||Issue No. 229||16 July 2004|
The Sins of Our Fathers
Interview: Power and the Passion
Unions: Tackling the Heavy Hitters
Industrial: Seeing the Forest For The Wood
Housing: Home Truths
International: Boycott Busters
Economics: Ideology and Free Trade
History: Long Shadow of a Forgotten Man
Review: Chewing the Fat
Poetry: Dear John
The Locker Room
A Tool On His Own Merit
The deckchairs got a shuffle in Canberra during the week and the government took the opportunity to promote people solely on merit. All of them. Well, except for Ian Campbell.
The Prime Minister admitted that our new Environment Minister wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer but what could he do? If he waited around until the Western Australian division of the Liberal party threw up someone with a brain we'd be waiting until the middle of the Century before he could form a cabinet. And it was imperative that he had someone from WA, even if that person has the intellect of a house brick.
It was pleasing to see Helen Coonan promoted on merit; Howard has showed his commitment to gender equality by promoting incompetent liars such as Coonan to match the incompetent lying males in the Federal cabinet.
On his first day on the job Campbell showed his grasp of the role the Environment plays in the scheme of things by saying that the only way we can fix our environmental problems is by having a robust economy.
What sort of economy we're supposed to have if there's not enough drinking water or NSW's south west slopes starts to resemble the more arid regions of Campbell's home state of WA remains unclear.
Maybe Campbell is onto something. If we completely bugger the environment and leave the south eastern corner of the country like the Simpson desert then Campbell will feel at home in the eastern states, who can then start producing more slack jawed yokels like him.
Campbell continues the longstanding tradition of the senate being used by Western Australian division of the Liberal Party as a sheltered workshop for failed accountants and deranged Rotarians. Our Tool Of The Week is carrying on the stupefyingly dumb tradition of such luminaries as Noel Chrichton-Brown and Ross Lightfoot.
Our man Campbell has already presented himself as a shining example of Liberal intellect. During the Government's attempt to shut down debate on the Iraq war he described attempts by other senators to raise the issue as a "cruel and disgraceful stunt", which he claimed, without a hint of irony, "demean[s] this great political institution, and... Australia as a democracy."
His credentials as an environment minister received a massive boost when he lambasted the Western Australian Government for pressing ahead with a railway instead of turning Perth into a clone of Los Angeles.
The WA Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, Alannah MacTiernan choked on her cornflakes when she read about Campbell being promoted to the Environment portfolio.
"We've got a man here who simply does not understand environmental issues, as demonstrated by his frequent attacks on the rail project and urging us to halt the rail project and put all of the money into roads."
No wonder he wants the US to secure the Iraqi oilfields at any cost, regardless of how many get killed along the way. We'll need all that petrol to keep up his vision for a Freeway led recovery.
Chainsaw Campbell takes over from David Kemp, who became environment minister due to his uncanny resemblance to a log.
Campbell told a national shipping industry conference earlier this year that the government's support for ships of shame would "never reduce our strict safety, security and environmental standards".
Well, it's a bit late Campbell old son, you've already done that.
Campbell is a big fan of throwing Australian seafarers out of a job and replacing them with crews from god knows where, chucking any safety concerns out the window along the way, which doesn't bode well if he's all that stands between us and environmental ruin.
The good Senator also took time to tell a bemused crowd at the IMF that the Iraqi war had created some economic uncertainty. This will come as surprise to his colleagues Hill, Downer and boss Howard given that they seem to think that the Iraqi scenario has led to a new golden age of freedom and is an unsurpassed success, just ask Mick Keelty.
A man out of his depth is seldom a pretty sight, but our Tool Of The Week can take pride in the fact that he's probably not going to have to be Environment Minister for too long, and not because he'll get his wish to concrete over it either.
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