The Coup

I’ve been surprised by the depth of my feelings about the change of Prime Minister. I quite liked Kevin Rudd. Although I was deeply disappointed by his back down on the ETS, I appreciated his real differences from the previous government. It’s a pity to lose him.

I was disposed of myself at one time, so I recognised some of the emotions I saw on his face, and remembered my pain.

It is deeply disappointing to see Gillard going even further to the right with her dog whistling about no more political correctness over refugees.  She immediately backed down over the mining tax. Nicholson’s cartoon says it all. (Nicholson Cartoon Mining Tax ApologyCartoon by Nicholson from "The Australian" newspaper: www.nicholsoncartoons.com.au)

We have lost democracy to rich bullies. Bullies whose own association had advocated the kind of tax Rudd and Henry proposed.

None of this seems to account for the depth of my feelings. On the Saturday after the announcement I was driving with some Sudanese friends to a meeting. One of them asked me for my understanding of what had just happened. Since I didn’t understand, I could not really say much beyond the obvious fact that Labor was running scared of the miners. My friend went on to say that he was impressed how all this had been done without bloodshed. It was a contrast to some of the politics he had lived through.

My response then is still my best response to my current feelings. Glancing back in the mirror at this man who has probably seen more suffering than I’ll ever know, I said, “I know there were no guns, and there was no shooting. But it was really the same thing. A bunch of warlords has decided it does not want the elected government, and deposed the Prime Minister in a coup.”

Technically, in Australia, we elect political parties. The winning party, or coalition, elects the Prime Minister. Practically, ever since Gough Whitlam, if not before, we have had presidential style elections. We all know we are electing a Howard Liberal government or a Rudd Labor government. We are encouraged by the election advertising to vote on that basis.

Emotionally, and in physical reality, the mining industry has carried out a coup d’ etat. All legal. All assisted by gutless Labor politicians who put their fear of losing the election above justice. But coup d’ etat none the less. Craig McMurtrie quotes a Canadian paper: "In banana republics, coups d'etat often occur when the leader is out of the country. In Australia, the conspirators opted not to wait a day. Instead, Kevin Rudd was dispatched by his deputy the day before he was to depart for the G20 meeting in Toronto."

Politics is a dirty business, right down to the insults and dirty tricks at the polling booth door. There has always been back stabbing and naked ambition riding roughshod over principle. What distresses me is that so few of us mourn this. Instead we rejoice, in some cases. We enjoy the spectacle. We prognosticate on what it means for the elections and the economy. Few of us consider if, or how much, we have stepped closer toward the coup politics of Africa or the big business strangled politics of the USA. We might reconsider the words of James. You don't need to be religious to get the point.

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please’, while to the one who is poor you say, ‘Stand there’, or, ‘Sit at my feet’, have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? (Epistle of James, Chapter 2)

July 5 2010  Direct Biblical quotations in this page are taken from The New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please note that references to Wikipedia and other websites are intended to provide extra information for folk who don't have easy access to commentaries or a library. Wikipedia is never more than an introductory tool, and certainly not the last word in matters biblical!


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