Dump Trumpian politics and bring out the generosity of all Australians
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Opinion

Dump Trumpian politics and bring out the generosity of all Australians

So what is the explanation? How could about 48 per cent of voting Americans look at President Donald Trump and say to themselves: “You know what this nation needs? It needs another four years of Trumpian politics! If he’s brought us this far in four years, imagine where we will be in eight years! Because, you know, as a nation we’ve never been happier! And he, more than anyone, has put the ‘United’ back in United States. Yes, his management of coronavirus might be a little lacking – what with 235,000 dead and all – and he might come across as a blustering bully who lies so often that the Washington Post had to shut down their fact-checking unit on his tweets and speeches, because they just couldn’t keep up no matter how many journalists they employed. But I don’t care. He’s the one I want!”

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How could that be? How could one in two voting Americans think he was the answer? I cannot pretend to give an explanation with any certainty. But I keep going back to the refrain of my erstwhile biographical subject Kim Beazley: “Like any nation there are bleak angels in our nature, but there are also good angels as well. And the task and challenge for those of us in politics is to bring out the generosity that resides in the soul of the ordinary Australian, that generosity of heart, so that we as a nation turn to each other and not against each other in the circumstances which we face.”

And there, friends, is your answer. For Trump is a political genius at activating the bleak angels, as are the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity et al in the media. Together, they will give you more targets to blame, more things to get angry about – and get you together with the like-minded, so you can all get a head of steam up together – better than any of your competitors. There are no solutions offered, just anger and blame, and as Trump has demonstrated better than anyone it’s an intoxicating mix. And we have all seen the results when a nation embraces that mix, just how far America has descended into – funny I should say that – a cheap reality show over the last four years.

In Australia we have been spared any political geniuses of that ilk, though in this town Alan Jones was a media genius of similar stripe, putting out a message that, while it reviled most, did attract enough of a critical mass of the tired and gullible that he and his mob were a real force. His influence, mercifully, has faded fast. And we can also take heart from the fact that just last weekend Clive Palmer and Pauline Hanson – the closest we have had to proponents of Trumpian politics – finished up in the Queensland elections as tragic jokes. In this country, thus, there is reason for hope.

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Can we all agree that while we may not be sure where we are going, we can unite on one thing: 50 years on, as a nation we have reversed our position to “Go all the way with LBJ,” and right now as a political star to steer by, the way forward is to “Dump Trump” and the kind of politics and media he stood for.

Save the koalas

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My thanks for the enormous correspondence received after last week’s column on the shocking destruction of koala habitat around our country. The good news is that people not only care, they care more than ever before as we start to focus on the fact that, on our watch, and even though koalas face extinction, a distressing number of developments are still going ahead that directly wipe out key koala habitats.

One of these is Landcom’s Newbrook development, which has just knocked down yet more koala-sensitive habitat and corridor at Smiths Creek near Campbelltown. Piles of trees were knocked down about a fortnight ago with WIRES people on standby in case they needed to pull distressed koalas out of them. Who and what is Landcom, you ask? It is a corporation owned by the NSW government. Their CEO is former leader of the Libs, John Brogden, and for the record, he is insistent that “There are no resident koala populations within the Landcom . . . development area. Resident koala populations have been identified in the adjacent bushland and koalas only traverse the development area from time to time.”

The bottom line remains. Koala habitat and corridors are disappearing fast.

What can stop all these developments? Only more political pressure, more of the public to care. One good sign is a koala petition launched just last Sunday – SaveTheKoalas.net.au– has already attracted 22,000 signatures. On Friday, at her request, I met with federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley and she promises the Morrison government will announce a "koala package" this month, with investments in habitat and research for koala protection. What is needed in my view, is for us to stop clearing the land!

What they said

“The Black vote in Detroit is the highest it’s ever been, and we will determine the outcome, because we’ve gone from picking cotton to picking presidents.” An un-named Black American, on MSNBC, on election day, as Michigan came home for Biden.

“Our win here is the result of more people than ever putting the Greens first.” Amy McMahon, new Greens MP, and apparently mistress of the bleeding obvious, for South Brisbane.

“Christmas will be different this year.” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing a lockdown of at least a month in England.

“By 2050, Australia will experience economic losses on par with COVID every single year if we don't address climate change. That would compromise the economic future of all future generations of Australians. Whatever Australia does or doesn't do, the global warming which has already taken place will hurt our lives and livelihoods. This cost is locked in – it is the cost of delay.” Dr Pardeep Philip, principal author of a paper that has found that if climate change goes unchecked, it will cost Australia $3.4 trillion and almost 900,000 jobs by 2070, dwarfing the impact of the coronavirus recession and devastating key industries such as tourism and mining. The research by Deloitte Access Economics, suggests the country could adopt a net-zero emissions policy at a fraction of the cost of dealing with the pandemic that would help to increase the economy over the next half century and add a quarter-of-a-million jobs.

“I have offered today the chairman and board of Australia Post, with great sadness, my resignation as chief executive with immediate effect. I am not seeking any financial compensation.” Christine Holgate resigning as CEO of Australia Post, ahead of a federal government investigation into her decision to reward employees with Cartier watches.

“I think if you look at our wages policy here in NSW, compared to anywhere else in the country, it's completely fair and reasonable and very generous in the circumstances. I think it's a very generous policy . . . We don't want to have a two-tiered society here, we're all in this together.” NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet defending the state government's budgetary decision to cap public sector wage increases at 1.5 per cent for the next three financial years and calling it a "generous policy". But, seriously, Treasurer . . .

“The most powerful economic stimulus the Treasurer has is NSW's own workforce. They spend what they earn directly back into their communities. The Treasurer has absolutely disrespected NSW public sector workers who stopped COVID-19 in its tracks.” Public Sector Union general secretary Stewart Little about the plan.

“I don’t find it daunting. The greater number of males does not affect my approach to lead or learn, and I have found that the Knox boys have been great to work with.” Emma Woodcock who was this year elected as commander of the Knox Grammar School Cadet Unit, the largest in Australia. Ms Woodcock, 16, will lead 1200 cadets. Nine hundred of them are from Knox Grammar, a private boys’ school on Sydney's North Shore, which established its unit in 1929. The remaining 300 are from Ravenswood School for Girls, which joined Knox' cadets nine years ago.

“A lawsuit without provable facts showing a statutory or constitutional violation is just a tweet with a filing fee.” Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, about Donald Trump's threats to take the election results to the courts.

Tweet of the week

“That’s fine for you guys. As a Canadian, what I have to come to terms with however, is never to trust an American you meet for the first time. There is a fifty per cent chance that person is a complete moron. Terrible odds.” @LucymaGoosie

Joke of the week

In late 1996, just after Bill Clinton had beaten Bob Dole in the presidential election but before the inauguration, Bill and Hillary are in the presidential motorcade just leaving Little Rock Arkansas, heading back to that town’s airport, where Airforce One is awaiting to take them back to Washington. As they pass by a tiny, dingy little garage on the edge of town, just as dusk falls, Hillary points it out and says, ''You see that garage, Bill? I used to go out with the man that owns that garage.''

Wryly amused, the president chortles and says, ''That is amazing, Hillary! Just think, if you had married him, you’d be the wife of a garage proprietor.''

“No, Bill,” Hillary says firmly. “If I’d married him, he’d be president.”

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

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