June 15, 2004


Peter Garrett, man of the people:

Looking a bit lost on his first visit to a racetrack ...

Garrett is 51 ... and he’s never been to a racetrack? Mark Latham usually reviles those who look down their noses at working class pastimes like horse racing; now he’s ramming the anti-worker into Parliament. (Garrett also has no fondness for football.) Gerard Henderson has more on Garrett’s rapidly-evolving views:

Garrett says he does not believe Pine Gap should be closed in view of the intelligence that it gathers and the threat of terrorism. Yet six months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, he wrote that US military bases on Australian soil further link us into global war plans and, since then, all things nuclear are potential terrorist threats. The evidence shows that Garrett has changed his position not on account of terrorism but to make his views more amenable to mainstream politics.

UPDATE. Merlin makes his stand.

Posted by Tim Blair at June 15, 2004 02:28 AM

Garrett is 51 ... and he’s never been to a racetrack?

I'm 39 and make the same claim, simply no interest. Never been to a strip club or a casino, either, and never will.

Posted by: Roger Bournival at June 15, 2004 at 02:48 AM

Should I know who Peter Garret(t) is ? I suspect he has some ties to the pop culture but why exactly? Info please.

Posted by: t-rex418 at June 15, 2004 at 03:15 AM

"Working class pastime"? I thought it was the "sport of Kings"...

Posted by: mojo at June 15, 2004 at 03:16 AM

Bloody hell Roger. Are you Australian? Racetracks, sport, clubs, and casinos, this is life. All the rest is shadow.

Posted by: Dean McAskil at June 15, 2004 at 04:15 AM

Dean - No, I'm a Yank, one town over from Boston, MA.

1) If you went to Suffolk Downs, you'd swear you're on the set of Goodfellas with a ton of Dennis Farina clones. No, thanks. My uncle's big time into horse racing, I never went with him or otherwise developed an interest in it. Dog racing just seems idiotic to me.

2) Why I'd want to go to a strip club and walk out with blue balls or go to a casino and lose money is, to be blunt, beyond my comprehension. I'd much rather hang out at the local bar and shoot the breeze with some friends or just get shitfaced at home, do some drunk blogging and / or just be left the hell alone.

I do go to a few N.E. Patriots / Boston Celtics games a few times a year, though. With a few exceptions, I can't fucking stand other people. Guess that's the crux of the buiscuit right there.

Posted by: Roger Bournival at June 15, 2004 at 04:48 AM

Probably never been to a tractor-pull, either.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at June 15, 2004 at 05:22 AM

Would some Australian be so kind as to explain the level of interest in Midnight Oil in Australia? I mean, Midnight Oil came to most Australians as kind of second-wave Australian invasion after the early 1980s Olivia Newton-John / Paul Hogan / America's Cup business and it is impossible for me -- as much of an observer of Australian politics as any American can reasonably be -- to understand whether Peter Garrett is a serious cultural artifact or a bad joke of Australianism.

I suppose, being on top of the cultural slushpile here in the States, there's not an obvious analogy to the success of Midnight Oil. I know he's a whiny leftoid, but do Australians when travelling abroad go, "Yah, Oils!" when someone says they're fans, or do they cringe like I do when someone defines America (perhaps rightly) in terms of Mickey Mouse and McDonalds.

Posted by: Andrew at June 15, 2004 at 09:09 AM

Cringe. Generally speaking, Midnight Oil cornered two markets, the left/politically 'aware' bloc for recordings and a largely different stadium rock audience for live shows who may not have known or cared about Peter Garrett's political affiliations. It is the latter audience that gave Garrett his widespread fame, pushing his influence beyond the inner urban angst set.

Had Men at Work shown any interest in politics, Labour might now be championing Colin Hay (?) as the candidate for Kingsford Smith. Or Little River Band's Glenn Shorrock, AC/DC's Brian Johnson, the guy from Air Supply, Rolf Harris .... !

Posted by: ilibcc at June 15, 2004 at 11:23 AM

Just out of curiosity, is his middle name Kerry?

Posted by: Mike H. at June 15, 2004 at 11:50 AM

The last time Midnight Oil had a number 1 album in either Australia or the United States was 1990.

The last time they had a number 1 single in Australia was the 'Species Deceasies' EP in 1985.

I wonder what influence Garrett's recruitment will have on the yoof vote in light of these figures.

Posted by: Bad Templar at June 15, 2004 at 01:04 PM

Yeah, there is a cringe factor whenever P.Garrett is seen anywhere in public overseas, the male version of Germaine Greer...Just as fucking ugly too...
His songs revolve around all his political views but can always be scrutinised and then disproven. e.g. an excerp from the song Forgotten Years says Our shoreline was never invaded, Our country was never in flames, I wonder what he calls the Japanese bombing raids on Darwin or the Japanese attack in Sydney Harbour????

Posted by: scott at June 15, 2004 at 01:10 PM

ilibcc: LoL.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at June 15, 2004 at 01:55 PM

Jimmy Barnes sang a song called 'Driving Wheels'.

Hey Mark, Barnesy for Transport Minister?

Posted by: Bad Templar at June 15, 2004 at 01:58 PM

I've been to the trots, but not to the races.

Garrett is 51 ... and he’s never been to a racetrack?

Who knows? They were the journo's words, not Garrett's.

Posted by: Robert at June 15, 2004 at 02:02 PM

This is what Merlin should have written.

Posted by: Mike Hunt at June 15, 2004 at 02:03 PM

Pine Gap is to track Ballistic Missile Launch vehicles and launches, and other strategic nuclear delivery systems.

Terrorists carry bombs in suitcases, box-cutters in pockets to hijack planes, explosives strapped to their bodies, and park vans full of explosive fertiliser. They don't use ICBMs or SLBMs, which are the exclusive property of major governments.

Garret now says Pine Gap is necessary in the fight against terrorism but was opposed to it in the Cold War.

Does he expect people to believe this is the reason for his "conversion"?

No wonder his head has such a strong physical and visual resemblance to a penis. A mental as well as literal dickhead.

Posted by: Sue at June 15, 2004 at 03:18 PM

Actually, the major function of Pine Gap is to receive and process data from spy satellites over Asia.

Pine Gap inherited the missile monitoring function from Nurrungar in 1999. However it's pretty much just a relay station for the missile data.

Pine Gap is apparently considered the most significant Australian contribution to the alliance, which is why Baldy wouldn't be allowed to speak against it for a moment as a member of the Labor party.

Posted by: James at June 15, 2004 at 03:33 PM

I'm of the opinion that Garrett is the best thing to happen to the Liberals in the lead up to the election so far. I honestly cannot see how he can be portrayed as a "man of the people" with all those millions he'd be more Liberal surely? the youth vote? More like the Baby Boomers if you ask me.

Then there is how he is being put up as a candidate, not too sharing n' caring that little effort. "Make way for the Baldy Man! I will be King and I will not suffer being elected like my fellow candidates!" That's it mate just push to the head of the que and inflict youtself apon the population of Kingsford. I thank God, really, that I'm not in that electorate...the shame of it all..the shame!

Posted by: JakeD at June 15, 2004 at 04:50 PM

Nobody in the press or elsewhere seems to have noticed that in creating the Peter Garret controversy Mark Latham is on a winner at lots of levels.

First, he pisses of one of the most "stacked" seats in the parliament and shows the other electorates that they too owe him a living.

Second, who is talking now about his lack of actual policies? Noone. He has diverted his critics.

Third, he will probably pick up votes from the "greenies". They have never yet shown any sense or ability to sift through and find actual facts.

Fourth, he diverts discussion from the fact that the ANZUS treaty (basically our whole defence policy against everybody stronger than Nauru) is in critical danger because of him.

It was an entirely cynical move, worthy of Liverpool Council and in a perverse way you have to admire the way the entire media fell for it. Will the Australian public fall for it? They have shown an amazing grip of reality in the recent past so maybe they will.

Posted by: Allan at June 15, 2004 at 04:57 PM

I concur. Installing Garrett as the Member for Kingsford Smith was Lathams best moment in Australian politics and he should be applauded.
Just when I thought Latham was a mental cabbage he rips out a snorta of a move.
Think about it. Latham has to be the biggest fuckwit to grace any political party in this country. Putting Garrett in means this is no longer the way. Garrett is such a cockhead, so compared to Garrett Latham will look Intellectually brilliant and more palletable to voters.
Troops out, Garrett in, thinking on the move is our Mr Latham. What he's thinking of no-one is sure of though...

Posted by: scott at June 15, 2004 at 05:13 PM

In question time today David Kemp kept mentioning Bob Brown and Garrett in the same breath in regards to environmental policy.

We might hear more of it from the Libs in months to come.

Posted by: Bad Templar at June 15, 2004 at 06:57 PM

I don't ever usually comment here,but mate that is a dead set classic.
I really do understand why you piss them off so much!
Keep up the good work!!!

Posted by: Jim at June 15, 2004 at 08:01 PM

But seriously folks ... if the over coverage of the Garrett non-issue proves one thing (aside from being Labor's daftest and most vacuous idea to date), it's that coverage of Australian federal politics has become moribund.

Posted by: Paul Pottinger at June 16, 2004 at 12:32 PM