Back in my Israeli childhood days, one of the snacks I grew up with was called Bissli. The Israeli version of what is classified by English Jo as "crisps", it's made of baked stuff with added flavoring (apparently it was "invented" by mistake when a spaghetti production line overcooked). Back in the good old days, the most popular flavor was the grill one (other classic flavors were falafel, onions and pizza).
I haven't had Bissli for years now; I strongly suspect that by today's standards it would suck. Not because I don't enjoy junk as much as I did, but more because it's rather bland - it's like eating spaghetti that doesn't taste of much.
Anyway, the reason why I came up with this nostalgic story is Kim Beazly, the leader of the Labor party - which makes him the leader of the Australian opposition.
Now, readers of this blog will no that I am not exactly affectionate towards our beloved prime minister, John Howard; if it was up to me, I would gladly send him to spend some time with our troops in Iraq - as long as he won't come back until they do.
The problem is that with the pathetic conduct of politics in Australia, Mr Beazly, who is supposed to stand up and offer a viable opposition, is more like Mr Bissli. Now I'm not saying that because he's fat; at the rate I'm going the day in which you won't be able to tell us apart by weight alone is getting closer and closer. I'm saying this because he lacks flavoring; he doesn't stand up for anything other than popping up whenever Howard does something and saying that this something that Howard did is wrong. He is as attractive to vote for as Bissli.
There are plenty of examples. Even with the stuff he's supposed to have a hard agenda on, such as workplace relations, all you really hear him saying is "I'll cancel everything Howard has done". That's good; but what will you offer instead? The blank expression on your face?
Anyway, this week he and the Labor party said a few things that may change my opinion and nullify his Bissli classification.
First, Labor said that they will abolish temporary protection visas and also abolish the habit of holding refugees off shore. This means that refugees will be able to stay in Australia and live a life here, as opposed to the current situation where they are effectively imprisoned on some remote island; and once they do get to Australia, they will have a future ahead of them.
There is a long way to go further here as far as making Australia a decent country in the way it acts towards refugees, but going against the natural xenophobic attitudes that are so prolific in Australia and heading towards the right thing to do is a good start.
The second thing is what Beazly said to counter Howard's suggestion that Australia should go nuclear in 10 years in order to address global warming. Beazly said, and I fully agree with him on this one, that nuclear is not the way to go and that the future is with the sun - either in solar or wind energy.
Again, there are many problems still with Labor's positions. For a start, Labor is still for uranium mining; does it really matter if Australia uses the uranium or another country with a very respectful record - say China - uses this uranium?
Sarcasm aside, Labor's spoke-person said that a Tasmanian renewable energy plant is suffering and is about to fire 100 workers because of government neglect, claiming that such a thing - a crisis in the industry that on paper should be blooming - would only be possible in Australia, due to Howard's policies. I don't know whether this information is true or not, but I do know this: In Australia we got sun coming out of our asses - for a start, it's been waking us up each morning at 5:00am for a month now - yet we don't use it at all.
All the investments the government is making in nuclear power and in Iraq would do wonders if they were spent instead on buying people Australian made water tanks and Australian made solar heaters. That would obviously not happen under Howard, but there are parts in me that still give Mr Beazly the benefit of doubt in the hope that he could rise up, stand up for something, and do something good for this continent - eventually.
Till then, he's just Bissli to me.