Saturday

Trying to grill Aussie politicians with a match instead of a barbie – they’re online and still, so they say, keeping the bastards honest...



The Australian Democrats are back...in website form. After the 2007 federal election all but vanquished the Democrats, out casting them to the godforsaken wilderness of Australian politics, the party have launched a new website at http://www.blogger.com/www.bastardwatch.com.au.

The site has a mildly amusing game and is peppered with their familiar ‘keeping the bastards honest’ rhetoric, which basically asserts that everybody in Canberra are back flipping a-holes and - for an undisclosed reason - the Democrats are not.

The site claims Kevin Rudd is a ‘climate change bastard’ because he set a 5% emissions reduction target after announcing in a speech in 2007 that climate change “is the great moral, economic and environmental challenge of our time.” Peter Garrett scores ‘environmental bastard status’ because he approved the Gunns Pulp Mill after saying “the task is of reconfiguring our economy to harness instead of degrading nature.”

Sadly, it offers no exploration of any of the complexities involved with making these kinds of decisions and, even worse, doesn’t explain what it is that the Democrats would do differently. It’s easy (and fun, from the looks things) to oppose government decisions, or decisions from the opposition, but without in some way articulating an alternate approach - a suggested better way of doing things - the criticism rings pretty hollow.

It feels like opposition for opposition’s sake, and we get enough of that from Malcolm Turnbull and the Libs. It's sad because buried beneath their hell-raising slogans the Democrats probably have a point. We all hate hypocrites and Canberra has more than its fair share, but most of us also undertstand that politics is tricky business and thus we afford (however grudgingly) our politicans a little latitude. I sense a bit of a missed opportunity with this website but hey - it's young, so we’ll wait and see if and when the bastard watchers come up with something more substantial.

“Bastards never sleep and neither do we,” grumbles the text on the site's header images. If the Democrats are the hard-working watchdogs they claim to be, then good on ‘em, but at the moment I think a slightly different approach is necessary. If they're staying up all night working on new ways to forge a path back into the prickly mainland of Aussie politics, the Democrats would be better advised to spend a little less time sloganeering and a little more time dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s.

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