Macklin / There’s bad news, then the much worse news

AS Canberra yawns, stretches and greets the New Year, much has changed over our sleepy summer and little of it for the better. 

Robert Macklin

Robert Macklin.

Most striking is the new leader of what used to be called the Free World, US President Donald J. Trump.

Our principal security alliance partner is now in the hands of a classic narcissist, a borderline personality, who owes his election in large part to a former KGB operative in Russian President Vladimir Putin. And since Trump’s Republican Party controls both US houses of Congress he now has virtually untrammelled power over both domestic and foreign policy.

That’s the bad news. And it gets much worse, because Trump and his coterie refuse to accept the undeniable evidence of dangerous global heating caused by the burning of fossil fuels. If America reneges on its commitment to reduce CO2 then the planet itself will enter a feedback loop that puts the future of humanity in jeopardy.

Alarmist? Well, when an Antarctic ice shelf the size of California is showing signs of runaway melting, the alarms should be going off all round the world. For once the climate runs out of control, international disorder becomes the norm; our species is simply not equipped to work together to solve the problem; instead it’s every man for himself and devil take the hindmost.

Cartoon by Paul Dorin

OUR leaders are all too vulnerable to the seductions of power. The concept of “service” to their community is lost on this current generation. And what better illustration than the protests of Trade Minister Steve Ciobo during the Sussan Ley affair that he and his colleagues were “entitled” to charge the taxpayer for their attendance in luxury boxes at the AFL Grand Final.

HOWEVER, there’s a brighter side in prospect. Truth is, political power rests finally with the governed. In the Chinese imperial system it was called the Mandate of Heaven; in Australia it’s the “fair go”.

So it should be no surprise that the latest Centrelink imbroglio should have slugged PM Malcolm Turnbull’s polling numbers. And if they apply the same scheme to old-age pensioners, they might as well give the game away – even with awful Bill Shorten as putative PM.
Moreover, Donald Trump will discover – as Richard Nixon did before him – that his electoral triumph will quickly turn to ashes when he gives vent to the ignorance, stupidity and plain nastiness of the man within.

In 1972 Nixon won 49 states in a massive 18 million vote plurality yet by August 1974, he was gone. And, unlike Trump, he was a President who helped to bring China into the international fold. So let’s be of good heart – and keep our sense of humour – as the Trumpian drama unfolds.

SADLY, this is the last of my “Seven Days” columns. A bad chest infection, a legacy of my early smoking days – and my new book on Australia’s hidden history with China – “Dragon and Kangaroo” – which comes out this year has meant I must lighten the workload. But all is not lost; editor Ian Meikle, one of nature’s gentlemen, has invited me to contribute occasional articles. It will be an honour and a privilege to do so.

    So until then…


robert@robertmacklin.com

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