A few people have asked me, as a Midnight Oil fan, what I think of Peter Garrett now; now that he has supposedly dropped all his former principles.
He’s made a tough choice that will cost him friends and supporters.
But I believe he’s the same guy with the same beliefs. The ALP has a strategy to win this election and he has played from the script (apart from a couple of slip-ups).
If the ALP wins, he will soon be ratifying the Kyoto protocol on behalf of Australia. This is the kind of job Bob Brown and the Greens only dream about. He will have played the political team game, and now be in a position to make real changes.
The truth is most Australians find politics very boring. To make it “newsworthy”, the media focus on the dramatic stuff, such as conflicts, affairs and gaffes.
If Peter Garrett – or anyone else for that matter – was to publicly profess all his personal beliefs it would create conflict within the party, and also with other powerful interests (eg. mining, media). The press would lap this drama up. It makes a good story.
For most people, the news runs for 30 minutes each day. Take out ads, sport, weather and the fluff, there is but a few minutes to play politics to the masses. The ALP wants to get their message out there, in those precious few minutes. They don’t want the drama of a passionate individual taking up this time
Imagine, for example, if he had decided to personally, and publicly, oppose the Tasmanian pulp mill and it had started a stoush with Gunns and the Timber worker unions. The fight would have played out in the media for weeks. The ALP wants the “story” to be about Climate Change, Workchoices and their few pet messages, not about a fight which could have them labelled “anti-business”
Sure I miss seeing Peter Garrett flail about on stage making crazed anti-US rants. But that was rock, in the moment, and inspired.
This is about politics and getting stuff done. You won’t get everything, and you’re going to have to play the game. It’s a pity politicians can’t express their personal views and be tolerated for this. But that’s how things are in 2007.
Peter Garrett doesn’t look as loose and calm as he used to. I hope he still finds time to sing a song and play his harp.