Thursday, November 29, 2007

There's a whole lot of shaking up going on, by Dylan Welch - The Sydney Morning Herald - 29th November 2007

Today marks perhaps the pinnacle in the remarkable change in both character and duties of what are now two of Australia's most prominent politicians.

First, former Midnight Oils frontman, wacky dancer and activist Peter Garrett.

Second, the three-times married, one-time earring-wearing, guitar-strumming, Labor-voting bikie and medico Brendan Nelson.

But after today's announcements - Garrett to become Australia's Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, and Nelson now the leader of the Liberal Party - have either any wild man left?

Perhaps a comparison might serve to illuminate. First some of the lyrics from "Blue Sky Mine", written by Garrett:

"The candy store paupers lie to the share holders / They're crossing their fingers they pay the truth makers / The balance sheet is breaking up the sky".

And then today's rather less impulsive lyrical achievement:

"I am excited and humbled by the opportunity given to me by Kevin, and honoured to be part of the new Labor Cabinet, as Minister for Environment, Heritage and Arts," Garrett wrote in a statement today after Kevin Rudd announced his new cabinet.

"I am very proud of the comprehensive set of policies and proposed actions we put to the people of Australia in the election campaign, and I am very pleased and proud to be involved in implementing them," he continues, unaware that most of Australia had already tuned out and chucked on a scratched old copy of "Redneck Wonderland" on the stereo.

Then the former Labor-loving, now Liberal-leading Nelson, who once actually wore a diamond earring, something even the most bling-obsessed US rapper is loath to do.

He is also known to fill the halls of Parliamment late at night with his guitar renditions of songs from bands such as The Animals and Slim Dusty.

The man who once declared he had never voted Liberal in his life, joined the Australian Labor Party in 1988 and ran a medical practice with the brother of one-time Labor leader Simon Crean, defected to the Liberal Party in 1994 and has since risen through the ranks.

Though even in late 1994 Nelson showed signs of wavering, when he was quoted as saying: "I would feel equally comfortable as a moderate Liberal as I would in the Labor Right".

He was also once referred to by arch-conservative former Treasury secretary John Stone as a "political hermaphrodite".

Yet as of this afternoon the chameleon-like history of Nelson will almost certainly settle as he assumes the mantle of overlord of the largest conservative party in Australia.

No more diamond earrings, one can assume.

Media Man Australia Profiles


Peter Garrett

The Environment