Tradition, tradition! Tradition!
Tradition, tradition! Tradition!
Who, pre-poll, must scramble for a donation,
Feed a party and get it re-elected, say her daily prayers?
And who wants the right, as leader of the party,
To have the final word in this country?
The PM, the PM! Tradition.
(With apologies to Fiddler On the Roof)
This is not the real story:
"The controversial property career of Julia Gillard's partner, Tim Mathieson, is in serious doubt as the couple face the possibility of a fishbowl life in the Lodge in Canberra. Senior Labor and business sources say it is unlikely Mr Mathieson will continue to act as a sales consultant with high-profile [Israel lobbyist] Melbourne developer and ALP benefactor Albert Dadon if Labor is victorious on Saturday. A growing consensus in Labor and government is that it would be untenable for the Prime Minister to have a partner in property development - especially one working for a developer who raises funds for Labor and is dependent on state Labor government planning approvals. Last night the Prime Minister's office left open the possibility of Mr Mathieson ending his property career: 'Julia and Tim will be sitting down after the election, considering his options', a spokeswoman said." (Mathieson job on the line, Epstein & Millar, The Age, 19/8/10)
This is the real story:
"The review of Mr Mathieson's employment was confirmed yesterday as it emerged that Ms Gillard attended a pre-election breakfast with the Jewish community at Mr Dadon's Toorak mansion on Sunday. The ALP increasingly regards Mr Dadon as a major conduit to donations, including [!] from the Jewish business community. Some Labor sources described the event as a fundraiser. Others who were there, including prominent ALP fundraiser and Melbourne Ports MP Michael Danby, disagreed. The pre-poll breakfast tradition was begun in the 1950s by clothing industry figure and Gloweave founder Saul Same. Since then Labor leaders have met prominent Jewish community members shortly before each federal election. 'It's really an opportunity for the ALP to sell itself, and then on that basis individuals would choose whether to give [donations] or not', said David Same, Mr Same's son. Mr Dadon told The Age the breakfast was neither a fundraiser nor a party. 'It's not a gathering, obviously you don't know the tradition, there's no need for me to make any comment'. One business source explained that money was not collected at such events but some attendees would later be asked for contributions. Kevin Rudd attended a similar function at Mr Dadon's home before the 2007 poll." (ibid)
Mm... looks like Epstein and Millar's questions ruffled a few of Albert's feathers there. Well, I for one didn't know about the pre-poll breakfast tradition, Albert. It's absolutely fascinating: prior to every election, it's traditional for the Labor Party to pitch to some prominent members of the Jewish community over cornflakes, and, lo and behold, the party coffers are magically replenished.
Albert's ruffled alright: "But Mr Dadon stresses that he makes donations and raises funds for both major parties - 'and the amount is pathetic'. 'I feel really that this whole thing is simply because I'm a Jew and that's what I resent', he told ABC Radio." (news.ninemsn.com.au, 19/8/10)
Poor guy. As a former jazz musician, he might find some consolation in that old number of Nina Simone's. How does it go? "I'm just a soul whose intentions are good/ O Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood."
But back to Julia and the real story. I don't know what her pitch was at the Pre-Poll Breakfast Tradition, but I imagine it must've been along the lines of her pitch to Jewish voters in this week's Australian Jewish News (Labor's support for Israel to continue):
"Australia's relationship with Israel is a unique bond that endures through good times and difficult ones. The long history between our nations provides the foundation for our modern relationship. It is a modern and vibrant relationship between two states that share many fundamental values. One of those is ongoing recognition of Israel's right to defend itself... This year, shortly after I became PM, Mr Netanyahu called me to offer his congratulations. During that call, I assured him that under my leadership, the Australian Government would remain a friend of Israel."
(She goes on to tick off Israel's 60th birthday bash in federal parliament, Albert's Australia-Israel Leadership Forum knees-up in Jerusalem (where she was quite overcome by Shimon Peres' pheromones - "I was struck by his knowledge of Australia and the depth of his judgment after a lifetime of involvement in world affairs") and its follow-up in Melbourne.)
"Like all friends, we may have differences from time to time. That is natural in the complex world of international affairs. When differences occur, we need to manage them carefully. Australia will continue its strong international support for Israel. We share with Israel a recognition of the danger posed to the Middle East by the behaviour of Iran's leadership and the course it is taking. We have introduced some of the strongest economic sanctions against Iran of any country. We remain vigilant to any attempts to target Israel with unbalanced criticism. We will also continue to support a two-state solution to the conflict in the Middle East. Australia's commitment to Israel's sovereign right to exist within secure borders is unshakeable. Only a negotiated solution can provide a just and enduring peace to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. For negotiations to succeed, the support of Israel's neighbours and friends will be essential. Australia wants Israel to be able to enjoy the fruits of a normal existence, within a Middle East that recognises its right to live in peace. As a committed friend, Australia will continue to stand in support of Israel as it seeks peace with security."
(Gillard proceeds to butter up the invitees, and reminds them that her government has already forked over $20 million dollars of taxpayers' money under the Secure Schools Program and will add another $15 million more if re-elected.)
"As Australians, we all have the right to live our lives in security. We have the right to have our beliefs and communities respected by others. Where there is a need for action to protect those rights, we will act. For Australian Labor, our history of support for the State of Israel is an important part of our own party history. I look forward to building on these strong foundations - our history, our shared values and the great strength that the Jewish community brings to Australia - to take our friendship to new heights during the next term of government."
One shudders to imagine how this sick, dysfunctional relationship, sorry "friendship," could possibly be taken "to new heights."
In Labor's Pre-Poll Breakfast Tradition we see the grubby and undignified process whereby an Australian prime minister (one even more vacuous and devoid of principle than the one she ousted) literally hands over her party's Middle East policy to a group of people whose first political allegience is to a foreign, in fact apartheid, state, in exchange for the wherewithal to win power. The case for funding elections from the public purse couldn't be clearer.