Lyle Shelton last week described re-elected Brisbane City Councillor Jonathan Sri’s politics as “a greater long-term threat than coronavirus.” As we face a common enemy that does not discriminate in who it attacks, some culture warriors seem unable to grasp that this shit is real.
As of today, the global confirmed death toll from COVID-19 stands at over 69,000. Nearly half the world’s population lives a new reality under various forms of lockdown. In Ecuador, with the country’s public services overwhelmed by the scale of the pandemic, families leave their dead in the street.
This shit is real.
In times of national, or in this case, global crisis, it is incumbent on us to unite and work together.
One for all and all for one.
Because every extra person we allow to contract this virus, adds to our own risk. This shit is real.
We also need to end this pandemic expeditiously. Unless we do, the talents of too many otherwise productive people and businesses will remain idle. Economies will fail and — as in Ecuador — governments will prove no longer able to help.
In Australia, much to our good fortune, we see politicians from most sides stepping up to the plate and performing their jobs as administrators. Rather than the year-round electioneering and partisan bickering which was the norm, they’re working together to get us through this. Who thought they would one day see Scott Morrison thanking Sally McManus of the ACTU for her assistance on policy?
To their credit, Australian politicians have — in the main — turned to expert advice instead of sticking to the ideology and political expediency that so often influenced their decision making previously.
There are exceptions of course. Hopefully, Pauline Hanson remains in her paddock.
Also, the government won’t always get it right. Fortunately, we have learned people like Adjunct Professor Bill Bowtell who can hold them to account.
But sadly, obstinate culture warriors seem unable to comprehend the new reality. They refuse to acknowledge the changed circumstance — that this shit is real — and make a productive contribution. Instead, they stick to bleating their sad tired refrains from battles already lost and become — considering the circumstance of the pandemic — irrelevant, divisive and unwelcome distractions from the task at hand.
The former managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Lyle Shelton led the No campaign against marriage equality in Australia. Following the resounding defeat of that campaign, Shelton resigned to stand for election to the Australian Senate as a member of Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives.
He received 5,533 votes. The Australian Conservatives received a total of 0.8% of the Queensland Senate vote. One more time — 0.8%. More people voted for Malcolm Roberts from Pauline Hanson’s One Nation than for Shelton. Even Fraser Anning received more votes.
Jonathan Sri is Green and he’s brown
In 2016 Jonathan Sri became the first Greens councillor elected in Queensland when he won Brisbane’s Gabba ward with 55% of the two-party-preferred vote.
He became a favourite target of rabid right-wingers. Sri is Green and he’s brown. He’s a staunch ally to marginalised communities including First Nations peoples, refugees, the homeless and the LGBTIQ communities. He rides a bike and dresses like a hippy! What a bastard! 😀😀😀
Even worse, Councillor Sri lends support to Extinction Rebellion, the much-reviled climate change activists who occasionally disrupt traffic with their protests.
The beat-ups surrounding Extinction Rebellion are astonishing. You’d think from all the harrumphing that there was no greater threat to life as we know it. Yet traffic is regularly disrupted because of Pride, Labour Day, Anzac Day and ticker-tape parades, royal visits, car accidents, suicide attempts, street festivals and other protests.
Allowing protest is one of the most visible indicators of a robust democracy. But only if we allow the protests we disagree with and not just the ones we like. You don’t have to agree with Extinction Rebellion to agree with their right to protest. But they cause disruption, many complain. Well, that’s the point. A protest is meant to disrupt and grab your attention and hopefully spur you to act. This writer personally disagrees with Extinction Rebellion because I think they piss too many people off when the aim should be to win people to the cause. However, in a democracy, they’re allowed to take my opinion as a comment, not a diktat.
And so, Jonathan Sri became the favourite target of old men unable to find a cloud to rage at. With the thus far electorally popular Labor government cautious not to unduly frighten the traditionally conservative Queensland electorate, he is easier to demonise.
Brisbane City Council election
To date, the Electoral Commission of Queensland has counted 67.84% of the vote in the Gabba. Jonathan Sri received 8,570 of those votes. That’s 8,570 in one Brisbane neighbourhood compared to Lyle Shelton who could only entice 5,533 voters in the entire state. Sri has over 65% of the two-party-preferred vote. I don’t know if they bothered counting preferences for Lyle Shelton in the 2019 vote. However, I doubt it. Why bother? His votes amounted to 0.19% of those counted at that election — less than a fifth of a single percent.
Yet, Shelton portrays a popularly elected representative as a greater danger than a virus that will likely kill millions of people.
Following the post, conspiracy theorists flocked to Lyle Shelton’s page to explain Jonathan Sri’s enormous vote.
They suggested a number of theories to explain why such a vast majority of Gabba voters favoured the incumbent.
- Brainwashed electors
- Fluoride in the water
- A preponderance of lobotomised voters.
- Jonathan Sri rigged the vote
- Mental illness
- ‘Good’ people stayed home. (Bless their little cotton socks, or more probably, long white socks and sandals.)
I would suggest another reason. I don’t live in the Gabba but the QNews office used to be located there and I worked in the ward for over a year. After that time in the ward, I never doubted Councillor Sri’s re-election for a minute.
People voted for Jonno because he does a f***ing good job!
People voted for Jonathan Sri because, after observing him in the job for four years, they liked his policies as a member of the Greens and they admired how hard and effectively he worked for his division.
From my observation, he works diligently to represent his entire ward. He achieves outcomes on issues like housing density, parking, green space, traffic congestion, homelessness and so much more.
He consults with his community and LISTENS.
This is sounding like an ad but he’s already won the election. This is why I believe that happened. It wasn’t fluoride in the water or a mass rigging of votes. It was a simple case of a councillor doing the job he was elected to do so well, a majority of electors wanted him returned.
Climate Change (this shit is real also)
After comparing Jonathan Sri unfavourably with the pandemic, Shelton moved onto another favourite hobby horse — climate change.
He posted an article from The Spectator claiming we could have avoided the current crisis had not world bodies been focussed on climate change.
“This crisis was, tragically, all foreseeable & indeed preventable — had the WHO, the UN, the EU & all the other supranational bodies been focussed on preventing a flu pandemic rather than the nonsense of climate change…”
If that’s the case, what might Australia have achieved if Lyle didn’t waste so much productive time fighting to stop other people marrying?
But so inspired was he by the Spectator‘s battle cry, Lyle Shelton sat down and single-handedly solved Australia’s future economic woes.
Dig up coal. Lots more coal. And burn it.
“Instead of just shipping coal to China and India to be burned in new generation clean-coal power stations over there, we should be building our own and burning our own…
“Imagine Australia becoming a cheap energy economy bristling with manufacturing jobs again. And it doesn’t have to mean a return to industry subsidies.
“What it does mean is abolishing expensive and futile climate policy subsidies.”
Exactly what is it about deniers that causes them to hate clean energy so vehemently? Why does the thought of non-polluting renewable energy drive them into such paroxysms of religious fervour? Is it that these dudes missed out on the mediaeval crusades and so now must content themselves with tilting against windmills.
If there is any consolation we can take in the midst of this pandemic, it’s that perhaps afterwards humankind might pay more heed to science. We have the benefit of so much scientific knowledge, yet allow ourselves to be deceived by ideologues.
In closing, this shit is real
This shit is real. Listen to other people. Look at the facts. Try to make a contribution instead of just demonising other people. Understand that we are truly all in this together.
Don’t be a Lyle Shelton. Be a Jonathan Sri.
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