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Getting your priorities right

Things have been a little odd in Australian politics recently. In the last month, the governing Australian Labor Party has sacked Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and appointed Julia Gillard as Australia’s first woman Prime Minister. While this has been going on, former Labor PM Paul Keating has been having a weird slanging match with former Labor PM Bob Hawke and his biographer/wife Blanche d’Alpuget. She was his biographer first. Long and somewhat tawdry story, which is some but not all that the slanging match (which has included a TV mini-series) has been about.

Obviously, the only thing that Ms Gillard could do in such circumstances was to call an early election, and thus Australians will be voting on August 21, even though the election may constitutionally be held as late as April 2011 . If this gamble does not pay off, Ms Gillard will be Australia’s fifth shortest serving Prime Minister. (Three of the shorter serving PMs held office very briefly during the period between when their predecessor either died or went mysteriously missing in the ocean and when their party elected a new leader, so she would be the second shortest Prime Minister ever placed in the job for reasons other than constitutional technicalities.

Australians, however, know what is important. Although televised leaders debates are a relatively new thing in the UK, they have been normal in Australian elections for over 25 years. The convention is that a debate will be held at 7.30pm on the first Sunday evening of the campaign. For this election, this would mean this coming Sunday.

Except, however, if it were held to that schedule this Sunday, the debate would clash with the season finale of the reality TV cooking show Masterchef Australia, and thus nobody would be watching. Therefore, the debate has been shortened from 90 minutes to 60, and has been moved from 7.30pm to 6.30pm. Really.

I am hoping to record a conversation about the personalities and issues behind this Australian election with fellow expatriate James Waterton at some point during this election campaign. Hopefully this should be up soon.

Update: The winner was Adam Liaw, the Japanese-Australian lawyer from Adelaide.

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5 comments to Getting your priorities right

  • David

    Don’t you have a life, you’d be better off watching paint dry?

  • I suspect you are assuming, David, that Australian politics is boring because Australia is smaller in population than the United States or Britain.

    Personally I am always impressed by the sharpness and speed of Australian political daggers. It took about a week for Kevin Rudd to go from blue-eyed boy to carping has-been.

    I am also impressed by the speed at which they make TV – a year less a day from announcement to premiere.

  • Nuke Gray

    For those lamenting ‘Kevin o lemon’, as he was called just before the knives came out, spare a thought for Kim Beazley. He was leading the Australian Labor Party until opinion polls showed that Kevin would be more successful. When Kevin took Kim’s place, THEN the Labor party took a commanding lead in the polls! And went on to win in 2007. He who won and led by opinion polls has been killed by them.
    Beazley went on to be our Ambassador to the USA, and Kevin Rudd might end up with a UN job, if he can’t make a career off book-writing.

  • Chuckles

    ‘the debate would clash with the season finale of the reality TV cooking show Masterchef Australia, and thus nobody would be watching’

    While I may not always be a huge fan of all things Australian, it is good to see that they retain an excellent sense of perspective.

  • morpork

    “I am hoping to record a conversation about the personalities and issues behind this Australian election with fellow expatriate James Waterton…”

    Never mind all that: can’t you discuss the personalities and issues behind the Masterchef Australia finale instead?