23 August, 2011

The most boring place on earth

Melbourne Herald Sun, Friday August 19, 2011

It’s amazing how different things look from the other side of the world. I’m currently in Italy - hot mid-summer, but even with the holidays Europe is in turmoil.

Every bar has a torrent of news coming off the big LCD screens and it never seems to be good. Politicians scurry from meeting to meeting followed by swarms of camera crews.

The Greeks have been virtually written off and now the serious talk is should they jump or will they need to be pushed.

Italy is not far behind in the economic stakes, their politicians are also dashing from conference to crisis meeting and now it’s started affecting France.

President Obama is caught in a gridlock and even the shock therapy of the AAA downgrade is not enough to move the Tea Party, who New York Times columnists have compared to self-destroying terrorists.

In all this turmoil, in all the 24 hour news broadcasts, there is never a word about Australia. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, we don’t even exist.

There are no reports of the Australian Stock Exchange, our dollar is never mentioned, our politicians never get a look in.

And no wonder. We’re so boring, we just don’t rate on their seismic scales. We’re not about to default, our currency and credit rating are not in trouble, we don’t have a deficit that’s bigger than our GDP.

Our cities aren’t being burned down by disaffected youths and while there are always cries that unemployment is too high, ours is half of anyone else’s.

Our politicians are so boring too. Here in Italy with Berlusconi you have a string of corruption allegations, sex and scandal. But back in Australia I don’t think we could picture a bunga bunga party in the Lodge. Let’s pause that a minute... No, can’t picture it.

Where Republicans, Democrats and President are tearing each other apart in Washington and the knives are being sharpened in the Roman forum, all we have to look forward to is whether the PM or Tony Abbott will score more points in today’s schoolyard debating scraps.

History seems determined to keep us out of the news. I’ve been working on the report of a recent conference called Future Fuels for Australia, at the University of Queensland. Delegates pointed out that with the world already at “peak oil”, there is a frantic search for alternatives.

Biofuels are already here and growing, literally, as ethanol.

Liquid fuels will have to be extracted from coal – and guess who has some of the world’s greatest coal deposits? The Northern Territory has vast shale gas fields which will give up enough gas, to be turned into liquid, for a couple of centuries.

When you see Europeans paying two dollars a litre for petrol, it’s obvious that new technology is going to come galloping in.

We finally have a Carbon Tax coming, to finance development. It will even put money on the table to finance solar, wind and thermal projects. Though we have enough heat and wind already: turn on the nightly news.

Then there is the whole world’s most unsolvable problem: immigration.

Now I don’t want to get religious here but God gave us a dirty great moat which acts as an effective filter. Some Italian friends asked how bad was our illegal migrant problem? Gravely I replied “6000 last year”, with which they burst out laughing. “We’ve had that many in a day!”

On the other side of the world, it’s very difficult to impress the natives when you come from the most boring land on earth.



Anonymous said...

Ain't it cool, just being boring? ;-)
They say:
"No news is good news".
Are you extending that saying to:
"Bad news for others is good news for us"?
Yahya Abdal-Aziz

Winston Marsh said...

Good one Ray. What about a few more photos of Pesaro and the beautiful, bikinied, sun-tanned girls strolling past as well?
Can you set it up so I can twitter and Facebook your articles?
Have a f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c day… Winno