No – not my careless typing. Just an effort to express my despair about the way Australian grassroots democracy seems to be working these days.
This first three months of 2011 has seen the greatest number of hot days in the Perth metropolitan area for the January to March period since records began in 1897. After many months relentless heat without rain and following a decade of record dry years, this would surely make climate change and the carbon tax debate a major concern of citizens. Our state politicians must surely be racking their brains about water and be galvanised into action, urged on by those citizens, not only at the ballot box but by the all usual means available to people living in a democracy. Particularly by peaceful protest.
I certainly thought so particularly after reading a report The West Australian March 25th about a rally outside the Perth Convention Centre.
The rally in favour of climate action trumped its anti-tax counterpart, both on the numbers and on the sense of inspiration it engendered. On one side was a sea of young faces and blue T-shirts, proclaiming now as the time to embrace a sustainable future, make polluters pay and invest in clean energy. On the other, hectoring speeches about “Ju-liar”, paranoid raving about political totalitarianism and long-debunked scientific furphies straight out of the climate wowsers’ playbook.
Wow, I thought, Way to go! So when our Prime Minister was coming to WA and to my very own suburb, to ‘meet the people’ in a Community Cabinet at South Fremantle I decided that I would be there to express my support for her government’s initiatives to tackle climate change, particularly with the plans for a price on carbon. Our local newspapers ran a feature on how there would be a rally at the high school and conservationist groups put out a leaflet promoting it. I decided that even my dog and I could help by distributing that on our morning and evening walks. I even wrote a more personal letter to neighbours in surrounding streets near my home, which I later emailed to anyone I thought might possibly by able to attend or alert others. I urged them to come along and show their support for action on carbon pollution. I thought that just by being there, wearing something blue even carrying a balloon, we could help. We could make just a bit of difference.
Well, last night I sat down and wrote an apology to any of my friends who turned up at that rally because of my urging.
Such a disappointment! All those hundreds of mums and dads with their kids, along with greenies and varied groups of conservationists peacefully supporting a price on carbon were entirely drowned out by noisy anti-government protesters with whistles, hooters and shouting jeers. Much fewer in number they were still very determined to be heard. As well, other special interest groups were out in force. I was particularly surprised by the rowdy tactics of young gays chanting non-stop for equality of marriage rights with slogans proclaiming the PM and the government to be homophobic! Some very tipsy fishermen were handing out whistles and klaxons with free fishing rods and were horribly noisy. They had no info hand-outs so I couldn’t quite get what their complaint was.
Apparently forewarned, the PM arrived early and unnoticed. People leaving the the Community Cabinet seemed well pleased with what had happened inside. I had to leave at that point before all the children who had gathered were able to present their giant thank-you card with hundreds of their signatures. I hope they had the chance to meet their Prime Minister and be greeted in return.
I did meet some of you on the fringes of the crowd. Perhaps tomorrow we’ll all know what happened to that card. Do any of you know?
Listening to ABC news today I’m still none the wiser about that card. There has been some reporting on the concerns of people at the meeting inside the school hall with the Prime Minister answering questions on range of issues, particularly refugees and the concern we all share about undue delay in processing claims for asylum and overcrowding of detention centres. The crowds outside were reported as ‘noisy protesters.’ So much for all those well behaved children with their parents.
Oh and the major story about our Prime Minister coming to Western Australia and meeting our Premier seems to be about money and how the GST is carved-up between the States.