Glorious winter


Raining again last night, like every night, and the roads this morning dark with it. Then the sun comes out, a bright white glow that lights up the trees and warms the road until clouds of team rise from it. Beside the road are gnarly trees bare of leaves, their branches knotted and reaching for the sky.  Beside them stand the perennials lush and green, glorious in the abundance of winter. There’s a stark beauty at this time of the year. A few weeks ago I was walking Rigby in the cool and damp and looking about me. For a few moments it was clear, the sun briefly exposed before the clouds drifted by it. I thought of the old Mamas and the Papas classic, California Dreaming: “…all the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey…”. The leaves were turning then, and many were that beautiful russet brown. In places they had fallen. I looked upon it remembering seasons upon seasons when the leaves would fall and gather in thick mounds beneath the trees. As a child you would swish your feet through them; as an adult curse the extra work they made. We walked and my mind wandered, pleased to be here and witness again to this change of season, glad to appreciate the beauty of nature and feeling somehow enlarged by it. So often you see these things, but they are backdrop only, they don’t register. There is a wonder to all of this though, the eternal progression of seasons and nature following the course it ever has, oblivious (largely) of us.

I suppose this might be the time to make mention of the newly introduced carbon tax, but I can’t be bothered except to say that anyone who opposes it is a mug. In any case they’ll come around. Me, I feel at peace. It’s hard to feel off when things look so pretty, and when you swallow the wonder of it. For now it gives me clarity to, what’s right, what’s not, how to act. Long may that remain.

Don’t mention the carbon tax


en:Primorye Power Plant in Luchegorsk, Primors...

Image via Wikipedia

Finally we have a carbon tax proposal on the table. It’s not yet passed into legislation, but, hopefully, that should be a formality. After months of bluster and ballyhoo it’s here, and it’s a better package than I expected.

It’s no secret I’m sceptic when it comes to government credibility. I think they’re weak, indecisive, and much too easily led by woolly headed advisors and the whims of public opinion. On top of that they have been continuously and embarrassingly manhandled by Tony Abbott who continues to rule the airwaves and the agenda. In this he has been aided and abetted by large sections of the press, namely the Murdoch press, who seem determined to bring down the government. It’s a bit of an evil loop as the Murdoch press contains the tabloids that the common folk of Oz read, and sadly, if Andrew Bolt tells them something is a bad thing then most seem happy to nod their head in agreement without thinking any deeper than that.

Still, the ‘tax’ – as it has been reduced to (thanks Tony Abbott) – looks a fait accompli, and I suspect will die as a major issue within 18 months.

I won’t argue how necessary it is. I think it is a no-brainer (which roughly corresponds to the mental capacity of many critics). I don’t know of anyone credible who now disputes that climate change is a reality. Given that as a fact then clearly something must be done about it. There are no magic wands in government and things just don’t go away when you wish them too. There’s always going to be pain for someone when it comes to limiting our carbon excesses – and in many ways that’s the point of it. There must be incentives – or dis-incentives – for this to work. If you pollute you get penalised. If you turn to alternative options then you won’t.

It’s not about the money. The government isn’t trying to line it’s coffers – evidenced by the pretty generous rebates on offer to most folk. It’s all about the reality that the great majority of big business will not change their ways unless they are forced to. A ‘tax’ forces that. Ultimately it’s cheaper for them to look at the alternatives to produce more cleanly, which is the other great benefit of this. I work in that business, and I know that innovation thrives when necessity demands it. I would hope that from this a lot of clever solutions will be found, and many previously unconsidered short-cuts will now become reality. Long term the environment benefits, but so to does society and business. I may sound like a bit of a pollyanna, but that’s the experience of history. I don’t see why it will be any different this time.

The one question is whether this change is too little, too late for the environment – particularly as the rest of the world must come to the party. I think it’s inevitable that we’re in for some climate pain. The best we can hope for I think is to mitigate, or minimise that. And that really puts this whole conversation into a scary perspective. Tony Abbott may get up on his soap box and rant about the impost to the Australian people day and night (disgracefully so); and the Murdoch press may push their poisonous agenda, but it’s not really about a few dollars here and there. It’s about the future of the planet. Repeat that after me: it’s about the future of the planet.

We’re at a critical point in history when we can choose to act, or not. If we don’t we risk consigning our children and their children to a world a lot harder than the world we live in today. This is our decision, and it must be made now. At last we have acted on it, and if there is a cost then it is negligible against what we risk losing. Do I mind taking a few dollars from my pocket to make a better world? Of course not.

Unfortunately perspective is the first real victim of party politics, but to be so loose with it is irresponsible and unforgivable. Hopefully we will soon be past that.

Poor form Tony


Tony Abbott. Crop from another upload to commons.Image via Wikipedia

Has there been a less credible opposition leader than Tony Abbott? God knows I'm no great fan of Julia Gillard, but she's way ahead of Abbot. You could pretty well train a parrot to do the job Abbott's doing.

Have to seriously question his judgement also.The government may be unpopular, but Gillard is still the preferred PM by quite a margin. The Libs may wake up to the fact one day (though I doubt it), that if they had a reasonable and thoughtful leader they would be way out in front. Abbott has his rusted-on, blindly unconsidered supporters, but he continues to alienate the more reasonable members of the electorate by his hard core opposition, stupid comments and silly actions.

In short Tony Abbott is the best thing the Labor party has going for it. Drop Malcolm Turnbull into the role and it's a totally different ball-game. I'd certainly vote for him, as would thousands and thousands more of the generally disenfranchised electorate.

Yesterday's performance by Abbott was pretty typical. After putting the frights into everyone about the so-called carbon tax – his standard gambit – and calling for a 'people's revolution' – once more pretty typical – he then was obliged to front up to the very motley bunch of protesters landing on Canberra's doorstop.

You really have to wonder why the Lib powerbrokers continue to support him; or at least don't try to moderate him a little. He has hits, but also has a lot of misses – and the misses are ugly. Yesterday was the essence of ugly.

Whipped up by the right-wing shock jocks across the land a bunch of misinformed bigots rolled up to Canberra in their chartered busses and began wielding placards abusing Gillard – often on grounds of gender – Bob Brown, and others generally seen to be of liberal (not Liberal) bent. It was an embarassing, cringeworthy backdrop to which Tony Abbott was forced to appear.

Flanking Tony were the parties ritual fascists Brownwyn Bishop, faced forever frozen into the mask of an evil grandmother, her body preserved in formadelhyde and stuffed full of horse hair; and Sophie Mirabella, the parties frantic attack dog, the cocker spaniel nipping at your heels with the surprisingly vicious teeth.

There it was then, Tony Abbott amid a crowd of bogan extremists accompanied by the Liberal party's SD members. If it's true that you get judged by your friends then this is the final, damning indictment of Tony Abbott as leader – and as a man.

And to think I once liked him.

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