A column about summer

As you know, this column is highly influential in world affairs. Rarely a major incident occurs on the world stage without my counsel proving in some way decisive. Many have likened me to Henry Kissenger, while some have even dubbed me The Glebe’s own Nelson Mandela. And while of course I’m flattered by such comparisons, I’m just doing my job.

Even as you read this, Aung San Suu Kyi, General Than Shwe and thousands of imprisoned monks are all waiting for my considered deliberations on the situation in Myanmar. And I’d like to devote my full attention to that particular flashpoint, given its urgency. But I’m afraid I simply can’t apply the healing balm of my wisdom to that troubled region today, for one simple reason – this afternoon, the weather is nothing short of spectacular today.

Oh okay, I suppose I can spare them a paragraph before I get back to contemplating the loveliness of Sydney in the springtime. General, it’s high time you gave Aung a go, okay? It’s polite to share. And lay off the monks, it’s making you look bad. Not to mention Australian Federal Police, who trained your thugs. There. Now, where was I?

I’ve travelled through many other towns in my time (we UN peace envoys do tend to get about a bit) and they simply aren’t as good. Especially not Melbourne, and I do wish they’d stop going on about it.

For us Sydneysiders, it’s genuinely hard to care about the bad things that are happening in the world over summer. Take for example Kevin Andrews’ latest hideous decision to restrict migration from Africa. He justified it with a hideous list of generalisations about how Africans are poorly educated, join gangs and (shock horror) won’t integrate.

And that, apparently, is enough to deny genuine refugees – whose lives, let’s not forget, are in danger if they stay in their own countries – the chance to come and live in this earthly paradise of ours, and share the wonderful lifestyle we have enjoyed since the British essentially stole the entire continent. Frenzied leftists have often dubbed the Howard Government racist, but this seems like the most indisputable instance yet.

And yet, I can’t really find it in my heart to care all that much about it. As I wrote at about this time last year about global warming, it’s hard to get passionate about important causes in warm weather. I know I should be taking to the street, shouting angry slogans and making a genuine effort to smash something – probably the state. But what I most feel like doing is going for a swim. I’m sure the water’s lovely. Sure, I also think that Africans should be allowed to enjoy it alongside me, but that’s not going to stop me shutting the computer down and taking a dip.

And this, perhaps, is why John Howard keeps putting off the election. That, and the desperate hope that Kevin Rudd will suddenly develop pancreatitis or shatter some cabbie’s ulna. All of John Howard’s wins have been in the heat – in March, October or November. When we go to the polls on an idyllic day, it’s easy to see the appeal of the status quo.

If anyone out there is planning to foment revolution – and there surely aren’t many cells of communist revolutionaries out there, but I’d be willing to bet that any in existence are probably somewhere within the Inner West – I suggest they wait until midwinter. Because I’ll be happy to storm the barricades in June or July, especially if there’s any chance of guillotining Kevin Andrews, whose tenure as Immigration Minister is making Amanda Vanstone look competent and Phillip Ruddock seem caring. But right now, I’m busy thinking about what cocktail I’ll be ordering this evening. A mojito, I think. And while I’d love to share the Sydney summer with some Sudanese refugees and persecuted Burmese dissidents – in particular Aung San Suu Kyi, who seems like a bit of a spunk for a woman in her early 60s – the weather has turned warm, and it’s high time I put down the lethal weapon of political influence I call my laptop and went out to enjoy some of it.

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