Friday, 26 June 2009

Post#131 The Great Kings and The Grech Who Stole Ute-Gate

In the past week mayhem and havoc have been wracking several parts of the world, as usual. The most vivid image from the reportage is of the beautiful young woman dying on a Teheran street. This alone should be evidence enough to the people of any country that they are up the infamous creek.

Iran/Persia, call it how you please, was regarded once as the home of a great civilisation. That was three thousand years ago. Of course, that type of greatness wasn't about democracy and the value of human life wasn't significant in measuring the worth of ancient states. If someone had said "human rights" to one of the Great Kings of Persia the hearer would have been bewildered...until it occurred to him that it must describe his proprietory rights over the human inhabitants of his kingdom; in a similar vein to "water rights", "land rights" and "tribute rights". Among the "human rights" of the Great King would have been the right to dispose of human life as he pleased. In that sense, depending upon one's perception of it, no progress has been made in Iran or the traditional standards have been maintained. I have no special insight into what the average Achmed in the streets of Iran desires in his innermost heart, but I don't think the majority of his type would mind a departure from this ancient custom. The crowds who are demonstrating are being played for fools by the "reformer" candidate and his sponsors, but their desire for freedom is no less genuine. What a precious jewel a genuine electoral franchise must seem to them; the right to cast a vote and have it honestly counted. An aspiration to die for...

And what was the great news here in the Magic Islands of Australia this past week? The dispute about the ute. Our Prime Minister has been accused of helping a car dealer of his acquaintance to
obtain special access to the application process for financial assistance. The car-dealer has made a gift of a utility sedan to the PM and is alleged to have received special favour as quid pro quo. In the course of this tiresome saga a wriggling, writhing bureaucrat was trawled up in the net of a Senate committee hearing. Godwin Grech (pronounced "Gretch" apparently) gave a very good impersonation of Woody Allen doing his neurotic nerd schtick and appeared to have given the Coalition some ammo to use against the Government. It has all gone wrong for the boys in Conservative blue, with Grech now appearing to be securely in the clutches of the Federal Police for forging the "incriminating" evidence. I won't dwell on this story in particular..the details can be Googled easily enough if anyone wants to search "Rudd, Grant, ute, Grech". The story is known as "Ute-gate" and the collapse of the scandal upon its proponents is well-addressed in many sources.

What I'm most interested by is the triviality of the matters that a mature democracy is occupying its public fora with. The wars we are engaged in are not remotely won, the economic crisis is not past, the serious administrative challenges that confront government have not all been resolved. The media (yeah, let's blame them) find it easier to cover these scandal yarns than to grapple with the complex matters, but does the average Adam in our street really want to hear it? When I heard Malcolm Turnbull call for Rudd's resignation over Ute-gate I thought, "Oh for the love of...." I think the triteness of these tactics and the triviality of the confected "issues" play a large role in why fewer people are voting, despite the statutory requirement to do so. The "draft dodgers" who don't register and the enrolled electors who abstain would amaze those Iranians who are getting their heads kicked in for sake of having a real vote. But could they keep a revolutionary fire burning after 100 years of this sort of performance?

Well, let poesie have a try where prose is puzzled:

Godwin Grech, the woeful wretch,
Gave Malcolm Turnbull cause to kvetch.

But when the forgery was found
Malcolm's glee was quickly drowned.

The people wonder what's to boot
In all this yarn about a ute.

Can we not find a better use
For the right to speak
Without they shoot?

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