Allan Takes Aim Blog

The sting is in the tail

Posted on: 11 June 2010


First published in The Chronicle, Tuesday 9 June

I would be surprised if readers don’t know what a Chameleon is. In case they don’t, Chameleons are a distinctive and highly specialized class of lizards distinguished by: parrot-like zygodactylous feet ie. two feet point forward and two point backword; separately mobile and stereoscopic eyes; a very long, highly modified, and rapidly extrudable tongue; a swaying gait; a prehensile tail (possessed by most but not all);  crests or horns on their distinctively shaped heads; and in some cases the ability to change color.

If you’ve lived in Canberra for a long time and because familiarity breeds contempt, perhaps you don’t recognise members of a sub species known as Lizardus Politicus which, although short of some of the above features, has the capacity to change colour. 

In Canberra, the most prolific of this sub species is the red necked Labor Lizard; the next most prolific the blue tailed Liberal Lizard; and the next and even less prolific, the Green Eyed Lizard. But a number of smaller groups also exist. However, at the end of the three or four years breeding cycle of the Lizardus Politicus the number of members in some smaller groups has been known to increase to the extent that often they swamp the larger groups.

The ability of the Lizardus Politicus to change colour is also well known although some seem to get stuck half way. A recent example of this phenomenon is blue tailed Liberal Lizard, Malcolm Fraser, long praised as a prime example of the species,who now seems to be stuck half way to beccoming a red necked Labor Lizard. 

 Not that he would be the first Lizardus Politicus to change colour. Don Chipp a former prominent blue tailed lizard changed colour to become a yellow legged Democrat Lizard. Earlier, Joe Lyons a red necked Labor Lizard, became a blue tailed Liberal Lizard. I suspect also, that many political lizards wish they were a different colour.

Following the change, the yellow legged Democrat lizard seemed to thrive in the political environment but unfortunately a change in the environment helped stifle the birth rate of this new coloured lizard and as a result the species declined. To day, except in a few isolated parts of the country, the yellow legged Democrat lizard is fighting for its survival.

Although one might hope that for the sake of political diversity this lizard will survive, sadly but realistically, its future looks bleak. At the same time, due to rapid changes taking place in the world’s political environments, I think even the red necked Labor, blue tailed Liberal and Green eyed Lizards will also become extinct.      

I say this because if one takes a stroll down the main street of political history you will see what I mean. You will see that, for centuries, political environments in the West have been in a state of permanent change and that many species of political lizards have come and gone.

 Indeed one needs look no further than Australia. Since 2001 Australia’s political environment has become littered with the remains of political lizards, some prominent some not, who changed colour. Some changed colour on what they said was a matter of principle even though many people found it dificult to know which particular principle they were talking about.

Which brings me to the present. Although Malcolm Fraser has not yet indicated that he will become a red necked Lizard, our alleged political insiders think he has made the change already. Wheher or not he has, I doubt it makes much difference to those who seem destined to become the political lizards of tomorrow. As for me: I don’t care.

 Over the past few weeks I have also heard rednecked, blue tailed and even some green eyed lizards talk of Malcolm Fraser as a man who possessed all the virtues of a great man, strong compassionate, just. However, my enduring memory of Malcolm Fraser is his tears when he lost the election in 1983.

He cried, it seems to me, not for others but because he hated losing power. On the other hand people might see his flood of tears as better than the flood of words they’ll get from the current Prime Minister when he loses power.     

dca@netspeed.com.au

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1 Response to "The sting is in the tail"

I absolutely loved this when I read it in The Chronicle. I’ll be popping back to read it again from time to time. Articles like this are the reason why this blog has to exist. The paper goes to recycling, but I can pop over here for another giggle at something which has caught my fancy in the fish wrapper. Thanks Don.

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