Date: Sun Nov 15, 2009 6:52 pm ((PST))
Keane: I'm sick of the CPRS. To hell with you all.
Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane writes:
Welcome back to Parliament for the final time this year. Two more weeks
of this stuff and then we're finished for a summer that already feels
like it's been going a month. That's assuming Anthony Albanese doesn't
keep his colleagues confined here at the end of next week, or even
brings them back for another spell in December.
Wouldn't want all those end-of-year "let's all be best mates" speeches
to get in the way of proper legislative business eh?
The job of a political journalist -- not of course that I would know,
since according to the national broadsheet I'm not a "real journalist",
and strangely proud of it -- is somewhere between theatre critic and
sports commentator. The main tasks of sports commentators are to tell
you who's winning and pretend something exciting is happening when it
isn't. That's where it is closest to political journalism. Media
coverage of politics is always about who's winning and who's losing,
naturally, but the trivial and meaningless are routinely built up into
events of monumental importance simply for the sake of pretending
something significant is happening.
But you also need to appraise the performances of the principal actors
(not to mention the ambitious walk-on players), assessing the
conviction or otherwise with which they utter their lines, paying close
attention to the effect not on professional observers such as oneself,
who to use the immortal phrase "don't know jack", but the hoi polloi in
the cheap seats at the back, from which vantage point scenery-chewing
hammery or mindless repetition may look like the stuff of the Great
Once in a while, we're reminded that this isn't a show or a game that
we're watching. This morning the Prime Minister made an apology to the
"Forgotten Generation" in the Great Hall in Parliament House. He was
followed by Malcolm Turnbull. Both made heart-felt and emotional
speeches, without political polish, the sort of speeches we can point
to when people lament the lack of Australian political oratory. The
tears and smiles and applause of those present who as children were
abused in institutional care show how significant the actions of
government can be, even in simply acknowledging those whose pain was
ignored for so long.
This fortnight also sees some sort of climax in the emissions trading
debate, another issue of more-than-usual gravity.
I don't know about you (no, really, I don't) but I'm utterly over the
CPRS debate. It's been a long road since early last year, when Penny
Wong blithely called the Garnaut Review "one input" into the
Government's consideration, in effect spilling the beans, or giving the
game away, or belling the cat, or whatever cliché takes your fancy. I'm
now sick of emissions trading. Sick of Wong's tedious droning, of Kevin
Rudd's sanctimony, of the Coalition climate denialists who make a
virtue out of their own intellectual and emotional disabilities.
I'm sick of Barnaby Joyce and the National Party, so plum-stupid that
they can't even understand when the National Farmers' Federation tells
them it'd be a good idea to back the scheme. I'm sick of the
rentseekers, the whingers, the sooks and Hookes, who preach the virtues
of the market when it suits them but whose natural posture is of a hand
stuck out, demanding assistance, and assistance in ever greater
quantities, like blackmailers who just keep coming back for more.
And I'm sick of the media and their inability to understand what's
going on or their blatant support of denialists as part of an infantile
ideological game. I'm fed up with ever more iterations of the CPRS that
seek to obliterate, like an artillery shell aimed at an ant, any
skerrick of carbon price signal, which is the only damn point of the
entire exercise beyond the political gamesmanship of Kevin Rudd and
I'm sick, above all, of the vast gap between the farce being played out
before our eyes and the real human and economic consequences of failing
to stop the planet cooking, consequences I probably won't see the worst
of, but which my kids will.
Fortunately they and all the future generations who'll really enjoy the
fruits of our stupidity don't get to vote now.
So I'm giving this elaborate production, this whole, interminable,
mind-numbingly banal show, zero.
Let us hope that decades hence, the descendants of our current MPs -- I
mean their political descendants, not their actual kids, assuming the
major parties don't adopt preselection by hereditary right -- will not
have to stand up in the Great Hall and apologise for it. Apologise to
the people who died of dengue fever or in bushfires, apologise to the
families of the elderly who succumbed to heatwaves. Apologise to the
tourism employees who lost their jobs when our great reefs died.
Apologise to the farmers forced off the land as the Murray-Darling
dried up. Sorry, dried up even more.
Apologise to the whole community because of all the economic
opportunities we missed by locking our economy into some sort of
carbon-era cryogenic freeze when we could have started the transition
to the low-carbon economy that we will need to be in the future, now.
Hell, they may even apologise to all those foreigners who will die in
far greater numbers than Australians because of the actions of
developed countries like ours, one of the world's premier carbon
dealers on a planet unable to kick its addiction to the stuff.
Hysterical? Alarmist? Green religionist? If only. I'd give anything to
see the Andrew Bolts and Barnaby Joyces of the world proved correct, to
be shown that the whole thing is a left-wing con, the ultimate scam
cooked up (ha!) by some lazy academics and watermelon greenies who
accomplished what millennia of Illuminati and weird hand-shaking Masons
and sinister religious orders failed to do -- fool the world with a
Because that's the only basis on which our international position and
the CPRS make any sense.