Quick! Let’s change the conversation to another continent!

The nonsense women have to put up with here in the US is positively embarrassing…so I propose we distract everyone with Australian sexism.

But perhaps, sadly, Gillard’s most immediate legacy will be one that you don’t need numbers to measure. We don’t need polls to tell us that many Australian men are not comfortable with a female prime minister. The indisputably sexist attacks against Julia Gillard forces us to acknowledge the deeply ingrained habits of sexism in Australian public life. If the Prime Minister is treated this badly, how do less powerful and privileged women fare?

We know that women are paid less than men. We know that women are underrepresented in boardrooms, in the media, in politics. There are all kinds of inequalities that we’ve been able to quantify for decades. But the assaults on Gillard reveal the unspoken double standards that govern the treatment of men and women.

I don’t think this is going to work. The Australians at least managed to elect a woman prime minister.


  1. says

    Well we kinda cheated on that one. She got in by ousting the guy who got elected. But we did then RE-ELECT a female prime minister so it sorta counts.

  2. chrisho-stuart says

    We elected a woman prime minister… who is, unfortunately, headed for a landslide loss in September.

    Polls indicate her popularity with male voters has dropped significantly in recent weeks; with no corresponding gain in the female vote. This is widely seen by pollers as due in no small part to her explicit raising of sexism as an issue.

    Part of the problem with adversarial politics is that it fosters a political climate in which everything is taken as a vehicle to attack the other party.

    We recently had an absolutely appalling bit of sexism — which you blogged about as well — in relation to a grossly offensive menu produced for a Liberal Party event (that’s our right wing party by the way). The Labour Party (our left wing party, now in government but only just) called for heads to roll — and specifically the head of the candidate that the event was intended to support.

    But it turns out that the offensive menu was a backroom joke by a chef in the kitchens, and not used at the event. As far as I can tell, there was simply no way for any of the organizers to know about the menu until it was leaked *after* the event had occurred.

    It’s a classic case where BOTH parties could *easily* have spoken with one voice to condemn such outright sexism. That’s the kind of unified response I’d have liked to see. It was, after all, not something perpetrated by the event organizers or the particular candidate. It was not something featured for people attending the event. It was sexism “on the street”, as it were; or “in the kitchen” in this case, and both parties condemn it.

    Whatever the different policy implications for women’s issues from the two parties; there’s no question (in my mind) that both parties — as parties — repudiate that kind of crude sexism. When it comes to women’s issues, the ALP is in my view by far the better party… but not because of things like this menu. Sexism cuts right across the board between left and right, just as we have discovered over the last couple of years how sexism cuts across the board between religious and rationalist.

    On issues relating to women, I am much closer to many of highly religious folks than to many of the secular community. Similarly, I am sure I’d be much closer to many Liberals than many ALP supporters.

    Unfortunately, the opportunity for a common stand against sexism was lost, and the event used as a tool in the inter-party warfare. Bad move, IMO; and I say that as an ALP voter.

    BTW. Here’s another bit of weirdness, which shows why we should give support to issues and causes rather than simply individual politicians. Our prime minister is a woman, and an atheist, and (mostly) a liberal in the sense that the word is used in the USA. One of our most important cabinet ministers (Penny Wong) is a lesbian in a long term stable relationship. But the prime minister (as an individual) is strongly against marriage equality. Go figure.

  3. Lofty says

    The Australians at least managed to elect a woman prime minister.

    When the backroom power brokers booted Rudd and installed Gillard as leader of the Labour party, she led her party to the 2010 election and nearly lost it. A hung parliament was avoided by two independents reluctantly supporting Labour. Basically she lost votes that her publically popular predecessor won with in a landside in 2007. So, no, Australia didn’t really elect a woman PM.
    Her current desperate flailings are painful to watch.

  4. says

    We also have a big dilemma arising from this. Gillard can not win the next election, and the opposition leader Abbott is a kind of Rick Perry with budgie smugglers, and just not an option.

    So do we bring down Gillard to give the only Labor person who could possibly win, Rudd(a guy, naturally), a chance, or do we accept that we will get Abbott, with all the potential consequences for women’s rights, gender equality, infrastructure, climate, education, I could keep going? It’s a tough one.

  5. pyrion says

    Here in germany we have a female chancelor as well. Sexist attacks on her are really unheard of. Although i don’t like some of her decisions i must admit that she does a pretty good job overall. At the moment it looks like she will win the next elections (this year) again.

  6. Moggie says

    The Australians at least managed to elect a woman prime minister.

    So did Pakistan – twice. Strangely, electing a woman to high office doesn’t mean that women get a fair shake in that society.

  7. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    Except it is not up to us to bring down PM Gillard. With our political system that is up to the caucus. The same one that replaced Rudd with her. From what I can gather Rudd was a micromanager that was hell to work with. While he might have more populist support (though personally I can’t see why) than PM Gillard there has been within the last few months an attempt to raise him back to the PM’s job and he did not have the numbers because the people who get to vote there are the ones who have to work with him. Yes, the polls are not kind to PM Gillard, though the same polls that say Rudd is more popular than her with the populace, also say that the Liberal (right wing conservative) party should dump Abbott forthwith. To be honest I wish they would. I still wouldn’t vote for them, but I’d be a lot less terrified of the next few years.

    Lofty seems to be implying that everything was going well for Labour until Rudd got ousted. Far from it, a win at the next election was not guaranteed then. And yes we’ve had a minority government, which has actually produced a period of really good legislation going through. After all, there were I think 4 Independents who could have thrown their lot in with Abbott and given him the Lodge, but he managed to alienate them as much as he is alienating anyone with a sense of empathy these days.

    I’d hoped with the last Leadership spill attempt that the media obsession with it would wane until after the election but no such luck.

    No matter what the polls say, I’m not going to resign myself to the election results. After all, depending on what polls you looked at in the USA at their recent election they thought it would be the GOP by a landslide.

  8. bytee says

    ‘The indisputably sexist attacks against Julia Gillard forces us to acknowledge the deeply ingrained habits of sexism in Australian public life”

    Well I’m calling “Bullshit’ on this. The PM is now floundering so badly in the polls that she must now go all for the sympathy vote. She’s even launched a sub-campaign titled “Women for Gillard”. What would the outcry be like if the leader of the opposition began a campaign “Men for Abbott”. I won’t be voting for Gillard in September and it has NOTHING to do with her being a woman. It has to do with her being an ineffective, lying, overspending, lackey of the Unions. It has to with her being the leader of an indulgent, wasteful, and disorganised rabble of a Government. The end game for the Government has begun. Any criticism of her, for any reason, will be characterised as a assault on her gender and will be reported as such by her followers. The people who fight the just fight for gender equality do themselves no service when they show us that they can’t tell the difference between criticism of her gender and criticism of her competence to lead.

  9. chrisho-stuart says

    I am not a member of any organized party…. I am in the ALP.

    (I’ve used this joke with various parties in the punch line over the years, without regard to any voting inclinations I might harbour. Right now the ALP fits best. Unfortunately.)

  10. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    Actually no bytee. I have many criticisms of the current government. I think their policies on refugees are heartless. I am sad that more of them are not reflecting the current populaces favour of marriage equality. However, either you are ignorant of the policies and legislation that they have successfully managed to do with a minority government, or you don’t like such things as improving the environment through the carbon price (which is working since emissions are down and Whyalla is still there). Along with at least another 107 things.
    As far as I can tell, given that she has been the PM of a minority government with an Opposition that has been running a smear campaign since the last election with the enthusiastic assistance of the right-wing press, especially Murdoch, that she has managed to achieve what she has done argues strongly against incompetence.

    Apart from the frequently misquoted ‘lie’ about the carbon price what else did PM Gillard ‘lie’ about? In comparison say to Tony ‘don’t hold me to this if it’s not written down’ Abbott? Why do you hold her to a higher standard?

    Was it you who blathered on about how the Liberal governments make money and Labour spends it? Well, given that the reason that Labour often spends money is because they have to fix the things that didn’t get any money spent on them by Liberal governments to maintain them I don’t think that’s actually a point in favour of the Liberal government. Or got sold for immediate short term funds rather than being kept for long term income?

    Or are you one of the people who has cognitive dissonance about what What Australians believe about the economy and the role of government.

    It’s possible that you aren’t a misogynist, just an idiot who listens to and parrots the speech of those that are. So, I’ve included some criticisms of PM Gillard’s government, is there something you think that the Opposition or Abbott could improve at? Just to show us that you have some ability to think for yourself and do some critical thinking of your own?

  11. chrisho-stuart says

    PZ: with regard to the opening in your post. Well done… mission accomplished. :-)

  12. gjpetch says

    No matter what the polls say, I’m not going to resign myself to the election results. After all, depending on what polls you looked at in the USA at their recent election they thought it would be the GOP by a landslide.

    The polls in the US election were actually highly accurate predictors of the results, (so long as they took the electoral college into account). It was more just that the US media and political pundits often chose to ignore or misrepresent the polls, either through wishful thinking on the part of Republicans, or through a bizarre urge to look non-partisan by calling it 50-50.
    The Australian two-party-preferred estimates are pretty definitive, Abbott will win.
    It blows my mind that so many Australians will actually intentionally vote for Abbott, what’s wrong with these people? The fact that Gillard is polling significantly worse with men suggests that sexism is a major factor.
    A super-conservative-religious-nutjob leader didn’t exactly work out too well for the US….. I’m really not looking forward to the next few years.

  13. drbunsen, le savant fous says

    Oh bytee, please do work on familiarising yourself with the meaning of the word “fact”.

    Meanwhile, [hush]

  14. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    I’m a fan of Julia Gillard and will be voting ALP in Sept. – which is still months away and week is a long time in politics remember folks.

    Julia Gillard been written off in our print (& much radio, TV and online) media ever since she took office. She’s proven her critics wrong so many times and weathered the spewstorms of hatred a lot of us can only begin to imagine. (Of course some here will know a lot more about such spewstorms from undeserved experience than others I freely admit.)

    Ms Gillard is one remarkable woman who I don’t think we appreciate enough & I am proud she is our Prime Minister.

    Set aside the anti-Gillard rubbish pushed by the Murdoch media and note the reality behind the sexist (Little Britain style) vomiting.

    – Australia’s economy is the envy of the rest of the world, low interest rates, low inflation, relatively low unemployment.

    – We’re finally doing *something* about Global Overheating (even if it is just a start),

    – we’re getting the NBN and NDIS and looking towards a better future where more people have better quality of life and opportunities.

    No government will ever be perfect and I don’t agree with all Gillard’s positions – refugees fleeing horror deserve far better and our leaders should take the lead in doing the right thing rather than pander to racism; love is love and equal marriage should be in and so on – but compared to the only realistic alternative Gillard & the ALP is Astronomical Units ahead.

  15. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @9. bytee

    ‘The indisputably sexist attacks against Julia Gillard forces us to acknowledge the deeply ingrained habits of sexism in Australian public life”

    Well I’m calling “Bullshit’ on this.

    Are you qualified? Not that it really matters. Oh well, you are entitled to your erroneous opinion I ‘spose.

    The PM is now floundering so badly in the polls that she must now go all for the sympathy vote.

    Polls can be misleading and are a snapshot of a single moment in time which is still months from the actual election. Might be an idea for you to look into their methodology and reliability and flaws. The media loves to conduct polls and then make them the story – that doesn’t make them accurate or a good prediction necessarily.

    She’s even launched a sub-campaign titled “Women for Gillard”.

    Since you’ve provided no citation, bytee, I’ll provide us all one myself :


    Note this was based on the ‘Women for Obama’ group and note too how that turned out. Do you happen to know who the current president of the United States of America is, bytee?

    What would the outcry be like if the leader of the opposition began a campaign “Men for Abbott”.

    From the Murdoch run mainstream media and outside I’m guessing there wouldn’t be one – just a yawn and, if anything, positive coverage. Oh, was that supposed to be a rhetorical question? Too bad.

    I won’t be voting for Gillard in September ..

    I will. Guess our votes cancel each other out bytee.

    ..and it has NOTHING to do with her being a woman.

    You sure about that? If so, how sure?

    It has to do with her being an ineffective,

    See :


    .. [the] Opposition has not managed to stop one of the Government’s Bills passing the House. So while it purports to be the alternative Government, not once has it managed to attract enough support from the cross-benchers to block our legislative program. By the end of this Budget session, more than 160 Bills had been passed since the re-election of the Gillard Government. This compares favourably with only 108 bills by the Howard Government in its entire first year. Among our legislation have been major pieces of reform including the structural separation of Telstra, NBN, national health reform, improvements to higher education and the flood and cyclone reconstruction levy. Even the Budget, which the Opposition denounced so thoroughly in the media when it was brought down in May, passed with barely a whimper.

    (Emphasis added.) Hmm.. “Ineffective” doesn’t quite seem to be accurate here does it, bytee?

    .. lying, ..

    Because the carbon price was imposed despite a pre-election promise which assumed she’d have majority government which didn’t eventuate I guess you mean? Well, I;m glad we’ve put a price on carbon dioxide pollution, bytee and I’ll quote (or maybe mis-quote) you some Oscar Wilde (?) : “When the facts change, sir, I change my opinion what do you do?)

    Of course, no liberal leader (*cough*Howard GST,cough) let alone Ton Abbott has ever changed their mind eh? Not :


    “I am wary of a system which creates new vested interests – which an ETS will do. I suspect that a straight carbon tax or charge could be more transparent and easier to change if conditions change or our understanding of the science changes.”
    – Tony Abbott, source linked via link above.

    Oops. Oh and Whyalla? Its still there. The exaggerated scare-mongering about the impacts of the carbon price? gee, that seems to have faded off a lot lately haven;t not transpired. Funny that.

    ..overspending, lackey of the Unions. It has to with her being the leader of an indulgent, wasteful, and disorganised rabble of a Government. The end game for the Government has begun.

    Short memory eh bytee? How long have the Murdoch media, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones, Howard Saddler and other shock jocks and miscellaneous right-wingers been saying that for now? Since about 2010. Guess who’s still Prime Minister, bytee ,despite it all.

    Any criticism of her, for any reason, will be characterised as a assault on her gender and will be reported as such by her followers. The people who fight the just fight for gender equality do themselves no service when they show us that they can’t tell the difference between criticism of her gender and criticism of her competence to lead.

    Oh I think we can tell the difference and i think we can also, most for us tell sexist attacks when we see them too. Do you seriously, for real think our Prime Minister Gillard would have been treated the same and insulted as viciously in the same ways she’s been if she was a bloke?

  16. bytee says

    Ariaflame, You stated, “Was it you who blathered on about how the Liberal governments make money and Labour spends it? Well, given that the reason that Labour often spends money is because they have to fix the things that didn’t get any money spent on them by Liberal governments to maintain them”

    The Libs don’t spend the money you’d like because they prefer to pay back the Govt debt first. It’s a vicious circle. We’d all be better off if it didn’t have to happen and I refer to both the austerity as much as the over-spending. No Govt I know of ‘makes’ money. They can save it, they can borrow it, They can spend it, they can raise it, but not “make it” in the way that most people would recognise the phrase.

    You also accuse me of being an idiot who parrots whatever the misogynists say. OK You want something from me that is an original thought, or at least not parroted. I refer you to my post on this site when the issue of the offensive restaurant menu came up. I think I stated on that thread, and I’ll shorten it here, that the Labor Govt could stay in power for as long as they liked if they ever learned to balance the books. That’s really all I want to be a priority for any Govt.

    I’ll throw in a criticism of the LNP. I would like to see a better position from them also on same-sex marriage. I’m genuinely puzzled by Julia’s position. Seems to me to be a no-brainer for the ALP to get this through. Who is in the back-rooms telling her she can’t support same sex marriage? It terms of other criticisms of LNP, the waters are a little bit muddy at the moment with the ALP warning us daily as to what the LNP policies WILL be, not so much what they are. This may end up being another valid criticism of LNP in the countdown. They don’t actually have to announce a whole raft of policies. The election is theirs to win just by keeping their mouths shut. Bringing up the sexism and abortion scare-cards, is in my view a mistake by Gillard and is fuelling the whole shit-storm about gender and equalty

    This thread is supposed to be about sexism, not Govt policy. And I truly believe that the PM has misplayed this issue as well.

  17. bytee says

    To all, Clearly I’m radically outnumbered on this site by my fellow Aussies as regards political leanings. Don’t worry about ganging up on me. I’ll be fine. I describe myself as being somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan but that’s mainly to play with peoples heads. Putting some of the venom aside for a moment, I’m interested as to why I’m so badly outnumbered. I don’t know the demographics of the Pharyngula readership, but I’m guessing that Atheists and Academics are very well represented. Therefore: Are Atheists more likely to lean left politically? Or is it people in Academia who are more prone to non-conservative views. This is a serious and polite enquiry. Let me know.

  18. chrisho-stuart says

    bytee: I suspect the political correlations might be stronger in the USA than here in Australia.

    There was a hilarious poster I saw recently. (Link to tumblr)

    “6% of scientists are Republican.

    Scientists have no explanation for why that number is so high.”

    The statistic is about right. Looking at the reasons and history for this is an interesting exercise; but the fact on the ground is that in a USA centric rationalist space, republicans really are going to be a small minority In Australia it isn’t going to be as stark (though I suspect the trend will lie the same direction).

    At the risk of starting a debate I don’t want to engage; I think the Pharyngula comment streams are more than usually aggressive with dissent from the majority perspective. Put it all together; this comment space is likely to be populated substantially more by those who are politically ALP (for Australia) and Democrat (for USA) — or else some other minor party: anything but GOP (for USA) or Liberal (for Australia).

    In brief: yes, I think atheists and academics are both more likely to lean left. Certainly in the USA, less so in Australia. Some research on political tendencies for professions in Australia indicate that professional academics are significantly more likely to be Greens. (A minor party in Australia with a strong environmental focus.)

  19. erik333 says

    @18 bytee

    Probably both, by US standards. Not sure where people would land in the Swedish spectrum, as the problems mentioned on pharingula were mostly settled (politically) before I was born in Sweden. I’ve grown to despise politicians and the very concept of representative democracy, but if I have to vote for anything it would be for the “social democracy” (e.g. center left) party. We’re still waiting for a female PM though, but thats completely secondary to actually getting a decently good one for once.

  20. says

    “I don’t know the demographics of the Pharyngula readership, but I’m guessing that Atheists and Academics are very well represented. Therefore: Are Atheists more likely to lean left politically? Or is it people in Academia who are more prone to non-conservative views. This is a serious and polite enquiry. Let me know.”

    Actually bytee, I’d put it down to the Pharyngula crowd being much more reality-based than conservatives. For instance, I was going to write a semi-rant on the bunch of lies you told, but looks like others have it covered. Hilariously, you didn’t actually respond to the majority of the bile you spewed up being countered, all you did was lean back and whine about how the labour government doesn’t get rid of the debt (it’s always catch phrases with bad politicians “Reduce the debt!” “Turn the boats around!”), despite the fact that Australia has one of the lowest debt to GDP ratio in the world. And despite the fact that liberals (in Australia’s case) and pretty much all other forms of conservative reactionary policy have been discredited as useless when dealing with countries. It’s not a budget in the same sense that the layman views a budget. Spending helps with growth, which (when properly targeted) increases the GDP more than the debt, which reduces the debt to GDP ratio even more, leading to less debt. That’s it. Nice and simple.

    Oh, and the sexist thing, mate, you are so deranged if you can’t see the vile misogyny that is hurled at our rather composed, intelligent and dignified PM. I guess if you can’t see it yet, then literally nothing will make it visible to you. Perhaps if she were raped then you’d -know- that it was misogyny. Or probably not. I don’t know what the limit is with people who don’t live in reality.

    Here, read this from someone more eloquent than I:

    “We have the lowest rate of unemployment in the OECD, we have the highest growth, we have one of the lowest debt/GDP ratios, we have just hit 21 years of consecutive economic growth, and our treasurer has won international awards for managing our economy through the worst global crisis since the great depression.

    Fact is, we are the envy of every nation on the planet. By any global measure we are kicking goals while the rest of the developed world is sinking into the abyss, but our media’s reportage remains a cavalcade of negative invective. According to the press gallery our government is “in disarray”, “dysfunctional”, “in crisis”, “under siege”, “beleaguered”, “all waste and mismanagement”. But once again, when you peel back the hyperbole and look at the reality, the picture presented by the media is far from true.

    If you look at what the Government has actually achieved from a minority position, it has been staggeringly successful. We have a carbon tax which, to spite all the insane doomsday prophecies, has not caused the sky to fall in, and many low earners are finding that they are actually better off with the tax cut that came with it. We also now have a clean energy industry that boasts $29 billion a year in revenue and employs 53,000 people. We have the mining tax in place, an NBN well underway, we have the NDIS coming, and we have the Gonski reforms to look forward to. These are all solid, tangible runs on the board — and all with an eye fixed firmly on the future of our nation. With all this going on, it’s not hard to understand why the rest of the world is totally baffled by our hatred of all things Gillard Government.”


  21. bytee says

    Hi Drewzilla, Like you, I was also going to write a semi-rant on the bunch of lies that YOU told. You’re trotting out the same excuses that I’ve heard over and over, the same phrases, some of them word perfect. I’m not going to bother. But on September 14th, when the results are coming in, just for a second, you will recall our conversations and the final words I wrote, which are…
    Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah, (Insert Raspberry sounds here) :)

  22. says

    Ah, I see. You’ve got the super secret ultimate facts that will blow what everyone (with all their silly references) in this thread has said apart, but it wouldn’t be fair to share, of course. Instead, you’ll just type the literal argument of a three year old.

  23. chrisho-stuart says

    Drewzilla, I think what he has is the detail that ALP is headed for a landslide loss.

    So yeah, we can debate over who is lying and who is not. That’s very rarely a productive discussion, and I think bytee is not trying to engage that. I think bytee is not claiming to be vindicated in the specifics of who is lying or not; but rather in the way the official public consensus as measured in an election is going to pan out.

    I think he’s right. I don’t *like* that, but it’s what I’m predicting also.

  24. robster says

    I was a proud Aussie when Gillard was elected with a (slim) majority back in ’10. Even more proud when she openly declared her atheism. However, Gillard then bent over backward to support the Schools Chaplaincy program, declared her opposition to marriage equality and started trying to please the christian lobby. What a disappointment Gillard has become. My hope of a fresh approach, a new more compassionate leadership have been dashed, Labor (the party name uses the American spelling of the word) will not be getting my vote in September.

  25. katkinkate says

    I’d just like to point out for any American readers that may be here, the only people who can vote for PM Gillard are those who are enrolled to vote in her electorate (voting district). For Labour to be re-elected to government a majority of the electorates have to elect their labour candidates. Ms Gillard will continue as PM only if she’s still leader of the Labour Party and is elected back into office in her electorate.

    Also reality has a left-leaning bias. Conservatives (right) tend to deny the bits of reality that conflicts with their most treasured beliefs and would result in unacceptable changes to their way of life or world view. Liberal (left) types tend to be more open to accepting the consequences of reality, even if it means they may have to change things in their personal life or their world view. I sometimes think that conservatives tend to believe (even if only subconsciously) that their belief somehow will change reality to their way of thinking if they just believe enough. While the left side tends to have a higher proportion of people who know their real position in the universe (ie. insignificant in the greater scheme of things).

    I am also sad that it looks like ALP will lose this September only because the Abbott does not inspire any confidence as the leader for the next few years. He’s a bully and I’d have preferred Turnbull. I will have to decide if I will continue to vote Green and independent as I have since the Democratic Labour Party died, in the hope of getting some sensible voices in government that aren’t silenced by party politics. Maybe this time I’ll vote ALP to support the slightly more sensible side. More research is needed.

  26. bytee says

    To Christo and Robster, Thanks for your comments, or at least, thanks for not bagging me to the extent of some others. I will apologise to Drewzilla for my last post, which was intended to raise a laugh. I shouldn’t have done that. My parents always told me that it was unkind to engage in a battle of wits with somebody who isn’t armed.

    Katkinkate, A thoughtful post. If you’re right then I’m a bit of an anomaly. I’m a sceptic and an atheist. I have a Mensa level IQ. I do accept that I am totally insignificant in the universe. I am always happy to change my view if evidence leads me there. And yet, I’m conservative. Go figure….

    What I think the Labor supporters and strategists are really struggling with is the alarming probability that people won’t be voting for Abbott because they like him. The claims of misogyny and bullying and various character flaws they attribute to him are electorally irrelevant. The voters who are currently polling at 58% Liberal (2PP) are not voting the Liberals in, they’re voting Labor OUT.

  27. says

    Actually chrisho-stuart, I think who is lying and what the lies are about are hugely important, both to the election and to accepting reality. If you think that it doesn’t matter which person actually lies more, then I’m unsure of what criteria you would use to elect someone? Charisma? Liberals have adopted a very American Republican style version of political tactics. Get completely outraged whenever the smallest thing happens in Labor that could be considered bad (regardless of whether it actually happened or not) and then shut down any discussion whatsoever about the flaws in their own party (helped rather grandly by the MSM). I’m not sure if you’re Australian or not, but in my facebook feed at least, the people who support Libs tend to do it with silly little catch phrases, such as “Get rid of the red headed witch!” and other things like that (usually a double hit of stupidity steeped in misogyny) and when asked to back up claims they made (such as “She lied about the carbon tax!”) literally have no idea other than they heard it on the radio or the news. The majority of people I speak to who are informed about the issues may not necessarily agree with Gillard on everything (I certainly don’t, gay marriage has already been mentioned, the christian chaplain scheme, immigration policies etc) but they recognise that Abbott is far far worse. And I’m also curious, if you don’t like the fact that the Libs might win, then why do you think that pointing out that they lie almost constantly isn’t a productive area of discussion. I could tell after bytee’s first response that no-one was going to change his mind, but as it is with atheism, sometimes the response is needed not to convince the person who is arguing, but to show people who might be reading on the sidelines that one side has facts and the other…doesn’t really have much.

    I’m aware of the polls that indicate a loss for Labor (so very used to the British spelling =/), however, as many others have pointed out, it’s still months to the elections and let us not forget that Murdoch is hugely influential in all Australian media and he is definitely supporting the Libs. In fact, I’d go as far to say that at least some of the polls have a bias in that the readership (or listenership) is Liberal and not Labor.

    Just to put some more things out there:

    Tony Abbott denying carbon change and then simultaneously supporting a carbon tax (he now goes on about how a carbon tax is completely ridiculous, much the same way that Republicans supported ‘obamacare’ until Obama started supporting it): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPpQisoZqx4

    Tony Abbott tries very hard to limit availability of RU486: http://www.theage.com.au/news/michelle-grattan/tony-abbott-the-new-drug-watchdog/2005/11/15/1132016792057.html

    And let’s not forget the sexism of Abbott:

    “I’ve always been very wary of debates involving women.”

    “I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak.”

    “What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price, and their own power bills when they switch the iron on, are going to go up.”

    “I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.”

    “The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience.”

    I could go on and on and on. This guy is a blithering idiot, with an over-inflated sense of his own power and completely reactionary policies. And when he actually gets asked about the lies or gaffes he made by someone (something that happens oh so rarely) the barely contained rage is a wonder to see.

    Oh and bytee, “Mensa level IQ”? Gee whiz, that’s a huge e-peen you got there. But once again, a content-less post simply claiming you’re right.

  28. chrisho-stuart says

    Drewzilla says: “Actually chrisho-stuart, I think who is lying and what the lies are about are hugely important”

    Of course!

    I was pointing out only that you had misread comment #22 bv bytee. You appeared to take bytree as claiming in #22 to have “super secret ultimate facts that will blow what everyone (with all their silly references) in this thread has said apart”. But it was nothing of the kind. It seems pretty clear to me that hHe was saying that the response of the electorate to all the many issues and claims and policies and choices available right now is going to be a landslide loss to the ALP.

    Sadly, I think he’s right. He made no claim to have extra secret information. It is pretty clear that he was referring in #22 to how the electorate is responding and will respond to what is out and available right now.


    As a follow-on though, with respect to “lies”. I think the issue of “lies” is not as critical as the issue of policies. The word lie gets tossed around more than is valid. This strikes me as part of adversarial politics at work, trying to attack individuals rather than actually engage policies directly. The classic example of this is the charge that Gillard “lied” about the carbon price. She made a promise which I am pretty sure would have been kept had her government got into power in its own right. But she had to form a government by negotiation with key independents; and that constrained what was possible. Calling this a “lie” is silly; and I suspect you would agree.

    As policy, I think a carbon price is good policy and am dismayed at the prospect of it being rolled back under a new government.

    However, you are right that sorting out the truth or falsity of statements from politicians is important. Folks interested in Australian politics take note: we’ve just had start up a few weeks ago an independent fact check group that is trying to give a fair objective independent check. It’s been in operation in the USA for some time and has just started it’s Australian division. See it at Politifact Australia

  29. says

    Perhaps I misread it. I was mostly responding to #17, which was talking about how we need to remove the debt when the debt, according to a huge range of economists from all countries is in a really good position. I’d call that willful misrepresentation (or just dumb ignorance, but if he’s got a Mensa™ IQ then surely that can’t be right).

    I’m just super sick of people claiming that the Gillard government is misgoverning Australia horrendously, when none of the facts support it. And bytee wrote out an argument, it was countered and he basically responded with nyah nyah nyah I’m right because Libs will win. Sure, the Libs might win, but that doesn’t mean that the populace isn’t being constantly lied to about what the actual situation is in. Again, I’m not really interested in changing bytee’s opinion, just interested in countering what are arguments based on popularity and authority (and showing the hypocrisy of the shit that is thrown at Gillard when Abbott does far far worse and gets an almost free run of it). Though I am glad that some of the local media are starting to examine the way in which Gillard is being attacked through sexism.

    Though, of course, the response from everyone who disagrees with Gillard is “She’s pulling the gender card!” I expected that shit to fly on 4chan and facebook but not on Pharyngula. Made me somewhat feistier than perhaps I needed to be. Though, again, this is Pharyngula, so I don’t really feel the need to pull punches.

  30. bytee says

    Glad to see the conversation getting more relaxed. Drew, I understand that a huge range of economists give you comfort concerning Govt debt. And if they are Aussie economists, then they get a vote. I get a vote too and I really dislike the rubber band effect we get cycling between Lib and Lab. I am old enough to remember the financial excesses of Whitlam. I am old enough to remember 17% home mortgage rates when Hawke and Keating ran the show. Your priorities and mine differ in what we want the principal focus of Govt to be. That’s fine. I want a respect for the public purse-strings and an ability to balance the book. That’s what I want. I only get one vote and I only have one voice. But that’s what I want. And it seems that I’m not in the minority.

  31. bytee says

    PS Drew, How did I offer “willful misrepresentation” concerning Govt debt, when all I ever offered was my personal opinion?

  32. gjpetch says

    Bytee, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts. The amount of government debt is a matter of fact. We’re almost ten times better than the US when it comes to government debt as a percentage of GDP, we’re doing pretty frigging well by the standards of the world stage.

    The chaser had a good skit on Abbott and debt in the last election:

  33. gjpetch says

    Stats FUBAR above, my bad. We’re almost 10 times better than Japan, almost 3 times better than the US.

  34. bytee says

    Gjpetch, Of course I’m not “entitled to my own facts” I am not making up any facts. I would have expected by now, that any commentator, whether they agree with me or not, can tell the difference between opinions and facts. It is my OPINION that we should not run up Govt debt. The FACT that we are not as bad as another country does not, in itself, guarantee that it’s a good idea. It is OK for it to be your OPINION that Govt debt is fine. Our national debt is nowhere near as bad as Greece either, or Spain, or Portugal. By the way, being only 3 times better than the US is not comforting. Their debt is mind-boggling. I never hear a Labor supporter telling me how and when they’re actually going to pay the debt back. The default Labor position seems to be to leave that problem to either a) the next generation or b) the next incoming LNP Govt. I think we’re up to about 250 Billion at last count. Happy to be corrected but I think it’s fairly accurate. The interest on that alone would pay for how many NDIS’s, or Parental Leave programs, or other potentially worthy reforms. If you disagree with my opinions, that’s fine, but if you want to misrepresent what I actually say, then I’ll call you out on it.

  35. gjpetch says

    The data on government debt seems to conflict. Are we almost 10 or almost 3 times less in debt than the US? I’m not sure now, CIA and IMF data seem to be different? I should have researched this more before mentioning specific stats, sorry….
    Regardless, the fact is that a Labor government brought us through the financial crisis (a crisis caused by right wing free market capitalism) in remarkably good financial shape. This fact is at odds with your opinion that Labor is financially irresponsible. One of the reasons we did well was government spending. Governments that opted for austerity over stimulus did much more poorly. Again, your opinion is at odds with the facts.
    Have you no sense of cognitive dissonance? You’re an atheist proudly cooing about voting out an atheist, and voting in the “mad monk”. You’re a skeptic who wants to vote in a climate skeptic. How is it possible to maintain these positions without severe brain injury? Please enlighten us Mr. Mensa IQ.

  36. bytee says

    I don’t really care about whether we’re 10 or 3 times the US. If you got it wrong, then that’s probably an honest mistake. Rudd got elected in 2007, the GFC started in 2007. Not his fault. It was a global issue. Having the savings in the future fund to tap into didn’t hurt him. But in normal Labor fashion, they not only spent it all but then started borrowing. The stimulus spending was well-intentioned with some wastage, but understandable. Lot of panic around at the time. As for your cognitive dissonance. Do you really believe that every Atheist should vote for Julia because she’s an atheist? That is so simplistic. Calling Tony the Mad Monk is fine but if I referred to Julia in a similar derogatory way, I’d be accused of (horror) being a sexist! You’ve also mentioned the Mensa thing 3 times now. I brought it up only because I had asked earlier about the demographics of the apparent Pharyngula / Leftist support correlation. One person agreed that Atheists tend to be leftist. Another agreed that Academics tend to be leftist, but a third suggested that people vote Labor because they’re smarter than regular folks. That begs for a response and line with your desire for me to rebut, I did. You haven’t answered me on how and when you’ll pay back the debt.

  37. says

    Actually, I have. I outlined it in #21. Targeted spending increases the GDP to debt ratio, thereby reducing the debt. Is it really that hard to understand? And the government’s borrowing has funded future-proofing programs, such as the NBN, which will increase productivity and also get the infrastructure in place early, meaning that we’ll benefit from advances as soon as they happen rather than being left behind hoping that the infrastructure will be put in place later.

    And seriously? Calling Gillard something akin to the “mad monk” wouldn’t be sexist because it’s not related to sex, it’s related to his deranged ideas. If you think that people are misinterpreting valid criticism of Julia as sexism, and therefore any criticism of her is sexism, then you’re, once again, completely blinkered in your view. We call out sexism when it’s shown. We don’t call out criticism of Julia as sexism, unless it’s actually sexist. Now, since she came into power, a large portion of the population has responded with sexism, which means that sexism will often be mentioned. It doesn’t mean that all criticism will be countered with cries of sexism. If you can’t understand that, you sound like some dudebro spouting off about how misandrist everyone is. Educate yourself on gender theory before talking about sexism and Gillard anymore.

  38. bytee says

    Drew, Calling Tony the Mad Monk refers to things in his past (he once studied for the priesthood I think) If I brought up things about Julia’s past then I would definitely be branded as a sexist. It’s hard to sort of hint at what they are without being specific, but it’s possible they may relate to gender and relationships (inappropriate or not). You and I aren’t going to get anywhere here. You’re probably a decent bloke, or am I being sexist for assuming you’re a male? Your choices in epithets and insults suggests male gender. I am increasingly convinced that we both want a better Australia, We just differ widely on what the main priorities are for a Govt. I will not respond any further on this thread. It’s more fun to spend my time Googling “Labor Polls” each evening and read the last 24 hours worth of articles.

    Something I’ve always strived to believe is this. “It’s a mark of maturity if you can disagree strongly with someone, without then necessarily assuming that they are a bad or stupid person” Sometimes I do struggle with that, but I’ll keep trying. I am going to resist the temptation to have the last word. It’s yours if you want it……