Monday, July 20, 2009

Peter Garrett: fame, fans and fish to fry?

I have long been opposed to uranium mining, and I remain opposed to it.
Peter Garrett, 2007 ALP National Conference

How can Australia’s Minister for the Environment redeem himself in the eyes of his erstwhile legion of supporters?

That’s not a rhetorical question with the (understood) answer, "By throwing himself down a mineshaft in South Australia". It’s a serious problem, at least for Mr Garrett. His latest policy about-face, this time on uranium mining, seems to leave him with few friends outside Labor caucus and big business. asks, Peter Garrett: fool now or liar then? The Green Party has savaged him over the Four Mile uranium mine in South Australia, just as Greens leader Bob Brown called him "spineless" over the Gunns wood-pulp mill in Tasmania. Now there’s speculation about a further string of uranium mines.

Garrett has retained a core of the many rock fans he had when he was the lead singer of Midnight Oil, but many of those fans who loved him for his progressive politics and lyrics, as much as for the music show, have run from him in embittered droves.

Facebook bears witness to the grassroots rebellion with group titles such as ‘Peter Garrett is an environmental sell-out’ and ‘Peter Garrett is Australia’s most disappointing man’. Combined membership in these groups only numbers about 500, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. All sorts of other groups and individuals on Facebook – all over the Net, in fact – are making rude comments, such as:

“What the hell happened to him?”
“Mother ****er just approved a uranium mine”
“Thanks for the pulp mill, PG, and your half-hearted attempt at being Australia's Minister of the Environment.”
“Not really surprised he has approved a uranium mine. I have given up on him.”
“What did he get in return, deputy PM within 10 years?”
“Words can not describe my disappointment. What a traitor. What a liar. What a sucker.”

Then there are the parody lyrics circulating, like:

“Oh the power of the Factions, oh deceit and compromise”

and the parody song on YouTube (first shown on The Chaser).

How can he sleep while his bed is burning, and is it true that “nothing’s as precious as a hole in the ground”?

The question at the head of this post, I see now, was indeed rhetorical, although I sincerely searched my brain for it not to be. I’m not even sure that hubris and political ambition have not squashed any give-a-damn that Peter Garrett might have had about supporters. He won the seat of Kingsford Smith. He won the Environment portfolio. And he’s already had fame and fans, so maybe there are bigger fish to fry.

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