Schoolyard politics

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One can imagine what the school grounds of Nambour State High School would have been like in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

On one side of the playground, there’s a bloke called Kevin. Kevin’s that kid who knows another language, refers to himself in the third person and knows more about Chinese traditions that Jimmy Chan over on the quadrangle.

Kevin’s struggling for popularity and acceptance, mainly because he asked his geography teacher for a “fair shake of the sauce bottle” during a pop quiz.

On the other side of the playground, there’s Wayne. He’s started a side-business lending pencils and pens for a small fee, and calls by the pay phone every lunch time in case someone has left some loose change in the bottom.

After all, you never know how tight money may be in the future and when those few cents will be important. Tough talking, he is the Nelson Munce (‘The Simpsons’) of his time, pointing at anyone who gets in trouble and proudly delivering a “ha ha”.

He considers putting “I told you so” as his favourite quote in the year book. Fast forward 40 or so years, and not much has changed.

Kevin speaks Chinese to the bloke who runs the local take away (who was born down the road in Blacktown in 1978), checks his frequent flyer balance before he brushes his teeth in the morning and still can’t quite fit in with his classmates.

As for Wayne, he can be found on a Sunday afternoon digging deep into the back of the lounge, hopeful of scoring a few lazy coins that have slipped out of his guests’ pockets. He remains the only person to be competitive over ‘Deal or no Deal’, constantly calculating odds and percentages during the ad breaks and blasting contestants with his classic “I told you so” when they fall in a heap.

Yes, both Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan are graduates of Nambour State High School, though from what I can see the school doesn’t promote that fact on its website.

Probably a smart choice.

It’s been a busy week in Kevin and Wayne’s world. On Tuesday, Kevin Rudd launched a competition to find a designer for his next election campaign T-shirt.

There’s no money or product on offer to the winner, just “never-ending appreciation”.

I don’t want to know what the runner-up gets.

As for Wayne, he was busy adding up all those coins he’d collected over the years, just so he could deliver the words “I told you so” in the same sentence as “budget surplus”.

Problem is that we again headed off-topic, for two reasons. Firstly, because of an arrogant line from Mr Swan about cots and prams and secondly because of Labor and the media’s fascination about Tony Abbott’s feelings towards women.

In cutting the baby bonus from $5,000 to $3,000 for the second and third child to help him look like a hero in the bigger picture, Mr Swan said that the extra cash was not needed because a cot and pram bought for a first child did not have to be bought again for subsequent children.

Tony Abbott was 100 per cent right in questioning Mr Swan’s reasoning, saying one child often is still in the cot when the second one comes along.

Or, of course, there’s the chance that the second one wasn’t expected, or maybe parents simply don’t want to subscribe to Mr Swan’s “hand me down to the value of $2,000” theory. I challenge Mr Swan to show us the report that shows the costs are $2,000 less for second and third time parents.

As for Mr Abbott, his line “I think if the Government was a bit more experienced in this area, they wouldn’t come out with glib lines like that” prompted some to question if he was referring to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s lack of children.

Ms Gillard herself said: “Well I think Mr Abbott can explain what he meant by that line”.

What he meant, Ms Gillard, was that he believes Labor doesn’t understand the pressures Australian families are facing, hence his concerns over funding cuts.

Perhaps his mind was wandering to power price increases, the carbon tax, the education revolution and pink batts when he was considering whether or not Labor was on the money.

As for Labor, and some journalists, attempting to twist every Abbott line into something it’s not, a simple message: get over it. Wayne Swan said on Tuesday that the Opposition was “all over the place”.

We have a Treasurer who thinks the more children you have, the less it costs.

It is you, Mr Swan, who is all over the place.

One wonders if our Pollies ever really left the schoolyard.

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