This is a sample of The Echidna newsletter sent out each weekday morning. To sign up for FREE, go to theechidna.com.au
Let's pause the bad news on this public holiday and be thankful for one small mercy - actually, a pretty big one if you think about it. As ugly as it can get, our politics is nowhere near as poisonous as America's.
The first public hearing of the US House Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 storming of the Capitol is a handy reminder that for all its lumps and warts, our polity is much more civil than its baying, brawling American cousin.
Watching the House Committee replay January 6 as it was captured on smartphones and body cams was chilling. Hearing how Donald Trump incited the angry mob was terrifying. Knowing we are not as polarised here in Australia - and that our sceptical relationship with politics means we're unlikely to ever be manipulated in a such a way - is deeply reassuring.
The closest we've come was during the lockdown phase of the pandemic, when anti-vaxxers, some inexplicably carrying Trump flags, took to the streets of our cities. They were loud, sometimes violent and menacing - and, it seemed, engaging in cosplay inspired by January 6. By the time restrictions were lifted, though, they had become irrelevant. And now, they've faded from view, dismissed as "cookers" addled by conspiracy theories and too much time in the echo chamber.
A few of our politicians have flirted with Trumpian populism, seeking to divide and resorting to childish stunts and extreme language, but voters have given them short shrift and they have remained where they belong - on the fringes. Some of our commentators have jumped on the populist bandwagon too, but that's driven most of them down the dry gulch of night-time streaming TV obscurity, where they harangue a small audience of the converted. Thankfully, Australia doesn't have much appetite for homegrown Sean Hannitys and Steve Bannons - if only someone would tell Paul Murray and Rowan Dean that.
In a past life, on assignment in New York for a magazine, The Echidna met Donald Trump. It was the early 1990s and Trump was famous for his property portfolio, procession of wives and his hair. The encounter was fleeting, but long enough to know he was a vain and vulgar person. There was certainly no inkling he would one day become president, and four years later threaten the very democracy that got him there.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Email us: email@example.com
SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoy The Echidna, forward it to a friend so they can sign up, too.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
THEY SAID IT:
"January 6th and the lies that led to insurrection have put two and a half centuries of constitutional democracy at risk. The world is watching what we do here."
- Bennie Thompson, House Committee chairperson
YOU SAID IT:
"The CPRS was so badly compromised that it was not even 'good' as the enemy of 'perfect'. It would have locked in very low ambition for years. The Gillard scheme was superior, and who is to say that Abbott would not have demolished the CPRS in just the same way? Some elements of the Greens-Labor package under Gillard such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation survived, despite nine years of the LNP trying to get rid of them." - Peter
"Yes [the Greens] voted down a weak carbon pricing mechanism in 2009, which MIGHT have been strengthened over time, and MIGHT not have been overturned by Liberal governments since. Keep in mind Labor introduced a stronger carbon pricing scheme in 2011, with Greens support. As we well know this WAS overturned by the Liberals' climate denier in chief, Tony Abbott. I think it's time to move on from what might, or might not, have been a misjudgment by the Greens 13 years ago." - Ian
"I thoroughly agree with John Hanscombe's article. At the time, I was dismayed by the Greens' 'not good enough' stance in opposing the legislation. Why couldn't they have adopted a 'a good start' stance, and worked on that for further improvements. I have always been a supporter of the Greens, but I find their insistence on an ideologically perfect solution undermines their own efforts to address climate change." - Rudi
"2009 is a sad piece of history that pleases nobody. But if Rudd had the maturity to negotiate with the Greens once it became clear the Coalition would vote against his weak proposed scheme - which had originally been co-designed with Turnbull's office - we could have had effective policy. When Gillard subsequently did work with the Greens and independents, we got great policy - though sadly she was unable to defend it against Abbott and Credlin's remorseless lying." - Felix
"As a member of the Greens I have to say we're not perfect. I was a staunch Labor voter at the time and was surprised at their decision. I believe they ought to have supported the motion, great change is often preceded by baby steps. I hope we're a little more humble and a lot more thoughtful then they were then." - Tony
"Climate wars? The ghost of Tony Abbott walks among us for as long as ALP and LNP refuse to do the big changes we need: putting a price on carbon (which can be a fee-and-dividend that pays every household in the country), introducing overdue vehicle-emissions standards, and phasing out the wildly irresponsible subsidies for fossil fuels. We don't have another decade to waste on trivial fiddling around the edges." - Matt
"Agreed. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It seems to me there's plenty of blame to go round. What's important is, what happens now? Have the Greens learnt anything? Has Labor got the intestinal fortitude to do what's necessary? This is probably our last chance to do something impactful. Should we be cautiously optimistic? I profoundly hope so." - Ces
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.