Former Midnight Oil rocker named Australia's environment
For 25 years Peter Garrett was the frontman of Midnight Oil, an
Australian rock band known for its raucously loud music and protest
songs about social and environmental issues. Then the bald 6ft
6in singer hung up his microphone, disbanded the group and exchanged
his rock star clothes for the sombre suits of a politician.
a meteoric rise through the ranks of Australia's Labor party,
he was yesterday named environment
minister in the newly
government. The 54-year-old said he was "excited and humbled" by
However, his gaffes during the election have robbed him of the chance
to take over the entire environment portfolio. Another minister has
been given responsibility for the issues surrounding climate change,
including negotiating a new post-Kyoto deal and establishing a carbon
emissions trading scheme for Australia.
Garrett founded Midnight Oil when he was a law student in 1973 and
made a first and unsuccessful foray into politics as a member of
the Nuclear Disarmament party in 1984.
Passionate about the injustices meted out to Australia's indigenous
population, he and the other band members had a worldwide hit in
1987 with the track Beds are Burning, a protest song about Aboriginal
land rights in Australia.
The band also used music
to register its anger about environmental issues, performing
at the Jabiluka uranium mine in remote Arnhem
Land and staging an impromptu concert outside Exxon's New York
headquarters in 1990 with a banner that read: "Midnight
Oil Makes You Dance, Exxon Oil Makes Us Sick."
Alongside his singing career, Garrett also served as head of the
Australian Conservation Foundation and sat on the international
board of Greenpeace.