Take your CPRS and shove it

An absolutely classic rant by Crikey‘s Bernard Keane.

Welcome back to Parliament for the final time this year. Two more weeks of this stuff and then we’re finished for a summer that already feels like it’s been going a month. That’s assuming Anthony Albanese doesn’t keep his colleagues confined here at the end of next week, or even brings them back for another spell in December.

Wouldn’t want all those end-of-year “let’s all be best mates” speeches to get in the way of proper legislative business eh?

The job of a political journalist ?—?not of course that I would know, since according to the national broadsheet I’m not a “real journalist”, and strangely proud of it ?—?is somewhere between theatre critic and sports commentator. The main tasks of sports commentators are to tell you who’s winning and pretend something exciting is happening when it isn’t. That’s where it is closest to political journalism. Media coverage of politics is always about who’s winning and who’s losing, naturally, but the trivial and meaningless are routinely built up into events of monumental importance simply for the sake of pretending something significant is happening.

But you also need to appraise the performances of the principal actors (not to mention the ambitious walk-on players), assessing the conviction or otherwise with which they utter their lines, paying close attention to the effect not on professional observers such as oneself, who to use the immortal phrase “don’t know jack”, but the hoi polloi in the cheap seats at the back, from which vantage point scenery-chewing hammery or mindless repetition may look like the stuff of the Great Tragedians.

Once in a while, we’re reminded that this isn’t a show or a game that we’re watching. This morning the Prime Minister made an apology to the “Forgotten Generation” in the Great Hall in Parliament House. He was followed by Malcolm Turnbull. Both made heart-felt and emotional speeches, without political polish, the sort of speeches we can point to when people lament the lack of Australian political oratory. The tears and smiles and applause of those present who as children were abused in institutional care show how significant the actions of government can be, even in simply acknowledging those whose pain was ignored for so long.

This fortnight also sees some sort of climax in the emissions trading debate, another issue of more-than-usual gravity.

I don’t know about you (no, really, I don’t) but I’m utterly over the CPRS debate. It’s been a long road since early last year, when Penny Wong blithely called the Garnaut Review “one input” into the Government’s consideration, in effect spilling the beans, or giving the game away, or belling the cat, or whatever cliché takes your fancy. I’m now sick of emissions trading. Sick of Wong’s tedious droning, of Kevin Rudd’s sanctimony, of the Coalition climate denialists who make a virtue out of their own intellectual and emotional disabilities.

I’m sick of Barnaby Joyce and the National Party, so plum-stupid that they can’t even understand when the National Farmers’ Federation tells them it’d be a good idea to back the scheme. I’m sick of the rentseekers, the whingers, the sooks and Hookes, who preach the virtues of the market when it suits them but whose natural posture is of a hand stuck out, demanding assistance, and assistance in ever greater quantities, like blackmailers who just keep coming back for more.

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