Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chalk & Cheese

Australian Labor politician circa 2011:

"The decision of the Greens Party-controlled Marrickville Council to 'boycott all goods made in Israel and any sporting, academic, government or cultural exchanges', is unfortunate and misguided at best. The council goes even further and suggests that any organisation or company with links to Israel should be boycotted also. It is not clear how much of ratepayer funds will be expended on this research... It's not as if there are no policy challenges or local issues facing the mayor of Marrickville." (Anthony Albanese, federal member for Grayndler, writing in Murdoch's Australian, 14/1/11)

Australian Labor politician circa 1968:

"Two similar members [of the NSW state parliament] were Reg Coady, the Labor member for the marginal seat of Drummoyne, and Davey Hunter, the Liberal member for the equally marginal adjoining seat of Ashfield from 1940 to 1976. Reg was a cripple. Davey was blind. During the 9 years when Reg was in parliament they were friends. When parliament sat late it was somehow touching to see them going home together in the same taxi. Both were bachelors, both had sisters as housekeepers, and both were local members par excellence. They very seldom spoke in parliament on an issue that did not directly affect their electorates. They were perhaps the ultimate in the enervating effect of parliament on class hostility. It was not difficult to imagine Davey as Labor, or Reg as Liberal.

"Reg was known affectionately as the member for bus stops and traffic lights. I got to know Reg quite well. I listened with interest to his tales of how he looked after the interests of his constituents whether it involved the Commonwealth, State or Local government, how he gave legal and other advice, and sometimes just a sympathetic ear. He pushed parish pump issues with a greater intensity than any other MP. He just never had time to engage in politics.

"For me Reg's example was rather frightening. Whilst I was willing and anxious to fight for any cause in which an injustice had been done, I did not believe that injustices were confined to the 60,000 men, women and children in my electorate." (George Petersen, state member for Illawarra (1968-1988), writing in his autobiography George Petersen Remembers: The Contradictions, Problems & Betrayals of Labor in Government in New South Wales, 1998, p 34)

George Petersen (1921-2000) campaigned strongly against injustice wherever he saw it, whether in his own electorate, in NSW, in Australia, or overseas. He campaigned against both South African and Israeli apartheid. Were BDS around in George's day, he'd have embraced it unequivocally. Certainly, you'd never have heard him say, 'Any lasting resolution to the conflict in South Africa cannot be at the expense of either blacks or whites', or, to quote Albanese, "Any lasting resolution to the Middle East conflict cannot be at the expense of either Palestinians or Israelis." George was the real thing. Albanese reveals himself to be just another parish pump hack.

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