catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

What the Prime Minister will do on his holiday

with 16 comments

Our Prime Minister has returned from Copenhagen, triumphant in having performed his role as Friend of the Chair at COP15 to almost universal acclaim.

Former Australian of the Year Professor Tim Flannery said: “I think that our Prime Minister has played an outstanding role,”. “..he’s been working very hard for the last few months … and he’s just been fantastic all the way, he just shines at it … he’s been really important through these meetings.”
The Prime Minister himself said ” eleventh hour negotiations over the text by world leaders including himself, Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and Nicholas Sarkozy, had saved the summit from “catastrophic collapse”.”

Admittedly, the Conference achieved nothing much of substance but we know that the Prime Minister will have done his duty with distinction. Without him it would probably have achieved nothing at all.

Soon it will be Christmas and a grateful nation will be pressing him to take time off to rest and recharge. He will most likely spend the time at Kirribilli House in Sydney. The Prime Minister and his family will watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks from the lawn. But, exhausted from labours though he will be, he needs only three hours sleep a night and we can be sure his brain will be busy.

Last year, the product of the Prime Minister’s holiday was an 8,000 word essay in The Monthly. It declared the last 30 years of economic reform in Australia a failure, a fact acknowledged and hailed by many, perhaps most, of the academic economists in the country. They are now at their keyboards writing books describing and specifying the new rules and structures we will need to carry out the Prime Minister’s general prescription.

So what’s next? What wise ideas will he pass on to us in the New Year?

Remember when the Keating government produced a series of policy pronouncements called things like “Working Nation” and “Creative Nation”? My guess is that the Prime Minister might be motivated to add to these with “Good Nation”: a plan to make our country Good, in fact to become the Goodest nation in the world. He will have been inspired by the feeling he got in Copenhagen when a grateful meeting greeted his arrival with a standing ovation: “You are the only one who can rescue this” they cried.

In this context, Good means Moral Goodness with all the Good characteristics and behaviours: generosity, kindness, gratefulness, willingness to pay higher taxes and an unwillingness to complain about government and politicians.

Canada used to wear the laurel as the Good Nation (Toronto used to be known as “Toronto the good” ) providing peacekeepers for any problem anywhere in the world, offering asylum to all those young men not wishing to go to Vietnam and, most of all, for not being the USA. But it has lost any claim to Goodness. Its plans to exploit tar sands are so Bad that it was necessary recently for George Monbiot to break his lifetime pledge to fly no more so he could go to Canada to tell them how Bad they are becoming.

So there is a vacancy and I suspect our Prime Minister is hatching a plan to raise Australia up to occupy it.
He might begin with something resembling the 2020 Summit: to get the best minds to go to Canberra to look wise and play with flip charts. The problem with the 2020 Summit was that its output was a list of things for the Government to do and, as it as clear to all that there was little chance of the Government doing any of them, there was just a slight credibility problem.

The Good Nation conference should produce a list of things for us to do, or more likely, for us to be required to do. Perhaps it will be an occasion to use the Nudge theory becoming fashionable in behavioural economics. As I understand it, the theory allows us complete freedom to make our own choices but makes it extremely uncomfortable to do other than what the government wants us to do. I can see many uses of that in Australia. A voluntary 20% tax surcharge that anyone can avoid by taking out an ad in the newspaper declaring that he or she does not care about the sick, the poor and the underpaid politicians.

There might be something like the Peace Corps, sending Good young Australians overseas to teach foreigners how to be Good. Not unhealthy places like Africa but China and Japan and Singapore. They might now even be welcome in Canada.

An expensive publicity campaign will be necessary, using a snappy strapline like “Be Good, it feels better”. Little TV vignettes showing ordinary Australian families being Good. Bus sides, street banners, website popups, skywriting – the complete media package.

When we think about it, it is rather exciting. Much better than winning gold medals at the Olympics so most of the money now going to sport (something the Prime Minister has never really enjoyed) can go to the newly established Institute of Goodness.

One final thought: it will be useful for us all to have something setting out the Rules of Goodness. Just in case we forget. Not, of course, a fridge magnet – that’s been done. So perhaps a little book that we can carry all the time. With a red cover.

Written by Ken Nielsen

December 23, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with

16 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. If people want a green world.
    then stop buying Chineese products.

    China frustrated the COP top,
    now people of the world decide themselves.

    No more “made by china” unless approved by a green label.
    We make china transparent! That should be done anyway.
    Digital democracy of the third millennium: how can you expect your
    government to take responsibility if you do not even bother about a green
    label ?

    You don’t have to wait tille the next top, start yourselves, start today, start small! If governments want to join, they shloud implement green labels. Imagine a green label, next to “made by china” hi hi


    December 23, 2009 at 6:40 pm

  2. “I remember as a kiddie in 1966, training it down to the Gabba to watch the goodness: “Ashes to dust, dust to dust, if baddy does not get you, goody must, in due season.”


    December 23, 2009 at 7:14 pm

  3. I think you’re onto something here, Ken. I too think a new, huge stunt is in the offing. After the Copenhagen humiliation, Rudd needs a new distraction – and his distractions usually involve Kevin saving the world in some way. Making us the Goodest nation in the world could indeed be his next initiative. I think he’ll announce it in his weekly address outside church.


    December 23, 2009 at 8:53 pm

  4. Jesus Ken, don’t give them any ideas


    December 23, 2009 at 8:59 pm

  5. The stupidest thing I’ve read today. Nothing worse than misdirected snark.


    December 23, 2009 at 10:36 pm

  6. I don’t know about the PM, but I’m going to the beach and I won’t be good. Merry Xmas everyone and a happy new year. Even you CL. 😉


    December 23, 2009 at 10:45 pm

  7. Ok, and birdie too.


    December 23, 2009 at 10:52 pm

  8. So perhaps a little book that we can carry all the time. With a red cover.

    What – Animal House?


    December 23, 2009 at 10:55 pm

  9. Merry Christmas pedro


    December 23, 2009 at 11:12 pm

  10. CL

    I think that the second word in the phrase “huge stunt” is wrong when talking about our dear leadThe second word should indeed rhyme with “stunt” but should in fact be the word for which “berk” is the rhyming slang (as in Berkshire Hunt).

    Rococo Liberal

    December 23, 2009 at 11:21 pm

  11. Ken – sarcasm has it’s place but there are other debating tactics also.

    TerjeP (say tay-a)

    December 24, 2009 at 12:10 am

  12. Happy Christmas, Pedro. 😉


    December 24, 2009 at 12:12 am

  13. ab, don’t be silly. The saddest thing about Copenhagen – a tragedy, actually, of epochal proportions – was that the effete and morally deranged polities of the West were put in their place by Chinese communists. That’s how huge the moral crisis in the Western world now is. A country – Britain – which now slaughters 92 percent of its Down syndrome children and another – the United States – whose president is a hillbilly denialist on when life begins, tried to convince the world’s yellow and brown people that they – the evolved warmenists of the West – really care about humanity and therefore wanted them – the yellow and brown people – to remain poor while the planet’s temperature is lowered. This picture conveys what they thought of the space cadets proposing this hubristic lunacy.


    December 24, 2009 at 1:24 am

  14. Not rying to be , but a funny piece by Greg Sheridan about China’s position in the world.

    Perhaps we ought to take a leaf out of their own book.

    “Nobody likes us? Who gives as a shit”.

    LONDON soccer club Millwall has fans who are famous for not being the friendliest critters on the planet. They have a club song that they sing to the tune of Rod Stewart’s Sailing. But their words are: “We are Millwall. We are Millwall. No one likes us. We don’t care.” I was reminded of this as the Chinese delegation to the Copenhagen climate fiasco exited, its members telling all and sundry that they were extremely happy with the outcome.


    December 24, 2009 at 3:20 am

  15. TerjeP: of course there are.
    Kevin Rudd is the most parodiable prime minister we have had for a long time, it seems a pity to miss the opportunity.

    Ken Nielsen

    December 24, 2009 at 5:31 am

  16. […] Such sentiments are similarly found out on the libertarian fringes of the Aus blogosphere over at catalaxyfiles: Our Prime Minister has returned from Copenhagen, triumphant in having performed his role as […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: