Monday, February 16, 2009

David Burchell, Christopher Pearson, the Bushfire Wars, Paul Sheehan, Al Grassby and Underbelly

Over at The Australian, David Burchell maintains the rage of the bushfire wars in his column We refuse to learn when bushfires burn.

Sounds like he's blaming people? Well only the usual. You know, councils, governments of a higher level, bureaucrats, and writers of reports - all the usual 'responsible authorities' (though he does love to quote the reports to show he's superior and well informed). 

Everybody is free to participate in this grand game of pass-the-parcel - except, of course, the victims. And so no doubt it's natural that at present a good deal of the blame is being foisted upon them. There are too many people living on the city's fringe; they love the bush too much; they're well-meaning but unworldly, it seems. And yet it's not obvious what the victims of these fires did wrong.

Well it seems like Burchell knows nothing, since he clearly didn't bother to read his fellow columnist Christopher Pearson in Saturday's edition of the paper. (A few of you might remember Pearson as the man who thinks bringing anti-semites and extremists and madmen into the Catholic church is a wonderful way to bring plurality to St Peter's rock).

Perhaps, rather than trying half-heartedly to regulate the living arrangements of tree-changers and greenies who are determined to live surrounded by forest landscapes, society should think about striking a libertarian bargain with them. State and local government could allow enclaves of them to build and plant pretty much as they chose on their land, on the strict understanding that they are all prepared to live with the foreseeable consequences and don't expect the same level of emergency services as people in the suburbs, let alone automatic rebuilding at public expense of local infrastructure in the event of fire.

At least it would be more honest and less infantilising than the present arrangements.

You can always rely on Pearson for a generous dose of Christian charity and love. You know where tough love means a punch in the guts means I love you dearly. Especially you dumb greenies. Fry greenies, fry.

I'm now waiting for Pearson to join in my campaign to cut down every gum tree in the country, and where practicable cover the offending spot with either concrete or tar. This make work scheme will do more for unemployment and act as a greater stimulus to the economy than Rudd ever dreamed of, and will end the haggling over the bushfire wars. 

I think it's as culturally and environmentally sensitive as Pearson himself, and will remove the problem of small towns, tree huggers, gum trees and greenies all in one fell swoop. I'm sure Pearson will see it as just as good an idea as his - sure creating gulags and concentration camps in the bush is a grand idea. We can herd greenies, do gooders and hippie tree huggers into them, and every so often have a nice burning off, with free beer and barbeques. (Come to think of it, why stop there - why not fractious newspaper columnists, media personalities, and bloggers?)

And in one fell blow it'll put a stop to the bushfire wars, and the endless debate, which as a year to run as the enquiries get going and the columnists keep yammering. Best of all, it'll stop right wing columnists yearning for ancient Aboriginal wisdom about how to manage the continent. Let's see if they know how to manage a block of concrete from sea to shining sea.

Yep good old Christopher Pearson. What a Christian. Why he's as sensitive as Ironbar Tuckey himself ... now where did I put that iron bar? There's a few people should feel the sting of steel.

Over at The Sydney Morning Herald, Paul Sheehan clambers to safe ground by indulging in a rant about Al Grassby in Monuments to honesty and deceit, on the back of the second Underbelly crime drama series. I didn't think much of the show - why does Australian drama always look so naf when put up against American shows like The Wire? In many ways, the current show is just a lame rehash of earlier shows like Blue Murder that did it a lot better and with a more compelling, gimmick free, free wheeling dramatic style, but whatever works for Nine, I guess, as it reels under a debt burden so crushing it's a wonder the network continues to trade.

All the same, it's not possible to leap to Grassby's defence - I only met him a couple of times, but he presented in private as a sleaze in much the same way as in public he played the wog card and the bright wide colorful and hideous ties like a stand-up comic. And while the public marveled at the brashness of the public persona, he got on with the fix in the dark with a bunch of other mushrooms. He was the worst of the Whitlam government, and lord knows, that was a ship of fools for a lot of the time.

Sheehan even managed to shock me. In some desperate dark days I've occasionally settled for a bottle of Warburn sauvignon blanc, as a reasonably acid and fruity imitation of a good wine for a budget price. It seems Warburn is a family owned business belonging to colorful business identity and personality Antonio "Tony" Sergio. Guess it's time to get back to those NZ drops.

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