Farewell Peter Garrett, But Not Goodbye

The resignation of Australia’s Education Minister could be a great thing for the environment.

That probably doesn’t make sense and if you live outside Australia; you’re probably wondering who Peter Garrett is.

Peter Garrett rose to fame as the lead singer of a very popular Australian band, Midnight Oil. The content of their songs was very activism-focused – anti-nuclear, anti-war, pro-peace and very pro-environment.

Peter Garrett went on to become the president of the Australian Conservation Foundation for a time and also headed the Nuclear Disarmament Party for a period (which no longer exists).

Power and the Passion – (1983) – political corruption

When he teamed up with the Australian Labor Party; I was very concerned and surprised as his views seemed more aligned with the Greens – in fact, I was sure that was where he would end up.

He became Labor’s Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment, Heritage and the Arts.

In my 2007 post “Short Memory” (also the title of a Midnight Oil song); I expressed a concern about his future as the road to hell is often paved with good intention; particularly in politics, and perhaps even more so among the two major parties.

Short Memory (1982) – war and military occupation

Deals with the devil would need to be struck and comprises made – and it’s those compromises that can sometimes eat away at good people’s souls; turning them into something they never wanted to become.

And hell it became for him for a while.

After Labor came to power in 2007 under the leadership of Kevin Rudd; as  Environment Minister,  Peter became embroiled in an energy efficiency scheme cock-up where some shonky companies installed poor quality insulation in homes across Australia at the expense of the Australian tax-payer.

Worse still, some poorly trained installers died and over 100 houses caught fire. The fires were used as a cheap shot against Garrett by some with a very poor sense of humor in connection with one of Midnight Oil’s songs.

Beds are burning (1988) – Indigenous reconciliation

Of course, after such a disaster heads had to roll and in a way, one of those heads was Peter Garrett’s. He was the fall guy even though he had reportedly previously raised red flags regarding issues with the scheme – but the warnings were allegedly ignored.

He was “demoted” to the portfolio of Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts, then later to reassigned to Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth.

Anyway, to cut what is becoming a long story short; there has been a leadership spill in Australia in the last few days and our new Prime Minister is Kevin Rudd. Huh – you say?

Mr. Rudd was knocked off the Prime Ministerial throne by Labor supporters of Julia Gillard in 2010; who then became Prime Minister. She’s now been knocked off the Labor throne (by some of those same supporters) and Kev is back.

That’s another very long story I won’t bore you with. Suffice to say, Australian politics has been a bit more of poo-fest these last few years. Tapping this out has just driven home how pathetic it’s all been.

When The Generals Talk (1984) – Environment, corruption

I was wondering how this change would affect Peter – as it turned out, in a big way.

He has now quit the frontbench over Kevin Rudd’s re-election as Labor leader.

But that’s not the end of Peter Garrett – I noted in his valedictory speech to Parliament a few hours ago he said:

“There is a taint of recklessness and disregard for our environment that washes through that Queensland Government administration that frankly gives me great cause for concern.”

“Once I leave this place, I will be doing my utmost to make sure that those natural heritage, natural environment gains that have been hard-won by the community and then by the Parliament, are kept in place.”

Blue Sky Mine (1990) – Corporate corruption

What he has planned, I have no idea – but welcome back Peter; many of us have missed you – I hope to see some of that prior and very green-tainted Peter Garrett power and passion back.

It’s hard to believe over 30 years has passed since some of the songs in this post were penned. I wonder if still dances like that.