Contemptible political and corporate forces impact heavily on our lives, but most Australians don’t care. It’s crazy but true.
Sure, the broader society views the establishment with disgust and disdain. And yes, trust is at an all time low. And lack of confidence in the system is understandable.
But these cannot be excuses for not caring – quite the opposite.
Collective disengagement – apathy on a grand scale – has become a national cancer, and the prognosis is not good. Continued inaction will invite the Grim Reaper to remove the Australian soul.
To quote John F. Kennedy: “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”
Society can be divided into two categories – the minority, which actively advocates action, and the rest whose apathetic silence is deafening. For them, comfortable inaction must feel safe.
Meanwhile, the resolute minority soldiers on, driven by social, political and environmental conscience. It cries out for progressive, radical change. It must surely be bewildered at the task of overcoming public apathy as well as confronting the issues that bedevil Australia.
SHOCK JOCK: Tony Abbott, great to have you on
the show again, mate.
ABBOTT: Thanks mate, always a pleasure to
do interviews with intelligent, like-minded people of the right, like your good
SHOCK JOCK: I see you had a party room stoush with
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg over the National Energy Guarantee.
ABBOTT: Josh is cranky because I am
leading an internal party revolt against his plan. My pro-coal Monash Forum is
a faction that opposes action on climate change and wants new coal power
stations. Craig Kelly and I have flagged we will cross the floor to oppose the
SHOCK JOCK: I believe Frydenberg reminded you
of your commitment as PM three years ago that Australia, as a party to the
Paris Climate Agreement, would reduce carbon emissions by 26 to 28 per
cent from 2005 levels, by 2030.
ABBOTT: And I replied by informing the
party room that bureaucrats had misled me.
SHOCK JOCK: What a great reply! Blaming
bureaucrats is always the best way out of embarrassing backflip predicaments.
ABBOTT: What embarrassing backflip predicament?
SHOCK JOCK: Now, you say that the Paris agreement
was only ever “aspirational”. I would call that a backflip.
Significantly, Julie Bishop has questioned your U-turn on climate change since
you were Prime Minister.
ABBOTT: I duly pay homage to Julie for
exposing my hypocrisy. As a devout Catholic who once trained for the
priesthood, I know that God was the creator who gave mankind fossil fuels as an
infinite source of power.
SHOCK JOCK: So God said, Let there be coal power stations
until Planet Earth is destroyed?
ABBOTT: I didn’t know that, but I agree.
Australia is rich in coal. It is cheap and reliable. And it creates jobs. Jobs
always matter more than the environment. That’s a given for political survival
— and my own job.
SHOCK JOCK: I would say your job is on shaky
ground. You are very unpopular in your own electorate of Warringah.
ABBOTT: Yes, Malcolm Turnbull did bail me
out of a tight spot in the last election. I think it was an attempt to stop me
from behaving like a bitter and twisted spoilt brat after he stole the prime
ministership from me. I bet he regrets it now!
SHOCK JOCK: Do you ever consider the impacts
of your pro-coal behaviour on your grandchildren? I certainly worry about
ABBOTT: I think you have become a greenie!
SHOCK JOCK: The world trend is now away from
coal. Financiers are increasingly refusing to back investment in coal because
it is becoming an economic dead duck. Investment in renewables is the future.
ABBOTT: You must be confusing the crap out of
your listeners. You are supposed to be a right-wing jock.
SHOCK JOCK: Many of my listeners – the poor –
are going hungry and cold because power bills have doubled in the last decade.
ABBOTT: That’s not my fault.
SHOCK JOCK: As a matter of fact, we have Josh
Frydenberg on the line now.
ABBOTT: Are you joshing me?
SHOCK JOCK: Mr Frydenberg.
FRYDENBERG: Thanks for taking my call. I am
doing one hell of a high wire balancing act here. Sometimes, I think I should
have joined the circus rather than Parliament.
SHOCK JOCK: Is there a difference?
FRYDENBERG: Funny! I am trying to end decades
of policy and investment uncertainty that has led to high prices and unreliable
power. I want retailers to meet reliability and emissions reduction targets.
Let me explain this point by point:
I am dealing with the likes of Mr Abbott and his mates, destabilising the Coalition with a zero emissions target agenda, threatening to cross the floor.
I am trying to adhere to our international obligation undertaken in the Paris Agreement.
I need the support of Labor, which agrees in principle to the National Energy Guarantee but wants the target to be 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2050.
I face opposition from The Greens, who claim the NEG will be more detrimental to the renewables sector than if the Coalition did nothing.
I have to deal with the irascible Lower House crossbench and a volatile Senate.
Then, I have to get the states and territories to come on board.
Plus, business, energy and welfare groups are desperate for a resolution of the energy policy stand-off.
ABBOTT: Diddums, Josh!
FRYDENBERG: I am not saying the NEG is a
silver bullet. There is none, but this is my best compromise in order to move
forward. You, Tony, don’t know what compromise means — except when it comes to
compromising your own party. You are making the Coalition look like a disunited
SHOCK JOCK: What do you say to that, Tony?
ABBOTT: I agree.
SHOCK JOCK: You agree?
ABBOTT: Yes, we are a disunited rabble. If
everybody agreed with me, we would be one big happy family.