The Tigers that turned to butter

When I think about Bill Shorten and the dilemma he faces with the Adani debacle, I am reminded of the story of the tigers that turned to butter.

When I was a little girl, I read the story of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman. It was written in 1899 by the wife of an Indian Medical Services Officer, stationed in Madras. Like so many children?s books it has, over the years, become controversial and has been accused of being racist. But these days I have long since stopped worrying what some offended person thinks or does not think. As a child I loved it. As a Mother, I read it to my daughters and as a Grandmother, I have read it to my Grandchildren.

The story, in a nutshell, is about a little Indian boy who has to go to the river every day to fill up his Grandmother?s water jug. He does not enjoy this daily trek. In fact, it scares him because in the river there lives a mugger. A crocodile who can think of nothing better than eating him.?

On the way to the river one day, the boy encounters four hungry tigers. They all want to eat him. Being a resourceful young chap, he gives the tigers his clothes, shoes and umbrella in the hopes that it will spare him the fate of being Tiger tucker. The tigers are all very keen on his clothes and chase each other around a tree in order to get the goodies that they crave.

They ran so fast that they turned in to butter and the story ends with Grandma making pancakes using the ghee. ( butter).

Which brings me to Adani, the controversial Coal mine in the Australian State of Queensland.

The local people want this coal mine to proceed. Interestingly enough, Adani Coal would be exported to India and the Adani Company is Indian owned. But I digress.? The mine would create massive employment, both in the short term and the long term. Local communities not only want it, but they also NEED it to proceed. The leftists and environmentalists do not want this coal mine to become a reality. The Greens are violently opposed to it. The current Federal? Coalition has given the mine the green light. It is now up to the Queensland leftist State government to sign it off? or not.

With the Federal election only weeks away, The Labor party leader in Australia, Mr Bill Shorten, is in a bit of a spot. His two chief backers ? the Union movement and the Greens are divided on this issue. The Unions want it to proceed. The Greens do not. He is like “poor Little Black Sambo”. He cannot keep both the tigers happy. If he gives them his clothes and umbrella, one will go hungry or they will both melt and turn in to butter. Unlike the story of “Little Black Sambo”, Mr Shorten knows that only one will potentially turn into butter. One will survive. My own feeling is that the Union movement is the stronger of the two tigers and the Greens are already melting. If he accepts this then he has no alternative than to back the mine.

However, without the Greens, he cannot win government. His only hope is that the Queensland Leftist government will make the decision for him and he will then keep both tigers alive and throw the Queensland State government to the crocodile waiting down by the river.

But, as anyone who read Helen Bannerman?s book may remember, the crocodile itself is yet another story. And it does not have a happy ending for the crocodile.