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Earth to Bob: your intergalactic phone is ringing

How should we respond to the Green leader’s cosmological preoccupations?

14 April 2012

5:00 PM

14 April 2012

5:00 PM

How should we respond to the Green leader’s cosmological preoccupations?

Fellow Earthians: ever since Bob Brown delivered the Green Oration in Hobart last month, I have been vexed by the question he posed. According to Bob, there is sure to be some living thing that has evolved elsewhere in the cosmos. ‘So why isn’t life out there contacting us. Why aren’t the intergalactic phones ringing?’ he asks.

Bob thinks the reason for this silence is that other forms of life have not been friendly enough to the biospheres of their own planets. As a result, ‘they have extincted themselves’, he claims. And if we don’t listen to Bob… well, the lesson is clear: we Earthians could suffer the same fate!

It occurred to me that there could be other reasons why the intergalactic phones are silent. Have you ever thought about how much bandwidth an intergalactic call would require? Up until now, we had no NBN capable of carrying all those calls. Once we get that in place we might find we can handle all the inquiries and the phones will start ringing. What’s more, intergalactic traffic is our best hope to make the NBN a commercial proposition.

Or think of this. Other forms of life in the universe could be looking down on us and thinking there is no urgency about making contact just now. Despite what global warming publicists say, our friends in other galaxies may have great confidence that the Earth and Earthians are going to be around for some time — seeing how well we adapted to other ice ages and warming cycles. These extra-terrestrials may be chuckling about what they see as just another bout of alarmism that possesses Earthians from time to time — like the Y2K scare — which will pass once we have worried ourselves sick about it.

You can probably think of other reasons why extra-terrestrials have not been in contact recently.

In his Green Oration, Bob recounts how he spent hours outside his home in Liffey, Tasmania gazing at the stars and ruminating about the future of the world. When the answer came it was like a comet — a flash of light — and he went back to bed to tell his partner Paul about it. The flash, the inspiration, is, apparently, that we need a World Parliament voted in by a global electorate on the principle of one person, one vote. One billion Chinese would vote alongside nearly one billion Indians. How wonderfully democratic. It might mean that 20 million Australians — hopelessly outnumbered at the ballot box — do not get a look-in, but as Bob sees it this would be ‘an Earth parliament for all’.

 Bob’s thought of everything. There could be an Upper House for Global Senators. If each country voted for, say, 12, there is just a chance an Australian Green might get into this World Parliament. And I know just the man for that job.

Bob Brown wants us to know who thought up this idea first. He reminded us in his Green Oration that his Greens have put motions before the Australian Senate to establish a Global People’s Assembly since back in 2003. And he’s agitating inside the global Green movement to get things going.

I have spent hours in my suburban home surrounded by electricity-consuming appliances thinking about Bob’s vision. And recently a flash came to me during an ad break in the middle of a football game.

I was so excited I hit the pause button. He wants World Government. I reckon we should have Intergalactic Government.

An assembly could be elected on the basis of one life form, one vote. There would be an Upper House with Planetary Senators: say, 12 Earthians and 12 from whichever other planets or solar systems decide to come and join us. If Newt Gingrich gets his colony up on the moon we could either admit it as a planet in its own right with 12 Lunar Senators, or treat it like the Northern Territory of Earth with only four.

I even have the first item of business for such an Assembly: it could fix the Inter-galactic phones. How can we sit around saying we will focus only on saving the biosphere of the Earth when there are other planets so bad that they have ‘extincted’ their domestic species? I reckon we have to think big on these issues. Bob Brown is not the only guy with vision. Remember where you first read about the need for Intergalactic Government!

It seems a little mundane after contemplating the big picture to come back, fellow Earthians, to Earth, where politics revolves around running good transport, creating jobs, making sure people can pay their electricity bills and so on. I believe that if we can’t fix the little things then we should concentrate on fixing the big things. If things aren’t working at a State level then we must take the issue Federal. If that doesn’t work, then we must take it Global. And if that doesn’t work, go Intergalactic.

Read his Green Oration and you will understand why Bob Brown is just the guy to be setting Australia’s energy policy. He’s so far ahead, he’s on another planet!
Peter Costello is a former Federal Treasurer and deputy Liberal leader. 

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