Thursday, July 23, 2009

Garrett's choice

The Australian environment minister, Peter Garrett, is
copping sneers and taunts because he approved the
expansion of a uranium mine in South Australia, thus
aiding and abetting the development of nuclear energy
and weaponry—something he fiercely opposed when he
sang with Midnight Oil in the 70s and 80s. So, 20 years
on, having become a full-time Labor Party politician,
he’s a hypocrite? Maybe. But also a realist; and in politics
it can be a fine line between the two stances, if indeed
they differ at all. If you want power and the opportunity
to make real political change, you have to let some things
go. Garrett clearly made that choice when he signed up
with the ALP and aspired to high office. Of course he was
never going to get his way in everything, not even Kevin
Rudd gets his way in everything, and if by going along
with the uranium deal he retains the ability to do good for
the 'environment' (I've just about had it with that word
but what the hey) in other ways, then fair enough. I'd
rather wait and judge his ministerial record over a longer
period of time.

Naturally the Greens can say they're bitterly disappointed
in Garrett, given his previous work on behalf of ecological
issues, but 35 years after the first green-style parties
emerged in Western democracies none has seriously
dented the grip on power maintained by the more
generalist types of party that evolved earlier in the 20th
century. Until Green parties can break out of their leafy
niches and present as serious contenders for government
in their own right, then people like Garrett will go
elsewhere, with all the inevitable compromises that that

No comments: