International house of fruitcakes

Allona Lahn is standing for the next Australian Federal Election, representing IMOP (involuntary medication objectors Party).

In case you’re a little mentally lethargic today, they’re a group of anti-vaxxers.

Here’s an irony that’s presumably lost on the party of personal freedoms; they are standing for an election where voting is compulsory by law.

Here’s another irony; vaccination isn’t compulsory in Australia, as witnessed by the current outbreak of measles in wanky middle class tofu-eating areas.

The IMOPpers have presumably confused not being able to work in government departments, particularly in the healthcare sector, or not being able to send your kids to public schools unless vaccinated as being compulsory vaccination. They are also upset about the so-called “no jab, no pay” policy, which sounds quite draconian but the “pay” concerned refers to government benefits.

If they’d truly thought the libertarian argument through they would have realised they still have the choice to work elsewhere, to home-school their children and, frankly, if you need to rely on taxpayer largesse to afford to have children, perhaps you should consider the possibility you can’t afford to have children.

What’s also intriguing about the IMOPpers is that they have a “cultural adviser” to provide an Aboriginal perspective on immunisations. Presumably this starts with the words, “thank you, white people, for immunising our people, at least that rules out one potential cause of early death and an infant mortality rate equivalent to a sub-Saharan shithole“?

Bill’s Opinion

At least we can be sure there is still some semblance of free speech remaining in Australia; if you really wanted to cement their commitment to conspiracy theories, you’d try to prevent them from campaigning.

You can do your own research on the correlation and likely conclusions about the potential harmful side-effects of vaccinations versus the clear benefits (do you personally know of anyone who has died of a transmittable disease for which there is a vaccination?).

It’s great that anti-vaxxers exist and have a platform as it indicates we’ve solved all of the other major issues facing humanity. Let’s face it, no-one in a poverty-stricken third world country is refusing to vaccinate their children, most likely because they’ve already learned the hard way by burying several already.

Mad, Max? I was bloody livid

In these days of high fashion and public displays of virtue, it’s not simply satisfying enough to have children and enjoy the experience of raising them ready for their adventures in the world.

The truly woke are listening to the first words these children say and acting upon it as if the wisdom of the ages is channeled through a three year old.

Charlize Theron is the latest of the inhabitants of Clown World to announce she has a transgender child. Apparently, not only does “Jackson” have a surname for a first name (you can take the girl out of Benoni but you can’t take Benoni out of the girl) but he is now a she. This revelation was revealed in conversation with his adopted mother, Theron.

Cosmopolitan gushed over this news;

While talking to the Daily Mail, Charlize said, “Yes, I thought she was a boy too. Until she looked at me when she was 3 years old and said: ‘I am not a boy!’”

One wonders whether Charlize changed any nappies in those first three years or delegated that task to a nanny. Clues would have been available during that time to the person doing the bum wiping.

“So there you go! I have two beautiful daughters [Jackson and August, 3] who, just like any parent, I want to protect and I want to see thrive. They were born who they are and exactly where in the world both of them get to find themselves as they grow up, and who they want to be, is not for me to decide.”

To which the Cosmopolitan article responds:

Honestly, this is such a sweet response from Charlize, and if you’re crying happy tears right now, you’re in good company.

Down is up, up is down when you’re living in the world of clown.

Charlize then went on to say that it’s not her job as a parent to tell her kids how they should identify but to “celebrate them and to love them and to make sure that they have everything they need in order to be what they want to be.”

I have a child who wants an AK47 and an M16 for Christmas. He probably gender identifies as the Vietnam War.

…..people are already praising her on social media

Well, why didn’t you say so earlier? If the geniuses on social media think it’s good, it must be good.

Here’s an idea for a new game; make all key life decisions based on the results of a Twitter poll question. Please do let us know how it goes.

Bill’s Opinion

Don’t let Charlize’s wonderful pulchritude, talent at playing “let’s pretend” in front of cameras and wealth fool you; she has significant unresolved mental issues.

Apparently, men “need to grow a pair and step up” to date her as she’s “shockingly available”.

Hmm, dating the girl whose Mum killed her Dad and has adopted two kids, one of whom she’s decided is transgender?

Krap links, baie dankie.

Straw man/woman/other

A number of prominent former athletes, including Martina Navratilova and Paula Radcliffe, have been openly critical of transgender women competing in women’s sports.

One of their main arguments is that it is theoretically possible for a cisgender man to “decide” to be a woman, take hormones, win and earn money while competing as a female, then go back to living as a man.

One of their main arguments“.

Ah, but is it their main argument?

The reason I ask is that my main argument against transgender women (ie men who believe they are women) competing in female sports competitions is that they’ve effectively been on hormone treatment during the main physical developmental stages of their lives.

That is, a boy growing up and experiencing puberty will have a bone and muscle mass advantage over a girl of the same age.

To suggest that a subsequent course of female hormone treatment somehow levels the playing field seems to be wilfully ignoring what has happened to zher in the preceding years.

Flip it the other way round; do we knowingly allow male sportsmen to compete if they’ve been caught taking performance-enhancing drugs for decades? Nope.

Bill’s Opinion

Martina Navratilova isn’t transphobic, she’s simply a biological realist.

Unfortunately, a vocal minority of activists have currently hijacked the narrative to the point where otherwise credible news sources such as Business Insider are publishing obvious strawmen arguments against reality.

“Brain the size of a planet”

….and they get me to write about economics. Life? Don’t talk to me about life“.

The scruffy old man in the picture below is the unfortunately-surnamed Ross Gittins, senior economics editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Despite what we might prefer to believe, the axiom, “clothes maketh the man” still holds true, even in this era of more relaxed business dress codes, the choice of casual clothes says something about you. Self-respect, or lack thereof, can be inferred from the choice of garments one wears to work-related events.

So what does Ross’ choice of crumpled beige suit, an aged shirt with curled collars, a “comedy” tie (tied too long, Trumpesque) and running shoes say about one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s most senior professionals?

To the best of our knowledge, Ross hasn’t been diagnosed as autistic, isn’t an idiot savant, doesn’t run a major technology company, and hasn’t invented a humanity-changing product.

The fact that he’s drawing a relatively meagre salary for writing about what central banks are likely to do next (let’s face it; that’s all economics journalists do) in a publication whose annual circulation numbers resemble the McGrath share chart, suggests he doesn’t actually have a brain the size of a planet, which is the only real defence of someone so bizarrely costumed.

Bill’s Opinion

Ross can dress however the hell he wants, of course. But we can also draw the conclusion that he’s an anachronistic tramp who’s conflated being disrespectful to his position and those with whom he works for being “quirky”.

If we follow the advice, “dress for the job you want, not the one you have”, we can safely conclude Ross has plans for a semi-retirement working as a creepy geography supply teacher in a small regional town.

Never ascribe to mendacity

…that which can be explained by incompetence.

Let’s be honest, we all have a secret place in our hearts for the occasional conspiracy theory. Some people believe the moon landings were faked, others think the Jews are the secret rulers of the world, some poor deluded souls even believe Kylie Minogue can hold a tune.

The fire that destroyed the Notre Dame cathedral has set off a plethora of conspiracy theories. My favourite is that the fire was set by Muslim terrorists and has subsequently been covered up by the dhimmis in the French Government.

As I wrote over at Tim Newman’s gaff, “because that’s what terrorists do, isn’t it; destroy a cultural icon and then not tell anyone”.

This is why William of Ockham’s razor is so useful; the explanation which requires the fewest number of assumptions to be correct is likely to be the truth.

This podcast is the best example of the conspiracy mindset. Stefan Molyneux is a famous YouTube and podcaster, and like the proverbial stopped clock he sometimes gets things right.

This is unlikely to be one of those occasions.

As I understand it, the evidence suggesting an arson attack and subsequent governmental over up is as follows;

– The fire started after workers had left the site.

– Other churches in France have been attacked.

– A brown man was seen smiling nearby

Bill’s Opinion

Perhaps some terrorists set the fire, didn’t call Le Monde to claim responsibility and the French authorities have hushed it all up.

Or, perhaps sloppy work practices by the renovators resulted in a spark lighting a fire in a church with plenty of dry wood.

The batsman is Holding, the bowler’s Willey

There’s a great tradition of spoof obituaries in England. The oldest international cricket rivalry, The Ashes, takes its name from one published in 1882 for example.

This one has a more serious subtext however;

UK Democracy on 29th March 2019, aged 312. It was with sad regret that Democracy died quietly in her sleep at 11pm, on the 29th March 2019. The cause of death was by foul play and the culprits have yet to be brought to justice. Democracy campaigned for the rule of law, human rights and free elections. She listened to everyone and favoured the majority in all her decisions. She will be sorely missed. God have mercy on her soul.

This is in response to the decision, if indeed one can call it that, of the UK Government and the House of Commons to not follow through on their previous majority decision that, absent a negotiated settlement with the EU, Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar would leave the EU at 11pm on Friday 29th March 2019.

The can has subsequently been kicked twice more down the road to 11pm, October 31st 2019. There’s little consensus on what, if anything, might change between now and then to break the impasse.

The negotiations have been ongoing for two and a half years and yet there has been a complete failure to discover a comprise win-win solution acceptable to both the EU unelected officials and the British Parliament.

This indicates one of three possibilities;

1. Such a compromise is not possible, or

2. The negotiating team or teams are not competent enough to reach one, or

3. One party has not been negotiating in good faith.

If we accept as true that, in the words of one ex-Brexit Minister, “If the UK thrives after a negotiated exit, it’s bad for the EU. If the UK thrives after a no-deal Brexit, it’s the end of the EU“, the UK should have been able to have negotiated a deal acceptable to Parliament, assuming Parliament wanted such a thing.

Using our patented razor, we’re going to have to assume it’s the British Parliament that’s the problem then. If they wanted to leave, they would have left by now.

How the hell did the mother of all parliaments become so timid and forgetful of their mandate.

One of the main justifications being wheeled out against simply leaving is the economic impact.

Here’s one such argument in the house from Hansard:

….how cautious should we be of incurring a loss of such magnitude, that the whole revenue of the country may be too little to make it good. l am aware that those who maintain this last opinion have alledged, that compensation may be demanded for voluntary and exaggerated losses, and for a sacrifice of extravagantly computed prospective profits.

Actually, that wasn’t an argument against Brexit, that was Mr. George Hibbert, MP for Seaford, arguing against the abolition of slavery in 1807.

The vast majority of his colleagues took the opposite view that not only was it the morally correct thing to do but the majority of the electorate agreed with the motion to leave and accept the economic consequences and make the egregious slave trade illegal.

And so, the British Parliament became the first to legislate against slavery, a practice that had been present in almost every culture globally for the entire history of humanity (not that you’d realise that by reading the news today; it would seem the current prevailing view is that the British invented the trade… that the Arabs had been profiting from for centuries prior and after the British copied them).

The irony shouldn’t be lost that some of the arguments against the abolition of the international slave trade are eerily similiar to those deployed against implementing the result of the largest democratic vote in British history, particularly the concerns about the economic consequences.

In fact, the British people were asked twice to confirm they wanted to go ahead with Brexit; both the Conservative and Labour parties campaigned in the 2017 general election on manifestos promising to implement the result of the previous year’s referendum. The third party, the Liberal Democrats, offered voters another referendum to confirm the result of the first. They were utterly destroyed in the election.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s time to clean out this Augean stable. In the words of Oliver Cromwell:

It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place,

which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice.

Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government.

Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?

Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?

Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.

Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.

I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place.

Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!

BIPoCalypse

(Note to the reader, feel free to skip this and go to “Bill’s Opinion” at the end of the page).

A Sydney craft store has become caught up in a vitriolic online campaign that has seen members of the knitting community labelled as racist by people who say they were ignored in yarn stores and felt uncomfortable at “white-majority knitting groups”.

Claims of bullying, lying and harassment have gone back and forth on social media since the dispute began over the treatment of black, indigenous and people of colour (BIPoC) in the knitting community.

An online campaign about racism in the knitting community has ensnared a Sydney craft store.

Sukrita Mahon, a spinner and weaver from the NSW Central Coast, has played a prominent role in the campaign to highlight and combat racism and prejudice among knitters.

“Sydney, we have a problem,” Ms Mahon wrote in January. “Your knitting spaces are unsafe for bipoc (and probably others). You have shown yourself unwilling to listen, at best.”

Ms Mahon did not respond to the Sun-Herald’s interview requests, but her Instagram account @su.krita refers to “the times I felt uncomfortable in their shop”.

She also refers to a time when the shop’s owner was “racist to me and my brown friend”.

The owner also declined to be interviewed but has expressed distress on social media about the accusations of racism.

Ms Mahon’s Instagram story Racist Knitters lists experiences of racism such as being ignored or followed in a yarn store when other patrons were not, and being mistaken for another person.

Cynthia Mulholland, the president of the Knitters’ Guild NSW, said her organisation welcomed anyone who shared a passion for knitting and crochet.

“I think there is racism everywhere, however it is up to groups like the Knitters Guild to welcome everyone into a comfortable environment,” she said.

Sukrita Mahon is part of an online campaign against racism in the knitting community.

Melbourne-based writer Sophia Cai suggested the dispute began when the owner was asked by members of the BIPoC community to make a statement denouncing racism.

“Their silence and silencing was noted, and they became defensive that they may been (sic) seen in a negative light,” Ms Cai wrote.

Ms Mahon then set up the Sydney is Cancelled online group, with the aim of creating places where BIPoC can meet, “away from the white gaze, without having to justify our existence at every step”.

“Our meetings will not be open to the public,” she explained on the Unfinished Object site.

However, the row turned ugly during a public event at Carriageworks in February organised by Ms Mahon’s craft group.

Ms Mahon said the event was disrupted by the owner of the Sydney craft store, which The Sun-Herald cannot identify for legal reasons, and another knitting designer.

“They spotted me standing away from the group and saw an opportunity to corner me,” Ms Mahon wrote in a blog post. “They demanded that I let them have their say. Through gritted teeth, I explained why I was upset with them, but received no acknowledgement of my feelings.”

Ms Mahon said she was intimidated by their behaviour, which they took “as a personal affront — manipulating the narrative so they appeared to be the victims”.

The confrontation at Carriageworks follows earlier allegations of racism levelled against American hand-dyer and knitter Maria Tusken and knitting designer Karen Templer, whose blog post about an upcoming trip to India prompted intense criticism. The online journal, Quillette, labelled the campaign against Templer a witch hunt.

Other Instagram users weighed into the controversy, including @mia.p.nguyen, who said the craft shop was racist and whose product/service was to marginalise.

The same user posted several other references to the controversy, which prompted @sometimesanislander to comment: “They have shown their racist disgusting selves.”

Several Instagram users, including Ms Mahon, have complained about posts being deleted or users blocked after criticising the shop and its owners.

“These two need to be accountable for everything they’ve done: initial invading of (what was supposed to be) a safe space for BIPoC, the silence on the issue, then the defensiveness, the ignoring, the silencing, the threats of legal action,” @nakkiknits wrote.

Bill’s Opinion

In summary:

Someone with a mental illness is shit-posting on the internet and Andrew Taylor has managed to spin out an entire article about it in a national newspaper.

This is how the decline of Roman Empire started.

“Free speech” isn’t just the speech you agree with, Fitzy

An Australian rugby player has annoyed people on social media by posting evangelical Christian beliefs.

An ex-Australian rugby player, now a columnist, has called for his contract to be suspended until he apologises and, in his words not mine, repents.

Slow news days in Australia tend to be like this.

Peter Fiztsimons has a good point; Israel Falau’s contract with the ARU does have restrictions on his public behaviour and speech. In that regard, by signing the contract he has agreed to further limitations, beyond those already on the law books, to his freedom of speech.

This is a matter between employer and employee.

So far, so boring. We all have a range of views on the topic Folau has posted about on social media, some of us have multiple opinions on the same topic depending on the time of day. That’s not really the point.

What’s fascinating here is the use of the term “repent” and the suggestion that Folau’s behaviour is homophobic. To risk bringing the concept of nuance and subtlety to a nation not previously known for its philosophers and intellectuals, could we suggest that there’s actually no proof that Folau is homophobic?

Sure, he’s stated that homosexuals are on their way to hell, but that’s simply repeating a view endorsed by, among others, the Catholic Church, most Anglican denominations and Islam. So, it’s a view shared wholly or at least partially by almost 5 billion people, i.e. more than half of humanity.

It’s worth noting that he’s never stated that he hates homosexuals or that he believes they are deserving of eternal damnation, just that his understanding of scripture suggests that’s where they’re heading.

Again, a subtle point but we do need to try to pull the conversation back to what was said, not what we think was in the mind of the speaker. None of us are mind-readers.

As for Fitzsimon’s call for Folau to repent, it’s not clear what form this would take for it to be acceptable. An apology for breaking the terms of his contract of employment doesn’t seem like it would satisfy Peter. By the use of the verb, repent, he seems to be suggesting a change of opinion is the only acceptable way to seek forgiveness.

In other words, he needs Folau to stop believing something that he, presumably, holds as true as part of the core teaching of his faith.

Bill’s Opinion

I don’t want to know what sports people’s beliefs are on matters of religious doctrine. I really just don’t give a fuck. I don’t share Israel Folau’s views on this or many other philosophical areas of discourse. I do like the way he can catch a ball, sprint and side-step, however.

I also don’t want the world I live in to be one where bandana-wearing columnists get to call for the termination of someone’s employment for having the wrong faith.

There is much whataboutery we could invoke at this point. For example, we could ask for just a single example where Fitzsimons has defended anyone with an opposing opinion to his to hold that opinion without being hounded off social media, out of their employment or other similar consequences.

The easiest job in the world is to defend someone’s right to believe the same things as you.

Imagine there’s no money….

Australia has a newly-designed 50 cent coin adorned with 14 indigenous words for “money”.

Except…..

Money, or an object which abstractly represented the value of goods and services, did not exist in Australia before European colonisation. Trade occurred, but it was between items deemed to be of similar worth, for example, pearl shell, quartz, food or songs. With the entry of money into the Indigenous economy, new words were needed to refer to coins and later, notes.
Most Indigenous words for money come from words for “stone”, “rock” or “pebble”, no doubt in reference to the size and shape of coins.

Right. So the new 50c coin has 14 indigenous words for “pebble”.

What’s the Aborginal translation for the adjective “fungible”?

Bill’s Opinion

This epitomises the very modern desire to retro-fit the current definitions of civilisation on a culture that had nothing even close to these features.

Other versions of this delusion include universities offering courses on “Aboriginal science” and primary schools teaching “Aboriginal sports”; what was observed and documented (by Europeans!) might have prima facia appeared to have been similar to science or sport but really had nothing tangible in common with the European definitions of these things.

The concept of the noble savage was a retrospective re-writing of history to salve Western guilt.

Peter Hartcher probably thinks this is objective

Time to fisk, Right Wing Nationalists Are Learning From the UK’s Pointless Ugliness.

Now that Brexit is indisputably established as one of the most monumentally stupid pieces of self-inflicted injury by a developed nation this century, other nations are learning key lessons from its mistakes.

Brexit hasn’t happened yet. In other news, the UK economy’s growth is currently outstripping that of all of its European neighbours, particularly Germany. Sure, the onmishambles that the British are currently suffering in Westminster is a national embarrassment but I’m not seeing much that could be called a “self-inflicted injury”.

The concept behind Britain’s decision to leave the European Union was that it would recover its sovereignty. On the day that Britons voted by 52 per cent to 48 in favour, its main cheerleader, Nigel Farage, declared it “independence day”. That was nearly three years ago.

Other than padding to hit the word count, I’m not sure what this tells us that anyone not living under a rock doesn’t already know. Three years, you say? Article 50 was always going to be at least a two year process, as advertised during the referendum campaign.

Today the country is a global laughing stock. It’s in an interminable dead-end, neither able to move forwards nor back. It’s lost investment and jobs, political stability, national credibility and, perhaps worst of all, it’s inflicted new anger and division within British society.

Let’s take those statements one at a time, shall we?

The country is a global laughing stock – Maybe. Or perhaps the politicians are the source of amusement. As for Britons caring what others think of them; there are only about 20 countries in the world, i.e. 10%, who we’ve not had a bit of a ruck with in the past. As Millwall fans chant, “Everyone hates us, and we don’t care”.

Dead end? Perhaps, but again, if the politicians can’t pull their fingers out of their arses by 11pm on Friday we’ll be moving one way…. out of the EU.

Lost investment? See the previous comment about the relative strength of the economy. Also, predicting what would have happened to an economy if something hadn’t happened is a mug’s game. QV the Bank of England’s predictions of Armageddon should the vote go the “wrong” way.

Lost jobs? Unemployment is the lowest it’s been for decades.

Political stability? Yes, and as we can see, the politicians have been found wanting. More instability please.

National credibility? This is from a journalist who presumably would claim he comes from a democratic country yet they change Prime Minister every 18 months and government every 36 months. Oh, and they’re in the insalubrious club of nations that enforce voting by law.

Anger and division? Yes, mainly concentrated at those paid to do a job and yet can’t.

Across the other 27 members of the EU, the main lesson learnt is that it’d be a bad idea to follow Britain out the door. In one country after another, the political parties that were inspired by Brexit have dumped their campaigns.

This isn’t quite giving the message Peter thinks it does. Perhaps nobody should wish to be in a club that punishes you for leaving? See also; Islam.

Two years ago, the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen was demanding a referendum on whether to leave the EU, a Frexit, as was known. Today she speaks of making the EU work better. Italy’s Matteo Salvini of the League ran a right-wing nationalist campaign to reject the EU common currency, the euro, but now, as deputy prime minister, he has stopped using the hashtag #BastaEuro – enough of the euro. The idea is now effectively moribund. In Austria, the Freedom Party dropped its call for a referendum on dumping the euro and joined a coalition government that favours the status quo.

Again, Peter’s not really giving the message he thinks he is here. Some of us read this as a declaration of hostilities against any population that dares to defy the will of the EU. That’s a club nobody sane should wish to join.

Britain’s experience with Brexit has shown the world such pointless ugliness that it has boosted support for the EU to its highest in 35 years. Specifically, according to a Eurobarometer survey last year, two-thirds of Europeans say that their country has benefited from EU membership.

A survey commissioned by the EU found the EU was good? That’s some high kwality journalisming there, Peter. Bravo.

In Canada, Brexit is being used as an object lesson for secessionists in the French-speaking province of Quebec: “It has given us a picture of what actual attempts to withdraw from a long-established legislative union, as opposed to fantasies, look like,” says the National Post’s Andrew Coyne. “In particular, it has permanently discredited once-common claims that secession from Canada would be a quick and relatively painless affair.”

The Quebecois want to secede from Canada? Really, when did this shocking development occur and please explain to me again the subtle reason why nearly every Canadian Prime Minister always seems to have to come from Montreal?

This point carries particular force for any Australian thinking of voting for Clive Palmer, who is running candidates across the country for the federal election in a shameless attempted comeback even as his creditors try to recover hundreds of millions from his collapsed Queensland Nickel.

Palmer proposes that North Queensland break away and form a separate, new state. Ironic, perhaps, for his so-called United Australia Party. Palmer has learnt nothing from Brexit. He is either a buffoon or an irresponsible populist.

That’s the sound of Peter jumping a shark. Clive Palmer has three fifths of fuck all support from the Australian population, he’s lucky to get a majority of support in his own family. Brexit, on the other hand won a majority in the biggest democratic turn out in British history.

And this is the first lesson that Australia, like countries everywhere, should learn from Brexit. Populists offer emotional appeals that lead to dead ends, just as Farage led Britain to Brexit.

An alternate lesson might be, voting for anything the ruling class don’t like is a futile gesture. Better to let the politicians and journalists make all the difficult decisions and you lot can go back to watching Married at First Sight.

There are many definitions of populism. The one I prefer is that populism offers unworkably simple solutions to complex problems. Palmer is not the only populist on the ballot paper at the federal election. One Nation is another standout. Single-issue parties are no better.

….unworkably simple solutions to complex problems”. I think you’ve just described every opinion column and editorial in your publication, Peter.

Brexit has been described as a crisis of many types. A crisis of national identity, a crisis of leadership, a crisis of the Tory party, a crisis of British politics, a crisis of democracy, a constitutional crisis, and so on. And you can make a solid case for each of these claims. But, at its broadest, the Brexit dead end is a crisis of overpoliticisation. That is, every realistic and practical element of the national interest is lost to a self-interested free-for-all, like hyenas preying on the body politic.

Brexit has also been described as the British people doing what the British people do very well; holding the ruling class to account occasionally. The alternative approach, as demonstrated in “less happy lands” (to quote The Bard), is violent revolution.

The triumph of Farage’s populist “Leave” campaign dealt Britain a jolting blow to the head, disorienting the political system and signalling to the politicians that it was time to let their inner hyenas out. Overpoliticisation is not simply where a government can’t get its way in an uncooperative parliament. That is standard in a democracy. It will often occur for perfectly legitimate reasons of difference over principle or policy. It often happens that the Australian Senate, which was designed to represent a different priority of interests to the House, will block legislation that has passed the lower house.

Brexit is not overpoliticisation; it’s 17.4 million people explaining to about 400 MPs that they have an opinion that’s 180 degrees different to theirs and, lest you forget, we pay your salaries.

As the chaos of the British parliament demonstrates, overpoliticisation is where there is a breakdown of any goodwill or discipline within the parties themselves. It can’t happen here? It already has. In Australia’s case, it was not as all-encompassing as Brexit. But the pathetic tale of climate change and energy policy in Australia over the last decade is a clear case of overpoliticisation. The net result so far is a policy dead end, where a government of six years is about to go to an election without an energy policy.

Brexit and Australia’s woeful energy policy are linked? That’s a bloody long bow to draw.

Electricity prices have soared, companies are being put out of business, Australia’s carbon emissions commitment is in doubt, and the entire power grid is approaching collapse. As the Australian Energy Market Commission reported last week, “the grid is holding up but only because the energy market operator is intervening on a daily basis to keep the lights on”. And this in a country that is an energy superpower.

This national failure didn’t happen because of the routine operation of Australia’s political system. First a Labor government, and then Coalition ones, proved unable to cohere around a policy. The parties fractured within. Labor struck down its own prime minister over an emissions trading system, pitching the Rudd and Gillard governments into a disarray that neither recovered from.

Then it was the Coalition’s turn. Even after Malcolm Turnbull got his National Energy Guarantee through the Liberal party room, a revolt detonated the policy and destroyed the prime minister.

In the cases of Labor and Liberal, it was a free-for-all, without the party discipline that a Westminster system requires or the goodwill to agree on a compromise. No democracy can function without compromise.

The hyenas fed amid the chaos in a frenzy of self-interest and self-indulgence, and the Australian electorate was disgusted. Labor paid the price, and now it seems the Coalition will pay the same price at next month’s election.

All of which can be summarised as, “Australian politicians pushed an agenda that was directly against the wishes of the electorate and now they are struggling to explain why a country rich in coal and uranium has the most expensive electricity in the world”.

Britain’s madness is broader, deeper and more intractable, but Australia has shown over the last decade that it, too, is capable of ruinous over-politicisation. No matter how bad the tragi-comedy of Brexit, Australia cannot be smug.

Peter Hartcher is international editor.

Bill’s Opinion

Peter Hartcher is lacking self-awareness, an ability for introspection and is probably of the opinion that he is objective.

Independent. Always