Today's Sydney Morning Herald published 3 letters on the subject of yesterday's investigation into the practice of rambamming (See my previous post).
Unfortunately, however, all of them, in one way or another, missed the one issue that stood out like the proverbial sore thumb, namely that trips to Israel by Australian federal politicians far outnumber, at 44, those to the other destinations listed: Taiwan (16), New Zealand (7), the US (6) and Tibet (5).
Of course, we'll never know just how many letters were sent in that dealt squarely with this matter and raised the obvious questions: Why Israel, of all places, and what impact do the junkets there have on Australian politics?
"One may note that on the list of gifts there is nothing which would teach our pollies a single lesson on peak oil and global warming. Such as a trip to a country where people have to line up for hours to get kerosene, for example. Or how about an exploration on top of the moving Greenland ice sheet? A desert expedition in 50 degrees heat which will be normal in future years?" (Matt Mushalik, Epping)
While making a valid point about those politicians who still haven't woken up to the fact that what we cause to go around, comes around, Matt completely overlooks the fact that in going to Israel our politicians, Labor or Liberal, climate aware or climate sceptical, are being taught lessons in how to sell an apartheid state to the Australian people.
"It's ridiculous to complain of MPs' perks. These politicians were elected by us to rule us and make sure those who provide perks get looked after when their business interests require help. MPs have to accept perks and so do their families. Without such perks decisions would be based on the ridiculous notion of representing the best interests of the ordinary voter. Imagine the horror of reasonable prices for electricity, rational allocation of taxes and worse. MPs who left Parliament would be unemployed instead of becoming representatives of companies that they looked after in the past. The system would collapse." (Michael Stanbridge, Bonnet Bay)
Michael's otherwise valid sarcasm overlooks the fact that 'perks' are the least of our problem here. Although reprehensible, it is surely one thing for our politicians to cosy up to corporate interests, but quite another, I would've thought, to return from a foreign, warmongering, apartheid state and act as an apologist and propagandist for it.
"I feel uncomfortable about Michael Danby MP belonging to an International Coalition of Jewish Parliamentarians. Does Israel fund his attendances at their conferences? Does he promote Israeli interests in the Australian Parliament? Before I am accused of anti-Semitism, I would be just as uncomfortable with Australian parliamentarians who were members of international coalitions of Muslim, Catholic, Hindu or Protestant parliamentarians." (Roseanne Bonney, Leichhardt)
While getting closer to the rambamming phenomenon, Roseanne's letter unfortunately narrows the whole thing down to Michael Danby. This is bigger by far than just the member for Melbourne Ports. The fact of the matter is that Austalian politicians of all shades, whether Labor or Liberal, federal or state, Christian or Jew, are acting on this particular siren call in such numbers as to raise the question of whether this practice is in the national interest.