Monthly Archives: February 2011

Rotten to the Core and Non-Core

Political leaders walk a fine line between convincing progressives that you are going to make radical changes, while reassuring conservatives that you are not going to make any changes at all.  The real trick is trying to maintain your integrity while you do it. 

Sadly, we’ve grown so used to being lied to that most of us are beyond caring anymore.  This appalling political apathy was heartily encouraged by Johnny ‘Core and Non-Core Promises.  Children overboard!  No GST ever!  Workchoices is dead!’ Howard.

"All this money from a tax on nothing!!"

And now Ju-liar “No Carbon Tax!” Gillard is strolling down a well trodden path, just like Anna B-liar did before her.  Actually, Anna didn’t lie to us, she just forgot to mention, before or during the last State election that she was planning to sell off our Forestry and Rail sectors.  Must have slipped her mind?  Then she ignored public outrage because she was showing leadership, while telling us that she was listening to the electorate.  This is politics. 

But, since the floods and the cyclone we’ve all forgiven her… apparently.  And having seen what Mother Nature did for Anna’s political fortunes, Julia is probably in the Lodge right now doing a rain dance.  Or perhaps she’s hoping Tony Abbot will soon make another mouth-droppingly stupid comment, or repeat his mistake of looking just as stupid by saying absolutely nothing at all? 

And lurking behind Julia are the Greens, who can’t wait to close down anything that makes pollution, or a profit.  Which, here in Gladstone, would only be our refineries, coal wharves, smelter, fishing fleets, power house, mines, shale oil, and LNG plants.  Honestly, we’d hardly notice it if they were all shut down tomorrow.

Of course our city’s population may drop a little, and the seven people left in town would suddenly find themselves paying two million dollars a year in rates to maintain our councillor’s wages, but at least they wouldn’t have to worry about traffic jams as they pedalled through the Kin Kora roundabout on their way to the dole office. 

Look, if we have to address climate change, let’s start by calculating how much hot air is being emitted from Parliament House.  Shutting down this major polluter would be worth the price of a Carbon Tariff, Levy, Fund, Toll, or whatever the hell the new Tax is going to be called.  Because we must do something, while doing nothing at all.  Trust me.

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Gladstone Country Music Festival

“There is no way I’m going to put myself through this again,” I moaned to Long Suffering Wife as we pulled up outside the Entertainment Centre.  As I dragged my guitar from the backseat, she smiled and said, “Good Luck!” then sped off, leaving me and The Littlest Princess standing alone on the footpath. 

Last year, when I was asked to enter the Gladstone Country Music Festival, I recall glibly replying, “Yeah alright.  How bad could it be?”  Six months later it suddenly didn’t seem like such a good idea, and now I was toying with beating a hasty retreat to the Grand Hotel. 

But The Littlest Princess gave me a shove, so we entered the theatre foyer where I was shocked to see a fairly large crowd.  My nerves, which were already jittery, started jangling like a four alarm fire bell. 

And the competition was red hot.  After watching several singers, it dawned on me that I was seriously out of my depth.  This did nothing to quell my nerves.  Weeks of practice flew out the window, because thanks to my rising panic, I couldn’t remember any of the chords, or most of the words, to the songs I was allegedly singing.  The barstool at the Grand beckoned once again. 

Then Big James appeared, “Mate,” he said, “I reckon anyone who gets up on that stage is already a winner.”  He was exactly right.  Sure, the barstool at the Grand was an anonymous safe haven from the butt-clenching terror of singing in public, but sooner or later you have to face your fears, so I headed backstage and tried tuning my guitar with fingers that felt like soggy cucumbers. 

The big moment arrived, and donning my Akubra, I clambered onstage.  At this point my father cried out, “Hey!  That’s my hat!” 

I survived, thanks to the quick thinking backing band, and the fantastic support of my country music loving friends, who didn’t appear the least bit upset at the way I had treated some of their favourite songs.  And once my ordeal was over, The Littlest Princess and I spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the festival.  We sang, danced, laughed, cheered, foot-stomped and ‘Yee Ha-ed’, as the contestants gave their all onstage.  It was such a cracking good time that I’m thinking of entering next year’s festival; well, how bad could it be?!

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Column Calamity

I spend quite a lot of time with my family, so they tend to get a fairly big mention in this column.  Another reason I write about my family, as opposed to my workmates for example, is that my family won’t beat me up in the work car park on Monday afternoons if they’re upset by something I write about them.  Possibly…   

Anyway, last week was one of those dull weeks when nothing interesting occurred in my life, which, after watching the nightly news of late, is a situation I’m extremely grateful to be in. 

So, desperately needing column material, I said to Long Suffering Wife, “Come on, let’s go shopping.”  Now, I’d rather hack off my feet with a cold chisel than voluntarily visit shops, but I was hoping to rehash the hoary old column chestnut of women in a shopping frenzy.  Long Suffering Wife appeared completely stunned by my suggestion, yet managed to stammer, “No thanks, I’d rather stay home.” 

Astonished in turn by her answer, I reeled from the room on a mission for material.  “Aha!” I cried, bursting into my daughter’s room, but the column I’d planned around how messy kid’s rooms are today, compared to the rooms’ of my (perfect) generation, simply vanished.  Her room was so clean that I could see floor tiles which hadn’t seen daylight in years!  At this point the penny dropped.  “Alright, family meeting!” I shouted, frogmarching everyone into the lounge-room, “What’s going on round here?!” 

“Nothing,” they replied. 

“Nothing, my backside!  Why aren’t you doing what you’re supposed to be doing?” 

“We’re not here to provide you with column fodder,” said Long Suffering Wife.  

“I’m shocked at the very suggestion!” I huffed; a lie so bold that my nose instantly grew a foot longer.  “Look, this isn’t natural.  Just be yourselves,” I pleaded. 

“And do you think it’s natural to broadcast our every move to the people of Gladstone?”

At this point I retreated to the shed for a bit of think.  Now, it might have looked like I was sulking, but I wasn’t, I was thinking.  In fact, I was thinking, ‘Maybe it’s time to find some new targets.’  This is probably why my neighbours have abruptly packed up and moved.  Hopefully the new neighbours will have interesting lives, and won’t be as touchy about me gawping at them through the shrubbery and taking notes.

 

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A Low Blow After Yasi

Watching our politicians stroll through the ruins of North Qld, I was reminded of the time Ronald Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the Government and I’m here to help.’”  Personally I reckon the following are much worse:  “Say, is that a crocodile you’re sitting on?” or, “Fat Tony wants his money now,” and, “Here comes Bob Brown!” 

It takes a lot to frighten North Queenslanders but Yasi had them worried.  Throughout the night, I listened to the ABC radio coverage of the cyclone, and thanks to surprisingly reliable mobile phone technology, our Northern neighbours were able to describe first-hand the horror of seeing their homes, sheds and chook pens exploding before their eyes. 

One call in particular bought a lump to my throat; an old widow who rang to say she was terrified, but was trying not to show it because she didn’t want to alarm her life-long companion; a pet bird.  I was filled with silent admiration for her and the many Aussies who called with heartfelt messages of hope:  It will soon be over.  We are thinking of you.  Be brave.  Hold on. 

Meanwhile the radio announcer did a cracking job of providing calming encouragement to her distressed callers, and chanting the mantra, “Stay indoors, do not go outside.  Please, do not go outside!”  Advice which was roundly ignored by nearly every TV reporter who had been flown in to cover the cyclone. 

Why the networks sent teams of people into harms way unnecessarily is beyond me.  What if one of them had been killed getting the coveted ‘money shot’ of a wind blown street?  “Sure he got sliced in half by a bit of roofing iron, but look at our ratings!”  These glory seeking idiots must be the bane of Emergency Services workers. 

The next day, shell-shocked locals were then subjected to this stupid question from smiling reporters, “So, how does it feel to have lost your house?”  I was hoping someone would say: “Absolutely fantastic!  Now I don’t have to paint the spare room!”

The poor sods; having survived one of the biggest blows in Queensland’s history, they are now enduring another blow of hot air from our pollies’ and the circling media vultures.  So, here’s my heartfelt message to all North Queenslanders:  It will soon be over.  We are thinking of you.  Be brave.  Hold on. 

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