Political Updates: Isocracy AGM and Wentworth

Main feature of the weekend was the Isocracy Annual General Meeting at the Kathleen Syme Centre with Professor Clinton Fernandes from UNSW speaking on Australia's foreign relations with East Timor and especially the Australia-East Timor spying scandal (the meeting also had a second NSW visitor, John August, a key figure in the Pirate Party of Australia). Clinton was erudite and incredibly sharp as usual and I believe left a good number of those present thoroughly impressed with his knowledge and perception of the supposedly arcane worlds of foreign affairs and spying. From the former the main takeaway message is that democratic governments are much less powerful than private corporations, and as a result to the latter the need to encourage public representatives to protect individuals such as "Witness K" who have pointed out that a conservative government (with corporate bidding) has engaged in activities contrary to international law. The meeting also raised a few hundred dollars for our Syrian correspondent, Om Amran, to help them through the winter months. Prior to the meeting had lunch with Holly C., and Luke M., which is always a pleasure, and afterward we continued discussion a local Syrian cafe.

Whilst the meeting was going on, interstate with the Wentworth by-election, which seems to have been one by independent Kerryn Phelps. I have just written a lengthy (700 word) blog post on the subject, pointing out that the gaffe-prone conservative government of Australia is managing to be annoying everybody they come into contact and were particularly on the nose in Wentworth which is a wealthy, small-l liberal electorate - and one which the party (in its various guises) has won since Federation. The fact that the Liberal Party has lost this is not to be underestimated (it sufficiently impressive that someone has even pulled out an old meme and produced Downfall variant. As a great moment of synchronicity, the Liberal candidate, Dave Sharma, was a legal adviser to former foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer - whilst Australia was conducting the illegal spying operation on Timor-Leste. One can but hope and work towards the possibility that October 20 marks the day of the beginning of the end of Australian conservatives, and likewise the beginning of the end of persecution of those who have pointed out the country's illegal activities against a developing neighbour.

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