Australian UK and US Politicians Compared, FWIW

anz dec 16I understand that Brexit caused a bit of a stir in the UK, and that the resulting vote to leave the EU has very much divided the nation.

If we thought that was a shock, Trump’s victory in the US presidential election recently has divided America in an even bigger way.

Is global politics going mad?


trumpThis is surely another reason to move to Australia where politics couldn’t possibly be so polarising? If that’s what you’re thinking, then think again.

Here’s a reprint of an article I wrote recently for Australia and New Zealand magazine which appeared in their December edition. It was called…

Australian politics

politicsBritain has been through significant political upheaval recently, what with Brexit. The story, featuring scaremongering, backstabbing, doublecrossing, abandonments and resignations is one that deserves the tag ‘You just couldn’t write it, could you?’

brexitThose in the UK who witnessed the saga unfold might think a move to Australia would be a step in the direction of improved political stability.

Have I got news for you.

Australian politicians have been writing stories like this, and better, since I arrived in November 2007. In those nine years Australia has had six Prime Minister, probably. I say probably because I do know there is a slight delay between me actually writing these articles and when they appear in the magazine on the shelves in the UK. During this short period, who knows, I may well have woken up one morning here in sunny Australia to another new Prime Minister. If that sounds strange to you, is not to me, it’s already happened twice since I’ve been living here.

It wasn’t always like that.

When I arrived, Australia was under the leadership of John Howard (Liberal) who had been in charge for over 11 years. Before that, Paul Keating served for five years having taken over from Bob Hawke (both Labor) who had been Prime Minister since 1983.

I don’t know if it was something I said, but political unrest began within a month of my arrival.

John Howard was voted out and replaced by Kevin Rudd (Labor), who looked a bit like The Milky Bar Kid. That wasn’t his nickname though, certainly not by his fellow politicians. They affectionately referred to him as Dr Death.

Then, one sunny Australian morning in June 2010, I woke up to discover that Julia Gillard was our new Prime Minister. In what’s called a ‘leadership spill’ here, she had challenged the Labor leader and he lost the vote. He was out, and she was in; as quick as that.

Three years later, almost to the day, Kevin got his revenge. In another ‘spill’, he defeated Julia and I woke up to a different Prime Minister yet again. This time though, there would be no further revenge from Julia. She vowed to quit politics if she lost to Rudd, so she’s possibly sipping tea and eating biscuits somewhere with Nigel Farage right now.

With Labor’s defeat just two months later we had another new PM, Tony Abbott (Liberal). He lasted almost 2 years before he was ousted in another leadership spill.

He was challenged by Malcolm Turnbull who had been Minister for Communications up until then.

phoneTurnbull went on to win the election for the Liberals in June 2016, but only by the skin of his teeth. The vote was so close it took fully a week before it was verified, otherwise Bill Shorten would have been our seventh Prime Minister since my arrival. That though could end up being Tony Abbott; rumours are rife he is plotting his revenge against Malcolm Turnbull.

No, you couldn’t write it, could you?

I don’t know if leadership spills are uniquely Australian, but Australian politics has a history of internal battles of this nature. Hawke v Hayden, Howard v Peacock and Keating v Hawke to name but a few. It may sound chaotic, but it’s more entertaining than House of Cards.


Footnote: if you are not yet convinced that Australian politics is fun, check this out…

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Mark February 10, 2017, 5:38 pm | Link

    Oh no! What with pasties on another page and now this page. its Friday afternoon some time spare ….Still at least a pasty has some benefit. Politicians well you could put HP sauce on them but they would be no more palatable. So I’ll try writing in Bob style of humour, if I may be so cheeky. His is funnier than mine.

    I will try and help here. As has been said if you are coming to Australia to escape the politics of the UK USA Spain, Holland, Germany the list goes on and on. Australia is right up at the top just behind Spain, things are not as easy as they could be. Yes I did vote for Trump. As I voted for Brexit. (citizen of both) I don’t have a vote In Australia yet. Last election here in AU was 2016 the coalition as it became eg not one party won 30 Senate seats that leaves it nine short of the 39 votes needed to pass legislation. Now Senator Cory Bernardi’s recent defection, departure, call it what you will. They are down to 29 seats, meaning it would need to win over 10 more senators every time it wants to pass a law. Down the pub for a pint and a pasty. Mmmm not that easy, hang on though as that’s not quite right. It did need 39 but only now needs 38 because Family First’s Bob Day resigned last year. The High Court has to decide its fate, the fate of the seat that is. What the High Court? Surely the people! No. Family First, want to replace the candidate. In the UK it would be another election here, mmmmmm. So the High Court is examining Mr Day’s eligibility to be elected in the first place. Wait though as the High Court has also ruled that One Nation’s, Rod Culleton was ineligible to be elected…Are you still following…Pinch yourself there is more. If the court concludes Bob Day was elected and it stands a replacement would be decided by the joint sitting of the South Australian Parliament, not to be confused with the main parliament. Id imagine another Family First MP yes Family First is a party, a party of one, Bob Day. Wait he resigned…Ok he has back up. If he should not have been elected then a recount, a fresh election. Who knows they may even ask the 9th Circuit in San Francisco…Sorry I’m being silly now and that is US politics and as I hail from there and have had to deal with the 9th Circuit who have more altered decisions than a child in a toy shop. Yes they are the ones blocking President Trump. In fact Arizona is that fed up it wants to leave the 9th circuit and join the 12th As for UK well Brexit rolls on at a pace, its not a fast pace but it’s a pace. So we await the fate of the Bob Day seat. Whilst in the USA the Supreme Court will now probably overturn yet another decision of the 9th Circuit and its judges Curly Larry and Moe. In the UK we have the Speaker of the House John Bercow probably looking how to spell resignation after his onslaught on the US president. This, the John Bercow that was a Member of The Monday Club. The man who was publicly admonished for a £172 chauffeur driven trip of 1200 yards. The same man who spent £367 after the UK expenses row on a taking a car to Luton to give a speech on how MPs should clean up their act on expenses. Yes folks you are going to read that last sentence again. I imagine. (The man who drives a Volkswagen Golf, I’ve no idea what he drives I was just reminded of the UK advert) Seriously though you just can’t make this stuff up. So Australia awaits the courts. USA awaits the Courts and with a bit of luck someone will put John Bercow before a UK Court.

    • BobinOz February 10, 2017, 8:17 pm | Link

      Well, I had to get my calculator out for this one.

      Bronwen Bishop resigned as the speaker of Australia’s parliament in 2015 when it was discovered she spent the equivalent of £2500 (at the time) of taxpayers money on a 50 mile helicopter ride to attend a fundraiser.

      So 50 x 1760 = 88,000 yards, 2500 ÷ 88,000 = just a little bit under 3p per yard.

      John Bercow spends £172 on a chauffeur driven trip of 1200 yards.

      172 ÷ 1200 = just over 14p per yard.

      He’s got to go.

      It’s easy to see how Trump’s ‘drain the swamp’ got so much support, isn’t it? Whatever happened to politicians who put the needs of their constituents first?

      Thanks for the political update Mark, I think it raises more questions than it answers though. I’m not going to ask those questions though, my head hurts. I’m going for a lie down.

  • pete February 10, 2017, 5:38 am | Link

    Hi Bob,
    You do know that Politicians are not born, they are made in a factory, they
    are made to look different on the outside but they have the same clockwork
    running gear on the inside, that’s why they are the same the through out the world.
    Nice to have you back, how is the new house?

    • BobinOz February 10, 2017, 7:23 pm | Link

      That explains a lot, thanks Pete, I never knew 🙂

      Monday week for the house, so I’m not in it yet. So I might go quiet again for a little while, but I will be back. Cheers

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