I found it hard to reconcile Rachel Nolan’s summary of my presentation at Woodford Folk Festival’s Greenhouse (March) with what I actually said. I checked my notes, then listened to the recording on the website. I don’t hear me “burning the whole place down” or condemning all governments in equal terms. My only criticism of the Bligh government related to their acceptance of the claim that population growth was inevitably good for the state.
What I did say, and this is probably what offended Rachel Nolan as a good minister in the progressive Bligh government, was that some deep-seated myths are accepted by most or all politicians of major parties: progress is inevitable and driven by growth; domination of nature is right and proper; we are not citizens but consumers, driven by individualism and a desire for material consumption; resources are unlimited. This mindset explains why, as she concluded, “modern Labor is losing the battle of ideas”.
For most of the 20th century, the ALP was a force for positive change, but it now has fundamental problems. Its acceptance of the current economic dogma has reduced its willingness to regulate in the national interest, and it seems to share the Coalition’s delusion that environmental problems can be solved as long as the economy is booming. Accepting that there are limits to growth and developing strategies for equitable progress within those limits is essential for a party to win the modern battle of ideas.