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burning the midnight oil « Previous | |Next »
June 11, 2004

I just couldn't pass by this Leak cartoon about the Coalition banging away at Peter Garrett from Midnight Oil, after he accepted a safe seat in the ALP and a fast track to a possible ministry. (Indigenous Affairs?).The cartoon is too good:

CartoonLeak7.jpg
Bill Leak

The Coalition needs to defuse Garrett, since Garrett gave the ALP good press all last week. It was a very good media campaign and the press liked the food being feed to them by the ALP spinners. If

Garrett was the story of the week, then the other story was a big "ALP is anti-American" media campaign based on more attacks on Latham from the Bush administration. Armitage made implied threats about the US hurting Australia economically and withholding intelligence from a Latham government. He also suggested that Australians might wish to reflect on what life would be like without the US alliance. The Bush administration counterattack on the ALP is being done for John Howard as part of an effort to counter the big shadow cast by Iraq.

These stories are froth and bubble. As Laura Tingle in the Australian Financial Review (subscription required, 11, 06 04, p. 75) pointed out, we are inside the false election period, where a feverish political atmosphere is building. It will be stoked by Parliament returning to pass around 66 pieces of legislation in 7 days before the winter break ends. The legislation will take a backstage to the polemics.

I presume the ALP is taking Garrett on board to try to stop the drift to the Greens in the inner-city seats of Melbourne and Sydney. Let us be realistic about all of this. When the crunch comes Labor and Liberal will join forces to prevent the Greens from gaining seats. It has happened before. It will happen again.

However, a lot is riding on Garrett for the ALP. Judging from the comments I've read, the ALP is trying to save seats from the surging Greens, shore up the Senate vote against the Greens, revitalize the party, and appeal to younger voters along the coast. It's a big ask.

The Garrett story keeps growing. We have personal advice from a rock star concerned about Garrett's welfare. Others see celebrities as a response by the political elite to a decline in political parties---"a crisis of faith demonstrated by failing membership and a decline in old-fashioned dedication."

My judgement is that after Garrett became the star ALP recruit, the Coalition looked decidely less green than they did before Garrett signed on. Their energy statement, which is a pitch for the green vote based on energy efficiency, is to be announced early next week. The Coalition is now seen to be placing obstacles in the way of the renewable energy industry, and being too beholden to the coal and aluminium industry. The Industry Minister, Ian McFarlane, has more or less become the spokesperson for the protection of the energy intensive industries. The energy future is locking the greenhouse gases produced by coal-fired powerstations deep underground so as to make coal more viable for power generation.

Howard's big energy statement next week is an attempt to capture the political agenda. It will offer the renewable industry some cash handouts, some funding for commercialisation and for getting access to the grid, but reject increasing the MRET target to 5% or beyond. This MRET scheme would create a market by bringing new renewable projects into play, as it requires energy users to use renewable energy sources for their share of power.

Maybe the Coalition needs to have some substantive green policies? They are still riding on the Natural Heritage Trust of the distant past. So how green does the Coalition need to become to be re-elected? They reckon not very, since Garrett will play badly in the regional marginal seats.

On the other hand, the ALP continues to ease into safe mode. It is waiting for the government to fall over and it is avoiding making any mistakes. It's public environment policy was limited to plastic bags.

The two stories--Garrett joining the ALP and the attack on the ALP for being anrti-American---became one story for the Coalition. Garrett is a symbol of anti-Americanism for the conservatives.

June 12

Michelle Grattan in The Age is also saying that the Howard Government has launched a media campaign based around the ALP policy having "increasing overtones of anti-Americanism".

June 13
As expected, Colin Powell, the United States Secretary of State, has his two bobs worth on Australian television. He plays nice guy. He says that the withdrawal of Australian forces from Iraq under a future Labor government would be a political disaster. Sensibly, Powell stopped well short of suggesting such a move would have consequences for the Australia-US alliance.

What next in the anti-ALP campaign? Senior figures in the Bush Administration quoting midnight oil lyrics?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:28 PM | | Comments (14)
Comments

Comments

Love your comment re Labor's environmental policy being plastic bags - shame it's not true. Wot about Kyoto, Tasmania, biodiversity, etc

Howard has introduced updated 2004 model of the Tampa - the US alliance and Garrett is already helping Labor by stealing the focus from Howards little ploy.

Shaun,

Good point. Very true. I wasn't very clear in the post.

I meant that plastic bags was what was announced during the week that was.

My argument is that the ALP is running a small target. Where is the ALP going public on stuff like MRET and energy during the week? The ALP is laying low.

It's big environment message last week was Garrett. Good symbolic politics is not real policy.

You people are delusional. An aging hard left enviro rocker who shows about as much consistency as John Kerry - an asset? Hey, if that's the case, I hope they clone Garrett and farm him out to every marginal seat in the country.

Garrett has spent years in opposition to the Pine Gap intell base. And, now he's suddenly had a road to Alice Springs conversion. Kinda reminds you of Kerry's legislative record on the war in Iraq "I voted in favour of it, and then I voted against funding it."

And, as for the American reaction to the ALP's policy proposals, there's nothing illegitimate about US officials commenting about something that will impact an enterprise in which the US is heavily invested - the liberation and rebuilding of Iraq.

So, let me get this straight: you clap yourselves raw when Latham issues forth with a viciously ad hominem attack against Dubya. But then, you get your knickers in a knot when various US officials, including POTUS criticise, not Latham in any personal way, but the ALP's policy statement on Iraq.

You guys are a real piece of work.


You're the piece of work, you coward. Who are you, for the six hundredth time? Where does your allegiance ultimately lie? Dual loyalties... to the US and Israel, not necessarily in that order. This country doesn't get a look in.

Why don't you go and live in one of those countries? You're a one man fifth column here and no Australian so far as I'm concerned.

That's because, Glenn, the only people who qualify as bona fide Australians in your universe are leftists like yourself. Only anti-American Yankee-haters and anti-Zionist Jew-baters need apply, as far as you're concerned.

Your intolerance reveals you for what you are - a leftwing dogmatist who would love nothing more than to stiffle my right to free speech because I have the temerity to disagree with your collectivist world view.

Your fundamental problem, Glenn, is that you were born far too late. You would have made an exemplary enforcer of ideological conformity in Stalin's NKVD.

Who could stifle you, you vacuous windbag?

Due to no want of desire on your part, I'm sure, Glenn. Ain't democracy wonderful?

I like your work Sanity. You post up little gems like the Yanks complaining that the Iraqi resistance is cheating cause they take drugs! It's that sort of blinding insights into the "liberation" of Iraq that I think represents your side of politcis well.

Che, you missed the point, much like your namesake who got his ass blown off in Bolivia for no good reason.

You accuse me of complaining that the "resistance is cheating cause they take drugs. But, that isn't the point at all. The point is that this glorious resistance that you lefties so adore is, at least in Falluja, composed of a bunch of strung out junkies who are zoned out on heroin and other drugs.

Does heroin addiction represent your side of politics?

Vos,
Garrett will play well in two marginal inner city seats in Adelaide because of his environmental creditionals on saving the River Murray.

I cannot see how that is delusional.

Gary:

What's delusional is your unwillingness to recognize that Garrett's volte face after joining the ALP leaves him wide open to being portrayed as an unprincipled janus face who reeks of politically-expediency-driven inconsistency.

What's delusional is your belief that this sort of tranparent maneouvering won't alienate the holier than thou greenie types that Latham hopes to attract with Garrett. Bobbie Brown is already livid with Garrett's 180 on woodchipping in Tasmania.

As for the average Aussie voter, they will be totally turned off by the prospect of a washed up rocker being parachuted into politics by the party functionaries of the ALP. And, let's not forget the local ALPnicks who are apoplectic about all this.

Vos
You wrote:
"What's delusional is your unwillingness to recognize that Garrett's volte face after joining the ALP leaves him wide open to being portrayed as an unprincipled janus face who reeks of politically-expediency-driven inconsistency."

Really.

In an earlier post I wrote that it is more likely that Garrett will trim his sails to fit in with the ALP. Garret admitted he would have to moderate some of his earlier views on a range of issues, such as the US spy base at Pine Gap, after becoming a Labor Party member.

"I think it's really a recognition that the whole strategic environment has changed. I'm still as concerned about nuclear weapons as I ever was and I will raise those issues really strongly within the caucus. In the age of terrorism I think (Pine Gap) is playing a really important function in terms of eavesdropping and checking out what terrorists are doing."

I then asked: "I wonder how he will moderate his views on the saving the River Murray? Moderate them he will."

Hardly delusional.

Well, Gary, how does that mesh with your comment that:

"Garrett will play well in two marginal inner city seats in Adelaide because of his environmental creditionals on saving the River Murray"


On the one hand you seem to be prognosticating that "Garrett will play well" because of his greeniness. But, then you prognosticate that he will eschew his greeniness in a craven captitulation to the union-driven mandates of the ALP.

It seems to me that your predictions are mutually exclusive.

Which is it to be?

Vos,
I did say Garrett would moderate his views not capitulate.

I suggest that you read the ALP policy on the River Murray. It is committed to returning to 1500 gigalitres to the River Murray

I have also said that the ACF was a part of the ALP political culture.