How Australia’s Moral Compass* Seemed Lost.

The Australian government looked star crossed,
When the nation’s moral compass* had seemed lost.
A secure lock at the official residence
Of the Prime Minister had long made sense.

It was safe in the cellar in its binnacle,
While up above the country reached the pinnacle
Of achievement in women’s liberation
With its first female leader of the nation.

Then the story broke. Reporters crowded round.
Was it true the ship of state had run aground?
Or gone off course? Were many lost at sea?
How had Julia Gillard mislaid the sacred key?

There had been leaks, anonymous phone calls,
Rumours that the strange phrase ‘Kelvin’s Balls’
Had so alarmed the PM, it seemed, she’d had it hid.
No one confirmed that though, not for a thousand quid.

Suddenly a noisy clamor from below
Revealed Tony Abbott! Wouldn’t you know!
He’d broken in, wielding his fireman’s axe.
Said he’d had to, to clarify some facts.

He lifted high the two brass monkeys sitting there,
Waved them aloft in the media glare,
Pointing out that they were frozen solid,
Proving global warming theory quite invalid!

His home invasion had paid off! He thought he’d won!
But Security arrested him, and he was brought undone.
Like Guy Fawkes he’d been caught red handed.
Tried for treason, he was as traitor branded.

His defence? A man should steer the ship of state,
With his wife as First Lady, not First Mate!
Finally the judge’s ruling he could not dodge.
He’d never have the Captain’s quarters at The Lodge.

Julia Gillard at the trial eyeballed him,
Her hand on the arm of her partner, Tim,
“Tony, I called you ‘Mate’ once as a joke.
Now here’s my real mate, Australia’s first First Bloke.”

* In the 18th and 19th centuries a ship’s compass was always kept in the binnacle along with the Kelvin Spheres, two iron balls to offset magnetic shifts. These iron balls, mounted on brass arms, sitting on either side of the ship’s binnacle gave rise to the term ‘brass monkey’ and the now well known description of extremes of cold which could freeze its balls off.


NOTES:       I usually start the day with a coffee while I visit my favorite blogs at Cafe Whispers and  The Political Sword to read any new post and comments there as well as following up on LYNS-DAILY-LINKS.     So there’s plenty to think about as I  get on with the routine of daily life.    Sometimes it’s more than just thinking.   It’s soul searching,  which I found with Ad Astra’s  article challenging us to question our moral values when judging others,   particularly politicians.   There’s been a lot of name calling,  moralising and finger pointing at Julia Gillard and her government lately.    I found myself amongst a lot of serious comment on that post about cattle slaughtering in Indonesia and the live sheep/cattle trade generally and I found it heavy going and challenging,  though worth while too.

I wrote a comment on that thread, trying to express my thoughts about my own moral values, and my views on the dilemma of politicians who have to consider a whole range of other peoples’ values.   

Firstly,  I think the PM has acted ethically in the livestock trade issue and has consequently had to wear criticism from all sides,  all of whom are judging her from their own perspective, or by their own moral compass.  Peter Holmes a Court, a cattle rancher himself,  commended her action. This morning I heard Warren Truss endorsing Minister Joe Ludwig’s initial bans but wanting as early a possible resumption of trade.    I agree with the RSPCA that we should have Australian standards, i.e stunning of animals before slaughter but that may take months or years to achieve in Indonesia.

Meantime what about the ethical implications of the inevitable hardship for those losing employment, both here and in Indonesia.  Are they required to suffer to meet our moral scruples when many of them haven’t harmed any animals?  I don’t eat meat myself, and as an animal lover I was appalled at those TV images. And I’m really angry with the M.L.A. for their dereliction of duty in this regard.   If I had my way we wouldn’t have live sheep or cattle export trade at all.  In fact, no domestic trade either.  But then how would I feed my pets?  I’m not being facetious there, just showing how inconsistent I can be at a very personal  level.
But that’s all moral squeamishness compared with the conflict I feel about the ethical dimensions of Julia Gillard’s efforts to stop people smuggling.   There is no absolutely right answer to this problem, as I always thought there was, for example,  about those Jews turned away from ports all over  the western world.  Even throwing open our borders and allowing free entry of refugees as some would have it would be to encourage an even livelier and more dangerous people smuggling trade as refugees, and maybe just would be economic migrants, stampede to get passage to this first world antipodean country surrounded by third world poverty.

As well,  you say that Rudd and she both lost their moral compass on climate change?   Rudd, supported by his deputy, Gillard, worked tirelessly to get their ETS passed again and again.  Were the Greens more ethical because they wanted an unacceptably high standard and so voted against it?  What moral compass did Abbott use leading the Coalition away from their earlier commitment to support it?  Why didn’t Malcolm Turnbull use his moral compass to guide him across the floor of the House of Reps with whoever would follow him?  The ‘shelving’  or deferral of the ETS was not its abandonment as a result of moral turpitude,  but rather the acceptance of political reality.
The accusations of immorality in all of these issues have come after events evolved and as the media and the Opposition manipulated and moulded them to paint Gillard and her government as in ‘the wrong.’   So long as the media continue to put the right  ‘in the right’ that is where the left will stay.  When Tony Abbott becomes Prime Minister of this country it will be because we have allowed ourselves to buy into the media story and to be blown off course on issues like the need to act on climate change,  the need to end the people smuggling trade,  the need to find ways to protect our environment and waterways,  to modernise our communication sytems and to fund all of these things with as just a taxation  system as can be achieved.
On all of these issues we have a Prime Minister who is trying with her government, supported by a few sturdy independents,  to steer a course through stormy waters churned up and muddied by a power hungry opposition leader prepared to promote the interests of mining magnates and polluting power industries.  You are accusing her of losing her moral compass?   Who is there whom you trust to have a more reliable compass with which to guide Australia into the future?

At one stage I had to retreat into a bit of light relief by composing one of my ‘pomes’  and doing some research on the web about compasses* in general.    I also got a lift from Mr. Denmore  at The Failed Estate.    He makes me think and smile too.    His  latest brilliant satire on the way the Murdoch media has been ‘stitching up’ Julia Gillard and her government with angling,  exaggerations and surmising shows  how journos these days will make a mountain out of a molehill and invent a story about almost anything.   As if rumors and leaks and innuendos weren’t enough we get body language interpreted.   We’d  been discussing that at Cafe Whispers with Min’s latest post on leadership.

So I used the ideas suggested by Min, Ad Astra and Mr. Denmore to come up with a ’story’ of my own.   I’ve illustrated it with a picture of HMS Sirius,  flagship of The First Fleet,  bringing  the first settlers to Australia.   Please note it is flying a red flag!   Was that an omen for the future?    I imagined what might happen  if we really did keep the compass from that historic ship symbolically stored in the Lodge.   Then the key to that all important cellar was rumored to be lost by the PM!    Typical of a woman to lose the key!   But what if it was a stitch up of the kind Mr. Denmore  has so ably illustrated?    Who was really to blame?

I’ve put it in a ‘pome’  but it’s as likely a story as any The Australian could carry.   Remember the Godwin Grech email?   Who would have believed that?    It really happened.    Can anyone think of a headline a journo might dream up if he had a whiff of that rumor about the lost key?     What’s the angle?     Had a disgruntled member of the household staff at the Lodge filched it to make trouble?   Maybe the First Bloke had it in a vise in his shed making  a souvenir copy?    Was Tony Abbott really there in his fireman’s gear?    Or was he framed?    Perhaps  it was  just another publicity stunt to show off his pecs?    Any alternative headlines to mine?


Ad Astra,    16/06/11,  Patricia WA You do express yourself well via your pomes.

janice,    16/06/11,   Very well said, PatriciaWA.    When people use phrases such as “lost his/her/their moral compass” they should be challenged as to their definition of such phrase and to give examples of where the accused has “lost” it.

Talk Turkey,    16/06/11   Patricia,  Your first post today was superb. No need to tone it down imo.

Lyn,   16/06/11,     Hi Patricia,  I want to second Talk Turkey on your comment being
superb.  Janice you too, you and Patricia are both a brilliant flurescent lights on this famous TPS blog.    I can’t answer you both it would take me too long. Congratulations to you both for providing such quality writing to TPS.

Catching up,   20/06/11,   Sorry, Patricia,  (Abbott) is the arsonist not the fireman. He is only capable of destroying, not building.     He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is he, that we all need to be afraid of, not the lady inthe lodge.

Pip,    20/06/11,   Gee thanks patriciawa, now I’m having visions of the rabbott and brass monkeys….

Min,   20/06/11,    MG..there went my cup of coffee!!! That’s a truly ‘orrible thought so early in the morning Pip.


About patriciawa
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s