Rules are things you apply to other – lesser – people

Stalwart of The Pub, Aguirre, today ‘penned’ yet another of his exquisitely insightful comments. It was greeted with much acclaim, as post of the week, and I agree. So – with our guest author’s kind permission, the comment now morphs into our latest threadstarter. Thank you so much, Aguirre!

Photo credit: Alamy Stock Images

Looking around the discussion regarding MPs and citizenship, it seems to me a lot of people out there are still missing the point. It’s not really about how this government can or cannot hang on to power, or about whether the constitutional rules are arcane, or even about the timing of renunciations. It’s about something a lot larger than that, and something that strikes at the heart of everyone’s lived political experience.

It’s about short-cuts, privilege, and the idea within right-wing circles that rules are things you apply to other people. I think we’ve seen enough to know that a lot of MPs were aware all along that they had citizenship issues – they just didn’t care because they thought it would never come up. The key to this is that that is their attitude to everything. You do as little as you need in order to become an MP – that includes not only just ticking boxes on a form whether or not you’ve done your due diligence on them – but also trotting out whatever empty promises get you across the line, only considering what’s strategically effective as a message and not what’s practically effective as a policy, and just generally riding in on a tide of slurs, lies, and slogans. As a party, the Liberals also have that attitude to expense claims. Take, take, take, and justify later on – when and if necessary. It’s what got Bronwyn Bishop kicked out of her job.

Coalition MPs simply aren’t across the details on anything. They think things will work out in the end, but at that level they simply don’t. They spent a lot of time in opposition focusing on minor details, which gave the impression that they were into fine print, But that was just concentrating on gotchas, and even most of those were based on shonky information or misconstruing data – think of any of Hockey’s presentations as Shadow Treasurer: they were all based on distorted information made to look like real research.

What we’re seeing at the moment is a bizarre manifestation of that general laxity of discipline and accountability. It’s the same attitude that brought us the Census, the NBN, all of our policy-on-the-run asylum seeker bastardry, Robodebt, and pretty much everything they’ve touched since gaining power in 2013. Even their Royal Commissions were half-hearted and shoddily researched. Their Productivity Commission reports were constructed around … you couldn’t even call it ideology: mere assumptions, as was more or less admitted in the aftermath. Robodebt is almost the textbook case for their double-standard on accountability. Welfare recipients are held to the strictest standards based on data that’s wildly inaccurate, and designed to be that way. It was a rush job treated as a kind of economic gospel, and of course it ran into problems at once. The recent raid on the AWU is another good example of the Liberals’ holding somebody else to strict standards – an internal procedural issue from a decade ago? – while leaving themselves wide open to attack because their own organisation of the raid was so cack-handed. In fact, this pattern goes all the way back to Utegate.

And that’s what the citizenship mess is telling us. These guys don’t check anything beforehand. They guess at things, expect it all to go swimmingly because they’re Important People, and only energise themselves when it’s time to organise a cover-up to save their arses.


960 thoughts on “Rules are things you apply to other – lesser – people

  1. One unintended consequence of the ME vote is that the right wing seem to have discovered the Muslim community and accepted them as part of a functioning society whose voices should be heard – at least when it comes to opposing SSM, anyway. We know why they’re doing it of course, but there is a subtext being put about which tends to normalise a much-maligned community in the minds of those who would otherwise be dead set against them. You can’t demonise them on one hand as a bunch of potential extremists, and on the other argue that the left should be listening to them and following their wishes.

    Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to this crazy idea that ALP MPs whose electorates voted No ought to vote No on the floor of the House. If that’s followed through to its logical conclusion, then by my calculations the Senate should follow the state votes and support SSM unanimously, and the House of Reps should support it 141-9. I’d be ok with that. The idea that ALP members must follow their electorates whilst conservative members can still vote with their consciences is one of those silly badly-thought-out arguments we expect from the right.

    That leaves the right with tinkering with numbers – pointing out that the total Yes vote is still less than half the voting-age population of the country, trying to commandeer all the non-votes to the No side, that sort of thing. Gormless ideas. It’s what you get when you have a non-compulsory, non-binding postal vote. Those who didn’t send their forms in made a decision not to participate, as is their right on this occasion. They abide by the final decision, as we all do.

    And the 38% who voted No don’t get to have their voices heard on this one. That’s not how numbers work.

    • Right on, Aguirre. You can’t throw shit at a group of people and then expect them to vote for you. As this was not an election, only a survey, it doesn’t matter who voted yes or no. The yes vote won, to the enormous relief of the LBGBTI community and most of their families and friends.

    • The Labor MPs holding those seats say they have always been upfront with voters about their views on marriage equality and those views have not mattered to their supporters.

      Not being mentioned – the government that will legalise same sex marriage is a Coalition government, not a Labor one. That has to be an important fact in all the ‘Labor is gunna lose Western Sydney’ hype if journalists want to talk this up as a political issue.

      Somewhere in all the statistics and analysis of the voting there was one little mention of the voter turnout being much lower in those Western Sydney electorates. I’ve said before that cultural influences were important, and it’s good to see so much comment backing that up. But maybe other things were in play. Maybe voters in Western Sydney just were’t interested in voting on something they had no interest in.

      A question – why does the MSM think it’s perfectly fine for Andrew Hastie to vote against the wishes of his electorate but not at all right for Jason Clare or Ed Husic or Tony Burke to do the same?

      It’s not about political orientation, it’s about how people feel about one issue. It’s not going to swing many votes to the other side..I know devout National Party voters who voted ‘yes’ and devout Labor voters who voted ‘no’. They did this for a stack of reasons including having a gay son who is keen to marry his long-time partner, or not really caring about the issue, or having religious views on the subject. Next election they will keep on voting the way they have always voted.

  2. I think I may have found the basic pattern in the press gallery articles:

    Day 1: Turnbull government on a winner with x policy. Shorten wedged!
    Day 2: Turnbull on a winner with x policy anyway. Great man.
    Day 3: Turnbull needs to stand up to his party on x policy
    Day 4: x policy not as good as previously thought
    Day 5: Turnbull government’s reaction to x policy failing is disgraceful!
    Day 6: Where to now for Turnbull?
    Day 7: The polls are bad but let’s look at Turnbull’s PPM
    Day 8: Turnbull government on a winner with y policy. Shorten wedged!
    Day 9: Turnbull on a winner with y policy anyway. Great man.


  3. Gravel are you talking about the firefox update a couple of posts up?
    If so everything works fine on my puter. I’m not sure I like it yet but it hasn’t killed much ( just a couple of outdated add ons.)

  4. Warming up for a backflip –

    NZ offer to take Manus refugees a possibility: Turnbull

    Malcolm Turnbull has softened his language over New Zealand’s offer to take 150 refugees from Manus Island.

    “It’s a possibility that could happen in the future but it is not … a near-term prospect at all,” the prime minister told Neil Mitchell on Melbourne radio 3AW on Friday.

    Instead, Australia was focused on the US refugee resettlement deal that could take up to 1250 people

    I suppose he’s hoping most of the men still on Manus Island will die, and solve the problem.

    The interview is here – relevant part starts at 13.41

    • It’s a branch of the ACL.

      “Our vision is that we can see Australia become a nation in which every man, woman, and child is valued as God intended, and can live free of sexual exploitation.”

      Funny, really, that an organisation with such lofty aims should be fully in favour of women being third class citizens, always subservient to the men. Just another bunch of sex-obsessed wowsers, really.

      ACL, being totally lacking in any intellectual input, even pinched the name from this place –

      A centre designed to foster tolerance has its name pinched by a bunch of faux religious Australian nutters who have no understanading of ‘tolerance’ at all.

  5. Gravel
    I’m also having trouble on smartphone with some cartoon links not appearing at all, & twitter links only displaying as links, not full picture. Samsung browser- was fine until a recent update. The samsung browser enables lots of ad blockers so I will put up with some monor issues!

  6. A royal commission worth the name

    The Don Dale juvenile detention centre must close, and its high security unit shut down immediately, the Northern Territory royal commission into the protection and detention of children has recommended.

    The inquiry’s final report, released on Friday, found “shocking and systemic failures” over many years that were known about but ignored at the highest levels, commissioners Margaret White and Mick Gooda said.

  7. Anyone here taking notice?

    New alliance launched at Bonn climate talks hopes to signal the end of the dirtiest fossil fuel that kills 800,000 people a year with air pollution

    A new alliance of 19 nations committed to quickly phasing out coal has been launched at the UN climate summit in Bonn, Germany. It was greeted as a “political watershed”, signalling the end of the dirtiest fossil fuel that currently provides 40% of global electricity.

    NZ has signed up.

    • Time to change, if Firefox isn’t giving you what you need.

      I changed to Chrome ages ago because Firefox had too many problems. Looks like it still has.

  8. Nice one, Jacinda

    “I was waiting to walk out to be introduced at the east Asia summit gala dinner, where we all paraded and while we were waiting, Trump, in jest, patted the person next to him on the shoulder, pointed at me and said, ‘This lady caused a lot of upset in her country,’ talking about the election.” Ardern told Newsroom.

    “I said, ‘Well, you know, only maybe 40%,’ then he said it again and I said, ‘You know,’ laughing, ‘no one marched when I was elected’.”

  9. Well, who would have thought!

    Migrant communities in western Sydney electorates have been pinpointed as the strongest element of the no vote. But religious belief correlates much more strongly than overseas birth

    That’s a huge correlation

    But the factor that correlated most strongly with a no vote was religious affiliation, not overseas birth. It had a correlation of -0.8, implying a close to 1:1 relationship. The following graphs show the percentage of yes voters in every electorate in the postal survey, mapped against census data for each electorate.

    Some interesting data

  10. With all the interesting data that the ABS collected from the most recent publicly funded national survey, correlated with other interesting data that the ABS has collected in the last few years, I’m just wondering if this was not a very underhanded way of getting extremely detailed information about the demographics of Australia. Better by far than any focus group could afford to put together?

    I’m so tired of the whole lack of “public good” in today’s politics and reportage.

  11. it might explain this –

    Rupert Murdoch says his newspapers are struggling in digital age
    Speaking at News Corp AGM, Murdoch hails Times, Australian and Wall Street Journal as successes but says company has ‘hands full’ keeping print viable

  12. I am damned tired. What a week. Three crisis at once, darling daughter a quick visit before flying back overseas, Shep, Meoldma’s doggie coming within seconds of getting the green needle before a reprieve and a change of heart meds.


    Oh, and you learn something new every day. Only married women can get pap smears in the UAE and that includes visiting female workers,

  13. Thanks for the cheers yesterday. I was a bit burned out from the news so spent my spare time watching old Full Frontal DVD’s and realized how dull the show got when Shaun Micallef left in season 5 because after that it just lost its lustre, so watched documentaries instead.

    (Sidenote: probably why comedy sketch comedy shows died out. Skits of indifferent, stupid, blokey-bloke men with whining hysterical women in various relationship crises just gets OLD. And I hate how they made that kind of skit to saturation point in later seasons).

    Anyway, hope Labor gets in in Northcote tomorrow. Mainly because even if I’m okay with Greens in general, I don’t like the idea of them getting balance of power because they have proven to be almost impossible to dislodge after they get elected and I don’t want a Victorian Labor government to eventually end up in a position where they have to enact a plan to save jobs/make life better for everyone but a Green crossbench on the lower house would be like “Not so fast, we will only agree to this plan if you enact our plan to spend $5 billion on a new industry that makes cars powered by peoples’ farts”” or something ridiculous like that.

  14. Curioz:

    With all the interesting data that the ABS collected from the most recent publicly funded national survey, correlated with other interesting data that the ABS has collected in the last few years, I’m just wondering if this was not a very underhanded way of getting extremely detailed information about the demographics of Australia. Better by far than any focus group could afford to put together?

    Funny, that’s exactly the same thing a friend of mine said the morning the results came out. I hadn’t thought of it that way until then, but it does make sense.

    • “They” would already have more than enough information about Australian demographics.

      “They (government and others) know everything about me. My age, my gender, where I live, how much rent I pay, my income, where my bank accounts are, how I access my money, what sort of car I drive, my health problems, what medication I take, what doctors I see, whether I live alone or with others, what food I buy, what groceries I buy, how often I shop online, and where I shop and much more.

      i can’t see that the survey would have told them anything they don’t already know, except for whether or not I voted and if I did, how I voted.

  15. Kirsdarke:

    Thanks for the cheers yesterday. I was a bit burned out from the news so spent my spare time watching old Full Frontal DVD’s and realized how dull the show got when Shaun Micallef left in season 5 because after that it just lost its lustre, so watched documentaries instead.

    (Sidenote: probably why comedy sketch comedy shows died out. Skits of indifferent, stupid, blokey-bloke men with whining hysterical women in various relationship crises just gets OLD. And I hate how they made that kind of skit to saturation point in later seasons).

    Oh, don’t get me started. I’ve seen some repeats of Open Slather recently, and I can confidently say that show doesn’t provide one laugh in its entire one-hour episode length. Any episode. There’s just nothing. Micallef was a godsend to Full Frontal, but all his presence did was mask the severe decline of sketch comedy writing since around the time of Fast Forward. There have been a bunch of sketch shows made since then, and they’ve been uniformly awful.

    Could be for any number of reasons, but my current theory is that a lot of comedic identities just moved away from the whole area. They hosted their own quiz or topical shows, or got into releasing DVDs of their live performances. That stuff would have to be more lucrative than pumping money into the riskier sketch format. Or sitcoms, which is something else that has mostly failed in this country since the eighties.

    We’re not bad at the more gentle, character-based stuff though. I’ve seen Rosehaven and it’s not bad at all. And I heard good things about Please Like Me.

  16. re ABS data collection from the Same Sex Marriage Survey
    1. Barcode on top of ballot paper
    2. Vote counting outsourced to KPMG
    3. Scrutineers had to sign draconian secrecy documents

  17. Well, at the very least, if a future Australian Conservative-Christian Party-One Nation coalition majority government (in a future timeline where absolutely everything goes wrong mind you) decides to round up everyone that voted yes, at least they’d have a challenge putting 61.6% of the country into camps without people figuring out something’s up.

  18. @Aguirre

    Yeah, I remember growing up I absolutely loved the first season of Comedy Inc, about half the skits of Big Bite and a quarter of the sketches of Skithouse, but they tended to get stale pretty quickly.

    It’s understandable of course since comedy can grow stale as fast as an open loaf of bread, there’s few sketch shows that have managed to keep up the quality for so long. Even Monty Python fell in quality after 3 seasons.

    Probably the best comedy is that which is thought up on the spot, rather than written shows.

  19. main article not up yet, but this editorial is


    “According to the poll, based on a sample of 579 Bennelong voters, Alexander’s 9 per cent margin from last year’s federal vote has already been almost completely erased, with four more weeks to go before the by-election is held on December 16.

    Primary support for the sitting member has declined by more than eight percentage points since and now stands at 42 per cent.

    That puts Alexander only slightly ahead of Labor’s challenger, who is polling at 39 per cent.

    Adding to the unusual nature of this contest, of course, is the identity of Labor’s candidate.

    Former premier Kristina Keneally quit state politics one year after her defeat in the 2011 NSW election.

    Today’s Galaxy poll represents a stunning comeback for Keneally, who after only a few days of campaigning is exactly level on a two-party preferred basis with the incumbent.”

    No other primaries yet

  20. Nicholls better get about writing his concession speech

    After nearly three weeks of avoiding the question, the Queensland LNP leader, Tim Nicholls, has indicated he would form government with One Nation, saying he would “work with the parliament that the people of Queensland provide”.

    The former prime minister John Howard, who decreed in the 1990s that the Pauline Hanson-led party should be put last on how-to-vote cards, on Friday told a Brisbane audience the Greens were now “the real extremists of Australian politics”.

    His biggy was not owning up in the debate. Stacia can run with that big-time (“He had to get his advisors tell him what to to”).

    Didn’t they expect the question?

    • And cop this

      “I think the LNP are absolutely right to put the Greens last,” Howard said. “In my view, the Greens are the real extremists of Australian politics, whether it is in Queensland or NSW or anywhere. So my starting proposition would be … you put the Greens last.

      The what is left of a man is a total embarrassment.

  21. I honestly don’t know what to make of the Labor-LNP-One Nation situation in Queensland this time around.

    There’s a large element of “That was then, this is now”, when the 1998 and 2017 elections are held in entirely different circumstances.

    Difference 1 – it’s a minority Labor government defending its first term.
    Difference 2 – Optional preferential voting has been replaced with compulsory preferential voting.
    Difference 3 – It takes place after an extensive redistribution.
    Difference 4 – The Coalition seems to be much more willing to accept One Nation as a part of its soul these days than they had before.

    I really hope the election next week results in a Labor majority government, but, one will have to prepare for the possibility of an LNP-ONP coalition regardless.

    From my distant observation platform in Victoria, Palaszczuk’s government seems to have been pushed around in more situations than other situations in which it has led. And in a state where the only local paper pretty much perceives a trade unionist breathing as an unforgivable crime, well, I don’t perceive much growth in Labor’s primary vote.

    All I hope is that because of the changes to the preferential voting, Greens being forced to choose between Labor, LNP and One Nation will make the right choice.

    • Oh, and forgot another key difference.

      – No preference leaking between Liberal and National as they are now the same party.

  22. I am ending this day with a good outro tune. The closing music to the 1984 film Repo Man, and a rock tribute to Morricone’s western scores.

  23. There’s so much funny in the political punditosphere tonight. You can read Phil Coorey’s article tomorrow, all I’ll say about if for the moment is that it’s about Turnbull being happy (?!). But this is the thing that really made me chortle:

    Way to put a ridiculous RWNJ spin on things, Murray.

  24. Someone mentioned mille-feuille recently; I think a “proper” vanilla slice is better.

    VANILLA SLICE: Don’t be fooled, a mille-feuille this ain’t. Proudly less refined than other incarnations, the Aussie version touts a characteristic slab of gelatine-set vanilla custard, sandwiched between two pieces of flaky pastry, and topped with icing that varies in flavour and consistency between states. The slightly tart NSW version, spiked with passionfruit, ticks all boxes. For those keen to take their enthusiasm for Vanilla slice to the next level, join thousands of pilgrims as they embark upon on Mildura this August for the annual Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph.

    To my mind, a great vanilla slice is the dessert equivalent of a meat pie: you should be able to eat it without crockery or cutlery – and ideally without a napkin.

    • I’m not too fussed about the icing – but it mustn’t be icing sugar (usually indicates dry, brittle pastry.)

      White, slightly pink (cochineal), or yellow (passionfruit) icings are fine. Passionfruit with seeds is great for contrast (and flavour.)

      White with “pulled” brown lines is over-thinking it.

  25. free

  26. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. Plenty of Saturday reading for you.

    Richard Dennis posits that the Coalition’s crisis has a simple cause: it keeps supporting deeply unpopular policies. I suppose too that’s why it has so much trouble with the Senate.
    Paul Bongiorno treats us with another of his very good articles as he examines the reality of last week’s events.
    One of our favourites, Janet Albrechtsen, says that :”Turnbull has deserted us”. Google.
    Imre Saulsinszky, who has closely followed the political career of Kristina Keneally, declares that she is as straight as a die.
    Elizabeth Knight looks at the Netfix-driven media frenzy going on in the US. The predators are circling Murdoch she says.
    The SMH editorial uses the SSM survey to support the notion that the real centre is reasserting itself.
    In an excellent article Peter van Onselen writes that the same-sex marriage survey result exposes reactionaries as the dinosaurs they are. Google.
    Cory Bernardi’s homophobic slurs reflect someone quickly losing relevance.
    Peter Hartcher wonders how Australia might do democracy better.
    Ross Gittins tells us why universities should never get to set their own fees.
    Another good example of why we need freedom from religion as much as for it.

  27. Section 2 . . .

    George Brandis is considering an amendment to the same-sex-marriage legislation that uses an international agreement upholding religious liberty, in a move to placate ¬conservative MPs demanding extra protections. Google.
    Christian Democratic Party leader Reverend Fred Nile has admitted making a significant error in a horror story he told during the NSW parliament debate on voluntary assisted dying laws. But Mr Nile has put down the error to possible divine intervention after he experienced “a full blown visual” of a newspaper report of the story he incorrectly recounted. Nile is clearly unfit for office!–fred-niles-error-in-horror-story-during-nsw-assisted-dying-debate-20171117-gznekf.html
    Mark Kenny says the SSM survey demonstrated that men of God hold no mortgage on the national soul.
    Karen Middleton writes “It just shows that progressive jurisdictions can lead and lead well and the rest of the country will catch up.”
    The whining Gerard Henderson says that we should all pay homage to the strength of Tony Abbott’s decision making. I dare you to read it! Google.
    Another very good contribution from Jack Waterford this time on the effect of religion on the SSM survey. It has a sting in the tail where he says there could be something to be learned from how the very high NO votes were achieved in some western Sydney electorates.
    PHON tells the Queensland LNP that if it wants them to help form government they’ll have to agree to ease gun laws. Google.
    Trump doesn’t frighten Jacinda Ardern. “No-one marched when I was elected”, she said.
    With the ACTU’s new ‘Change the Rules’ campaign, Sally McManus is playing the long game, says Jay Goodall.,10937
    Michael West puts it to us that if governments, either state or federal, proceed to use taxpayer money to subsidise an Indian coal magnate whose profits end up in Caribbean tax havens, it can only be put down to corruption. Mexico is proving it.

  28. Section 3 . . .

    Karen Middleton tells us that concerned about possible collusion over the NBN, Kevin Rudd is calling for a royal commission into the ‘cancer’ that is News Corp and its impact on democracy. It’s a full-throttle attack she says.
    The corporate watchdog will look into any potential risks to shoppers from the boom in buy now, pay later platforms such as Afterpay, as consumer groups worry these services escape laws designed to protect customers.
    In the first part of an exclusive series for Independent Australia, Alan Austin analyses all Federal ministerial sackings and resignations since Gough Whitlam’s regime — to show the Turnbull Government has by far the worst record in recent times.,10935
    Mike Seccombe is of the opinion that a NSW ‘predictive’ policing initiative appears to be as much about presuming guilt among young Indigenous people as it is about preventing crime.
    Simon Birmingham still has work to do with the Catholic education sector. Google.
    Remember the Unaoil scandal? Well now things are starting to happen.
    Lendlease has highlighted the challenges it faces in providing a safe workplace after three workers died on its construction sites in the last eight months.
    The NT Royal Commission didn’t pull any punches.
    And the NT government pledges action.
    I’d hate to be put through this Sydney University ordeal.

  29. Section 4 . . . with Cartoon Corner

    Another tough day in court for Westpac will do nothing to quell the calls for a banking RC.
    And giving the Nats the shits over SSM won’t help staving of a Royal Commission either!
    Ah. The Ibrahims!

    David Rowe with time running out for Trump.

    A ripper from Alan Moir on the survey outcome!

    David Pope on the NT Royal Commission report.

    I’m not sure where Paul Zanetti’s coming from with this one.

    A biblical contribution from Matt Golding.

    Andrew Dyson in the political waiting room.
    Mark Knight with a rather disingenuous contribution.

    Sean Leahy with Anastacia’s bold move to completely eschew PHON.

    A coat of arms remake.
    Jon Kudelka explains the scales of justice.

  30. Paul Zanetti is a right-wing shill. Long ago he worked for Murdoch, at the Daily Smelly. He keeps the attitudes he had then. You will never see a cartoon of his being positive for Labor.

    To get an idea of the audience he now attracts take a look at the comments on any item on his Facebook page. It’s a haven for right-wing haters.

  31. Good morning everyone. My computer doesn’t like the links to the SMH or The Age or Canberra times. They are coming up in very confusing format.

    • Fairfax seem to be better at counting number of visits for those users who aren’t logged on their site. I log in to SMH and logon to The Age

      Possible solution is to use private browsing or browse incognito making sure open new incognito tab or window

    • From your comments yesterday and this morning it sounds like your gear didn’t like the update. Something hasn’t installed properly. Or something is still trying to run on the old settings.

      This might help –

      What I’d do –
      Use another browser to see if the problem happens there too. If it does it;s your computer, not the browser. If the other browser is letting you see cartoons, Fairfax sites etc properly then it’s a Firefox problem.

      If it’s Firefox I’d uninstall and then re-install it. That should fix any glitches.

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