Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

With apologies to Catullus on Aemilius

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-08-25

In all honesty I can’t tell the difference between the stench of corruption from Australia’s Labor and that from the Libs.

The stench of one equals the filth of the other.

Actually, the Libs are probably now the cleaner of the two, for they’re without teeth, while the policy teeth of Labor are twisted and dark, emerging from the cleft tongues of leaders with morning-mouth reek after all-night sessions with the big knobs in town.

Yet they tout themselves ethical, getting nearly all votes, the plaudits of pundits and are never called to task for dirty dealings and broken promises.

Whoever votes for either of the majors is equally capable of believing the gutter press and the media releases of James Hardie.

Actually, the more R-rated imagery of Catullus 97 may better reflect my disgust.


9 Responses to “With apologies to Catullus on Aemilius”

  1. Mick Sutcliffe said

    In all honesty I can’t tell the difference between the stench of corruption from Australia’s Labor and that from the Libs.

    All politicians are corrupt, Dave. That’s why we need to wind back the state to only what we need to protect us physically from each other, and enforce our voluntary mutually-agreed contracts. The state is not capable of doing any more than this, and only a fool would look to politics to solve their problems because, more often than not, a political solution is worse than the problem it supposedly solves.

  2. Dave Bath said

    I’d like to think that it is parties with a chance of power (and central fund-raising systems) that are liable to corruption, but that individual politicians, needing to stand on their individual merits, unprotected by party machines and without a legitimate means of raising political fighting funds, would do better.

    More’s “Utopia” banned for live anyone seeking an elected position… you had to be dragged unwillingly into power. (That’s in line with the “all politicians are corrupt” bit you mentioned, but allows for meritorious administrators).

    But what can we do? I’m tempted to think a modernized “un-election”, an ostracism (see this earlier post) is one of the few ways of destroying the corrupt power of the back room wheelers and dealers. What would be the view of a libertarian such as yourself on having an opportunity to stick-it-up-em in a non-violent way?

  3. dave

    The question of corruption is a really important one. One aspect is that the ruling elite narrowly define it so that selling access visits at $110,000 a pop (as the ALP did during its national conference) is clearly not corrupt, and clearly doesn’t give the appearance of corruption.

    A democratic society, with the right of automatic recall, would change that pretty quickly I would think and hope. But that is a long way off.

    For the Labor Party – a bourgeois workers’ party as Lenin called it – the balance is more bourgeois than workers – this shift has meant a reliance on big business (as well as the trade union biuraucracy) to fund the business that is their politics.

  4. Dave Bath said

    $110 kilobucks????

    So… number of BigBusiness types with the same barrow to push times that figure would be…. lots of incentive!

    Got a link that documents that dollar cost of the temptation? Got a link that tots up the number of BigCarbon types issuing that temptation? That would calculate the total bribe for the Carbon Polluter Rewards Scheme horror.

  5. Dave

    I wrote about this $110,000 on my blog En Passant with John Passant ( It’s a NSW Labor Party initiative called the Business Dialogue. For that money you got access to Ministers and the PM at the recent ALP National Convention as well as on other occasions and with other ALP politicians.

    The article is called "Profiteering political prostitutes" ( and I specifically ask why selling your access as Minister to the highest bidder isn’t corruption (and also an office of profit under the crown)?

  6. Helen said

    Don’t hold back Dave – tell us what you really think :-)

    (I reach similar heights, or depths, of rhetoric when talking about S. Newnham of Vic Labor and his role in state elections!)

  7. Dave Bath said

    Helen@6 said “don’t hold back”

    My guess is you, the esteemed observer from ferrous elevated platforms, know the imagery of the original Catullus 97 (not exactly innocuous verse about little sparrows hopping down the road to Hades, or barf-inducing “vivamus mea lesbia”), and I won’t translate the stronger parts (last time I looked, Google Translate doesn’t do Latin, damn I need it), but here is the last bit.

    quem siqua attingit, non illam posse putemus aegroti culum lingere carnificis

    which kindof translates as (and standing to be corrected severely by SL, who I think channels Catullus’ wry observations in the early parts of her forthcoming [and very forthright] novel):

    the kind of girl who’d reach for this guy would just as easily lick the arse of a diseased executioner

    You can probably see why my homage used James Hardie, killer of many for profit, and the shit they’ve put into media releases.

    There are many thoughts on who Catullus was writing about. In this context, I’ll go with the (second trimvirate) triumvir M. Aemilius Lepidus who happily said to Octavian and Antonius "Yeah, I’ll take titles of office, you go off and take whatever power you want, kill whoever you want, just give me a nice little island to live it up on and I’ll sign whatever policies you send me."… These days, the island would probably be a tax haven and the bottles of Lepidus would be nest eggs of ex-legislators.

    And btw: Some more innocent people are confused by Catullus wanting Aemilius to be sent to jail and the donkey, thinking Catullus, with poor grammar, meant that Aemilius should do the work of the donkey that drove them millstone. I certainly toned the desired punishment down from what I think Catullus really meant – just as he said it…. although it might be poetic justice for the party hacks who pimp policy, given what they’ve done to the country.

  8. […] Latin poem, my near-just-changing-the-names and toning-down-of-obscenities in the post "With apologies to Catullus on Aemilius" (2009-08-25) is likely to get less and less of a joke as time passes, and the more exact […]

  9. […] "With apologies to Catullus on Aemilius" (2009-08-25).  I was being kind.  Every ALP MP is an Aemilius-fondler. […]

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