The silly season of Australian politics is slowly drawing to its conclusion, interrupted by horrific natural disasters that mesmerised the nation and terrorised many of Australiaâ€™s best, from Rockhampton to Horsham and the great centre of commerce and progress that is Brisbane.
Easily the silliest performer of this usually quiet time has been retirement age Greens party leader Bob Brown.
His first effort in siding with the retail billionaires in their efforts to shut-down online competition was an extraordinarily stupid move. It was an expression of the Greens partyâ€™s â€œlocalismâ€ ideology that deems everything not grown in a local, communal vegetable patch to be inferior to everything else. Of course, importing goods or buying services from overseas often has the effect of enriching some of the worldâ€™s poorest people, something youâ€™d think a bleeding heart Bob Brown would like. Itâ€™s just one of many inconsistencies in their logic.
Siding with Sol Lew, widely regarded in Australian commerce as a crook after scandalous related party transactions with public companies, Gerry Harvey, a once-popular knock-about bloke now turned into a pariah, and Bernie Brookes, central to a deal now being pursued by the Australian Tax Office for many hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid taxes, seemed like an incredibly stupid thing to do.
Topping that though was Senator Brownâ€™s attempt to make political capital from the misery of the Queensland floods.
Brown â€“ and his Greens party â€“ attempts to demonise the coal industry. Despite that, as we exposed during the Victorian election, many Greens party candidates are perfectly happy taking money from the coal industry, directly or indirectly. One was a performing clown for Rio Tinto, another represented a coal miner in attempting to deny liability for the death of a worker, another was a consultant to a coal-fuelled power-plant, another made many millions from coal and other mining investments. It was quite bizarre their level of exposure to an industry they insist is so evil.
By and large, they get away with it. With the honourable exception of News Ltd papers, the Greens are rarely held to account for these inconsistencies.
But Bob Brownâ€™s argument that coal causes climate change which caused the Queensland flood is so obviously false and his conclusion that therefore the coal industry should pay so obviously self-serving and hypocritical that he seems to have crossed a line.
Even the ABC and Fairfaxâ€™s reporting suggests they think the nasty old man has acted insensitively to exploit the suffering of many thousands of people for his own end.
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, not shy about challenging no-profile deputy Christine Milne last year, is no doubt looking at this farce with keen interest. Brown plans to appoint slick Nick McKim â€“ the Tasmanian minister whose first official act was to increase the rents of public housing tenants – to replace himself in the Senate when he gets too old.
Brownâ€™s restless summer suggests that not only are his best and most cunning political days are behind him but that prospective leaders Milne, Hanson-Young and McKim are already thinking of life after Bob Brownâ€™s retirement.