Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Francis the R4 Fancier

Pope Francis has been given a Renault R4 by an Italian priest.

Apparently, Francis used one of these things when he lived in Argentina. They're quite popular there.The R4 itself is much-maligned.

Despite their resemblance to a tin can on wheels, they are a robust and versatile vehicle. Back in the day, I had a fondness for Renaults, having owned  three R12s, and an R16 over the years.

The R16 never ran, being a failed restoration project, but that's another story. The R12s were great.

I drove a mate's R16 on a journey from Darwin to Brisbane, and they're a very impressive piece of kit. The only contemporary vehicle that covered long distances over poor roads better was the Peugeot 404. I owned two of those.

Back to the R4, one of which I drove in the seventies. Once you got used to the gearchange which resembled a pump handle protruding from the dashboard, it was a surprisingly comfortable drive.

If Francis fancies R4s, he's likely to be a breath of fresh air in the papacy.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Deja Vu

As pointed out in my last post, I've seen fifteen federal elections - enough of them to notice a clear pattern.

As of yesterday, the Coalition's back in power after a six year hiatus. During this six years the country changed for the better.

Every school I work in is accessible to kids in wheelchairs thanks to the BER.

There will be a National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

Real school reform is ahead - a legacy of the Gonski Report.

We saw six years of growth despite the worst global financial disaster since the Great Depression, and dodged a recession.

The policies listed above are now bi-partisan, but none would have become reality without Labor being in power. The Coalition has simply been left with no choice but to embrace them.

The only black mark on the outgoing government's record is their signing up for the bi-partisan brutality on asylum seekers.

I was around when McMahon, Fraser and Howard were defeated.  I also saw the demise of Whitlam, Keating and now Rudd.

I observed a fundamental difference between progressive and conservative government which becomes stark when viewed at the end of a period in power.

Apart from the end of the Coalition government in 1972, during which term I was dragged into the army without the privilege of having a say in it, nothing around me really changed during any conservative administration.. This conscription aberration marks the only exception.

On the other hand, when Labor lost power, invariably there was something positive left to show for their period of government.

In Whitlam's case, it was human rights and disability legislation; after Hawke/Keating, an industrial accord, Medicare and superannuation reform, and after Gillard/Rudd, the BER, schools reform (Gonski) and the NDIS.

After McMahon, Fraser and Howard departed government, nothing that fundamentally improved the lives of ordinary Australians, especially those suffering some form of disadvantage, was palpable. There was, of course, the GST - a tax, after all - introduced by the Howard government.

I guess it's a product of the culture of conservative government. By their very nature, conservatives are concerned with the preservation of the status quo. Unfortunately, this is usually to serve vested interest, because vested interest has the money (and therefore the power) to buy votes.

If you doubt that, check the Palmer phenomenon. It's frighteningly similar what happens routinely on the other side of the Pacific..

The other positive note about this election is that the change of government occurred without strife or bloodshed. This should never be taken for granted.

The worse it gets is childish vandalism as observed in my last post.

I'm going to enjoy the spectacle of Metronome Tone trying to keep his promises. Given the likely weirdness in the new Senate, that will be fascinating.

 It's always possible, of course, that the Coalition will pull a Noddy Newman and break all their commitments. Look out for a commission of audit.

Watch this space.

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