Scary stories from a lovely place


I used to love politics. I was excited when Julia Gillard became the first female Prime Minister of Australia. I was even more excited about Kevin Rudd’s victory in late 2007. That was the result I really cared about. I wanted Howard out. And I liked Rudd. I wanted him in. When I was 12 I met John Howard. I liked him then. But by the time I was of voting age I had become so sick of his leadership and policies that I switched to the Rudd side, even though he didn’t make his appearance until later. I was a politics glutton.

But now I’m done. I’ve had my fill. I’m willing to be convinced otherwise – that I should continue to care about politics and support this or that side. But it’s all a polyglot of relative voices. Everyone can make a convincing argument for something or another. I’ve been coming to this for a while, but it all crystallised in my mind during the recent Australian federal election. I eagerly watched the newspaper websites in the lead-up so I could feel as though I was still involved. But this election had such a different feel to previous years. There was an overwhelming sense of malaise in the reporting of the activities of Gillard and Tony Abbott. And then when the result was so close, that it depended on the decision of a handful of Independent politicians, I thought it would start to heat up. Rather, the election result disappeared completely from the Australian media websites! No one cared anymore. Without a Prime Minister for a few weeks the country ticked on as normal. What does that say?

The other major impetus for my disillusionment is some opinions I’ve heard from people of wealthy, comfortable countries. During the lead up to the Australian election in August I was pretty disappointed by thoughts shared on facebook. Opinion seemed to be that the country would fall apart if Gillard had a proper go at the leadership. Comments went along the lines of “we may as well trade in our Australian passports and move to New Zealand! She’s going to destroy the place!”. Whatever bad decisions Rudd or Gillard or Abbott or Howard would make as Prime Minister of Australia it wouldn’t ruin the country so as to make it unlivable. Not in the way some countries are ruined by politicians. To suggest it would is ignorant and opprobrious.

The other was with an American lady I know who is married to a South African. I asked her how things were going at home. I had intended to inquire about her family and friends but she proceeded to delineate to me the woes of the nation as a whole. I was brusquely informed that Obama is a communist and is taking away the human rights of all Americans by illegally changing the constitution. Now I know the guy hasn’t been the darling President the world lauded him to be, but a criminal red man? Again, I think a bit of ignorance and hyperbole has been employed. If I had heard the same report from my Rwandan friend Brigitte about the state of things in her home nation I wouldn’t have been quite so skeptical.

I read a book earlier in the year called ‘The State of Africa’. It’s very good, but very sad – full of loss of life and selfishness. My current frustration with Western politics is reinforced by what I read in that book. It recounts the history of the last 50 years of the independence of African states. The majority of the Western world don’t care about these nations unless there is some leverage to be gained or a resource to be taken and used for industry or economics. It recounts the repetitive history of politicans and elections rife with corruption and murder. It is in nations like those that the election of a new President really could make or break life for the people, not sunshiney places like Australia.

The coolest thing I’ve done politically in the last few years was after the 2008 election in South Africa when Jacob Zuma became the new President. It’s the law for the campaign posters to be taken down a few days after the election. Of course no one had and so armed with a swiss army knife Stephen and I helped them obey the law by snatching the signs for ourselves. It was fun. Now we have the faces of ANC, DA, ID and various independents stashed in Silas’ cupboard. I get them out sometimes to remember. I’m waiting a few years to use them as decoration at an election night party.


5 comments on “Poli-glut

  1. Tim
    September 28, 2010

    “… the election result disappeared completely from the Australian media websites! No one cared anymore. Without a Prime Minister for a few weeks the country ticked on as normal. What does that say?”

    Mostly that you read the wrong websites 🙂
    I was getting my daily fill of politics from

    My greatest concern this election was the absolutely shocking state of the Australian media. The Oz is even more biased than it has ever been, and Fairfax and the ABC were both under-performing. It’s not surprising that it was even more uninspiring for someone 11000km away.

    Oh, and we still had a Prime Minister. The executive isn’t disbanded with the Parliament. It was just in care-taker mode, like it had been for the 6 weeks leading up to the election.
    (Sorry, I’m an election nerd)

    • kimlovesjozi
      October 2, 2010

      Thanks for the advice Tim. If only I had complained to you before the election! I agree though, disappointing all round.

  2. Steve Spratt
    September 28, 2010

    good comments Kim. i think i have always been interested in politics more than the average Australian. this was confirmed in 6th class when i was the only kid who would ever do a write-up of the politics story on BTN (Behind the News) – i was the only kid who knew anyone beyond the prime minister’s name – though, this sounds impressive, yes, you are right, most Australians aren’t heaps interested in politics – especially the complexities, nuiances and realities of the issues being debated – beyond party and media spin.

    i often feel like it is a waste of time to be listening to the media discussions each week about the going’s on in canberra – i think the media is as much to blame (if not the most to blame) for cynicism and disillusionment in the general public. in reality there are a lot of good politicians who do good work, and the political parties agree and pass 95% of legislation without petty argument and debate – it is the 5% of controversial issues that the debate and media frenzy focuses on. the media-run 1hr of question time is as much a grab for the winning line for the 6pm news as anything else. a case in point is David Marr’s hypocritical character assassination of Kevin Rudd in the weeks leading up to his “knifing”. David Marr is an example of the kind of arrogant, self-absorbed, gossip-obsessesed “reporting” that is far too-common in the media coverage from BOTH sides of the political spectrum.

    what also annoys me is that i have to listen to the BBC world service to have any idea of what is going on overseas – no one gives a crap if there is attrocities in Darfur, floods in Pakistan or political revolution in South America – instead lets talk about the premier’s hairstyle, jennifer hawkins latest swimsuit collection, the state of the transport system and interest rates – all the important issues it seems!

    in addition, while i think the australian Christian lobby ( is doing some good work, they also just frustrate me at times in the issues they give priority to and the way they debate and discuss how faith impacts political action. i am quite impressed by jim wallace and much that they do but they do also get stuff wrong – and need to be humble enough to say so. i think we need a half-way house between Jim Wallace (ACL) and Jim Wallis (sojourners America – – to get a good balanced platform for lobbying govt from a Christian point of view.

    anyway, enough of my own frustrations and musings. i guess it is useful to be politically aware, but also feel like listening to talk back/media political discussion is like Kyle & Jackie O for old people – lots of gossip, very little substance, lots of ranting and ravings and forever avoiding getting to the heart of the matters at stake – there is just less fart and sex jokes.

    you might find this interesting – – i i did not watch it yet but prob worth a look – i quite like Barnaby Joyce (Coalition) and Tania Plibersek (Labor) – very different people but both seem to have something of a strong Christian faith – even if it is not always easy to be a Christian in politics.

    so, God bless America, Australia, Africa – or maybe better – “come Lord Jesus, come”!

    • kimlovesjozi
      October 2, 2010

      Well said Steve. Thanks for your comments. It will be cool to discuss this with you face to face sometime in the future.

  3. Pingback: Opinion Sunday: Why we must vote « Kimlovesjozi

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This entry was posted on September 27, 2010 by in Beefs, Life in South Africa and tagged , , , , , .
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