Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, January 03, 2003

Auntie veteran and morning mouthpiece designate Peter Thompson is repeating his very serious interviews with notable Australians. And Joan Kirner.

They're called the Wisdom Interviews, leaving it open for us to decide in which direction the wisdom is supposed to be flowing. No problem in this case.

You remember Joan Kirner? She's the one the Victorian Parliamentary ALP chose in 1990 to stand on the deck while their government sank in a very deep part of the southern ocean.

This government was so bad it made the previously un-electable Jeff Kennett look acceptable. One reason - the state was insolvent. One reason for that, just one, the State Bank of Victoria.

This is how Joan dealt with the difficult question: to sell the insolvent State Bank to another bank that wanted the pieces, or let it go down with all hands.

Why did I make decisions? How did I make decisions, I should say. And I guess I’d always unconsciously done this, but I’d never written it down before, and so the first thing I wrote down was, ‘people must be respected.’ And then I wrote down, ‘people are entitled to a share in—when they contribute to society—they’re entitled to a share in it. So rewards, resources, people are affected by decisions, they have a right to be part of those decisions. And as I wrote them down—and people matter—which is something I think is the heart of politics. Oft-abused at the moment, on things like asylum seekers.

Joan spares us the distressing news that fellow members of her Party were so crazy that they thought owning this sinking wreckage made the difference between True Believers and Aresehole Apostates. And they'd elected her.

Pity that. If she had been open with us we could believe she wasn't a political cretin.

This was the clincher:

But as I wrote those down, I then eventually came back to my decision and my bottom line became, well, I will sell it because that will impact on Victoria’s ability to distribute any resources

The ALP wasn't silly enough to ask her to lead them into the next up-swing of their political pendulum.

I liked Joan's line about working-class girl making good through sheer talent and ambition.

And now I’d never been inside a university in my life. None of my family had and most of the community hadn’t, that I lived in—or none of them had.

Until I remembered that ten minutes before she had told us:

her [mother's] brother, who was no brighter than her, had an engineering degree

And her grandfather ran a prosperous business and was able to pay her father's mortgage in the recession.

Now Joan Kirner runs a business promoting her cronies (female - she's a feminist) into Parliament. And drawing a good pension.

It may not be wisdom, but it sure ain't stupid.