Once upon a time in Victoria, Australia, there was a Premier called Kennett, Jeff Kennett. Some people called him a wizard, others referred to him as that arrogant son of a gun who stuffed up everything he touched. Kennett had inherited a 2 billion dollar deficit from the previous government so he went about restoring stability in the only way a politician knows how. He closed hundreds of public schools and sold the valuable land. He rid himself of pesky public transport workers, closed all but a handful of prime railway station ticket booths and spent millions perfecting a new ticketing system (which is now defunct).
Kennett sold off our utilities, including electricity, gas, and prisons. For years hospitals were expected to tighten their belts and cut back their budgets and were made to compete with business. That’s when patients came to be known as clients. Kennett got things back in the black but the cupboard was bare. Nothing left for future politicians to sell when their time came. A hundred thousand people protested outside his office and Kennett dismissed them out of hand; after all what was a hundred thousand when ‘4.5 million people stayed at home or went to work’? It was the worst of times.
The toppling of Jeff Kennett was the closest kinship I felt to those dancing, cheering idiots in England who were celebrating the recent death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. When Kennett was finally overthrown there was a sense of euphoria; I’ve not experienced it since but I remember it well. Kennett was a big fish in a small pond, not to be compared to Margaret Thatcher except that both, as far as I could tell, preferred their own advice to anyone else’s and they were the closest to a dictator that we will ever experience. Thankfully we’re still living in a democracy.
I understand the bitterness and the resentment they must have felt, but nevertheless I distance myself from the cheering, jeering crowds in England. Kennett is still living, but I can’t imagine celebrating his or any other human being’s death. It’s the 21st Century for heaven’s sake we go on about giving peace a chance and proudly talk about being civilised. We human beings are full of contradictions.