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Politicians with a death wish

By 2353NM

You have to wonder if some with a high profile in the ALP have a political death wish. Recently, the government’s performance was summed up by the Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck sitting at an enquiry into aged care, speechless for half a minute because he couldn’t answer a pretty obvious question on the number of deaths in aged care homes due to COVID-19. Rather than kicking back and watching the train wreck, Agriculture and Resources Shadow Minister Joel Fitzgibbon sticks his head up the next day and suggests that the ALP will split at some point over environmental issues, but not in his political lifetime.

Fitzgibbon represents a large chunk of the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, and anyone who has ever driven through that area will attest to the extent of the mining infrastructure. Apparently Fitzgibbon has been arguing for a while that the ALP needs to support the continuation of coal mining in Australia. Regardless of Fitzgibbon’s opinion, the use of coal has been falling for years in most parts of the world, with demand likely to fall further — for example Japan has announced it will close its older and inefficient coal fired power stations by 2030. It’s ridiculous to plan to maintain or increase the production of a product when there is no demand.

We live in a world that is constantly changing. If we go back to the beginning of the 20th century there was a considerable industry in horse drawn transport, from farriers to wagon builders to the people who supplied the hay used as ‘fuel’ for horses and those that cleaned the hay up after ‘processing’. While the horse drawn wagons still exist, they are more an advertising medium rather than a genuine attempt to move the product from point A to point B. Those supporting the horse drawn transport industry had to adapt as the internal combustion engine gained popularity.

In the 21st Century, renewable energy production is increasing as evidenced by the Clean Energy Council claiming that 2 million Australian homes now have solar panels on the roof and

An average of six panels per minute are being installed in Australia, with the Australian Energy Market Operator estimating an average of 10-20 panels per minute if large-scale solar projects are factored in.

which suggests we won’t be taking up the slack locally as our coal exports reduce.

Regardless of the machinations of those that want to keep the status quo, a number of institutional investors and financiers have announced that they will no longer invest or insure fossil fuel infrastructure. While there might be a commercial advantage to the promotion of a newly discovered environmental focus, if there wasn’t a business case to be made for a swift exit from fossil fuel investments, it wouldn’t be happening.

Surely, someone like Fitzgibbon is supposed to be a leader in his community. He should be having discussions with concerned residents that his side of the political fence is aware of the problem, working on ways to adapt the local and national economy to ensure continual growth when the inevitable happens. Rather, he seems to be sticking his head in the sand and humming ‘Kumbaya’ in the vain hope that the world will go on as it has without radical change. Is it any wonder that the ALP’s primary vote has declined? About 10% of the population now vote for the Greens — a lot of them probably used to vote for the ALP but shifted on the basis that the environment is changing for the worse and some in the ALP seem to be hoping for a miracle (or even hoping and humming Kumbaya), which really isn’t a great mitigation strategy.

What makes Fitzgibbon’s publicity stunt even less intelligent (if that was possible), the government isn’t looking all that good at the moment. We’ve already mentioned Colbeck’s failure to remember details of his portfolio. Let’s face it, if Colbeck was asked if Mrs Jones’ en-suite door was on the left or right wall in Room 15 at the Happy Valley Aged Care home, he would be forgiven for not having a clue. The number of people who have died from COVID-19 in his care — aged care is a federal responsibly and he is the responsible minister — shouldn’t be an obscure fact that requires the ruffling of what appeared to be numerous briefing notes before he could answer. On August 21 (the day Colbeck couldn’t recall the number), Morrison claimed he had confidence in his Aged Care Minister.

Ahead of the August 21 ‘National Cabinet Meeting’, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton re-entered the fray claiming that Queensland’s ALP Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was playing populist politics in the lead up to the October state election by keeping the borders closed to those from New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT. Queensland’s Chief Medical Officer responded, demonstrating that pandemic management is yet another thing that Dutton is clueless about. Queensland Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles offered to accompany Dutton around some shopping centres in the northern outskirts of Brisbane (where Dutton is the federal representative and Miles is the state representative) to actually ask the public. Dutton seems to have crawled back into his box and Queensland announced an unknown origin COVID-19 cluster the next morning, giving further fuel to those demanding the borders remain closed.

Morrison has some problems with his trusted ministers which the ALP has been capitalising on by generally keeping quiet and enjoying the show. However, when ‘the other mob’ are continually demonstrating they can’t manage their way out of a wet paper bag, let alone a pandemic, why on earth would you tip a bucket on your own side of the political spectrum as Fitzgibbon did, giving ‘the other mob’ a chance to point and suggest that we all look over there?

We all get that the transition from a fossil fuel economy to one based on renewable energy is not business as usual. Nor will it be stress free for all involved. Certainly, there needs to be a discussion on how the ALP will manage a transition to a renewables based economy while supporting workers that are in sunset industries, but surely it should be behind closed doors until there is a policy.

Then, and only then, there needs to be a public discussion on what the problem is, what the ALP has planned to mitigate the problem and help those adversely affected. That would explain to a lot of their supporters past and present why the ALP is a far safer environmental bet than the Greens who seem to have a problem articulating agreed policy in a number of areas. Both however are a better option than the Coalition that wants to fund the business case for construction of new a coal fired power station as a sop to vested interests who can’t see the wood for the trees.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. Patricia

    Joel Fitzgibbon is trying desperately to hold onto his job by pandering to the coal miners in his electorate. But as you say, he would be better off talking to them and getting the ALP to have a policy, such as they have in Germany where the coal miners, mine owners, unions and government have sat down and worked out a transition from coal mining to renewable energy and where those miners who want to retire are supported and those who want to continue working are retrained.

    But as can be seen in the LNP, it is obvious that the best and brightest are not going into politics and Fitzgibbon is one of those. His actions are actions that would be expected from a liberal or national politician and he is making himself a laughing stock among labor voters.

    The fact that Albanese has not reigned him in shows how little strength Albanese has within his party and unfortunately it would seem that in 2022, even though the LNP has not governed for the people, the country or the future of both, since 2013, that they will once again be given the treasury benches, why?, because the ALP cannot find within their ranks anyone who can lead them out of the wilderness in which they have placed themselves. The ALP cannot find a way to counter the disgusting Murdoch mafia media and the lies that are directed at them. They don’t do themselves any favours either by not changing the rules when they do get into government and more and more they are looking like just another branch of the LNP.

    The appalling lack of talent on all sides of politics is a result of 50 years of making the job of representing the people into a lifelong career, where the focus is on staying in the job no matter what, and not representing the people who put them there.

    Being a politician is so on the nose at the moment it is impossible to get good people to put their names forward unless they are already part of the political scene so what we get is just more and more professional politicians, whose sole aim is to be re-elected and do only just enough to stay in the job and not rock the party boat.

  2. New England Cocky

    Fitzgibbon holds an electorate dependent upon coal mining and he appears to be on the pay-roll of mining interests because I have been unable to find any Fitzgibbon proposals for either (i) an Faculty of Alternative Coal Uses or (ii) any proposals to transition mine workers into alternative energy as described by Patricia above.

    Miners are actually only a small group of workers compared to other occupations, but they are very well paid for their work. So Fitzgibon appears to be concentrated on maintaining the past with the consequential climatic disaster rather than move his electorate forward into the 21st century. Doing a Santamaria split would suit the COALiiton right down to the depths of their underground coal mines.

    Given the underwhelming performance of Albo et al perhaps Fitzgibbon is hiding his talent under a bushel and doing a Duddo, waiting for his chance to stab Albo in the back for Leader of the Labor Party. Or equally possible, Fitzgibbon is a bone headed politician enjoying the perks of public office and determined to keep them, even if that requires Australia to suffer under yet another term of Scummo Sacked from Marketing and the Hillsong Graft Singers.

  3. RomeoCharlie29

    There seems to be a school of thought that the ALP won’t release policies because, if they are good, the LNP will steal them! However if such policies included significant encouragement for renewables and removal of support for fossil fuels there’s no chance such a policy would be nicked. Didn’t I read elsewhere today the gas industry thinks it has the support of the government’s Covid19 recovery mob for expanded gas infrastructure? ( such support, if forthcoming, should just about sound the death knell for Scummo and pals). The lies being told by gas boosters about the benefits need to be countered. Here in the NT it is being said that Labor’s narrow re-election, but with a resurgence of support for the (pro mining) CLP indicates community support for fracking. Others say the drop in support for Labor— which had a moratorium on gas exploration, an extensive consultation process which eventually green-lighted fracking but with a raft of 135 conditions— and an increase in the Greens vote, argues the opposite. If it is correct that fracked gas has never made its developers a profit then maybe it will be shareholders who decide the future of unnatural gas extraction.

  4. Matters Not


    the day Colbeck couldn’t recall the number

    Guess he wouldn’t be any good at trivial pursuit then would he? But surely political advisers would, by now, have developed a stock, standard answer for these gotcha type questions. A response that ridicules. demeans, humiliates etc any so-called journalist trying for such a cheap shot. It should be too easy. And then that non-sense would be confined to the dustbin of … whatever.

    The sad reality is – that currently – it works! And some wonder why the standard of political discourse is in such rapid decline.

  5. Michael Taylor

    MN, he might be OK at Trivial Pursuit if he had Morrison or Hunt on standby to feed him the answers. They might be in trouble though, on the following categories: Geography, Entertainment, History, Literature, Science and Nature, or Sport and Leisure.

    Might I add Politics, Climate Change, Pandemics and Aged Care as categories.

    Let’s chuck in Australia as a category, too.

  6. Harry Lime

    Patricia, so true, and so depressing.Career politics is not working so well for the hoi polloi.I’ve almost given up.

  7. Matters Not

    MT On the BBC they have a show called HARDtalk – In-depth, hard-hitting interviews with newsworthy personalities. The last episode I listened to was

    Brazil’s battle between science and politics with Natalia Pasternak who has launched a crusade against her President in the name of science. But is she winning the argument?

    Runs for 30 minutes and there’s no holds barred. We need the equivalent here but all we get is fluff and bubble. And sadly in Australia gotchas equate to hard-hitting journalism.

  8. Michael Taylor

    Thanks, MN. Just subscribed to the podcast.

    Will listen to it tonight after Amy Siskind’s “The Weekly List” (the best Trump-bashing podcast I’ve yet found).

  9. Matters Not

    All politicians operate on the Principle that no-one, absolutely no-one – can be a better representative than me (the incumbent) so my re-election is the starting point for good government. That’s first and foremost. It’s my re-election that keeps me awake at nights. Joel is no different.

    Martyrs are few and far between in politics but that doesn’t mean that an elected Leader can’t strategically lop a few heads.

  10. Jack Cade

    Matters Not

    I heard that episode of Hard Talk. It is fearless non-partisan interrogating and that particular episode had Pasternak really rattled because she was forced to acknowledge that Bolsonaro had not really lost much ground despite the impression we have been given that he is a total plonker who is now overwhelmingly dismissed by the electorate. I have no doubt that he is a RW charlatan and a Trumpist demagogue, but I am not a Brazilian and don’t have to worry about his politics (excepting his allowing widespread burning off in the Amazon).
    No politician in this country would allow themselves to be interrogated in the way Hard Talk questions its guests. Nobody in this country is nimble-witted enough to hold his or her own. Gough would gave welcomed the opportunity, Dunstan would have, maybe Turnbull would have. Morrison would not go anywhere near it. He’d have an urgent holiday to attend, And any Abbott interview would have been punctuated by silences while he fought his instincts to punch the reporter.

  11. Michael Taylor

    Now there’s no excuse for me not to listen to it.

    God damn I love podcasts.

  12. Carole

    Being a total plonker (I do like that description) is not exclusive to the LNP unfortunately. Joel Fitzgibbon has been wingeing ever since the election. It is an uphill battle for The ALP and Albo in particular with bruises still showing from the last election. But I have great sympathy for him. He has the LNP, Murdoch, ABC and the Press Gallery to contend with and rarely given the opportunity to display his sincerity and commitment to the working men and women of Australia. The National Press Club this week was a rare opportunity and he made the most of it, addressing the club without notes and speaking passionately non stop for 30minutes. It was a really good speech and I advise anyone who missed it to watch on iView. Not releasing policies until closer to the election is the right strategy. It’s called keeping your powder dry, or dare I say not shooting until you see the whites of their eyes. Joël might lose his seat if Labor decides that climate change, floods and fires are more important than coal, but losing one he may gain many more as people realise we must move to a sustainable green future.

  13. Matters Not

    JC – it’s not a program that politicians can’t easily run away from because to so do would be admitting so much – and across the world. Can’t say I listen to every episode. Depends what time I wake in the morning (4.00am or 5.00am on ABC RN as i recall.)

    Easy for us to say – isolate! – but for many of the 200 odd million in Brazil who don’t have refrigerators etc – if you don’t work in the morning (every day) then you don’t eat in the evening. Yet some here complain about freedoms being limited. They need to get out more and see how the majority of the world’s population live.

  14. Matters Not

    Yes Carole – Shorten won nearly every poll right up to the election but then he lost the only one that really counted. Albo just might win because Morrison might lose. If that happens – all will be forgiven. And quickly. All Hail Albo the brilliant strategist. But if he loses … Guess – life’s a gamble.

  15. Andrew Smith

    MN, for hard hitting (journalistic) interviews (very testy but non violent interrogations), my choice would be Mehdi Hasan who does similar to Hard Talk on Al Jazeera English.

    However, most Australian (British, US etc.) MPs and public figures would chew through their own elbows before agreeing to an interview with Hasan; or experience PTSD post interview.

  16. wam

    Fitzgibbon, waving a paper, “I am supposed to say this” is my memory of this ex-leadership ambitioso. He has a problem in his seat and it is just not his head. He has not accepted the woman shaming him and his petulant splashes stem from his wrist slap.. After 24 years I think he’ll do a tanner and retire rather than lose.????
    The polls were accurate, Carole/MN, right up to the last minute when the miracles appeared in Nth Qld and NW Tassie.
    sustainable green future. hahaha QED

  17. Graeme

    Is Fitzgibbon pandering to the coal workewrs in his electorate or the mine owners who stand to see their assets loose value?

    Yes Patricia, the German approach looks like how grown-ups are facing this problem. Australia is so tied up in short term vested interests on so many fronts. I wish the resource and media owners etc. would just go away 🙁

  18. Jack Cade

    Andrew Smith

    Hassan has a brilliant mind, and us, as you suggest, an aggressive, pugnacious interrogator and debater.
    I take issue with his ‘Islam is a peaceful religion’ stance, but he won a university debate on the issue so he must also be a persuasive advocate. Debates are not won on what is right, but what is best presented.
    His comments about the West and the Iraqi war are spot on, as was his comment that the US only picks on countries (for whatever reason – usually plunders my opinion – not Hassan’s) that do not have nuclear capabilities or good friends that do. Hence they destroy Iraq but negotiate with North Korea. In other words, they don’t pick fights with people who will fight back.

  19. Michael Taylor

    I’ve been following Hassan on Twitter for a couple of years. Watching him interview should be a lesson for any journalist.

  20. Jack Cade


    Fitzgibbon is representing the views of Labor voters in his electorate, as is his job.
    In my opinion, The ALP would have won the last federal election if they had not prevaricated on the Adani project and allowed Brown’s caravan to run over their balls. They handed the LNP to Queensland – 23 seats.
    They reminded me of a video clip I saw once of a man who protested a development in the USA by sitting across the railway tracks in front of an engine pulling trucks full of ore; the train went through and cut both his legs off. He lost more than his argument. He may have expected the train to stop, but stopping a line of ore-filled wagons takes a couple of kilometres…it was an horrific incident with no winners.
    I support neither Fitzgibbon not the Adani project, but I have four children and if I’d worked in an industry absolutely essential to my family’s livelihood with no immediate prospect of alternative employment, I’d throw my principles out of the window.
    Labor is not called ‘Labor’ for nothing. The working class is extremely conservative on some Issues and a political party that says it ‘represents the people’ needs to recognise what those words mean.

  21. Mrs Wobbly

    Same old mantra spooled by our so called leaders and politicians, years in and years out, this and that, but nothing changes. Self centre leadership with overwhelming Ignorance of the real world, with no vision or leadership for future generations, this leadership style only amounts to telling Australians what they want to hear and watch to make opinions (propaganda) but only one sided, then at saturation point by Australia’s MSM. One opinion suits all, as politicians know, so self preservation becomes the only issue, which ever side they “per port” to be on, so it’s no wonder politics is on the nose for “thinking” Australians, as none to thinking Australians say “politics doesn’t effect me”, vote on two minute grabs of MSM propaganda and unfortunately this helps the rest of us drown under propaganda and fascists rule.

  22. wam

    That’s it in a nutshell .
    The lnp cannot win without frightening workers to vote for them.Iam certain that a clever city greenie knew there was money to be made but he miscalculated how much and the consequences.
    Albo has to alay such fears and arm his grass roots supporters with anti-slogan ammo.

  23. Mark Shields

    Too right Patricia,
    Fitzgibbon is just a narcissist on the wrong side of politics. If he had known he would end up supporting lazy coal miners after electoral boundary shifts, I’m sure he would have started off with the Liberal Party, not the ALP. His whole “Support for Coal Mine Jobs” is as LNP as his pretty suits. His perennial attitude of “I’ll be PM one day” was never so blatant when previously; as a representative of farming/coal/wineries and supporter of environmental protection for the entire Hunter region; the Electoral Commission switched his electorate to just Lower Hunter and our filthy toad Barnaby Joyce ended up resuming the northern end of Fitzgibbon’s electorate, making the Upper Hunter an even larger NP electorate, whilst Fitzgibbon was reduced to Newcastle and the lower Hunter. Subsequently, his support for environmental protection has obviously waned and now, free of principle he is as gung-ho in support of coal mining and coal powered generation as any LNP fossil could be. It was probably Fitzgibbon who fought to preserve the Liddell Power Station beyond it’s use by date, and it is probably Fitzgibbon working with Chinese government corporations to prolong the Hunter Valley’s extended coal mine facilities into the next century! Forget Dastyari as a traitor…

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