rate people are not able to give us better solutions. But we’re hardly a basket case either.

    • Ken Parish says:

      Labelling Abbott as second-rate is excessively generous IMO. Turnbull and Shorten are both fairly impressive performers in my view (as is Di Natale), but handicapped by party factions that drag them down to a disappointing level of mediocrity (especially true of Turnbull). Nevertheless, as the primary post argues, by world standards Australia is doing pretty well, so why the general negativity?

      Moreover, I wasn’t just talking about Twitter, which invites and almost requires glib, simplistic abuse. Most contemporary MSM and general political discourse seems to proceed on the false premise that things are crook and our politicians are crooked and useless. Maybe it’s always been that way, and the Internet and social media just amplify and convey silly pub talk into our homes in a way that is inimical to reflection or perspective?

  7. john Walker says:

    Donald Horne ,who coined the full phrase was not saying that our ruling class were unschooled or lacking in expertise , rather it was that they lacked curiosity, imagination- that they lived at the cutting edge of conformity.

    • David Walker says:

      Again, “the cutting edge of conformity” doesn’t really seem powerfully apt for today’s generation of leaders.

      For reference, here’s a fuller Horne quote:

      Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second-rate people who share its luck. It lives on other people’s ideas, and, although its ordinary people are adaptable, most of its leaders (in all fields) so lack curiosity about the events that surround them that they are often taken by surprise. A nation more concerned with styles of life than with achievement has managed to achieve what may be the most evenly prosperous society in the world. It has done this in a social climate largely inimical to originality and the desire for excellence (except in sport) and in which there is less and less acclamation of hard work. According to the rules Australia has not deserved its good fortune.

      There’s no need to beatify all of today’s politicians, and there remains much truth in Horne’s judgment of Australia. But his judgment on Australian leadership is of its time, and not of ours.

      • john Walker says:

        True enough.
        Our polity these days seems to me to be s a strange mix of, excessive expectations, wishful thinking and cynicism,and fear.

        “Oh honeybees come build your nests…”

  8. Chris J Lloyd says:

    At this point I guess it might be worth noting that twitter abuse is at least better than gunning people down on the street.

  9. Alan says:

    Part of it is a society-wide problem with people making stuff up. The sheer level of drivel being promulgated as absolute and undoubted truth by entities ranging from the History Channel to Ridley Scott on the topic of ancient aliens, a theory that actually reduces to the proposition ‘Brown people can’t build’ is more than faintly terrifying.

    We cannot look at an event like the Trump campaign, built on identical techniques of making stuff up, and continue to claim that the endless drumbeat of conspiracy theories and faux history, science, and economics, has no impact.

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