||Issue No. 334||24 November 2006|
It’s Who The Economy Works For, Stupid
Interview: Common Ground
Industrial: A Low Act
Unions: The Number of the Least
Politics: The Smoking Gun
Economics: Microcredit, Compulsory Superannuation and Inequality
Environment: Low Voltage
History: The Art of Social Justice
Review: Work’s Unhealthy Appetite
Culture: A Forgotten Poet
The Corporate Vaile
Any doubts that Mark Vaile doesn't represent at least some country folk were scotched last week when the Deputy Prime Minister outlined his plan to defend Qantas.
Using the kind of logic that deduces daylight savings fades the curtains, Vaile outlined the reason why Qantas would remain Australian, despite interest from overseas bidders.
The country member said while shareholders are free to flog their investment to overseas buyers, he could "confidentially predict you will never see the (flying kangaroo) moved off the tail of Qantas aircraft".
Clearly, the country folk he represents are usually found in the ethereal areas of the Appalatians and carry pitchforks.
As wise men have pointed out, this is like saying stuffed koala down at the tourist shop is still Australian even if it is manufactured in China.
But then, it's not so much of a jump in reasoning for the Leader of the Nationals to make, as he leads a party still dining out on the bush branding without actually having to do anything for people in the bush.
Although Vaile says there are no moves to change the provision of law that limits foreign ownership to 49 per cent, can the man be taken on his word?
After all, this was the bumpkin that shortchanged his own constituency with the sale of Telstra.
To paraphrase rugby league supercoach Jack Gibson, waiting for the Nationals to do something for people in the bush (other than those that sell ethanol and wheat), is like leaving the porch light on for Harold Holt.
At least in some quarters of the Nationals, the penny is starting to drop.
For instance, down at Barnaby's office, the Rubble has been rumbling.
"I don't think someone in New York or Tokyo is going to be terribly sentimental just because it has a kangaroo on its tail about what they do to Qantas," Barnaby mused.
He's a thinker.
But then again, wasn't this the Barnaby that traded regional telephone services for some magic beans?
Then there was the small matter of the Government's industrial relations laws, which will reward people in the bush with lower wages.
Even the Smirkin' Merkin, Peter Costello, has put up a more spirited defence of the national airline.
The Prime Minister in waiting and waiting said the flying Kangaroo "means majority Australian ownership" and there was no intention of changing the foreign ownership laws.
Furphie or not, Vaile must be breathing a sigh of relief. His masters might finally let him stand up for the bush.
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