Life of Riley: Who's ruling who?

June 21, 1995

Who's ruling who?

By Dave Riley

Perhaps you have wondered what separates the major political parties, one from the other. "A cigarette paper", I hear a cynic say. "Class", yells someone more hopeful.

Perhaps, at the end of polling day, they're both the same. It's not a question of degree, just a simple fact — there is no lesser evil.

Stuck with them in these terrible times, maybe we should make the best of a bad job and try real hard to distinguish one party from its rival. Maybe there is some little thing that makes one just a bit different — and dare I say it, "better" — than the other.

We won't find it in economic or foreign policy, nor is it evident in environmental issues. Both dress smartly, shower regularly, use underarm deodorant and have never been caught breaking wind in public. They seem equally committed to clean underwear and dental hygiene.

Just when we are ready to forgo our quest and give up in frustration, at that moment when life seems so much harder and the future bleaker than it did before, into our hard and empty lives steps the republic.

Admit it. This is something you did not expect. Maybe you were banking on a guarantee of more jobs and better social welfare. Wish again. A republic will have to do.

So what separates the major political parties from each other? You guessed it — the monarchy. One's agin it. The other's indecision is final.

Now we're getting to the nitty gritty. It's like the changing of the guard. "Sorry Bill, we have to let you go. You and Dallas have had a good innings in the vice regal role, so be a sport and accept the redundancy package."

Maybe I missed something, but what's in it for me? To ensure fairness, shouldn't the new position be advertised widely so we could all have a crack at it? Let's see it pinned on the board at my local CES: "PRESIDENT. Temp to Perm. Canberra. Not every day does a challenge like this present itself. Variety is the key to this newly created position. You will handle all front office reception duties, be a self starter, have excellent communication, presentation and telephone skills, have sound knowledge of constitutional procedures and the ability to work as part of large corporate team with international interests. Remuneration package is exceedingly generous. If you feel you have the qualities and the commitment we are looking for, please forward your resume without delay."

Is that all there is to it — swapping Bill Hayden for someone else? If one party wants to beg to differ from the other, they'll have to differ better than they're doing now. Golly. That's not a republic! Where's the blood and the barricades? For the sake of form, we deserve at least a few martyrs.

Maybe if the people were to depose the queen, change the government, and settle a republic by their own rules ...

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