Australia is a strange country.
Take PM Malcolm Turnbull for instance. Like all Very Serious People, he is a fiscal conservative. So convinced that the Australian Government was running out of money he is that he authorised Centrelink (the federal agency in charge of making social security payments) to issue fake debt notices to former recipients of social security payments.
The Government extorting money from people who owe them nothing? Isn't that libertarians' ultimate no-no? Well, not in Australia, no siree: Turnbull is the federal leader of the Liberal/National Coalition ("libertarian, conservative, centre-right").
At any event, Turnbull had his reasons: the Commonwealth will really need all the money it can get. You see, as a libertarian acting in accordance with the conservative wing of his party, Turnbull promised last year a compulsory plebiscite over same-sex marriage. Its results would be definitive.
Bad news for Turnbull, the fiscal conservative running short of cash: it would cost $120 million.
But Turnbull, the libertarian, was in luck: Parliament could pass a bill legalising same-sex marriages, no adds, no personnel wages, no waste of time, no waste of scarce money. A textbook example of efficiency. Five of his backbenchers, in fact, advanced such bill and attempted to force a change of the Coalition policy, allowing parliamentarians a conscience, free vote.
Not quite. I told you that Oz is a weird place. Turnbull is a man of his word, a strong leader, so he would have none of that shit. He promised a compulsory, binding plebiscite and, by golly, he won't deliver anything less. As Parliament will not approve his plebiscite, he will deliver a non-compulsory, non-binding postal survey.
Lest readers get the wrong idea: this whole thing could have been a smart move from Turnbull, in that inequality was forgotten and all talking heads are now talking about same-sex marriage.
To be honest, I don't care much about same-sex marriage. I'm not sure I'm for it, but I'm sure I'm not against it. I'd recommend something, though: don't forget to add in the law the possibility of same-sex divorce.
Just in case.
The Australian Greens should be in the thick of that battle so vital for Aussies, as LGBT issues are one of their main concerns, but they aren't. I warned you: the land Down Under is strange.
Last night the ABC broadcast a 4 Corners episode titled "Inside the Greens: a Party in Turmoil". That report provides further evidence of that.
Aussies are aware that the Greens recently lost 2 federal senators over dual-nationality issues: Scott Ludlam (for WA), and Larissa Waters (QLD); Ludlam for being also a Kiwi, Waters a Canadian. Both resigned upon learning of their dual nationality and in theory could even have to pay back their considerable salaries, plus allowances and entitlements, as parliamentarians (which, you know, would come in handy: after all, isn't the Government running out of money?). Both were co-deputies to federal party leader Richard Di Natale, whom we know for sure isn't Italian. Right? Right?
They are not alone. Matt Canavan, formerly a Coalition senator for QLD, resigned upon discovering he was also an Italian citizen. That wasn't his fault, mind you. It was his mamma's. Allegedly, he even told her after she gave him the news: "Non è possibile, mamma. Io non sono italiano".
And it turns out that Akubra-donning deputy PM Barnaby Joice, a conservative member of the Coalition for QLD, is also a Kiwi (although, perhaps to readers' disappointment, he ain't resigning any time soon, as Canavan and the others rushed to do).
But that's not the only or even the main problem the Greens are facing. It seems that in a celebration some Lee Rhiannon-aligned chick made a joke telling Bob Brown to fuck off. Yep, fuck off. To Bob Brown.
What's worse, if that is possible, it seems some of Rhiannon's allies even say Bob Brown is a megalomaniac. Believe it or not.
Brown, target of that, and Christine Milne (both former federal leaders) and their allies are outraged, outraged, I tells ya. How can such jokes even be made, they ask. And on Bob Brown! Yes, you read that right, _B_O_B__B_R_O_W_N_. That's a sin; blasphemy, pure and simple.
But their anger reached fever pitch with the suggestion that Rhiannon, a much maligned anti-capitalist lefty who speaks of Marx, harassed, bullied, humiliated, ignored, marginalised, ridiculed, and opposed by her own party and the media on account of her beliefs has anything in common with Jeremy Corbyn. I mean, really, what can those two possibly have in common?
So, let me ask the Brown-nosed Greens something: if Rhiannon is not our Corbyn or Sanders, who is?
Richard Di Natale?
Di Natale: "Of course the Greens do not support the overthrow of capitalism or any other ridiculous notions of the sort".
Chris Harris, former treasurer, NSW Greens?
Harris: "One of the agenda items for Left Renewal is to dismantle the capitalist system in Australia. Well, I don't support that, and I don't' think a lot of people who are supporters of the Greens and are members of the Greens would support that either".
Or, let me make a wild guess: that greatest, wisest, bestest of all leaders, Bob Brown?
Australia is a weird, weird place.