THE WEATHER in Melbourne tonight has been so pleasant it would have been a crime to waste it inside a cinema, which was the original idea. What had been planned as a short meal became a rather long and very relaxed one, which was quite OK and very responsible, right up to and including the sambuccas, because it is but a short stroll from table to Billabong and authorities have not yet found an excuse to impose Breathalyzers and fines on cheerful pedestrians. But give them time and those scolds will have their way, as they always do.
Mind you, it would not have been a good night for the enemies of pleasure to chance their arm, as the Professor’s companions, in addition to the Rufous Bird, were two learned friends, and while they make a charming couple there were several instances during the evening’s course when that wonderful legal instinct to make mischief and empty someone else’s pockets quite dominated conversation. If Foster's issued gift certificates for legal services with every slab, rather than bobble-headed plastic cricketers, its stock would be doing a whole lot better.
She has something to do with insolvency and said her business has been doing rather nicely, which earned a toast of gratitude to our still-current Prime Minister and the March Hare who presents himself as a treasurer. He specialises in some other expensive area of the law, but constitutional matters, not his own field, were what animated him most of all.
“You realise,” he said in a tone that dripped with doom, “that Gillard has just turned Commonwealth-state relations on their head. We might as well dissolve the State of Victoria and be done with it.”
This came as news to the Professor, who as a frequent visitor to the bush was rebuked for not keeping up with current events. It seems that a few cows released early last year into the Alpine National Park have cost our state its sovereignty. This became official a few days ago when Environment Minister Tony Burke overruled Victoria’s plan to let the cows loose again this year -- the basis for a study intended to determine if transhumant grazing reduces the risk of bush fires.
Apparently, up in the High Country there are several species of imperilled frogs which Burke has taken as his excuse for over-ruling Spring Street and banishing cattle. The creatures managed to co-exist for 150 years, but the experts, who are probably warmists as well, have concluded the frogs can no longer tolerate horned animals, not even for one more day. By Burke's reading of the law, that places under his control any spot where the frogs, or any other endangered species, are known or thought to be. In other words, the entire state.
Premier Ted Baillieu can appeal and is said to be considering such a move, which is itself unsettling. If Big Ted needs to ponder his duty to defend Victoria from federal encroachment, he cannot take that duty too seriously. Goodbye, cattle. Goodbye, state’s rights.
Ted should not need to think about fighting this incursion tooth and nail, not even for a split second.