Australia: Roosters, feather dusters and a clean coal future

`Politics is a cruel, unforgiving business. The players are always wondering what will happen when politics has chewed them up, swallowed them and spat them out. Is there a career after politics? How does relevance deprivation affect someone who used to be important?

On Paul Murray Live on Monday night, Cory Bernardi was on the panel with me and he announced he was deregistering his party. He felt it would cause too much angst to seek to rejoin the Liberal Party so he will soldier on alone. Bernardi is highly intelligent and extremely well read. While I do not agree with his politics all the time, it would be hard to argue that his loss will not be a big loss to the Senate and eventually to the people of South Australia.

Nick Xenophon, whose star shone so brightly in the Senate, came unstuck when he decided to run for the premier’s job in South Australia. While he had the flair, the gift of the gab et al, he didn’t have any policies and the mob worked him out.

For those for whom an entry to parliament means the receipt of a salary somewhat larger than that to which they were accustomed, there must be a real fear of losing the job. Most MPs don’t last longer than six years — maybe one or two years more. The parliamentary pension is now a very ordinary sum and, like many other workers, pollies put in 11 per cent of their salary as a contribution. Some gave up lucrative occupations where they pulled in salaries of seven figures so they could make a contribution to public life in Australia.

Since the car industry closed down its conveyor belts, South Australia has more than a million people with not enough to do. Governments can throw as much money as they like — such as the billions spent on building submarines in Adelaide — but that will never be enough.

NSW and Victoria will continue to have their taxes diverted to South Australia, ensuring that this will remain a mendicant state.

Queensland is now awash with coal and gas, pumping billions into its coffers for decades to come. There is not much the renewables warrior can do about that. No matter what they say, coal will be in the mix for a very long time. Australia sets the standard in clean coal. As our coal exports increase, it is to be hoped that the Indonesians, Indians and Chinese stop digging up their dirty coal and use Australian coal. Anyone who has been to Beijing lately will tell you that vision is down to about two city blocks and you can only imagine the damage that is doing to the health of its many millions of citizens. The first world has no right to tell the third world that the way the first world enriched itself is not open to any other country at a later time. As our coal exports increase my placard will read: “You beauty!”