Local water officials, who are looking to Australia for expertise on how to survive one of the worst droughts in California's recorded history, hosted former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie at its monthly luncheon on Thursday, something that prompted Rupert Murdoch's Aussie papers to mock Beattie, the Block of Orange locale and the Orange County Water Association.
Beattie addressed our local water brigade in his capacity as the Los Angeles-based trade and investment commissioner for Queensland, his first position since leaving politics in September 2007 (undefeated, it warrants mentioning). He used his speech to invite the Orange Countians to southeast Australia's Queensland and “have a look at our water grid and desalination plant.”
In light of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's June declaration of a statewide drought emergency and forecasts for little rain the rest of the year, OC wetness producers have little choice but to take Beattie up on his invitation.
“We've got experiences, skills, technologies and strategies to share with Californians who are battling the same water challenges as Queenslanders,” Beattie told The Australian's Peter Mitchell, who covered the speech.
Local delegations to the Land Down Under are forming now.
But several Aussie papers under Murdoch's News Corp. umbrella followed up the next day with Steven Wardill's stink-eye piece “Watered-down spruiker's role for ex-Premier.”
That story derides the former premier for once musing about working for the United Nations in his post-political life: “Mr. Beattie's second career as Queensland's Los Angeles-based trade commissioner is proving a far cry from being in the employ of the UN at its headquarters in New York, Geneva or Vienna.”
Wardill's implication is that Beattie instead finds himself in cultural backwaters like Orange County (“where he was the keynote speaker at the local water association's $30-a-ticket August lunch”) and the spacious meeting room at Dave N Buster's (“an established chain of eateries that sells $15.99 meal deals complete with $10 in free tokens to play video games and billiards.”)
The journo also slyly pokes fun at the naivete of the Orange County Water Association: “Opposition water spokesman Ray Hopper said what the water bosses weren't told was that Mr. Beattie did nothing about dwindling supplies for almost a decade.”
Have a wonderful time in Australia, guys!