Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gerard Henderson, sack a few ministers, forget about climate change, don't mention virginity, and is that all there is ...

(Above: this site demands the return of 'droit de seigneur' as the only sensible way to solve the virginity crisis currently afflicting Australian politics).

Does Gerard Henderson have a principle or a belief anywhere in his make up?

Or is he strictly a Machiavelli who strives to out-Machiavelli Machiavelli's The Prince?

Well he wants Rudd to shift Penny Wong and Peter Garrett into different positions. No argument there.

And he wants Rudd to forget about climate change, to focus on what really matters.

Rudd's priority was climate change. Yet there was never any sense in Australia going out in front of the world on this issue.

So far only the European Union nations have adopted an ETS and their economies are significantly different from that of Australia, Canada or the United States.

The sinking of the ETS would make it possible for Rudd to focus on health and the economy. He would be ill-advised to go an election with an ETS in Labor's policy speech.

In the past, Henderson has purported to be a believer in climate change, no doubt under the impression that the climate changes from time to time, and that change might, or might not happen as a result of human behaviour, who can say for sure, it seems 90/10, though so long as there remains ten per cent of doubt on the matter, Henderson firmly believes in the right of people to make a fuss. (Meddling in our politics not a good look from right or left). And in the right of government not to have to worry about it.

Invariably when he scribbles, Henderson loves to scribble most of all about eco-catastrophists, and such like, and he loves to carry on about them in the way worthy of a terribly witty undergraduate earning his spurs in debating. As when he was sent a book, with a letter:

Enclosed with Professor Manne’s letter was the book, Climate Code Red by David Spratt and Philip Sutton. An addition to the library is invariably welcome. It’s just that, in these times of potential environmental catastrophe, you would expect such a tome to be dispatched by rail and delivered by a sandal-wearing cyclist. But, alas, not on this occasion. Professor Manne’s missive came by air, in a plastic bag, and the paperback Climate Code Red was covered with lots of plastic bubble-wrap.

Oh dear, the wit, the wit, can someone stop me rolling around on the carpet. It's so dry, it reminds me of desiccated coconut. That's taken from a piece in The West Australian, published under the header Responsible Rudd carbon target is the right course (and thanks to the quirks of the intertubes, I could only find it available here).

Henderson's opinion then, encapsulated in the bizarre header? The Rudd government was on a steady course, governing for all Australians, disillusioning the ultimate end of world climate types who thought the world would change once John Howard was sent down (as if the world would ever deviate from John Howard's wondrous vision), and deploying a sensible carbon emissions reduction scheme that would be as job-friendly as possible:

Ms Wong made this clear when speaking in Geelong last Friday. She referred to “some calls by some groups for us to close down the coal industry” and added: “The reality is coal remains a significant source of power for the world as well as for Australia. So we have to invest in . . . finding a low emissions solution”. That’s the voice of a politician tied to an ethic of responsibility.

An ethic of responsibility! Ah those were the days.

But back in the old days, that was when John Howard had devised a market-orientated ETS policy, along with Malcolm Turnbull, and they took it to the 2007 election, and then it later somehow transformed and transmogrified itself into the Labor party ETS, and it became evil and unfriendly.

Back in those ancient days of yore, it seems that an ETS was readily explainable, and indeed even supportable. These days, the runes are not so easy to decipher:

It is not clear if anyone can explain emissions trading in readily understandable terms.

Sob, not even John Howard. And certainly not Malcolm Turnbull. Not with all his blather about the markets. Up against the real and tangible benefits of direct subsidy to the farmers!

Before the 2007 election, Rudd could get across an understandable line.

Because he borrowed it from John Howard, and anything John Howard said was sensible and understandable.

His current problem seems to be engaging in indirect speech. On Meet the Press last Sunday, for example, the Prime Minister prefaced his answer on a dozen occasions with the term: "Can I say?" - or words to this effect. No such question is necessary. He needs to talk directly.

Translation: in 2007, all Chairman Rudd had to do was say, "Can I say? I'm just supporting John Howard's ETS policy, or Can I say? I'm just stealing John Howard's ETS policy." Speaking on those terms, in that way, of course anything Chairman Rudd might say would be immediately understood by Henderson.

So if acting on Henderson's new, updated, policy advice, Chairman Rudd dumps the ETS, which is, after all, a great big new tax, what then?

What policy does he then try to sell? A carbon tax? Like a great big new carbon tax? Or perhaps he should settle on Tony Abbott's army of green men, who by planting a few trees will fix things? Or maybe do Paul Sheehan's thing, and fix up the urban heat sinks which are actually the cause of global warming?

Oh well no one's Nostradamus, not even one who aspires to be Machiavelli, but often ends up sounding like a prattling Polonius:

As Opposition leader, Nelson has scored some short-term hits. Yet he has made no substantial impact. Primarily, it seems, because he has no unambiguous positions on economic or social policy. In recent times, Nelson has failed to state an unqualified position on such issues as climate change and Reserve Bank independence. There are many more such examples. In spite of his relative political inexperience, Turnbull does have firm positions. That's why he looks like leadership material now that Costello has walked away from the job and now that the Coalition appears to have an ever so slight chance of victory in 2010. (Turnbull looks the man for the job).

Indeed. Firm positions. From a stout-hearted man. Kindly remove the knives from the back on the way to the door with the 'exit' sign.

Well about the only counter-advice that could be offered is not to accept policy advice from a prattling Polonius. How's this for blithe:

The lesson is clear. The ETS is a lost cause. In which case, Rudd would be well advised to cut Labor's losses now and junk the legislation. A post-ETS political environment would make it possible for the Prime Minister to reshuffle his ministry and move the Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, and the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, into different positions.

Yep, just settle down and embrace the sceptic denialist cause! Not have a climate change policy at all! What a grand policy solution to a policy issue, worthy of Yes Minister. Or perhaps steal Tony Abbott's recent hastily devised policy, which doesn't actually consist of a policy so much as a series of neat agrarian socialist policies to shove subsidies down the throats of not so innocent bystanders ...

Good one Gerard. Wise advice Chairman Kev. Take heed.

Well enough of all that. How about some other advice?

? There is little point attacking Tony Abbott's social conservatism. In the states where the Coalition threatens Labor - NSW and Queensland - social conservatism is not a negative. Some of the inner-city luvvies who dislike Abbott may not admit it, but the next election will not be won, or lost, in Ultimo or Leichhardt.

The ? - there's a series of '?'s" in the column - is in fact clearly a gremlin in the SMH site, but I loved it so much - the resonant question, the all devouring question mark of life - that I decided it merited a place in a properly accurate and fastidious quote.

And there you have it. Tremendous insight into the insidious ways of the inner-city luvvies.

Expert decoders of Henderson will understand that Ultimo is a reference to the headquarters of the ABC in Sydney, and ain't it pleasing to learn that the ABC - supposedly intent on the destruction of the Australian way of life - will not, according to Henderson, have any impact on the next election.

But why rail against them all the time, as if they count, as if they matter? When they don't count and have no influence?

Don't be a gherkin, pourquoi pas is the right answer here.

And ain't it also pleasing to learn that the inner west has now shifted to Liechhardt, which was once known for its Italian restaurants, and a truly hideous ersatz Roman forum for which I have a profound affection.

It seems that Liechhardt has now assumed the mantle of inner west licentiousness and secular feminism, once held to have been the province of Newtown harpies and academics at the UTS.

But it seems secular feminism is not what it once was:

The Age journalist Katharine Murphy does not present as a prude. Indeed she describes herself as a secular feminist. Last month, Murphy described Abbott's advice to his young daughters about pre-marital sex as "more or less what I would advise my kids". Many parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents would agree - and quite a few would live in marginal seats. One of Rudd's appealing features to many voters in 2007 turned on the fact he is a social conservative himself. Labor should not forget this.

Oh indeed, virginity is truly a gift, unless some vile noble exercises "droit de seigneur". Bring it back, we say, end this virginity crisis. Stop the endless debate. Embrace the values of social conservatives. Take your child to a Catholic priest today.

And there you have it.

What's that, you say? What's 'it'?

Why it's a tour through the mind of Gerard Henderson, and we almost forgot to mention that John Howard is mentioned twice, though it has to be said only in the fourth last paragraph. Such a bright star, so slowly fading.

But what's it all mean? Simple really:

No policy on climate change, sack a few ministers or shift them around, lock up your daughters because that's what secular feminists agree should be done these days, and bob's your uncle. Bob Santamaria, that is.

Yep, I'm sorry, that's it.

That's 'it'?

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

And when I was 12 years old, my father took me to a circus, the greatest show on earth.
There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears.
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads.
And so I sat there watching the marvelous spectacle.
I had the feeling that something was missing.
I don't know what, but when it was over,
I said to myself, "is that all there is to a circus?

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

Never mind if the whole world goes up in flames. Sssh, loose eco-catastrophist lips sinks ships.

Take it away Peggy:


  1. Oh, your taste in music is exquisite. Surely there will be great Tahiti Trot in the Shostakovich cycle.

    Now make my day and tell me you are also a fan of Jo Stafford, Charles Trenet, The Weavers and the Richard Bonynge (+Dame Joan) production of The Beggar's Opera.

  2. By golly, that's more diverse and stout hearted than a ploughman's lunch. I can't say traditional jazz is my strength and I'm more Puccini than Gay (and nothing wrong with Dame Joan and consort), but who can argue with La Mer?

    I used to say I had catholic musical tastes until people started to think I was talking about Cardinal Pell. Never a day without music, and off to the Mahler thousand voices on Thursday and always doing the Tahiti trot, though I'm only up to orchestrating a paper bag ...


  3. Ah, well I sincerely trust you're blown away by the Mahler - seems like a wonderful set of voices. I will only have ABCFM's broadcast to console me.

    Trad jazz is ok (Red Onion, anybody ?), but it seems that your attention to music is more serious and organised than mine - I just listen and enjoy, mostly.

    So, just one last impertinent question: Scott Joplin's Treemonisha ?


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