Alice's dream

Wednesday, July 31, 1991

Alice's dream

em = By Phil Shannon

The Cabinet meeting was shrouded in gloom

as the heat of the summer roasted the room.

The air was humid and cloud cluttered the sky

from the cyclone battering the beach at Bondi.

The Ministers were sweating and their collars were dirty —

the year on the calendar said two thousand and thirty.
"What can we do?", bemoaned the Prime Minister,

"This Greenhouse Effect is looking quite sinister.

"Soon we'll all need to travel by boats

"and, what's worse, it's costing us votes."
"I've got it", cried his Deputy, "Let's save our last tree;

"that'll lift our rating from seven point three".
"But we can't", lamented the Minister for Science,

"We've sold it to the last of the woodchip giants.

"Look, why don't we make an Environment Statement

"with pages galore on Greenhouse abatement,

"and praise the merits of a nuclear solution

"and even consider a tax for pollution.

"We'll fine BHP a dollar a day

"and name them in Parliament if they won't pay.

"Let's offer the Greenies a few positions

"on lots of Resource Assessment Commissions."
The Environment Minister now got up and spoke —

"Too little, too late, a farce and a joke.

"Everyone's saying we really don't mean it

"when we dust off our platform and promise to green it.

"They want solar not nuclear, thermal not oil,

"and vegetables grown from organic soil.

"They don't want to see the whole world Los Angelised

"with its air and its land ecologically vandalised.

"They don't measure progress by gadget-filled houses

"or the sprouting of myriad petroleum bowsers.

"They want to put a stop to war and 'Defence',

"make windmills with the military's dollars and cents.

"And they say they need work just one hour a day

"to make all that's needed, the sustainable way."
"Can't be done", cried the Treasurer, "all economists agree

"that civilised society needs rising GDP.

"People must be made to buy and consume

"to save our economy from recession and doom.

"These Greenies are getting far, far too kooky

"from reading the works of Professor Suzuki."
"Agreed", cried the Minister for the Environment,

"we must be pragmatic — it's an electoral requirement.

"We've got the support of the rich speculators

"but what shall we do with these Green agitators?"
"Label them Reds", said the Minister for Truth,

"Shadow them all with an ASIO sleuth".

"Lock 'em all up", cried the Minister for Justice,

"and if people ask 'Why?', just tell them to trust us".
But these voices all faded in Alice's head

as she rose from her sleep in her dream-tossed bed

She shuddered and thought "By cripes, what a nightmare;

"but with leaders like that, this is how we well might fare.

"They're funny, at times, with their loony politics; "it's like watching re-runs of Stan and Ollie flics.

"They waffle and temporise and filibuster

"but all they produce is hot air and silly bluster.

"And while they're dithering the ice-caps melt,

"cities submerge and torrential rains pelt.

"And whilst deluge and drought vie and proliferate

"they hum and they haw, they hedge and procrastinate.

"If we don't change that lot", thought Alice with chagrin,

"our future will out-Ursula Ursula Le Guin."
So Alice vowed to help to clean up our planet,

to organise with every other Tom, Dick and Janet

for a world without oil wells and chain-saws (and cattle)

and the rich and the greedy and their politicians' prattle.

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