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No more Royal Commission show trials – We need the politics of positiveness.

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I haven’t written much about politics in my blog. Basically because there so much of it about and I really haven’t anything original that can contribute to the debate. Especially if it comes form professional political analysts.

However there is one thing that I feel compelled to say. This refers to the Royal Commission into Trade Unions. There is no question that it is politically motivated Royal Commission created by this government to inflict political damage to the Labor Party and the labour movement as a whole. Many commentators have said so, even though they can’t resist amplifying the damage nevertheless in their approach to the story.

Overall I am in agreement with what Kristina Keneally has said on the whole matter.

But I also have to say that I am not a big fan of Shorten either. There is a great article by Jeff Sparrow that explains much better that I could my opinions about the opposition leader.

The royal commission’s an obvious political stunt, a manoeuvre designed to generate footage of yet another Labor leader grilled by lawyers in a courtroom setting. Will it damage Shorten’s political standing? Who knows.

He certainly came across as an uninspiring and slightly shifty bureaucrat, concerned more about his ambitions than anything else – but, then again, that’s pretty much the persona with which we’re familiar from his parliamentary career.

I think many of us hope for a Shorten’s win just to get rid of Abbott. But it is an uninspiring choice.  And the current ‘me too’ positions on things such as asylum seekers, the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill, and even voting against protecting the Liverpool Plains doesn’t give much sense of a different vision.

The ALP is now for same sex marriage but that position has arrived when they realised that many in the government were of the same opinion and I suspect are now using this to maximise the discomfort of the Government.

And this is where the political discourse has got to.  There’s no need for me to write a about the disenchantment in the electorate feels at the moment.  Waleed Ali has written about it a couple of days ago and he explains it much better than I could.

What I want to say is that when the ALP returns to government (may not be next election though) it should resist the temptation to set up its own ‘Royal Commission’ as a revenge act.  Kim Carr has already flagged that this may be the case.

This came from a statement  on the ABC’s PM program.

KIM CARR: One can only wonder where it leads Australia? We are turning a very dark corner here when it comes to the use of state power in an attempt to silence political opponents.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Senator Kim Carr indicated Labor may seek payback.

KIM CARR: The Labor Party, when it returns to office, will be under incredible pressure to respond to this precedent. It is the sort of issue that would make a very good royal commission, such as inquiries into how the Liberal Party funds its operations. Its fundraising arm has of course been subject to considerable attention in recent times, particularly with its links with the mafia, and I can see a circumstance where a Labor government would be under pressure to respond to the precedent that Mr Abbott has set with his royal commission.

Under pressure?  From whom?  I am sure that Labor supporters would love to see high level officials squirm and be under pressure as they have done to Rudd, Gillard and Shorten.  But I would urge the ALP to resist this tit for tat.

Mahatma Ghandi is attributed to have said “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”.  It is time to raise the politics away from the negativity that it find itself into.

The politics is so negative, so imbued with the narrative of threat of fear that it casts a pall over the whole Australian society.

Instead of looking at challenges with an outlook that we can deal with them, intelligently and capably and positively we are all stuck in this negative swamp.

It’s time to get out of the swamp.  Forget getting back to the Liberals about their Trade Union Royal Commission.  It’s time to see ourselves as a successful positive society that thrives of knowledge, ability and compassion rather than being cajoled into fear and inaction and anger by a narrative wanting us to be there for their political advantage.

Someone already faced an incumbent leader who was using fear and war to win power.  He won by offering positiveness and hope.  It can be done.

2008-10-11-BarackisHope

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Gough Whitlam – a vision of my Australia

National_Tally_Room_1974

 


The 29th of June 1974 was the day a Qantas 747 landed in Sydney, and me in my new country. I didn’t know who was the Prime Minister, what were the parties, how the Australian political system worked. Unbeknown to me I happened to land in Australia two years after a Labor government came to power after almost 30 years of conservative rule, and that that government was forced to another election just a month or so before my arrival.

To understand the political system of Australia wasn’t on top of my priorities. A new country, a new language, a new school were things that occupied my 13 year old mind. I watched this figure on the news but could not understand the commentary, but I figured out that he must have been important.

As time progressed and started to understand a bit more I could read big headlines on the paper, and talked about Khemlani and I also remember the kerfuffle about Julie Morosi and Jim Cairns. My father who was a convinced assimilationist was determined to be like everyone else. He was a business migrant, he was to set up a factory and be the general manager. No Italian Leichhardt for him. It was the leafy staunch middle class northern suburbs of Sydney, with a house and a pool.

Naturally everyone around us was a true blue Liberal and hated Gough Whitlam guts. Of course it would have been different if we did venture to Leichhardt, but my father was determined to mix with the locals, so our impression was that Whitlam was very unpopular. I did have a sense that he was blamed for things that he didn’t have much control about. Coming from Italy and Europe reeling in economic crisis after the OPEC oil shocks I knew that the relatively high inflation and unemployment had a global cause. This gave me the first taste of an Australian sense of isolation. That the causes were not just from here. Something that fortunately seems to have changed in the 80’s.

But I guess after years of low inflation and low unemployment Whitlam got blamed for it. This piece of bad luck was recognised by many while remembering Whitlam’s government this week.

On the 11th of November 1975 I was in 3rd form (as year 8 was called then) at Crows Nest Boys High School, and I think I sensed something important happened when I saw the screaming headlines of ‘The Sun’ as I was waiting for a bus in Miller St in front of the Newsagent near Ridge St in North Sydney. I was unmoved. I failed to grasp the significance of the event in Australian politics, and coming from Italy where governments were falling all the time I didn’t see what the fuss was about.

Only afterwards, as my Australian political awareness grew I started to realise how important this man was. Apart from the social justice, I realised how his government went out of his way to make people like me welcome. I heard the notion of multiculturalism, and saw Whitlam attending functions of ethnic groups and this made me feel welcome. A big difference from the ‘Team Australia’ of today. The unsavoury nature of Al Grassby is now known. But back then I saw this colourful character who was on my side, and he did introduce important changes. By the 1977, even if I was too young to vote, I was firmly on his side.

But personally the passing of Gough Whitlam means that another important aspect of my ‘first Australia’ has gone. As many at my age look back at their childhood and youth with fondness, forgetting the bad bits. My life between 1974 and 1977 was alienating, lonely and sad, but it had the potential of the future, something that diminishes faster and faster as you get older.

And I sense that in the words used to remember Gough Whitlam echoed this sense of loss. Not only of the man, but also of the optimism and the potential of the future that he represented. As I was young I knew that despite the bad times, I had the potential of the future, to shape my life. Whitlam did the same with Australia.

Even conservative politicians and commentators mentioned this fact this week. Whitlam liberated Australia, from the fear of the outside. It told people that it could control its future and destiny. I feel this continued after his government. Fraser and of course the Hawke-Keating governments continued this trend.

For me, this Australia came to an end on 24 August 2001. It took a container ship which rescued a few asylum seekers, an opportunistic Prime Minister to rekindle the dormant fear that seems to be part of the Australian psyche. The attack on New York World Trade Centre just a few weeks later completed the process of turning the optimistic and outward looking Australia Whitlam started back into a scared little country.

So maybe as we remember a great visionary man, someone somewhere will be inspired to become a leader and take back Australia to the trajectory first initiated by Edward Gough Whitlam.

 

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Trawling the past. Careful not to slide into a Karl Rove style of politics.

You may remember a movie called ‘The Campaign’ with Will Ferrell. It didn’t set the world on fire, but it had its moment in satirising USA politics. One of the main targets was the ‘Karl Rove’ trend to try to take the opponent down on anything remotely that can paint your opponent negatively. In the film, Democratic Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferell) is contesting the election with Marty Huggins (Zach Galfanakis) on the Republican ticket. In one scene, when the two candidates were doing a debate with each other, Marty Huggins pulls out a picture book with drawing made by Brady when he was in 2nd grade which depicts living in ‘Rainbowland’. Huggings then goes on to state how Brady will force people to live in this ‘land’ where people won’t have freedom of choice.

As satire is a bit heavy-handed, but it does make the point that in American politics it seems that anything in your past can be used as a weapon against you. There have been some events in recent years that make me fear we may go down that path as well. People on the left like me rightly bemoan the fact that this budget is lurching Australia towards an American model, and I think that is right. But we have to be careful that in our angst and anger about this budget, we don’t fall in the trap of ‘Americanising’ our politics. Rupert Murdoch and his News Ltd. acolytes has introduced this with his biased reporting on his papers. The relentless pursuit of what Julia Gillard did as a junior lawyer 20 years ago, the fact that she looked like has a relationship with someone who didn’t turn out what she hoped all which turned out to be irrelevant was a glaring example. The fact that other more respectable media such as Fairfax and the ABC picked up the story shows how pernicious this type of stuff is.

But going back even further, university is a place where many people, finally free from the constraints of high school, teachers, parents etc. test new ideas and experiment. When I was in university I joined a Christian Group, something that I would never even dream to do now. Then I was interested in religion, even did a ‘Philosophy of religion’ subject, but later as I grew older I realised that organised religion was not for me. So imagine if I was a politician now trying to stop the School Chaplain program. Would some journo trawl in my records at university in 1980 and perhaps discover that I was a member of a Christian group and have me accused of being a hypocrite in the media and subsequent social media flurry?

This point was eloquently outlined by Waleed Aly in his article today. He states:

What we’re not being asked to conclude is that someone’s position might change over the course of 27 years. Or that the world might have changed sufficiently in that time to make someone feel a change in position is justified. In short, we’re being asked to hold Hockey to an inhuman standard that demands he adopt one position on all things throughout his life irrespective of circumstance….

The idea that they should be embarrassed to have once thought differently, or that this exposes them as partisan hypocrites, merely exposes our political culture as one of confected warfare, where changes of heart are automatic evidence of dishonesty rather than of reflection. We should instead be demanding that our representatives change their views over time. We should expect them to be open to persuasion. And it follows they should have the freedom to be persuaded without attracting some kind of summary judgment for it.

People change. So Greg Hunt wrote a thesis supporting a ‘pollution tax’ to combat climate change. It doesn’t mean that he is bound to be locked in that position forever. And remember when Bolt was trying to link Gillard to ‘a radical far left group’ that she was a member when she was 22?

Regarding Hockey when I commented about this on twitter the majority of the responses stated that he protested against fees, but benefitted from a ‘free’ uni education, and now penalising students. I understand the anger around this (I have to state that my undergraduate and Master degrees were free – but not my librarian Graduate Diploma, where I paid my HECS) but I think to target what Hockey believed and said in 1987 is a bit fo a phurphy. It is what he’s doing and saying now that is what’s important. And if you really want to pinpoint his hypocrisy then, remember when, in an emotional speech, spoke out against the Gillard’s Asylum Seekers bill. However, he fully supported all the Howard Government actions which included shipping people off to Nauru and locking up children. And now he’s quite happy to send them to Cambodia.

People change ideas and opinion. And we can’t say they have seen the light and are enlightened when they come to our position and they are hypocritical and sneaky when they are not.

Let’s not go the American way where the past of politicians are trawled through.

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The dissonance of Mark Textor’s battler strategy exposed by economic reality.

In Australia all major political parties have always to compromise to get the majority of the vote to govern.  Real Coalitions (not the de facto merger with between the Liberal and National parties) are almost unknown, and as we saw with the minority government led by Gillard, Australians in the main are not that comfortable with that concept.  So both the LNP and the ALP try to convince the mythical ‘Western Sydney-type battler’ to vote for them.  And we hear that this voter doesn’t like refugees in boats and loves family based welfare.

This is the type of voter that Mark Textor has honed in.  I won’t go on about what damage this campaign based on fear and selfishness has done in Australian society (others have done this better than I could) but what I want to talk about is how getting this ‘battler vote’ can and has alienated the core of each party.

We know this with the ALP.  The fact that in the past decade the Parliamentary Party has become fixated on polling, focus groups and has descended in matching the Textor inspired strategy in Asylum Seeker demonization has created plenty of angst in the Rank and File. And of course amongst the left progressive electorate the main beneficiary of this has been the Greens.

Textor’s strategy is not that hard or sophisticated.  You only need to read the News Ltd. tabloids to see where it is going.  And I would say that for Textor, the fact that the President of Indonesia is annoyed with Abbott is a plus.  The ‘battler’ may have a stereotypical view of Indonesia and Indonesians.  They are corrupt, we give all this aid money and they should be grateful etc. etc.  Abbott ‘standing up to them’ shows to the ‘battler’ some macho strength, and thus increase the perception of Abbott as a strong leader that shows that he has Australia’s interests at heart.

This was shown in one of Textor’s tweets.

Indonesian junior official criticises Oz Government. 2 things happen: left media gets hard on. Govt gets more domestic support
— Mark Textor (@markatextor) November 11, 2013

The issue is that perhaps the Government may get more domestic support (although today Nielsen hasn’t shown that).  But a continuation of the rift may start to affect the traditional constituency of the Coalition.

This news was in ‘The Age’ today:

The boss of Australia’s biggest live cattle exporter is urging a swift diplomatic resolution to the growing rift between the Abbott government and Indonesia over the phonetapping of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife.
Elders chief executive Malcolm Jackman is hoping the rhetoric between Jakarta and Canberra doesn’t boil over to action on live exports, warning it would have devastating consequences for the Australian industry and Indonesian beef consumers.

And here is where we get the dissonance between the Liberals pandering to simple nationalistic sentiment, and a direct economic impact.  Especially on a section of  people who would be traditional Coalition voters.
One thing is to get the ‘battler’ to be jingoistic with the assistance of the choir masters of the Andrew Bolts and Alan Joneses of this world.  Another is damaging Australia’s economy and negatively impacting an important traditional Coalition constituency.

And this is where Mark Textor’s clever strategy of winning the Battlers’ votes comes crushing down.

I would expect some of the Liberals constituency (and donors) to tell Abbott to pull his fingers out and resolve the issue.  Bugger the ‘battlers’. Money speaks

 

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Why Telstra is publishing Pickering’s disgusting porn?

I am a Telstra customer.  Partly because I have stayed with them as a ‘Government’ organisation when Optus came on the scene (when they were government) and partly because of convenience as they bundle all my bills in one go and Optus when I asked a few years ago didn’t.  The service is fine I have no complaints on that score.

What I do have a complain is their pushing of pro-Liberal propaganda on their site. This is due I think by the fact that the news feed comes from News Ltd. and of course we all know that they are a megaphone for the Coalition.  I decided to change my home page to the soccer page so to avoid the pro-Abbott headlines.

But there was another thing that just caught my attention. That the Bigpond site has started to put cartoons from Larry Pickering.  Pickering was a leading cartoonist in the 70’s.  He was also a bit of a celebrity appearing on TV on shows like ‘The Don Lane Show’ and so on.

He sort of disappeared but he re-emerged recently with a scurrilous anti ALP, and especially anti Gillard facebook page, raising irrelevant aspects of her life because (shock horror) she was in a relationship in her 20s with a Union figure.

Mr. Pickering is of course entitled to his views.  He can also be offensive (as long as staying within the law) and have a mutually onanistic exchange with his Gillard hating coterie on facebook, but when this strays on the public domain then it is a different story.

Now, have a  look at Larry Pickering’s Twitter profile image (careful when you open it, it is certainly not suitable for work) where he manages to be misogynist, sexist and homophobic all at once.  What he drew in that picture is Gillard wearing a dildo.  Let’s leave it as that.  While we can avoid that in our twitter let’s look at the following cartoons which have been published in the ‘Bigpond’ website:

Have you noticed what she’s wearing around her shoulders in the first cartoon? Or what type of ‘baton’ we can see in the second? Or what type of item she is carrying in her bag in the third one?  Yep, I reckon is the infamous ‘dildo’.
Personally, as a Telstra customer I hope that none of my money goes to feed Mr.Pickering’s squalid misogynist titillation of himself and his sad angry miserable followers.  And even if this is not the case I object that my internet provider shows this obnoxious stuff.

Please take it off Telstra, and leave it to the angry white men.

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The Australian is entitled to be anti-Labor (as long as it doesn’t pretend it’s ‘balanced’)

There is a documentary about Justice Murphy which is titled: ‘Mr Neil is entitled to be an agitator‘  which takes its title from the judgement handed down by Justice Murphy in the High Court in favour of a Queensland Aboriginal activist. Mr Neal had been initially convicted and sentenced to two months hard labour for spitting at a white employee of the Department of Aboriginal and Islander Affairs. On appeal to the Queensland Supreme Court, the sentence was increased to six months with hard labour. Mr Neal then appealed to the High Court of Australia and Lionel Murphy was a Justice of that Court.

There has been plenty of arguments against the campaign waged by The Australian against the Labor Government.  During its first term, during the election, during the independents’ deliberations and most likely in the future as part and parcel of the Liberals’ campaign of destabilisation of the Labor minority government.

I referred in an earlier post about this by linking a ripper article by Bernard Keane.  Others in the blogosphere came in the fray.  There was a great piece of sarcasm from Tim Dunlop for instance.  But as long as the criticisms came from bloggers it could be ignored.  However when a reputable mainstream journalist like Laura Tingle stated the same thing (PDF file). Then the shyte really hit the fan.

I won’t go into the responses from ‘The Australian’, basically because Mr Denmore has already done so in one of his posts.

Rupert’s paid poodles are circling the wagons, proving once again that there is nothing more viciously tribal than a News Ltd newsroom.

In an obviously coordinated move, Murdoch’s scribblers sought to ridicule what they clearly had been told to say was a paranoid attack by Fairfax columnist Laura Tingle and the blogosphere over News Ltd’s partisan news coverage.

Geoff Elliott, Mark Day and Caroline Overington sang from the same songsheet, declaring in one way or another that News Ltd was being assailed for doing its job in applying the unflinching scrutiny to the government demanded by its membership of the Fourth Estate.

Personally I have no problems with The Australian being anti-Labor, and being biased towards the Liberals as long as they state clearly that is their editorial line.  There was a big brouhaha when an editorial from The Australian stated that it wanted to ‘destroy the Greens’.  Unlike many left bloggers I thought, great, at last we have a clear statement of what they want, rather than masquerading as impartial  commentators (and thus having their opinions regurgitated by other journalists at the ABC).

I wonder whether there is an Anglosphere tradition that the media has to be seen as ‘balanced and impartial’ even if it is anything of the sort.  News limited is an example.  Not only with ‘The Australian’ but of course with the vociferous right wing outlet in the USA Fox News.  Despite most intelligent viewer from both sides knowing that they are biased towards the conservatives they still have the slogan ‘Fair and balanced’ under their logo.  We are not yet at the “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” “Ignorance is Strength.” level but almost there.

In Italy there seems to be less need to be ‘balanced’ in the way that there are lots of newspapers that state where they stand outright.  So the balance is achieved by maximising the  number of opinions in the printed media.  So we have newspapers from the parties themselves.  L’Unità was founded as official newspaper of the Italian Communist Party and today is linked to the Italian Democratic PartyIl Secolo d’Italia, is the paper of Alleanza Nazionale, which is a conservative Party which was in coalition with Berlusconi.  Then you have papers which while not strictly belonging to a party you know where they come from.  One example is Il Manifesto,  While it calls itself communist, it is not connected to any political party. It was founded as a monthly review in 1969 by a collective of left-wing journalists engaged in the wave of critical thought and activity on the Italian left in that period.  Then you have Il Foglio, a centre-right newspaper, founded in 1996 by the Italian journalist and politician Giuliano Ferrara.

There are other examples.  La Repubblica is centre left, Il Giornale is centre right.  Maybe only newspapers such as Il Corriere della Sera, or La Stampa have any claim to be impartial.

So, The Australian, don’t be afraid.  You are a pro-Liberal, anti-Labor and hate the Greens.  State it on your masthead.  It would be more honest.

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Refugees and Gold Coast Utd. How predictable.

There is a commercial at the moment for Windows 7 where a computer user say something like ‘Microsoft must have heard me because I thought of something and they put it in Windows 7’ or something like that.

Well, I feel somewhat the same about two pieces of news last week. One is the new policy about asylum seekers from the government and the other is the apparent withdrawal of magnate Clive Palmer in his ownership/support of the A-League team, Gold Coast United. That is that these outcomes were predictable as. So let’s start with the more serious topic.

Change in asylum seeker policy.

Over the past months we had plenty of bloggers outlining how Australia is not being swamped by boats, that we haven’t lost control of our borders. We even had respected members of the Press Gallery telling us that that wasn’t the case.

The real fact is that we can try to explain until we are blue in the face the real facts, but logic and facts won’t convince or reassure a reasonable proportion of Australians. Pollytics crunched the numbers of the most recent Morgan poll about migration, and when asked: “Should asylum seekers arriving by boat be allowed to apply for immigration as now, or should they all be returned and told to apply through normal refugee channels?” This was the result.

Results from Morgan poll

Talk about numbers and push factors and many voter’s eyes glase over. People trust their gut feeling and it doesn’t really natter what the real facts are. The fear of boats arriving on our shores is part and parcel of Australia’s genetic make up. It doesn’t matter if they come in a reconditioned eski. Maybe one way to show how minute is the numbers of people coming by boats is to relate to something many who may be wary of people coming by boat can relate to. Stadium attendances.

Burnside made a very pertinent point that at this rate of boat arrivals it would take 30 years to fill the MGC. I made a similar observation by comparing it to an A-League attendance. Now, since 2009, more or less than 5000 people arrived by boat. When I went to watch Melbourne Victory with Seongnam Ilhwa for the Asian Champions League, it was the lowest ever attendance of about 6,500 and Etihad Stadium looked empty. The trains were empty and when the match finished everyone dissipated so quickly I hardly noticed a crowd of any sort. Now this is in a stadium all at once, let alone in a big country like Australia over a period of many months. But unfortunately, as Thomas Keneally I think said that xenophobia in Australia is like malaria. Once you get it you can’t get rid of it. It may lie dormant for a while but prone to re-surface if the conditions are right. This has been proven over history.

No use to tell them that more people ask asylum by flying here. It is the boats that ignite the genetic fear. The illusion is that at least with planes people have to go through some sort of check, there is a filter. Why are those ‘border patrol’ programs on TV so popular? Watching those foreigners being caught with their drugs and illegal foods. A boat arrival signify no control. Signify someone jumping on a boat and landing on Australia’s coast. The concept of being isolated by the hoards to our north by the sea is challenged. It creates panic. Australia is not that separate any more the sea provides a link to those hoards of people waiting to invade us.

And here of course I have to give a big proportion of blame to the Liberal Party. Yes, the ALP of course is also to blame. It was their inaction towards the Tampa episode that made me lapse my ALP membership, but at least they haven’t exploited the boat arrival issue as a major point to score political advantage as the Liberals have. Back in 2001 with their ‘we decide who comes here’ big statement and now with the mantra that the government had lost control of our borders, with 5000 people, what a joke.

But in politics perception is everything and I am sure that the ALP would have seen some issue arising from their polling. Yes because we can be all outraged but the fact that boat arrivals has been so shamelessly used by the opposition and their friends in the media has unfortunately spooked the government.

In a perfect world the government would have stated that the principle of treating desperate human beings is more important than protecting votes from a section of Australians that suffer from xenophobia. In a perfect world an opposition would have recognised that increasing such xenophobia for political point scoring is detrimental to our spirit as a nation. But we don’t live in such world. I was shocked in 2001 when I realised that I wasn’t living in an Australia that I thought I was living in. An Australia that I thought embraced multiculturalism and accepted asylum seekers. An Australia that left the fear of the foreigner behind. Unfortunately it took an opportunistic white picket cricket loving Prime Minister to raise the worst fears of the nation. And since then I am not really surprised about what the Rudd government did. In fact I was surprised that haven’t done it sooner. Sad but I accept now I live in a xenophobic country. I avoid thinking about it too much because it does my head in. Better to think about other things, like football which brings me to my second point.

Gold Coast United demise?

I got a lot of time for the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) despite the fact that I think it is headed by people that are unaware of football particular culture. I do not think we would have been able to qualify for two world cups without them.

Having said that I think they have done some mistakes. One of this was to create a team in the Gold Coast in the first place and second to give the licence to Clive Palmer.

A team is not just a team. It needs to connect to their fans and the community to some extent. Now someone may correct me here, but is there really a connection between the Gold Coast and football? I know that sport administrators become amateur demographers and looks at where the population growth is, but that doesn’t mean that there is a need to rush and create a team. The other mistake is to give the ownership of teams to non-football people who seem to use the team for their plaything or because it looks good on their CV. For me Palmer looked like a really rich person wanting to own something that would make him look good in Asia, with all those deals to sign. Big checkbook, get players like Culina and boast that they will win every match in their first season.

This view is echoed in an article by Robert Craddock in the Courier Mail.

If the Gold Coast folds then it may be resurrected in 2011-12 with a broad-based ownership structure for there would be many lessons learnt from the United collapse.

The first is that for a club to capture the heart of a region it must be seen as something more than a rich man’s toy.

Fans need people feeling as comfortable as if they’re sharing a mate’s tinnie rather than simply having a ride on a millionaire’s yacht.

People need to believe it is their team as much as his team. But with the lowest average crowds in the league – 5392 which was partially the fault of a controversial crowd cap – the project just didn’t capture local hearts.

But it seems no one looked at the fans. Just because there is a team with good players it doesn’t mean people would automatically come and watch it, especially in Australia where Association Football is not the main game. You need to make a connection to the people, make the team meaningful to them. This is something that apparently Central Coast has done very well. I also believe that North Queensland has done this, and despite its financial troubles and poor performance their attendances haven’t been too bad. Also the fact that there is a North Queensland football tradition helps, and that is something that maybe Gold Coast doesn’t have. And that is also why watching the fortunes of the AFL Gold Coast team and the Western Sydney AFL team and A-League team will be interesting.

The Gold Coast has lots of ex-Victorians and I think the AFL team, unlike the A-League one will be a success. Western Sydney has a well established football culture and if the Sydney Rovers are able to tap into that they will be a great success. That is also why I think that the AFL team there will struggle, there is no culture if AFL in that area which is predominantly Association Football and Rugby League. Of course the cashed up AFL will through heaps of resources and maybe after a few years AFL will become part and parcel of sport in western Sydney, but we will have to wait and see.

Same with the Melbourne Hearts. I thought that Melbourne Victory caught most of the people that wanted to follow the A-League in Melbourne. Those who hate the A-League because it’s ‘plastic’ will continue to follow their teams in the State Premier League, and I don’t think they will be following Hearts for the same reason they won’t follow Melbourne Victory.

Sometimes I wonder whether the FFA follows a plant based on numbers and markets. But football is not like selling soap.

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