More Sunshine Coast

Discussion about development on the Sunshine Coast continues.

There is a population forum and someone holds a meeting that someone else claims is nothing more than a plant for the Liberal National Party.

An article in Prospect here suggests that population is not the problem, that an African villager can have ten children who each have ten children (for two generations) and all of them put together won’t emit as many greenhouse gasses as one average American in their lifetime.

In the meantime I interrupt perfectly decent dinner parties to ask people what they think of the idea of five hundred thousand people living on the Coast.

A man who looked like a French cineaste’s idea of an intellectual – swept back grey hair, black polo-neck shirt, slim, wearing, yes, corduroy pants – but proves to be a famous musician composer, began by saying (possibly not the best opening line but there you go):

‘I am Dutch. I go back to the Netherlands from time to time to see my family. In my country when they want to make a new development they have to go through so many miles of red tape, even before they begin. But once they start thinking about it seriously the first thing they ask is where is the railway line. Where is it? How does this housing plan fit with it? Do we need to build a new one? They design the streets and the shops and the schools around where the station is. And then, if there’s money left over, last of all, they think about the road. Here! Here we are stupid. More than stupid. Here we are insane.’

Curiously my own cynicism about the Dutch (you can always tell a Dutchman, but not very much) was given its comeuppance not just by this articulate gentleman but by a fascinating article in the New York Review of Books, about the cultural, social, political and artistic influence of the Dutch Republic during the seventeenth century on the development of what came to be Great Britain. The article is accompanied by this marvellous picture of ‘William of Orange sets out to invade the British Isles.’

Painting in the style of Abraham Stock

Spot the problem. I was born and raised in Scotland and we were always taught Britain hadn’t been invaded since the Battle of Hastings. What’s going on here? Is there some deeply embedded racism in my system which lives in denial of the facts of history? Is this why we were taught to be suspicious of Dutchmen? Because if we listened to them we might learn the awful truth?

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