My new home town Melbourne was abuzz this week with the news that the city had been voted 'most liveable' in the world for the third year running.
Naturally enough, politicians of every party were not slow to claim the credit: the Lord Mayor, the Victorian Premier and the Leader of the Opposition all asserting it was their influence that tipped the balance in Melbourne's favour.
I've always been a bit cynical of any poll which ranks cities in order, since it's all a bit meaningless if you don't have the necessary disposable income to enjoy the benefits any metropolis has to offer.
However, Melbourne was given the cigar according to a number of factors ranging from quality of life, security, amenities and weather.
The weather one is a bit hard to take right at the moment, as Melbourne is struggling to emerge from an extended winter with regular temperatures around zero, fog and brr brr, the unlovely requirement to scrape ice off your car's windscreen on a regular basis.
Having said that, Vienna came in second, so presumably, cold weather isn't always seen as a bad thing. When I was in Vienna, it was, not to put too fine a point on it, Baltic - geographically inaccurate perhaps but otherwise right on the money.
(Admittedly I've only ever been in Vienna once and it was Christmas Eve, but you get my drift.)
No matter, I thought, I'm living in the world's most liveable city, what better reason to go out and enjoy the town.
It is a top place to live, Melbourne, but sometimes you have to be reminded that it is a city and, like every city, it does have its dark side. Such was the case last weekend when, over the course of a few hours, we witnessed a mugging, a petty theft of a backpacker's wallet and passport and a preponderance of street beggars who presumably think the most liveable accolade is something of a joke.
In the last few years, no doubt in accordance with any major towns, the drug of choice (if such a term can be used) of the downtrodden and dispossessed in Melbourne has been 'ice' - methamphetamine - highly addictive, incredibly dangerous and responsible for more than a few street crimes.
So big an issue has it become that the politicians - knee jerk merchants to a man and woman - have decided that responding to the ice problem will be a major platform in the forthcoming state elections.
Not that they've got much of a clue what to do about it.
Daniel Andrews - Labour's man and a bloke who was reputedly the 10th person to be considered for the position after the other nine decided they had better things to do - duly rolled out his plans this week.
'We're getting tough on ice' said Daniel, a toothy bloke who habitually appears in standard Labour issue shabby suit and red tie. Not the most impressive attire, if you want to know the truth.
No doubt advised by a plethora of committees, Daniel is all image and no substance, which would be fine if it wasn't for the fact that his image is so disastrous.
Firstly, in a desperate and totally misguided attempt to appear 'with it' he's taken the ice bucket challenge half a dozen times, seemingly on the basis that the more often he does it, the more people will see what a dick he is.
What's significantly worse however is the fact that he's now alerted the press that he'd now like to be referred to as not 'Daniel' but the more - he thinks - street and trendy 'Danny'. Insert an 'F' rather than a 'D' and you might be getting closer to a more relevant appellation, if you ask me.
Getting tough on ice as far as Fann... I mean Danny is concerned, involves tough sentences for anyone publishing the method of making ice. I'm not sure, because I've never looked, but possibly somebody should tell Danny that there's such a thing as the internet where there are probably as many ice recipes as there are for barbecued pulled pork.
In other words, Dan doesn't have a clue what to do about the problem. But hey, he's a politician. It comes with the territory.
In the Aussie Federal Parliament at the moment, the Government, led by a horrible wee man by the name of Tony Abbott, are having a torrid time passing their latest budget, not least because it's full of swingeing cuts to education, healthcare and everything else that costs a lot but doesn't make a profit.
Even although the odious Tony has a sizeable majority, the balance of power in the upper house - the Senate - is controlled by a bloke called Clive Palmer - a self-made billionaire who fits every single stereotype of the mega successful businessman.
He's fat, he's coarse, he's irredeemably reactionary and he's a total bastard. And that's not just my opinion. It's his.
Clive, who contrived to win a few seats on the basis of proportional representation seems determined to well and truly take the madam out of the democratic system. He's against everything and for nothing other than relaxed tax laws for people who - like him - operate in opencast mining.
In other words, he's only in it for himself and - due to the fact that most people in Australia are well and truly fed up with mainstream politicians like Tony and Danny (and who can blame them) - he's getting away with it.
Cynical? Well yes, but what other conclusion can you reach?
The fact is, Melbourne might be the world's most liveable city. Australia could even be the world's most liveable country.
But I'm pretty sure it's not because of politicians. It's despite them.
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