Aussie politician proves he's still a rock star

Fri Mar 13, 2009 2:09am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australian politician Peter Garrett proved he was still a rock star under the suit when he reunited with his band Midnight Oil, and some commentators on Friday said he showed more passion on stage than in parliament.

Any notion that the former activist singer, and now Australia's Environment Minister, would avoid politically charged songs was blown away as his band performed one of two warm-up gigs ahead of a weekend benefit concert for bushfire victims.

In front of a sold-out crowd of 3,000, Midnight Oil kicked off with "Redneck Wonderland" and went on to perform the anti-mining "Blue Sky Mine" and anti-war and anti-establishment songs "When the Generals Talk" and "Read About It."

"Amazingly we find ourselves on this stage together again," said Garrett, 55, who was the lead singer of the band for 26 years until quitting in 2002 to pursue a career in politics.

"The only person who has to go to work in the morning is me."

As frontman of Midnight Oil, the lanky, bald Garrett swayed the hearts and minds of a generation as he railed against U.S. foreign policies, corporate greed and for indigenous rights.

Alongside his rock career he was always political, co-founding the Nuclear Disarmament Party in 1984 and holding roles in Greenpeace and the Australian Conservation Foundation before winning a seat in the national parliament in 2004.

But his decision to join the center-left Australian Labor Party rather than the Australian Greens angered some supporters, who accused him of selling out as he towed party lines.   Continued...

<p>Peter Garrett, lead singer of Midnight Oil and Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment, Heritage and the Arts, speaks onstage at the Live Earth Concert held in Australia at Aussie Stadium in Sydney, July 7, 2007. REUTERS/Patrick Riviere</p>