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

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Death Penalty "debate" is a disgrace.

It violates the right to life.


The media is whipping up a feeding frenzy over Kevin Rudd supposedly "rebuking" the ALP's Foreign Affairs Spokesman, Robert McClelland for a statement he made yesterday about the Death Penalty.

The really disgusting thing is the way in which Alexander Downer has been whipping this issue up.I vividly remember Alexander Downer welcoming the announcement of the imposition of the Death Penalty on the Bali Bombers. I was appalled at the time, by Downer's statement, for it is in direct contradiction of Australia's bi-partisan stance in opposition to the Death Penalty - whether in Australia, or overseas. It is also in contradiction of Australia's ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. So much for Australia's Foreign minister representing this Government's official policy on international law. It is another example of the Government of Shame, in operation.

And Downer made feeble efforts to have the death penalty waived on an Australian citizen in Singapore (on the grounds of Australia's "high moral principle") - but let us not forget that the person concerned there was an Australian of Vietnamese origin. I would not dream of suggesting Downer is a racist bastard - you can make up your own mind on that. Hypocrite? Certainly!

As the Indonesian Lawyer Wirawan Adnan, who is defending at least one of the Australians convicted of drug charges in Indonesia (the so-called Bali 9) has said - this debate weakens Australia's arguments against executions of our citizens (abroad).

  • We perceive this as a little bit inconsistent with the death penalty and makes it difficult for the Bali nine to go for a lesser sentence than death," Wirawan Adnan said.

    Another lawyer for the Bali bombers, Achmad Michdan, called Australia's position hypocritical.

Here is a draft letter to Alexander Downer from a website about the Death penalty.
  • [insert date]
  • The Hon Alexander Downer MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Parliament House
PO Box 6022
Canberra ACT 2600
  • Dear Minister
  • The worldwide trend towards the abolition of capital punishment is undeniable and Australia must establish itself as a clear opponent, unafraid to express its views.
  • We failed in our pleas for clemency for Van Nguyen hung in Singapore in Dec 05 by campaigning too little too late, our apparent double-standards and inconsistent stance was widely noted at this time and surely had some bearing on the outcome. Now six more young Australian citizens, three of whom were teenagers when incarcerated, face the firing squad in Indonesia for being drug mules. Australia cannot be content with the death penalty, even when courts have discretion in imposing it. We must press for better protections of human rights, and awareness throughout the world that there cannot be a justice that kills.
  • We acknowledge the need to address serious crimes, but there is no convincing evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other punishments. Surely one of the principles of sentencing is rehabilitation; the death penalty renders this impossible with no opportunity to make better choices or the chance to return to society with a positive contribution, a second chance. The death sentence represents the ultimate failure of justice.
  • Officially Australia has a long-standing principled opposition to capital punishment. In 1990 Australia signed the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which commits signatory nations not only to abolish the death penalty, but to undertake "an international commitment to abolish the death penalty". Australia's traditionally strong position on the death penalty has been undermined in recent years by what appears to be double standards. If we are to restore credibility when arguing for our own citizens to be spared, Australia must maintain a clear and principled stance against capital punishment in all circumstances.
  • Yours sincerely
  • [Insert Name and Address]

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Tony Abbott is right - he WAS wrong!

Tony Abbott, the nastiest of the Howard Government Ministers (there are some contenders for that title, but let's not quibble) is right. He was wrong to attack Julia Gillard for lacking life experience.
  • "FIREBRAND Health Minister Tony Abbott has accused fierce Labor rival Julia Gillard of lacking "life experience" to be Australia's deputy prime minister. "Voters expect a bit more humanity, a broader range of interests and experience than that of a political apparatchik," Mr Abbott told The Daily Telegraph yesterday. "It would be a lot easier for her to realise her ambition if there was evidence of a broader lifetime experience."
Tony Abbott is hardly the person to boast about the breadth of his "life experience" - unless he regards making a series of mistakes as qualifications for public office.

Making mistakes can be valuable, Tony. But you are meant to learn from them. In your case, you keep making them. What the point, or value, of that? How does that advantage the Australian people, who you are meant to be serving?

And what part of your background is not that of a "political apparatchik"? That's all you are, Tony, and all you will ever be.

As reported on the Channel Nine website, at the time of the debate about the Abortion Pill RU 486:"Mr Abbott, a staunch Catholic, rejected claims that his opposition to the drug was dictated by his religious beliefs. "One of the things which has very much disappointed me about this debate is the suggestion that there is a problem with ministerial decision making here, because as a Catholic I can't be trusted to make an objective decision," Mr Abbott said.

As a person raised as a Catholic, Tony, I can say the problem is not your Catholic background - it is your stupidity, and your religious bigotry, and your narrow "life view". Those are your attributes which get you into trouble. You are a disgrace to your "religious" background.

As the Telegraph website reports today:
  • "Mr Abbott insists he was not personally attacking Ms Gillard, who he debates on morning TV every Friday. The thing about (Ms) Gillard is that she is very bright, just uber-professional and a formidable debater," Mr Abbott said. "(But) it would be a lot easier for her to realise her ambition if there was evidence of a broader lifetime experience. It's very hard to be a leader in a democratic society if your life has been consumed by the job." Last night, Mr Abbott sought to retract his remarks.
  • "I should not have said anything that could be construed by anyone as a personal attack on Gillard," he said.
I ask if that constitutes a "withdrawal" by Tony Abbott? Here is Nicholson's view of Tony Abbott on "the withdrawal method".

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Howard's Intervention in the NT - will wreck a community.

How the NT intervention will devastate one East Arnhem community (as published by today).

  • By John Greatorex, a member of the Intervention Reform Coalition of Darwin who previously worked as a teacher in Arnhemland for around 30 years.

"I would guess that there are few people who have even a moderate understanding of the breadth of the impact that the intervention is going to have on the East Arnhem population. There has been no consultation with Yolngu. People are aware that small teams of people are visiting Yolngu towns, in some cases with no notice. Reports from some Yolngu are that the teams have been unable to answer many of the questions being asked.I'd like to comment on only one aspect of the intervention, the transference of all CDEP (Community Development Employment Program) wages to Centrelink payments.

"At the time of writing, all peoples living in Indigenous areas prescribed by the Minister will have their CDEP payments converted to Centrelink payments. Without exception all people receiving Centrelink payments (including such benefits as service pensions) will have 50 per cent of their money quarantined. This is a racist policy that unnecessarily targets the most vulnerable and marginalised peoples in Australia, and again treats them as wards of the state. This quarantined money can only be spent at designated shops.

"This will have severe ramifications for people such as the residents of Mapuru, the place where the Arnhem Weavers live. Mapuru is a small town on the mainland adjacent to Elcho Island in north-east Arnhemland. It has a population of about 150, and with about 40 children attending school every day. The residents of Mapuru have struggled to stay on their country for over 35 years because they are determined to forge a future for their children, but it now seems with the "Intervention" these struggles might have been in vain.For nearly six years the people of Mapuru have been successfully running their own community co-op. The co-op runs on a non-profit basis and benefits all community members. In the co-op people can only buy healthy foods, fishing lines, tyres and other necessities needed to stay at Mapuru. Two years ago the Mapuru co-op won a National Heart Foundation award for their initiative. In the co-op you cannot buy soft drinks, chips, lollies or many of the other foods that are bad for health.

"The co-op is not a registered organisation
but is run on a trust basis by the residents. With the changes from CDEP to Centrelink payments and the compulsory quarantining of 50 per cent of people's income, people will not be able to shop at their local co-op.

"They will be forced to shop at Galiwin'ku which is a charter flight away or drive many hours to Gapuwiyak. People will not have enough money to pay for charters and food. If a solution cannot be found then implementation of this policy will force people to leave their country at Mapuru, and move them into the town of Galiwin'ku where they are unwelcome, unsafe and unrepresented. This will have a severe and detrimental effect on the health of the Mapuru residents and their children.

"These forced changes will also result in the closure of the ecotourism business that the residents have been successfully running for five years. The ecotourism business Mapuru residents operate like the co-op has been initiated and funded entirely by Mapuru residents without any external assistance"
End of quoted article from Crikey.

So there you have it - a small community co-op - the heart of that community, does not meet the rules devised by bureaucrats in Canberra (a world away) . So, their Centrelink cheques cannot be spent in their own shop.

This is the kind of thing people have been saying for ages about the NT Intervention. But don't try to explain this to Mal Brough, or John Howard. It's too hard for them to understand.