Got access to a photocopier in London?

The Australian federal election is coming up and this time around I'm not in London to coordinate for The Greens when the 20,000 or so people vote at Australia House in London. Instead we've got the very dedicated Michelle doing it. However, she's having the perennial "no budget" problem and is trying to find people willing to photocopy the How To Vote brochures that will be handed out.

So do you have access to a photocopier and are able to do some bulk copying for us? If so, get in touch.

Alternatively, if you'd like to make a donation to cover it, or volunteer to help out handing out the How To Votes, also get in touch.

Who's this Liberty and Democracy Party?

So anyone got any details of this new Liberty & Democracy Party? They push themselves as libertarians, but that often tends to start sounding like LaRouche nutjobism. So do these people talk about vast global Jewish conspiracies or are they, as they claim to be, classical liberals into small government? Their policies on drugs (legalise) would tend to be the opposite of LaRouche.

I always find the libertarian outlook fascinating. Libertarians and anarchists, to my mind, seem to have arrived at the same place from different starting points. Anarchists start out thinking individuals are generally good but governments and authority are bad. Libertarians start out thinking individuals are out for nobody but themselves and governments and authority are bad. They both end up with basically the same view, except that anarchists tend to believe that people can voluntarily work together (syndicate) while libertarians want big fences around their property backed up by big guns to protect their stuff.

I doubt this new party will do well. Australians aren't actually that averse to taxation. Poll after poll shows that we'd prefer better public hospitals and schools, in preference to tax cuts. We also don't have the critical mass of UFO-spotting, UN-helicopter-fearing, gun-polishing indvidualist nutters that you get in the US.

Parties should show their commitment

Glen Turner has good things to say about political parties showing their comittment to a cause. Why aren't they out there building houses, paying doctors' bills, rather than just promising to use our money to do it?

In some parts of the world that's exactly how parties build their power base. Both Hamas and Fatah have social services at the heart of their power base in Palestine. Ditto Hezbullah in Lebanon. Many political movements based around the poor and the left in Europe and South America work this way.

But what services would a political party supply to gain the support they need from the swinging, debt-laden middle classes? Help pay their mortgages? A Labor or Liberal childcare centre? Not sure I'd trust my offspring to those bastards though -- these are the kind of people where you'd count your fingers after shaking their hands.

Howard: the grumpy old codger

I didn't see last night's "debate" (how can you have a debatge when they agree on almost everything?) as we went to see the absolutely amazing Control, about the life of Ian Curtis of Joy Division. The consensus on the "debate" seems to be a Rudd win, with Howard coming across as even more an out-of-touch codger.

The rodent really has been starting to sound like the grumpy old codger in the corner. You almost expect him to come out with:

You kids never had it so good. Back in my day when there was a Labor government, we used to have to steal loaves of bread from union thugs so we'd have something to eat. But we was happy.

Crikey: I won't be renewing

I just got my renewal notice for Crikey, a daily email newsletter about Australian politics. I won't be renewing, even though there's an election coming up.

My main problem with Crikey is Christian Kerr, a member of the Canberra Press Gallery and right-wing ideologue. Crikey was started by Tories, so it's not surprising that most of its contributors tend to have fairly right-wing points of view, and that can be useful stuff to see things from another perspective.

What annoys me about Kerr is that, in between often quite incisive reporting and commentary, he feels the need to drop outrageous green and left baiting crap. It's the kind of thing you expect from the ideologues of the tabloids and talkback, like Piers Ackerman and Andrew Bolt. They write this kind of shit just to provoke a reaction. The more angry letters to the editor the better.

I signed up to Crikey so I didn't have to read crap like that. It's why I read The Guardian instead of the local weekend papers.

If Crikey is going to measure its commentators' success by the reaction they receive, which can really be the only reason they tolerate this shit from Kerr and the only reason they keep David Flint on the roster, it's not the publication for me.

GetUp buys ad space on the AFL Grand Final

Australia has four popular "football" codes, most of which involve more hand than feet, but the most popular nationally is Aussie Rules. It's a very strange game for anyone who hasn't seen it before, but it's massively popular. This Saturday is the Grand Final of the biggest Aussie Rules competition, AFL.

A political group loosely modelled on in the US has been working hard in Australia for the last year or two to get and keep progressive issues on the political agenda. Their latest project is to air a brilliant spoof of the government's "climate clever" taxpayer-funded propaganda ads.

Importantly, the ad has high production values, is clever and amusing, while still very clearly making the point. It's not affiliated with any political party, which is important for my support and differentiates it from MoveOn. Interestingly, the local TV companies have had no problem accepting and running the ads, so far. In the US, the equivalent sporting event regularly rejects non-mainstream advocacy ads.

GetUp! are still accepting donations for this campaign, to try and get the ads as widely on Australian TV as possible. Get in there and donate!

At the very least, watch the spoof ad. If you've watched Austrlian commercial television at all in the last month, chances are you've seen the ad they're spoofing. It's quite incredible at the moment -- the government is shamelessly using taxpayer money to carpet bomb the electorate with advertising. Every single ad break has a government ad.

Raise the bar

NSW has retarded liquor licensing laws. You can drink all day and all night in venues that don't serve food, but you can't order a glass of wine to drink with your meal in most restaurants. Contrast with cities in civilized parts of the world where you can drink in groovy little bars, all restaurants. It's just nicer! What's more, you can buy booze alongside your groceries, rather than having to go into another shop.

Why is this? Well a quick search shows that between 1998 and 2006, registered clubs and hotels gave $3,141,754 to the ruling junta in NSW, the ALP, and $1,171,062 to the nominal opposition. Money well spent when you consider the enormous profits being made by the liquor retail monopolies!

A campaign is gradually forming to fix this. Raise the Bar invites you to send your MP a drink to let them know you'd also like small, funky bars rather than pokie-infested beer barns.

Anonymous policing

Surprise surprise, coppers taking their identification badges off during the APEC summit won't be punished. Supposedly they'll have velcro name tags in future. I'll believe that when I see it!

The same complaint, and the same excuse, was made during the inquiry into the Freequency police riot and the badges have been redesigned several times since then. It almost makes you think they don't want to fix the "problem".