Amidst all the bullshit flying in Canberra yesterday, National Party Senator Fiona Nash described the passing of the Carbon Tax legislation as (quoting from Hansard) “one of the saddest days in this nation’s history”.

My friend and sometime collaborator Mike Stuchbery posted a great video address to Senator Nash on his blog, compellingly pointing out that there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of far sadder days in Australian history, the results of violence, disasters, plagues and pestilence.

But even if we exclude wars, despicable crimes, the acts of madmen and natural disasters and just look at politics and parliaments, it doesn’t take long to generate a list of numerous sadder days in Australian political and legislative history than the passing of the Carbon Tax legislation. Here are just a few…

  • 11 November 1975 – Governor-General Sir John Kerr dismisses the Whitlam Government. A shocking, sad and very divisive day in Australian political history. Despite their apparent age, the muddle-headed “protestors” in Parliament yesterday chanting “democracy is dead” obviously had no clue or perspective on how close democracy really DID come to death back in ’75.
  • 6 November 1999 – The national referendum on Australia becoming a republic is defeated. This was a very sad day, especially so because it wasn’t the idea of a republic that failed to win support, it was just that our leaders couldn’t agree on a suitable model to put forward.
  • 23 December 1901 – On this day, Royal assent is given to the Immigration Restriction Act, which was the basis for the White Australia Policy. This surely makes it a much sadder, more unpleasant piece of legislation than the Clean Energy Bills.
  • 23 December 1905 – The Aborigines Act in Western Australia declared that the Chief Protector of Aborigines “shall be the legal guardian of every aboriginal and half-caste child until such child attains the age of sixteen years”, meaning that aboriginal children could be taken from their parents, potentially on a whim. That day – and the days on which similar acts were passed in other states – led to unbearable sadness for generations of indigenous people.

Please don’t make our political conversations any dumber

Like Mike Stuchbery, “I could go on”. And like Mike Stuchbery, the Ham Historian calls for Senator Nash and others to have some perspective, acquaint themselves with some actual Australian history and (to paraphrase Mike) not make our political – or historical -conversations any dumber.

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