Garrett + Labor

Well, I thought it might have been another false alarm, but nay, ’tis true – Peter Garrett is now a Labor member for the (supposedly “safe”) seat of Kingsford Smith.

I really hope this pays off for both Garrett and Labor, it has the minor potential to swing against Labor, but in my mind Garrett has the most to lose. I wonder how an outspoken public figure like Garrett is going to handle the role of MP, where party lines must be held, and disputes kept out of the spotlight. I would never have imagined Peter Garrett going to Labor, the Greens would seem to match his politics more closely, however…

By joining the Labor party Garrett acheives a couple of things. The first, if the seat is as safe as they say, he almost guarantees himself a place in parliament as member of the opposition (at worst) or of the Government (at best). The Greens role in the senate would not provide him with such an immediate entry into policy and parliamentary debates and he would have to fight to get a seat at the table in the Greens (no fortuitous retirements there). Also, his profile possibly gives him strength in leaning Labor policy a little more to the center, which I think will strengthen their case to the public (despite what the right factions of Labor might believe).

Of course, I wonder how many noses have been knocked out of joint by this move? There has to have been a number of candidates waiting in the wings to take this seat over who are feeling a little sore about the decision. I can’t help but think that deals have been done by Latham to make this happen. I can only hope that anyone who has been put out recognises the importance of keeping it to themselves until at least after the election. The last thing Labor needs is public bickering, although I think the party as a whole recognises this.

There is a potential, I think, for the publicity around the event to see this as opportunism on Latham’s part, and in all honesty there is an element of truth to that. But the announcement is far enough away from the election that I don’t think this will hurt the party’s chances on poll day. As they say, a week is a long time in politics.

All in all I think this is a positive move, despite the difficulties Garrett is sure to face working with decades old factions within the party. I wonder which segment of the voting demographic Labor hope this will bring on side? Garrett, as influential as he has been during my time growing up, is not exactly a spring chicken, and the youth vote probably won’t be all that swayed with the choice.

I have to say I’m excited about having someone like Garrett in one of the major parties. Even if the marriage is short-lived, I suspect good things will come out of it.

fb-ayyyyy

If you’re in Sydney and you can pick up 94.5FM, tune in shortly after 9pm to hear a coupla live Glance tracks and a bit of an interview thingy with the band.

NY Times

In this post Jay Rosen points to Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent’s report on NY Times coverage of Iraq WMD. (Does this guy really work for the paper?) Both articles are an excellent read. The clincher – in the second paragraph:

To anyone who read the paper between September 2002 and June 2003, the impression that Saddam Hussein possessed, or was acquiring, a frightening arsenal of W.M.D. seemed unmistakable. Except, of course, it appears to have been mistaken.

The question remains how the NY Times will deal with this in future stories. It is one thing to acknowledge past mistakes, quite another to initiate the institutional change that is necessary to address Okrent’s points.

Supersized

I went and saw the doco/movie Supersize-Me on Thursday night. What an eye opener! I went expecting something negative about the impact of fast food on the population, but oh my – I wasn’t expecting what unfolded! I’m not going to spoil it for anyone, but I must say, I’m glad that we don’t have “supersize” here in Australia – what a nightmare!

Two things that really struck me – 1. the emphasis on advertising to and luring in children, and 2. the idea the “education” of consumers isn’t good enough. I was always in the camp of “if you choose to eat there, that’s your choice”. Seeing the film I’m not so sure that’s an adequate response. Unfortunately, the film, does not present any clear message about how such companies should be reacting. Of course not advertising to children and nutritional information clearly and readily available are part of that. But it’s not the whole picture.

It should be noted that McDonalds here have conveniently chosen now to launch new wrappers and containers for their products containing nutritional information. No doubt they’ll claim it’s coincidence that the new packaging has been launched at the same time as the movie…

Oh, and don’t be fooled – the Macca’s salads (at least the US varieties) aren’t all that much better, and sometimes worse, than the greezy burgers.

Alternative perspective

Jim Moore posts some interesting thoughts about how US policy often misses some underlying possibilities in areas such as building democracy and economic development. It also emphasises the difference between the typical top-down approach and amore sustainable, if longer term and more difficult, bottom up approach.