You know how young children make bargains in their minds – "If I don't miss this bus I will do my homework for a month", that sort of thing? It's a bit like whistling as you pass the graveyard to keep the ghosts away. Or clapping hands to keep the elephants away ("Does it work?" "Well, you don't see any elephants do you?").
Penny Wong reminded me of all of that last week. There were nation-wide protests about the lack of meaningful action on climate change. Afterwards Ms Wong said people's expectations were unrealistic – "What many of these people are calling for simply can't be done. It can't be done while supporting jobs," she said. About the same time it was revealed that Australia was demanding that CO2 emissions from bushfires not be included in calculating Australia's total, because we had so many (and will be having more and more as the continent dries out). You can hear Penny clapping, whistling, and making bargains with invisible beings can't you? She seems to think that good intentions ("Like the people who are at these rallies, this Government does want to take action on climate change") will make that nasty global warming go away. That she can make bargains, that the CO2 already in the atmosphere will totally understand if the politics of coal companies, the CFMEU, and Barnaby Joyce make it impossible to reduce our emissions. There are no bargains Penny, and clapping hands won't make the elephant in the room go away. The world (yes, Penny, the world does include Australia) has to actually reduce emissions (including bushfires and everything else), quickly, and no amount of whistling and bargain making changes that grim reality. Ms Wong has failed.
Harsh? Yes, but we expected better of Kevin "we will let the science decide" Rudd and his team of the best and the brightest. Penny Wong has that aura of brightest girl in class [Steve Fielding on the other hand is the class clown and doesn't know anything but has learnt to stick his hand up and say stupid things ("Now class, what do astronomers tell us the moon is made of?" "Please miss, please miss, green cheese miss") just to get the class laughing - loves being the centre of attention] but she has been given the most important job in government and she has failed to do her homework, failed to hand it in, and Australia is going to miss the bus in Copenhagen.
And Greg Hunt – doing much better than Penny Wong (and won't she be cross when she reads that). But he reminds me of the star eighteen year old recruit to a football team doing really badly, full of has-beens and never-wases. You can enjoy his flashes of brilliance in a Reserve's game, but you know that the team as a whole is never going to achieve anything. And you are quite certain that he won't get a start in the first team, and if he did he will never be allowed to play his natural style.
As American scientists, detailing the disastrous changes (bigger graveyards among them) that are coming to America this century (many of which are coming to a southern continent near you too), said "These are not opinions to be debated, these are facts to be acted upon". Penny Wong clearly doesn't understand this – the whistling has to stop, and the action has to start, ghosts or no ghosts.
All David Horton's earlier writing is here.