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Midnight Oil may be coming back, but the power and the passion was sacrificed long ago

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Imagine Mick Jagger wrote a kick arse rock song about the evils of uranium mining. Imagine he quit The Rolling Stones to pursue a career in politics and the party he joined got elected. Imagine his government did not scale back uranium mining; in fact they increased it.

The rocker himself gave his personal approval, with a contract announcing uranium mine expansion bearing his signature. Imagine his political career didn’t work out so well, so Jagger returned to the Stones. In front of packed out stadiums, he belted out his anti-uranium song once more.

Is there something wrong with this picture? Fans would understandably ask themselves: why did Mick do the exact opposite of what he sang about, then return to singing about it?

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This is a hypothetical situation, of course: I am not aware of Jagger ever asking fans to paint it black on the ballot box. But in the story of Peter Garrett, one of Australia’s most famous musical activists, it is more or less a summary of actual events.

Last week Midnight Oil announced its first world tour in 15 years. They’ll need to bring with them one of those Men in Black memory erasing devices, because the decisions Garrett made during those tumultuous years of the Rudd/Gillard administrations, serving in a range of positions including Minister for the Environment, will hover over the stage like a toxic cloud every time he rolls out one of the oldies.

Despite the band claiming to have found new relevance in the Trump era, I can’t help but think Garrett’s evolution from long-term activist to politically expedient pragmatist is – or should have been – a one-way street.

To go back to performing those old polemical songs once more, as if nothing has occurred over the last decade and a half that might in some way dint their impact, is a truly weird and deflating state of affairs.

One of Midnight Oil’s first big gigs was an anti-uranium mining benefit concert held at Sydney Town Hall in 1978. Fast forward three decades later and, despite remaining an outspoken anti-uranium activist (also once a candidate for the Nuclear Disarmament Party) Peter Garrett oversaw expansion of the uranium industry, including approving two mines in South Australia.

Will Midnight Oil’s comeback tour include renditions of The Dead Heart? This hot-blooded song about an anti-establishmentarian standing up for the “true country” by rejecting contemporary politics and following “in the steps of our ancestry” includes the following lyrics:

Mining companies, pastoral companies
Uranium companies
Collected companies
Got more right than people
Got more say than people

It’d be kind of weird to have that on the set list, right?

For many of us the blistering lyrics of US Forces are still bouncing around the mosh pit of our minds, incendiary and unrepentent. Garrett’s critique of Uncle Sam’s wide-reaching international influence famously begins with the words “US Forces give the nod, it’s a setback for your country.”

Garrett doesn’t believe that anymore. In 2011 he praised a speech by Barack Obama on expanded American military presence and said greater American participation in our region can only be a good thing, citing national security issues and terrorism as core reasons for the aboutface.

Garrett made it clear his views have evolved with time. Fair enough, I guess. But again: the song’s got to go from the set list, right? How could he (or we) possibly rock along to it now?

The iconic The Power the Passion poses the same question many of Garrett’s fans came to ask: “What do you believe, what do you believe?” Its chorus includes the line “Sometimes you’ve got to take the hardest line” and the final verse concludes with “It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees”.

That might sound a bit odd coming from Garrett, given what we now know of his political style. Perhaps the line was edited from something a little less catchy: “It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees, unless entering a period of discussions committed in good faith between multiple parties whereby decisions can be reached and compromises made to achieve a multi-faceted outcome representing a myriad of political and economic impulses, acknowledging the many interests – vested and otherwise – entrenched in a modern mainstream political machine”.

It’s OK to abandon your principles, kids, because the world is a complicated place and sometimes you just need to get stuff done.

One could argue the classic foot-tapper Short Memory might be problematic as well, given Garrett might have one of those short memories himself. Or a bizarre “mis-memory” as he has described it. This followed revelations that a bribe the singer said he was offered by Clubs NSW in the form of an envelope stuffed full of cash actually never happened.

Lyrics about Indigenous land rights in the iconic Beds are Burning – possibly the band’s most famous song – include:

The time has come
A fact’s a fact
It belongs to them
Let’s give it back

They don’t gel all that well with Garrett walking away from his intention to ban tourists climbing the sacred site of Uluru.

What about Blue Sky Mine? This great, beloved song is about the environmental evils committed by big business. How their “balance sheet is breaking up the sky” and “the company takes what he company wants”. Many environmental activists have claimed Garrett acted precisely in the interests of companies taking what they want, from his support of the Tasmanian logging industry to the $1 billion dredging of Port Phillip Bay.

The activist-cum-pragmatist no doubt achieved many good things in his time in politics too; the negative stuff consumes the lion’s share of media attention. Nor does this article take into account bad things that happened under Garrett’s watch that may have been worse if they occurred under somebody else’s, although that is a rather nebulous space to be in: comparing something detrimental to something worse that didn’t happen.

Whatever you make of it, the moral of this story is hardly inspiring: it’s OK to abandon your principles, kids, because the world is a complicated place and sometimes you just need to get stuff done. When Midnight Oil start banging out their old songs again, Garrett shouting and dancing in that malfunctioning cyborg-like way of his, it will invariably sound like an exercise in ‘do what I say, not what I do’. And that’s no way to rock out.

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87 responses to “Midnight Oil may be coming back, but the power and the passion was sacrificed long ago

    1. Pammy, whether you love or hate what Peter Garrett has done since the Oils the one thing that can be said is that at least he got off of his backside and had a go at changing the world, most other rockers dont have what it takes to even give it a go. Regardless you will obviouly be down the pub having few beers with Luke whilst the rest of us are watching some of the most powerful music of a generation.

  1. Yes its true Peter G did move on from his songs but what he was trying to do is get in and try and make a difference, the problem is he should have been an independent to block pass stuff he believed in. (or didn’t)

    I don’t believe the non walking of Uluru mainly because the people who keep up this facade that the rock is sacred given when you venture away from the big rock looks like a rubbish tip from my several visits, so how can they spout its sacred site when they treat it as a tip with such little respect??

    And to be fair not all treat it as a tip, but l was shocked to see away from the rock surrounding areas so dirty from rubbish by local aboriginal groups, which also was confirmed when l visited local communities who also treated the land like a rubbish tip.

    Peter had good intentions but like many with good intentions including people like Bob Brown they get side tracked or railroaded or they go too far the other way.

    The Oils songs are still relevant as not too much progress has been made on many indigenous australians issues, but on the other hand they also need to be part of the solution.

    Yes life is complicated by the Oils music is still inspiring to those who keep the dream alive on a better Australia and its indigenous people plight.

  2. Whatever your views on Garrett himself, you can’t deny that Midnight Oil are greater than the sum of their parts. In face, Garrett, as a songwriter, comes in at a distant third after Hirst and Mogine, the group’s principle songsmiths. Yes, it was disappointing to see the Garrett compromised (crucified, really) in the dirty game of politics, but I think you’re selling the band short by writing off their tour on the back of one fifth of their number, especially considering how active the others have been (give or take Bones’s embarrassing participation with Russell Crowe’s ‘band’).

    1. Garrett is/was the Oils frontman..who cares who wrote the material..he sung the songs and achieved the fame that got him elected; what he demonstrated with his political career,is that the Oils political activism was really just their schtick,born out of the 60’s/70’s hippy and environmentalist era.

      1. I care. Criticize Garrett’s politics all you like, that’s justified. What I am saying is that this article overlooks the fact that this is a band, not one person, a band that incorporates different voices into a whole. I think it is a mistake to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  3. Get of Garret’s back, its a come back not a history lesson, blaming him for uranium mining, that’ drawing a long bow. He wasn’t in charge, as far as I could see he got a hell of a shock when entered parliament and found out what a grubby business it was.
    As for relevance with regard to his songs, they have relevance today, surprisingly so when we look at the world today.
    Good luck to him and the crew, I wish them well.

  4. Wow, arent people allowed to explore options without the anally fixated among us demanding some sort of religious conviction….the facts change.

  5. Goodness that’s very harsh. So we are to write off these powerful songs because the author isn’t perfect? Songs can’t live on outside the author? I think you do a terrible disservice. Did you talk to Peter about this, ask him did he think he was a being a hypocrite? Ask him about his time with the labor party?

  6. Luke is using the “paint by numbers” approach used by the LNP while they were in Opposition in the House of Reps. Quoting lyrics as a critique of a fully informed government policy is simply lazy.
    As environment minister please elucidate how Garrett could have changed his decision based on departmental advice, public submissions and EPBC legislation. But of course that is just too hard for Luke to consider.

  7. Yes, the world is a complicated place, and a minister in a cabinet government in a parliamentary democracy can’t always get his own way. 50% of something beats 100% of nothing, and only the impotent are pure.

  8. So, if you perform a song you will be held to that position for ever. You can’t change. You can’t realise that to make some progress towards your goals you may have to negotiate and compromise. I hope that Midnight Oil do perform their old stuff. Iwould be surprised if their principles have changed. Some new stuff would also be good.

  9. I was surprised to get to photo at the bottom of this article and see that it was written by an actual grown-up.

    Most people of drinking age realise that the world of songs and the real-life world are different, and that one is not a literal description of the other.

    John Lennon did actually have possessions, quite a few in fact.

    John Lydon, it turns out, was not the antichrist. He was just a very naughty boy.

    And Peter Garrett, when faced with the trade-offs and compromises that serve as impediments to positive change in the real world, did his best.

    It’s fair to argue that his best wasn’t good enough, or that (as it turns out) a career singing political songs wasn’t the ideal preparation for a job getting political shit done. But if you think his political career has irreparably tarnished his songs, you’ve got it the wrong way around.

    I for one am looking forward to hearing him sing US Forces and Blue Sky Mine. I hope his performance at Hanging Rock is more thrilling than his showing in the House of Reps.

    1. John did indeed have possessions. He was just positing that we “imagine” no possessions.

      I’m not sure (and neither should you be) that Peter “did his best”.

      I missed the Oil’s boat, as it were. For Peter to return to his “militant” former self seems a little like Roger Daltrey singing “My Generation” in 2017. A bit of nostalgia for the oldies. Cute, or pathetic. Make up your own mind. I guess you already have.

      1. Nice post Peeb. I didn’t ‘miss’ the Oils. They were everywhere.
        A good anthemic, beer barn sorta band with a fun lead singer. Lot’s of good left wing political lyrics as well.
        Not a pinch on the Saints, or Birdman, or The Birthday Party…who weren’t everywhere. (Too weird)
        But mainstream Australian music was pretty tame, in the eighties.
        The Oils cleaned up! Ahh, hits and (short) memories.

  10. For someone who gave off an aura of insufferable integrity, the reality of Garret’s behaviour when away from the stage was a big fall. He’s a disgrace and shouldn’t be tarnishing these songs by singing them – I wonder why the rest of the band (by all accounts more principled and less egotistic than him) didn’t just tour without him?

  11. I wonder if people consider that Peter Garrett as an intelligent and self aware person, went into politics fully expecting this kind of antipathy and backlash. Yet he still did so… Well done to him for having a go, knowing that it was a hiding to nothing. And long live the mighty oils.

  12. Luke,

    Peter Garrett joined a political party. In the privacy of the party room he cast his vote on various issues. Why didn’t you ask him how he voted on them? Did you even try…?

    When Garrett joined the Labor Party he said he’d toe the party line; still have his say on matters within the party room but the democratic vote would win – to which he’d acquiesce. And here’s the nuance because you seem to have missed is: that does not mean he backtracked on his beliefs. It means he’s using the political system to affect change.

    The political system is imperfect, compromise is certain, progress slow, and everyone gets dragged through the mud. That Garrett would know that in advance and do it anyway speaks volumes.

    You’d think…or at least hope, that in a society where voting is compulsory people would have a better understanding of the political system.

    1. Stu thank you for such an excellent defence of Peter Garrett. He got into politics and tried his best to make a difference. The outcome of his efforts was so disappointing for so many of us, most of all him and his family. Great to have him back with the boys doing what they do so well.

    2. Stu, well said. There is so much wrong with Luke’s article it can’t be read as anything else but GenY trolling of Oil fans.

      Luke, did you know that the key lyricist in Midnight Oil is not Garret but Rob Hirst?

      Garret publicly stated he chose to join the Labor party (after being approached by Latham) because there was more possibility of enacting change from within power. As Stu points out, did you call Garret and ask how he voted on the Caucus?

  13. This article really is facile. The suggestion that any work of art, piece of music or piece of writing should only be displayed, performed or enjoyed if the artist or author has acted consistently at all times with the ideas that inspired the writing AND still has the same views he or she had at the time the work was first shared with the world is ridiculous.

  14. Luke is simply pointing out that Peter garrett betrayed the principles and beliefs that he sang about so forcefully with the Oils, that’s incontrovertably true, so how can he belt them out with any honesty now? If he wanted to change things politically, why didn’t he join the Greens, and thus stick by his principles, he had the choice? As a Tasmanian, I deplored what he did in not supporting Bob Brown, and in signing agreement to uranium mines, it was abjectand all you whimps saying oh, people change, sure, but change back with any conviction at all? No way would I be going to any of his concerts.

  15. Well said, everyone is allowed to change their midn but don’t pretend you still hold your old values to sell tickets, it comes off as dishonest and predatory.

    1. Yep, MO come across as just another form of white paternalistic colonial bullshit

      Wake up Australia, this country is operating on covert apatheid

  16. Is this a gee up…….

    How naïve is it to believe that pragmatism isn’t going to play a part in a politicians life.

    It’s ridiculous to think the world of making music inspired by your beliefs is the same as the tough and rumble world of Australian politics.

    Peter Garrett helped create powerful pieces of music to make people reflect on important issues and these songs will continue to do this for centuries to come.

  17. At some point the songs of our youth become product… behind car commercials, performed on tours by a band with the corporate name of the band with some, or maybe even only one, original member. But, the songs sustain in our memories.

  18. Garrett isn’t perfect, but I’m with most of the contributors here Luke. Find out what ‘cabinet government’ means, and what you buy into out of necessity if you want to enact change from within power structures. Your comparisons of ministerial actions made under cabinet solidarity and enacting legislation with song lyrics is somewhat facile. As said by another, and E G Whitlam, only the impotent are pure.

    1. But he didn’t enact any change. He actively wound back progress. If that was a pre-requisite for being in Labor, surely he should have quit the party and continued on as an Independent or rejoined the greens. He’d have had a lot more impact and potentially the balance of power and thats a *VERY* strong position to negotiate positive change.

    2. Nah, crap. ‘Only the impotent are pure’ – I don’t care if Gough ( one of my great Aussie heroes) said it. One of Gough’s less worthy, blustering moments. That’s arrogant,rationalising bullshit. With all the moral integrity of an ASIO dossier.

      Petey had plenty of time, in 2 terms in govt, to see that his ‘supposed’ principles were gonna be severely compromised. Then it was time for him to say – ” Naaah, I’m outa here. Didn’t sign up for this’.

      Essentially I’ve always seen him as a spotlight-seeking egotist. tho a f**kin great performer. Hirsty and Jim M were really the ideological engine room. garrett is an entertainer and mouthpiece, not a font of wisdom or principle.

      I have stood up for principle [ Aboriginal deaths in custody investigation] and been sacked as a result and had my career put on hold. I know what it is to hold the line. And I wasn’t a millionaire and secure like Petey. I would have achieved nothing by staying schtumm.

      As for ” good on him for havin a go” – don”t come the raw prawn !! Petey is much more intelligent than that. Once he saw that ALP party politics was inimical to his principles,it was time to pull out. he would always have been a more effective advocate outside the system thanm within. twas ever thus in the history of world affairs.

  19. Many of these issues are addressed by Garrett in his autobiography, which I recommend. It is a sincere and well-written book,and lays bare many of the wounds and pain that he suffered in politics, but also highlights his achievements. I doubt that the author of this article has read it.

    1. Hi Tim,
      Thanks for your (and other readers’ comments) on Luke’s article. You can read a review of Garrett’s autobiography ‘Big Blue Sky’ by Guy Rundle here:

      1. Thanks Raymond, I enjoyed that review. It’s interesting to see how people who weren’t fans of Midnight Oil see the band from the outside, as opposed to those who literally grew up with their music. While well known for their hard-driving rock, their creative output was actually incredibly diverse. I disagree with Guy when he says that no-one went to an Oils concert for the harmonies. Maybe the harmonies were less apparent on their earlier recordings, but they were there, even in live concerts, and their later albums were full of beautifully sung harmonies by Garrett, Hirst, Moginie and Hillman. Listen to the opening chorus of the Dead Heart, and hear how the harmonies of the band make such a great lyrical counterpoint to the harsh gravel of Garrett, whose voice is so instantly recognizable and unique. And sometimes songs are best expressed by vocalists who don’t have mainstream pop voices. How about Bob Dylan? As for the book as a whole, I enjoyed really it.

    2. I agree. The first couple of pages reveal so much about the worry and the turmoil that he went through in making those decisions and also his decision to stay in politics for as long as he did.

      1. Perhaps Saint Peter could write a new song, Tim?
        “Oh , oh, oh, the worry and the turmoil”
        What self serving bollocks.
        Once were warriors. Now simply embarrassing
        Nice beat, but.

  20. Garrett had the power to implement a substantial amount of change, particularly in his role as arts minister. He could have addressed funding and distribution issues – increasing the amount and looking at fairer distribution.

    1. So principles not a strong point.
      But as pointed out by the fans, Horst wrote all the strong stuff. Pete just sang them.
      Good at singing someone else’s tune.

  21. Let’s see what Peter has to say for himself. It will be interesting and perhaps enlightening. Perhaps he has a change of heart. In any case the band is one of the greats…

  22. Hope this is not seen as a cheap shot, but hard not to ask whether you got lot of clicks for that one, Luke?
    Everyone else said that when he got preselection. Fair enough. Maybe they were right, maybe not, and there are points enough on both sides.
    Personally, I admire him immensely for his willingness to have a go, and to make a dent in the public polity. Which he unarguably did. (Anyone with school-age kids will understand why, including Coalition-supporting ones).
    Give him a break, Luke. He did emphasise in song the need to have both passion and power, and to his undying credit he said, and accepted the difficult parameters involved, that he would play a role in a Government that did not necessarily accord with every view he felt comfortable with. U2, notably. (The element, not the band).
    And he thought it important and necessary enough for him to do it.
    Not sure that qualifies him for a star spot in the target zone.
    See you at the concert. (I’ll be paying).

  23. And tomorrow, criticism of the work of all those major artists who sang about love and weren’t actually very nice people themselves…

    1. Right onnot being a nice person is not in the same cintext as selling out indigenous peoples land rights to uranium mines, especially when PG was so anti uranium mining, nit the same as silly live songs is it?????

  24. Go hard, Luke!
    Impossible to hear a MO song now without thinking, “WTF, Garrett?”
    And anyway, Rob Hirst’s best most awesome band is the Backsliders.

  25. Don’t suppose you’d want to look at the positives he accomplished while in politics & outside. Certainly nothing he would have achieved with a small minority party. At least he had a go, unlike most of the population who just whinge about others not doing this or that.

  26. Perhaps Luke was doing his best Martin Di Stasio impersonation under guidance from his editor as this did read like a piece of professional shit-stirring. If on the other hand it was intended as a serious hard-hitting, insightful, well-researched, thought-provoking article, it failed spectacularly. A contender for the-most-facile-opinion-piece of the year award. Embarrassing stuff Luke.

  27. I’m sure all those having a whine have written heaps of catchy, meaningful songs about social justice and are campaigning tirelessly for equality.

    1. Oh, Zing, Starskier!
      And I suppose all those criticizing Trump have built a real estate empire and been elected President?
      This is what too much Midnight Oil does to older brains.

  28. He didnt’ just fawn over Obama and expanded bases here, he bloody apologized to obama for the US Forces song. Unforgivable.

  29. Hmm, lots of OILS fans here who don’t like yr persuasive truth Luke. OILS fans are staunch

    I see quoted ‘Only the impotent are pure’ – but I don’t care if Gough ( one of my great Aussie heroes) said it. One of Gough’s less worthy, blustering moments. That’s arrogant,rationalising bulldust. With all the moral integrity of a Rex Connor dossier.

    Petey had plenty of time, in 2 terms in govt, to see that his ‘supposed’ principles were gonna be severely compromised. Then it was time for him to say – ” Naaah, I’m outa here. Didn’t sign up for this’.

    Essentially I’ve always seen him as a spotlight-seeking egotist. tho a bloody great performer. Hirsty and Jim M were really the ideological engine room. garrett is an entertainer and mouthpiece, not a font of wisdom or principle.

    I have stood up for principle [ Aboriginal deaths in custody investigation] and been sacked as a result and had my career put on hold. I know what it is to hold the line. And I wasn’t a millionaire and secure like Petey. I would have achieved nothing by staying schtumm and working within an oppressive unprincipled system. I saw others try that and achieve nothing

    As for ” good on him for havin a go” – don”t come the raw prawn, punters !! Petey is much more intelligent than that. Once he saw that ALP party politics was inimical to his principles,it was time to pull out. he would always have been a more effective advocate outside the system than within. Twas ever thus in the history of world affairs.

    I was gonna buy a ticket for the Nambour concert in October. Shit, I love those songs. But now, Luke, you bugger, you have me thinkin twice. I guess, to cite the Stones, as you have Luke – ‘ I know it’s only rock ‘n’ roll but I like it’.

    1. Fuck me! The level of sniping here is out of hand. At the end of the day, the bloke gave the best years of his life to conservation, social justice and the Arts. He wasn’t always successful but he wasn’t in charge of all of it – he was just one person, doing what he could. Like to see the record of the misanthropes in this forum size up

  30. The article sums up beautifully that Garret himself, eventually showed that everything his band stood for was bollocks.
    I was in my last years of school when I first heard his music and I thought it was daft then too.

    It has always annoyed me how some pop and rock singers think they have some great insight into politics and that there are people who think just because a political view is spouted by a singer and in a song that it has some validity. The lyrics make a one sided simplistic point.
    What the Oils ignored: 30 billion a year spent by Australian governments on Aboriginal welfare. precolonial Aboriginal society included wife abduction, infanticide, ritual spearing and the non-existence of any Australian national political entity. Garrett wouldn’t exist and be playing his songs if Australia wasn’t colonised (perhaps a plus).

    Military force by the United States saved the world from the Nazis, the domination of imperial japan, the domination of Europe by the Soviet Union and the US has been Australia’s insurance against any enemy aggression towards Australia for many decades – the alternative would be Australia spending four or five times what it does on defence (probably at the expense of other programs, including Aboriginal welfare).

  31. Poor Peter Garrett, I almost feel sorry for him. I guess he thought turning his back on so many of his beliefs would be worth it, but not as it turns out. Now we are seeing Turnbull doing the same, but at least he got to be PM.

  32. UK Oils fan here. Surprised at the sheer level of hostility here towards PG, especially from this guy Ross. Obviously a youngster like this Luke. Surely MO and PG are something to be celebrated by Aussies? Arguably one of your finest exports? Up the Oils!

    1. 53 years and counting, U.K. Oils fan.
      Did Senator Garrett sign off on any Uranium mines in Blighty, Phil? No? Lucky you.
      Party solidarity? Good for the party. Good for him. Tough for everyone else.
      Oh, the power and the passion.
      Look, Midnight Oils music was perfectly fine in the eighties. I quite liked a few of their hits.
      The problem is that Pete entered politics and then proceeded to do the exact opposite of everything he ‘believed’ in, and sang about.
      Even secured a nice little pension out of it.
      Now he wants us all to go back to our youth, sing along, and pretend his self serving, hypocritical bullshit never happened.
      It fucking did, Pete. It fucking did, UK Oil fan!
      Too cynical? Depends if you’re talking about me…or him.
      (Do love your Billy Childish, though. ‘Cowboys are square’. Check it out.)

  33. Ummm…let’s srat at Square One…did Mick Jagger ‘stay true’ to HIS song lyrics? The band who portrayed themselves as anti-establidhment, hell raisers by her Satanic majesty’s request?

    NO! Mick got rich, got married, got resorts….musicians aren’t gurus, give it a rest!

      1. And when Mick entered parliament…? Good analogy, Susan.
        At least Screaming Lord Sutch stood by his principles. Vote 1: Monster Raving Loony Party!

  34. Good on Peter Garret for having a go and putting himself out there to be a target, a risk taker, to be judged, unlike many who just sit back and take cheap shots. In the moment he gave many weaker Australian groups a platform and support. So he tried to take the next step and got reined in. If we are going to dismiss everyone who has a go, were would the country be. This same judgmental negative shit has seen us critisise war heroes, driven by out of touch journalist sitting from a distant office. What “you have never changed your plans or ways and fell on your arse”. Aussies use to celebrate the battler because we didnt allow others to bullshit us to think what they thought.So if you are not perfect, have a think before you judge other. You can keep giving these kind of articles the oxygen to manipulate your views but I will let the man explain himself . His band has forgiven him so who am I not to. All you knockers, stay home and miss a good concert. The oils wont need you there, tickets will sell out regardless if you come or not.

      1. Peter Garrett is not a hypocrite or sellout, he had been in politics and activism for a long time and realised unless you join Labour or Liberal you never get to change anything. Once he joined a big party he realised that one man still can’t change much. Laurie Oakes said he made his views very clear in the party room but majority rules. The projects he signed off on were approved before he came to the job an to renege on them would’ve had the government in court. You finger pointers make me sick. Look what Peter Garrett gave up to enter politics and tell me how much money and adoration you would give up to try and do something constructive, not critical. And Luke you look like a smug bastard.

  35. Two facts outshine this over simplification of some of the many complexities of politics that are clearly difficult to fathom. 1: One person within a political party cannot change the entire parties decisions. 2: The Oils rock. BOOM, respectfully places mic back in mic stand. One love

  36. A professional Cynic; probably not even born when the oils were tearing it up, writes an obnoxious critique, as critics are paid to do. What do you expect? A work of art?
    Yep Garret tried working both sides of the fence & found that… Yep; Politicians are a bunch sleazebags. Are critics any different?

  37. Garet is a smart man but that does not equate to being savvy. He fucked up with a few political decisions but any one who follows the machine that is factional ALP politics would say that to step out of the boundaries is political suicide. Sure he voted along party lines as any good well healed newbie should. But to try and rekindle the old stuff from a different era will be an interesting expose on strolling down money pit lane. Has he still got the power and the passion ? I wish him well. He is an Australian that for better or worse probably believed he was doing the right thing and this may well just let people remember him for the songs and the more important messages they sent rather than any stuffed up home insulation debacle.

  38. Garrett had the opportunity when he got elected to speak his mind. He was a star candidate with enough pull that the party couldn’t have contained him and if he’d taken the approach from day one of speaking his mind as he did in his songs, he would have easily been able to shift party policy, even if only a little bit. What did he have to lose (apparently his reputation and credibility)? Just look at how outspoken Barnaby Joyce has been against a lot of what the Libs and Nats have stood for and they ended up making him leader. Jackie Lambie, Pauline Hanson, Nick Xenophon – all sticking to their guns and being major influencers in our parliament. Regardless of what you think of their politics Garrett could have had just as much sway but in a more reasonable direction if he only took the same attitude into politics that he did in his lyrics.

  39. This is such a poorly argued piece. It takes Garrett’s political career entirely out of context – classic Gen Y ‘just Google the few facts I need to construct an outraged rant’. Utter nonsense. Garrett did indeed get castrated by the ALP machine and his performance was, overall, disappointing. But his art is entirely disconnected from this fact – it stands as an enduring legacy to his passion and to perform it is not only his right but, no doubt, his pleasure. Whether or not his convictions now remain identical to those he held 30 years ago is, furthermore, entirely irrelevant – and what would Buckmaster know of Garrett’s principles anyway? The art is its own thing and no amount of political chicanery will ever alter its power. Luke – be quiet. You just do not get it.

  40. So where were all you idealists when PG put his dick on the brick and gave it a go in the snakepit? Voting Labor no doubt. Or were you?

    It could well be argued that PG has adroitly demonstrated what happens in politics when a popular man, known of well-measured ideals gets, inevitably, crushed in the Australian political party system. No matter which side.

    Play the ball, not the man. He’s an honest guy doing his honest best.

  41. How misguided and ill-informed the “opinion piece” was. Opinions are one thing, but so many statements by the author are simply untrue – they are “alternative facts” (as D.Trump would say).

    Not sure why he has such a bee in his bonnet, but there is simply no evidence to back up his claim/query ” how can he (Peter Garrett) still sing about the principles he seems to have abandoned?” Through his ten years as an ALP MP Peter continued to fight for those causes, those principles , those policies, he believes in. Yes, with the realities of Parliament, he lost some arguments, like arguing against uranium exports to India, won plenty, like having a decent budget for the Arts, and big increases in Indigenous Protected Areas. But he didn’t abandon principles.

    And importantly, he is only one member of the Oils – and while you may not agree with everything all the Oils have sung or done, individually or collectively, look at the (very) big picture and their amazing role in Australian music, politics and culture.

    And as for a subsequent claim on another site which shared the Daily Review piece that Peter “literally signed over Aboriginal land to uranium companies “. This is but one example of a simply untrue allegation , and a gratuitous insult to someone – and an entire band – who has done an enormous amount over decades to promote and protect the rights and interests of Indigenous Australians and continues to do so. And check out the support bands for the tour…including the young Indigenous band Irrunytju , signed up after Peter Garrett saw them while taking part and advising them in a workshop at the Bush Bands Bash in Alice last year…they, Dan Sultan, and other proud Indigenous people don’t seem to have a problem.

    Overall, a headline based on the Daily Review article that “fans ask if Garrett’s parliament stint will blunt the Oils return” – ‘(really, what percentage of fans is asking?) is already being responded to emphatically by the tour already selling out in many parts of the world. No “blunting” there!

  42. Just another example of confected outrage and tall poppy syndrome which seems so prevalent in society. Can’t believe the writer waited until the band got back together to take ‘action’ on these very important issues. I guess a narky piece of writing about the most important thing to happen on the Australian music scene this year was too good a hook…

    It would be interesting to compare the record of the scribe with that of a man that stood up, took responsibility and delivered much needed change for artists, indigenous rangers and school kids over a ten year period. I guess the sell out crowds are the best response to this nonsense. My suggestion Luke, would be if you don’t like Peter Garrett, don’t buy a ticket, don’t listen to his music and don’t try and make a name for yourself off the back of his success… it’s just sad.

  43. Spot-on article actually. Listening to Koori Radio today, the aboriginals are still well pissed off at Peter for signing off a river diversion in order to facilitate a mine. They believe he is still cashing in on their culture despite betraying them. I am inclined to agree. He needs to address these issues or its a farce.

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