Monday, 31 December 2007

Bible-belt bigotry - in Australia?

Editorial note: Various words which are often blocked by "Net Nanny" and other content screening systems have been altered by the use of .. *.. to replace a vowel. The meaning will be obvious to the intelligent reader, but not to a computer. There is nothing outright offensive in the content of this post, but the reader might disagree with the views I have expressed. That is the reader's right. Please remember that it is also my right to express these views.

Here is something which got my blood boiling, this morning.
Below is an advertisement which came from an Australian owned website, this morning - not from Texas or other "bible-belt" bigoted part of the world. The site itself (which I have deliberately NOT linked from this report) might be international, but the website on which this advertisement is carried is a major Metropolitan newspaper in Australia.

Child viewing p*rn?
Are you sure? Get a Free PC Scan now. Christian owned.

Part of my anger stems from the hypocrisy implicit in this claim - when you think how many Christian ministers and other helpers in "God's Vineyard"*** have been convicted of various "kiddie p*rn" offences, not to mention outright child abuse, and paed*philia.

I am afraid that the claim "Christian Owned" is a negative, in the context of this particular topic. And while the claim itself is presumably true, I find the fact that the advertiser finds it "relevant" to this topic to be arrogant, offensive, and bigoted.

***Bishops, Priests, Religious Brothers, "Boy Scout" leaders, school teachers (in religious schools), social workers, etc, etc, etc.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

David Hicks has been freed. 8:45am 29.12.2007

As the last act of the rotten "deal" made by the Howard Government, David Hicks has been freed. I have just heard a "live" report from outside the Yatala Prison, South Australia.
There was talk that he, or his lawyer, would make an "apology" statement upon his release. In fact that has not happened. I for one, am happy that it has not happened. However, the down side of that is that the media will not leave him alone, now.

Please leave the poor bastard alone. He has suffered enough. And so has his long-suffering father, Terry Hicks.

Friday, 28 December 2007

At least we don't assassinate our politicians.

Whatever misgivings I may have about the Australian political system, we don't do what the Pakistanis do to their politicians. Nor should we. (There have been two attempted assassinations here.)
Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated after having addressed a political rally. She was shot, and then the assassin apparently blew himself up, killing a further group of people. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the assassination at the time of writing this - but as the ABC Radio cutely put it: "All sides are blaming terrorists".

Just who are the terrorists in Pakistan?
The Government?
The military? (Remember the recent history of the President Musharraf?)
Supporters of former President, now Opposition Leader, Nawaz Sharif?
Islamic extremists?
And let us not forget "outside forces" which have propped up the illegal and corrupt regimes.

Benazir Bhutto might have been a corrupt politician, but she did not deserve to die like that.

There is a fine obituary in The Guardian

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Is it time to press the Emergency Button?

Miss Eagle has pressed the big red "Call Nurse" button on the wall in the Hospital Recovery Room, where the Body Politic was taken after the recent Federal Election.
She thinks that the Body Politic has been wrongly assessed by the Triage Kevin07 Krew who have not assessed the Body Politic's case as URGENT. But she disagrees.

She KNOWS it is a urgent case.

Trouble is the best Doctor in the Hospital is the guy who has (apparently) decided that the case is not urgent enough to warrant immediate intervention.
In that case, who do you appeal to?
How can one get a Second Opinion - when we have just sacked the last Doctor?

Saturday, 15 December 2007

More on Iemma's Transport "dream"

You will recall I wrote on Thursday about Iemma's mad proposal to sell off the power system in NSW, justified (supposedly) by the promise of an European-style metro system. Fat chance!

This is an independent view on the Sydney transport system and the litany of broken promises associated with it. This article is written by Ben Sandilands, and published by on Friday, 14 December 2007.

Ben Sandilands writes:

In a curtain raiser to the silly season in Sydney, commuters are struggling to digest the linking of the $15 billion power privatisation/metro building/Iemma-escapes-from-being-Premier scenario outlined earlier this week by Crikey's Alex Mitchell.

City Rail, under its assorted logos and names under a string of Labor and Liberal premiers, has never completed a single rail project in full. It can’t even make the pitifully antiquated system it has today work with any semblance of efficiency. Nor the buses, or ferries, or their ticketing systems.

And Morris Iemma somehow expects people will elect John Watkins on the back of a promise to built a much needed metro system more than 10 times larger by any measure than the one it abjectly fails to run today.

The highlights of this grotesque and entrenched culture of total dysfunctionality in public transport include:-

The Chatswood to Parramatta line which supposed to open next December. It will open, perhaps even a few months early, but will only go as far as Epping, which is barely half way, even though most of the final stretch to Parramatta has already existed for decades as a little used surface line.

The stations are gorgeous, glittering neo modern masterpieces except for one problem: the tunnels that link them are so steep where they pass under the Lane Cove river that half the rolling stock in the suburban fleet can’t get up the grades without an unacceptable risk of bursting into flames from overheated motors.

The airport line which opened in 2000 went broke and has only recently found a new buyer. It is almost totally useless or uneconomic depending on where you set out from or if you try to board it with bulky luggage or if two travellers share a taxi.

The eastern suburbs line which was fitfully built between 1926 and its final completion in 1979 only goes as far as Bondi Junction, on the edge of the eastern suburbs.

Hundreds of buses cram the roads between Central and the University of NSW each day because the station that would have seen thousands of students complete their journeys in minutes was never built.

Even a minor extension to Bondi beach was canceled because residents led by actor Michael Caton, objected that it would be too successful in transporting the public to ‘their’ beach.

So much for ‘public’ transport.

And despite years of pledges and the waste of tens of millions of dollars, the city’s public transport system has failed to master the stored value ticketing technology most of the world has been using on a large scale since at least 1974.

If today’s trains could be made to work, the metro plan might lurch toward borderline credibility. Trouble is, that Iemma and Watkins think they are working, and every person using them knows they are in the hands of fools and liars.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Iemma's mad "Power sell off" dream is a fraud.

Iemma's mad "Power Sell-off" dream is a fraud.
Tough words - but truthful.
Morris Iemma has proposed the sale and lease of the NSW Power generation and supply system. Supposedly this will bring about "windfall profits" to the State, which will use that money to provide "gifts" to the people, such as a new rail and road infrastructure. (I am old enough to recall how long the Eastern Suburbs railway was promised - before it was delivered. So, I will not be holding my breath. Anyway, the Government has not "built" new road networks in recent times, but has got the private sector to build them - so will this money actually be used to do what the Government promises? Or will we just end up with more toll roads anyway?) The whole scheme is a confidence trick on the public.

You can read the Sydney Morning Herald report here.

Hang on a minute.
What exactly is he selling, and why?

An obsolete coal-fired power generation system - at the same time as the Bali conference is taking place. And what is Bali telling us? The dangers of coal-fired power stations (amongst other things).

Surely we ought be planning to convert our old technologies to new "climate-friendly" technologies, like wind, solar and wave power.

When these issues have been raised, we have been told that they are unproven, or else too expensive.

So, what is happening? The Government is going to "party" while it can. Sell the gear. And leave us with what, exactly? Obsolete technology. We will end up with something approaching the disastrous state of East Germany's power system, at the time of the collapse of that decrepit State. And then we will be in the hands of the private sector, to build new, efficient power stations - if we can afford to pay the exorbitant prices they will want to charge us.

It is a hand over of sovereignty to the Private Sector, dressed up as a "bonus" to the community. It is a fraud on the public of NSW.

This is equivalent to the way the Government is allowing the destruction of our water harvesting system (the "Catchment") by coal mining companies, leaving the people to buy water from a French-led consortium, running the inefficient De-Sal scheme. Again a hand-over of our sovereignty (as well as being an environmentally disastrous policy).

Surely if there is money to be made, the Government ought be using that money to build new electricity generation equipment which is "green", or at least less environmentally damaging than what we have at present. I understand that gas-fired power stations are considerably less damaging than coal-fired power stations. And what about solar, or wind, or wave power?

The whole scheme is a nonsense - but the Media are getting in on the deal, planning how best to spend the money - without asking the real questions. What will we be left with?

Wake up, Australia (or the people of NSW anyway).

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Simple Simon - Wake Up

Simon Crean, Minister for Trade, (God help us all) was back on ABC Radio's PM program tonight, complaining about the failings of "This Government".

Wake up Simon. You were actually complaining about the Previous Government. Learn your lines, Mate!. Its not that hard.

Call them "the Howard Government", or even "our incompetent predecessors". But do learn that THEY are no longer "THE GOVERNMENT". For Heaven's sake, get it right.

Photo: NineMSN (Sunday Program)

I know Simon is stuck in the past, but he needs to get over his obsessive hatred, or at least re-train his tongue (IF HE CAN!). Personally I doubt he can manage that task, and ought never have been given another chance in the Ministry.

Ambassador to the ILO
would be good posting, surely? I wonder how soon that job is due to be filled?

Oh, and why was he appointed to a Ministry?
Here's a clue - a cartoon which I published on a now-deleted blog site. Clearly the issue was Crean's support of Rudd for the leadership, over Kim Beazley, who Crean had despised for a number of years.

So - the answer to why he was appointed is simple - the payment of a political debt.

And for a brief memory refresher on Crean's faction war history, and his bitter battle for pre-selection in his own seat of Hotham, have a look at this interview from the Sunday Program from 5 March 2006. My how the world has changed - in Simon Crean's favour, in the last 20 months.

No wonder Crean seemed to enjoy the swearing in ceremony more than anyone else, the other day. And today I learn he is the first of the Rudd Ministers to go on an overseas trip. It fits a pattern - one which I for one, do not wish to see repeated - an abuse of the privileges of offices.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Kevin Rudd sworn into office

Well, it has happened. Kevin Rudd is Prime Minister.
Before he swore Kevin in, the G-G "accepted the resignation" (submitted previously, and privately) by John Howard.

The Governor-General's Website carries an announcement by Malcolm Hazell, Official Secretary to the Governor-General of Australia. It includes the following:
  • Earlier this morning, the Governor-General signed the instrument appointing Mr Rudd as Prime Minister and administered the Oath of Office to Mr Rudd, making him Australia's 26th Prime Minister since Federation. The Governor-General also administered the Oath of a Federal Executive Councillor to Mr Rudd, which brings with it the courtesy title of “The Honourable”.
  • Today's ceremony involves taking the Oath or Affirmation of Office, required to be taken by all Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries and, for those being appointed for the first time, the Executive Councillor's Oath.
  • The Executive Council derives from Section 62 of the Constitution which provides “There shall be a Federal Executive Council to advise the Governor-General and the Government of the Commonwealth, and the Members of the Council shall be chosen and summoned by the Governor-General and sworn as Executive Councillors, and shall hold office during his pleasure”.
This bizarre ritual is a timely reminder that we are not really a sovereign nation.

We have not elected our own Prime Minister. He has been appointed by the Governor-General, who himself is not elected, but appointed - by - you guess it, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

The power resides in the antiquated body known as the Executive Council. The business of Government, even Parliamentary proceedings, are a sham, or perhaps better expressed, a smoke screen. No political actions have effect until the G-G, sitting in the Executive Council makes that formal declaration.

Its time to remedy all this foreign dependency nonsense, folks. Stand up, Australia, and take control of your own affairs.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Another one bites the dust.

According to the ABC Radio News on Friday evening, the National Party Leader in the Senate, Ron Boswell has announced he will also step down. Actually, he has been dumped by his State Executive (Nationals, Queensland)

The reason? He was apparently too close the Liberals (indeed he was).

It also means that Barnaby Joyce might be promoted. He says so, anyway.
  • "Senator Joyce says he is hoping to be promoted.
    "That is for my colleagues to decide and I look forward to their support if I can get it," he said.
    "I am certainly standing for Senate leader, I make no qualms about that."
  • (source: ABC News - Brisbane Regional bulletin).
As the caption says: Another one bites the dust.
The shock-waves of the election results keep on rolling along.

By the way, Costello said today that the Liberal Party missed the chance to present a fresh face (his, of course). He also said what we all knew he would say, sooner of later. He is not going to serve out the full term. What a shock?

The most interesting statement is by Senator Judith Troeth.
Apparently she has been a Senator for Victoria since 1993. Amazing how some people can have been around that long, but not ever be heard from. Anyway, I digress. The ABC's News site reports:
  • "Meanwhile, senior Liberal Senator Judith Troeth has accused several colleagues of hijacking the party in a failed effort to make Mr Costello the next prime minister.
  • "Senator Troeth has served as a Victorian Senator since 1993.
  • "She has told the ABC's Stateline program that a small group in Victoria over the past decade ensured candidates were preselected because they supported Mr Costello's bid for the Lodge.
  • "She says it lead to the Coalition's downfall at the recent election."
It just keeps on getting "interestinger and interestinger"

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Delusional Liberals rage at Howard .... but he was not alone.

It is fun to watch the Liberal Party trying to tear itself apart. And even funnier to see them all blaming John Howard. But I have a word for them (and the Labor Party). The last Government surrounded itself with "Yes Men", Toadies and sycophants. Nobody was providing the "Frank and Fearless Advice" which was the hallmark of the traditional Public Service.

Everybody was desperate to read the mind of the person above them, and to tell that person what they wanted to hear. And I speak of this pattern right down into the middle and lower ranks of the Public Service. This is the true meaning of the Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tale - of the "Emperor's New Clothes" - where all the courtiers were too weak, too beholden to the Emperor, to tell him what was as plain as the nose on his face, (or elsewhere, in that case).

"Children Overboard" is my supreme case in point, but just one of many examples. Right through to the David Hicks Case, the AWB Scandal, and the Dr Haneef case. People who knew the truth were rewarded for hiding the facts. The AWB scandal is possibly the largest ticking bomb, still buried within the Fairyland World of the Dept. of Foreign Affairs. Lets hope someone finds the moral fibre to stand up and tell the truth - at last.

From Day One (today) the Labor Party must ensure that they go back to that old principle of good governance - that Politicians and Public Service all provide "Frank and Fearless Advice". Otherwise, they will be destined to repeat the recent history of the Liberal Party Government.

But let us look at the Liberals for just another moment - for it is such fun.

Michelle Grattan, writing in "The Age" this morning has some wonderful quotes:

  • "And, as anger mounted in the party towards John Howard, Peter Costello's father-in-law, Peter Coleman, declared "Howard's egomania" had blocked Mr Costello's "great promise". Mr Coleman, a former Liberal MP who writes a column for the ABC website, said Mr Howard had "a fatal flaw which brought him low and devastated his party. It is his colossal egotism."

And on Tony Abbott's withdrawal from the race for Liberal Party Leadership...

  • "Mr Abbott described it as the "last supper at the Lodge for quite some time".
DJW writes: Typical Tony, Catholic mythology confused with myopia. No Tony, it is not "the Last Supper at the Lodge" - just the last one YOU are likely to be invited to. But that is a measure of nothing, when it comes to history, Tony. As they say: "Why is it all about you, Tony?".
  • And Tony Abbott again: "I was a member of John Howard's praetorian guard, you might say. I always regarded myself as the honorary life president of the John Howard fan club."
DJW writes: Nice quote Tony. Thanks for that. We shall file that one away, if you don't mind.
Bloody Idiot.
He displays a lack of judgment, right to the bitter end.
Its as good as his "People Skills" quote from a couple of days before.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Dreams of Kevin 07

Miss Eagle sent me a link to this article by Catherine Deveny, in "The Age" this morning.

It is funny, seeing someone just so enthusiastic, so rapturous, over a political event. (I confess I was, back in 1972.) Perhaps Catherine was born after the Whitlam election in 1972, or if she is a mere child, after the Hawke Government's victory in 1983. In that case the euphoric experience might be genetically inherited.

I went to Wikipedia for a quick check on those dates, and browsed their article on Bob Hawke, and my eyes hit on these words:
  • Hawke benefitted greatly from the disarray into which the Liberal opposition fell after the resignation of Fraser. The Liberals were divided between supporters of the dour, economically and socially conservative John Howard and the urbane Andrew Peacock. The arch-conservative Premier of Queensland, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, also helped Hawke with his "Joh for Canberra" campaign in 1987, which proved highly damaging for the conservatives. Exploiting these divisions, Hawke led the Labor Party to comfortable election victories in 1984 and 1987.
There is surely a lesson to be learnt from history here, for the Liberal Party. Malcolm Turnbull might join Peacock as the best leader the Liberal Party had, who never got elected as Prime Minister.

Now there's something for the bloggers to contemplate.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The Body Politic is in the Recovery Room

After a dramatic piece of surgery, Doctor Kevin has given the Body Politic a Heart and Brain Transplant. Obviously after such drastic surgery, the patient will be in the Recovery Room for some time.This blog promises to monitor the progress of the Patient. I shall report progress with great interest.

However, in view of the optimistic early signs of a quick recovery by the Patient, the former title of the "Body Politic is Ill" has been amended, and the new title is "The Body Politic is in the Recovery Room".

For technical reasons, the link (url) remains unaltered, so all previously installed "pointers" will continue to function.
Zoe sent a "Get Well Soon" message, (in the comments). But she also sent this graphic - a symbolic "thumbs up" image.
Miss Eagle sent a message too. She said: "You mightn't be euphoric but I am. Free at last, free at last. A Howard free political world."

Monday, 26 November 2007

The Sunrise of Kevin 07

Well, you waited for it - and here it is.

After 11 and a half years of darkness, with barely a glimmer of the "Light on the Hill", here is the Sunrise of Kevin 07.It might not be quite what you longed for all those years. It is smaller, smarter, certainly has a more radiant smile than the previous false dawns you envisaged (the Beazley, Crean, Beazley, Latham models). And this one comes with a Chinese sound-track, as a bonus tape.

Just wait ands see if those clouds burn off, or turn into a self-destructive thunderstorm. Lets hope not.
POST-SCRIPT: My friend Auriel sent me this photo. I am sure she won't mind me posting it. Dedicated Canberran "True Believers" obviously celebrating the Rudd Labor Victory on Saturday evening.

Well done to them and all of the other "Warriors for Democracy" whose dedication helped remove the "Government of Shame" on 24 November 2007.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

The Day after D Day

Well, the news of the demise of the Howard "Government of Shame" is well and truly published. My Canadian mate, Leo has sent me this email critique (already).

Hi Denis,
Apparently you lot follow the great Can-eh-djun tradition of voting against, rather than for. Or do you only have 2 parties? Anyways, I hope your new b*stard works out better for you than our new b*stard has for us. ie keeps to the principles which he has espoused over the long term (not necessarily the same ones as he may have campaigned on!) More to the point, hope your new one has principles (and continues to have) ...

Its a timely comment (prescient, 0ne could say).
Miss Eagle and I have already have a similar discussion via her blog.

The really interesting thing is what is starting to happen in the Liberal Party, after Howard stubbornly led them to a crippling defeat.

Fireworks within the Liberal Party,
Alex Downer admitted on the ABC Insiders program this morning that he has expected the defeat. That admission begs the question as to why the Party power brokers were too pathetic to challenge Howard.

Peter Costello (Treasurer and Deputy-Leader of the Liberal Party) has today announced that he will not seek the position of "Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition".
What a wimp! It confirms the impression of how weak he always was (refusing to challenge Howard, when he had the chance).
But are we surprised? Hardly.

Costello enjoyed the power of office too much, and when looking at his "former Young Liberals" and Victorian Branch "power-broker" pal Michael Kroger, Costello must see it as being just too easy and too attractive to enter business, and make a killing.

  • "I want to spend more time with my family ... They have paid a heavy price."
  • Mr Costello inferred that he would enter business once he left politics, but said initially he would continue to serve voters in his Melbourne seat of Higgins and mentor new MPs.
Hmm, The prospect of Peter spending more time with them might be an even heavier price to pay...

I am predicting Joe Hockey might get the job, over Turnbull, and Abbott, Nelson (surely not even the Libs could be so stupid!) At least Joe looks cuddly, and won't scare the kiddies!

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Sunset of a Career? D Day today.

Today is Decision Day. If you have read any of my recent posts, you will know from whence I come.

  • NOTE: It's not just my view, by the way. Miss Eagle has a similar view, and a link to the Age, with a brilliantly written comment by Tracee Hutchinson - check it out here. For her part, Miss Eagle has been working on the theme of Howard's "Chooks coming home to roost" (she is a country girl at heart). Today is the day, Folks.

I recommend voting to get rid of the little lying "weasel-word" specialist.

Defend the spirit of justice in Australia. Remember the injustices we have written about - from Iraq to the Northern Territory, and to Guantanamo Bay. Don't let him continue to lie about Clean Coal, or deny Global Warming. Its too late for that.

Did I say, vote with vengeance? That's what I feel like doing. Enjoy giving little Johnnie something to take away with him - a sense of humiliation which he thoroughly deserves.

Don't take my word for it. Here is part of the Sydney Morning Herald editorial from 23 November 2007.
  • "We have waited for the vision of the next era of conservative government, but it never came. Instead, we have seen only attempts to rally or panic sections of the community with pork-barrelling and scare campaigns. We have said in the past that Mr Howard was entitled to choose the time of his going. But we also said that in doing so Mr Howard should bear in mind the need for a smooth transition. He has done the former, but neglected the latter. He is now asking Australians, in effect, to vote a lame duck into office - and then wait 18 months or more to find out what that really means. It is too much to ask. It is a matter of the greatest regret that the Prime Minister has mishandled his chance to choose a time to step down."
Lastly, let me say that for every small businessman I know, for whom John Howard pretends to govern, there are very few who have survived the voracious hunger of Big Business. Just ask any shopkeeper, trying to pay the rents which Westfield, etc, charge them. The rich are getting richer. The small are getting poorer, by being forced out of business.

Enough from me. You know what I think.

Is this the Sunset of John Howard's Career?
He deserves to go - now!

Friday, 23 November 2007

Sunset of a Career? D Day minus 2

Tomorrow, Saturday 24 November 2007 is Decision Day for Australia. Are we about to see the sunset of John Howard's career?If the Polls and tomorrow's headlines are any guide, it seems highly likely.

I would have to say there are good reasons.
  • Iraq
  • The "NT invasion" of Aboriginal communities - with fanfare, but little or no positive effect, in terms of positive outcomes for the children. Remember the children who were at risk? Invading Australian troops were supposed to bring about a change in their safety. Strangely, we have heard nothing about that since the election started. It always was a ruse. It had little or nothing to do with the safety of the children.
  • The AWB Scandal - where some $30 million was sent to the Saddam Hussein regime, as kickbacks. A regime which was supposedly so awful that we needed to go to war against it - leaving Australian troops facing military forces paid for, in part, by Australian bribes. Do you remember that?
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction?
  • Climate Change - John Howard denied that it was real - for 10 of the last 11 years, then said it might be a real event, but we dare not risk the economy to do anything about it.
  • Refusal to sign the Kyoto Agreement.
  • "Clean Coal". Clean Coal is a myth. It is an oxymoron. It just gives the Government an excuse to continue allowing the Multinational Mining Companies in Australia to continue with business as usual.
  • GST - remember that one? The tax we would not have.
  • Rising Home Loan interest rates.
  • David Hicks. Remember him? Poor bastard nearly rotted in Guantanamo until Howard eventually realised how embarrassing it was. Offenses against Human Rights, committed by the greatest "Democracy" in the world, in the name of "Freedom". And the little Toady went along with it until even he could ignore the embarrassment no longer.
  • "Work Choices" - that fraudulently named program which gave all the choices and the power to the Employers, and bugger all, except an AWA Ultimatum, to the workers.
  • Etc, etc, etc.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Sunset of a Career? D. Day minus3

Saturday is Decision Day for Australians - for the election of a new Government.
The new Government might be the same as the old one, or a Rudd Labor Government. Are we witnessing the Sunset of John Howard's Career?

With the emerging scandals of Fake Election documents allegedly distributed by members of the NSW Liberal Party, and the Auditor General documenting illegal and improper grants being given via the Regional Partnerships Scheme, and the Dr Haneef abuses, and, and, and ......

Its time for Australia to stand up and say: Enough already!
Anyone but John Howard, I say.

Personally, I will be voting 1 Green in Hume, with preference going to the Labor Candidate. In the Senate I will vote for the Climate Change Coalition, with my preference going to the Greens.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Sunset of a career?

Are we witnessing the brilliant sunset of a political career?
The next few posts will let you know what I anticipate.
Tonight's Late Line (ABC TV) broke the story that NSW State Liberal Party members have been caught handing out fake posters purporting to be from an Islamic organisation thanking the Labor Party for supporting Islamic extremists in Indonesia - so the story goes.

Naturally the Liberal Party officials are distancing themselves from the exercise. Andrew Robb (on Lateline) described it is amateurish & unauthorised. And that it was not an official Liberal Party exercise. Oh, did I say he used the word "unauthorised".

Gosh, Andrew - would you really expect a fake Islamic document to bear the words "Authorised by Graham Jaeschke for the NSW Liberal Party". I don't think so. So, to take refuge in the fact that it is "unauthorised" is facile, and meaningless Andrew.

Caught Red Handed is more to the point.

Typical of the Liberal Party's arrogance that they could think they could get a couple of "Anglos" to hand out "fake Islamic" documents without being noticed as obviously a fraud and a con job?

I understand that the story will be in the Daily Telegraph tomorrow (Thursday). The first version of the story is already published, but a fuller version might well be more dynamic.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Government funded the late Kerry Packer.

Thanks again to for this revelation of the abuse of power by the Liberal and National Party coalition which we ironically call a "Government".

The Auditor-General's report on the abuses of the Regional Partnerships Scheme is very revealing (if only you have the energy to wade through the 3 volumes of abuses of procedure):
  • Buried in Volume 3 of the 1000+ page report are details of some of the companies that received public money in the form of Regional Partnerships funding.
  • One of the least - on the face of it - deserving recipients was applicant RP00908, Teys Bros, operators of network of abattoirs and a feedlot. While the Teys Bros group has an annual turnover in excess of $A1 billion, their Rockhampton plant had been closed since 2002 after extended industrial disputation rendered it unprofitable. In March 2004, the Rockhampton business sought $A660,000 of regional partnerships (including GST) to upgrade and reopen the meatworks.
  • The ANAO report indicates that at the time the Teys Bros' Rocky meatworks was cap in hand seeking public funding, it was a company ultimately controlled by Consolidated Press International Holdings Pty Ltd, a company at the time controlled by Mr Kerry Packer (RIP).
That's right two thirds of a million dollars granted to Kerry packer, who was Australia's richest man.

It gets worse. The funds were not recommended by the Department, as the plan did not meet the criteria. When funds were aproved there were conditions attached (an external review was required). But when the Parliamentary Secretary advised the Packer company of the grant, she forgot/omitted/did not bother (take your pick of verbs) to include this condition in the terms of the approval.

An existing company with a financial interest objected to the grant (as it was outside the criteria to award a grant when it would disadvantage an existing business). That letter was ignored.

The litany of abuses of correct procedures just goes on and on and on.

In normal circumstances, criminal charged might be considered warranted.

Let us hope that the people of Australia cast their own verdict next Saturday.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Generation Rudd.

The Australian has a story which includes these sentiments:

  • "KEVIN Rudd maintains a staggering primary-vote lead of 750,000 among voters aged 18-34, and this group alone could deliver power to Labor next Saturday.
  • "The Coalition has 17 seats in the youth belt with margins of less than 7 per cent. Another eight seats not normally considered marginal are also in play because they carry above-average concentrations of younger voters."
Lets hope that the kids of Australia do see things as clearly as this poll suggests. Australia needs the kids to vote for the Labor Party, or the Greens, and to vote in a way that counts (ie a formal vote). Its not enough to just turn up and make a scratch on a ticket.

Make your vote count.
  • How to complete the ballot paper
  • To vote for a Member of the House of Representatives, an elector is required to write the number ‘1’ in the box next to the candidate who is their first choice, and the numbers ‘2’, ‘3’ and so on against all the other candidates, in order of the elector’s preference.
  • Ballot papers which are not marked according to the rules for voting are called informal votes. Ballot papers cannot be counted if they are informal.
Control of the Senate may well be as important as the result in the House of Representatives. In my opinion, I think it is worthwhile voting for the Environment. For myself, I will be voting for the Climate Change Coalition. Many people I know will be voting for the Greens. I agree with either of those suggestions.

The Liberal/National/Family First control of the Senate is a strangle-hold on our democratic rights.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Chaser Boys detained to protect the PM from "disturbance"

Chaser team detained prior to the Liberal Party launch, in Brisbane yesterday.
According to the Queensland police spokesperson said:
"there were cordons in place" and the Chasers were approached because they "looked suspicious, wearing a fake wig and moustache.". The ''men'' -- Queensland Police did not wish to confirm their identity because charges weren't laid -- were "searched, spoken to by detectives and released.
Did you get that?
The offence was wearing fake wigs and moustache, thus looking "suspicious".
What has happened to Australia's freedom of speech?
In fact, what has happened with our personal security?
We know that the country is in serious trouble with Izhar Ul-Haque having been harassed, detained, or possible even kidnapped "illegally" by ASIO operatives. In fact, according to today, 20 or so ASIO operatives, plus 4 or 5 AFP officers (all in plain clothes) apparently turned the "suspect's" home upside down. All this happened (secretly) back in late 2003, but thanks to NSW Supreme Court Judge, Michael Adams, we now know of this abuse of process (and abuse of yet another innocent person, who happens to be (A) Muslim, and (B) a medical student. Sound familiar, Dr Haneef? Is there a pattern here?
Better for him than what the idiots from Immigration did with the Vietnamese "illegal immigrant" who it turns out was not illegal at all.
He was detained for five years, despite having a legal visa, since 1993. His family was separated, and he was denied access to this son (a situation which has since been rectified).
The Government of Shame has not had a good week. Not that it deserves a good week.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

BHP Billiton vs Rio Tinto - it could all backfire.

Careful what you wish for.... BHP Billiton's bid for Rio Tinto might just backfire.
The general public in Australia have been deluded into thinking that the "Big Australian" has bought up Billiton. Wrong. The smaller company did a deal, with the larger company - to pretend that BHP was buying the other company, and would remain "Australian". It is a sham. Now Billiton is calling the tune.
BHP Billiton's new CEO Marius Kloppers (from Billiton) has just announced a breath-takingly bold bid for Rio Tinto.
Have a look at this analysis, as published in the SMH website
"MF Global senior trader Anthony Anderson said BHP Billiton's tilt at Rio Tinto throws the spotlight on the strength of the global commodities boom.
"It reinforces BHP's well documented view that resources are going to be stronger for longer and that India and China are still very much going to create the worldwide demand for it," Mr Anderson told AAP.
"They're ignoring any chance of a recession in the US and just focussing on those two countries really."
That is a scary analysis - BHP Billiton is "ignoring any chance of a recession in the US....." Can that be true?
If so, it is the most stupid move imaginable.
Consider this.
China is moving out of holding US currency, and "bank bills", and US "Subprime" mortgages. It is looking for investments which will not evaporate in front of their eyes. Why not buy up resources which they need - iron ore and coal? China has a resource investment program which is so large, it could simply inhale BHP Billiton.
If BHP Billiton's gamble comes unstuck, because it has ignored the potential recession in the US, then the whole house of cards could collapse, and BHP Billiton, the "so-called" Big Australian, could end up a mid-sized Chinese company.
Don't say I didn't warn you!
If that comes about, then it will not be just the Body Politic which is ill, it will turn out to have been the Body Corporate which is also ill. Sick with greed, hubris and ignorance.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Howard's End? Renovate the bathroon, pls.

Those of you with memories of Merchant Ivory productions will recall a lush movie called "Howard's End". It drew it's title from an E.M. Forster novel, itself named after a house (as I recall). None-the-less. it seems apt to reprise the title, at this time.

This morning's Telegraph on-line ( told me that John Howard's private house, in Wollstonecraft is being renovated. Is this Howard's End? "The Prime Minister is now facing a six per cent swing in Bennelong which needs to move only a shade more than four percentage points to change hands. With his political future in doubt, Mr Howard's Sydney suburban home in Wollstonecraft is being renovated, perhaps in preparation for his return after 11 years of living at harbourside Kirribilli House and the Lodge in Canberra."

The story is based upon polls predicting the loss of Howard's seat of Bennelong, to Maxine McKew.

Time will tell, but Howard is an expert poll-watcher. Lets hope his readings of the polls is correct. Time to refit the Bathroom, John.

A nice deep bathtub, a good hot-water service (solar, please, John) with a nice shaving cabinet beside the deep bathtub, would be nice. I hope he takes the advice of the Executive Razor Company, and uses old-fashioned razors with which to shave. Or else, perhaps an old-style 3 pin plug, 240v electric shaver. Have a nice long bath, Johnnie. Oh, please turn up the bathroom CD player, nice and loud. Hector Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique would seem appropriate. Put it on endless repeat of the 4th Movement (March to the Gallows).

As Wikipedia's interpretation of this music says:
"The scene ends with a single short fortissimo G-minor chord that represents the fatal blow: the dropping of the trap door, or perhaps the guillotine blade; the series of pizzicato notes following can be seen to represent the rolling of the severed head into the basket. Immediately prior to the musical depiction of the beheading, there is a brief, nostalgic recollection of the idée fixe in a solo clarinet, as though representing the last conscious thought of the executed man; after his death, the final nine bars of the movement contain a victorious series of tutti G major chords, seemingly intended to convey the cheering of the onlooking throng."

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Peter Andren MP - RIP. A decent man.

Vale, Peter Andren - former Member for Calare.
It was announced this morning that Peter Andren had died as a result of pancreatic cancer. He retired at the closure of the Parliamentary Session, but unfortunately he was too sick to attend the last day of sittings. He had previously announced his intention to stand for the Senate, but later withdrew from that contest, after he received his diagnosis.

Peter Andren was an Independent - in name and in spirit. He stood for honesty in Government. You can read his "Maiden Speech" here. Peter Andren's maiden speech is very refreshing, and honest. Amongst other things, he pointed to the stupidity of Governments closing down rural infrastructure, and failing to support railways, despite serious offers by large corporations to use rail instead of road transport. That comment fell on deaf ears of Government.

Right up until the end, he was opposing abuses of the procedures of Government. His last Press Release, was calling for the end to the cat and mouse game of the Prime Minister deferring calling the election. And that was primarily because he opposed the abuse of Government funding of advertising campaigns which were clearly party-political in nature, but were masquerading as "Government" advertising.

The people of Australia need more people like Peter Andren, not less.

Here is the updated entry in Wikipedia for Peter Andren.

Australians will miss you, Peter.
Peter came into the Parliament in 1996, at the start of the Howard Government. He made this following comment: "Rather than a ringing endorsement of the policies of the new government, the electorate rejected a Labor government and a Prime Minister seen to be out of touch and arrogant."

I wonder if that statement might end up being as true of the Howard Government as Peter Andren believed it was true of the Keating Government. There would be a certain symmetry in Government if that were to be the case.

"plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" — "the more it changes, the more it's the same thing" (Epigram attributed to Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr)
You may read some early responses to the news of Peter Andren's death here, including a link to a comment by Andrew Bartlett, (Democrat Senator) here.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Pastor Danny Nalliah - A Pariah in Pastor's clothes. came up with this further article about Pastor Danny Nalliah, in yesterday's email bulletin.
When will John Howard and Peter Costello realise that Danny Nalliah ought be regarded as a virtual political leper - a Pariah?
If one can judge a person by the company he keeps, Danny has some strange friends.
Check out the "Adelaide Institute" weblink below. Scary stuff. It is straight out of the debunked "Protocols of the Elders of Zion".
These people do not deserve to be given political credibility, and yet Danny Nalliah appears to go from strength to strength - buying influence, through political patronage by the Liberal Party and the Nationals.
It is time to stand up and expose these links.
3. Howard and the anti-Semites: I was only meeting people
Jeff Sparrow writes:

"John Howard yesterday pooh-poohed any link to Pastor Danny Nalliah's Holocaust-denying pals.
The PM did acknowledge that the League of Rights had been "a bit anti-Semitic" but he told reporters: "As for what people I meet do - any more than you can be responsible for what the people you meet do - I can't be responsible either." No, John, you can't. But then, you didn't just bump into Pastor Nalliah in the street, did you?
(Crikey) Readers will recall that, earlier this year, Howard taped the following message for Nalliah's organisation:
"Hello there.I am delighted to send my good wishes to everyone attending the 2007 United Prayer meeting. Today is, of course, Australia Day.It's a time when we celebrate the freedom and privileges we enjoy as citizens of a great, prosperous and peaceful nation so blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. It's also a time to reaffirm our commitment to shared values and our abiding loyalty to our nation, Australia. Christianity has been an enormous force for good and has done more than anything else to shape the lives, not only of millions of Australians, but the character of our nation. I congratulate :Catch the Fire" Ministries for bringing Christians from many denominations together for this celebration and I wish you all at very happy Australia Day.Your prayers for our nation are deeply appreciated."
By making that recording, the PM knew that he was lending support to a group that had described Muslims as drug-dealing demons training to make Australia an Islamic state. Obviously, John Howard must have weighed the political pros and cons of associating himself with such a hateful bunch.
It beggars belief that he knew nothing of Nalliah's League of Rights links, given that a simple Google search turns up a picture of Nalliah under the heading "Albury Meeting of Australian League of Rights".Likewise Peter Costello, whose spokesman told the Herald Sun that: "The Treasurer has met with Danny Nalliah on a number of occasions and has publicly supported his successful appeal against prosecution under Victoria's religious vilification laws." Why didn't Nalliah's unsavoury connections bother the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaille and former deputy PM John Anderson, all of whom have addressed Catch the Fire events?
Simply, there were votes involved.
In return for all this patronage, Nalliah told his constituency about a message he'd received from God anointing John Howard's re-election, and then circulated an attack upon the ALP as soft on abortion and homosexuals."I have attached a letter from Mr Rudd to one of his constituencies, where he declares Labor's full support for homosexuality, including the amending of current laws if elected, to support homosexuals," he explained. A classic Faustian pact, in other words: the Liberals pandered to bigotry (anti-Muslim, anti-gay and anti-Semitic) in return for the votes of Nalliah's flock.
Late yesterday, Colin Rubenstein from the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council issued a press release condemning Nalliah. "The real message from our community and from me is that we're quite strong of the view that no one should be giving any sort of credibility or respectability to the League of Rights" he said. Quite right.
Unfortunately, Rubenstein pointedly declined to comment on the relationship between Nalliah and John Howard. Why can't it say that there is something terribly wrong with the association between the most powerful political figures in the country and a man who attends gatherings of Holocaust deniers? One hopes that AIJAC is not pulling its punches on the basis that Catch the Fire supports Israel. As retired Churches of Christ Minister Alan Matheson notes, in early October, Nalliah's crew circulated a major statement declaring that John Howard was a champion for Israel. You can still find that document - a piece of blustering right-wing demagoguery by Isi Liebler - on the Catch the Fire site, with a note explaining that it has been "prepared" by someone using the email address
Of course, in fundamentalist circles, support for Israel and support for anti-Semitism often go hand in hand. As Matheson points out, "for the religious right the events in the Middle East need to be monitored carefully, for such events will herald the return of the Messiah and eternal damnation for those who do not believe, including those Jews who do reject the Messiah" In other words, it's quite possible for the Christian right to wax enthusiastically about Israel even if they don't actually like Jews very much: after all, they'll all burn in fire at the end. It shouldn't be difficult.
Catch the Fire is a bigoted group, and it is shameful that mainstream politicians associate with it. AIJAC should say so.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Tony Abbott's Problems explained.

It was Halloween Yesterday, when the spirits of former persons scour the earth, looking for a body to inhabit. Perhaps that explains Tony Abbott's behaviour yesterday.
As "The Age" reports: On a day that the Government had hoped would be dominated by its $310 million health plan, Mr Abbott's behaviour became the central theme after he insulted a dying asbestos campaigner and arrived 35 minutes late for a debate at the National Press Club.

In my opinion, Tony Abbott has always been a liability to the Government. It is time that Mr Howard silenced him. If it were not for Abbott's personality deficits, Abbott might well have been leader today. After all, Howard has a deep and abiding loathing for Mr Costello, And Abbott is a NSW based politician, and Howard likes that, after the traditional Victorian emphasis in the Liberal Party.

Here is Tony, in a secret Medical Laboratory, being fitted for his new head, for Halloween.
Why should the Evil Spirits inflict Tony on us? Its not fair. Take him back, please.

Then again, it is probably good that on Halloween he lets his true nature shine through, just a little, so the Media can see him for what he really is. A nasty piece of work. Arrogant, and a misogynist.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Howard must renounce links with Danny Nalliah.

What do you think?

Not my fault pastor linked to anti-Semites: PM

PRIME Minister John Howard says he can't be held responsible for any anti-Semitic links of an evangelical church pastor he met.

Pastor Danny Nalliah, head of the Catch the Fire Ministries, has met privately with Mr Howard and also addressed the anti-Jewish League of Rights.

"I abhor the League of Rights. One of the central planks of the League of the Rights is that it's been a bit anti-Semitic," Mr Howard told reporters in Melbourne.

"Everybody knows my strong position on that.

"As for what people I meet do - any more than you can be responsible for what the people you meet do - I can't be responsible either."

Howard and Costello have both been "courted" by Pastor Danny Nalliah, and have both met him recently. And now, in typical "Weasel Words" fashion, Howard is now saying it is not his fault if something emerges which is a "bit embarrassing". Yes it is.Anyone who has been following Danny's statements in recent years knows what he is like.

Howard must recognise who he is dealing with and ought apologise to the Australian people.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Pete - please keep a sock in it!

Peter Garrett has a big mouth. He also has big feet. Let's face it, he is a big guy. But when he opens his mouth and sticks both feet firmly inside it, you wish he would just "put a sock in it". What this about?

Garrett has taken the heat out of the Kyoto debate. Global warming is not that easy to solve, but Pete has opened his mouth, and taken the heat off Howard, who has spent the last few days squirming because of the leaked rumour that Turnbull had tried to get the Government to agree to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

The fact that Howard was (finally) defensive over the Kyoto issue was a remarkable breakthrough. And it was good for Turnbull (facing heat from Cousins, in Wentworth). But especially it was good for Labor to see Howard ducking and weaving under questioning from the likes of the ABC 7:30 Report host, Kerry O'Brien.

But by opening his mouth (Fools rush in ......) Pete has distracted from Howard's embarrassment, caused by the leaking of the Turnbull rumour.

So, the problem is not that he has been obliged to correct his own statement. It would have been far better if he had simply said nothing - leaving Howard still dealing with the Turnbull rumour.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Save Killalea Park

This area, known to Illawarra residents as "The Farm" (Killalea State Park) is a lovely combination of a park and beach, just near Shellharbour.That is the problem. The NSW Government is proposing to lease the park to a private consortium, for the development of a resort within the Killalea State Park. But don't worry it is not "selling" the park, and it is only for 52 years, not "permanently".
Are you OK with that reassurance?
You should not be. It is a total travesty of a "State Park", which once had the status of a Nature Reserve. Now it is being privatised.

Many people turned up on Sunday lunchtime to protest the threats to Killalea Park.
Unfortunately, the main organisers of the Save Killalea rally are naive, amateur politicians. With 350 people turning up to a political rally, 4 weeks out from a Federal Election, to have the speakers standing behind a poster which reads: "Labor is the problem" is totally irresponsible.
While, at the State level I concede that the NSW State Labor Government has been a disaster for the environment, with their pro-development attitude, particularly with Frank Sartor, as Minister for Planning. However, at the Federal election (and we are in a Federal election campaign period), there is surely no greater threat to the environment than the Liberal Party. After all, it is John Howard who is pushing for the introduction of Nuclear Power Stations in Australia. What greater threat is there, than that?

The organisers of this rally are mostly Greens supporters, and that is legitimate, and I admire their view of the world (generally). But how stupid are they to allow themselves to stand behind such a sign? There were many people wearing "Your rights at work" T-shirts there, yesterday - presumably Labor Party supporters. I realise that there is an assumption in my statement, but having spoken with some of those people, I stand by that view. And so, with a mixed audience like that (not exclusively Greens Supporters) the "Labor is the problem" sign is very damaging, in the context of the Federal Election.

And anyway, the Greens Party had announced, just days before, that they had done a deal to give preferences to the Labor Party in the lower house election, in return for vital Labor Preferences in the Senate.

So the sign was not just naive, and simplistic, and inappropriate (given the timing) - it was also inconsistent with the Greens Party's own political approach in this election.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

A bribe by any other name - not quite so sweet.

As a follow-up to the previous posting, and the debate which was starting between Anni and myself, re the views expressed by Annabel Crabb, I was interested to see Ms Crabb appearing, with Ray Martin, on the Channel 9 version of the Debate between Mr Rudd and Mr Howard. I should say Ms Crabb appeared with Ray Martin and "The Worm".

No sooner had I finished sending my comments in reply to Anni's posting than I went to the TV and saw Ms Crabb.

Then I returned to the computer, and found the following email from Patrice Newell, on behalf of the Climate Change Coalition:

  • A Bribe or Not a Bribe? - That is the Question.
  • Tonight's debate must give the nation leadership on our countries economic development, not a poll driven discussion on whose tax bribe is better.

    What a pity that tonight’s debate will not focus on the most pressing national issue of our time – climate change.

    John Howard's tax bribe, released last Monday, is an action that completely contradicts his claim that he is not going to spend a nano-second thinking about the polls. He reads the polls as saying Australians want to be bribed - so he has put his bribe on the table – and up front.

    John Howard's tax bribe will not benefit the economic development of our country - it will put pressure on our interest rates - and will be clawed back through taxation, GST payments, petrol excise and payroll tax.

    It ignores the long term planning for our country and can only be described as a bribe.

    Today John Howard said "the debate tonight is about one thing, our tax policy - nothing else" and inferred that Labor does not have its own.

    Kevin Rudd's tax bribe is not much better. His plan gives $32 billion back to tax payers and also gives, to quote Peter Martin in The Canberra Times today under the heading "A bribe by an other name not quite so sweet", "a handout to parents who already own a computer and use the internet".

    So have the Liberal party and the Labor Party contravened the Commonwealth Electoral Act under section 326? -

    It is up to the nation, the five journalist who will be asking the questions and the “Worm”, to decide tonight.


Paul Kelly was right on the money with his questions to both Mr Howard and Mr Rudd: - tax cuts have consistently led to interest rate rises, and so, why do both leaders persist in this policy, which will have adverse effects on household budgets across the nation?

I return to the theme of my previous post: Give us increased services - for those who need them (nearly everybody), and do not give enormous tax cuts to the mega-wealthy.

It is time for a social justice theme to emerge in this election campaign - but it did not come from either Howard or Rudd tonight. I am not ashamed to say I feel like an old-fashioned socialist tonight. Its time to be counted.

Stop the degrading, statements appealing to the selfishness of voters, Mr Howard.

And Mr Rudd, please realise that you are a Labor Party politician - read the history of your own party, Mr Rudd - not just opinion polls. Show us you believe in something, other than trying to get elected. Where is Ben Chifley's "Light on the Hill", Mr Rudd?

Friday, 19 October 2007

Selfish, ignorant journalists mislead voters.

I do not know Annabel Crabb, who apparently writes for the Fairfax press. Good. I do not want to know someone shallow enough to write the following:

"Taxing times for poor Rudd, having to step out naked every day."

Annabel Crabb
Fairfax Digital (Sydney Morning Herald)
October 19, 2007

"Policy nudity is not a comfortable state for any politician. So imagine what it must be costing Kevin Rudd in sheer willpower to head out every day, tax-wise, with barely a stitch on. Day after day, he's asked in a dozen different ways - politely, brusquely, by journalists, by talkback callers, by hecklers in the street - about his lack of a tax policy.

The Prime Minister, thanks to the early blowing of his entire $34 billion wardrobe allowance, is far from naked. He is clothed, and gorgeously so."

etc, etc. The unoriginal cliches roll on and on.

When will Ms Crabb learn from the Australian public that they are not impressed with promised tax cuts (mostly benefiting the wealthy). They want SERVICES.

Give the people Nurses in the Hospitals, Teachers in the Schools, and dare I mention Mobile Phones which work outside of the CBDs of cities.

In what sense is John Howard "clothed, and gorgeously so" with his tax policy? Ms Crabb is clearly unable to see beyond the prospect of more Gucci handbags on her selfish arms, and Prada shoes on her cloven hooves.

No, I do not wish to meet Ms Crabb; but I do wish she had learnt a better standard of journalism, and maybe that she had done an extra class or two of politics AO2, and perhaps, even, a two day seminar on Ethics. Either that, or she could try listening to the ordinary people of Australia, not just fellow journalists, in the Wine Bars of Canberra, Sydney, or Adelaide.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Politicians' Promises

Zoe sent me this image tonight, which was perfect timing for the Election which has been announced over the weekend. Unfortunately I cannot credit the genius who organised the sign to be made, or the person who was thoughtful enough to take and publish the photo.

Congratulations to both of them, and I hope that they appreciate my respect for their collective insight into the political process.
Clearly politicians in California and in Australia are members of the same excretary species.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Howard's Promise is yet more "Weasel Words".

Miss Eagle has given run the ruler over John Howard's statements on a "preamble" to the constitution, to acknowledge "the special status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the first peoples of our nation". You can read her conclusions here.

For my part, I know for a fact that one claim in Mr Howard's statement is a self-serving lie.

Prior to the Howard Government being sworn in (but after it was obvious that he had won his first election (in other words, before he even took up office), I wrote to Mr John Howard, as Prime Minister designate. I suggested that he make a visit to the Northern Territory, to sit with some of the Aboriginal Elders, and that he make this his first tour out of Canberra. I recall saying "make this your first trip - before you run off to Washington or London".

What happened? Nothing!

After about 3 months, I rang Howard's office to ask why I had had not even an acknowledgement to my letter? (I had worked much of my career as a Ministerial Correspondence Clerk, so I knew that my letter ought have been handled better than that - even if the Prime Minister (or his staff) disagreed with the point of my letter. I was entitled to have my letter responded to.

I got a letter back, about 2 weeks later, from Mr Graeme Morris, who was then Chief of Staff to John Howard. He had the impertinence to rebuke me for the tone of my letter. Unfortunately I no longer have his reply (that's what happens when you move house several times). As an exercise in democracy, this process was an insult. It was an appalling way for Howard (and his Office) to treat me, as a voter.
But anyway, we all know that it took Howard many years before he visited any Aboriginal community. (Miss Eagle has documented this.) Meanwhile he had made numerous visits to Washington, and London, and other overseas destinations. So, we know he ignored the Aboriginal situation for a number of years.

I read in his statement the following: "I’m the first to admit that this whole area is one I have struggled with during the entire time that I have been Prime Minister."

So, when I read that sentence, and recall my letter and the reply I got back from his office (eventually) - then I say: Bullshit, John Howard, pure bullshit!
The promise is meaningless anyway - he promises to put forward a proposal for a referendum to include some words in the Preamble to the Constitution. Big deal!

It will be meaningless, insignificant and anyway, and it might well be rejected by the people (as his previous pathetic "preamble" was rejected).

This is John Howard doing what he does best - spouting "Weasel Words". Wikipedia quotes the original use of "Weasel Words" as follows: "Why, weasel words are words that suck the life out of the words next to them, just as a weasel sucks the egg and leaves the shell." Thus, weasel words suck the meaning out of a statement while seeming to keep the idea intact, and are particularly associated with political pronouncements. Elsewhere Wikipedia points out that the problem with "Weasel Words" is that: "it is entirely easy to write an irrelevant, misinformative, slanted article composed of nothing but true statements".

My favourite of the various responses from the Aboriginal Community representatives is this:

"Central Land Council spokesman David Ross has described Mr Howard as a snake that has shed its skin. "He's got a brand new skin, but he's the same old snake, he's got the same old venom," he said."

Source: ABC News. 12 October 2007