Why the ‘Democratic People’s Republic of Victoria’ should have followed the Socialist Republic of Vietnam example

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There is a joke among some here in Melbourne about the initials DPRV which stand for ‘Democratic People’s Republic of Victoria’. This is because in the last few years, the state got a reputation of being the most ‘lefty woke’ state in Australia (look at the #DPRV hashtag on twitter). Personally I don’t think so. Victorians are able to vote in conservative governments like anyone else. Although I do think they would like more someone like Malcolm Turnbull than Eric Abetz.

And the State Government, that it’s currently under enormous pressure because of the COVID-19 outbreak, is no beacon of Democratic Socialism. In fact it is precisely because it is not, and has followed the practice of all governments in Australia whether Labor or Liberal to save money by using private contractors, rather than doing the job themselves that got them in this predicament.


The role of government

I have limited my exposure to social media. But I go to Facebook to interact with my relatives overseas and the book club I belong to. So inevitably I see posts of people who are talking about the Victoria COVID crisis and came to this one by Gerry Beaton:

“So all the anti worker, right wing shock jocks and Murdoch journos are pointing their collective fingers in every direction proportioning blame for the Covid spread in Melbourne. They all miss the the mark by miles. It wouldn’t matter who was in power in Spring St. O’Brien and his mob (name any of the galahs if you can) are blaming Andrews and rightly so as the determination to use as cheap as possible quarantine security companies is the real issue. the Liberal Party would have done the same. The real culprit is the neoliberal agenda of both parties that has caused so much damage to the world’s population and climate. The need to get rid of the capitalist system that has developed this economic system that enriches a tiny number of bourgeois and leave millions in poverty is imperative.”

I think eliminating the capitalist system in Victoria is a bit of a far stretch. But the point here is that the Victorian government to save money trusted private enterprise to do a vital job. And we have found that these companies’ practices where sloppy to put it mildly.

Since the late 70’s the predominant narrative has been that surplus=good and deficit=bad. The concept of debt being a bad thing is easy for politicians to convey because in household budgets we try to limit debt as much as possible and this is an easy transferable concept to voters.

I have read that equating households to governments is nonsense, but being seen as bad economic managers is poison for Labor considering polling consistently shows people believe that the Liberal Party to be a better economic manager than Labor, despite evidence to the contrary.

Reclaiming the role

The issue here is that we don’t need to overthrow capitalism or being a revolutionary socialist to reclaim a role of government that looks after its people and looks at society and not just at the economy.

The paradigm has shifted so much to the neoliberal area that now governments doing things like solely building roads, distributing resources like electricity and water or running public transport is seen like some extreme socialist practice.

But this is bread and butter Social Democracy. Something that helped resurrect Europe after the Second World War.

So, what’s this thing about Vietnam?

I wouldn’t consider Vietnam a Social Democracy by any stretch of the imagination. For instance out of 180 it ranks 175 in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, which is pretty awful. In the latest Amnesty International Report Vietnam also fares badly. Amnesty saw a surge in the number of prisoners of conscience. A crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

But its COVID-19 management is a worldwide success. Vietnam has reported no community transmission cases for 3 months

Apart from going early, hundreds of thousands of people, including international travelers and those who had close contact with people who tested positive, were placed in quarantine centers run by the government, which greatly reduced transmission at both the household and community levels. [source].

In the previous post I stated that Victoria should re-open the quarantine station at Queenscliff. , while I was not serious about Queenscliff, as it is now an historic site, it shows that if the government took the responsibility of quarantine, rather than giving it to private enterprise it is likely it wouldn’t be in the predicament it found itself in. We do it for animals and plants. Why not people?

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Re-open Queenscliff!

Quarantine Quarantine Station – General View. [Portsea.] [picture]. (1909).

Probably one of the most fascinating websites you could read now (at least for me) is from the Napean Historical Society titled: Spanish Flu 1918-19 – Deja Vu?

The parallels to what happened then and it’s happening now is uncannily scary.  Implementation of strict measures.  The belief that Australia beat the disease but flare up in new cases (in Melbourne) and closure of the borders with Victoria.

But that page also shows something that didn’t happen this time.  The use of a quarantine station.

Early European settlers knew that Australia was free from diseases and pathogens that occurred overseas (the fact that they introduced disease that killed Aboriginal populations probably escaped them or didn’t want to know).  So the different colonies on the Australian continent established quarantine stations.

In the early 1850s the peninsula of Point Nepean was inspected and subsequently found to be acceptable as the location for a permanent quarantine station.  By the 1870s this grew to be quite a big establishment with cookhouses, large lodgings and a hospital. In the early 1900s even a bathhouse was constructed.

Returning servicemen were considered to be particularly at risk during the H1N1 influenza A virus pandemic, and on April 16th  1919 contracts were issued to build twelve wooden huts of 32 bunks each, based on the drawing below. The first hut was to be delivered within 10 working days with the completion of all within 5 weeks.

from NAA B3712 Dwr 124 Folder 6  taken from https://nepeanhistoricalsociety.asn.au/2020/04/21/spanish-flu-1918-19-deja-vu/

And these huts are still there today.

From https://nepeanhistoricalsociety.asn.au/2020/04/21/spanish-flu-1918-19-deja-vu/

As the need to quarantine people decreased with the advent of medical advances and vaccines, the station was given to the Federal Government that used it as an army based.

In 1998-99, the buildings were used to house several hundred refugees from Kosovo, offered asylum on compassionate grounds as a result of the Balkan conflict arising from the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

In 2004 ownership went back to the State of Victoria that has incorporated it into the Point Napean National Park.

Re-opening the station for quarantine not feasible but the principle still valid.

Poor Dan Andrews is copping it from all sides at the moment.  I am a big Dan Andrews fan, but the decision of the Victorian government to employ private security firms to look after the people in hotel quarantine was a mistake.

True.  The government is not responsible for security guards being lax with distancing and other precautions, or even….having sex with the people being quarantined, but as the Conversation article states:

“it should come as no surprise to anyone with a passing interest in labour standards in the private security industry or an understanding of governance issues in supply chains.

To put it plainly, the Victorian government used an industry with a long history of non-compliance with minimum standards for a critical public safety job.”

While we are thinking of contamination, the neoliberal practice of ditching government doing things, and contracting private companies to perform tasks that governments used to do has contaminated governments, including those of the centre left.  My observation that this has been especially true in English speaking countries.  

In the 1980s a belief that private enterprise was better and more efficient in running things than governments became the norm.  Of course started by centre right governments but then it became the dominant paradigm in the media and everywhere and centre left governments were too scared to go against the trend.

In my opinion there are things that governments should not run, airlines for example, but provision of services like electricity, water and gas should be.  But one that is on top of that list is health.

Some will argue that the fact that the Victorian government didn’t manage the hotel quarantine properly by choosing security guards it is proof that governments still are unable to run things properly.  But I would say that the process of giving tasks to private companies, which are not under the control of government is vulnerable for exactly the type of things that have happened.  Especially in an emergency situation. 

So while the idea of government running a quarantine station with properly trained health workers may seem a bit of a quaint idea, if the Victorian government has a ‘Queenscliff’  Victoria most likely would not have been facing this outbreak, or at least not of this magnitude.


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Why I need to have a Twitter break


Mongia, A., 2017. Woman Draws Curtain On Twitter. [image] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/sunday-review/maggie-haberman-twitter-donald-trump.html?auth=linked-google1tap&gt [Accessed 1 July 2020]. andreamongia@gmail.com

I have been feeling a bit low lately and with mild general anxiety.  It was a general malaise, but I couldn’t put my hand on it.

I had similar feelings before.  Worse than this but generally there was a direct cause (usually connected to my health anxieties),  I put it down to the general sentiment we are all experiencing, you know the ‘We are living in strange times’ because of the Coronavirus.

But I had no reason why I should feel this way.  OK, there is a general concern about my job, being employed by a university, but this will be something I may need to worry about next year.

Touch wood all my close relatives are healthy.  I am healthy (although since working at home, not riding to work and back every day I think I did put on a couple of kilos).

So, what was happening?

My twitter addiction

I started to think that this was connected to my twitter use. I have had signs of addictive behaviours for some time.  Keeping refreshing the twitter page every second for new tweets, lying to my family about how much I was spending on it, and most dangerous of all it has interfered with my work and family life.

But the COVID-19 provided a perfect storm.  Working at home my temptation to check twitter increased.  Adding to this was news about the virus itself and other things like the Black Lives Matter protests etc.  Irresistible for a news junkie like me.

I found myself having to give up things like going outside for a walk or exercise because I spent most of my free time on twitter.  This was having an effect both on my mental but also physical health.

Twitter is a pit of negativity

One thing that twitter seems to have become is a vortex of negativity that to me at least has dragged me down.  Not sure whether people are like that or whether twitter attracts a particular type of people.  Looking at both sides of an argument is not common.  Everything is commented upon through partisan eyes.

I stayed away from commenting on what right wing tweeters wrote (what’s the point) but the same can be said for lefties like me.  The litany of complaints every Sunday morning about Insiders for example.  Some twitterers seem to watch this program solely because they would search for any bias against the ALP or the Greens.  This journalist was really easy on the Liberal politician but tough on the ALP one!  Why do they have right leaning journalists on it? I can’t understand why people would deliberately spoil their Sunday that way.

And the way some of these twitters would be so HATEFUL against these journalists.  The angriest tweets I received were when I stated that Joe Hildebrand was actually on the left.  A very moderate left, what he writes was stuff I heard a lot from Centre Unity ALP members in my day.  But no, he has to be slain, hated.  Same with Annabel Crabb and her Kitchen Cabinet episode on Scott Morrison.  She is blamed by some that single-handedly made him win the election.  Forgetting that Crabb did heaps of programs on ALP and Green MPs as well.  The one with Penny Wong was particularly moving.  The accusation was that that program ‘humanised’ Morrison.  and that’s very telling about twitter.  Politicians have to be hated or loved no shades in between.  In my opinion, Morrison has crap policies bit I still would invite him to a BBQ if he was my neighbour.

This is also reflected in the tweets about my other interest, soccer.   To be truthful soccer fans have a tendency to be negative, but twitter gives this negativity a fertile ground.  It seems that everything is gloom and doom.  This may have been warranted as the Coronavirus hit all sports, and soccer the hardest.  But to prove a point just weeks after soccer got the best news with being given the Women’s World Cup,  some journalists left their jobs and it felt like they departed for the big commentary box in the sky.  Some even stated that this would jeopardise the future of the code!  It seems that ANYTHING does that for some soccer twitters.

Over the edge

In pre-COVID times my addiction was checked my other things. Going to my workplace, going to a soccer match, doing a bushwalk with my club.  But now as I work at home my world has shrunk.  I work in front of a computer and twitter is always present, luring me like sirens to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.

The combination of outbreaks, negativity (the anti Victorian sentiment is particularly bad – ‘sing with one voice I am, you are, we are Australian’  – what a load of croc.) and my addiction is dragging me down and doesn’t need to be.  I got lots of things to be grateful for.

It’s not forever

I am not going to give up twitter forever.  When I will come back?  Who knows?  It could be a week, a month a year.  I don’t know.  I think it will be when I feel I have re-established some equilibrium and my mood has lifted.

In the meantime go on as usual.  If someone wants to contact me they can do so on guidolib@gmail.com.

Catch you later and stay well.



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Bushfires: missing the woods for the burned-out trees.



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A catastrophe, Armageddon. This has been a disastrous fire season. Not over one day but over weeks.

Is it the fault of Scott Morrison? Is it the fault of the Greens? Accusations go back and forth about ‘who is to blame’.

As I live in the inner city I have been fortunate not to experience the devastation of bushfires directly. But there were two episodes,  the Ash Wednesday 1983 and the Black Saturday fires in 2009 since I lived in Australia, and neither had this level of blaming.

The difference this time is that climate change is firmly on the agenda.  And some (I repeat some) on both sides of the political spectrum are using the fires to affirm their positions.  Either that the major parties are criminals in not doing enough to reverse global warming, and in fact adding to it (ie Adani) or that the criminals are the Greenies that have prevented fuel reduction and have therefore created the conditions for these fires to occur.

When I encountered the interaction of emotions and information about environmental management

The environment can be quite an emotional issue for a lot of people.  My first experience of that was when I did my Masters of Environmental Science at Monash back in the early ’80s.  That course had both people who were into ‘Deep Ecology‘ and others such as environmental engineers with hard-nosed beliefs of how to manage the environment.  This was reflected among students who were grouped into two factions.  Those who came straight from a science background and those who came from other disciplines who saw the environment more as a wholistic construct rather than an ecosystem with trophic levels and quantifiable energy flows that had to be managed.

I still remember a heated discussion when we had to present a management proposal as part of a subject.  One of the teams, which had a background of wildlife management and zoology proposed kangaroo culling in an area where the kangaroo population expanded rapidly after a few good seasons but they were constrained by water and farmland.  Now in drought, kangaroos were dying of thirst and hunger.  But some were appalled that any native animals should be shot and killed as a principle.

The reason why I am mentioning this is that the divide between an emotional response to the environment and a more dispassionate approach is not new.  It has been happening since the environment has been developed as an integrated scientific discipline since the 1970s.

What I see now is within this divide I see people, most who are not scientists, who pick and choose evidence to fit their own agenda.

I express openly here is that the evidence of anthropogenic climate change and global warming is overwhelming, and now beyond dispute.

What I am talking about is this discussion about forest management.

Forest management.  Who is right?

Controlled burn of grasslands - 2 - Barton - ACT - Australia - 20180428 @ 10:50

When discussing the fires, I tweeted this in response to a Bernie Sanders tweet.

Then a John Keily responded to my tweet.  Apart from the unnecessary nastiness of it (happens a lot on twitter unfortunately) I was actually grateful for the link he provided of an article written back in 2015 quoting David Packham, a former CSIRO bushfire scientist which warned forest fuel levels have worsened over the past 30 years because of “misguided green ideology”, vested interests, political failure and mismanagement, creating a massive bushfire threat.

That is a worthwhile article to read.  So where that leave me?

Both Scott Morrison and Richard Di Natale are right.  We need a Royal Commission.

Scott Morrison has stated that a Royal Commission is a possibility

Which is what Richard DiNatale has also advocated.

So this would be a great example of bipartisanship (I am sure the ALP would be on board as well.

Some as seen this as a waste of money and a lawyer enriching exercise.  But a major inquiry that has shaped how Australia has managed fire risk was the Stretton’s Royal Commission after the Black Friday bushfires in 1939.  This Royal Commission has been described as one of the most significant inquiries in the history of Victorian public administration.

His scathing 35 page report led to sweeping changes including stringent regulation of burning and fire safety measures for sawmills, grazing licensees and the general public, the compulsory construction of dugouts at forest sawmills, increasing the forest roads network and firebreaks, construction of forest dams, fire towers and RAAF aerial patrols linked by the Forests Commissions radio network. [1]

This was 80 years ago.  Much has changed since then.  Population, the pattern of settlement and certainly the climate.  We need a new ‘Stretton’s Royal Commission’ which is totally scientific and objective, and not created to justify one side or the other.  If it is true that fuel reduction has been mismanaged we need to know that.  If fuel reduction burns cannot occur as much because the climate is dryer and hotter we need to know that and find out how forest management can adapt.

It is said that war is too important to be left to the generals.  Fire management is too important to be left to the politicians.



[1] Leonard Edward Bishop (Len) Stretton

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Trump, Brexit, Morrison,Johnson…what’s happening?

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Yesterday I saw a tweet…

I guess that was the feeling among left people yesterday. Again an electoral defeat for our side of politics.  But not only that.  Against a candidate (in the case of Johnson and Trump, I think Morrison is not in that category) that on the scheme of things many – including on their side- would have thought it very improbable to ever being a suitable candidate to lead a country.  And the other factor is that in the USA, Australia and Brexit many didn’t expected the right to win, and not just win, but increase their majorities or win convincingly.  In the UK polls predicted a Conservative win.  That was surprising enough considering the bin fire that the Conservatives have been for the past few years, but they actually increased their majority. and here is the clincher: They won seats which were traditionally Labour, where people are socioeconomically disadvantaged, where a Conservative Party has really not much concern for their day to day well being.

Brexit was certainly a factor in the UK.  But in Australia low-income workers swung against Labor too.  And in the USA the white working class helped Trump to the white house.

Media plays a factor. But they are not the main reason

As Sally McManus the influence of the media is not the main reason why socioeconomically disadvantaged people would vote for a centre right party.  I am not saying that it is a factor, but not the main factor.  I see tweets blaming the Murdoch media for this happening, and while the bias there is a factor is not the main reason.  The murdoch media (and other tabloid type media) do not create opinions, but very ably re-enforce any bias readers may have.  And the most powerful one, which seems to have run through all the elections in the UK, USA and Australia is the ‘elites’ vs ‘the honest working person’.

Pitting the ‘elites’ vs the rest

The Murdoch media has very ably created the narrative that the left doesn’t represent the traditional working class anymore but the ‘inner suburban lefty’ who is more interested in things such as transgender issues, identity politics and the environment rather than bread and butter issues.

This argument could be challenged in the case of the UK elections as Corbyn had a very clear socialist democratic agenda which was very much bread and butter, but I think what swamped that was Brexit.  I have a hunch (can’t prove it) that many of the working class people that voted Conservative did so because they felt weren’t listened by the Labour Party on this.  And I would speculate that the Brexit issue in itself wasn’t the main issue, was that they felt dismissed – and here is the clincher.

People may be socioeconomically disadvantaged – but they want to feel respected.

So, instead of taking my reference to right wing media. what really took my attention was something that can be described more on the ‘left’ the 7AM podcast that is part of the The Monthly and Saturday Paper stable.  The 11/11/19 podcast had Lech Blaine who grew up in country Queensland. After the 2019 federal election, he spent several weeks driving around the state, trying to understand what makes it different. He found people with a strong desire to be treated with respect.

What struck me was when he interviewed a miner called Steve who did work as a diesel fitter in a coalmine in Nebo QLD.  Steve didn’t like mining, he didn’t like to stare at 20ks of scarred earth every day.  He knew that it wasn’t good for the environment but he couldn’t see many other alternatives for steady work in the area.  He was especially affected as he was in logging and that was scaled down, then in cattle that were affected by live export bans, and now he’s in coal mining he feels again his job is under attack by concerns down south from people that seem not to care about his predicament. Blaine says that the feeling of being abandoned started much earlier than Adani.

Steve in Nebo continues that “I know that a lot of people think we are just dumb coal miners, bogans and the rest of it which is how some portrayed us when Labor lost, but a lot of people I work with hate coal mining, we are trying to set ourselves up so when we have kids we can send them to Uni in Brisbane so they don’t have to work in sitty coal mining jobs”. So Blaine here makes the point that these people working in coal, want their kids to have the same opportunities they resent in others. Ultimately what motivates these people is their children’s future, to have a way out. And further he states that they didn’t believe Scott Morrison was going to deliver much, as they realise he didn’t have policies, just they felt he didn’t look down on them.

True? It does not matter, perception is the key.


Now I can hear retorts that most people on the left didn’t ‘look down on them’, but perception is the key. But some did and they were those that the right wing media concentrated on. And here I come back to the issue I said before. Right wing media may not change opinions by themselves, but they are very able to take a perception (inner suburban lefties looking down on regional workers) and embellish it with commentary that these people are out of touch and want to close down their places of employment and the game is done. This is after all a mantra of News Ltd. and Sky News.

The issue here is that we can complain that the perception is wrong, but if that is what is believed this changes voting patterns. Perhaps this is what Albanese and others have felt in their post elections Queensland tours.  That is why Albanese has not advocated for a stop to coal exports.  Joel Fitzgibbon has gone to town with advocating the inner suburban lefty vs coal miners argument. I guess a 20% swing against you towards One Nation does that to you.

But lets go back again to our coal miner from Nebo. If people in these areas don’t want their children not to be miners,want a government that gives them options, especially for their children (yes aspirational) That is equality of opportunities. That is what a social democratic party should be all about.

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Ditch the ALP? Viewpoint from an ex-member


Photographer: Mark Graham/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Boy…the ALP is copping plenty of flack on twitter because it decided ultimately to vote for the Coalition tax package.  “I’ll never vote for the ALP again!” “They just handed Morrison the next election!”

When I read these tweets I find myself in a common predicament.  On one hand I agree with the sentiment that the ALP could have at least abstain by not attending the division.  On the other hand I also see the realpolitik facing the ALP.  The government killed two stones with a bird (that is my animal-friendly version of that saying)  it got the whole package through and caused damaged to the ALP and Albanese.

I have been an ALP member from 1983 to 2001.  The Tampa thing made me decide not to renew my membership.  But I wasn’t just disillusioned with Labor.  I was disillusioned with Australia as a whole, who I thought left xenophobia behind.  But with that it also came a reality about politics, and that what we would like is often not how a party can win an election.  As I was trying to explain this on twitter I realised that putting forward such a view on Twitter can be fraught with danger as it can be misinterpreted. So for what is worth this is my view.

Damned if you do and damned if you don’t

The ALP faced this dilemma after it was clear that the legislation would have passed with crossbench support. Waive it through and get the anger from left voters.  Vote against it and risk (in their view) to give the government a big stick they could have used for the next few years – this aided and abetted by the Murdoch media and as a consequence other media as well.  It is an unfortunate fact that despite I believe that the ABC is not anti Labor (despite some on Twitter that are absolutely convinced on this, but that’s another story) I can envisage Leigh Sales in a couple of years saying ‘…but you did vote against low income earners getting a tax cut’.  Which brings me to the next point.

ALP should explain it better…really?

Some tweeps have stated that the ALP could have voted against it and then explain why to the voters.  Really? What have these people been during the last elections?  The reality is that there is a substantial portion of the Australian media that are hostile to the ALP no matter what.  Not only the Murdoch media.  This channel 9 example labelling Albanese ‘unedifying’ for what it was a mild rebuke shows how difficult selling a message can be.  Especially from opposition.  Add the blatant lies such as the death tax then I can see why the ALP got cold feed at the first hurdle.

Why all this anger now?  The ALP has been ‘disappointing’ lefties for ages.

One thing I was surprised was why of all a sudden this ‘I am done with the ALP’ comment as the ALP was this progressive socialist party.  Lenin himself said in 1913 that “The Australian Labour Party does not even call itself a socialist party. Actually it is a liberal-bourgeois party”.

In the 1980s, when the Hawke government was enjoying its popularity the cartoonist Kaz Cooke did a cartoon with her character ‘Hermoine the Modern Girl’ wearing a T-Shirt stating ‘Join the ALP and develop your sense of irony’.

The ‘three mines policy’ in 1984 which allowed three uranium mines in Australia was a compromise that caused a huge disquiet among the rank and file (and probably was one of the issues that sparked the creation of the Greens federally).  Here in Victoria I was a member of the ALP Conservation Policy Committee and there were furious battles between the left and the government on allowing logging in native forests.

And even with Julia Gillard that has been hailed as a lefty saint.  What was one of the first things she did when she became PM after deposing Rudd? She went up to Darwin with western Sydney MP David Bradbury in tow on a naval patrol boat on a training exercise clearly pitching to voters in outer metropolitan electorates such as Mr Bradbury’s Lindsay, who were perceived to be concerned about rising boat arrivals.


Personally, I was surprised that there were so many people outraged about a tax,  and not about the policy that still allows TPVs which don’t allow for family reunification and mandatory detention and offshore processing.  These policies were there at the last elections.

The ALP will not carry all our hopes of a progressive Australia – because it needs votes of those who aren’t.

There seems to be still a number of left voters that hope that the ALP will execute all their wishes for a progressive Australia.  But the ALP won’t do this.  This is especially the case after the ALP brought forward a mildly progressive redistributive program at the elections that almost everyone thought they would win and didn’t.  I cannot blame the ALP for thinking that doing so it will condemn them to more years in opposition.

There are some that think the opposite,  That not having an ‘alternative’ by not giving a ‘choice’ this will ensure that the ALP won’t win the next elections.  But how so?  All the talk last election campaign was about Labor policies and how they would affect retirees.  We can blame the ALP for not being able to explain it, but the blame is not all to them.  Stories of retirees who were crying poor on TV, and yes, even on the ABC didn’t give much scope for informative and nuanced debate.  We political tweeps that love politics may get that but many voters don’t.  Their priorities are somewhere else and with good reasons.  How would a continual message that ‘The ALP didn’t want you to get tax cuts’ would play?  Would they  think “Oh in 2029-2030, someone currently earning around $138,000 a year will see the biggest fall in the average tax rate they pay (2.1 per cent), while someone on just less than the full-time minimum wage earning around $37,000 a year will see their average tax rate rise by 5 per cent?” I don’t think so. People are busy with their children, their parents, their work.  Many don’t have the time or energy to get into the nitty-gritty of tax policies.  What’s important is what it is in their pay packet and what bills they need to pay.  Many may decide how to vote in the last few weeks of an electoral campaign.  Any so call ‘unedifying’ behaviour by Albanese won’t really register much three years form an election.  A message in the next three years that ‘Labor voted against your tax cuts’ might.

Labor apologist? No. Just reality.

What I wrote may sound like I am a Labor apologist.  I don’t think I am.  I still think the ALP should have abstained from the vote in the Senate.  What I wrote above that voters may not care what happens three years from an election may also have applied here, but I can also see how the ALP may think at the moment after losing an election they were expected to win.

And the reality is that we may vote for the Greens (as I did in the Senate) which have great lefty policies and may vote mostly with their conscience.  But while we may huff and puff about ‘never voting ALP anymore’ the reality is also that next election the only party that can remove Morrison is the ALP.  Some may think who cares they are the same, which is patently not true  – there are differences. But only the ALP can form an alternative government which on balance is better than a conservative Morrison one.  That’s the reality.

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Italy and the EU – a ‘tragedia annunciata’


Photo: Luis Diaz Devesa

Overall it was a good European election for pro-Europe parties.  The populist bloc in the European Parliament can count on no more than a quarter of its 751 seats, a goal that the head of the Italian Lega, Mateo Salvini himself set for the grouping that is still in the process of being formed – and now counts less than 60 deputies.

Apart from France (and Hungary that is not a major European power), Italy was the only country to elect a majority of a populist party (the UK Brexit Party is a different case).  The Lega does not necessarily want to get out of the EU, no ‘Italexit’ at this stage, but certainly wants an Europe where national interests override a European one as a whole.

There is now a possibility that Italy will be excluded and isolated from the EU’s top jobs.  And consequently will lose even more influence.  How a foundation European Community euro enthusiastic nation was turned into an euroskeptic one and on the outer could be described in Italian as a ‘tragedia annunciata’ that is an announced tragedy.

As an Australian citizen (who does not have double citizenship) I observe European and Italian politics from a distance.  But I always believed that the European project was a good idea.  But looking at how Italy has been treated I can understand why Italians started to be wary of the EU.

The Euro

One reason is the Euro. There was no popular referendum or plebiscite. It was all planned in Bruxelles especially from the then French and German governments.  Italy sort of followed and many Italians suffered from its introduction and perceive it, right or wrongly, as a  Deutsche Mark in disguise.  While many will attribute the blame to Italy’s poor economic planning, this doesn’t mean that Italians who have lost wealth or jobs may not be angry at how the introduction of the euro has disadvantaged them by taking away measures that helped Italy’s economy when it had its own currency.

2011 military intervention in Libya

While the 2011 military intervention in Lybia was a NATO initiative, many Italians believe that it was initiated by France after consulting with the UK and the USA. Not with Italy who shares a maritime border with it.  This decision is perceived to be one that the French initiated because they saw gains in getting its oil when Italy six months before the raids signed had already contracts worth billions with Lybia. But after the French started bombing, Italy had to follow because of its NATO commitments but felt undermined.

This was the start of Italy turning against Europe.  It understood that a founding EU member could be hit in its interests by a fellow EU member and the rest of the EU standing by.

Subsequent migration crisis

But worse was to come.  The war in Lybia created a power vacuum and political instability that allowed an uncontrolled migration stream to Italy.  The distance between the Libyan coast and the Italian island of Lampedusa is only 300Km.

While Italy had to deal with waves of migrants from Italy, the other EU members did little to help. In fact, in certain cases, they closed their borders with Italy.  In 2017 Austria closed its borders with Italy (which is not in the EU Schengen Agreement) to stop migrants and refugees from entering.  While France in 2018 entered Italian territory to return migrants that entered Europe from Italy.

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Basically Italians felt that re rest of EU washed its hands and left the problem solely to Italy to solve.  Adding to this there have been volunteers ships from other European countries travelling the Mediterranean between Italy and Africa searching for migrants, picking them up and taking them to the closest Italian port.

Merkel welcomed one million Syrian refugees, and she deserved all the credit she got. But many Italians were not enthused by the fact that while Merkel was getting accolades, she was also able to stop migrants coming from the Balkan region by paying Erdogan in Turkey 6 billion Euros to keep its Syrian and other Middle East refugees.  This was Germany money, but also European money.  Italians saw this as the EU favouring its strongest member while leaving countries such as Italy and Greece to fend for themselves.

Italexit? No it won’t happen

Many anti EU proponents would be delighted if Italy was to exit from the European Union. Even if Italy’s economy is in the doldrums it is still the fourth largest in the EU (and will go to third when the UK leaves).  The exit of a foundation member would be a very hard blow to the EU.  But it won’t happen,

Even if Italy is now on the outer,  getting out from the Union would be disastrous for a faltering economy.  Despite everything the damage which would be caused by an Italexit would be much greater than the issues faced by Italy by staying.

Even in his press conference after the European Elections Matteo Salvini talked about reforming the EU from a body looking after the banks to one looking after the people.  Whether that will be achieved is to be seen, but there was no mention of leaving.

So Italians will do what they have done for eons.  Will complain and go on with their lives the best they can.  But ironically the more Italians get angry with the EU and vote for populist parties, the more Italy will be distanced from the EU.

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How did the A-League vote?


Prime Minister Scott Morrison heads a soccer ball at Manson Park in Bellevue Heights near Adelaide, Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

So the election has been run and won.  Some football fans either will feel gutted that their team, which was the favourite, made the opportunity to win slip away, while others will be elated that their team won despite all the pundits were predicting otherwise.

But if we look at the A-League how the electoral pattern looks?  Here is a totally unscientific analysis.  I am a card carrying lefty and yes, my biases will show in this post (What the heck, this is my blog, I am no journalist and I am not getting paid for this.)

I will be going from north to south following the coast.

Brisbane Roar

Brisbane Roar represents the whole metropolitan area of Brisbane.  Let’s start with Suncorp Stadium which is in the seat of Brisbane.  This must be the only seat representing a city centre which is not left, being held by Trevor Evans by the Liberals.  The ALP which got a small swing of less than 1%.

Lilley was a disaster for the ALP with a primary swing against it of -7.73%.  Not sure whether this seat, which was held by the now retired Wayne Swan will be retained by Labor.  Despite GetUp Dutton held Dickson easily (in fact got a sizeable swing towards him)

Fortunately one of my favourite MPs, Terri Butler held Griffith comfortably. If I had to move to Brisbane I want to live in Bulimba.

Ryan was also retained by the ALP comfortably.  While Moreton has a 2% swing against the ALP, but it was retained by Labor.

The map below shows the swings.  Red towards the ALP and Blue towards the Coalition.

From Nathan Ruser @Nrg8000

Newcastle Jets

The seat of Newcastle remained rock solid ALP where 64% 2PP went to Labor.  Paterson had a strong swing against the ALP of more than 5% (I suspect on UAP preferences) but was able to retain it.  Big swing against the ALP in Shortland as well (again here UAP polled about 4% that would have helped the Coalition, but retained by the ALP.

The unmitigated disaster for the Labor Party was Hunter, the seat held by Joel Fitzgibbon. The ALP had a 2PP -9.71% swing against it and the One Nation had a whopping +21.66 swing towards it with the candidate, Stuart Bond, looking like an MMA fighter.r0_0_2223_1381_w1200_h678_fmax

Central Coast Mariners

Gosford is in the seat of Robertson.  The Liberals retained this seat comfortably with a swing towards it of 3.35%

Sydney FC

Again Sydney is a big place.  So we can start where the Sydney FC offices and Allianz Stadium are in Moore Park which is in the seat of Wentworth.   This of course was Malcolm Turnbull’s seat that was won by the independent Kerryn Phelphs in a by-election but now won back by the Liberals with Dave Sharma.

Apart from that inner Sydney has remained ALP as expected. Sydney, Grayndler (Albo’s seat) stayed with the ALP.  While North Sydney stayed Liberal.  The big shock was Warringah where Tony Abbott lost to the independent Zali Steggall.

Western Sydney Wanderers

Western Sydney has been seen for some time as the place where the elections get won and lost.  Where the battlers are (now called quiet Australians apparently).

In the seat where the stadium is, Parramatta, The ALP retained the seat albeit with a 2PP swing against it of -4.22%.

Then I get into trouble to identify where  ‘Western Sydney; starts or finish.  Mitchell was retained by the Liberals easily. Blaxland stayed Labor.  McMahon held by Chris Bowen stayed Labor but had a substantial swing away of -5.51%.  Disconcertingly One Nation got a swing towards it of 8.22%

Macarthur FC

It is difficult to pinpoint the catchment area of these new teams.  When I hear its proponents it seems to be a bit of a moveable feast.  The new A League team of Macarthur FC is based in Campbelltown which is in the seat of …surprise! Macarthur which was retained by Labor.  Werriwa to the north was also retained by the ALP, while Hume and Hughes by the Liberals. Cunningham stayed with Labor.

Cook, well, of course, is our Prime Minister’s seat.


The story of this election, especially in Sydney is even the wealthy north Sydney suburb swung to the ALP, while the west and the far south to the Coalition.

Sydney2019From Nathan Ruser @Nrg8000

Melbourne Victory

Again Melbourne is a big place.  But if we take AAMI Park and Marvel Stadium as a base it is the City of Melbourne which is in the seat of Melbourne which was easily retained by Adam Bandt of the Greens.

Melbourne City

Melbourne City is based in the northern suburb of Bundoora which is split into three seats, Cooper, Jagajaga and Scullin. All three comfortably retained by the ALP.

Western United

This new team in the A-League has been dubbed ‘Tarneit United’ because of its plans to build a new stadium in what is now an empty paddock in Tarneit west of Melbourne.

Tarneit is in Lalor, a safe Labor seat.  Although this time it got a 2PP -1.89% against it, probably because Clive Palmer’s UAP got +4.71.

Western United sees its footprint all alongside the west of Melbourne, from the sea to the mountains.  It’s a pretty big area.


Gorton is another safe Labor seat but also got a swing against it of 2PP -3.13% But the primaries for the sitting member Brendan O’Connor crashed to a -11.25% again probably because votes went to Clive again (+7.72%) and the independent Jarrod Bingham who got a big swing of +9.47 who is a catcher and relocator of local snakes.  Corio is also a safe seat and got a small swing towards it. Similar for Ballarat.  Corangamite was one of the most marginal seats in Australia and was one of the few (if any?) Labor gains, although it will remain extremely marginal.

One feature of safe ALP seats like Lalor, Gorton and Corio is that Clive Palmer’s UAP party got substantial swings between 4 to 5%, what’s happening there!

In any case, Melbourne has remained fairly Labor which at least was a bit of a consolation for me after the elections’ result.

MelbourneElections2019From Nathan Ruser @Nrg8000

Adelaide United

Cooper Stadium is commonly known as Hindmarsh Stadium because of its location and is located in the seat of Adelaide which was easily retained by Labor, but the Greens got a significant primary swing of more than 5%.

Hindmarsh stayed with the ALP. Sturt remained Liberal, Making stayed ALP.  Boothby stayed Liberal but with its redistribution which gained Glenelg probably got more left votes as it swung to the ALP and Greens.

Overall it seems that Adelaide maintained pretty much the status quo.  There swings to the ALP in seats it already held.

From Nathan Ruser @Nrg8000

Perth Glory

HBF Park is situated in the seat of Perth which is a safe ALP seat.  But overall Perth again shows some traditional Liberal strongholds swinging towards Labor, but not enough to make a difference.

Curtin got a big 2PP swing to the ALP of +5.51% but it remains a safe Liberal seat.  This could be because the Julie Bishop wasn’t running and the voters for the independent Louise Stewart must have given their preferences mainly to Labor.

Stirling remains Liberal, as did Swan (pity that Beazley’s daughter, where her father used to hold this seat hardly made any shift) I am personally pleased that Anne Aly retained Cowan for the ALP, considering all the crap islamophobes threw at her in the past three years.  But is a bit of a bittersweet result as while her 2PP went down by only -0.14%  the islamophobic One Nation primary vote went up by not an insignificant +5.54%


From Nathan Ruser @Nrg8000


Not all areas are represented in this football democracy

One thing that comes out of this analysis is that big important area like Wollongong, Northern Queensland, Tasmania, and of course where our parliament is located, Canberra are not represented. But that is another story.


Canberra United logo by Michael Taylor


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A very Australian election result

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Last Saturday I spent the day planting swamp gums and manna gums in the Koala Reserve in Philip Island  to increase their habitat and in an attempt (perhaps futile) to reduce my carbon footprint.

After a hard day of planting our group went to the North Pier pub in Cowes for a meal.  We arrived at ten minutes to six.  The place is huge and was packed.  By the time we got our meals was about ten past six.  We chatted and we waited for dessert.  I was starting to check my phone for early results.  No one else in my group did.  And neither did the 200 patrons or so in that hotel.  The TVs had the Geelong vs Western Bulldogs game on and a Rugby League game I didn’t know who was playing.

Does anyone want to know who was winning?  There were young families, couples on dates, retirees with their parmas and red wine.  It seemed that no one could not care less.  I realised what a politics tragic I was on my twitter, where every poll was eagerly awaited (not anymore probably now) and every raised eyebrow of an ABC journalist invites dozens of comments of anti Labor ABC bias.

I heard the results on the radio on my way home in the car, which made for a depressing car trip.

So now of course there is the usual post election analysis. Labor was too left, the mainstream media was was totally against the ALP, the agenda was too ambitious, no one liked Shorten etc. etc.

So what do I think?

The ALP was good in attack but it left the defence too open

As people here would know I love foottball (aka soccer) and to use a football analogy the players of the ALP team were good, but the tactics were naive.

As an ALP supporter I thought that they had the better team, but they were outnumbered in the sense that they had a very overtly hostile media in the form of News Ltd. and the other media didn’t really challenge this narrative in the fear of looking biased.

So the ALP went to the attack with big policies, thinking that scoring goals were all they had to do. The franking credits, electric cars etc.  This meant that the opposition was able to counterattack easily and they scored the goals instead.

As many said this was similar to 1993 when Hewson went to an election that the Liberals were confident to win so they could put forward a bold agenda and they lost.

Australians haven’t become rabid racist right wingers.

There has been lots of nonsense on twitter that because of the result Australians are some horrible species of people.

This sort of stuff makes me want to disown my side of politics.  I think Australians have a gut feel of who could govern OK for the next three years and the majority thought that this time the status quo was a better options.  Winning government from opposition in Australia is always hard.  Since the Chiefly Labor government in 1946 only three Labor opposition leaders achieved it: Whitlam, Hawke and Rudd.

I know that swinging voters can change quickly, and mostly not because of ideological reasons.  Howard was seen as unassailable, hailed as someone who would govern into the future with his battlers and not only he lost an election but his seat too.

Even in Queensland, this state so maligned by us lefties, in 2012 Campbell Newman won won 78 seats against only seven for Labor. Commentators were thinking that with such massive majority Labor would never see government for decades.  In 2015 Annastacia Palaszczuk formed government.

And lets also stop asserting ‘Australians this…Australians that…’ like every single Australian supported the winning party.  In any elections most voters are split in the middle.  As I write the 2 party preferred vote is 50.92% for the Coalition and 49.08% for Labor. That means that the difference is 1.84%, hardly a figure to state that Australians were enthusiastically behind Scott Morrison and his government.

A very Australian result

Reading twitter I see a lot of ‘I despair of what Australia has become’.  I think that Australia has become nothing.  The result was a very standard typical one.  Where voters were unsure of the ALP financial plans and went for the devil they knew.

This has happened before for both parties.  In 1977 the Liberals ran advertisements with the slogan “fistful of dollars”   And in 1987 the ALP ran the “Whinging Wendy” scare campaign.

So nothing new.  The result was very much based on the hip pocket nerve.  Something both parties have exploited and most likely will continue to do so.

Lesson one.  Don’t rely on auspol twitter, or newspaper polls.

Again twitter is full of speculation and opinions.  I am hesitant to explain my views there.  My frustration with left Twitter (which are the people who are on my side) was that many were in a bubble.  Even if Newspoll constantly had Labor ahead, even a small shift away from the ALP was met with ‘bullshit’ or ‘it’s Murdoch poll’ etc.  The absolute refusal to think that the coalition may win.  I felt irritated by these comments.  Firstly because even if they were from my side I found them arrogant.  But also because (and that may be because of my age) I’ve seen a few ‘dead cert’ elections that were lost. Hewson in 1993 or  Beazley in 2001 (and the trend away from the ALP started before Tampa).  And I fear that the bubble still remains.  Especially regarding the next ALP leader.

What next?

Much soul searching will be done by Labor over the next few months.  Comments say that it has moved too much to the left.  Ans this was echoed by some MPs like Fitzgibbon that should know better.  Last time the ALP had a leader that said things like that was Mark Latham and we have all seen how that has turned out.

Trying to occupy the areas now covered by the Coalition is a sure way to stay in opposition.  Why vote for a copy when they can have the real thing?

Certainly, the ALP needs to go out there and canvas ideas for new policies.  I haven’t been an ALP member for 19 years now, but I remember the ALP had a great network of branches that could organised policy forums open to everyone where ideas could be raised and then recorded to form policy.

Another area that the ALP should do better is in regional areas.  While normally regional voters do not vote ALP this does not mean that they should be disregarded.  I think this is important for three reasons.  Firstly because regional Australia is vital for the country full stop.  Second because even if the ALP may not get votes in the country, looking after regional areas resonate elsewhere, especially in the outer suburban areas. And thirdly becaue being seen to care about regional Australia may (and I stress may) suppress some of the right wing small parties protest vote.

Hawke had a great minister of primary industry in John Kerin. Landcare was a watershed reform where environmental conservation and agricultural sustainability went hand in hand.

The problems are there.The ALP needs to take the initiative

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The ALP used to have ‘Country conferences’. Not sure if they still exist.  But they again would be a really useful resource to hear what people in regional Australia needs and create appropriate policy.

Who’s next?

Talking about auspol left twitter the debate is who should be the next leader.  I am very hesitant to put my views there, because twitter is an awful place to put forward and argument.  So let’s put the cards on the table.  My favourite ALP politician, by far, is Penny Wong, and I believe it would be great for her to be the leader of the opposition.  But I think that she would not be the best leader of the ALP after a loss.  Not because she is gay or an Asian but because we need someone who can come across easily on the media, and I don’t think Wong is there as yet.  The other is Jim Chalmers.  Tick the boxes. Good performer, young, and a Queenslander to boot.  But I really haven’t heard much about him.  And I am sure that if you go to a shopping centre many will say ‘Jim who?’  He is certainly someone for the future.  But not now.

The best is Albanese.  Not because of anything brilliant he has done but he is well known and as far as I know fairly well liked.  He has developed his skills on TV.

I can hear the howls of protest.  “We need a leader with ideas for the country, not someone who is on TV!”.  I bet if we go back to the shopping centre I mentioned before Albo would be the most recognised, and as far as I know well liked.  I know the purist may baulk at this, but we live in this world.

To conclude…

Many Liberals still give Sam Dastyari a hard time, despite he acknowledged that his downfall was totally his fault.  And I think he’s been on the money about the election result:


There isn’t a conspiracy. There just isn’t.

The Labor Party lost the election because the Australian public didn’t like our policies and we ran a poor campaign.

It’s that simple.

So let’s start from that and let’s go forward.

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We Need to Talk About the A-League

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Sam Kerr by Jamie Smed https://flic.kr/p/2dEjCRA

We all heard of Samantha Kerr but I suspect not many of us football fans may have heard of Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr who stated the famous epigram: “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” which translate to “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. If there is one statement characterising what has happened with the FFA in the last few weeks that would pretty much encapsulate it.

Fans that started following football after the advent to the A-League, or after Australia finally started to qualify for the World Cup may be bewildered by what Richard Hinds describes as the ‘Byzantine politics and questionable decision making’ of the FFA.  Some older fans just nod and mumble ‘we know…we know” as we remember the days of Labozzetta and Knopp in the old Soccer Australia.

Football in Australia is in a unique position.  Everyone can see that it is THE global sport but it is not the most popular here.  This creates its own tensions.  There has been a spate of reports about how to deal with this problem child and unleash its potential.

My opinion is that this unique position is what has been hampering its progress for some time.  So if I was going to produce the ‘Tresoldi inquiry into Australian Association Football’ what it would contain?

Institute a reconciliation process

Two very interesting books have come out recently about the history of Association Football in Australia. One was ‘The game that never happened’ by Ian Syson, which detail the struggles soccer had to go through to establish itself as a code in the country against others such as Rugby and Australian Rules.  The other one  was Joe Gorman’s ‘The death and live of Australian Soccer which has a section that deals with the tensions that were created when an influx of migrants came to Australia and in many cases revived soccer but also replaced the predominantly anglo/celtic culture that existed before.

I believe that these tensions, that hark back decades haven’t been resolved, and that football will not progress smoothly until they are.

There are different groups who are discussing how football is located in the Australian sport environment.

Different groups have manoeuvred themselves over the years to grasp control of the sport disregarding others.  The question is, can Australian soccer row the boat together in the same direction?

When I was supporting Carlton SC in the NSL I noticed that there was a hostile attitude from some fans of clubs that originated from NESB  backgrounds.  They saw a club like Carlton as a Trojan horse from the ‘anti-ethnic’ people in Soccer Australia to push their agenda and rejoiced when Carlton disappeared.

In an open system, we need to resolve these scars.  They should not be dismissed, because years of excluding teams which have been created by people who live and breathe football just because they didn’t fit a mainstream ‘Australian’ ideal is hurtful.  But at the same time having this unresolved issue could be toxic in a future open competition.  All football supporters, whether they support a team which was formed with the creation of the A-League, or one built up form the 50’s by European migrants, need to respect each others’ teams and acknowledge their right to play and exist in a new football structure. While the FFA has to openly declare that any lingering ‘old soccer new football’ dictum has to be abandoned and stamped out forever.

Use the ‘Bluestone Lane’ model, not try to be Starbucks

In 2010 ex-AFL footballer Nick Stone moved to New York to work for ANZ.  He noticed that there were no ‘Melbourne style’ cafes.  Cafes that offered the type of coffee we are used in Australia.  He saw a gap in the cafes market. He started ‘Bluestone Lane’ where instead of percolated coffee they served things like piccolo lattes to skinny flat whites together with things like avocado smash – mashed with a touch of feta, and topped with an optional poached egg.

The venture started with one small café in Manhattan in 2013 became a success opening more cafes in New York but also across the USA.

What we see here is that Bluestone Lane has captured a niche that while not as big as the Starbuck at every corner in every USA city is unique, and has been successful.

That could be a model for the A-League.  We don’t need to be the Starbucks of the football codes like the AFL.  We can be the Bluestone Lane, smaller, but successful and offering a product that no one else can offer.  Trying to match the big boys will always be a losing battle in Australia.  Football needs to create its own market space where others would find it difficult to occupy. So how can we do that?

Revisit the PFA’s “5 Pillars” Strategy

Football in Australia has unique advantages that should be utilised.  Back in the dark days of 2002, the PFA put forward a proposal for a new competition called the “Australian Premier League’.  That was made redundant by the advent of the A-League, but there is stuff in there that is relevant today.  One is the ‘5 pillars strategy’ which involves:

  • Quality
  • Atmosphere
  • Community
  • Local brands
  • Visibility

I’ll leave whether the A-League has reached a level of quality to those who are more experts in football than me.  You can only do so much in a very competitive world football environment.  On the issues of atmosphere, community, local brands and visibility are how football in Australia can strategically use its advantages.  While the advent of the A-League has somewhat superceded some of the arguments put forward in the PFA document, some still hold true.  The issue of boutique stadium is currently being raised when it is noticed how much more atmosphere is created when Sydney plays in a venue like Leichhardt Oval.

“It’s promotion and relegation, Jim, but not as we know it”

The big chestnut of Australian football has been the prospect of promotion and relegation in the A-League.

I was unconvinced that it could work in Australia.  But reading arguments for it changed my mind.  The argument that football is after all a pyramid and all the football family should be connected echoes my beliefs in equality and non-discrimination.  But also I came to the conclusion that the only way Australia can reproduce the types of environments which are present in football nations, where kids are introduced to football early is through community teams, and the way these players can achieve is if smaller teams are connected to the top tier.  After all many players from the ‘golden generation’ came from so-called ‘ethnic teams’. That was probably because the culture they grew up in was totally football, like in the country their heritage came from.

However, I do believe that the European model of straight up and down promotion and relegation may not be the most appropriate for Australia for a number of reasons.

The most important one is that we would have to shift from a closed model to an open one, and this needs to be done carefully and gradually.  In many leagues in Europe the promotion and relegation system was established when teams were more or less on a level playing field.  In Australia we have A-League teams which are fully professional and have lots of resources and NPL teams which are semi-professional and don’t have anything like the means of the top tier. That is why there needs to be a process where a promotion and relegation system is more equal.

Advocates of promotion and relegation often mention ‘global standard’ but this standard seems to be achieved by different methods across the world.

The Argentinian model

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One example that Australia could look at is Argentina.  They have a system called Promedios based on the performance over a number of seasons.  Clubs can avoid relegation by having a high coefficient which is calculated by dividing the points achieved in the last four seasons by the number of matches played in the same period.  Teams with the lowest points coefficient at the end of the season are relegated.

Adopting a modified system based on this would be as a way of introducing promotion and relegation in Australia that would initially protect the A-League teams from immediate relegation while still giving the lower teams a shot at it.

Another option, which would be a bit radical is to adopt an ‘Apertura and Clausura’ system.

The A-Aleague and a second division (which would also be subjected to straight promotion and relegation to a lower league) would play each other home and away. At the end the top six teams would play in a final round to eventually reach a grand final.  The bottom six (or whatever) teams would play in playoff rounds with the top 4 teams of the NPL, replacing the current NPL final series.  At the end the top six teams will remain in the A-League and the bottom 4 will remain or be relegated to an NPL.

Going forward

These are some ideas. I am sure there will be better and more experienced heads that can devise a promotion and relegation system that suits the geographical expanse of Australia, the delicate transition from a closed to an open system and having a pyramid that is stable and not prone to topple over.  But as stated before I think we have arrived at a juncture where the benefits an open system in football in Australia will outweigh the risks.

To paraphrase JFK “We choose to have promotion and relegation in Australia not because it is easy, but because it is hard…..because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win…”


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