Australia's cave-man conservatives

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The astounding attacks by the Coalition and their supporters on our female prime minister signals our politics is returning to the way of the jungle, writes Rodney E. Lever.

Cartoon character Alley Oop was transported from the Stone Age into the mid-20th century. (Image courtesy Wikipedia.)

AUSTRALIA IS GOING through an era of political turmoil in 2013, unlike anything before.

Even the Whitlam dismissal – unfair but quickly resolved without civil war – has been overshadowed by the astounding internal parliamentary attacks on our prime minister throughout her term.

The attacks on the women serving in the Australian Labor Party are extraordinary in a country which preceded the entire world in giving women the right to vote*. It’s not as if there are many more women in the Government than there are in the Opposition.

Don’t we understand that without women there would be no men?

When we abuse them, rape them, or humiliate them, we are signalling a return to the jungle; to the days when the comic cartoon cave-manAlley Oop went out with his huge cudgel and dragged some woman by the hair to his cave — and it was seen to be funny.

How often have we seen women murdered by spouses or strangers? These almost daily events somewhere in this vast country are always horrifying and symptomatic of a return to the jungle.

Tony Abbott has a wife and daughters, but he seems unable to treat Julia Gillard or her female cabinet members with what we used to call good manners. There has to be something wrong with his psyche when he seems unable to relate to his political opponents without an abrasive manner that smacks of bullying or wife bashing.

It leaves the prime minister with no alternative but to express her own anger which she always manages to do with remarkable self-control.

Thus we have a typical phobic domestic argument raging in the parliament at a time when the country needs leadership on major issues, all introduced by the same prime minister and all needing completion in the next parliamentary term.

I have used the word “phobic” in its clinical psychological sense as a kind of anxiety disorder that causes irrational and unreasonable anger.

Julia’s rival within the party, Kevin Rudd, is acting strangely now. He was happy four years ago as prime minister to have Julia at his elbow as a useful deputy in his mini-cabinet. The party saw her as the member best capable of cleaning up the mess into which he had led the party. The party decided that Julia would make a better leader and Kevin skulked off to the back bench, sulking. If they go back to him again, Labor will be a national joke forever.

It's like a homemade steel trap about to snap shut on the very people who set it.

Meanwhile, Kevin is playing a game of hide and seek, also known as “will I or won’t I”.

Put another way he sees the numbers within his grasp, but he wants the rest of Julia’s front bench, specially the key women, to vote for him too.

These games have no parallel in this nation’s political history.

The voters are confused. Great plans for the future, including the education of our next generation, and the nation’s urgently needed National Broadcasting Network are left dangling in the air.

For God’s sake let’s get it sorted!

* As a self-governing British colony, New Zealand granted women the right to vote in 1893, however Australia was the first nation to grant women the vote — a year after Federation in 1902. South Australia, in 1895, was the first colony or nation to permit women to stand for public office. Read more about women's suffrage here.

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