MICHAEL McCormack’s elevation to the leadership of the Nationals and consequently the Deputy Prime Ministership has been fully commented on in the media over the past week and so there is no need to repeat the commentary here, though there are two issues I think worthy of further discussion.
One is his infamous homophobic Daily Advertiser editorial of 1993, and the other is his views on climate change.
Both have implications for both his local and now national constituents.
Firstly, a brief comment in his homophobic editorial. As we all know, Mr McCormack has apologised for the hateful bile he wrote 24 years ago.
Apologies are all well and good but they neither repair the damage he did, nor give back those years to those whose lives were lost or blighted by his attack.
I was a Senior Lecturer in Drama at CSU back then, and relatively “safe” in what was essentially a privileged position, but hundreds of young people were not so fortunate, and had their lives blighted by Mr McCormack’s slurs.
As a Letter to the Editor (Carl-James Asimus, DA, March 1) wrote “Too often young gay people take their own lives as a result of hatred voiced against them by such figures as Mr McCormack.”
I challenged Mr McCormack to at least partly make amends by marching with me at the 40th Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade last Saturday, but sadly and unsurprisingly he didn’t show.
Let’s hope Mr McCormack will be more thoughtful in his new role, and may he do less harm, though damaged lives can’t all be repaired by the passage of time.
However, it is Mr McCormack’s views on climate change that will be of greater concern to most of his regional constituents.
Last week Greens spokesperson for climate change and energy Adam Bandt MP used Parliamentary Question Time to question the new Deputy Prime Minister about his position on climate change.
“‘It appears that the second most powerful man in the country doesn’t believe in climate change,” Mr Bandt said.
The evidence comes from what Mr McCormack referred to as “so-called climate change” in Parliament in 2012.
In his first speech, he stated that just because there is less rain “it does not mean we all need to listen to a government grant-seeking academic sprouting doom and gloom about climate changing irreversibly” he said, despite all the scientific evidence provided annually by the Bureau of Meteorology.
The irony of Mr McCormack’s stance as a climate change denier is plain to see. Climate change will lead to more extreme and more frequent droughts, heatwaves and bushfires, which impact on regional and rural Australia far more than they do on the major cities.
His constituents are therefore in for a shock if they expect him to look after their interests.
It seems that Mr McCormack does not understand or does not want to understand the urgency of tackling climate change.
As inaction on climate change is an ingrained Turnbull government specialty, the people Michael McCormack claims to represent will be left hot, high and dry.
The rise of the man from Wagga Wagga is a case of new face for a set of neoliberal, selfish policies that don’t serve the needs of rural and regional Australia let alone the office of Deputy Prime Minister.