Ex-Rocker? Or Just on a Break?

AFP Photo In the wake of the Australian government shift, I’ve been able to focus a little bit on home, when writing here at PS. It has been nice, to be able to shift the attention away from America, in a world where America seems to be the only thing worth thinking about. And with bush-fires on the way to my neck of the woods, you can bet that I’ll be bringing the attention back Down Under a bit more as well.

But for the moment, not only do I get to focus on my home, but I get to focus on a favorite band of mine: Midnight Oil!

Many of you may be well aware of Midnight Oil, due to their massive contributions to the environment across the face of our planet. 1990 saw Midnight Oil stage a concert outside of Exxon’s New York headquarters, after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The accompanying banner read “Midnight Oil Makes You Dance, Exxon Oil Makes Us Sick.”

What many of you may not be aware of, is the fact that lead singer Peter Garrett, is now Environment Minister of Australia.

He’s been in politics since October of 2004, and upon the November election of the Labor Party, of which he is a member, he was named Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts. But he isn’t there just as a placeholder so that someone famous could be in the labor party. He holds two degrees; an Arts and Law degree, as well as an Order of Australia.

And though he is probably most well known for heading up Midnight Oil between 1973 and 2002, he has always made a name for himself in the environment. He served as head of the Australian Conservation Foundation during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and also sat on the international board of the environmental group Greenpeace.

Of course, with his activist environmental background, moving in to the softer world of politics has come with some changes for Garrett. His public stances on issues such as uranium mining and old-growth logging have had to change, so as to fit in line with those of his chosen party.

Former mentor, and leader of the Greens party (a semi-minor party here in Aus) Bob Brown is one of those who has come out in attack against Garrett.

“I worry about Peter, for him,” Brown told The Bulletin last month. “It’s a grand commitment to Labor. You can’t do that without some internal hemorrhaging. I do wish him well. I mean that honestly.”

However Garrett’s position as minister for environment comes as something of a demotion, considering that he was opposition spokesman for both environmental policies and global warming, against the then Liberal (small ‘l’ liberals, like the US democrats) prime minister John Howard. A major gaffe saw Garrett tell a radio host off air that Labor would renege on many of their campaign promises.

All of this, while slightly biographical, is just to inform you. The headings will be thrown around for awhile, “Ex-pop star now Aussie environment chief” etc (though, pop is pushing it a bit…). Don’t let that cloud your opinions though, Peter Garrett knows what he is talking about.

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