Playing to win

I ENJOYED and agreed with much of John McTernan’s article on Australian politics (Perspective, 9 August). However, there are a couple of points I would make in addition.

He says you should be in politics to win, but the question is why do you want to win? Too often, politicians in Australia and the UK seem to want to win power for the sake of being in power and to look after their own interests.

To be fair to Julia Gillard, who John worked for, she actually got quite a few decent measures through parliament, even without a majority.

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The second omission in the article is the role of the Murdoch press in Australia. Rupert Murdoch owns most of the important newspapers there and uses them ruthlessly to make and break politicians, as he does in Britain.

His biggest-selling newspaper began the current election campaign with a front-page headline: “Let’s get rid of this mob!”

Of course, McTernan, as he admits, also worked for Tony Blair, so he knows how much Blair and Gordon Brown courted Murdoch, and perhaps this is why he did not mention Murdoch’s influence?

Finally, I do very much agree with him about the level of abuse in the Australian parliament.

I was a member of the Australian parliament delegation from the European Parliament and spoke out in support of Aboriginal rights. I was sitting in the distinguished visitors’ section of the Australian parliament and was somewhat surprised to be personally attacked by deputy prime minister Tim Fisher for daring to interfere in Australian business.

I met him later at a reception and he said: “I hope you didn’t mind, Hugh, it was just politics.”

Hugh Kerr