Turning the Page: On RESPECT in politics

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THE DEATH of Aretha Franklin was a sad day for the music industry, and the world.

Aretha was not just an extraordinary artist, she was a civil rights campaigner, and a courageous voice for equality and social justice.

If there was one Aretha Franklin song that changed the world forever it was Respect.

Aretha flipped the original masculine (and more than slightly misogynist) version, performed by Otis Redding, and turned it into a feminist anthem.  It became a rallying cry for gender equality.

Aretha’s songs also encapsulated the confidence of progressive political movement in the 1960s – a time when hierarchies were being challenged, and people who had previously been silenced or forgotten were standing up and demanding to be heard.

CHAOS IN PARLIAMENT

So it was somewhat ironic that as Aretha Franklin exited the worldly stage, Australian politics descended into the abyss.

Parliament erupted in chaos, torn apart by blind ambition and naked self-interest, as the Liberal Party imploded on itself.

The business of the House was abandoned to let the Liberals duke it out behind closed doors, and in the end Scott Morrison emerged as the last man standing, and our new PM.

Of course, the chaos is not just about the Liberals.

It’s only a few months since it was the National Party at the centre of the drama -with Barnaby Joyce’s face splashed all over the newspapers, TV screens and tabloid magazines on a daily basis.

CHEAP SHOTS

Since Mr Joyce was reluctantly relieved of his leadership duties he’s been free to tell us what he really thinks – including his views about the people of the Northern Rivers.

We found this out when Mr Joyce sarcastically tweeted during the recent episode of Q and A broadcast from Lismore. “Next week a sequel of #QandA from another rural centre: Nimbin,” he said.

Barnaby Nimbim tweet

I don’t know what the Nationals have against Nimbin, because just a few weeks later they were at it again.

This time it was a National Party MP quoted in the Australian Financial Review – explaining why the Member for Page, Kevin Hogan MP, was threatening to resign and move the cross-bench.

According to the un-named MP, Mr Hogan “has Nimbin and all those hairy arm-pitted lefties chasing him down.”

Classy stuff.

POSTURING

Cheap shots aside, it does raise an interesting question – just why has Kevin Hogan supposedly “defected”?

On one level, it’s interesting that the internal shenanigans of the Liberal Party is the issue to finally inspire Mr Hogan to take a stand.

He has displayed no such passion for tackling income equality, stagnant wage growth, homelessness, domestic violence, climate change, housing affordability, hospital funding, banking rorts, the collapse of the TAFE system or the crisis in aged care funding.

But the reality is that Mr Hogan has not actually taken a stand at all. He has not resigned from the National Party, and he says he will continue to support the Liberal-National Coalition Government in Parliament.

Mr Hogan wants to have it both ways. He wants voters to think he’s an Independent, while retaining the protection, privileges and financial backing of the National Party.

In other words, the cross-bencher talk is nothing more than a cheap hoax on the people of Page. At the end of the day, a vote for Kevin Hogan will be a vote for more of the same.

And frankly, I don’t think the Coalition of Chaos a deserves another chance. It’s time for a change.

Because as the Queen of Soul would say, the people of the Northern Rivers deserve a little R.E.S.P.E.CT.

By Patrick Deegan, ALP Candidate for the Federal seat of Page

This article was first published by the Nimbin Good Times in September 2018.

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