Macklin / Such is our winter of discontent

“Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, co-chair of the Federal Government’s school curriculum review, Kevin Donnelly, declares himself in favour of a return to the cane,” writes Seven Days columnist ROBERT MACKLIN

GLOBAL is local in this new world of ours – and the consequences are decidedly mixed as we saw this week when a Canberra mum, Liliane Derden, was among the 298 passengers and crew on that tragic Malaysian flight.

Robert Macklin.

Robert Macklin.

At the same time, we discovered that Aussie citizens who joined the Islamist fighting in Syria and Iraq are returning with rage in their hearts. And many, we’re told, have slipped through undetected by our security services.

Such is our winter of discontent.

PM Tony Abbott’s giant leap backwards on climate change – just as the world was getting serious about it – split the nation. And the sniping from all sides came thick and fast.

Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, for example, enlivened the chamber with this shaft at carbon price supporter and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten: “We will hang this around your neck like a rotten, stinking carcass”. Golly.

Policy differences are one thing, but the tone of political debate quite another. Alas, the verbal fusillades have changed character since Mr Abbott donned the mantle of leadership, be it climate change or stopping the boats. Maybe we should quarantine Capital Hill lest the infection spreads.

MORE than 1300 well-meaning Canberrans packed Llewellyn Hall recently to urge “a more humane and tolerant policy” towards asylum seekers and refugees. And they presented their views to Federal Parliament this week through a couple of Labor MPs.

Full marks for a nice, civilised political protest. But honestly, what did they expect from a minister who keeps a boatful of Sri Lankans fleeing the murderous Rajapaksa regime in windowless cabins aboard a Customs vessel in the middle of the Indian Ocean?

SO, how come Gungahlin gets all the goodies? First it’s a terrific freeway-cum-raceway, then they’re first out of the blocks for the light rail, to say nothing of the recently opened $30 million leisure centre. And this week they were favoured with the start-up of their superfast NBN!

Maybe it’s time for us southerners to get our moving boots on.

TREASURER Andrew Barr gave the RSPCA a golden handshake this week with his decision to award them the concession to raise funds at Floriade.

This is the animal protection group that gave its imprimatur to the local kangaroo “cull”.And there’s to be a Dog’s Day Out, he says, so owners can bring “their four-legged canine friends to Floriade for the first time since the introduction of fencing in 1999”. But, Andrew, in the interim Canberra has banned plastic bags, so what happens to all those little presents that Fido leaves behind?

FINANCIAL belt tightening is understandable, but why, oh, why is the National Library, one of Canberra’s – and the nation’s – finest ornaments to scholarship, closing its stacks on weekends when Saturday is its busiest day?

If it’s just money, I’m sure researchers would be happy to pay a modest fee. It feels like we’re heading back to the dark ages.

AND just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, co-chair of the Federal Government’s school curriculum review, Kevin Donnelly, declares himself in favour of a return to the cane.

I wonder how he’d like it.

 

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