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Tuesday, 7 September 2010

This unexpected tableau by Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin dating from around 1740 - some 50 years before the French Republic was proclaimed - reveals much about how rabbits have traditionally been valued in Western society. For their meat and not their measure.

It's not a Windsor knot or an Oakeshott but, rather, a Rabbit and Copper Pot - a curious combination of elements hinting unequivocally at the destiny of rabbits everywhere they are found (even on the NSW mid-north coast, I'll wager).

The long-delayed election result, which I viewed on the TV hanging on my dentist's wall after having patiently undergone painless root canal therapy, is less unequivocal. The New Paradigm in Australian politics is still in force. No longer will decisions be made in the party room after more or less deliberation by a group of like-minded individuals, many of whom come from similar backgrounds and whose careers followed similar trajectories.

Parliamentary debate will mean something, now, that it hasn't for some time. It must be stressed that the decision of Bob Katter, the independent from north Queensland who won one of the three crucial seats in the 21 August election, to back the Coalition, is conditional. Likewise for the two other independents - Rob Oakeshott of Lyne and Tony Windsor of New England. They have agreed to allow Julia Gillard to form a government. What else they will allow will depend on the priorities of their constituents and, by extension, country voters throughout the nation. Strangely, the support of two independent members of parliament for the Labor Party may result in greater gains for country Australia than decades of support for toothless National Party representatives.

The situation remains extremely fluid. The wishes of Tony Crook, the Western Australia Nationals member for O'Connor, will again come into play as he will be free - due to the anomalous relationship that exists between the Liberal Party and the National Party in that state - to vote on the cross benches if he wants to.

It may be written by the commentariat in the very near future that the National Broadband Network won the race for Labor. But other things also have come into play, not least the willingness of both NSW independent MPs to talk about global warming as if it really were an issue for government to address. Certainly, Oakeshott supports a decisive push to reduce carbon emissions.

As for Tony Aboott, his days are probably numbered. With support for Kevin Rudd (the prime minister until his removal by his party in June) plumetting in the wake of his abandonment of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, Abbott has much to answer for. Similarly, Gillard must be feeling relieved. Had she not gained the support of the two NSW independent MPs it would have been curtains - if not a pot - sooner rather than later.

Which brings me back to the painting at the top of the post. Readers will notice the colour of the pot. Copper always oxydises, of course, and when it does it turns brown.

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