‘Recipe for revolution’: Australia divided
OPINION: Frankston is at the tail end of what Victorian political pundits call the sand belt, Melbourne's outer beachside suburbs that start off with the big shiny buckle of Bentleigh and then get progressively more weathered as you trek further away from the city.
Less kind commentators call it Dandenong with a beach.
Having grown up in Dandenong, I always thought Frankston was pretty fancy. Not Frankston North, obviously, but the rest of it at least.
And so it was in Frankston that Premier Daniel Andrews and Opposition Leader Guy Ritchie - sorry, I mean Matthew Guy - faced off for a Sky News debate ahead of Saturday's state election.
The beach is now the battleground that will decide if Labor holds onto power in the People's Republic of Victoria.
The election will be determined by things like jobs (things people do to survive), transport (things people use to get to their jobs), education (things people need to get jobs in the first place) and hospitals (things people need to survive once their lives are broken by the first three things).
Terrorism is also pretty high on the list, given Melbourne was just hit by one lone wolf terror attack and police have just busted another plot that allegedly involved three men planning to kill as many people as they possibly could.
At any rate, these issues matter at elections because these are the things that matter the most to the most people. It's a quaint little Australian convention called "democracy".
Meanwhile in Tasmania - a phrase that will no doubt soon become the title of a podcast - the things that matter are apparently a little different.
There the parliament has been preoccupied by a bizarre law to free parents from the oppressive burden of having to tick a box for their child's gender on his or her or, um, whoever's birth certificate. A law that was just passed in the lower house by a bizarre coalition of Labor, the Greens and the Liberal speaker.
First, let me be clear: I strongly support people being able to choose the gender they feel most comfortable with at the time they feel is right and be free from discrimination - and indeed much of the accompanying legislation to that effect is perfectly sensible.
However I am also pretty sure that the time for a human being to decide their official gender status is not between the ages of zero and six months old. If a child is feeling gender dysmorphia before they even know what gender they are it's a pretty safe bet it's not the child who has the issue.
Frankly, I find the right's accusations of virtue-signalling as tiresome as the act of virtue-signalling itself but it is hard to imagine anything more cripplingly, head-bangingly, moronically virtue-signalling as parents trying to prove their progressive credentials to newborn babies who don't even know what shapes are.
By contrast, the rather more cerebral Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe, whose mantra is to make himself so boring that nobody takes notice, this week observed in his trademark boring way that stagnating wages were tearing our country apart.
"Flat real wages are diminishing our sense of shared prosperity," he said.
"The lack of real wage growth is one of the reasons why some in our community question whether they are benefiting from our economic success."
In other words, the fact that the cost of living keeps going up but our ability to pay for the cost of living has not is creating two Australias: One that is living the high life and one that feels like it is struggling to survive.
We know what happens when countries split along these lines: Trump happens. Brexit happens. Peter Dutton almost happens.
It should be clear to anyone with half a brain that when people are worried about paying their power bills or keeping their homes - worried about simply surviving - it is a recipe for revolution.
And yet time and time again we see the so-called progressive side of politics obsess over idiotic ideological issues that only serve to further isolate working people and drive them into the arms of the populist right.
If a steelworker has just lost their job or a mushroom picker is scared of losing theirs or a soldier needs more support and their leaders say the answer is to believe more in climate change, take in more migrants or make way for a gender-neutral toilet then no wonder modern politics is now having volcanic eruptions all over the West.
That doesn't make these people stupid or racist or transphobic, it just makes them human. People with steady well-paid jobs don't worry about migrants taking them. People who are happy in their own lives don't care about how others live theirs. And people who can afford to feed their families can then afford to worry about the rest of the world.
The great Indigenous leader and former ALP national president Warren Mundine is now set to run as a Liberal candidate in a key federal seat. When asked why on Sky News this week he said that he never really left the Labor Party, the Labor Party left him.
By a bizarre coincidence a tradie who stopped me in the street last week said exactly the same thing. The party of Hawke and Keating, the party of big hearts but hard heads, has all but disappeared.
If Labor wants to reclaim its place at the centre of Australian politics it needs to stop worrying about trendy fops in Fitzroy and trending topics on Twitter. Let what's left of the Greens have them - they will always come back anyway.
Labor was once a great party and it can be again but only if it's run by smart people instead of smart arses and only if it starts talking to workers and stops talking to wankers.
- Joe Hildebrand co-hosts Studio 10, 8.30am weekdays, on Network Ten and is editor-at-large for news.com.au. Continue the conversation @Joe_Hildebrand