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"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton

"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton

"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis

"I blog, therefore I am." Anon

Monday, June 14, 2004

beds are burning ...bridges too

The Power and the Passion of Peter Garrett

...Will it soon be just the power?

Former Midnight Oil rocker, Peter Garrett known for his trademark bald head as well as his espousal of leftist politics, radical environmentalism and rabid anti-Americanism has gone mainstream and joined the Australian Labor Party. The ALP's leader Mark Latham has given Garrett the safe seat of Kingsford-Smith ensuring that he will have and easy ride into federal parliament at the upcoming election. I have nothing against Peter Garrett personally - he has even professed a committment to Jesus Christ, though he may not want to be "outed" about this - and while I cringed at the more extreme (but always politically correct) left-wing lyrics that accompanied many of Midnight Oil's tunes they certainly were a great band!

But it's funny how celebrity candidates can bypass all the usual party footslogging and years of service and be given plum seats in parliament soley on the basis of their celebrity status or "street cred". It is true that Peter Garrett is a passionate man with a burning enthusiasm for his causes. He can afford to be: he is a successful and wealthy rock star. Such passion in any one else not on the left of politics or fronting a successful but "serious" rock band would be dismissed as dangerous fanaticism and narrow-minded zealotry. But that's the way the western world works, folks - the first shall be first and the last will be last. Garrett wasn't even a member of the ALP until a few days ago. But then he is a man of principles...

But what's particularly disturbing about this issue - but hardly surprising when it comes to politics - is that Labor leader Mark Latham has contradicted his own principles with regard to the selection of candidates for political office. Over at Slatnews Bernard Slattery reports that in his book From the Suburbs, Latham states quite unequivocally that:

"Labor's culture is deeper and more durable than that of other parties. We demand from our members a long and testing apprenticeship before they can run for public office. There is no walk-in, walk-out way of serving working people. It takes a lifelong commitment." (page 129)

Yes, and pigs can fly... as Mr Latham himself might have once said before he had his leadership makeover by the party minders. No wonder Slatnews posits that it is nothing more than "a display of hypocrisy, opportunism and contempt for voters". But what's new when politicians are concerned? It's the bottom line that counts.

The ALP is becoming adept at snubbing its grassroots members and its traditional supporters among the suburban "working classes", preferring to get the approval of the well-off chattering classes in their trendy inner-city addresses - or trendy rural out-of-city retreats - who now increasingly form the bulk of Labor's constituency. It seems only yesterday that the ALP "persuaded" Democrats leader, Cheryl Kernot to abandon both her party and her principles for a seat on Labor's front bench. Of course I'm not in a position to comment upon how much "persuading" Cheryl Kernot required to jump ship from a party that proudly proclaimed it was there to "keep the bastards honest"... But see what happens when one joins "the "bastards". And will Peter Garrett face the same fate?

Karen Middleton writing in the West Australian notes that "Garrett denies he has sold out" (Well he would say that, wouldn't he? As you do in these situations.)

Rock star, environmentalist and anti-nuclear activist Peter Garrett has dumped his opposition to the Pine Gap American spy base and logging policies to join the Labor Party and become a Federal MP.

Standing beside Opposition Leader Mark Latham on Sydney's Maroubra beach, Mr Garrett also confessed he had not been on the electoral roll for the past decade. Insisting he had mistakenly thought he was on the silent roll, which exists to protect the addresses of people whose lives could be at risk, he said he had voted in the past three polls.

"I've received no communication from the electoral commission . . . that I'm aware of, to tell me that I'm not on the roll," he said. "I've voted and, as of yesterday, I'm on the roll as a regular enrolled candidate." Mr Garrett defended himself against accusations he had sold out and modified his views to win Labor endorsement for its safe seat of Kingsford Smith. Despite having campaigned for its closure, he now accepted the US base at Pine Gap should stay.

"I'm convinced and concede that that international situation has changed," he said. "It's terrorism now, not nuclear disarmament. I think the policies that Labor has satisfy me that they're appropriate to serve the national security."

He also endorsed Labor's forest policies, saying he would try to persuade his new colleagues they could preserve both forests and jobs.

Mr Latham said Mr Garrett would be an asset. "He brings passion, conviction, energy to our cause and that's very important," he said.

The party's national executive is expected to rubber-stamp Mr Garrett's candidacy today, despite internal opposition.

Federal Labor president Carmen Lawrence said Mr Garrett had strong credentials on the environment, human rights and indigenous issues and his decision was a vote of confidence in Labor. "The fact that he's prepared to link in with Mark Latham is an indication he's prepared to solve these problems, not just wave a banner," she said.

Prime Minister John Howard questioned Mr Garrett's commitment to Australia. "All I can say is that if somebody hasn't voted on the last three occasions that had an opportunity to do so they can't be very passionate about the future of this country, can they?"...


Liz Tickner also writing in The West Australian continues the punning on Oil's songs with her article Burning the Midnight Oil to riches

Millionaire rock singer. Multi-millionaire idealist.

Peter Garrett has been called both. But just how much is the former Midnight Oil frontman and Australian Conservation Foundation president worth?

The millionaire tag was rarely, if ever, used until Mr Garrett became the centre of Labor leader Mark Latham's attention as his preferred candidate for the safe seat of Kingsford Smith in Sydney's south.

But raised on Sydney's affluent North Shore and schooled at exclusive Barker College, it's fair to say he has never been one of Mr Latham's Aussie battlers.

Mr Garrett's personal wealth - whatever it may total - is hardly surprising given that Midnight Oil remains one of the most successful bands to have come out of Australia, with record sales totalling more than 11 million copies worldwide.

The singer and conservationist lives in Mittagong, in NSW's Southern Highlands, in historic Rowe Cottage, the former boys' home he bought for $425,000 in 1995.

Mr Garrett has refurbished the property and, coupled with soaring property prices in the highlands, it could be worth $1.8 million to $2 million.

But one estate agent said that a NSW Government proposal to rezone surplus Department of Community Services land across the road from Rowe Cottage into residential blocks could reduce the value of his rural retreat.

Not surprisingly, Mr Garrett is a vocal opponent of the Carr Labor Government's rezoning proposal.

Within a two-hour drive from Sydney, the Southern Highlands is fast becoming the favoured rural retreat for the who's who of the business, arts and entertainment world....

I'm afraid I must give strong credence to this comment from "Driver" over at Fight Fire With Fire that Garrett

"will be the poster boy on everything that is wrong with today's modern urbane ALP. Just another elitist completely out of touch with working Australians and their dreams and aspirations. A killer of dreams, an opponent of growth and consumerism, a hater of suburban and rural aspirations."

12:23:00 am