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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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Joshua McDowell April 19, 2017, 7:21 pm |

    Hey Bob I love your blog. It’s really informative and great even for me and I am Australian lol.
    I have a question and it’s extremely broad and I’m not sure whether you can answer it or have had much to do with it in England or Australia and it’s to do with social services..
    Do the UK government take as good of care as the Australian government does of its citizens in providing services or take better care in the area of social services?
    Do the UK government provide services such as its own version of the
    health care card,
    pharmaceutical benefits scheme, low income support supplement, low income single supplement, essential medical equipment care payment,
    rental assistance,
    the new child care benefit package,
    baby bonus,
    paid parental leave assistance, child dental benefits scheme, welfare, disability payments etc. Do the UK do more or less and do you know anything about the comparisons. I figured I’d ask you even if you don’t know.


    • BobinOz April 20, 2017, 9:14 pm |

      Hi Josh, glad you love my blog.

      As you have suggested though, I can’t really answer this question, I just don’t know. For sure, the UK have all of these kinds of things, all of these sorts of benefits are available, and of course we have the NHS.

      I do know I did have some kind of medical card, but we don’t have a medical credit card thing like we do here, although that may have changed in the nine years or so since I’ve lived here.

      My only encounter, fortunately for me, with the UK social services system, or dole as we would call it, was back in the 70s. When I was around 19 or 20, I found myself out of work, and signed on. It was horrible, we would have to go to the Social Security offices, queue for about two or three hours, get a grilling by one of their staff members about what we done or tried to do to find work, then we would sign some papers and wait for our dole check to turn up.

      Then we would have to do the whole thing again two weeks later to get another check. Fortunately for me, I only went through that process couple of times before I found another job and although I did find myself out of work again on other occasions, I skipped the process of signing on, just too much hassle.

      I can’t imagine it’s any better now in the UK, especially as the current Conservative government are desperately trying to save money and cut costs.

      But whether the UK are better that is sort of thing than Australia or not, I really don’t know. As you’ve asked, what you think of the Australian system? Is it good, bad, excellent or terrible?

  • Mark February 10, 2017, 5:38 pm |

    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 |

      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.

      • Mark June 12, 2017, 7:48 pm |

        Just as an update to my view of UK politics v Australia below, if anyone is interested, this is the result of the June 8th 2017 UK election …………………….How most of UK see it.

        The Conservatives won the election but they actually lost. Labour lost the election but in actual fact won the election. The Scottish Nationalist Party SNP actually won in Scotland but at the same time they lost. The Conservatives also won in Scotland but also lost (see note above) UKIP lost every seat but because they won ‘Brexit’ they have already won really. The Lib Dems won a few but still lost. The Ulster unionist party didn’t win much but have become the real winners of the election.
        The leader of the conservative party and as such the winning person Theresa May has been asked to resign by many in her party as she did not win, but she wont because she won even though she lost…
        There you go that about sums it all up! No politicians were harmed in the making of this election though they perhaps should have been. 🙂

        • BobinOz June 13, 2017, 9:02 pm |

          I’m sure some people will read your comment Mark and think you’re talking rubbish. Unfortunately, I can confirm that your assessment of the outcome of the most recent general election in the UK is pretty accurate, I can’t fault it.

          I never thought I’d say this, because I was certain that nobody would ever trump (pun intended) the entertainment factor of Australian politicians. But now I’m thinking instead of laughing at our Australian leaders, we should applaud them for being pioneers in politics; it seems that politicians around the world are following suit.

          The absurdity of Brexit certainly outdid anything that Rudd and Gillard could come up with, and then the US comfortably outdid Brexit, and now the latest UK election has turned into a farcical pantomime. It could be quite a lengthy pantomime as well, I imagine the UK will have to have another election some time really soon.

          All this would be so funny if these people weren’t really running our countries but unfortunately they are. Good old politics.

          • Mark November 22, 2017, 9:03 pm |

            I just could not resist another post in here. after the news once again today… and familiar with the music scene as I am I was reminded of a very popular song today one that everyone has sung at some point in their life though this version has a twist, it goes something like this.
            150 MP sitting in their seats and if one of those MP’s should accidentally find our they have dual nationality, they’ll be 149 MP’s sitting in their seats…come on altogether now 149 sitting in their seats….Where we up to? 141 Mps sitting in their seats and if ……..or you can do it with senators ..76 senators and so on
            I can see another election looming. 9 gone now….You cant make this stuff up…What on earth were they all thinking when they took office ‘ahh no one will bother with that rule’…evidently not., till someone unearthed it again. Its becoming a bit of a running joke in the news in some other countries… MPs have been struck out on this provision before, so its not as if they didnt know about the rule but not on this scale I suspect. Italy look out, Australia may out do you on prime ministers…Silvio Berluscon you’ve nothing on these guys !!!

            • BobinOz November 23, 2017, 6:51 pm |

              Yes, it is a farce. We have state elections here in Queensland on Saturday, one of the labour candidates is Evan Jones. What’s the point of voting for him? He’s obviously of Welsh descent somewhere along the line 🙂

  • pete February 10, 2017, 5:38 am |

    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 |

      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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