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The Importance Of Politics

by Elspeth Martini

Year 12, 1996, Loreto Mandeville Hall

Jeff bashing has become quite the done thing in Victoria over the last five years. The only person I know who doesn’t have a go at him from time to time is my Dad. Instead of blaming everything on Jeff he blames John Cain and Joan Kirner. He says that the Labor government ruined this state. This may be, but what about the gambling? The last government were also planning to build a casino he says. This just proves that they’re all as bad as each other if you ask me. Nobody ever does.

In grade 6 we learnt all about Australia’s system of government. There are three levels. At the bottom was the Mayor, then came Mr Cain (later Joan, now Jeff), and at the top was Mr Hawke (then Keating, now Howard). People sit in either green or red seats and somewhere above everyone is the Queen, who rarely seats herself with those in such seats.

Since grade 6, I have learnt that it is the House of the Representatives that is furnished with green seats. The red seats are in the upper part of the house where the Greens sit and hold something called the balance of power. The Democrats help them do this with one hand while keeping the bastards honest with the other.

In the other seats sit white middle aged and ageing middle class men. A few women are allowed to sit there too, but they always have something wrong with their hairstyle, dress sense, glasses or voice. The balance between their femininity and ability to power dress, incorporating enough male aggressiveness to be a successful sitter, has not been discovered yet. This search may only take another generation or two.

Having thought for some time that my knowledge in the field of politics was lacking in a few minor areas, I ventured to ask a politics student if they would help me fine tune the technicalities. The person was very much enthused to find a fellow student interested in their favourite area of study. Firstly, I asked the student to explain to me what the left and right wing thing’s all about. Many hand gestures were used in the explanation and I was left with an image of all these politicians converging in the middle of the ground, presumably a football oval. There were wings overlapping left, right and centre.

The student decided to take me back a step. I was told that most people are either Labor or Liberal. There are traditional supporters who will stand by their team however badly they play. Not that anyone seems to realise when their team plays badly. It is easy to judge a mug effort in a football match. Judgement in the political arena seems much more problematic.

Those people who are dotted around the countryside and can’t get to the M.C.G. have their own team called the Nationals. The undrafted players are called “independents.” They rally and get local support for their one man show. If they win in this league they head off to Canberra to sit in a big red or green seat and go to sleep. The one man team is no match for the clubs that can put 18 players on the field at any one time.

The Victorian Government outdoes the others in its appeal. It is made up of the Honourable Jeff and his wife Felicity, and occasionally this Stockdale man who tells us how good he is at balancing the books and an old man (looks a bit like Clive James) who closes all the schools. There is also the occasional and very effective rebuttal from some Brumby fellow.

Jeff is apparently the burden of our state. He is the father of the Casino culture, he killed Albert Park without consulting the community and has added two terrible words to the Melburnian vocabulary – City Link. Not that anyone knows what they really mean, though it seems to be something about a road. Despite all this Jeff managed to win the election in another landslide. The other team must be pretty bad. My Dad says they are.

Each state has its own Jeff. You hear about a few. John Fahey won the Olympics for Sydney. And that Sir Joh Bjelke-guy, who everyone knew to be about as honest as his police force, was actually for real. Recently it has been noted that the Northern Territory must also have a Jeff. No one knows who he is though.

Well, I don’t know why people never listen to me. What else is there to understand? The politics student tells me not to worry. Who’s worried?

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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