That said, there are a number of reasons I haven't defected to the Greens. My loyalty to the Democrats has been stretched at times - particularly with some of our troubles. Partially, what has kept me in the Dems for 6 years is the lack of a suitable alternative.
The Greens don't offer a decent alternative. For me - politically, spiritually, culinarily - they don't cut it. I am an environmentalist. I am concerned about social justice - particularly with the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. As a gay man, I am also naturally concerned about equality for GLBIT people. I am also a vegetarian, a concerned global citizen and between the ages of 18 and 30. For the Greens, I am ripe picking.
Unfortunately for them, they are not ripe picking for me.
Firstly, I don't agree with the Senate or any other upper house blocking supply. The Greens haven't ruled this out (as too the Liberals). Blocking supply means that public servants don't get paid, services can't be provided and grants can't be handed out. I support the right of a democratically elected executive to carry out its functions.
Secondly, I take the Senate seriously. It is a house of review where government legislation can be reviewed and debated. It is not a place for grand-standing, it is a place for Senators to seriously consider the impacts these laws will have on the Australian people. As a minor party you can either work with the government of the day to make these laws better or you can wave banners and slogans. Personally I know which is more effective.
Thirdly, their policies and rhetoric aren't fully thought through. I'd for once like to have a conversation with a member of the Greens (possibly this could be a forum?) without them endlessly feeding me a bunch of slogans. The Greens don't look too well into the implications of their policies - particularly the economic implications. This is partially due to the inexperience of the party and its lack of public scrutiny. But the Greens have been around for 10-12 years and Bob Brown has been in the Senate for 8 years. Political immaturity is hardly an excuse now.
Personally, I am just as frightened of the Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate as I am of another term of the Howard Government. In order for the Greens to win the support of people like me, it will have to be more serious, more responsible and more willing to engage with others. In other words, the Greens will have to be more like the Democrats.
Billy is excited that we're finally in "official" campaigning mode for the Federal election. Billy is going to personally slap anyone who admits to voting Liberal this time. Democracy is one thing, stupidity is another.
UPDATE: I have created a countdown timer for the upcoming election. Have a look at the sidebar.
1. An October 9 election announced... [ SUN ]
2. Love-life problems... [ SAT ]
3. Lack of public transport on Sunday mornings... [ SUN ]
So surrounded by more of my Planning classmates we embarked on a scenic tour of Melbourne's CBD bars. We managed to visit five before I had to leave (and catch the last tram home). I'm not sure if they managed to get another few in before someone needed carrying home or what - but I'm sure there was lots of fun to be had.
I managed to take some photos of the event because, after all, that was part of the exercise. The following is a visual snapshot from the evening. As usual click on the image to display a larger one.
Japanese beer at La La Land. This photo was taken shortly before the bartender told us off for taking photos.
Citizen #381277 discovers interactive artwork in a laneway. He's pulling on a piece of string.
Walking down Hardware Lane. My crappy camera can create some interesting effects sometimes.
Urinals at the Gin Palace. I wonder how many drunk guys have attempted to pee in the top ones only to then by drenched in their own urine?
See what you think. The lanes in the West part of the CBD are rather boring so don't imagine I will be visiting them again anytime soon.
Are you sick of not understanding what your dating is going on about? Do you get confused by words of more than two syllables? Do you not know what 'syllable' means? Are you sick of being taken advantage of because of your stupidity?
Our very easy-to-use online dating system lets you find other stupid people from all around the world. It's simple, it's fun and it's FREE! Sign up online today and meet the dud or duddess of your dreams!
What exactly are they going to do to those who link to their site incorrectly? Send around some goons to teach Billy a lesson?
1. Impromtu bar crawls... [ WED/THU PM]
2. Meeting down-to-earth celebrities... [ THU PM]
3. One-carriage trains at peak times... [ FRI AM ]
Billy meets a wallaby. No that's not George Gregan, Billy... and I'm not sure you should be feeding it chocolate!
Having your own dirt unit can have its advantages. Let's face it, you know (or should know) your entire history thus far and can nominate many more occasions where you weren't the best human being, and you will always be one step ahead of the gossip mags, Crikey.com or a Herald Sun column - even if you have to write about something you did wrong BEFORE you actually did it.
And besides, dirt units set up by... let's say... the likes of Tony Abbott will always get things wrong. They never get the full picture, which can lead to the painting of you not being as sinister as it really is - although out of fear of a defamation case more than anything else. You're hardly going to sue yourself for defamation are you? You can be bolder, you can exaggerate slightly and you can go to town on yourself.
This dirt unit is going to bring me down before anything has really started.
My first claim will be that I'm incredibly arrogant. Afterall, I am not famous in any stretch of the imagination. Who would possibly be interested in dirt on Aaron Hewett - besides those who dislike me, those I owe money to or those whose gossip addiction isn't satisfied by NW Magazine? Will I ever become famous? Probably not. I'm studying urban planning. How many famous urban planners can you name? The great irony might be that I become famous because I'm possibly the first to establish my own dirt unit. Won't my mother be proud. And won't she be pouring though the list, identifying the times where I've blamed my sister, the cat, my imaginary friend for something I really did - and telling me off - 20 years later.
I also plan to make this thing interactive, so if you know me and I've done something mean, thoughtless or embarrassing to you or someone else - please write in and tell the world!
Phil and Jake from Melbourne Loft were nice enough to show me around their local laneway today - Flinders Court. The laneway photos are here.
As I mentioned in the laneway blog, it was raining and Jake held my umbrella for me while I snapped some (sometimes blurry) photos. Apologies Phil for the blurry photo of you - I am very much in need of a decent digital camera. I hope this pic is better Jake.
Thanks again Phil and Jake - you're both gorgeous and it was great to meet you both. I look forward to meeting more interesting people throughout the life of this blog.
However, that's enough of my opinion, lets see what other people have had to say:
"[It is] paternalistic in the extreme [for Labor] to say firstly that gays are somehow not ready for marriage, and secondly not to implement the commitments they made." Lyn Morgain, Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby in the Melbourne Community Voice
"Howard and Latham married at the altar of bigotry." Banner at a recent Tasmanian protest
"[The Australian Government] is soft on terror but hard on homosexuals... shelving its 'war on terror' propaganda legislation for its 'war on homosexuals' marriage bill." Senator Andrew Bartlett, Australian Democrats Leader in The Age
"It is refreshing to see our national leaders put aside their political differences to outlaw something that doesn't even exist. I now look forward to bipartisanship support for the Bunyip Control Act." Paul Kidd in The Age letters page
Billy lets the federal Labor Party know where they can sit... and rotate.
Billy seriously questions his celebrity status at the launch of his first book.
It is possible - quite possible - to continuously look at blogs all day. Each blog seems interconnected with others by links to certain postings or linked by way of a blogroll. If that doesn't satisfy, there are blog rings and blog databases - where you can search by type, location or whatever.
Which brings me to an important point: is there a point one gets to when you're incredibly sick of people's opinions? And possibly even sick of your own? In a world where "information overload" is increasingly becoming a reality, is there such thing as "opinion overload"? Is this overload a satisfactory cure for blog addiction?
It would be interesting to here people's opinions on this. I'm not usually this existentialist - possibly something happened to me in my philosophy tute today.
You can read more about the event here on Jess's blog. AAP have written an article about it, and I expect that the Melbourne queer papers will have us (me and Stephen, aka Mark Latham) on the front cover.
This is the first time (and possibly the last time) that I will be a groom - considering I'm gay and considering the changes to the Marriage Act Howard and Latham are proposing. I best send my mother a photo from the occasion.
Billy goes a little overboard at Federation Square as part of Triple J's Beat the Drum Competition. Why spend loads on marketing when you can get lots of teenagers to do it for free? Good one JJJ!
Billy unwittingly wades into the same-sex marriage debate by marrying a man 42 years his senior.
Further proof this week that this is indeed a small, small world. Click on the photo above to reveal Billy with my ex-boyfriend Alec. They were apparently spotted at some sleazy gay club, dancing along to Britney tracks and slamming down vodka & raspberries. Photo courtesy of Timothy.
Click on "Read more!" below to display the entire article.
Billy: You were the only Democrat at the last state (Victorian) election to get over 4%. What did you learn from that campaign? What are you going to do the same / differently this time around?
Jess: In the state election in 2002, I think the most important thing I learnt was that it's really important to have support during an election campaign - from friends, family, and fellow party members. If you don't have that support, you can burn out pretty quickly. I think I also learnt to value and talk to smaller media outlets that reach sections of the community that may not read or take much notice of the mainstream press. Often they’re also more willing to give minor party candidates a hearing.
Billy: How relevant are the Democrats these days? Haven’t the Greens taken your party’s spot on the political spectrum?
Jess: The Democrats are still very relevant – just take a look at our record in the senate for the last 25 years, protecting Australians from the excesses of power-hungry major parties. ‘These days’ the Democrats are still keeping the senate strong. Whether its Brian Greig fighting against a ban on gay marriage, Natasha Stott Despoja fighting to protect higher education and the rights of university students, Lyn Allison working to find solutions to environmental problems, or Andrew Bartlett visiting Nauru and speaking out against the mistreatment of asylum seekers… Our Senators are doing the hard work on the important issues.
Billy: You managed to beat the son of the party’s founder to win the top spot on the Democrat’s Senate ticket in Victoria. As a young person, how does this make you feel?
Jess: I’m honoured to be on the ticket with Greg Chipp, the son of the founder of the party. It’s very exciting to be leading the Senate ticket, and I hope that in future many young people – from all political parties – will be preselected and elected as parliamentarians. As a young person, it feels wonderful to know that I have the support of the party behind me – they judge me not by my age, but by what I say and do. They /value/ the perspective that I bring to the role as a young person.
Billy: Reading your blog, you’ve been to some interesting places in Victoria during the year so far. What would be your favourite place?
Jess: All of the places that I’ve visited so far have been wonderful. The visit to Echuca was great – both the meeting with the mayor and local councillors, and the meeting with members of the community in a local café gave us an opportunity to hear about the issues in the area. But by far, the best part of the day for me was meeting with a group of year 9 students from the local government high school. They were so articulate, so passionate, so opinionated. I could see them making a real difference in the world of politics one day…
Billy: You work part-time in a book distribution warehouse as well as spending time on the campaign trail. What are your top 5 recommended books to read on long train rides?
Jess: OK, I read a lot of books, so recommending only five is difficult… the best thing to do, methinks, is to list the five good books that I’m either reading right now or have read recently: /Not Happy John/ by Margo Kingston, /Good News For A Change/ by David Suzuki, /Inside Out /by Erin Shale (editor), /Jesus Before Christianity /by Albert Nolan, and /A Vindication of the Rights of Woman /by Mary Wollstonecraft.
Billy: As a bisexual woman in a same-sex relationship, what issues concern you about the current Government and their “family” agenda?
Jess: John Howard is trying to drag us back in time, to a homogenous, heterosexual era where diverse family structures are frowned upon. He wants to enshrine discrimination against same-sex couples in Australian law. To make things worse, there’s no opposition from the Opposition.
The ALP has back flipped and betrayed the gay and lesbian community by agreeing to support the Government’s legislation to ban same-sex marriage, despite earlier agreeing to send the matter to a Senate Committee first. Both the ALP and the Government are giving in to the demands of conservative religious organisations. Both parties have abandoned same-sex couples and their children to continued uncertainty in their lives.
Billy: Which Prime Minister or other Australian powerful figure (dead or
alive) do you look up to?
Jess: I look up to my Dad more than I look up to Prime Ministers or powerful Australian figures. I’m fonder of immediate, personal heroes than distant historical ones. However, I do /admire/ many former politicians and Australian figures – Alfred Deakin for getting into it at such a young age, Whitlam for his vision, Fraser for the man he became, William Dean for his conscience and dignity, Kerry O’Brien for his intelligence and wit, Natasha Stott Despoja for her guts and passion… the list could really be endless, there are plenty of historical and current Australian people for us to marvel at and emulate.
Billy: Women in politics are often accused of being more interested in “style” than “substance”. Is this an accurate reflection?
Jess: Absolutely not – there are many women of ‘substance’ in politics, including Senator Natasha Stott Despoja and Senator Lyn Allison. It’s not the women in politics who have to change, it’s the attitude and the inaccurate assumptions made by some politicians, some media, and some of the public about women, and whether they can be serious and substantial contributors to Australian politics. When we have a parliament half filled with women, I’ll start believing that attitudes might be changing.
Billy: If you win and you begin your first 6 year term in the Senate, what will you hope to achieve in that term?
Jess: I want to improve the lot of those Australians that the major parties constantly forget, ignore, or leave behind – people who are mentally and physically disabled, rural Australians, young mothers, same sex attracted people, those living in poverty and homelessness, indigenous Australians, young people and students, asylum seekers and refugees. I want to fight for social justice – a community of inclusiveness and equality, where human rights are honoured and celebrated. Obviously I won’t get all of that done by myself in one term, but in my one term i would like to be a PART of achieving even a small step towards that achievement.
Disclaimer: Aaron is currently a member of the Australian Democrats and has run as a House of Representatives candidate in previous elections. Billy is not a member of any political party.
I want to change the graphics above to better reflect Melbourne, however, until I figure it out you will be stuck with the generic graphics.