Wren's Week: Extinction Rebellion rises up and Scott Cam's new appointment

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Extinction Rebellion protests have been increasing around Australian cities, much to the dismay of our Government (Screenshot via YouTube)

The public is continuing to make the Coalition wake up to climate change, while The Block's Scott Cam is the latest LNP puppet, writes John Wren.

THIS DEPLORABLE, do-nothing Coalition Government continues this week to make itself a small target. By restricting sitting days to only 44 this year, they aim to restrict scrutiny. Unfortunately for the Government, the ploy isn’t really working. As the economy continues to falter and as the realities of climate change strike home, several of the Government’s members have made statements that really highlight how inept and/or fascistic it has become.

The big story this week dominating the Murdoch press, free-to-air and pay-TV has been the rolling Extinction Rebellion protests across Australia. A global movement, these local events have been ongoing in Brisbane for some time but have now expanded into other capital cities. Traffic is disrupted, press conferences interrupted and other stunts are used to draw attention to the Government’s inaction on climate change.

The protests have drawn strong condemnation from the usual Liberal Party Right-wingers, led by Peter Dutton and Alan Tudge who have called for the jailing and charging of protesters. Dutton has even gone so far as to suggest police forces bring civil charges against protesters for alleged “additional costs” the police have been forced to incur.

Let’s make it clear, though, protesters have a genuine right to protest. It’s called freedom of speech. We have known for some time now that despite their rhetoric, the Liberal Party is anti-free speech and does not function well in a democracy. We have seen it become increasing fascistic over the last five years as it seeks to defend the indefensible.

Perhaps if the Government had actually carried out meaningful actions to address climate change these protests would not be necessary. Protests are a legitimate part or our democracy. If we think back, without protests we would not have universal male suffrage (the result of the Eureka Rebellion), women would not have the vote. The Government is fighting a losing battle and they know it, hence the vicious rhetoric.

But let’s also take a minute to reflect on Dutton’s call to recoup costs from protestors. First off, the police are paid for by taxpayers. It is their job to maintain the peace during legal protests. Police are salaried — they are not hourly-paid casual staff. Their salaries are a sunk cost that taxpayers pay whether they are supervising protests or any other of the myriad tasks our police carry out. As such, there is no additional cost. What will Dutton be calling for next? The recovery of police costs from convicted burglars? It’s their job. Dutton’s rant makes good coverage for the Murdoch shock jocks but, in reality, is simply absurd.

Further, the rhetoric around these protesters is that they are a pack of “unemployed dole-bludging ferals”. If that’s the case, how much money does Dutton expect to extract from them in a civil case that could go for years and has little chance of success anyway?

Controversial TV personality Kerri-Anne Kennerley let loose a foul on-air rant about Extinction Rebellion protestors. She has been called out before for apparently racist comments. She called for protesters to be used as speed bumps by commuters. Just appalling. Kennerley has had a long career in the media, she has won a number of Logies and was once regarded as a true star of the Australian small screen, but her fame is now waning and in the twilight years of her career she is increasingly showing herself to be simply a female Alan Jones. My advice to Kennerley is to retire now while the majority of Australians still think fondly of you. Don’t be like Alan Jones and persist past your use-by date.

Make no mistake, the protests will continue. They will increase in size until the Government actually does something meaningful about climate change. Most of us now see through their rhetoric as being just that — all talk and no action.

And talking of platitudes, this week we also saw Scott Morrison and Education and Training Minister Michaelia Cash appoint The Block’s Scott Cam as an “Ambassador for Vocational Training”. This is a classic Liberal Party stunt. Vocational training in Australia – the training of tradespeople – plumbers, sparkies, brickies, chippies and so forth is in crisis. The Government has gutted the TAFE system and cut 3 billion dollars from training budgets. Apprenticeships are at an all-time low and there are now shortages in key trades appearing across the country.

The shortfall was meant to be picked up by the private sector (Liberal Party donors), but this has clearly not been very effective. Students are resistant to handing over their money or taking out HELP loans to study at dodgy private providers, many of which may go under and take their money and years of study down the drain with them. There are students who have still never recovered from the collapse of RTOs such as Evocca College. TAFEs, despite many inefficiencies, were at least trusted by students and employers alike.

So why was appointing Cam a stunt? Well it actually does nothing to address the shortage of tradies. Most people under 35 never even watch The Block and wouldn’t know who Cam is. It’s a cheap advertising stunt that “Scott from Marketing” has come up with to mask the lack of real action addressing the trades shortage.

The mindless Murdoch media, of course, has lapped it up. It looks like the Government is doing something. In reality, all they are doing is handing Cam a truckload of cash (rumoured to be $3-500,000) to make some adverts and do some public speaking. Not one new apprenticeship will be taken up because of Cam. It should also be pointed out that Cam’s trade qualifications (he’s a chippy) would have been a product of the old TAFE system, not the private RTOs that he is spruiking for.

And I’ll finish this week’s column talking briefly about U.S. President Donald Trump. His great and unmatched wisdom saw him abruptly pull U.S. troops out of Northern Syria opening the way for Turkey to invade and pacify (ethnically cleanse) rebellious Kurds who had up until that point been American allies. Trump bizarrely stated they weren’t real allies because they weren’t with the USA at Normandy. I’ve heard many idiocies in my years, but this is up there with the worst of them. Interesting to note, Japan wasn’t with the USA at Normandy, either, but he considers them staunch allies.

Australia’s Trump-lite PM Scott Morrison backed Trump’s actions, revealing how out-of-depth Morrison is in the job. I despair for what my country has become.


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