Public First Program


Shane Elson


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+61-3-5952 5780

+61-4-1349 7828

Dec 2007 # 2

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Back to Editorials 2007

The End of the Line

This will be my last podcast for the time being. I’m going away on vacation during January and wont be back until sometime after that. So, I guess its appropriate to have a bit of a reflection on the year that was. In some ways things have certainly moved on and in many other ways, they have not moved at all. 

Politically, one might say that we are now in a new era as the Rudd government flies out of the blocks, all guns blazing with the spin doctors working overtime. The policies are flying thick and fast and even my old mate Mr Peter “Midnight” Garrett is saying nice things about whales. After all, he no longer has anything nice to say about Tasmania’s forests so I suppose a cute and cuddly whale will have to do. 

Meanwhile, over in the Liberal camp, that old union boss, Brendan Nelson, has been charged with the task of telling all and sundry “we got it wrong” as his party back tracks from just about every policy the slimy bastards supported quicker that a snake down a hollow log. I find it incredibly annoying that not one journalist I have heard interview Nelson or any of the other coalition members has asked them why they supported so vociferously policies they are now turning their backs on. This leads me to another hobby horse. 

Journalism in Australia is now a hollow farce of what it could be. When Kerry O’Brien is reduced to doing puff pieces with celebrities spruiking their latest book/movie/speaking tour then you know the ABC has sold out to the bean counters. The fact that when the most shocking exposures of the fraud the media perpetrates on us, as mouthpieces for the ruling class, is left to the Chaser team, we should know we’re in trouble. 

I met the Chaser boys a few years ago and even sat at that fantastic dining table that adorns their set. What I found fascinating about them then and still find fascinating now, is the fact that they are not jaded former uni students with a left wing axe to grind – although there may be remnants of that – they are just ordinary blokes who really do care about the future of Australia and the legacy they and we will leave to their kids. This leads me on to my next reflection. 

The former government conducted what it referred to as an ‘intervention’ into selected Northern Territory communities. Sending in the army under the guise of, ‘protecting the children’, hiving off chunks of welfare benefits if parents were deemed ‘unfit’ to look after the kids, and sending doctors in to “investigate” whether children had been abused smacks of something sinister and very, very dark. 

The Howard government was, as we all know, a racist, xenophobic group who were liars and con artists. The abuse of our Indigenous brothers and sisters by their policy “mechanisms” should have shamed us. Yet, our media played along with the great game and didn’t question the motives nor the implementation of these racist policies. From the Tampa onwards, Howard’s mob were emboldened to go one step more and then one step further. And our ‘fourth estate’ cowered. Certainly those who operate outside the mainstream were critical and the best stories came out in papers like the “Green Left Weekly” and the Resistance publications. Even school kids did better journalism than the highly paid and well fed ‘professionals’ of the networks. 

So what does 2008 hold in store? 

Well now that Blair took heed of the counsel he was offered and jumped rather than get pushed. On a side line, I could not have been happier than when I heard that Howard had, in fact, lost his seat. His political legacy will now be as low as it could have been hoped for. He will not be remembered as Australia’s second greatest politician, but as a greedy old man who would rather sink his own ship than retire gracefully. But back to the world stage. 

Blair is gone. No doubt Bush will follow. Putin will hang on but, like his counterparts in the West, he too realises that you don’t have to be the public face of anything to actually rule the land. Chavez continues to cause conniptions in the America’s as he attempts to cleanse the stain of US interference in the region. I guess he will have a bumpy year ahead.

Meanwhile, in our region, the Australian support of multinational capital will continue to dominate our diplomacy with our neighbours. While George W Bush may have lost his former ‘deputy sheriff’ if the region, our Mandarin speaking new leader, the illustrious Kevin 07, will ensure that the interests of big oil, big timber and other big pillagers will be protected over and above the rights of ordinary people to go about their business. But it is not all doom and gloom. 

Somewhere, right now, a child is being born that will one day rise up and go toe to toe with an oppressor. She or he will stand in the face of power and challenge it to try and keep them silent. The confrontation may not end well but in that one act of defiance, others will be inspired. The revolution proceeds slowly. We need to be patient. 

Since humans first discovered that raw power overcomes the limitations of the flesh, those who seek to create a better world have struggled to do just that. For millennia humans have engaged in a battle with their base desires for sex, resources, shelter and food and their higher moral and spiritual being. The first is based on the ‘quick fix’ response while the other strives to negotiate and understand the eternal.  

Somewhere, right now, that child who I mentioned a moment ago, will also do battle with their base instincts and the higher realms. Like all of us that child will grow to adulthood and come to realise that the ‘quick fix’ might be pleasurable for a short time, but it, like a federal election, passes all to quickly. That child will come to realise that the legacy he or she leaves behind will be all that matters. 

As the year comes to a close I have to ask my self, ‘what is my legacy for this year?’ I can look back at some of the students I have taught and know that they became engaged and through that will go on to achieve their dreams. I know I’ve done my bit for the environment by doing all I can to reduce, reuse and recycle. I’ve tried to be kind to strangers and animals. I hope that my grating nature and impatience hasn’t dissuaded someone from attempting something they otherwise might have succeeded in. 

I met a fantastic Malaysian poet and blogger a couple of weeks ago and I want to close the year with a few lines from one of his poems.

Then there is yet hope

In the midnight whispers of

A babe’s cries

A young lass’ smile

A young man’s bosom void of guile


(from ‘whisper’d hope’ in “Midnight Voices and other Poems” by YL Chong,

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