For the last seven weeks, I was supposed to be in Whitianga. Instead, I have been in Brisbane supporting my son, Walker, as paralysis creeps up his body from his feet to his chest. However, this period was also the time of the run-up and culmination of the Australian election.
What I saw was a “bumper sticker” election. By that I mean it seemed the election was fought on short slogans backed by incessant character assassination. Every day on my way to hospital, I saw huge, illuminated screens. Under a picture of a scowling Scott Morrison (the prime minister) were the words, “Dump the liar!” On another even larger screen, was an equally unflattering picture of the challenger, Anthony Albanese, with words, “Things won’t be easy under Albanese.”
I bought a couple of daily newspapers to bone up on the issues. They were hard to find. I deduced green issues with global warming, etc was one and aged care was another. In my limited social interaction out and about around the hospital community, I sensed no depth of feeling before or after the election.
Since the election, I have heard Albanese talk about moving to a greener economy. Good luck with that! So much of Australia’s economy (wealth) depends on industries that are decidedly “ungreen”. Coal mining is the biggest and, with coal prices at record high, no one in Queensland is talking about cutting back.
My relatives are scattered across the great state of Queensland (twice the size of Texas). To visit any one family unit requires hundreds of kilometres of driving and to visit all of them requires days on long straight roads. Their welcome and hospitality is legendary.
On our next visit, we plan to take with us our unofficially adopted daughter. But she is a militant greenie and a vegan to boot. At a family gathering, inland central Queensland, I raised the prospect of her visiting with some young adults around her age. Of course, they would love to see her and show her the sights. I casually mentioned her “green” interests (no more coal mining) and veganism (grow oats not beef). A high-spirited young woman in the group who raises beef cattle became quite agitated and the atmosphere cooled right down. I am now of the opinion that in this environment, with our committed vegan environmentalist, there would be a fist fight.
Whither Australia? No matter what the leaders say, nothing is going to change quickly. Coal mining will go on at pace. Most restaurants now offer a couple of vegan alternatives, but the majority of Aussies will go on munching on meat into the future. There are now many independents in the federal parliament, at least 16. Who knows where the Australian ship of state is headed. Wobbly, I think!
I am sure it won’t be easy for Albanese!