Oils ain’t oils, but it’s the Liberals who are hypocrites
OK, so I know the drill is that we’re meant to dust off our LPs and find the angriest Midnight Oil lyric about uranium mining or nuclear war, present it as a damning tearsheet, and then use a photograph such as the one below - taken at the Sydney protests against French nuclear tests in the Pacific in 1995 - to declare that Environment Minister Peter Garrett is the mother of all hypocrites.
It was certainly the position Malcolm Turnbull took last night after Garrett signed off on the Four Mile Uranium Mine in South Australia. Turnbull might be our alternative, conservative prime minister but he sounded for all the world like some campus Trotskyist as he led the sell-out charge against the former Oils frontman.
“What this approval just shows today is that Mr Garrett is as big a phoney as the Prime Minister,” Turnbull said, happily side-stepping the fact that, in endorsing Australia’s fifth uranium mine, Garrett has done the exact thing the Liberal Party has been urging him to do.
Whether you agree with uranium mining or not isn’t really the point here - for what it’s worth, my view as a South Australian is that this mine will provide another valuable boost to the state’s economic resurgence, and that the challenge of climate change and advancements in safety mean we should re-think our position on every aspect of nuclear power.
There’s a more fundamental point which goes to how a person’s opinions are allowed to evolve, and whether they should ever be permitted to adjust or compromise their beliefs in keeping with other members of their organisation.
Think back to your youth, even to a decade ago, and there would be plenty of things you believed then, or thought you knew then, which you have jettisoned entirely - some of them in embarrassment. Others you will have modified or finessed in light of gathered wisdom and experience.
This is where the Libs have played a silly game with Garrett which makes them look like petty point-scoring opportunists. For years, the conservatives have poked fun - and deservedly so - at Labor’s absurd “three mines policy”, which is the ideological equivalent of a half-pregnancy, and demanded that Labor abandon such nonsense.
Now that the party has done just that - after Garrett found himself on the losing side, despite speaking forcefully against any expansion of uranium mining at the party’s 2007 conference - the Government is doing precisely what the Opposition has urged it to do by approving new mines.
Whether Garrett has honestly changed his mind, or is just acquiescing to party rules and cabinet solidarity, should really both be moot points for the Libs, who look juvenile for teasing the bloke for adopting the very approach they’ve been demanding for decades.
It’s a fine tactic for the Greens to adopt but for the Libs it’s just posturing which reflects more on them than it does on Garrett.
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