Friday, May 13, 2005

Latham Felling

Remember a few months ago, before the saddest day of 2004 that was October 9, when John Howard emerged as the new bestest buddy of Tasmania's timber workers? When, suddenly, tattoed members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union - Union, I stress - were having their picture taken with big grins and their awesome arms around the utterly uncomfortable looking PM, supporting his policy on Tasmania's forests over Mark Latham's? Remember how Labor lost 2, nearly 3 Tasmanian federal seats in the 2004 annihilation and its fallout, when Latham's own colleagues went on the offensive against him, accusing him of pandering to the commo Greens and the dreaded drinkers of soy decaf lattes in Paddington at the expense of the timber workers?

How quickly they forget.

Never mind where the $260m - over $200m more than promised during the election campaign - for the industry reform package came from, let me explain why this reminds me so much of the Ned Flanders/Superintendent Chalmers "joke time" at Springfield Elementary:

Flanders (newly appointed Principal): ...And I think I can put the pal back in principal!

(laughter and mirth from the students)

Chalmers: Yeah, and I'll put the super back in Superintendent!

(dead silence)

That's the exact same joke. What gives, Leopold?


Flanders (outlining policy on lunch): ...I'd like to put the stew back in student!

(raucous laughter again)

Chalmers: It's just a damn popularity contest with you kids! (rushes off)

Leopold: Now look what you little FREAKS have done!

To illustrate: Howard = Flanders (I know, who would've thought), Latham = Chalmers, loggers = students (dunno who = Leopold. Simon Crean??)

If this is not a case of that Simpons episode, then perhaps it's one of chronic incompetence on the part of the ALP policy marketing team (and perhaps Latham's communication skills too) that they could not articulate clearly the policy Howard will now be implementing, but as the Oz points out (and the only odder pairing of unionists with Howard is QP with an Oz article):

In the final blow to former Labor leader Mark Latham, the Prime Minister's announcement will emulate the ALP plan that severely damaged the party just days before last year's election.

Presumably, the timber workers were not gravely concerned about losing their livelihoods under Latham's policy without good reason. You don't sell out the union fraternity (or what's left of it) to cuddle up to union-devouring barracudas like Howard unless you genuinely believe your interests are better protected under him than your traditional ally.

I'd just like to know how Labor could get it so wrong in promoting their means to the same end: clear-felling of old-growth forests will end. Are people so polarised in this country now they will automatically view with suspicion anything - anything - that has the support of the Greens, but as soon as they're taken out of the equation, everything's a peachy beacon of bi-partisan productivity (honestly, if you didn't know better you'd think Paul Lennon is a Liberal premier)?

How long do I and other CROWs have to wait in fear until the outside villagers finally rise with their flaming torches and pitchforks to wipe out all consumers of milky coffee within an 8-mile radius of Town Hall, even when we were the ones saying all along that sustaining levels of oxygen in the atmosphere is perhaps a more important long-term goal than sustaining an ultimately unrealistic career option?

Will said unionists still want to put their arms around Howard when post-1 July his unstoppable assault on workplace unions commences? Hands around his throat, maybe...


At 13/5/05 9:57 pm, Blogger Brownie said...

No they won't.
I voted Greens in the past 2 elections. I like trees and value their contibution to our life.
I want the Kyoto Protocol signed.
I am against shipments of live stock to Saudi Arabia. Greens Greens Greens.

At 13/5/05 10:56 pm, Blogger Nic White said...

Excellent post.

At least the forrests are being saved from logging, it is a bit of a problem in Tasmania.

At 14/5/05 1:01 pm, Blogger Sam said...

I'm a bit of a Greens cheerleader too Brownie. I'm not sure they've quite refined their political strategising but I support almost all of their policies.

I also take offence to the shameful way in which they're consistently demonised by the Murdoch media machine.

At 16/5/05 3:24 pm, Anonymous Bazza said...

Sam. I wonder how many of those big butch choppers with their arms around little Johnny, were truely, fully paid up union members or just contract workers!

At 16/5/05 4:18 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Fair question bazza. I've just assumed they were capricious unionists but it's indeed possible they were just contractors slipped in by the Liberal party to make him look like the champion of the worker. After all we know there's nothing this government won't stoop to.


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