I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Brand New Day: Election party wrap-up

Around about 7.30 last night, when no one would call it anything more decisive than a cliff-hanger, I started to relive the moments of despair I've felt in other years, as my optimism is confronted with the sheer determination of John Howard, and the success with which he has turned this nation into a bunch of individuals keen, at any cost, to propel their own fortunes forward. Well, I know there are forces larger than Howard responsible for the fracturing of community spirit, but his version of Liberal entrepreneurialism has really given it an acceptable face in this country. My recent example comes from a taxi-driver in Brisbane. We had skirted around the question of our respective allegiances a while before he came clean as a Howard supporter. I climbed up on to the moral high ground and said, "You know, the thing is: he's a liar, and I don't want my country run by a liar." "Oh yes, that's right, he's a liar," said the driver, "but look at what he's done for the country." 
Anyway, all turned out well enough in the end. I'm particularly thrilled about Julia Gillard as our first woman deputy PM. I've come to like her more and more over the last six weeks, monotonous pitch of her voice aside. I thought Howard's concession speech was just fine, and cannot see the great statesmanship it is being described as displaying. He appeared to me as a practised politician; nothing more, and nothing less. Rudd's speech was completely lacklustre: balanced, tedious, bland. Where is the great political rhetoric of yesteryear? But all he really had to do in this election was not be Howard; and I'm far from optimistic and buoyed by his programme. We sign off on Kyoto and make some headway there; there is lots of talk about higher education, but no major reforms to the university sector that I can see. It seems likely Labor will defer the introduction of the national RQF, the research-assessment exercise, and then probably streamline it, so it will be (a) easier to administer but (b) less finely tuned to the humanities. 
It looks, indeed, as if Howard will lose his own seat to Maxine McKew, former ABC journalist. I read in The Age this morning that someone at liberal party headquarters called out to a big image of her on the TV screen, "why don't you get a facelift, you slag?" Still some ways to go on gender equity, then.
The mood in our circles was optimistic and positive a few weeks ago: we had four invitations to juggle. But we spent the evening with our friends and neighbours (must have been the most optimistic, as their invitation came in first). I had laughed at Richard and Paula's seriousness: they wanted to keep the party small, so they could really concentrate on the television. But as it was, I was the one most glued to the set. One of the highlights is normally Anthony Green, the ABC's psephologist, and his computer graphics, but they were absolutely abysmal. They kept cutting out, and showing irrelevant information, like the shape of the electorate, rather than its location. The Foxtel box also had trouble managing the ABC screen, so we lost the side edges all the time. Had they counted .7 or 10.7 of the vote? We switched over to the commercial channels and stared, disbelieving, at the paucity of debate and analysis offered by Ray, and Kochie and Mel, and switched back. The kids (six boys aged between 12 and 8) waxed between enthusiasm and boredom, and requests for explanations of the voting system at inopportune moments. 
We ate extraordinary cheeses, meat from the barbeque, salads, and my favourite thing to make and take - mascarpone and prune tart. By the time Rudd came on, we were exhausted, and had started walking home around the corner, to the sound of fireworks. We turned on the TV at home to watch him, and I fell asleep. Will the nation change much? We can only hope.

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