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Shackled by Ideology

By Ad astra

Can the body politic ever be freed from entrenched beliefs?

How many of you despair of our politicians? How many of you fume at the incoherence of the positions they take? How many bristle at their intransigence, their stubbornness, their adherence to outmoded dogma that is no longer supported by the facts? How many of you have a feeling of hopelessness about their conduct?

We watch incredulously as they appear on our media to announce their intentions, to denounce their opponents, to avoid answering questions, or simply to gain exposure. And they do this seemingly oblivious of the palpable disregard the electorate has for them, and the scorn that voters heap upon them every day. They often refer to ‘the Canberra bubble’, as if somehow it is occupied by others, not themselves. Yet it is they who exhibit the behaviour we might expect of those disconnected from the daily reality of ordinary folk.

Take the recent conference called by PM Morrison to discuss the present severe drought. Its object was laudable and the timing appropriate. It offered the opportunity to review the factors that are creating the unprecedented drought conditions we are enduring, to reflect on what the future might hold, and to consider how we might better prepare for future droughts. There was an elephant in the room though – climate change. Being a central issue, it ought to have been the focal point of the discussion. But the proponents could scarcely mouth the words. Pressed by journalists, Morrison turned on his usual loquaciousness, ducking and weaving to avoid the connection between the drought and climate change. The words eventually tumbled out, diluted in a torrent of obfuscation.

The only explanation I can give is that his, and the Coalition’s denial of the reality of global warming, creates a dissonance that renders words such as ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ verboten. Like an ecclesiastic being forced to utter blasphemy, to use obscenities, or to denounce long-held and cherished beliefs, Morrison is so repulsed by these words that they struggle excruciatingly to escape his lips.

How can we ever hope for a rational approach to the enduring and recurrent problem of drought when a major factor in its genesis is shunted onto a back road because of ideological roadblocks?

In recent weeks there has been a number of authoritative reports from reputable scientific bodies, not only documenting the reality of increasing greenhouse emissions, but also the extent of steady rises in global temperature, in sea levels, and in ocean acidification, which have already occurred and will continue to do so. Yet these reports have been ridiculed by the so-called Environment Minister, Melissa Price, and ignored by the Coalition and the PM. The message seems too indigestible for them to stomach. So wedded are they to coal, that they cannot bring themselves to contemplate a world without coal-powered electricity generators. The fact that renewables are overtaking fossil fuels economically, and will soon replace them, seems impossible for them to accept. Entrenched beliefs block their thinking and distort their reasoning. They behave like clerics wedded to their catechisms, chanting them mindlessly. All the while industry cries out for a coherent climate policy, and a previous Liberal leader, John Hewson, insists that it’s irresponsible not to have one.

What hope is there that change can ever take place?

When Kerryn Phelps won the Wentworth by-election, she said it was “a victory for democracy”, and signalled “a return of decency, integrity and humanity to the Australian government”. Laudably, she imagined a change in the behaviour of politicians towards what we expect of them. But what hope is there?

Writing in The Conversation, Clare Wright, Associate Professor of History at La Trobe University, said: ”As well as taking a progressive stand on social issues, Phelps vowed to represent all those who were disgusted by the internal brawling and destructive power plays of Australia’s elected officials.” She continued: ”One commentator rejoiced that people who were ‘tired of the spineless and incompetent politicians who are intent on destroying the joint’, were finally getting their moment in the sun.”

But it will take all of Phelps’ considerable skill and persuasion to dent the intransigence of PM Morrison and his party members on the subject of global warming. They are wedded to fossil fuels as ‘part of the mix’ of sources of energy, no matter how much damage they continue to inflict on the environment.

PM Morrison and the Coalition are permanently shackled by their climate change ideology.

The Coalition’s entrenched beliefs don’t stop with climate change. They contaminate every discussion of refugee policy.

There is rapidly gathering momentum in the electorate towards bringing to Australia the residual refugees on Nauru. It will prove to be irresistible. The government will have its hand forced.

Morrison’s though is still choking on what to do with them when they return. The New Zealand option, while an obvious solution to sensible voters, is anathema to Morrison, who is gripped with the entrenched belief that such a move would be an invitation to people smugglers to resume business, as they would then be able to bribe people to pay good money to board their boats by promising that they will eventually be able to get to Australia, even if by the circuitous route of a third country, in this case New Zealand. The obvious parallel though – the resettlement of refugees in the US – seems to Morrison not to constitute a rationale for people smugglers to induce people onto their boats. His logic escapes me!

So here is another example of a government and its leader shackled by ideology, petrified that any move to take up New Zealand’s offer to resettle 150 refugees will ‘open the floodgates’, encourage people smugglers, and result in flotillas of boats arriving on our shores. The government’s fear is heightened by opinion polls that show that voters overwhelmingly want the Nauru refugees repatriated here, but they still want strong border protection! Morrison and his immigration people simply don’t know how to achieve both. They have created the desire in the electorate for ‘strong border protection’ with all their exaggerated talk about hordes of refugees invading our shores in waves of Indonesian fishing boats. Now they have to deal with the feelings among voters that they themselves have shaped with their menacing rhetoric. They simply don’t know how!

We are left disillusioned and feeling hopeless because our government is so shackled by ideology that it can scarcely move, so immobilized by fear of contravening its entrenched beliefs that it cannot solve our nation’s problems, so sterile of ideas that it cannot think clearly, plan strategically, or put into action the changes the nation desperately desires and needs.

Is it any wonder voters despair?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. Phil

    Yep – that pretty much sums it up.

    I would appreciate it if writers made an effort when making broad statements about politicians, to differentiate between the parties rather than lumping all into the same basket as deserving our contempt. One might or might not support the ALP but it would be difficult to argue convincingly that the ALP is anywhere akin to the Coalition in terms of policy and ideological underpinnings.

  2. Matters Not

    Re Dutton and the linked article above:

    “My judgment at the moment, based on all of the advice available to me, is New Zealand would be a pull factor at this point in time,” Dutton said.

    That anyone would place any value on Dutton’s judgement is a stretch. Nevertheless, he signals he’s not out of the political equation. If anyone can manufacture a crisis, then Dutton’s the one.

    Phil re:

    anywhere akin to the Coalition in terms of policy and ideological underpinnings.

    So it’s not true that Labor will also aim to spend 2% of GDP on weapons of war? Yes or No?

  3. Kaye Lee

    Craig Kelly posts numerous climate change denial articles every day. Today included this gem.


    The alarmist ‘Climate Prophecies’ foretell that tornadoes will increasingly wreak havoc across landscape.

    And who can forget the UN’s alarmist propaganda video of the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Jamboree, where a young girl and her teddy bear were chased by a deadly tornado – only to be comforted by the words of UN climate chief Rajendra Pachauri (who co-incidentally has recently been ordered to stand trial for sexual harassment charges described as ‘’carnal and perverted’’).

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, the latest peer-reviewed science shows that dangerous tornadoes in the USA are declining and headed for a record low this year.

    Yet again the reality has turned out to be the exact opposite the alarmist Climate Prophecies.”

    He obviously hasn’t read the study suggesting that the lack of tornadoes could be linked to the extent of Arctic sea ice.

    “The team believes that the reduction in tornado activity boils down to how the diminishing Arctic sea ice controls the path of the jet stream. As Arctic sea ice retreats, the jet stream migrates from its traditional summer path over states like Montana and South Dakota to areas farther north, and the atmospheric conditions that are favorable for tornado formation follow suit.

    “Tornadoes and their parent thunderstorms are fueled by wind shear and moisture,” Trapp said. “When the jet stream migrates north, it takes the wind shear along for the ride, but not always the moisture. So, even though thunderstorms may still develop, they tend not to generate tornadoes because one of the essential ingredients for tornado formation is now missing.”


  4. Zathras

    The sole ideology of the Liberal Party has always been about lower taxes. private ownership and total deregulation so that Free Market Capitalism can run free of all restrictions, in the deluded belief that it is the solution to everything society needs.
    I’m yet to see how the Free Market will solve homelessness, public health and an ageing population.
    Everything else they do is just window dressing and a way to gain and then retain power

    Although they speak about wanting smaller government their incompetent approach has led to the opposite. Despite outsourcing and rationalisation, the Public Service actually grew under the Howard years and outsourcing and privatisation has resulted in porrer service and increased costs for all.

    The currently rising electricity prices are the result of their misguided ideology and they now have to trot out some sort of interim patch-up job to get them over the line at the next election – but no further.

    Climate matters are in the same category. It’s easier to maintain some sort of status-quo than to make long-term committments they have no intention of keeping, especially when it affects their financial sponsors.

    As usual they will hope for some sort of distraction and the short-term memory of voters.

  5. paul walter

    About self.

    But what happens the next time people regain consciousness to the point that they realise with a shock what has changed between the last time and now?

  6. Jack

    Every political party is shackled by their own ideology. It doesn’t just affect the libs. That’s the balancing act of being in politics. How to stay true to your beliefs so that your base voters will keep voting for you, while at the same time try to woo voters from outside your normal sphere of influence.
    As we have seen in Oz politics for the last 10 years, we’re not being wooed by political parties we’re just voting against the ones we don’t like. Maybe its just me though

  7. Terence Mills

    Dutton is once again trying to shut down the New Zealand option as he has been doing for the last five years.

    This nonsense about a pull factor should we accept the offer from the New Zealand government is exactly that : nonsense.

    This issue could bring this minority government down if they don’t wake up to themselves and once again it will be Peter Dutton that causes the mischief.

  8. SteveFitz

    Thanks Paul, that’s a shocker – A 75% lose to the global primate population in 50 years and summed up by Richard Bartolomeo….

    “Our generations lasting memory will not be our forgotten and neglected headstones but how well did we, the noble and righteous citizens of the world, protect our mother earths environment and all of its diverse species from those subhuman sociopath nature terrorists who live among us….”

    Scientists are suggesting a 60% loss of all species, in the next 100 years, if we let our politicians, big buisness and rampant greed drag us down this mindless path of self-destruction.

  9. TuffGuy

    The biggest problem with politicians (particularly the LNP) these days is they no longer care about representing their constituents. It is all about them, their beliefs, their own agendas, their big business friends, their financial interests, their future employment aspirations, getting the maximum out of the system while in office.
    Where are the real people these days, those that are prepared to do the right thing for the country and its people, those that are prepared to make the tough decisions, those that stand in the centre??? Should they stand up they will be voted in with the biggest landslide in history.

  10. johno

    We need a minister for empathy, compassion and love…..yeah, bring it on !!

  11. Klaus Petrat


    Love your comment about lumping the parties together. On TV, time and again, you hear “Politicians of both Parties…”. It makes me sick.

    Both parties have failed to have a comprehensive Energy policy….

    I thought a price on emissions was a good start. The f&*$#ing LNP have been so destructive to the country and the people. Yet the media lumps them together. I am sicjk of this shit.

  12. Henry Rodrigues

    Shackled by ideology, blinded by greed, led by dickheads and owned by bastards.

    This fool’s face says it all.

  13. helvityni

    coalface = ‘ the place inside a mine where the coal is cut out of the rock’

    Scottie’s face photographed against coal must mean that he is the poster boy for COAL; a new meaning for ‘coalface’.

    Fair dinkum!

  14. helvityni

    “Brazil president-elect Bolsonaro says he plans to move embassy to Jerusalem”

    Some leaders must be keen to show their loyalty to Trump, Scottie has done it, now Bolsonaro….

  15. Ross in Gippsland

    “Shackled by ideology, blinded by greed, led by dickheads and owned by bastards”, thanks Henry Rodrigues. Australia and the world today, nicely summed up in a single sentence. From politicians to the big banks, the financial institutions, Cricket Australia, rampant wage theft, Australian concentration camps, and that’s before you even get to the largest elephant in the room, climate change. The list of horrors just goes on and on. The only hope is the younger generation can fix the awful mess we the older generation have made. They seem to have less tolerance for dickheads.

  16. Ad Astra

    Once again, thank you for your contribution to the discussion.

    “Shackled by ideology, blinded by greed, led by dickheads and owned by bastards.” sums up the problem well, Henry Rodrigues.

    Kay Lee, Craig Kelly is a classic example of someone who is shackled by ideology. He will never change his mind on climate change.

    Jack, you are right. We are all governed by our ideological position. That becomes a problem only when adherence to it runs contrary to the facts and the good of the nation.

    Helvityni, Brazil president-elect Bolsonaro is yet another example of the frightening emergence of more and more alt-right politicians.

  17. Zathras

    All political parties are indeed shackled by ideology but it’s ultimately the voter who has to decide which has better policies.

    Sometimes it comes down to what immediately benefits them personally (ie financially). what may be better for the long-term interests of the nation or what may be simply better for the majority and creates a more equitable society.

    Other than that, and like religions, in the end it all comes down to marketting, self-interest and life-long indoctrination.
    Most supporters are of the “rusted-on” variety and it’s the undecided who are targetted.

  18. denisethompsonfeminism

    I think the possibility of doing anything about climate change has just diminished markedly. The new president of Brazil has promised to destroy what is left of the Amazon forests. Not something the Australian govt can do anything about, even with the best will in the world (which they don’t have anyway).

  19. Kronomex

    Well, gosh, gee-whiz, what a giant non-surprise –


    “NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee said although modern mine plans pushed to eliminate voids, proposing a blanket approach on older mines could be devastating. “That would impose significant retrospective financial cost on operations that were approved 20 or 30 years ago,” he said. “That would cause operations to shut immediately and cost hundreds if not thousands of jobs across the Hunter.”

    Means, “Horrors, we could lose lots and lots of lovely profit and bonuses. Oh wait, the LNP is in charge, we’ll just give them more money and they’ll sort it out for us. Whew.”

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