Firstly it should be said that I am what is otherwise known as a Left Wing, Socialist Pinkie. I think that health care and education should be free, that refugees shouldn’t be locked up, and that uranium should stay in the ground. So when Peter Garret became Mark Latham’s star recruit for the ALP in 2004 there was a cautious amount of optimism on my part, unfortunately this optimism has turned into despise and disappointment.
Firstly a short history; Peter Garrett was originally lead singer and weird dancer of Aussie Pub Rock band Midnight Oil. To an audience of VB drinking bogans he would sing songs about how we shouldn’t be mining uranium, how we should be compensating Australian Aboriginals, and how we need to be careful of an absolute alliance with the United States. At the same time Peter Garrett ran for state and federal senate seats for the Nuclear Disarmament Party, was president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, became international board member of Greenpeace, and was a founding member of the Surfrider Foundation. At this point if you’re anything like me you’ll be going “respect”, he obviously sung the lyrics (Rob Hurst wrote a lot of the Midnight Oil tunes), but he also truly believed what he was saying.
Then in 2004 Garrett was seduced by the ALP as Mark Latham’s star recruit and only lasting legacy. Since then Garret has;
- Approved an expansion to South Australia’s Beverly Uranium Mine
- Withdrawn funding from the Australian National Academy of Music
- Approved the dredging of Port Phillip Bay
- Approved the continuation of the Pine Gap military base
- Supported the go-ahead for the Gunn’s Pulp Mill
- Been party to the depletion of rights of Aboriginal Australian’s in the Northern Territory.
- Continued to support the indefinite locking up of asylum seekers including children
So there you have it Peter Garrett is a hypocrite; either that or he has a do-gooding, left wing twin brother. But why does this grip me so much? Because it undermines every musician who uses music to share a point of view on social issues. Music can be a persuasive medium capable of reaching a large audience. I have no doubt that fans of Midnight Oil at the very least gave thought to some of the issues that Garrett was singing about. These issues are important; they are issues that they vote on and perhaps previously hadn’t taken into consideration when choosing a leader. By Garrett changing his stripes it gives the opportunity for every VB swigging pub rock fan to think that the person pouring their heart out on stage is just ‘acting’ because that helps you sell records, and as soon as an opportunity for real power comes along, such as a front bench ALP seat, then those values and passions will go to the $2 bargain bin at JB HI FI.