I saw an Aston Martin the other day in the city. I like Aston Martins. They exude a sense of James Bondesque sophistication that many of us would like to emulate but we know we never will.
What I like about Aston Martins is that they don’t pretend to be something they are not. Unashamedly, they are all about raw performance, and dashingly good lines. They are what they are. They are not a car for the faint hearted or those that lack the courage of their convictions. When you see one, you instantly know what they are and what they stand for. I like to think that the Aston Martin people know that not everyone will agree with what they are selling but they just don’t care about your sensitivities, your precious feelings or that your sense of social justice is outraged. If their car is not your cup of tea, bugger off and buy a Prius.
I don’t know how you go about buying an Aston Martin but I like to imagine there is some formal process akin to joining some elite gentlemen’s club. You fill in a form and whilst you sit there in the wood panelled waiting room squirming awkwardly on the Chesterfield lounge, some snooty salesman dressed in a Saville Row suit , Oxford brogues and an old school tie casts a critical eye over both you and your application in order to determine if “Sir” is worthy of the marque. Most applicants he deems undeserving are sent away with a condescending tone, a dismissive wave of the hand and a gleeful sneer. What follows is some sort of ritualised expulsion ceremony where a posse of manservants eject you from the dealership, whilst all the while a cloister of tweed clad gentlemen tut-tut to themselves. As you land in the gutter outside, cruel pejoratives such as Cad, Bounder and “Not our kind of chap” resound in your ears.
This would be particularly true in my case. As a sartorial shopper I’m more DFO than Saville Row. My footwear is from RM Williams, not Crockett & Jones. Plus, I drive a 4x4 Ute. It doesn’t have hidden missile launchers or an ejector seat but it does have a bull bar, a winch, a car fridge in the back and a set of high-powered driving lights that are essential to safely navigate our country road network at night. It may not impress James Bond but my dog Barry thinks it’s fantastic. At the risk of inducing fits of apoplexy in Green voters, I’m proud to declare that I have been known to take it off road into the bush around my electorate, where I wilfully engage in anti-green social crimes such as fishing, shooting and off-road driving. But I digress…
This Aston Martin was however, the exception to the rule. It still had the alluring Aston Martin badge, the fat tyres and the low-slung sporty coupe styling, but tragically, it was painted an insipid, lacklustre beige colour. James Bond wouldn’t have been seen dead in it. Pull up at the Casino Royale in that thing and the valet would park it out of sight round the back.
It was almost like who ever had bought it, was trying to disguise its true purpose and intent and conceal all that unadultered performance behind a veneer of blandness so boring that you couldn’t possibly imagine that the car was capable of comfortably doing 130 kilometres an hour down the Hume Highway* (*speed limit subject to the election of a Liberal Government and the matter of some other work). It was the sort of car some middle-aged partner in an accounting firm, going through a mid-life crisis would buy. I can see it now. Desperate to cling to his fading youth but not courageous enough to shake of his inner nerd, the conflict would torture his soul as he agonised over which box to tick on the colour selection chart. Finally, surrendering to the geek within, he chooses baby-poo cack-brown, which instantly results in the nerd gland releasing a calming surge of dork endorphins. “Everything’s ok” he tells himself. “Yes, I did buy an extremely expensive high-powered petrol guzzling sports car that produces more power than Hazelwood power station used to, but it’s OK because I ordered it in a colour that you would normally find on a Toyota Camry from the Insurance Agency motor pool.
I see that Aston Martin as a metaphor for what is wrong with many of our politicians today.
That is not to say that politicians are all closeted performance machines. They’re not. In fact, many are more like that old Holden Torana or Ford Falcon that was your first car, hard to get started, given to the odd fault or two, thirsty and uneconomical to run, often unreliable with a tendency to blow a lot of smoke and prone to the odd leak.
What I mean is that they either don’t know what they stand for, or worse still, lacking the courage of their convictions and not willing to reveal their true selves, they hide behind a veneer of what appears to be social responsibility and reliability, but scratch the surface and underneath lies a mad and dangerous mix of rabid ideology coupled with ideas dredged up from fantasyland.
This is why we end up with politicians who loudly proclaim themselves to be economic conservatives whilst spending like a drunken sailor, bankrupting the state in the process. Or, whilst holding themselves out as the champion of the worker, they implement socialist green tinged policies that see the rising costs of necessities like power, gas and water hit families hard.
Politicians like these have no integrity at all. They will tell you what they think it is that you want to hear whilst never intending to do anything of the sort. It’s only when they think they might lose an election that they actually do anything, suddenly jolted into action possessed with a newly minted zeal and telling anyone who will listen that they always held such strident beliefs. As Groucho Marx once said, “Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. “ Believe these types at your peril. If you do you’ll probably end up feeling as cheated as a greenie who bought a Diesel VW.
In Victoria, this kind of hypocrisy has seen the Daniel Andrews Labor Government talking tough on crime, throwing on a thin cloak of law and order and pretending he is serious about tackling the issue while doing nothing about the problem. Conveniently, he also wants you to forget that it was a Labor Government that weakened bail laws, abolished move on laws designed to deal with violent antisocial behaviour and enshrined the rights of criminals over those of victims of crime. Never forget, it was also Dan and his Labor mates who as part of their brave social experiment have appointed a series of out of touch senior police, who seem to regard policing as some sort of sociology experiment where you get to play social engineer with people’s lives and the community’s safety. Catching crooks it seems is an interruption from their primary role of media spin and statistical manipulation. In todays Victoria, openly using drugs in the street is no longer condemned as a crime but embraced as a freedom of individual expression. Violent riots staged by teenage prisoners, (or clients as they now are referred to) sees them rewarded with pizza and soft drink. I wonder what the prize is for escaping from gaol; a bucket of KFC and a large Slurpy?
I’ve noticed lately that Dan, or any of his mob for that matter, when responding to the latest law and order failing will earnestly pledge that under his government, the criminals responsible will face the full force of the law. In a State where the many of the Labor appointed judiciary are widely perceived as being weak and out of touch, if the full force of the law means endless sets of bail, good behaviour bonds for violent home invasions and parole after 5 minutes inside, the Apex gang must be quaking in their boots.
The law and order issues we face in Victoria can’t be fixed with spin, political speeches or collective hand wringing. It will take strong leadership from both our police and elected leaders and a determination to actually do something about it and address the problem.
Many police and politicians in offering up excuses and justifications as to why they haven’t done anything seem fond of saying that you can’t arrest your way out of the problem. With respect, I say that is a cop out. A strong, determined and effective police force that is not afraid to enforce the law is key to dealing with this issue and to suggest otherwise shows a fundamental lack of understanding of policing and law and order issues. It’s time this government acknowledged this and did something and not just make excuses and promises.
Bill Tilley is a former police officer and member for Benambra since 2006
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