What a few weeks it's been: Kevin Rudd off to obscurity; Julia Gillard in, via a very snappy coup; Lindsay Tanner calling it quits in Melbourne; a "deal" with the miners and announcements about asylum seekers from both sides of the fence.
The real interest for me though is the plight of Labor in Australia. In NSW they are simply rotten to the core and despite there not being any sort of opposition worth worrying about the NSW government is about to change. It will be an utter rout, a rout that will take a few years to claw back from.
In Victoria we're fairly likely to get a change of government as well. This government is not on the nose like the NSW government; they're not rotten to the core, they are however trailing in the polls quite badly. They backed themselves into a corner over the bushfires and the likes of Justin Madden have done them no good. Again there's no worthwhile opposition but it seems like people have decided it's time for a change. John Brumby seems sound but he has the charisma of a piece of roadkill.
The real game's in Canberra however, at least that's what federal politicians think! My problem with the current leadership of the Labor Party is this: if Kevin Rudd can be characterised as a wolf, then I fear that Julia Gillard is simply a wolf in sheep's clothing. The problem for the Labor Party is that they are pushing and shoving to occupy just the same ground as the Liberals. That's not new, but it's increasingly stupid. In image terms Labor used to be the party of the people, connected, earthy, left wing, brash and at times machiavellian. Just like a large disordered family really. The Libs on the other hand were haughty, austere and had strange accents: think Andrew Peacock and Malcolm Fraser.
The lurch to the right of both parties - the ascendancy of the "dries" over the "wets" in the Liberal Party, and the ascendancy of the right in Labor - has seen them stuck on the same dance floor. Not comfortable and indeed it makes the dance floor mighty crowded at times, hard to distinguish one from the other.
Meantime the Greens have taken up the space vacated by Labor, the inner cities are their's for the taking, the connected earthiness of Labor of old is now increasingly the style of the Greens. They look more and more like a chance in several lower house seats, not the least of those being Melbourne - Lindsay Tanner's current seat.
Here's my difficulty though: the Greens that I see around tend to strike me as power-hungry, inner urban yuppies. Not pleasant, not what I'm looking for in a politician. Bob Brown and the old guard of the Greens are genuine, on the money with their messages, but ultimately not a political force. The new Greens should not be mistaken for the old guard. The new Greens are politically savvy but they carry none of the really important stuff that the old guard does. They are Greens in name only.
Should the greens become a force, as they well might given the stupidity of Labor, they too will disappoint us as mere politicians, more interested in power than principles. That'll make 4 parties like that in Australia, because that's always been the case with the Nationals.