“Whatever happened to the revolution? We all got stoned and it drifted away” So sang Skyhooks in the 1970’s about the demise of the anti Vietnam war movement.
The 70’s revolution may seem to have disappeared in a puff of strange smelling smoke but it really went “underground” into the public service and mainstream capitalism and got stuck there.
In Australia there was another revolution in the 1980’s which highlighted the need for justice and land rights for Aboriginal Australia as well as the need for an independent Australian foreign policy and a rejection of U.S. warmongering and imperialism, including the removal of US military bases such as Pine Gap from Australian soil.
Midnight Oil was the band that was the natural successor to Skyhooks as the Australia’s rock voice of the times. The “Oils” songs “Beds are Burning” and “U.S. Forces” became anthems of a new Australian radical nationalism that blasted out at just about every drunken barbeque in the country.
Whatever happened to that revolution?
While the Late Shirl Strauchan and Red Symons from Skyhooks may have got stoned and drifted into successfull television careers, the eighties cultural revolutionary Peter Garrett did not get stoned. Instead he ended up very straight on the A.L.P. front bench in Parliament House.
It seems that the mild, normalised version of post-rock and roll celebrity that former shock-rockers Shirley and Red became has also been the model that the Peter has applied to his political career.
His strong and powerful statements of the past on U.S. Bases have been dissolved with his now public support for them.
He sang in the 80’s “The time has come to say fair’s fair, to pay the rent, to do our share”.
In 2007 in the debate in federal parliament around the government’s intervention into Northern Territory Aboriginal communities Garrett told the parliament of his in principle support for the intervention, even though it includes undoing the Northern Territory Land Rights Act, racial discrimination act and has been unanimously criticised by the Northern Territory Aboriginal communities that it has been imposed onto.
In 2007 Aboriginal Land rights are under its most severe attack since the 1960s mineral boom. Australia is still deeply involved in U.S. imperialism around the globe. Now is the time for mature and intelligent leadership which Garrett has previously shown he is capable of providing. But he has not!
Garrett has willingly accepted his dog collar and short leash. He has become another mouthpiece for the machine that perpetuates Aboriginal oppression and global war.
Perhaps Peter Garrett believes that at some point in the future he will become so influential in the ALP that he will be able to achieve something. If this future hypothetical re-emergence of any power and passion is to have any substance he will first have to undo all the damage that he and his political masters are doing right now, in particular legitimising the present assault on N.T. Aborigines and entrenching U.S. Military bases in Australia.
Garrett’s individual sellout of the 80s revolution is the same error as the ALP’s present sellout of unions and union rights.
In the name of doing what is necessary to win an election Rudd, Guillard and Garrett have all gutted their own traditional support base in order to conform to the political status-quo and avoid any perception of a threat of radicalism.
Could Garrett bring about a radical U-turn on ALP policy as future environment minister in a Rudd government, or even as leader of a Garrett government? – I doubt it.
Garrett has not climbed the ranks of the unions and ALP, he has been inserted into the parliament as a celebrity the same way Cheryll Kernot was. Like Kernot, Garrett lacks the history with and loyalty from the established powers-that-be within the ALP, especially the unions. If he ever gets too bothersome or embarrassing for the ALP he will be easily sidelined without support as Kernot was.
Whatever Garrett was going to achieve of his radical agendas, it seems he has allready achieved it. Perhaps once he retires from politics in a decade or two he will be able to use his parliamentary pension and gold pass to do some good again, maybe even reform the Oils.
Perhaps Garrett should have got stoned like Skyhooks after all……… It’s never too late!.