Happy New Year to all the Quietblog readers and contributors out there. I thought it seemed an appropriate moment to post a short thought about the year that was and the one to come.
There seems to be a loud chorus of public opinion that 2016 was a terrible year. I won’t deny that some pretty awful events have taken place in the last 12 months. I’m not talking about celebrity deaths here (even though that seems to have been the most significant thing to have happened this year for some), but the terrible impact of natural disasters and human-wrought atrocities on millions of people throughout the year.
A fairly common theme I have heard from a number of conservative and progressive commentators has been to blame Donald Trump’s election on the air of moral superiority taken by Democrats and social rights activists. The exact way this was phrased varies, from the very progressive Jonathon Pie imploring people to have conversations with people with differing opinions; through to the much less progressive Steve Price telling Jamila Rizvi on air that people voted for Trump because, “People like you lecture and heckle them.”
That’s right, all you leftards and bleeding hearts need to start showing greater respect for those with differing opinions. I say that a little facetiously, but I actually agree to some degree. There are some lessons for the left side of politics if it wants to be heard by a broader base who right now seem willing to vote against their own interest.
I would like to see Corey Bernardi make good on his threats and break away from the Coalition in seeking to form his more conservative party to represent Australians who feel the current government isn’t far enough to the right- can there really be that many people like that?
Voters are fickle and hard to predict so I can’t say for sure that it would fail though- and the possibility of it somehow mobilising a far greater number of voters than I anticipate is a little frightening- but I still would like to see it happen.
There are certain signs that herald the arrival of Christmas in Australia. The weather starts to get hotter, elaborate Christmas decorations appear on houses and, of course, someone will try to tell you the Muslims are going to steal Christmas.
It is almost as if certain people have something to gain from making us afraid of a religion that has existed in Australia for more than a century. I’m sure that is just me being cynical though.
I support Teachers for Refugees expressing their opinion (with certain caveats about respecting others' rights to hold conflicting opinions) and not just because I am appalled by the abuse of refugees in offshore detention; but I am not surprised at them having their roles questioned and challenged in the media over the past week, especially by the sensationalist Murdoch Press and our politicians who continue to fail the moral test of how to treat refugees.
And as much as these attacks on Teachers for Refugees are politically motivated, there is an interesting question to be considered.
Should teachers be apolitical?
While the government’s continued failure on climate policy is not exactly news, I thought their existential convulsions and the troubles of Turnbull and his environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, this week were noteworthy for a couple of reasons.
Last week it was announced by Frydenberg that the planned review into energy policy would reconsider the possibility of carbon pricing. Of course they didn’t want to use the words so they called it an ‘emissions intensity program,’ instead, but they were still talking about a pricing mechanism.
I haven’t bothered to spend much time writing about the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s appalling inaction on climate change. That is not because I am not concerned about it. Just that it seemed obvious to anyone but a One Nation voter that global warming is a problem and our government is too beholden to the dirty power industry to do anything about it. But there have been a couple of recent developments I feel compelled to comment on.
After some questionable machinations to overcome some legal obstacles, the enormously unpopular Adani Coal Mine continues to inch inexorably towards a horrifying reality. While the project has the blessing of the complicit Queensland Labor government, it has also widely been reported this week that the federal government is set to approve a billion dollar loan of Commonwealth money to build infrastructure for the project.
I noticed with some interest the radio and news coverage of a school’s decision, made in consultation with the school association, to take a stronger stand on nutrition by banning the practice of giving candy canes with Christmas cards at school, and to also stop students bringing birthday cakes to school from next year.
Now I have a bit of a sweet tooth myself and I’m certainly no preacher or exemplar of healthy eating, but I do recognise that sugar is a ‘sometimes food.’ While I thought this was an unusually brave step for a school to take- and one that would no doubt ruffle a few feathers- what really surprised me was the reaction from the media and its consumers, with even the Education Minister showing some ridiculous overreach by his expressing public disapproval.