by PAUL COLLITS – THE NSW Premier, while on a roll with all sorts of fancy “reforms” of not the slightest interest to punters whose jobs and lives he damaged by COVID mandates, has embarked on some virtue signalling to keep inner-city elites on side.
While at the same time distract from his appalling appointment of the endlessly underwhelming Pork Barrellaro to a sinecure in the Big Apple. One that will massively come back to bite him.
With apologies to Oscar Wilde, to make one absolute clanger in a week might be regarded as a misfortune. To make two looks careless.
Old sea dogs will recognise the term, “flag of convenience”.
One definition is as follows: Flag of convenience (FOC) is a business practice whereby a ship’s owner registers a merchant ship in a ship register of a country other than that of the ship’s owner, and the ship flies the civil ensign of that country, called the flag state.
What is this other country in Australia where we have to fly a flag with German colours? Shortly to be atop Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, no less. What will the overseas tourists think?
The reactions to the Premier on the flag are many and varied. Together, they will be a disappointment to him.
For an alleged conservative, it simply looks like an odd thing to be doing. For most in NSW, it is not a priority, whatever your views on the Indigenous question.
We still have tens of thousands out of work over the heinous vaccine mandates, for example. It is a distraction from real problems.
Like the lights going out, thanks to this NSW Government. For those who aren’t yet fiscally incontinent, an eyebrow or two will, surely, be raised over the initially estimated $25m cost of sticking a flag on the bridge.
Other people will object for more fundamental, ideological reasons, which we will get to. And those who support the idea will not be remotely impressed by this guy doing it.
Infamously, here is what the Premier said of the then Opposition Leader in the dim distant past of 2018: “I have a great idea for Luke Foley: instead of putting the Aboriginal flag on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, how about just plonking a giant blank screen that can be quickly and easily updated to broadcast Labor’s latest social justice warrior cause?”
Has the Premier been “transitioning”? Is his flag position “evolving”?
Yes, you can change your mind in politics, as in life. Some of us will be familiar with Keynes quote: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?”
But in this case, what was virtue signalling four years ago still is. That what makes the publication of it so delicious and the criticism so pointed. Simply add hypocrisy, and stir.
The NSW Premier must be getting used to unexpected partnerships with strange erstwhile opponents.
First, Gladys. Then the man with the exponentially growing media mentions, Matt Kean. Next, there is Perrottet’s now much commented on brothers-in-arms comradeship with the dictatorial socialist Premier of Victoria.
He has had more collaborations with Daniel Andrews than most of us have had Sunday roasts. And now, of all people and this one not intended, Dominic has forged a new link with a flagbearer-in-arms.
This week is a tale of flagbearers in arms, and it isn’t working out well for either of them.
For the Greens’ Adam Bandt, his version is the Australian flag of inconvenience. Perhaps Paul Keating whispered to Adam, the Member for Melbourne (where else?), “do something with a flag, mate. Dom is all over it!”
As everyone would know by now, Bandt seemingly now refuses to stand before an Aussie flag.
It must trigger him in just so many ways. Colonialism. Racism. War (it is, as many point out, the flag under which our betters repeatedly fought). Imperialism.
It is probably hetero-normative as well. Google “Adam Bandt” and see what comes up. “Highly insulting”. “Stunt”. “Idiotic”. “Not representing his country”. “Racially divisive”. “You’re an absolute disgrace”. You get the flavour.
The Left’s self-loathing is very familiar, of course, but this is ridiculous. It is a caricature of progressivism. As silly as falling off a bike. Or cheering on Big Pharma.
The media spoke to a former fellow university student of Bandt’s, an Indigenous woman, who dismissed his actions as purely symbolic and of no value. And who recalled very clearly Bandt’s apparent lack of the remotest interest in Indigenous affairs while at uni.
There are a number of obvious reasons why stunts by politicians such as these in regard to Aboriginal matters seldom end well.
Things like a “voice” don’t cut the mustard for many real Aborigines with actual problems.
It wasn’t without reason that Indigenous people I have met used to refer to ATSIC as “all that shit in Canberra”.
Symbolic gestures might have the perverse effect of making whites feel better (or not) while simply reminding Aborigines of the Brits’ imperialism and all they have lost
Is contrasting all the gesturing with a lack of progress on addressing things like rampant sexual violence in remote communities a false binary? Perhaps. But it remains true that gesture politics are typically hypocritical.
And as Andrew Clennell of Sky News has noted, in relation to Perrottet this week, hypocrisy in politicians is recognised by voters for what it bespeaks, and is about as low as you can go. Almost as low as blatant jobs for the boys.
(Once upon a time Perrottet’s predecessor as Premier in the early 1990s, Nick Greiner, was sacked, having been found by the Independent Commission Against Corruption to have offered an incentive to a politician to resign from politics, then be offered a lucrative position in the public sector. While there is no public evidence to date of inducements of Barilaro to go, the more things in politics change…)
There are other reasons why gesture politics in relation to flags and other, similar stunts don’t fly, even though some of them persist.
Welcomes to country. Seeking permission or approval from Aborigines. Statements of respect “to elders past, present, emerging, almost there, still hiding somewhere but shortly to appear, and simply away for the weekend”, and so on.
They put people off endless guilt-ridden obsessions, and probably put them off the Indigenous as well. They breed cynicism about politics, as if there isn’t enough of that already. They are, patently, the wrong priorities. They are divisive. Which other countries have two flags, after all?
Finally, there is no evidence of which I am aware that gestures achieve their stated objectives. Healing, the Premier says about his flag play.
Where’s the evidence of healing? Every gesture simply demands more. Not by Aborigines, by the way, but by what members of the Bennelong Society like to call “the Aboriginal industry”.
The NSW Premier might wish to rethink the advisers to whom he listens, and which thought bubbles he adopts as policy.
With Adam Bandt, well, what would you expect? It has been a week of flags of much inconvenience, all round.PC