In the public dispute over Labor-Green preferences, Sarah Hanson-Young, the Greens’ immigration spokesperson, made a telling contribution. ‘There’s a big difference between the Greens’ values and Labor values,’ she said last week. ‘The Greens have values and the Labor party doesn’t.’ The SHY-girl is right: the Greens have plenty of values. On the sinking of asylum-seeker boats, they are the carefree values of barbarism.
When 200 boatpeople drowned off the coast of Java in December, Hanson-Young was asked if her party accepted responsibility for the loss of life. ‘Of course not,’ she replied. ‘Tragedies happen, accidents happen.’ In all my experience of Australian politics, I cannot recall a more callously inappropriate statement.
It is difficult to comprehend how Green Senators live with themselves, knowing their opposition to offshore processing is luring boatloads of people, many of them infant children, to death by drowning. The tragedy of Green asylum-seeker policy is compounded by the pretence that onshore processing is an act of humanitarianism. It is, in fact, a death-trap, encouraging people to risk their lives aboard unseaworthy vessels.
This is the problem with fanaticism in public life. Obsessively-held beliefs blind members of Parliament to the evidence before them. More than 800 boatpeople have drowned during the term of the Labor government, a horror for which the Labor For Refugees group and the Greens must accept responsibility. Hanson-Young is only 30 years of age but her eyes are from the Middle Ages, giving her the menacing look of Vandal Savage. For the families boarding leaky boats in Indonesian ports, the deadliest menace is in her policies.
Repeated tragedies of this kind do not just ‘happen’. Governments have responsibility for the protection of their borders. Refugee policies influence the movement of asylum-seekers between nations. Judged by their deeds, the Greens are a party of mistaken fanaticism, not compassion.
I love a debate about Labor values. It puts me back on the ladder of opportunity looking for a third way to reach the light on the hill. My favourite Labor activist is the inner-Sydney councillor Darcy Byrne, the political equivalent of an ambulance chaser. Whenever a new trendy issue arises, Byrne establishes another front-group to attract publicity. His latest effort is ‘Labor Loves Live Music’, ostensibly to encourage more pub rock blaring through the gentrified backstreets of Balmain and Annandale.
Byrne’s timing could not be worse. The singing Catman, Craig Emerson, will interpret Labor Loves Live Music to be an endorsement of his gyrating renditions of ‘No Whyalla Wipe-Out’ and ‘I’m Still Standing’. Emerson’s strongest Labor value is stuntism, a never-ending quest for media attention by making a fool of himself. As Paul Keating once said, ‘In politics, where there are no brains, there can be no feelings.’ Thus Catman is impervious to the public humiliation caused by his stunts. Look out for an Emerson-Byrne duet of ‘You’re So Vain’ in a pub near you.
Another Labor figure to encourage Catman is Michelle Rowland, from the Western Sydney seat of Greenway. In the Australian Financial Review last week she said, ‘I remember going to university in my check-out uniform so I could go to work afterward, so I don’t need a lecture on values from the Greens.’ With his habit of plagiarising Skyhooks tunes, Emerson cannot resist a check-out chick, as per:
Women in uniform, sometimes they look so cold
Women in uniform but ooh they feel so warm
Women in uniform, khaki white and blue
Women in uniform coming after you
Ten years ago Catman won Julia Gillard’s heart by strumming soulful renditions of ‘Lady in Red’. At the next meeting of Labor’s Caucus, the Member for Greenway can expect his full melodious repertoire. If Rowland was serious about her commitment to Labor values, she would wear her check-out uniform in Parliament House. Fortunately, the Liberal Senator Mary Jo Fisher has resigned, meaning it is safe for Michelle to also bring groceries onto Capital Hill.
When Catman loses his Queensland seat of Rankin at the next election, a glorious career awaits
in North Korean politics. Recently the international media have been intrigued by a woman accompanying Kim Jong-un in public. She is Hyon Song-wol, the lead singer in the patriotic Bochonbo Music Band. Inspired by Emerson’s use of song to attack the capitalist backslider Tony Abbott, she has produced the toe-tapping classics ‘Footsteps of Soldiers’, ‘I Love Pyongyang’, ‘She is a Discharged Soldier’ and my personal favourite, ‘Excellent Horse-Like Lady’.
Meanwhile, the close links between left-wing parties and showbusiness have been confirmed. Following a concert staged for Kim Jong-un, the Walt Disney Company complained it had not authorised the use of its cartoon characters in the Hermit Kingdom, among them Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Minnie Mouse. Likewise, Emerson did not seek Elton John’s permission to use ‘I’m Still Standing’. Nor did Anthony Albanese contact Universal Pictures when he mimicked Michael Douglas’s speech from The American President. For the bards and minstrels of Australian Labor, all the world’s a stage.