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Dear Matt Canavan: the hook turn conceals a terrible southern secret

It’s chosen by Victoria, a state with a Labor government, to drive the likes of Matt Canavan to distraction. Obviously.

Senator Canavan, aged just 38, is Minister for Resources and Minister for Northern Australia in the Morrison government.

More to the point, he’s a Queenslander. Which means he doesn’t have much time for southerners and their weird ways.

He’s a man of the right, dubious about this climate-change thing, who doesn’t have any time at all for southerners coming up to his beloved central Queensland and telling his people they’re evil for wanting to work in giant coal mines.

“The busybody approach to modern politics,” he declared in an entertaining speech on Tuesday, “Where you take on a moral burden to fix the problems of others that you know little about, threatens the strength of our democracy.”

He was talking about Greens leader Bob Brown leading a convoy of protesters from the deep south to central Queensland during the election campaign – a convoy that notably didn’t win over many central Queensland hearts in the cause of ending the Adani coal mine adventure.

Minister Matthew Canavan is puzzled by the hook turn and Australia's south more generally.

Minister Matthew Canavan is puzzled by the hook turn and Australia’s south more generally. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Canavan, who survived a scare last year to his eligibility as a parliamentarian when the High Court decided he didn’t hold Italian citizenship after all, reached back to Pope Pius XI to spice up his argument.

Pius, in an encyclical of 1931, declared it would be “a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organisations can do”.

Canavan interpreted this to mean that locals should be allowed to make their own decisions without the high and mighty sticking their noses in, which seems exotic, given that the high and mighty Pius himself was considered by the Church to be infallible in things edict-wise.

If the reference to a pope wasn’t powerful enough, Canavan chose Melbourne’s modest hook turn to drive home his point.

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“I don’t blame the green activists for their ignorance,” he said, with barely a self-conscious giggle.

“I know little of the issues facing inner city Melbourne.

“I may think that hook turns are a stupid way to manage urban traffic flows (demonstrated by the evolutionary evidence that no other city, to my knowledge, has adopted this confusing practice), but then I do not travel to Melbourne condemning hook turns and telling locals to repent their ways.

“Melbourne can decide how to manage its traffic the way Melbourne wishes.”

Is it time to let him in on the awful truth about Victorians and their subversive knowledge that, if you don’t want to be struck down by a tram, the left is the correct pathway?

It might be too much for the young warrior of the right.

And we certainly wouldn’t want to suggest the Queensland boy get out more, lest he discover that the hook turn has actually evolved to the point it is in use in Illinois, Beijing, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Denmark and The Netherlands, among other places.

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