Friday, December 8, 2017

Today by Sean Kelly

Remember this moment
The frustrations of this week will fade, but the change to our laws will last

Supplied by ABC News

It has been a confusing week.

Like many people, I watched yesterday’s vote on marriage equality with a strange mixture of emotions. I was so happy. And yet I couldn’t quite forget about my anger with the way the vote had come about, or with the attempts by so many politicians to claim credit for a change they had done so little to bring to fruition – or, alternatively, which they had brought about in the worst way possible, despite the urgings of the one community the change will most affect. Of course, none of those problems adhere to all MPs – but that only served to magnify the sense of blend. There was no purity to be had, no clear way through.

The rest of the week was like that as well, in one way or another. We were supposed to see a resolution to the citizenship craziness that has sucked so much time from other matters and so much authority from the government. Instead, we got the past few months again, in redux: both sides doing everything they could to fight for political advantage, at the expense of pushing uncertainty further into the future. What on earth have we endured all the crap for, if both sides now refuse to end the impasse?

The government moved to prevent the influence of foreign money on our elections. That was a good thing, and an important principle to defend. But the action felt, this week, motivated to an unhealthy extent by the desire to go after Labor Senator Sam Dastyari (which is not to deny Dastyari has brought this trouble on himself). Unsurprisingly, then, anyone concerned about donations in general was left wondering why it was only foreign money our government was worried about. If we have now acknowledged the principle that yuan and yen can purchase influence and affect democracy, why do we continue to let dollars do the same?

But while it is easy to become distracted by disillusionment, we shouldn’t always succumb. All of the above is about disenchantment with politics as it is practised in Canberra – and as we head into summer and away from this brutal parliamentary year, we should, briefly at least, try to give our focus in its entirety to the great change that occurred this week in Australia. It is a wonderful change, one that has already brought – and will continue to bring – joy to millions, and the various political frustrations of this week are, in comparison, nothing at all.

This weekend, remind yourself of that fact. Watch David Marr react to the news. Spend five minutes reliving the events of the day. Read the words of LGBTQI politicians in their own words. Read Katharine Murphy on shadows and exuberance, or Tony Wright on applause, champagne, and gravity, or James Jeffrey on singing and the ticking of the clock [$]. Never forget the pain LGBTQI people have suffered these past months, but do not forget either that we are now so far, as a country, from where we used to be. In time, marriage equality will come to seem plain and unremarkable. Right now it is entirely remarkable. The achievement will endure, but the moment will not come again. There will be other fights in the future, so store this feeling up. 

In other news


The new era

Ready or not, China is here

Linda Jaivin

“As the PRC grows richer and stronger, the Party increasingly places demands and expectations on the citizens and governments of other countries. What it asks of Australia, in the broadest terms, is to not interfere in China’s internal affairs and to welcome the rise of the PRC as a strong and prosperous nation, equal to others and entitled to its place in institutions of global governance and its role in international affairs. If we do this, Chinese economic statecraft will ensure that we profit, literally and otherwise, from China’s rise; we too can have a share of the China Dream. If we don’t, we won’t. But it doesn’t stop there. As Xi Jinping declared to the Party Congress, ‘No one should expect China to swallow anything that undermines its interests.’ ’’ read on


Peter Wohlleben’s ‘The Inner Life of Animals’: animals have feelings too

The author of ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ argues that animals experience emotions like we do

Jessica Au

“Wohlleben is not a stylist but a writer who wants to make hard science accessible. At the beginning of the book, he beckons us into his own Germanic forest as if through a magical doorway: ‘I would like to act as your interpreter [and] I hope this will help you see the animal world around you … not as mindless automatons driven by inflexible genetic code, but as stalwart souls and lovable rascals … Come on, I’ll show you what I mean.’ While it is hard not to warm to this earnestness, the book does end up sacrificing depth for popular appeal. The chapters are short and hardly vary in shape; as soon as you feel momentum building, the topic is finished and we’re on to the next. There’s also something vaguely YouTube-like to all the stories of grateful magpies and cross-species adoption. One craves at times fewer anecdotes, and more heavy grappling.” READ ON

Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly is a columnist for Fairfax and a former adviser to Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.



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