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A mountain top view of Costello's last stand

It's a cold and bleak dawn on Saturday 21 July, 2007.  From where I sit high on a hill in North Sydney, everything appears as varying shades of gun metal grey this morning.  Good morning and welcome to the Liberal's winter of discontent.  My high rise abode is perched in downtown North Sydney, the home of the Minister for Industrial Relations, Joe Hockey.  I face southeast and have 270 degree views.  I look directly down to Kiribilli where John Howard lives.  To the immediate west of here is his electorate of Bennelong. Just next door to the east is Tony Abbott's electorate of Warringah. Immediately to the north is Brendan Nelson's electorate of Bradfield.  West of that is Ruddockland, far, far from Villawood. Just over the harbour I can see right into Malcolm Turnbull's home turf of Wentworth.  I can see North Head from here and of course a bit north of there is where Mackellar starts, eternal hang-out of Bronwyn Bishop.

Everywhere I look I see electorates that represent the epitome of LIberal power in this country.  It's extraordinary to think that a country can have 21 million people spread over 7 million square kilometres and yet I am within no more than ten minutes drive of most of the key players in Australia's federal government. I barely have to turn my head or get off my couch to see all these key electorates with my own eyes.

On a fine day, the view is sparkling, colourful and uplifting.  On this day though, the fog, the mist and the clouds rob any chance of clarity. It has been like this all winter.  From time to time gale force wind gusts blow over my outdoor furniture and shake the barbie as if it were some bizarre space craft about to launch itself into oblivion.  In the Liberal's winter of discontent there is a similar lack of clarity.  Cold and unexpected wind gusts are also buffeting the Liberal Party. Is the Liberal Party's shuddering and shaking a prelude to a blast off to oblivion?

This week we're doing a reprise performance of the Liberal Party's internal history wars.  It's an election year and we're doing that again. Peter Costello doesn't think much of John Howard record as Treasurer under Howard. Who does?  I've never heard about that era spoken of in positive terms. No matter, we're going to do the whole thing again courtesy of Peter Costello's revelations in a book about to be published.

It is reported that Costello has never been invited to the Lodge for dinner and muses on whether or not it's a "Sydney thing".  That's an interesting comment.  From where I sit right now, Australia looks very much like Sydney or the bush. If you're not here, you're not where it's happening - you're in the bush. It is easy to forget interstate rivalries when you barely realise the other states exist.  Costello referring to a "Sydney thing" is a reminder that the view of the country depends on where you sit.

The concentration of Liberal power in Sydney has long been the glittering jewel of the government. Could it be developing into an achilles heel?  Kevin Rudd says he's from Queensland and he's here to help.  No doubt Rudd's status as a Queenslander will help Labor in a state where so many Coalition held marginal electorates are up for grabs.  The top level Labor line-up is more geographically diverse.

Costello's remarks about Sydney remind us that Liberal power in history though has been more bi-polar.  It was once a Sydney and Melbourne thing.  Way back it was more Melbourne.  Then it became more Sydney. It's the progression from a Menzies era to a Howard one. To make it exciting, Queensland, invariably the maverick, has always tossed in hand grenades.  Think Joh, think Hanson, think lots of things.  The Queensland grenades send all and sundry scurrying.  The Queensland grenades toss the schizo factor into bi-polar and make us all giddy.

Whether it be the Queensland grenades or the bi-polar Sydney-Melbourne problem these issues end up in disunity and cost votes.  John Howard and Andrew Peacock fought out the bi-polar Sydney - Melbourne thing in the 1980s and kept the Liberals out of power.  When Howard said that for him to return to the leadership would be like Lazarus with a triple bypass, he meant it.  He knew that together with Peacock the bitter rivalry and poison they created had been the greatest gift they ever could have bestowed on Labor.  They Sydney-Melbourne rivalry in the Liberal Party was so immensely damaging.

So in this Liberal winter of discontent,  when Costello refers to a "Sydney thing" we are reminded of the historical context.  We are also reminded how damaging the "Sydney thing" can be.  This is an arrogant and in your face city.  It annoys people from other states.  Howard was recently shown on the front page of the Daily Telegraph walking through the wintry Habourside gloom.  The headline was Sydney walks away from Howard.

That is the other Sydney thing.  The real jewell in the Liberal crown in the Howard era has not been here on the North Shore.  It has been out in Western Sydney.  Part of Howard's success around Australia has been that he does not match the cheap caricatures other Australian's place on Sydneysiders.  If he really was the epitome of the North Shore he would not have attracted people around Australia or in Western Sydney.

This winter, Western Sydney seats are up for grabs.  Bennelong is up for grabs. Wentworth is up for grabs. The Sydney thing and the Queensland grenade.  We don't know what the Queensland grenade is yet but it's coming.

I don't remember when Melbourne was last considered central at a Federal election.  It doesn't have enough marginal seats.  Sydney things and Queensland things matter.  Melbourne only seems to matter when it causes internal problems for the Liberal Party.

Tony Abbott said on Lateline that "shit happens".  Indeed it does.  The shit is usually thrown from the south.

With shit being tossed from the south and a grenade about to be tossed from the north, it's no wonder Howard is looking an embattled leader.  I'm just wondering how much more shit there will be and what form the Queensland grenade will take.  Maybe the Queensland grenade will simply be the size of the swing in the Sunshine State.  I'm not sure though.  I expect something else as well.

If all Liberals could be like my local member, Joe Hockey, none of this would be happening!  That said, I think Joe is a Costello supporter.  Then again, so am I.  Only problem is that for Costello to become PM, Howard needs to be re-elected.  It seemed obvious a year ago that it would be best to keep Howard in place.  Now it doesn't.  It's too late now of course to change anything. The course is set and if the Liberal Party is to go down, it will go down with Howard at the wheel.  No doubt this will please the Howard haters as I am sure they could think of no better person to sink the whole thing.

I was about to say the sun is coming out but now I think it is clouding over again.  Whatever spring brings, it surely has to be better than this.

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Not happy, David!

David, it was because you were so much older then, as you are too much younger than that now.

Part of history indeed

Margo yes we are a little part of history indeed!  I'm still not sure why I was in an anti-Howard book but history records it to be so! Maybe you were ahead of your time with that as you were with Webdiary, for it now seems everyone is not happy, John!

Margo: For now... I still can't quite believe he won't pull something out of the hat.

You are mentioned twice

Margo, I bought John Howard the Biography yesterday and have noted you are mentioned in it twice.  In one instance you are referred to as one of John Howard's fiercest critics.  In the other instance it talks about Not Happy, John! and how no one in voter land even knew who John Valder was.  In the index they spell your name "Margot".

Margo: David, I'm thrilled!  We're a little part of history, aren't we.

Howard's weekly radio talk - unions, unions....

Prime Minister's weekly radio message

The charade of Labor's zero tolerance to union misconduct will be exposed this week when Kevin Rudd goes to Tasmania. Earlier this year the Labor leader touted a get-tough approach to union misbehaviour when the Dean Mighell affair became public. But since then he's simply turned a blind eye and this week instead of punishing bad behaviour by union officials, Mr Rudd will be supporting it.

During his visit to Tasmania Mr Rudd will be campaigning for Kevin Harkins, a senior Electrical Trades Union official running for the Labor Party in Tasmania. This is despite the fact that Mr Harkins faces charges over alleged illegal strikes and will appear in court shortly. He's even been condemned by the sitting Labor member he's replacing. Mr Rudd refuses to invoke the so-called zero-tolerance policy, notably after threats from Mr Mighell.

Mr Rudd wants to be the next prime minister of Australia, yet he's not tough enough to respond to calls for action against unsuitable members of his own Party. It is clear that Mr Rudd cannot determine nor control who joins his Party, even those facing court, because he will not stand up to the unions.

The unions control pre-selections, they provide the election campaign funding and they determine the union-friendly policies. This is one of the great threats of a Rudd-union government. While union members make up just 15 per cent of the private sector workforce, 70 per cent of Mr Rudd's frontbench are former trade union officials. This lack of balance is a worry for the Australia public and will be a key consideration later in the year when voters go to the polls. There will be a choice between continuing our economic prosperity or handing over government to the union-controlled Labor Party. Warning signs about the influence of unions under a Rudd-union government demonstrate that Labor cannot hope to offer the Australian people a better and brighter future. Only the Coalition can provide a good government for all Australians.

Unions in control

If anybody has any doubts as to what will happen if Rudd wins and the unions run things, just have a look at what is happening in NSW with the Bus Union. The State government has been trying to implement a T-Card system for 10 years, but the bus drivers don't like it so they are boycotting it. It appears that a GPS system is integrated into the system, and the unions don't like it. So after spending millions putting it in place it looks as though the unions are going to scuttle it. They should all be sacked and replaced with people who want to do the job.

It's not just me

Everyone loves Joe Hockey.  He was a huge hit on Channel 7's Sunrise.  Fall guy for IR?  Ha, don't make me laugh. I would have thought he was chosen for the very reason that he puts a nice face on IR changes.  If you look into his background you see his family was into small business.  He would certainly understand the perspective of small business and the crushing impact of the original unfair dismissal laws. 

I am also a critic of the IR laws.  My issue is they have not gone far enough.  The concept of unfair dismissal should not exist at all.  The concept is a nonsense.  It should be like a no fault divorce with increasing notice for the period of employment.  Switzerland has dismissal "without cause".  It is a really sensibe concept and as I say you just need to adjust the notice period according to how long the person has been working (ie one month's notice in the first year, two in the second etc and capped at six months paid notice).  No fault divorce.  No fault dismissal.

Unfair dismissal is so retro. Get rid of it and move forward.

I'd die in a ditch for Joe Hockey.  Not just for who he is and what he has done but for the principles he represents.  I need to get back on the electoral roll here quick smart.   I haven't voted since last century (1998 to be exact).

I once said I would fly to Washington DC for the inauguration of President Howard Dean and was mocked for it.  I had to eat humble pie on that one but rest assured there is no shortage of votes for a good Liberal like Joe in this neck of the woods.  Joe and I like pie but I don't expect it to be of the humble variety.

Mmm, pie, North Shore pie, mmm pie.  I'm going to eat local pie on election night and I won't be humble about it.

In this part of the world we have our cake and eat it.

I imagine we would shake hands as Australians do.  You may recall I once invited you to a gathering of socialists in my home.  I think you should vote for the Greens.  Virtually everyone here is a Green, not a Labor person.  Right now the Green vote is polling at about 5% and this place is a hot bed for that 5% to chat.  Labor is the same as the Liberals but less competent.  Rudd is Howard Lite but he is more conservative.  You lot belong with the Greens, not Rudd and Labor.

The Greens

David, working with The Greens might not be a bad idea, depending upon how things look closer to the election. I would prefer that to being forced by you and your chunky mate to choose between Howard and Rudd, when the real choice is between Costello (yetch!) and Rudd.

Hmmmmm. I think Labor needs a new slogan, something that encapsulates what the Abbott & Costello (and the rest of the "I'll die in a ditch, sacking another employee") team stands for. How about...

We won't get fooled again!

Not bad! It even comes with a pre-written song... :)

Hockey 1 or Hockey 2?

No, not everyone loves Joe Hockey.    There are so many unanswered questions about the man.   Where does he put his bananas when shopping in certain parts of the electorate?    Who makes his suits - Butlins?    How can he smile like that - rictus?

Now I'm sure he's a great guy (well I'm not, actually) and I've never met him unlike many of the mob but he strikes me, Mr Davis, as precisely what you call him: a person who understands small business (from the  boss's view).    I wouldn't want to work for him.

I wouldn't vote for him and I wouldn't even acknowledge his bananas.

Putting a bit of stick about?

Malcolm B Duncan, surely that is a little unkind? Do Butlins make suits? I thought they only did holiday camps.


They do tents, lad.

Ian confusing

Ian, I think you are confusing two different things.  Anyway your interjection has been a nice promotion for your business.  If I ever want to set up a website and have someone local do it, I will know where I can go.  A recognised world leader and all the rest of it.  Perhaps Mayor Genia McCaffrey should give you the keys to North Sydney.  We don't celebrate our local heroes here on the North Shore often enough.  If you ever have a spare moment, you may like to pay a visit to Joe Hockey's site.  He's our local member!  His site is blue and white / clear and crisp!  None of that nasty old grey on grey for our colourful local member.  Colourful, avuncular and even lovable.  Vote One, Joe Hockey.

Joe Hockey

David, you make me laugh, certainly on the point of self-promotion.

I remember Joe Hockey, in the lower-north-shore SUV LiberalMobile last federal election, all painted with flags and slogans, with his chunky head stuck out of the side window, exhorting my mate and I, all cozy sharing a pizza at the Red Centre, to vote for him.

We were really embarrassed, but Joe is a natural. Nothing phases him, or shames him, as you well know. You think he's a "fun guy", and you're happy to hand out pamphlets for him. Nonetheless, he's Howard's fall guy on industrial relations, and strangely enough, he actually does deserve your support. You two are perfect together!

I guess I'll see you at the federal vote in North Sydney. I'll either be helping the Greens or Labor, depending upon what it takes to end what we have now. I'll probably shake your hand, because that's what Australians do, but don't think I won't be banking on the Liberals (and chunky old Joe) losing.

On another note, do you seriously think I am looking for website work in Webdiary? A big, flash, international, award-winning web designer like me? That's almost as crass and insulting as me suggesting that you are looking for Liberal votes when they don't exist... :)

Imagine that...

Naming names

In a slight digression from pseudonyms to nicknames, David Davis, perhaps you should reconsider describing Mr Hockey as avuncular. One of Eliot Ramsey's all-time favourites, after all, rejoiced under the moniker "Uncle Joe"...

Wouldn't want to put the mockers on the poor chap, would you?

Moderation Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

If you need a stronger argument why WD's "moderation" policy has failed, at least in its current form, you do not need to go past this comment by Ian McPherson:

 Your link to "another site" was interesting. I found the layout unprofessional, the graphic design poor to non-existent, and the comments crude and undisciplined.

Moderation, and the application of tested communication methods would improve the website, but I suspect that the website was not designed for "listening" and "debate" but to act as a pulpit.

Ian might have a point. On the other hand, he might be just full of it. Given that the site's link was up for a little over an hour before he chose to share his opinion with us, he certainly is a man capable of forming a public opinion quickly. On the other hand, his comments may be just crude, unprofessional and undisciplined.

This gets to the heart of what's wrong with the moderation policy. What is or is not "moderate" is entirely a matter of opinion. Many of my comments and asides, including I admit the occasional deliberate provocation, are DNP'ed, presumably because they are deemed immoderate. Sometimes I agree. They are. They were intended to be. But I see material posted on WD all the time that is not only immoderate but at times disgraceful. In my opinion.

What we deem to be "immoderate" or "abuse" or needlessly offensive is subjective and is in part a product of our backgrounds and life experiences. I have long noticed that I can be highly offended by things that hardly cause an eye blink for others. On the other hand I have observed that what might offend some I could find just funny.

WD touts itself as a discussion forum for all, of widely varying age groups, occupations and life histories. Yet you impose a policy that applies the standards of just a narrow group. This is not deliberate. It is subconscious. But it is the germ of the paradox, the innate contradiction that prevents the forum from ever being what it aspires to.

Moderation Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Geoff, it didn't take long to see that the layout on the website you mention was bad, and that it was almost impossible to discern between the comments by different people. It was also strewn with far too many swear words and poor literacy, for no rhyme nor reason.

I was a website awards judge for a number of years, and won over 115 top-level world website awards for my website before I retired it about three years ago. I know when a layout is dysfunctional or not, and whether or not a website has been designed with communication in mind.

A blog should, first and foremost, be easy to read. Next it should make some effort to discern between editorial, comments and other comments. The website you mentioned failed this simple test. Compared to Webdiary, where each comment is clear and the literacy bearable, it is editorially sloppy and poorly designed.

Is this what you think Webdiary should aspire to?

What kind of moderation

The site Ian refers to is, of course mine.  I prefer to keep it unmoderated and I've only ever had to ban one user in the four years my blog has been operating.  If that one banned user manages to post, I always delete his comments.  Other than that I prefer to keep it open.  My blog does not have the aims of Webdiary and most blogs don't.

Of course Ian's criticisms mirror those published in a recent Australian book.  There was an article in the Herald about the issue entitled, Cyberspace: it's the new toilet wall.   None of these criticisms are new.  It's the world of free speech.  Get used to it.

Gatekeepers of various varieties, usually professional journalists have always been horrified by the openness of the internet.  Imagine a technology that gives voice to the masses, allows them to say what they like and even allows them to use bad grammar and worse yet, misspelled words.  Oooh, Squirm City. Yeah, it is all quite horrifying and it has been going on for years.  The gatekeepers feel a sense of loss and shock because their role is diminished.

Having a pulpit is certainly central to blogging.  Always has been, always will be.  There are also many who prefer to speak their minds without being told what they can and can't say by others. Most grown ups don't like being lectured to.

John Howard found when he posted to You Tube that unmoderated comments could be posted to it and that most people ended up looking at the related spoof videos.  This is the reality of the internet and it has always been beyond my comprehension when people get all excited about the openness of it.

I got a good belly laugh about Ian's design comments.  It's like a person who produces wedding videos in the suburbs or something telling someone who posts on You Tube that they're not doing it right. You know, do a link to a Video 101 site and show them where they are going wrong.  My design is a Typepad template called Minimilast Grey.  I've always loved grey and have stuck to it pretty stubbornly.  There are lots of other colours to choose from. If I flick the switch to "Minimalist Blue" in a couple of minutes it ends up looking a lot like Webdiary. Ian is not the first to complain about my love of grey but hey it is not for business, it is a bit of fun on the side.   I certainly don't have time to get into design.

I do have a site called Sydneysphere which I'm not using much at the moment.  It is also a platform for my initial foray into Podcasting. I did that one on a recently acquired Mac and used one of their templates.  It's all white and spaced out.  Perhaps Ian would find that one more to his liking.  It's all a bit of a joke though.  Look at the most popular blogs in the world and you won't find much special about their design.  I can think of one of the most popular in Australia which is extremely basic and not pretty at all.

On identity, major newspapers do not require identity for people to post to their blogs.  They ask for a "screen name".   It is not the sixties and this is not Letters to the Editor.

It's an open conversation.  It seems some people place enormous, truly enormous, importance on the written word as if it has absolutely nothing in common with the spoken word.  So you can say what you like verbally but by God don't write it! 

That is not the world we live in. Kids grow up today doing chat from the moment they can type.  The written word and the spoken word have morphed to become the same thing. On chat do you think they compose things as if they are writing a university paper?  Also they text.  Again, it's informal.  That is how life is in 2007.  When people comment on line they also write in an open, informal manner where none of the traditions of print journalism interest them.

With names it depends on what interests people most.  The content of views or identity?  I couldn't care less if Ian McPherson was actually Dougald McJacobson.  Why would I?  I prefer it if people stick to one screen name so I know who is talking (ie for the pure functional ease of the conversation) but other than that, the name is of no interest to me.

Ian says people may not comment with their real names because they don't want "powerful people" (cue sinister conspiracy music) to know what they really think.  I would have thought that would be the IDEAL argument for why people SHOULD use screen names rather than real names.  The screen name frees someone to say what they really think. I would be really interested to hear from a diverse range of people including people holding high positions in business and government.  If you insist on real names all you get are a bunch of semi-retired folks, welfare people, small business nobodies or constrained corporate-speak.

I am way more interested in views than all the constraining features associated with identity control freakery.

Mainstream newspapers wouldn't dream of doing that stuff in 2007.  As if there is time for it.  Webdiary has long sought to differentiate itself from the rest of the internet by bringing on board all the baggage associated with newspapers prior to the invention of the internet. This is not without its advantages but it does have several drawbacks that make it seem very old fashioned.

The question of moderation itself is a more tricky one.  I don't moderate on my own site in part because I don't have the time and mainly because I don't have the inclination. I don't necessarily object to moderation per se on Webdiary.  Where it did become objectionable were past excesses.  People felt unfair treatment and were subjected to what they felt was systematic bias.  It became truly laughable at one point with the insistence on civil discourse.  It was like being in a CWA meeting.  Of course if that's what you want, it's a free world but it is not how the rest of the internet operates.

I honestly don't think anything new can be added to this topic.  Moderation has been going here for a long time as has the peculiar interest in names.  These are matters which Webdiary sees as being differentiating factors.  They are articles of faith here.

They are not articles of faith though on the world's most popular blogs, mainstream newspapers, You Tube, eBay or anything else online I can think of.  I've traded thousands of dollars worth of merchandise on eBay under the name Bernesedavid.  They don't ask for real names.  Kids grow up on Instant Messenger chatting and always have a screen name rather than their real name.  One of the largest success factors for eBay was the early invention of unmoderated feedback.  When it is unmoderated, you know it can be trusted.  People will not hesitate to say someone ripped them off. You can trust an eBay trader because you know openly what every person who bought of them thinks of them, even if it is quite ugly.

Moderation does not bring fairness.  It brings bias and control. Mostly in large environments, it's not feasible anyway.  In case of an excess, you can take it down later. Trying to control things before they go up is a fool's errand.

The internet not only robs the gatekeepers but part of it is also robbing the professional.  The professional web designer feels miffed that the world is full of such poor design.   The professional journalist is miffed that people don't apply journalistic standards to their writings.  The professional videographer feels miffed that a high rating You Tube video produced by a teenager gets more viewed than anything he will ever produce.

Welcome to the free cult of the amateur.  We don't charge to produce and we don't charge to consume.  Welcome to the prosumer.

Professionals scoff at it but it has multi-billion dollar implications for business. When people are prosuming, they are invariably spending an inordinate amount of time on an activity that robs a previous commercial activity.  My blog is one of tens of millions. It has a very small group of regulars.  When they spend time on that, they are not watching commercial TV or doing other commercial things.  Multiplied by the millions it does translate into billions of dollars.

It's the impact of the Long Tail and I love it. You'll never control it, though.

I now have You Tube available on my widescreen TV via Apple TV. In other words, You Tube now appears in the living room.  I can and do watch some of these videos.  Guess what?  They are of dubious quality and anyone can comment from the comfort of their lounge chair.  Shock, horror, people are prosuming and the professionals in the related fields hate it. Professionals will always hate it when their profession is democratised, comoditised and downgraded.  Instead of watching Channel 9 cartoons as we did as kids, kids now make their own abusive video on You Tube.  They write it and they produce it.  It is a far more creative era we live in.  Instead of being dumb consumers just sitting around being fed what Kerry Packer or Rupert Murdoch gives us, we now make up our own material and participate with others.

It is the technology, the lack of control and the open nature of it that unleashes all this.  Take too much of that away and you trash the whole idea.

It's pretty funny when you think about it!

Disclosure: I own shares in both eBay and Apple.


Hi Margo, As requested I forwarded you a pic of Barry S Allison to the “admin” e-mail address. So you know what he looked like over a few decades ago.

I have also e-mailed you regarding my reasons for privacy, maybe you should check your box.

The BAS post to another site proves  what I said in my e-mail to you is correct. It is impossible to police identity and by attempting to do so you make a mockery of your ethics and rules. In fact it looks childish, idealistic and controlling.

This is the internet for God’s sake; unfortunately there are still some who cannot come to terms with that.

I agree totally with David Davis on this one (always have) and respect him for giving others the opportunity to speak their minds.

Harry’s site gets pretty heated at times but if you follow the discussions everybody seems to be able to kiss and make up, like grown adults, just the way it should be.

Unfortunately with moderation there can be underlying animosity at times that can’t be addressed properly, as such leads to ongoing tit for tats that get fucking tedious.

No examples necessary.

At least at Harry’s site we comfort each other when we are sad, we can tell each other to fuck off but most of us are still there. Club Chaos has character and Harry knows this well. Even the "sweet and precious" Jenny Hume has joined us for a bit of fun and open discussion.

Besides he even posts my stupid Photoshop stuff, thanks mate.

Morality, ethics call it what you want but there is no use in trying to police something that is impossible. Shit next they’ll make smoking dope illegal.

I hope I have not upset you Margo for at times I feel you are a little too sensitive for this medium, but if that’s the nature of the beast (beauty) then please accept my apologies. I don’t like hurting people but when someone makes ridiculous laws then they must be challenged.

Under my real name I have done this many times (and paid the consequences), but now my circumstances have changed and have personally explained  in detail why.

Take care Margo and please don’t take this too seriously, it’s not worth the angst.

With kind regards Justin (BAS) Obodie.

PS I could write a million words on ethics, but why bother when Aristotle, Spinoza et al have already done so. Has it changed anything?

Margo: Hi, haven't caught up with all this... will get back to you. You seem to have cut and pasted some of this. Could you write in the comments box?


'Justin Obodie/BAS' on another site:

Hey CK, if you have a look at WD some joker by the name of Barry S Allison has just been published.

I suspect a conspiracy here.

His initials are BSA and I happen to know he is a three toed albatross from Tasmania.

Hahahahahahahahaha, what a bunch of deluded wallies if they think that moderation, ethics and all that bullshit will encourage people to post under their real names.

Do you think the BSA will get published again?

Couldn’t give a rats but it makes a mockery of their bullshit.

What a fucking joke moderation is.

Posted by: Justin Obodie | Thursday, 19 July 2007 at 20:33

Looks like the discussion's begun, huh? I await a considered piece stating the arguments for changing my policy. I also await your email to me.

Pseudonyms and moderation

Hi Margo. Your link to "another site" was interesting. I found the layout unprofessional, the graphic design poor to non-existent, and the comments crude and undisciplined.

Moderation, and the application of tested communication methods would improve the website, but I suspect that the website was not designed for "listening" and "debate" but to act as a pulpit.

Some of the basic communication methods I mention above can be read about here:

Combining colour and text in body copy

Reversed text – Poor design

Here's the complete tutorial: 

How to get better results from your designs

As to pseudonyms, they promote irresponsibility, irrationality and unrestrained insults. Their only possible justification is if the user does not want an "important" group of people (employers, associates, powerful friends etc) to know what they really think.

If pseudonyms are used in groups, it is hard to know whether any debate has occurred at all. "It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver" – Niccolo Machiavelli

Don't change your policy. It's fine. Continue to argue that others change theirs, and drop the pseudonyms.

No pain, no gain; post under your own name!

Ian, true but false

Ian: And no, not Macdougall. McPherson. Better tartan too. But we'll keep that hush.

Pseudonyms. I much prefer it when I know people are using their own name. It makes for more honest and open communication  between two people.  One's voice and opinion can be more credible, (or incredible) if people know you are.who you say you are. So apart from failing to fully make the change 30 years ago when I pledged to do so, I am who I am. Jenny Hume but married to Ian Macdougall.  No secret there  I tried a pseudo on that other site, and after three days had to confess. I never was much good at camouflage.

But it is easy for me as I do not have anything to hide personally, and have no boss to worry about.  Whistle blowers get a pretty poor deal in this country and I reckon there would be many occasions when people would like to blow the whistle but feel contrained by job and other considerations.  

But I have to add that there are some subjects that even I would not write about under my own name on WD; important social issues, as there would be a risk that other people might be identified, people who would not want their privacy intruded on. For example, issues about the terrible failures in the mental health system that I have encountered and which one should be able to expose. But to do so, one would have to back them up with the particular details, or case studies, and once you do that, someone will know who you are talking about.  Even using pseudonyms does not guarantee anonymity and privacy but it allows some scope.

So having to use one's own name can silence dissent and debate and I am sure it does, all the time.  

Then there is the online abuse. Some people can handle it, others cannot no matter how mild it might be on WD due to comment moderation. There is little control over what is said online and it is accessible to the whole world. We all know that many people are very vulnerable for whatever reason and may want to use another name for that reason alone. To suddenly find themselves the subject of 4000 words of character assassination on the web, just because they have political and other views different to another person, could be very upsetting and more than that for some people. So while I can laugh at such an attack on myself, others may not be quite so invulnerable emotionally and psychologically.

So Margo, I think the current policy is OK though it is clearly not infallible. It would be impossible to make it so. I think you just have to a large extent take people on trust. If the editors have an email address (which in itself means nothing), have advised a name, or pseudonym giving a valid reason, then leave it at that. You should not have to be constantly trying to determine whether people are who they say they are, or are not.  Let us all use our own crap detectors when engaging with each other here. If people become a nuisance on the site, then they can be kicked off, something moderation does have going for it, or ignored. Those causing trouble usually cannot handle being ignored.   I would just leave things as they are. You can't be expected to be a detective.

And let us not mention the word muck!

This is a tough one, I reckon. I understand what you are saying, Justin, but I think I have to go along with Jenny on this one: "I would just leave things as they are."

And like Jenny, I think there is a place for pseudonyms, for the reasons she's mentioned. I don't have a problem with that. Like Jenny, I too, have always posted under my real name. It is easy for me, as I don't have to worry about upsetting a boss or compromising my job.

Anonymity can often give some people the freedom and confidence to speak out on issues that they would otherwise keep silent about.

Jenny: "I was never much good at camouflage."

Oh, don't know about that you arch deceiver you. You had me completely fooled. Lol!

PS. There's a message for Jenny on "the other site."

Pseudonyms and Moderation

Hi Jenny/David, your points are well taken. Let me address them.

I would think that whistleblowers could be excluded from the debate, as they are not long-term Webdiary people, like most of the "usual suspects" in this particular debate. Whistleblowers should and could be given special treatment, but once the whistle has been blown, that's pretty well it; they're in the public domain. But in principle, you're correct.

I take Jenny's point that privacy is important, and that we are not free to disclose the private affairs of others (especially children), whether they "should" be aired for public debate or not. But Jenny, you seem able to use your own name and maintain enough discernment not to disclose some of these people or their situations? So should others, otherwise we are back to the whistleblowers' argument.

Your next point – abuse – is my main problem. I see no reason for the swearing. I have no real problems with the putdowns, as long as they are witty or insightful. But "freedom of speech" is not the freedom to swear. And swearing is just the shock tactics of a precocious child, unaware that repetition destroys the shock factor. IMO, trailer trash talk is for trailer parks, not public forums.

I don't buy the "get used to it", "this is the web" argument. That's just David's line, because he's too busy and lazy to moderate. He's always been more interested in pontificating, under one pseudonym or another. He's not so comfy with debate, as he gets all woosy and shrill when he loses an argument, or rants on like some misunderstood messiah, like in the post below. He doesn't really care about this "rush" of creativity on the web; he just wants us to be sure to remember he was behind it.

David, don't get into design, OK? Maybe you should even move away from communication? White text on grey has (at best) around 4% good comprehension, while black text on a light colour has around 65-70% good comprehension. Maybe that's why there's so much swearing on your website? Maybe they're trying to figure out what the &#%$! it is they're reading?

Believe it or not, some of us professionals write tutorials to teach people what has proven to be good and bad over time. We are not all "miffed" at the amateurs; some of us are trying to teach them the basics. Good ideas may not be the sole province of the professional, but good execution almost certainly is.

David, the rest of your post is a messianic, egotistical rant; some of it reasonable, some not. It's all very emotional, and promotes individual creativity and all that, but I can't help thinking people should still do some study before they try to produce anything of value in any medium. In the end, you're just promoting fool's luck, poor production values and the blind arrogance of stupidity, a hindrance to anyone interested in the effectiveness of any communication.

You are right, however, that things are more creative now. It's a pity that most of that creativity is absolute rubbish, and that you are presenting yourself as its hapless and clueless spokesperson. Garbage is as garbage does mate, and the web is full of it.

I think Webdiary should be a bit more professional than that.

Margo: Hi Ian. It's Tuesday morning, and I'm just back from a couple of days driving. Looks like the discussion over nom de plumes and moderation is on. First, on moderation, Webdiary has always been moderated and will remain so. End of story. Second, I'm open to persuasion on the nom de plume policy, but I want a reasoned argument posted on Webdiary as a piece which responds to the reasons fro my decision back in 2001. You'll find a summary of the debate on Webdiary ethics. If Justin and others who want a change of policy aren't prepared to do that, my policy stands. Third, I don't want Webdiary degenerating into personal slights and rerunning Webdiary history. Respect for all, please. As for David, the fact is that he is writing under his real name here.

Source of facts

Mary J, I take my facts from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the OECD and the United Nations.  I don't think much of your sources and am not prepared to debate with you on that basis.  It is a waste of your time and far more importantly, my time.  Also it bores everyone.

PF, I don't confuse data with information and knowledge with wisdom. These items are key building blocks to the getting of wisdom which of course can only be achieved through experience.  It is hard to imagine what wisdom could be based on if data, information and knowledge are not fundamental foundations. I imagine that is why we often associate wisdom with more advanced age.  We assume that the accumulated knowledge a person gains in life, in short their experience, produces wisdom.  Then again, we do know of some people around here of advanced years who aren't particularly wise but I shan't name them, lest I cause a storm of controversy!

Some people grow old but do not become wise because they do not base their mindset on facts, knowledge and data.  These balls of emotion become as wise as a toddler on red cordial.  I am not part of the toddler on red cordial set.   Instead, I'll have a double espresso and choose my words wisely.

The Getting of Wisdom

Hi David, never confuse data, information and knowledge with wisdom - Cheers PF.

Yeah I will get my politics from my grand-daughter

David, why is it when you are faced with facts from people actually grown up enough to remember them you have nothing useful to say?

Now all those rabbitting on about Rudd having no substance - have you ever been in a room with him, heard him speak, noticed that he has a presence that is absent in the others?  I have and was prepared to dislike him.   I don't to my surprise.

Now perhaps you could enlighten us to John Howard's substance - the only thing he is really good at is lying.

Sic - no spew

Kath, a bit like our recent election over here. Bloody Labor (sic, nah spew) got in by default. Oh for a good alternative.

Should we clone Malcolm B? if so I'm going into the bow tie business big time.

But I will never work as his tailor.

Luv Jus.

PS. my Latin is pathetic.

C'est la vie!

Jus, cloning Malcolm is a good idea, mon ami!

"But I will never work as his tailor."

You can work for me instead eh? (winks)

 Love Kath.

 PS My French is pathetic.


Sorry Fiona;  I always thought Harry Potter was David Davis under a full moon.

A big howl from Justin Obodie.

BTW who the hell is Barry S Allison? hope Margo will sort out the data base prob. as per my e-mail earlier this evening.

Fiona: Nothing like a spot of triple identity to cheer up a cold winter's evening.

Kathy - I Agree

Kathy Farrelly,  I agree, and find it hard to believe KR is so popular, though many people I have spoken to seem to think he is good stuff. I don't get it.

If he drove a Potomac maybe I would change my mind: then he would be cool.

Love Jus.

PS, if Rudd wins then Howard lives on, albeit in another incarnation.

Fiona: Now now, Justin, don't indulge in spoilers of the latest Harry Potter.

D Notice

Don't any of you bastards reveal the plot of the final Potter novel until I have read it.   That should keep you quiet until about Wednesday.

Fiona: Noted. And the penalty would be - ?

5 - such an unlucky number

Fiona, you old tart, I think this takes me out of the game for today but how provocative can you get?    I was talking to a delightful young man yesterday evening who was on about page 24 and his theory is that it has something to do with Aurochs.   I shall wait and see.

Fiona: The limit has been raised to ten, so you may wax lyrical until midnight and then start all over again.

Justin- I agree

Well Justin, I just love your potomac, and I think you are one cool dude!

 Rudd is too much of a dud to have  a sleek potomac like you !

Love Kath.

 Ps Whoever wins, we are losers either way!

Go for it, Malcolm

Malcolm B Duncan, if you stand against Malcolm Turnbull  I would be very pleased; he is such a disappointment. I may even help you hand out those flyer thingies; but let's do it on a day sans wind. It may be a bit unnerving and do your campaign no good if you are exposed as a true Scot.

By the way, have you paid your tailor yet?

Also I am still having trouble with the "kiddies" thing: is it a necessary part of your rhetoric?  Some think it a little pompus.

Cheers - Justin Obodie 

Humility in everything

Pompous kiddies?   Moi?

Costello: The Ticker thing

I have posted elsewhere that Costello has no ticker and is a cry baby. Glad to see someone else is agreeing. See: Costello, you lack the ticker to knife Caesar

The Treasurer briefs against his leader but isn't tough enough to execute a coup, writes Jason Koutsoukis.

Where to start; quo vadis?

It must be the weather.   Where does one start?

Well, Mr Davis, I was in my first year of law when Whitlam was dismissed.   I was also the Junior Vice-President of the Randwick-Coogee Young Liberals and we had a branch meeting on 11 October 1975.    I made myself terribly popular by asking, amidst the jubilation (having spent most of the day glued to the radio) why Fraser hadn't resigned on the basis that he had lost a vote on the floor of the House (which he did immediately after he announced his Commission). 

It was the first time I voted and I voted Labour (they could spell in those days).

Marylin J Shepherd , not only was supply not granted legally or illegally, it was passed before the vote of no confidence in the House had been taken.   What had happened before that was that the opposition with the support of Senator Field (remember good old Palbert?) deferred the vote on the supply Bill.   22 and you can't remember that?

The logical consequence of that sequence of events was that Whitlam could have advised the GG that he was able to form a Government and had supply.    Pity I was on the other side at the time - no-one rang to ask me. 

Margo, dear,dear, young, idealistic Margo, Malcolm Fraser's good qualities (if he has any) only seem to have emerged after he left office.   He was a pretty shit  Army Minister.

And, so, as Bob Ellis might say, it goes.   So many of us seem to need to re-write history; I'd rather just remember it but never forget.

As to the purport of the article, Mr Davis, I'll stick my neck out.   I said Iemma couldn't lose because he had so much fat and I was right.   Never was there a government in NSW that better deserved to lose but it didn't happen.

Federally?   Andren is standing for the Senate and his seat will return to the coalition.   That's two extra seats Labor [sic] needs to form Government.    The Liberals will probably lose Lindsay,  might lose Bennelong (and SWMBO is handing out for McKew although the Party hasn't decided policy on that yet), I'm seriously considering standing against Malcolm in Wentworth which could conceiveably make a difference although the Labor [sic] candidate hasn't been seen in my balliwick yet and strikes one as a right dill.   The Nationals won't lose any seats.    Labor [sic] will go nowhere in Victoria, and they stand a good chance of losing Brand and maybe another one or two seats in WA.

So tell me, kiddies, where in NSW and Qld are the 19 or maybe 21 seats that need to change hands going to come from?

From a personal point of view, Rudd is doing nothing for me.   He strikes me as a god-bothering bureaucrat long on outcomes but short on articulated policy.   His industrial relations "policy" is a total disaster which would return us to pre-industrial revolution law.    The current legislation is maniacal but the proposed remedy is worse.  Rudd is like fairy-floss and we all know what that does to the teeth: welcome to the Leader of the opposition, now rinse and spit.

While the result in the Senate may (hopefully) be different, I'm afraid we're in for another eight years of Howard.

And, Mr Davies, don't for a moment underestimate the Sydney/Melbourne thing.   The Victorians will not bear another NSWelshman as PM.   When Howard finally goes, he will be replaced by a Victorian and it won't be Costello.   The lad has left the run too late.   They'll probably pick some dill like Sophie Panopolous.   

And may your gods have mercy on your souls.

Fairy Floss versus ennui Malcolm.

"Rudd is like fairy floss"

 Exactly what I have been saying, Malcolm! He certainly lacks substance. It will  be most interesting to see what policies he does indeed proffer, closer to the election.

 And I think you are right about Labor losing Brand and one or two other seats in WA.

 I'm from WA and there seems to be a much more positive feeling towards the government here.

 Many people in the West are supportive of AWA'S. I know of several in the mining industry myself, who are more than happy  with their lot! 

"I'm afraid we're in for another eight years of Howard."

Well Malcolm,I'm afraid you may be right!

A good, objective analysis of the current situation  old chap.

He'll be big on control, Kathy

Kathy, setting aside the lack of substance and policy I've figured out what it is that bothers me most about KR.  Everything is so controlled.

Control. He will be big on that. 

But the electorate if they put him in will soon learn that a control freak does not a strong leader make. Eventually things come apart at the seams.

I tell you, we may all pay one day for the family having been chucked out of the cowyard. For it is out of that type of situation that control freaks are born.  Some learn to kick the habit. Some never do.  Let the buyer beware. 

Yes Jen.

Jenny, my dear, I heartily concur..

 KR is indeed a control freak..

 And yes I reckon it will all fall apart at the seams too!


 PS you are doing a bonzer job tonight Fiona.

Why, you're greased lightning mate..

Believe it

Believe what you want to believe Mary J.

David, what are you on about?

Do you know there is nothing more tedious than a man who makes grand and sweeping statements and then claims that another person feels a certain way.

The reality of the world is not as you see it. I was 22 when Gough was dismissed - do you understand that it was only because Fraser illegally decided to block supply? That the "debt" oft quoted was $2 billion? Compare that to the $540 billion today, the $1 trillion domestic debt, the 62 months of trade deficits running at over $40 billion, the real unemployment where over 30% are underemployed.

I don't much care if you got credits at QLUni at 17 - does that make you a superior child in the world of Joh's universities and bagmen and corrupt cops?

I frankly find this focus on pure economics at the expense of the human beings behind the economics to be rather deranged. I suggest you re-think and look at people instead of money, you might find you like it and like a few more people.

As for the Howard hating - what on earth is there to like when even his wife says he cannot be trusted to tell the truth or carry through on commitments? What's to like about a man who would send soldiers to commit murder in a place that had never hurt us, who would support AWB after they gave Saddam Hussein $300 million, who would gloat over locking kids up in the desert and would stick the knife in the back of his friends let alone his enemies?

Tell me why on earth anyone would think he had a single thing worth liking and stop whinging about Howard haters, it's infantile and sort of like sticking out the tongue and saying "nah, nah, I hate you" in a kindergarten sandbox.

Postcards from the edge

My vantage point for all of my voting life has been from Western Sydney. I think the seat of Greenway in 2004 was perhaps the most interesting one of the election, giving rise to so many of the media myths that are used to explain the government's ascendancy. Hillsong Christian Lib Louise Markus defeated Muslim Lab Ed Husic by a margin of 0.6%. Now the seat is being redistributed in to a safe Liberal seat, which makes me happy, because I think Ms. Markus is an under-rated and quality candidate. She has my unqualified support as the best candidate for Greenway.

Meeting with her and being quietly cross-examined showed me how important loyalty is in this business. I tried to be open about my loyalties and my background, but I suppose not too open lest I scare them. My interest in the Liberal party is sincere - not as it is now, precisely, but how it could be in the future. I want to be part of authoring that future. I am thoroughly behind Malcolm Turnbull as the next PM.

One thing that I realised was that part of what they must do with new recruits is not necessarily to make sure that they are on-side, but to try and make sure that they don't put you off-side. I was told they would get back to me: if they don't, of course, I might turn on them. If they don't help me achieve the things that I want, similarly, I might turn on them. I am not a powerful or influential person but nevertheless I am studying a media degree and mentioned how much I like local media. Media management is like riding a bicycle: you can't just stop. I might end up influential - how would they know? I have got plenty of years left in me. I present them with a dilemma.

Nevertheless this is the same dilemma presented by all swinging voters. If they want me to vote for the Liberal party they ought, ethically, to allow me to play a part in the ongoing creation of the Liberal party.

The Galah's Lament

Hi David, I am tending to give the Yum Cha a miss these days, especially at Crows Nest. It has become too mainstream. I prefer to explore the dark alleyways of Homebush and Flemington these days.  It still serves the best tofu and the best DIY yum Cha shop in Sydney.

As far as the Australian economy is concerned, I cannot attribute the prosperity and good times that we are enjoying now to the good works of the Howard Government. In the last 25 years, I have seen:

  1. The fundamental reforms done by the Hawke-Keating Government on the floating of the currency exchange rate, the deregulation of the financial sectors, reduction of tariffs, privatisation, and the introduction of enterprise bargaining.

  1. Paul Keating role in educating the Australian public about economic issues and concepts. Remember his J-curve and that every resident galah in every pet shop was talking about the budget deficit and macro economic reforms.

  1. The heroic Australian people who have the adaptability and flexibility to change from the “Lucky Country” mentality of the 60s and 70s to the current more “Plucky Country” mentality.

  1. The arrival of migrants that brought to this country the more entrepreneurial mentality than the “Lucky Country” never had.

  1. The success of the Reserve Bank in managing the Australian economy.

  1. The introduction of GST.

  1. The emergent of he Asian markets, especially China that led to the current resources, commodity boom and cheap everyday goods.

Howard and Costello have simply been lucky. Of these fundamentals, I would only credit the introduction of GST to the Howard Government. For Howard to claim that we never had it so good and should be grateful to him and his Government is absolutely insulting. But then again, I do notice a lot of people never look at history and give credit where credit is due.

I am old enough

Mary J, I was nine when Whitlam was dismissed and 17 when Fraser lost power.  I know these times very well.  Trust me.  As a teenager I used to devour the Australian and the Financial Review for breakfast. We were a three newspaper family (Australian, Fin Review and Courier Mail).  We also had the Bulletin each week so there was no shortage of information even though it was pre-internet.

Any objective person looking at the Australian economy over the past ten years would not make the conclusions you make.  You have the view that the past was golden and that now is awful. You are entitled to that view and it is clear you will never change it.  Naturally I think it is nonsense and flies in the face of all objective evidence.

If you don't like the ABS, have a look at reports of the OECD and what they say about Australia.

On the UN Human Development Index we come in third in the entire world.  Only Norway and Iceland score higher than Australia.  We should be very proud of this result.  Maybe bad old Howard has corrupted the United Nations as well?

Spare me the idea that it is only the policies that are hated no Howard.  That is ludicrous.  Howard the man is very much hated by Howard haters.  It is visceral and scary.  To suggest that he is not hated is as laughable as the idea that so many of you don't hate the United States with a passion.

Sure, it's just the policies.  Only the polices.

Yeah and wolverines make good house pets.

(Oh and I was getting high distinctions at the University of Queensland as a 17 year old in US history so don't tell me teenagers don't know what they are doing.)

God what a spray from David

What are you smoking me, old son?   Things good in Australia?   Who for?   The corporations made an additional 28% profit in the last quarter while wages were reduced by 5.6%, rents were up, petrol up, food up, mortgages up, repossessions up - now, which bits have been good?

Socially we are morally bankrupt.    Decency and human rights no longer matter.   Now I know David finds that dreary. I doubt if you are even old enough to remember the Fraser years let alone the Whitlam years with any clarity.

Margo: Lay off the personal abuse, Marilyn, OK? I've had to edit this a bit.

Tinseltown never truly loses its glitter

I've just come back from watching the movie Clubland with my sister. It is set in Sydney and has a woman in it that reminds me of you, Mary J. I won't mention which character lest I be accused of playing the woman instead of the ball.

Margo says Fraser looks benign in retrospect. I think he looks bloody awful. He was the second worst PM in Australian history. Whitlam was the worst. Fraser had a huge mandate for change, and while Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were rejuvenating their countries, Fraser was ruining ours. I have long believed he should be expelled from the Liberal Party. He was a failure and is a constant critic. He never criticises Labor and calls Gough Whitlam comrade. Fraser is without a doubt one of the figures I despise most on either side of politics. So yeah, I'd agree with you, Mary J, on what a horrible era that was. The seventies under Whitlam was even worse.

The last eleven years under Howard and Costello have been the best. You'd never own up to it because you rely on emotion, smoke and mirrors rather than ABS statistics. From inflation, to unemployment, to economic growth, to the budget position, to the tax mix to the distribution of incomes, this country is light years away from those sick, sick times of the conjoined twins, Fraser and Whitlam.

I once heard some nonsense that "you don't know what Costello stands for". That is absolute garbage. We know exactly what he stands for. He stands for what he and his party have done the past eleven years.

Oh and spare me the kids stuff. Yawn City. It was Liberal moderate manoeuvring rather than Labor that helped fix this policy. Labor never comes close in reality to matching its rhetoric. It is always behind the government 100% on these hot-button social issues that excite you dark Greens.

I like Costello and Hockey. They're terrific! Every blow to union domination is another moment of celebration for me. I well remember those woeful years of the conjoined twin Whitlam-Fraser government. In those days the unions ran the country. Australia was backward, inward looking and slipping down the global rankings on virtually any measure you care to name.

Some people grew old and romanticised this dysfunctional dark past. I am so glad you at least see how bad the Fraser years were of the conjoined twin Fraser-Whitlam era.

I am glad to be happy to be living in the present. It would be so depressing to be a person stuck in a past. A mythical past that never really existed!

Oh and another hat tip to a Liberal would be my big hat tip to John Brogden. He would have been a fine premier.

I generally regard the moderate Liberals as my favourites. Howard was never my first choice but after eleven years like this, who can complain?

The funny thing about you Greens is that you'll never get in the people you want. If Rudd gets in it is Howard-Lite. He's promised all the same things but he's a puritan conservative who'll stop all swearing and such like.

Australians love dour leaders who wear brown cardigans. Get ready 'cause that's what Rudd's gonna be.

What I find quite delicious is when Labor supports the government on things Greens hate. It means Greens never get their way no matter what. It's about being eternally angry, alienated and dispossessed.

I haven't voted since 1998. In 1998 I voted for Joe Hockey. In fact, I even worked for him on election day and on a stall up in Crows Nest. I'd like to help him again. He's fun and he's improving workplaces. He's my kind of local member. North Sydney rocks. Party on down, Mary J. Did you know North Sydney is the most educated electorate in Australia? There are lots of cool facts like that about North Sydney I could share with you if you'd like. I'd be happy to take you on a virtual tour of this Liberal wonderland.

Who are you voting for, Mary J? No doubt it will be some ridiculous Green who won't ever be in a position to implement policy.

At least I respect Labor for the fact that if they are elected they have to actually run the country. Greens have the selfish right to just be on the sidelines carping and moaning about anything without ever taking the responsibility of government and taking decisions.

The Greens are a wankfest and an intellectual indulgence. Mainstream Australia will be voting for mainstream parties. Whatcha gonna choose?

If you think Sydney has lost its glitter, Mary J, you may have a point. She's looking a bit shabby this winter but come spring she will shine again. Sydney's an old tart. She's the mistress of Australian re-invention.

I was caught in traffic next to John Howard in Sydney last year. I still haven't washed the wing mirror. You'll miss him when he's gone. You don't know what you've lost until it's gone.

What new will be there to hate? Surely you'd never be able to do deep hatred on Rudd....... and without the hate, what is there to talk about?

In our vacuous tinseltown, we'll always find something because we don't have time for hating, only loving.

Oh and hi PF! Yeah, I know what you mean re the alleyways of North Sydney. Our Mayor has a dream that they can be turned into Melbourne-like lanes. What would that involve? Turning a loading dock into a hole in the wall cafe and pretending it’s Europe? Isn't that what Melbourne did? It's like sitting in Pittsburgh and pretending it’s Paris. Dream on. Keep taking the tablets, Melbourne.

How's the Yum Cha in Crows Nest, PF? Still pretty good I hear! You may see me manning a Liberal stall there one day. Don't be a stranger!

Then again, my role here probably disqualifies me from working for Joe Hockey. I may be a loose cannon! Then again, Tony Abbott can say shit happens on national TV so maybe I can be me as well.

In the Liberal Party you can be yourself. In Labor if you swear, the puritan Rudd kicks you out.

The Liberal Party is the party of freedom.

Footnote: Fraser is not a Liberal moderate. He's a socialist. He is to the left of Labor on the issues he likes to speak about. He is a pathetic creature who has spent his years since retirement sucking up to the left. In many cases it has worked but I love it when lefties still bash him because it means the charade is not working.

Remember the dying days of Fraser's mob?

I remember the dying days of the Fraser mob. The country was cold with oppression, there was a shocking recession, and as a single mum with an 8 year old and a baby life was very, very hard.

I remember feeling like I would suffocate if Fraser was PM one more day and I wept with joy when Hawke kicked the mob out and Fraser bawled as he conceded.

That had been the worst government of my life, even worse than Menzies who now looks positively progressive.

Hockey is a clown though, David, and I have no idea why you would think he is acceptable to the kids down at the milk bar working for $6 an hour thanks to serfchoices or his mantra of union bosses which is not getting a skerrick of traction.

Costello is and always was a gutless wonder. When he said a few years ago that he wanted to broaden his appeal we discovered a man just as oppressive as Howard, another happy to lock up small babies in the desert and call it "border control".

A man with no empathy for fellow humans suffering in Iraq or Afghanistan thanks to us, a man with no comprehension of poverty and hardship, a spineless sort of twerp too gutless to take the top prize.

As for "shit happens" he would do very well in the boxing ring but he has never been a fit and proper person for public office and never will be, Bronwyn of the stiff hair is a standing joke, Cadman was in parliament for 34 years and is the absolute Mr No-one, Turnbull is a failure par excellence in spite of the hype – how does Sydney's power look now then?

Margo: Fraser's reign seems benign in retrospect. And he was more committed to human rights than either the Libs or Lab are now.

Malcolm Fraser

Hi Marilyn. I wrote about the metamorphosis in How Malcolm Fraser has changed (August 2000, Webdiary). And he's persisted ever since in espousing true liberal values. An Australian elder, he is now.

Remember the last Labor years

Mary J Shepherd, if Rudd wins and gets rid of Work Choices, "the kids down at the milk bar working for $6 an hour" will not have any jobs at all. I suppose Rudd's millionaire wife will find jobs for them.

If you thought life has been tough in the past, just wait till you see what Rudd does to the country.

Nothing to lose

Costello actually to me looks and sounds these days like a person who has got nothing left to lose. His face says it all. Howard is likely to go down and he knows that if that is the case, he will, even if Leader of the Opposition, have to spend God knows how many years before he gets a chance at the top job again.  After the years of waiting, I doubt he would be too enthused about that and there are the heel snappers to content with.  So if the ship goes down I suspect there will be a few who will chose to go with her. Howard, Downer, Costello, Bishop? Who knows how many. What's a by election cost these days, I wonder.

Kevin Rudd bothers me. Nothing I can put my finger on mind. He comes out, does his carefully prepared spiel, with an expressionless voice and face, and does anyone else here notice he doesn't look at people. Too robotic. Mightn't mean anything but I just don't feel he's kosher.   

It does not surprise me one bit he ended up in the Labor Party when forced out of the cow yard. There was no love lost at all between those small north coast and Queensland dairy farmers and the Liberal party. Poverty was their constant bedfellow.  If Rudd took anything out of that experience it will be that which is hard, tough and uncompromising. People on the left might get quite a nasty surprise once he's in.

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Margo Kingston

Margo Kingston Photo © Elaine Campaner