Macklin / Our land is girt by… costly political defenders

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DEFENDING Australia’s shores was the name of the political game this past week, and it came at quite a cost.

The $50 billion for 12 Shortfin Barracuda submarines would not only repel the ravening hordes, according to PM Malcolm Turnbull, it signalled “a great day for the jobs of the future”.

Robert Macklin
Robert Macklin.

Cynics might suggest that the six most welcome of those jobs belonged to Industry Minister Christopher Pyne and his SA Liberal colleagues in the coming election. Certainly it put a beaming smile on Christopher’s face; and Malcolm’s enthusiasm had absolutely nothing to do with the contract going to the French instead of Tony Abbott’s much preferred Japanese. Oh, perish the thought.

THE other stout defender of our precious coastline was Immigration Minister Peter Dutton who stood firm as a rock against our 850 fearsome asylum seekers now illegally on Manus Island. And they couldn’t even go to NZ lest the people smugglers hear about it.

The cost to Australia’s international reputation notwithstanding, Peter (and Malcolm and, yes, Bill, too) would decide, in John Howard’s immortal phrase, “who comes to this country and the manner in which they come”. And, said Malcolm: “There’s no place for the misty-eyed”.

SPEAKING of John Howard, the man himself emerged from the mists of time in one of the more extraordinary gatherings of political leaders to recall the murder of 35 men, women and children by a madman 20 years ago. And all were reminded of that other act of courageous Howard statesmanship when he cracked down on gun ownership when only 96 per cent of Australians were in favour.

ON the other hand, we actually forced another group – of Norfolk Islanders – to become fully-fledged Australians when about half their number much preferred to remain “independent”.

Those were the descendants of the murderous crew of the “Bounty” – and their equally lethal Tahitian paramours – who have been living off the Australian taxpayer since 1901.

The other islanders are desperate for the change that will finally see this crucible of Australia’s penal history made a viable tourist venue… despite the pompous pronouncements of the mutineers’ mouthpiece, the ineffably pretentious Geoffrey Robertson. (Declaration of interest: my book, “Dark Paradise – Norfolk Island,  Isolation, Savagery, Mystery and Murder”, Hachette 2013).

THE redevelopment of Manuka Oval and village found yet another opponent in the Greens’ Shane Rattenbury who this week advised CM Andrew Barr to “start again with a master plan and a community group to decide what’s best for the site”. And why not? Shane’s last major “advice”, we’re reliably informed, was the Gungahlin tram.

WE can’t let Mark Scott’s stint as ABC managing director pass without the warmest congrats on a job well done. Commercial news networks might chastise him for giving away “their” product for free. Truth is, they aren’t in the same race as Aunty. It’s ABC first, daylight second.

HOWEVER, in these days of coral bleaching and rising seas, Aunty’s weather reporters – and those of the commercial channels everywhere – really should think again about the way they delight in “the lovely warm weather” of this record breaking autumn.

It’s a little like Mrs Noah welcoming “a nice drop of rain for the tomatoes”.

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Robert Macklin
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