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The Australian Whinge Has Become The Cultural Cringe

By Pearl Bullivant on November 4, 2011 in Other

Australians like to portray themselves as a population of stoic people, but the recent furore over the carbon tax portrays Australians as a bunch of myopic whingers who refuse to alter their ‘lifestyle’ for the sake of future generations.


Five years ago, middle class Australians were more than happy to embrace Al Gore and his Inconvenient Truth roadshow. Pseudo bohemians all over the Eastern Suburbs were fighting over their soy chai lattes to be selected as Al Gore Climate Crisis Ambassadors.

At the same time, the Dalai Lama and his Path to Happiness message was drawing huge crowds amongst the stockbroker and accounting set, and John Howard was about to be knocked off his gilded perch over his archaic Work Choices legislation, refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty and his denial of global warming.

Organic baby stores were popping up in every Eastern Suburbs shopping strip and, in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis, fashionistas proudly became recessionistas, with neo-frugalism becoming the ‘lifestyle’ choice of the self-respecting yuppie. All the while, Pearl was predicting that this environmental zeal would become yet another shallow trend to amuse the bored middle class – and, how right I was!

Five years on, and what a short memory Australians have. Worship of Al Gore has been replaced by worship of Lord Monckton, an extremist who is derided in his own country yet embraced by Australians in complete denial. Climate change has become as untrendy and smelly as the once hip Birkenstocks and Crocs. It has become the inconvenient truth that threatens to prevent one being able to afford the latest Mercedes, the five-bedroom McMansion and the essential luxury holiday. Australians were prepared to embrace the heady ‘zen moments’ of climate change science, but only if it involved wearing trendy yoga gear and eating organic food. If it involved personal sacrifice, like a carbon tax, forget it.

On a recent trip to climb Mt Kinabalu (the essential ‘must do’ for old lefties) I realised just how pathetic affluent Australians had become. Until that trip I’d never suffered from the ‘cultural cringe’. Not even a plane load of marauding league players on a flight to Hawaii or the sight of my second husband (not second for long!) cracking open a can of VB on a 6am flight from Auckland could raise those skinny shoulders up to my ears. But cringe was all I could do when I opened the Borneo Post and read that Australians in Paddington were doing it tough; that lack of impulse shopping meant that we were suffering and that “people are really honest about it. They are becoming a lot more comfortable in saying ‘We’re struggling’”.

Struggling?! In the same newspaper, Malaysians were being urged to conserve money and resources and to live within their means because the government had no control over the cost of living! No wonder refugees in the deplorable Malaysian refugee camps were more than happy with Julia Gillard’s ‘Malaysian Solution’. I’d be champing at the bit to get to Australia if ‘struggling’ meant not being able to afford luxury goods.

We live in a country where botox is enjoyed by the masses, but we whinge about the price of electricity. We prefer tax cuts and a European car to living within our means. Australians might all band together in times of crisis but wouldn’t it be better (and cheaper) if we made small sacrifices to prevent the crisis occurring in the first place? We’d prefer to wait until it’s too late. To quote the Greens: “there’s no jobs on a dead planet”.



  1. Spot on , Australians need to be told how they are behaving, Its shameful to listen to the 95% of employed people sook about the cost of living, try living where there is no support. Its even more disturbing that these people wont consider their children. How many issues is this generation leaving for the next, these issue are within our reach to change but Australians seem to worship money above all else. No wonder Aboriginal people struggle in this society, A society void of respect and humanity

    Posted by: Sam | November 4, 2011, 11:52 AM |

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  2. What a load of leftist propaganda BS, the carbon TAX will not repeat not change the climate one iota but will make everyone worse off, kill off manufacturing and make sure that a labor watermelon government will not taste power again for generations to come.

    Posted by: David Cahill | November 14, 2011, 8:40 AM |

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  3. Here here Mr Cahill, could not agree with you more.

    Posted by: Steve | November 14, 2011, 9:47 AM |

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  4. Forget the propaganda David & Steve. Did you notice that the populous took up the offer of rebates for their solar panels to a budget blow-out of half a billion smackers? If Joe Average is environmentally motivated by the cash, how do you think the financially fixated corporations will react to the sight of their remuneration packages being drained off in taxation? After deregulation, selling the farm overseas and the like, it’s the only tool the nation has to control their “grab it while you can” attitudes to running big business. Think of it this way, If your dog dumps a load in the park and you don’t bag it – you’re up for a fine, you need to get rid of renovations waste – you hire a dumpster. What we need to do is set a global ball rolling and get our major manufacturers (China, that is!) to toe the line. Someone has to bite the bullet and maybe we are the ones with our minerals financed strength? Being responsible for you actions may be a thing of the past, but so were my parents. And they knew a thing or two. A word to Sam, your piece may best be expressed from atop a soap box at the Domain…….and you forgot to mention the Lesbian Vegan Whales!

    Posted by: Coopers Convert | November 14, 2011, 2:15 PM |

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  5. Yes i have the solution,to all this.. Lets bring in more refuges, Lets get more on the gillard compensation list ,lets throw more hard earned tax payers money away ,lets invent more fees by the service providers, water electricity ect ,Lets all buy 4 wheeled drives and fill them up with plenty of little eastern suburbs brats Lets populate like rabbits There is plenty of food in australia We only throw a billion or two away in wasted foods, Lets stuff our guts more, and our kids more obesity, thats what we need more fast food outlets.Lets all get spoiled by the gillard Government, Have at least ten children yes you know what i mean,go out west ,Lets have much more development in the eastern suburbs,Lets double, tripple the carbon tax,Lets all sit in our cars with engines running,and air condition on so we can play with our computers,have lunch, do our paper work, like there are plenty of resoures left.Great country Australia,Except for those who have any common cents?i mean sence.

    Posted by: constantine janery | November 17, 2011, 3:26 PM |

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  6. Pearl has got it right again. Australians are Pythonesque in their ability, almost as nimble as any top AFL, NRL etc player, to run back and forth thunderously with any prevailing trend no matter if it does cut off their airflow, water and food sources., and as Pearl so clearly sees, the latte is primary in lubricating these social changes. And thanks to Pearl’s timely and righteous leadership I would go as far to say that Australians are at their happiness when whinging, and I would like to suggest that we have a Carbon Tax component linked to levels of national whinge.. oye whinge oye!.. thus turning this vaguely social benefiting tax into a huge financial success it should be.

    Posted by: Tumbo | May 22, 2012, 12:03 PM |

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  7. I wanted to write to Pearl re a current article in Beast, but can’t find an address to post it ???
    Not even an e-mail address, so I can scan and attach to email? Is the beast only one-way??
    I do enjoy reading some of the articles and the superb photos. regards John Rector

    Posted by: john rector | May 26, 2012, 2:10 PM |

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  8. I do not think being insulting and condescending helps the argument of either side. Neither does propaganda tactics like adverts of children who question man-made climate change exploding.

    Tactics such as the one shown here turn people against the idea:

    It is not as simplistic as you suggest. There is a long history of climate change organisations deliberately misleading the public and getting caught. For example the leaked Emails from the Climate Research Units discussing how they can fake the figures to scare the general public.

    For all your mocking you fail to address the facts. That carbon makes up less than 400 parts per million and is a trace element. That the measuring sites are in urban settings and are being affected by population and industrial growth. That the polar caps are growing currently, not shrinking. That any action in Australia will have zero global effect when viewed in context of China, India etc.

    While continuing to use questionable practices, such as labelling non-conforming people “deniers”, hence associating them with backward, flat-earth types, you alienate them from your view. When you combine that with the lies and the other unethical practices, and the lack of scientific argument you will continue to drive thinking people away from your position. I would be ashamed of publishing such a weak article as this.

    Posted by: Effort | February 2, 2014, 9:19 AM |

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  9. Carbon tax is double-dipping that is why it is wrong.

    Consumers are hit with carbon tax and so are the companies. But the companies have the ability to pass on the increased costs onto consumers in the form of higher prices, which they will. Consumers do not have that option. The carbon tax should only apply to businesses that impact the environment due to their activities.

    Posted by: Matilda Reich | February 26, 2014, 1:40 PM |

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