Public First Program


Shane Elson


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+61-3-5952 5780

+61-4-1349 7828

April 2008 # 1

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Back to Editorials 2008

The Family

Ain’t the Olympics great? All the glitz! All the glamour! The prestige and the glory! Wow! I’m over the moon about the Olympics and really, really wish I could be part of the family. Don’t you? Then again the mafia is often referred to as “The Family”.

These two multinational organisations have many similarities. Lots of hopefuls are groomed for their future places. The never-could-bes are forgotten or rubbed out of the corporate memory. Lots of men in suits have incomes from indeterminate sources and the women are all glamorous and blinged to the max.

Both families are self contained units and occasionally, if they can’t come to a mutually beneficial resolution, will engage in tactics that border on the illegal. The family, like all others, has those that seem to want to go their own way and those that remain loyal, even if it means they look a little ‘slow’. After all, honour before death and all that.

The Family has international connections and meets in secret when it conducts its strategic planning and certainly isn’t above a little graft and corruption to get its way. The Olympic family engages in similar tactics but is funded from the public purse. The Dons of the family do deals and have the power, so it seems, to dictate public policy when their show rolls into town.

However, like The Family, the Olympic family is in dire need of a make over. As its Dons go about their business of making sure business is going well, it seems the proletariat has other ideas and aren’t they getting in the way?

Watching the news the other night I was thinking the English rugby teams should be recruiting from the ranks of the bobbys. Those boys know how to crash tackle! Wham! Another civilian bites the dust. By the time the torch got to France those whoosy froggies got cold feet and left the torch in the bus rather than face the crowds.

These images certainly got me thinking about the games. Nearly all the commentators are saying the games are all about peace and harmony. About spreading the good news of getting on together and demonstrating the triumph of spirit and flesh over time, gravity and opponents.

It seems though, that the rhetoric about peace and love and getting on only applies to those in the family. As for the rest of us, particularly those with a global conscience, we can go jump – preferably out of the way of the torch.

The news the other night also got me thinking about the Rudd apology. While I fully agree that, as a symbolic act, it touched the hearts and souls of thousands, as a guide to what motivates Kevin and the current crop of erstwhile leaders, it was a real as Ray Martins toupee. Looks good on the tele but hides the reality underneath.

You see, I have a problem reconciling the Kevin’s (Rudd and Gosper) utterances regarding harmony and peace and getting on with their refusal to say the words – or something similar to – “China must get out of and stay out of Tibet NOW”. Instead we get mealy mouthed bureaucratise about the need for everyone to have a Bex and a good lie down.

It seems to me, as a total outsider, that the family is concerned more about its own image and protecting its brand than upholding the ideals it espouses. While condemning those who put their bodies on the line for a cause such as human rights, they roll out platitudes such as ‘remember the athletes’ or ‘politics should be left to the politicians’.

All this sounds good but is totally meaningless. Rudd and his ministers are showing their true colours. Their refusal to condemn the Chinese and support, publicly, the Tibetan cause, demonstrates that their hearts lie with business interests and not the “ordinary” people.

If our leader is going to win the hearts and minds of “ordinary” people he needs to show that he is really ‘one of us’. The unfortunate reality is that he is not ‘one of us,’nor does he want to be. A career bureaucrat with a multi-millionaire wife, Kevin, I believe, is now the Alexander Downer of the Labor Party. I think he truly believes that he was born to rule. Born to rule a family business and part of that ruling means doing deals with families from the ‘other side of the river’ – to quote another famous Don.

I encourage anyone and everyone who can to get out when the Olympic flame comes to town and do what you can to show that our family, the family of “ordinary” people is a global family and that when one of us hurts the rest of us hurt with them.

The Olympics can be great again but it will take “ordinary” people to make it so. The games are political and it is politics that can make the lives of “ordinary” people better.

So, good on ya’ if you can make it to Canberra and disrupt the tax payer funded, celebrations of the corrupt Olympic family. We may not prevent the games from going ahead and don’t think that should be the aim. Rather the aim is to discredit, disgrace and shame all whose only interest is fattening their bank accounts while ignoring human rights and the dignity of those who are not part of their family.

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