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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

personal ambition « Previous | |Next »
September 1, 2007

It's sad to watch Peter Garrett become 'pulp mill Pete', but then he made the decision. Garrett wanted political power--to be Environment Minister--and he was willing to sacrifice his passion and environmental principles to do so. He knew what the ALP would do to him and he understood that the ALP Right had little time for his ecological politics. He was willing to pay the price.


Still, it is sad to watch the process of destruction under the guise of 'we support the pulp mill if it is world's best environmental standards' whilst refusing to say what these best standards are.

As Bob Brown observed: "I warned Peter that when he went into the ALP they would eat him up and spit him out and that's just what's happening."Many others did the same. Power is very seductive. Garrett is now required by the ALP to attack the Greens, embrace the three-mines policy, accept US bases, defend the forest industry: thereby renouncing, one after another, the distinctive positions upon which his career was built.

Secondly, 'Peter the myth' is different from Peter the person: after all, as a fundamentalist Christian Garrett voted against stem cell research.So he is a part of the NSW Right.

Public opinion is, if anything, supporting issues on the environment which are far to the left of the ALP. Garrett is now at odds with public opinion in Tasmania.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:39 AM | | Comments (17)


Yep your right...He chose his path. The music still stands up on its own though.

Not only does Garrett refuse to say what world's best environmental standards' are he cannot even say whether the proposed mill mets them.

He's been rendered mute.

Funny how his first career is damaging his second.

Wait up. Law was his first career.

Funny how his first and second careers are damaging his third.

The environment will always be an issue. As soon as one thing is solved another will appear. You will never stop greed.

It's not greed per se.The market 's logic works in terms of individual self-interest and the efficient allocation of scarce resources.

The environment is an issue because the capitalist market sees the environment as an input not as a foundation.

His previous careers belong to another era or life. He's cut the chord with person who is a key figure in the rock music of yesteryear. He is another person now ---a member of the shadow cabinet and so part of the Labor machine. He presents a political mask to the media, unwilling to say what he feels and thinks.

I guess what he thinks and feels slowly dies as he becomes more and more a political cybog like Rudd. You could say that Garrett has been mugged by reality.

Lyn, I think your getting into who's on first whats on second territory there.

What will they do when cars are solar or battery powered
When they don't have that $20 everytime you fill up your tank that they use to maintain the roads.

Sun Tax

The environment is an opportunity to raise revenue

V. late Saturday night. Earlier, at 7 oclock I listened to ABC radio news briefly before moving to ABC TV news.
The lead story on radio centred around developments in Tasmania. Garrett ( backed by Rudd at a distance, I think ) had come out firmly on the use of plantation, as against old growth, for the mill.
The other half of the story had Greens or Greenies ranking Howard ahead of Labor on the issue.
No mention of any of this on
ABC TV news, which incidentally has antagonised this writer endlessly recently, to the extent that he belatedly phoned them to ask where the actual news for their news service was. ie, if it was a "news" service shouldn't they have "news" on it; otherwise a bit misleading!?
Nothing helpful from the woman babbling away on the the end, who was incidentally appalled that I should think Gunns should be a newsworthy issue in need of treatment on TV, despite this being the case with radio, where it had been the lead story. Not above princess Di for example, I suppose!
Looking through the papers on line, not much on Gunns either- instead a mound of steaming bunk from Miranda Devine and other idiots cooking up more bogy "terrism", as "colour" for the apec thing inflicted on Sydney. As did the hapless ABC, mid evening, via the medium of stepford fembot Felicity Davey.

Sue Neales in The Mercury is the best on this issue that I know of. She is informed, articulate and independent. She has a keen eye for the ambiguities of state politics that is missing from the commentary in the national mainstream press. I am suprised she hasn't been intimidated into silence by the corporate, union and political thugs and bullies. I am suprised that the Mercury still stands behind here.

The national press is more interested in events in the electorate of Wentworth, when the deeper story is the trashing of democracy in Tasmania by Gunns and Lennon supported by the Liberals. I am suprised how this keeps on being overlooked by the mainstream media; or the LIb/Lab party politics.

It's all too hard I guess. They would have to do a bit of research and know about corporatism. It's much easier to write about Wentworth in terms of the electoral horse race that allows for the light infotainment frame.

I am releived you say these things. Was becoming suspicious of brown paper bags, slush funds and backhanders as far as things like Cubbie Creek and Gunns are concerned.
Instead, we need only be affeared of glaze- eyed, nutwig ideological fanaticism peddling a neolib fantasy presented as theology. Politicians, corporate thugs, economists, lawyers and bean counters who rush Gadarene-like blindly toward the abysmal fantasy of "growth" are pitiable rather thandespicable for reasons related toworldly greed.
This fabled "growth" offers the exclusive excuse for all human activity and existence. The "growth" that justifies egregious global suffering in the service of hegemony.
The grim and unimaginative post lapsarian dolts to whom the ideology is so seductive, beleive redemption exclusively occurs in the wake of egregious Aztec-style sacrifices of ( others )lives, community, happiness, future and environment as exemplified by Iraq as much as Gunns; the debauchery rationalised as "creative destruction".
But it is a relief to know the tragedy occurs through zealotry, fear and superstition rather than worldly flagrant


There's a fictional piece in the latest Griffith Review about how Canberra sucks the humanity out of people and turns them into Kafkaesque insectoid shells. I thought about Garrett when I read it.

For people of my generation with so much emotional investment in the Oils this is very hard to watch. I keep making excuses for Pete's behaviour (and calling him Pete) the same way I used to make excuses for the various transformations the band went through.

Rumour had it that the band's later, more commercial stuff was down to Garrett's insistence that the message was more important than the principles involved in its delivery (not appearing on Countdown for example). Joining the Labor party was a natural extension of that which was always going to mean more compromising than going with the Greens.

I don't think Garrett is so much mugged by reality, given his long involvement in politics through the environmental and anti-nuclear movements. I suspect that he's negotiated on something else instead, perhaps the issue of nuclear. Maybe I'm just being deliberately naive.


"Lyn, I think your getting into who's on first whats on second territory there."

No I'm not. Second territory is the one we're going to have when Brough's sorted out who's who and what's what in remote Aboriginal communities.

I see that Peter Garrett gave a series of interviews at the weekend in Hobart.He said"

What we've always said is that we would support a pulp mill in northern Tasmania if it met world's best practice.
Asked to clarify what this would mean, Garrett said:
there should be no significant impact on the marine environment or endangered species or any impact on "human health or on natural ecosystems.

Garrett went on to say that Labor also recognised that the use of native forests for the pulp mill's feedstock was an important issue, and it would work to see as much plantation timber as possible was used in the mill.

Is the Griffith Review worth buying. I saw someone--an older female academic type-- reading it in an Adelaide coffee shop in Norwood when I was up there for the weekend seeing friends. I glanced over her shoulder whilst she was reading 'A doctor’s notebook' by Frank Brennan.

The magazine looked interesting but dense. The odd article is online but not much . So is it worth buying?

The Canberra story you refer to is Post mortem by Jane Nicholls? It's very Kafkaesque.

the Nicholls story Postmortem (it's online Nan) is an interesting piece about ambitious and senior Canberra bureaucrats acquiring the rock‐hard shell fortress as they unbecome being human beings and become administrative machines.

Canberra is a giant political machine, and it is hard to keep your humanity and stay grounded in the local communty. Many people talk about it in terms of doing a gig. Garret is in the process of becoming a cardboard caricature who appears pandering and lifeless to any voter who manages to tune in, due to the way that he is being constructed by the handlers and strategists.

However, the bureaucracy is different from politics. The former thrive on policy debates, arguments, statistics, and getting the facts right. The latter is about emotions, and the political rhetoric is designed not to form opinions but rather to reinforce previously held "gut" beliefs about values and principles.

I'm inclined to argue that Garrett and the ALP's position ion the pulp mill is a lapse of ethics: they have failed to attack passionately the reign of destruction that has ensued from the current mode of foresty in Tasmania, and their unwillingness to ‘go negative’ against Gunns deeply destructive actions, is itself an ethical failure.


I've subscribed to Griffith Review since the first issue, so yes, in my opinion it is worth buying.

It's odd that you mention Brennan's article. The only issue that's missing from my collection is the one I loaned to my father while he was in palliative care. I never got it back and its absence on the shelf is more important to me than having an intact collection. Brennan's piece was about his experiences in palliative care. Spooky.

You've said before that you're interested in health issues so the new edition is a good place to start, since that's what it's about.


I agree on the lapse of ethics. I just don't want to admit it yet.

On Canberra, it's interesting how often online commenting Canberrans object to the way we use "Canberra" to refer to the parliament, in the process contaminating the whole place with the garbage that goes on under the hill.

If you were challenged to abstain from refering to the geographical location of federal politics as Canberra for, say, a month, how hard do you think it would be? Just curious.

yes there are two Canberras: the commonwealth political machinery and the small city that people live in. My reactions and experiences of the latter a can be found at junk for code----start from emty public spaces and scroll down.

I generally post photographs and talk about Canberra the city when I there.