This is surely a country that could use a bit of good news. It has been a tough few weeks with raging bushfires, severe flooding and, just when it seemed it couldn't get worse, the heartbreaking news we will be subjected to the longest election campaign in Australian history.
So it was with real relief that I finally came across a positive story. ABC Online said on January 25 that, “Brisbane company Linc Energy says independent studies have confirmed a major shale oil source in South Australia's far north, which officials have estimated could be worth $20 trillion”.
This news filled me with so much joy I felt I could explode ― preferably at the headquarters of a fossil fuel giant. Linc Energy chief executive Peter Bond said the discovery is “bigger than the Cooper Basin and Bass Strait combined” and he could potentially be “talking Saudi Arabia numbers”.
Wow, that is really great. Just what the world needs now ― as climate scientists insist on the urgent need to draw down the amount of carbon in the atmosphere in a bid to prevent runaway climate change with catastrophic consequences. A profit-hungry fossil fuel corporation stumbling across Saudi Arabia-sized reserves.
If you want to sum up what is desperately wrong with Australian politics right now, consider this fact: The news of the discovery of large amounts of shale oil that, if burnt, would make runaway climate change a certainty was met with not a single voice in the mainstream media suggesting that perhaps this stuff is best left in the ground.
And this despite weeks of temperature records being smashed around the country combined with devastating floods and fires ― again.
Instead, the debate was about whether the numbers are really as big as Linc Energy is claiming, with one expert saying no one should get too excited because the numbers should be taken with a “grain of salt”. It might be too expensive, too. That is good to know ― a reason we might not run full-speed ahead off the cliff is it could prove a little too pricey.
The inevitable justification for allowing the ongoing expansion of fossil fuel mining at a time when we need to rapidly re-gear our energy production towards renewables is that allowing a corporation to engage in activities that threaten the ability of the planet to sustain life “creates jobs”.
This argument could be used to justify anything. A big project to organise large-scale nuclear explosions in all major cities would no doubt create a lot of jobs too ― and the post-apocalyptic society would surely be filled with new jobs in the construction trade for whoever is left alive.
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In other news, a new shocking case of oppression has arisen in a country that claims to be “free”. It seems the latest crackdown is targeting downtrodden morning TV show hosts.
David “Kochie” Koch bravely spoke out about his victimisation in a January 22 Sydney Morning Herald piece: “Why is it a crime for a bloke (and an older bloke) to have an opinion these days which isn't consistent with the noisy social media brigade?”
It is such a crime for a “bloke” like “Kochie” to have an opinion that the only place he could defend himself from the “noisy social media brigade” was in the op-ed pages of a major broadsheet. Well, that and on his show, Sunrise, five mornings a week.
The cause of the terrible repression, in the form of many people disagreeing with him on Twitter and organising a peaceful gathering outside Sunrise studios, was Koch's statement that if women breastfeed in public, they should be “classy” about it ― and ensure it is done “discreetly”.
The irony of a man who fronts a commercial TV station's morning show giving lectures on being “classy” in public seems to have passed “Kochie” by. Nor did he give any explanation of how to “discreetly” feed a hungry baby. Perhaps the mother should rise in a dainty, ladylike fashion and, above the wailing infant, say “Sorry I must go powder my nose” before removing herself from public view?
Over at The Punch, Andrew Sherwood jumped into Koch's defence in a January 21 post, insisting: “I can tell you from experience that there are some women who breastfeed anywhere they can as a sort of public exhibition of motherhood. So much of parenthood these days has become an act of display, from superprams as sophisticated as F1 cars to those who go down the overtly organic, super-healthy track.
“Public breastfeeding has become, for some Mums, the last frontier of of showy parenthood. What started as a private, intimate thing has become its exact opposite. I breastfeed therefore I am liberated. Yeah righto, we get it.”
Far be it from me to question Sherwood's mind-reading abilities. I suppose mothers who breastfeed in public could be doing it to show-off their mad motherhood skills to all-and-sundry. Then again, and this is just a suggestion, maybe it could be because their baby is hungry and needs feeding.
But possibly Sherwood is right and mothers are simply refusing to feed crying babies in their own homes, insisting: “For God's sake, not here you little brat, it's far too discreet.”
There are many men, it seems, who simply cannot imagine women doing things with their breasts that are not directed at them.