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Christa Schwoebel on why she's Not Happy, John!

Hello. On Saturday night I was a guest at a Not Happy, John! event at the Wauchope Arts Hall, hosted by my friend Susie Russell, a Webdiarist who is standing for the Greens against Mark Vaile in Lyne. The only other competitor to Vaile, Labor's James Langley, came along. We sat in a circle and relayed why we became Not Happy, John in prose, songs and performance, before tossing around ideas for the campaign. Wonderful! The first person to have a say was Christa Schwoebel, of Kempsey. She recited a piece she had written inspired by the play Vagina Monologues, which I publish below.  

The Canberra launch of Still Not Happy, John! will be at 5.30pm on Monday 8 October at Manning Clarke House. It will be hosted by my friend Kerrie Tucker, and John Valder will speak. Hope to see a few Canberra Webdiarists there. The flier is here.

Monologue about Democratic Participation

by Christa Schwoebel

When Howard appears on the telly, my hand can’t get fast enough to the “off” button. A lot of my friends abuse the box every time John or George are on the news.  Quite often I throw my slippers at the telly  …  and that’s been the extent of my democratic participation for years.  

Yeah, I had been more active in the past; went to marches and vigils, wrote letters to politicians and to the papers.

Then, 4 years ago now, I went to the Peace Rally before the invasion of Iraq.  There was a huge crowd - never before had there been so many people protesting in Kempsey.

But Honest John said we were all stupid   

Funny that – about stupid people protesting.  Every single person with tertiary education must have been at that rally.  

John said that however many marched in the streets and however loud we screamed, he wouldn’t pay any attention, he wouldn’t listen.   

I bet he now wishes he’d listened! Secretly.

After he brushed us off like a bit of fluff on his lapel, I didn’t say much anymore, hardly spoke to anyone about politics.   

Howard and his ministers sent soldiers into Iraq.  In my name they are participating in a brutal invasion and war.   

Too much “collateral damage” to take in.

My brain and in my belly became empty hollows.  I just closed down.

As I said, there had been a time when I wrote to politicians.  Like, I wrote to the Minister for Immigration, Ruddock.  It was, about the concentration camps for those poor bastards from the boats.  Didn’t call them concentration camps, of course, gotta be careful with words when you write to somebody as sensitive as Mister Ruddock.  I think he used to call them “Welcome, Mate, to our Fair Country Centres”.   

Anyway, as replies to my letters I got bundles of glossy brochures giving me a good rundown on the government policies.  I felt very guilty that they had to cut down trees for paper and spend so much tax payers money for all those explanations.  So I stopped writing.

But then, late last year, he went too far - when he came back from a visit to George Bush suddenly stating that Global Warming was indeed happening and immediately told us his solution: nuclear power!   

Nuclear power?  Nuclear – in the land of sunshine?  Nuclear as in atom bomb?  

He announced that the country would have a public debate about it.   But, in the same breath he declared that everyone with an opinion different from his was “stupid”, “juvenile”, “uninformed” and “behind the times”.   

Every school kid knows that only those resolve to insults who have no valid contribution to the debate.   

And he had called me stupid again!

It jolted me out of my daze.  A kind of fury came over me, the constructive type.   

I don’t feel like fluff anymore, I’ve become an activist again.  Joined a group.  Organise public events to really debate the issues.  I speak about the government's lies at every opportunity I get.   

I even went to the APEC protests with a group of very respectable women

Now I just feel sorry for him.   

I still throw my slippers and I speak out and I vote!

We’ll vote the liar out.

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Hirsi Ali

Interesting that the right-wing poster child for Islam-as-root-cause philosophy, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, has a very pro-refugee and pro-immigrant stance. She worked as a translator for refugee women before going in to politics, first informally due to a need and then professionally. Much of her output is directed towards integration of Muslim women into Dutch society. She argues that community organisations designed to help immigrants are often merely in service of the status quo. This is a thought that had not occurred to me and which is worth investigating. She criticises domestic violence programs which decline assertiveness training to Muslim women but instead focus on "family mediation", a practice which has Qur'anic roots.

Transcultural mental health and welfare programs confront a variety of complex and delicate issues and I am not confident our present government is up to the task of sifting through them. I would be interested to know what such organisations do in practice. Certainly some abortion organisations have hidden agendas and it is not implausible that others might too. Hirsi Ali seems a touch over-cynical and absolutist in her thinking but she makes valid points.

Ideally I think our immigration minister should have some kind of training in psychology as well as law, with a capacity for forthright action as well as tact. The current minister is simply a bureaucrat and not a very good one.

In The Caged Virgin Hirsi Ali acknowledges that  female circumcision and stitching in Africa are pre-Islamic practices but argues that the "cult of virginity" in Islam means that they are accepted and have proliferated. It is difficult to find consistent inforrmation on Islam, especially online, but this seems to my eyes like a fairly unexceptional reading of Islamic literature and practice.

Ah The Broader Picture

Jenny Hume

As you and I well know, there is a multitude of forces and parties at work in the ME and have been over a long period of time. Trying to find a cause of the misery of many of the people there as a result of just one effect, or as a result of the actions of one super power is bound to be fatally flawed. But again, no traction here for that point of view. 

Even if one were to go down the blame the super power route there would be a number of them. One would have to look at the Soviet Union, Britain, France, and a couple of lesser powers. People (governments) base their decisions on the present (the future as you know is almost impossible to predict with certainty). All decisions made in the present (good and bad) however play a part in what happens in the future.

The AWB scandal is the equivalent of a pimple on an elephant. It plays a minor role in the world's greatest business scandals. Actually the ME's role in colonialist business scandals (rip-offs) is not as large as many would at first think. Consider over the last two or three centuries returns made in place's such as China, India, South Africa, Brazil etc. Yes, even in a nation such as Australia.

But don't get much traction on left wing sites if you try to look at the broader picture.

Extreme left like extreme anything sees issue's through a prism. A number of issue's mask what is in nearly all cases an overriding complaint about one particular issue. Personally I believe many of the extreme left naturally have a problem with capitalism, and see the torch bearer of it as the United States. The thinking goes that if the United States crumbles so does the present capitalist system. This way of thinking is and I will use your term "fatally flawed".

The United States neither invented, nor refined capitalism. The United States was, and still is just good at it. Many nations in the ME are perceived as against America therefore against capitalism. This is seen as the most worthy good. The assumption is again fatally flawed. Arab nations have a rich history of being capitalist torch bearers (great traders). Actually they have, and do, take to it like ducks do to water.


A century of interference.

Gee, Paul Morrella.

Think you have tried to airbrush a century (well, a couple of centuries, actually!) of organised and sustained interference in mideast affairs by a technological powerful West. Why do this?

To observe and contemplate simple facts concerning historical phenomena involving capitalism, imperialism, human nature and the possibility and extent to which culture and humanity can be changed from an original "intention" culture is hardly an expression of moral horror. This including a realistic assessment of human nature in action is not the same thing as adopting a moral judgement on the overall event – only witnessing a part of unfolding history. If anything, the emotionalism seems to come from a strange, guilty need to justify historical phenomena, rather than a matter of what we have learned from history as to things being done a bit better into the future with the benefit of previously lacking hindsight.

Provided we clean up the shitting mess left for us and our children to deal with in the first part of the twenty-first century, of course!

Scholars over a century from Hobson to Edward Said have covered the detail so will confine self to the following observations. To deny the history of Colonialism and Imperialism is probably no more helpful than falling into, say, climate change denialism. To romanticise history as a sort of Florence Nightingale/John Wayne tableau has us far too close to Hitler's romanticist fact-avoidance nonsense mythologising of the history of the Aryan race, with the resulting Sturm und Drang consequences. Even in our own time we have had a pernicious little rewrite by Samuel Huntingdon, far more dangerous when combined with the "manifest destiny" guff of the US far-right religious nutters, to justify continued Western adventurism throughout the Third World. Where is the "trade" in that?

To say gross interference didn't happen, as with, say, Mossadeque in the 'fifties in Iran over oil as a good example of the pattern, really either bespeaks ignorance or dishonesty.

Let's not idealise ourselves. Our immediate ancestors down to "us" didn't go to these places out of any selfless desire to help the benighted natives. We are not "nice" Brady Bunch people or, at least, any "nicer" than anyone else. That is just alibiing nonsense.

As for "capitalism" and the naughty left. Am sure "the left" recognises Imperialism and capitalism as historical phenomena to be examined and dealt with on their merits rather than in terms of "moral blight". But we find we are not talking about a theoretical world trade version of cooperativist social intercourse within an abstract level playing field when we talk of "capitalism" à la Paul Morrella.

We are talking about war and conquest; mercantilism at best, inefficient compared even to capitalism. So it's probable that the moral response of the left to historical phenomena in some of its forms over recent centuries derives as a result of its investigations rather than a prejudgement , as Paul seems to suggest.

Rather we should ask, with the benefit of hindsight, whether neoliberal "capitalism" is any more a "possibility" than "socialism".

With hindsight, we could certainly ask if civilisation could not do better than the Dickensian and coolie forms of capitalism/Imperialism (it seems, being reintroduced in our time), and finally move to something more scientific and (shock-horror!) cooperative, where capitalism is the servant of humanity rather than its mistress.

The Keynesian settlement of a couple of generations ago was a move in that direction, but the spoiled brat response of capitalist neoliberalism overthrew that hope and we are now again servants of the machine, from top to bottom. We rediscovered (or had ourselves reintroduced to), our "Road to Serfdom", but in an opposite way to what smug Hayek claimed would happen.

Good faith

Jenny Hume and Paul Morrella are to be congratulated for attempting good faith and a substantial addition to the discussion. They speak from an International relations "realist" eg conservative viewpoint but their posts indicate that they are as aware as lefties of just how murky the sequence of events of recent global happenings has been.

For my part, I accept that there has been a playing out of long-term US strategic thinking and that the nuances of this, eg the enmeshing of Saudi Arabia and Japan back in the late 'eighties and 'nineties to legitimise and pay for the first gulf war indicate the US’s realisation of being in the unique position it was in during the late 'eighties 'till very recently.

But Global Warming, "peak oil", Globalisation and the problem of China caught out a complacent and lazy administration blindsided and not temperamentally suited to dealing with a complex emerging scenario. Could the US have done any worse under Gore (or Australia under Beazley) than has occurred with the now-apparent neo-con train wreck?

If the changing scenario puts small "c" conservatives like Hillary Clinton abroad and Rudd at home, will they have the wherewithal to cope with the current complexity, given problems within their power formations as problematic as the neo cons had with theirs. Will drones like Mar'n Ferguson and Lennon prove to be as "flat earth" as the Fundy Religious right proved for the last lot?

Fundamentalism can take different forms, I propose.

Turnbull has said that he will base his decision on the "science” when he considers his Tassie pulp mill overview from the Chief Scientist. If this translates as a veiled threat to disallow the mill on the basis of proven ecological unreliability, what will the response from various other protagonists reveal?

Have elsewhere read reports expressing (an uncharitable?) scepticism at the seeming Road to Damascus conversion as to ecological principals and science of Malcolm Turnbull, as per the wretched Gunns pulp mill and water policy (I do not trust him on latter; no move against Cubbie Creek yet, to prove his bona fides). If he attempts a Latham 2004-like stance as to the Tamar, how will sections of the community greet this?

 I'll tell you this. I am that fed up with the Dark Ages mentality of a big chunk of supposedly "progressive" Labor over Tassie Wood chipping, Gunns, "development" etc, that if Turnbull was unequivocal enough in turning down Gunns I would have no qualms whatsoever voting Coalition, for the first time in my life, if an anticipated anti science response from certain troglodyte, arcane and antediluvian sections of Labor emerged.

Paul and Paul

Two Pauls: Am very interested in your comments and would like to continue the discussion. However I will be away from base for a week and then off to see what to do with the crop in the north. Bale it, (probably too short); graze it off, (that effectively writes it off); wait and hope a shower will come and the seed head might set, (wishful thinking and to wait means it probably would not then be worth baling). Maybe one should just toss a coin. 

But I can see a big cloud mass over central Africa. Probably what caused the floods over there and often such bands eventually reach Australia. The moths are out in force. Good sign. They know something.

Paul Walter, I too am waiting with bated breath to see whether Gunns gets the green light. I am suspicious, though. We all know that you can choose the experts you want to support your already made decision. The nuclear issue, for instance.  It has been a dirty business down there over that mill from the start.

I have great respect for the views of many on the so called left, and for some on the right as well. What I cannot abide is the extreme on either side.

Got to fly. Cheers.

Hope to come back to you both.

If Only It Was That Easy

Jenny Hume, I have also never believed the invasion of Iraq was about oil. I still don't believe it was ever about oil. Frankly, even if it were it would never have been at the behest of oil companies. If oil companies were consulted, and listened to, Iraq would not be the shambles it now finds itself.

Going all the way back to the seventies Saddam Hussein was considered a good friend to America. He was and has always been an SOB but to a large extent was America's SOB. Throughout most of the eighties he was an even better friend to America. We even know that he had a great admiration for Ronald Reagan. He didn't need much encouragement to invade Iran (probably none), and this was not seen as a bad thing at the time. Actually it was seen as more than helpful.

Unfortunately for Saddam, in 1988 the world changed dramatically and the cold war ended suddenly. More unfortunate news for Saddam was that the Administration of Ronald Reagan also ended. Enter George (the elder) into a brave new world.

The nineties and Saddam invaded Kuwait on the pretext of Kuwait stealing Iraqi oil (not only do Americans war for oil, it would seem). George (the elder) had two choices:

1. Do nothing and wait for things to blow over - hopefully turning it all into an American advantage. (I personally think Iraq (still rather fond of the American relationship) invading and taking Kuwaiti oil could well have been a big advantage to American interests. Saddam always claimed to have the backing of the American Administration at the time. I happen to believe he merely underestimated or never really understood the American system of government).

2. Go down the internationalist route and through the UN - hopefully setting a standard for a brave new world.

George (the elder) of course took route two, and although at times it seems to be solely an American war it was aided and abetted by all and sundry. What we have today is a direct result of these actions. At the time George (the elder) was largely ridiculed for not going that step further and invading Iraq proper. Of course at the time this was partisan politics coming into play (surprise, surprise).

Bill Clinton, naturally not seeing the Iraqi problem as his problem, largely attempted to ignore the issue (sending it off to the UN). Due to UN sanctions oil had never been cheaper (coming by the bucket loads through Kurdistan and Turkey). Russia, France, American oil interests (some) were all in the midst of one giant party. Not to mention a number of our "world leaders".

Now I happen to think that George (the younger) always perceived his father as failing in a war (not going into Iraq). I also happen to think he surrounded himself with people that held likewise feelings. I also happen to think George (the younger) discounted his father's reasons for not going into Iraq in the first place. People can argue about morals and hypocrisy until they are blue in the face. The fact is that every nation's advisors attempt to work for the benefit of that particular nation. Morals and such are checked in at the door at the start of each working day. This applies across the board, not only in the United States.

George (the elder) made a mistake on behalf of America by going in the first time. Bill Clinton made a mistake on behalf of America by continuing with the reasons for the mistake. George (the younger) made a mistake on behalf of America by compounding all the previous mistakes. Saddam Hussein was corrupt and totally corruptible. He would have sold Iraq to America at any time of America's asking. All any of these American leaders had to do was pick up the phone. A war for Iraqi oil was never needed. The pity was that the people that knew this were never asked their opinion.

I think the Iraqi situation has come about through a number of mistakes and unforeseen world events. I also happen to believe that Iraq is nearing a situation of having come full circle. Equally the same can be said about future American policy toward it. Time will tell how right this prediction will be.

Oil and wheat and the forces at work

Yes Paul I undertand all that.  But don't get much traction on left wing sites if you try to look at the broader picture.

As you and I well know, there is a multitude of forces and parties at work in the ME and have been over a long period of time. Trying to find a cause of the misery of many of the people there as a result of just one effect, or as a result of the actions of one super power is bound to be fatally flawed. But again, no traction here for that point of view. 

And I get a bit frustrated when Webdiarissts are so quick to condemn the actions of the AWB when by far the largest abuse of the sanctions was via those illegal oil sales you mention. In fact, much of Saddam's illegal revenue was derived from that trade.

And that is not to say I condone what those executives in AWB did. They certainly did not serve to benefit the wheat growers of this country. Their actions have cost us around 50 000 dollars personally with the collapse of the share price. Hard earned savings of many wheat farmers are in those shares, and now they are nearly worthless, just when being able to sell them might have helped in the current drought. And some 600 million worth was wheat grower money from compulsory Govt levies prior to privatisation of the company.

Australia in fact compensated the Iraqis by writing off some 600 million in outstanding wheat debt, double what the kickbacks to Saddam had deprived them of. I am not aware that too many other countries have done that and there was some 8 billion derived from those illegal oil sales.  Nor have I heard of too many Cole inquiries going on around the world.

It is hard to say what will happen in Iraq if the US does withdraw in the next couple of years. Simply because there are so many forces at work in the region as a whole. Iraq cannot be seen in isolation. But no one can predict anything with any certaintly over there. .

Cheers. It is blowing a howling gale here today and the crops are in many areas beyond saving even if it were to rain tomorrow. Some US wheat farmers are about to make a lot of money. Maybe they would like to withdraw their class action against the AWB. Pigs might fly, I know. I see there is drought over there too in parts.

Nice Try, Alan

“Seeking right relationship with God and all around us” is the phrase that empowers me, Alan Curran, to intervene into the world around me to facilitate/pursue the good.  That it takes place within “relationship” binds me to acknowledge both my own limits and the rights, values, aspirations and powers of others. 

The way I do it calls for justice as an element in all relationships, with nonco-operation the usual sanction against unjust practices.  I don’t have to impose my values on the world, but justice spreads link by link around the world in an organic process.  “Smart” missiles still aren’t smart enough to run a process like this.  In fact – they get right in the way.

Pine Gap is on Australian soil.  By allowing it to operate as it now does, Australians participate in unconscionable crimes that I believe we ought stop participating in/allowing.  When Donna went to Iraq as a human shield in 2003 it was an attempt to stop mass murder by Australian forces, and by others (USA & Britain) with Australian complicity.  We both act as Australians.  I’m not as brave as Donna.

What Will Howard do?

On ABC Lateline yesterday, during an interview by Virginia Trioli on Rudd snatches power from Caucus the Prime Minister was so confused about his intended future that it is surprising that the media didn't make it a front page heading.

With his history of refusing to answer questions about which he has not previously been informed, Howard is also consistent in avoiding hypothetical attitudes when they require (as his wife says) a "firm commitment"!

The wavering situation with the "New Order" leadership shambles seems as follows:

  • Howard will not be supplanted by Costello should the "New Order" win the election until "very late in their tenure of office". And he will go on to the back benches? Really?
  • However, should the Liberal/Nationalists lose the election and Howard holds his seat of Bennelong, will he retire? He says he will not betray the voters in his electorate. So he can't retire?
  • And he will serve the full three years on the back bench? Is that a "never ever" rock solid and iron clad, non-core or core promise?

Do any of us really believe anything that Howard says or claims to intend to do?

IMHO, it seems that if the public want to see an end to the Howard-Bush sponsored "New Order", we must do something like this:

  • Completely demolish the Liberal/Natonalist "New Order" and/or;
  • Have Howard voted out of office by his own electorate, and/or;
  • Ensure that the majority in the Senate is NOT Liberal or Nationalist.

The odds in favour of the "New Order" have been sneakily and probably illegally, crafted by Howard and his planted autocrats, so – make no mistake – this could be our last chance to change a federal government.

Unless we do it now, with Howard's total power constantly changing our legislated laws, future generations may "never ever" get the opportunity to exercise a choice at all.

A win for the "New Order" is an endorsement of a fascist Australia.

Any other government would at least be a voice of an independent Australia.

Well might our future generations say, "I love a sunburnt Country"?

Drag Howard out of Cowards’ Castle and force him to face the electorate.

Should these wannabe fascists be defeated it would be a good time to legislate fixed periods of office, at both federal and state level.

Howard has demonstrated how an incumbent government can maintain power by abusing the power they have been given.

Bring on the election.



I notice that Jenny Hume still hasn’t responded to my proposition that the only actions we are responsible for are our own.

It’s not our job to transform Islam, bring peace to the Middle East, or tell everyone else how to live. It’s our job to lead peaceful and productive lives, adhering to justice, human rights and beauty, and seeking right relationship with God and all around us.

Australia hasn’t been doing that in Afghanistan, or in the Northern Territory. The Australian government has been committing war crimes, crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity. That’s my beef. Stop it I say, and make reparation.

I’m afraid you do yourself in Jenny when you say “But one thing is certain: you and those who are of like mind in the West are incapable of ever objectively evaluating the situation. Your bias against the US sees to that.”

You see, I’m only talking about Australia and Australians and what we do. Why don’t you do the same?

Plus, I love the USA. “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. What’s NOT to love about that? Or Martin Luther King Jr “Our dream is deeply rooted in the American Dream. That one day the sons and daughters of former slaves, and the sons and daughters of former slave holders, will join hands together in a world free of discrimination and tyranny”.

But Jefferson and King Jr weren’t speaking in a USA made of fairy floss and nursery rhymes. They knew and paid the blood price for liberty that meant something.

The USA I know values critical debate and citizens’ activism. I’m not sure what you stand for.

Obviously a pacifist

Bryan: You are obviously a pacifist and we had much discussion about that during the time Roslyn Ross was posting here. I see no point in revisiting all that.

You say: It’s not our job to transform Islam, bring peace to the Middle East, or tell everyone else how to live. It’s our job to lead peaceful and productive lives, adhering to justice, human rights and beauty, and seeking right relationship with God and all around us. 

I am not aware I said it was our job to transform Islam, nor do I think it is possible anyway. And I can very easily do the rest of that paragraph. And in the process absolve myself of any concern for anyone else in the world, and do nothing in the face of wrong when I encounter it.

Yes we are responsible for our own actions. But we are also responsible for our own inactions.

You are not sure what I stand for? Well I've been posting here on an off for over a year. If you had read my stuff you would know. But clearly you haven't. So that is your problem, not mine.

And I don't think I do myself in at all Bryan when I note that certain parties are incapable of any other world view other than one that fits their anti American bias. 

I am not aware of any rule here that says we should only concern ourselves about what Australians do, and only talk about what Australians do. But I suppose if we only want to lead a peaceful life, we could just bury our heads in the sand and pretend the rest of the world does not exist. After all it is much easier to live in the world if you keep your eyes half shut.  


Bryan Law,  "It’s not our job to transform Islam, bring peace to the Middle East, or tell everyone else how to live. It’s our job to lead peaceful and productive lives, adhering to justice, human rights and beauty, and seeking right relationship with God and all around us".

Of course, this does not count when you trespass and damage governement property (Pine Gap) in your religious quest. Nor does it interfere in another country's matters when one of your group acts as a human shield.


Come on, Alan, serious contributions please, not tongue in cheek and "flip" comments. You know  Bryan is commenting in good faith and if you seek consideration, let alone respect, for a conservative viewpoint you will engage soberly in conversations, not drag things down with nonsenses like those in your last post.

Seriously. Please.

Bring back the Taliban?

Mary j Shepherd says:

The Taliban are just Afghan citizens trained in Pakistan after being forced to be refugees by the mujihadeen years ago.

So, in essence, Mary J, you are calling for the return of the Taliban? is that your position?

Advances In Medicine And Difficult Situations

 Fiona Reynolds: "And yes, with advances in medicine there are concomitant escalations in price."

Not only escalations in price; there are also escalations in expected outcomes. The simple fact is that many things that were once life-ending are now routine operations. Of course many things are also still life-ending, and the operation for others is anything other than routine.

A doctor, nurse or dentist is a specialized occupation. There is only a limited amount of people able to perform the tasks these occupations require. There will always be a limit on how many people can fill these roles. There is also a limit on how much can actually be done for every person at any one time. The system is unfair; the system has always, like so many things in life, been unfair. I expect with continued improvements in health and continued growth in population this situation will only become more so.

It is a difficult area, and I have touched on only some of the problems. Quick fixes won't work, but to rise above the fray on the basis of one's own comfortable private health cushion is, in my opinion, no answer.

I have merely made my personal opinion known about what I think people should do. There are many things in life that will never have a satisfactory answer that will help every person. Pretending that a certain government or whatever can change certain life facts is not something I think is helpful to indulge in.

PS I respect the position you have taken in regards to your parents. Whilst I attempted to speak broadly about health it should not be forgotten that individuals are involved. Again this is another (at times) unpleasant fact of life. I certainly do not know enough about the situation to write anything that will give you comfort. I can only wish your parents all the best.

Jenny the Taliban are the best of the horrible ones

You need to learn some more of what is really happening in Afghanistan and who the players are. The mujihadeen who destroyed Afghanistan in the early 1990's after the Russians were kicked out are 1,000 times worse than the Taliban and are now in the government. Between the warlords, drug barons, robber barons and war criminals in the government today are people who have murdered more than 1 million people, grown tonnes of poppies for decades, forced 7 million to flee as refugees and butchered tens of thousands of men, women and children. They have been finding their mass graves for the past 6 years.

One of them, General Dostam, is the foreign minister and he is credited with the murder of 50,000 people.

Our presence in Afghanistan is utterly worthless and always was. We spent over $1.5 billion locking up 4.500 refugees, about the same to bomb them to bits, and a miserly $120 million for humanitarian aid.

If you want to know the difference - the same people are in power now that started selling little girls to pay the debts, who rape women at the least cause and anyone who watched Four Corners on Monday night knows that Afghanistan under these thugs is worse than it ever was under the Taliban.

The Taliban are just Afghan citizens trained in Pakistan after being forced to be refugees by the mujihadeen years ago.

A few hundred of our soldiers too scared to go more than 15 km from their base which is a fortress is pointless.

Don't be patronising, Mary

Mary J: "You need to learn some more of what is really happening in Afghanistan and who the players are.

Don't be patronisng, Mary. I am well aware of who the players are in Afghanistan. I have followed that country's agony just as much as you or anyone else over the past twenty years or more.

It is purely a matter of opinion as to whether the Taliban are or have been worse or better than other parties exerting influence there. And I am sure Afghans themselves are divided on that issue, depending on which side/warlord, they support or have supported in the past. But there does not seem to be mass support for their return. Not surprising when you see how they kidnap and shoot those who are just there to help such as those young Koreans. Charming lot, the Taliban.

But one thing is certain: you and those who are of like mind in the West are incapable of ever objectively evaluating the situation. Your bias against the US sees to that.  

And by the way, the Four Corners program did not support the notion that the Taliban were preferable to the current regime despite the obvious bias of the reporter.

Helping the Afghans

Jenny, if we had wanted to help the Afghan people we would have sent thousands of soldiers and billions in rebuilding.

How much do you seriously think it will help with 5 million unemployed that they have managed to train 70 people in 5 years?

Two million widows are starving, for heavens sake; they don't care if we have a few hundred soldiers in the Oruzgan province teaching children as young as 10 to go to work.

Call in the Taliban

Mary J, that comment says nothing. 

Obviously you don't think it is important for the reconstruction teams to be able to go about their work. You clearly don't believe the Australian army should be protecting them. OK. Just call the Taliban  back in.  I am sure that will really make things better. And those widows will be so much  better off, won't they? And no child will have to work.

Oh yes and they will open schools for little girls too, won't they?

Get real, Mary.

Health Keeps Progressing, And So Does The Cost

Fiona: "Alan, I'd be interested in your thoughts on why there are insufficient dentists, not to mention doctors, nurses, etc, etc..."

Fiona, there isn't a lack of doctors, dentists, nurses etc. This is the great myth of western living. In fact, there has never been a better time to be alive when medical care is needed. This of course is a matter of perception, and it does depend on one's capacity to pay for the services needed.

It is hard to argue against a belief in basic universal medical care. Of course this basic care exists throughout the western world. What has happened is that in fields such as dentistry; what we understand as basic is not necessarily the best. Look at the explosion in cosmetic surgery over the last two decades for example. How much dental work is classified as "cosmetic" in this day and age?

Both health and education continually outpace inflation. I expect this trend to continue for some time. It is a trend that exemplifies our growing wealth as a society. The best health care will always be defined by a person's ability to pay for it. Unfortunately Hollywood myths such as House, ER etc are just that (nobody ever makes a production about dentists for some reason).

Even if the government were to use 100% of taxation toward medical services the system would not change. Medical services are a finite resource, and what is fair and just has nothing to do with the matter. I would strongly advise people to hold at least some form of medical insurance cover. I think this type of insurance is probably the most important insurance a person will ever have.


Paul Morella: “nobody ever makes a production about dentists for some reason”

Aren’t you at least forgetting Ruth Cracknell and Gary McDonald’s Mother and Son in which the other son (like his spouse) was an appalling, selfish, unattractive, grasping and wealthy dentist?

Dentists are often the butts of our humour, until that busted tooth comes along, Paul. Ask the PM, although 'e gets 'is on the taxpayer's national elf (as do most privately insured dental patients).

We recently embarked on an election year dodge called Enhanced Primary Care, for very sick Australians. Theoretically, it provides enhanced dental care. It is another Costello+Tony Abbott con, and is causing serious grief. Both dentists and GPs have really got the shits with this one, never mind their wives.

Very crook Woodforde, OAM

Capacity to pay - whom?

Paul, you may not be familiar with the situation in Australia regarding health professionals.

The public hospital system, and regional and remote medical practices, are heavily reliant on overseas-trained doctors. Even in the national capital (Canberra, in case you were not aware), there is a shortage of general practitioners. This is an extract from a recent letter to the editor from a Canberra-based doctor:

The latest Bureau of Statistics information, from the 2006 census, backs up the fact that we are not just approaching a crisis in emergency medicine but in many aspects of medical care, especially general practice. In Canberra we have at least 60 vacant medical practices.

The same number of young Australians are graduating now to replace the ageing workforce as were graduating 25 years ago. Our population has more than doubled in this time. Many of the teachers of the next generation of doctors are about to retire. Medical teaching has traditionally been done gratis, but this attitude is changing.

The sub-specialty colleges have not increased training numbers to cope with the ever-increasing sophistication of the specialties. Many of the sub-specialists are older than 50 and about to retire.

The number of doctors working the equivalent of full-time hours in medical practice is declining year by year.

To fill vacancies in Australia we now rely on attracting people from developing countries, where the doctor-patient ratios might be as high as one in 50,000 or more. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

I have a particular concern here - my elderly parents (late eighties and late seventies) live in Canberra. Their GP is about to retire. Most practices have closed their books to new patients, particularly elderly ones. My parents have always had the highest available private health insurance. What good does that do them if no general practitioner will take them on as patients? The Canberra situation, by the way, is not unique: similar problems exist in every Australian urban centre.

You said with respect to dentistry, "what we understand as basic is not necessarily the best". I am unclear as to your precise meaning, though I have no difficulty in agreeing that much of what people might regard as basic is purely cosmetic. However, what I do have difficulty with is the lack of access that people who cannot afford top cover health insurance (the only way in Australia of recouping dental expenses) have to basic dental treatment. You know, abscesses and all those other trivia which can have such a major impact on overall physical health...

And yes, with advances in medicine there are concomitant escalations in price. Perhaps one appropriate step would be to consider the automatic implementation of "heroic" medical interventions (especially those without the patient's consent) - though it is probable that such a move would have to be accompanied by statutory protection of health professionals from the all-too-likely medical negligence suits.

It is a difficult area, and I have touched on only some of the problems. Quick fixes won't work, but to rise above the fray on the basis of one's own comfortable private health cushion is, in my opinion, no answer.

You Should Welcome Rudd Then, Alan

Just think – Kevin Rudd will be able to pull the Labor states into line when he is PM in a way Howard never could have. I agree that NSW spends money on some ridiculous things – APEC would have had to have been the biggest misuse of public funds to date courtesy, unfortunately, of John Howard who has frightened the living bejesus out of everyone. It was a complete failure in that tired old claim that it would showcase Sydney to the world.

Shame you don't use the public health system. My knee replacement from RNS was an absolute joy and the treatment superb. My Yank friends marvel as the same would cost them up to $40K.

We know Howard hates Medicare with a vengeance – he has said it in the past although every party now realises that killing off socialised medicine is instant political death. Hillary Clinton found that when Bill put her in charge of implementing a similar scheme at the beginning of his presidency. That's when the knives came out for the Clintons.

Instead Howard & Co have tried to kill it off with a million cuts.

Their socialist tendencies are also selectively used-with farmers etc and generous corporate welfare (plus dear old Stanley's bail-outs). The GST is raised in the states and distributed where the Feds send it or where they perceive it may help their re-election chances. Not to mention those ludicrous adverts we are being plagued with. Hasn't anyone told them you can overkill a story?

You are right, Alan Curran, that Kevin Rudd, and we, will have a few difficult years ahead of us. With housing prices soon to hit the wall – another Howard legacy – times are going to be tough. Six months into a Rudd government the media should be able to blame all ills on his leadership, of course, and wipe out the last eleven years of Costello's self-hypnotised belief in his brilliant financial stewardship.

Let us not forget. Howard Lies Mk 3.

Source: http://www.johnhowardlies.com/Asylum_Seekers.htm again I refer to a file copy obtained before Howard closed it down and this website has been changed.

I quote the following under the heading of Asylum Seekers:

The LIES:  "Well, it did happen.  The fact is children were thrown into the water."

Peter Reith October 2001.

And "All we know is that children were thrown in."

Philip Ruddock.

The FACT:  Brigadier Silverstone told Peter Reith on 9 October that the videos did not show children being thrown in the water.

On 11 October Peter Reith and several of his senior advisers had been told that the photographs released did not depict children in the water having been thrown overboard on 7 October.

Acting Chief of the Defence Forces Angus Houston told Peter Reith in a phone conversation only three days before the 2001 Federal election on 7 November, that: "There was nothing to suggest that women and children had been thrown into the water."

The LIE:  On 9 November, Mr. Downer claimed of the 14 Kurds who landed on Melville Island:

"They didn't apply for asylum when they were in contact with Australian authorities or with the Australians themselves on Melville Island."

The FACT:  The Government's People Smuggling Task Force confirmed that the Turkish asylum seekers actually did seek asylum.

The LIE:  Referring to the sinking of SIEV X, where 353 people died, John Howard said:  "The boat did not sink in Australian Waters".

John Howard, October 2001.

The FACT:  Despite several Australian Government agencies trying to conceal the facts subsequent evidence proved SIEV X went down some ninety miles south of the Sunda Strait.  The 353 people who drowned were within waters under Australian responsibility.

The LIE:  "This vessel sunk in Indonesian waters... We had nothing to do with it, it sank, I repeat in Indonesian waters...."

John Howard, Radio 6PR, October 23,2001.

The FACT:  No evidence can be provided that John Howard's claim is true.  The harbourmaster at Sunda Kelapur Port, North Jakarta, reported survivors were picked up 51 nautical miles south of Java.  Clearly outside Indonesian waters.

The LIE:  "Nothing can alter the fact that I have in my possession an ONA report that states baldly....that children were thrown in the water."

John Howard, SBS Insight program, November 2001.

The FACT:  Admiral David Shackleton told the media "it does not appear they were thrown in."  8 November 2001.

The LIE:  Immigration Minister Vanstone told Channel 10 news: "(Big Brother evictee Merlin's) obviously not very well informed.  There are no refugees in Australian detention centres".

Amanda Vanstone, 15 June 2004.

The FACT:  At the same time 141 asylum seekers from Afghanistan, locked up in the Australian-funded detention centre on Nauru after the arrival of the MV Tampa, had been approved as refugees and were being resettled in Australia.

Approximately, 93 percent of asylum seekers locked in detention centres have been found to be refugees.

COMMENT:  Let's hope that the naturalised Australians remember Howard's hatred of foreigners especially Chinese and Muslims.

Bring on the election.


"Johnny Come Lately"

Isn't it amazing how Howard and his "New Order" can change their facial expressions and their "rock solid" ideology when an election is near?

Climate change; WorkChoices’ "fairness test"; hospital under-funding becoming take-overs; removal of Aboriginal rights under the guise of "abused children"; concentration camps inspected; nuclear reactors and nuclear waste deal with the US (postponed until after the election) and after five years of warnings, realising that the Murray-Darling is dying and throwing billions of our money at the devastated farmers! (Is that for the benefit of the US company Monsarto?) Struth - another book?

At the moment we a once again seeing the constant, repetitive and word for word negative politics that won the Liberal/Nationalists the last two elections.

While Howard tried to con the people with the sad face and "be kind enough to vote for me because I have a lot more to do" it didn't last due to the person's megalomania. He just couldn't keep it up!

And, to further protect him from his obvious patronising arrogance, the robots accuse Kevin Rudd of doing what Howard is doing! Fair dinkum.

Mr. Rudd has never shown to me any feeling other than "I am happy with the way things are going but, there is a long way to go and the task of obtaining 16 seats is a mammoth task" [or words to that effect] right through the "phoney" campaign.

I also thought that Howard was too willing to crawl, whinge, plead and beg his robots to give him another go at us. He dismissed the polls and decided "I will win"! So there you are.

Seems to me that the media is becoming the wild card that I spoke of some weeks ago but, mainly on the TV and seriously on ABC.

I agree with several of the WD contributors in that my wife and I also turn off the sound or picture when Howard or his minions come on - and that is plenty of times.

With their billions of our money due partly to under-funding services, they can spend what they like on "informative" ads while appearing free to air on the every TV station and every news bulletin.

I wish Kevin Rudd and Australia was indeed confident of removing the fascists but, all the cards are stacked against us.

The public desperately need to keep their eyes on the ball and "never ever" believe Howard of his "New Order" when they appear to be "momentarily" correcting their 11 year old blunders.

Bring on the election.


The Internet Fantasy

I correspond with 3 friends who have retired to Thailand where their pensions go so much further and they often comment on the Thai authorities continued attempts to block certain websites-many openly  pornographic but others like contact sites ( face book etc) ,proxy providers and such or ones that make derogatory remarks about the Thai Royal Family who are revered by the Thai people.

Almost all their efforts can be circumvented as they are in China which continues a very harsh crackdown but for every illegal Internet cafe they shut down a dozen spring in their place. At least in Thailand as in so many things they do-it's just a show to shut-up the Yanks who badger them continually and they really put minor efforts into policing it.

I've always said-the endless Internet scares perpetuated by the government focused on child abuse and terrorism are a very real and evil intent upon suppressing information but are doomed for failure. Both criminal activities may be odious but are minute compared to other crimes. Keelty's hand in all this is pretty frightening I reckon. He's been one of the most politicised police commanders this country has ever had. It looks like he'll stop at nothing to gain power for the AFP-who in turn are the most incompetent bunch of fuzz ever to put on a sheriff's badge. Just ask any state police service member who recoil in horror at the mention of their name.

Early retirement for Keelty hopefully, come a Rudd government..

Richard:  Michael, you'll probably "enjoy" the piece I'm working on tonight. 


Alan, medicare gold was a good plan

As we don't have care for the elderly as suggested by Gillard the elderly are now being treated like rubbish and many have to re-mortgage their homes to pay for the dental care Howard stripped away or the hospital bills or for food.

You need to face reality - Howard and Costello are a terrible duo and have led this nation's social programs into decay. Except for the rich mums paid to stay home while the single mums are forced out to work.

We applaud the monks in Burma for protesting and then have thug cops in NSW pushing and shoving a pregnant woman nine weeks before her due date and arresting people for daring to complain about losing their jobs and people protesting about the loss of their work rights in Australia are labelled thugs.

Wrong again

Mary j Shepherd, I was talking to my dentist a few weeks ago and he said that Rudd's dental plan was a joke. There is just not enough dentists to provide the service they talk about.

If Medicare Gold was so good, how come the people rejected it?

Fiona: Alan, I'd be interested in your thoughts on why there are insufficient dentists, not to mention doctors, nurses, etc, etc...

Kev Will Fix Hospitals

You won't get any argument from me, Alan Curran, about the NSW state Labor Party. As others say, Bob Carr was the best Premier the Liberal Party never had. I would have voted for John Brogden and I reckon Barry O'Farrell's probably a good bloke.

I think we really do have to wait and see what really happened at RNS. I've been in there twice and I can only praise them to the hilt. 2 years ago I was the beneficiary of the doctors there taking a political stance and doing twice as many ops to try and embarrass the State government – got a great knee replacement 9 months ahead of time.

I don't know enough about Nicole Cornes’ electorate but I can recognise a storm in a teacup when I see one. We'll be seeing heaps of this media rubbish from now until the damned election. I wish JH would bring it on and put us all out of our misery. Surely you aren't falling for this new media mantra – Kevin Rudd and all his committees? Honestly, I think so many in the media live in a parallel universe and really believe readers hang off every word they write.

You're forgetting Greg Combet's work during the great Patricks debacle. You mighn't like what he did but he was brilliant, along with others. There should be an enquiry into that illegal government conspiracy. Maybe there will be if Rudd is PM.

Let us not forget. Howard Lies Mk 2.

Source:  http://www.johnhowardlies.com/Taxation.htm   Date 11/7/2004. This has been substituted with a completely unconnected website.  Neat way to close it eh? "How does Howard get away with it"?

The LIE:  "There's no way that a GST will ever be part of our policy.  Never ever.  It's dead.  It was killed by the voters in the last election.

Any suggestion that I left the door open is absolute nonsense.  I didn't.  I never will. The last election killed the GST.  It's not part of our policy and it won't be part of our policy at any time in the future".

John Howard, May 1995.

The FACT:  The Howard government introduced the GST just three years later.

The LIE:   "My Government will not introduce any new taxes, and will not increase existing taxes".

The FACT:  Since 1996, the Howard Government has introduced or increased tax 144 times.

Total tax collected has risen from $124 billion in 1996 to over $200 billion in 2003-4 and is projected to rise a further $33 billion over the next ten years.

The LIE:  "We're not going to increase any taxes."  "We do not intend to increase any taxes in our term, full stop."

John Howard, May 2001.

The FACT: Since 2001, the Howard Government has introduced or increased tax 32 times.

Total income tax collected has risen from $90.6 billion in 1996 to $136.5 billion in 2003-4 and is projected to rise a further $26.5 billion over the next three years.

The LIE:  "The days of easily operating in the black economy are coming to an end."

Peter Costello, July 2000.

The FACT: The Australian Tax Office has said: "There are no documents indicating the impact the GST has had on cutting the size of the black economy.

And the Audit Office said:  "At the time of the audit, we were not in a position to comment on whether the compliance dividend had been met or even partially met.  Since the audit (in March 2002) the ANAO has re-undertaken further work relating to this issue".

Comment:  With his absolute dependence on dishonesty and deceit, especially now that there is a real chance to unseat him, does anyone really believe that he has suddenly become honest and can be taken, even for one moment, as truthful?  No matter what he says or does, or what his robots copy, it will be political negative dirt at its very worst and desperate.

Since the days that these ABS figures were printed, the information fed to that Australian Government Agency from the Howard/Costello government is less reliable and rarely updated when it should be.

Keep our eyes on the ball.

Bring on the election.


Mr Abetz will sort out those not happy

Well, I can guess what one of the first sites to get the sting of this legislation will be, that dang sedition site about our honourable leader, howardtellsnaughtyfibstoo.com.  I guess we all saw it coming to the web, all who watch for such things. 

"The new arrangements will allow harmful sites to be more quickly added to software filters," said Eric Abetz, a senator for Tasmania, who introduced the bill. "Of course the best outcome is for these sites to be taken down and their hosts prosecuted. But this takes time, particularly as most of these sites are hosted overseas.

"Rapid blacklisting means that the damage these sites can do can be more quickly reduced whilst takedown and prosecution processes are pursued, usually overseas," Abetz said. 

And we all know what an upstanding fighter for free speech and democratic values Mr Abetz is, don't we?


Let us not forget. Howard Lies Mk 1.

Source:  http://www.truthoverboard.com/

The time that Howard's typical lie "I didn't know" about the "Babies Overboard" was exposed by a Senate Select Committee on "A Certain Maritime Incident" on 23 October 2002.

And another Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 18.4.2002, p 5.

"...In a day of damaging evidence for the Government, the information trail edgedcloser to the Prime Minister, John Howard.

"The office of former defence minister Peter Reith, told government photographers not to take or circulate "humanising" pictures of asylum seekers during last year's election campaign..."

"...a senior public servant revealed that the demand was made by Mr. Reith's former press secretary, Ross Hampton...".


I was aware that Howard had this website closed down but strangely, did not sue on any grounds of lies or defamation! WHY?

While we await the pleasure of this spiteful little schoolboy to call an election where we have at least a reasonable chance of ridding our country of him and his "New Order" of unaccountability, "Let us not forget" what his record clearly shows.

Please call up the website and read.  Do we really think that he has changed?

Bring on the election.



Alan, god you drive me nuts

Tell me Alan, are you really Piers Akerman in disguise?    Who cares if Gillard is treasurer?    What are you on about?   By convention since federation the deputy PM has the right to be treasurer.

Get over it.  Who will be treasurer in a Costello government?  Dolly Downer or the mad monk?   God help us all then.

As for that miscarriage.     The father said the foetus was "alive" which is simply not possible for a 14 week foetus, it is impossible to know if a woman is 14 weeks pregnant in most cases and waiting 2 hours is hardly a chore.

I used to wait 10 hours with Chrohn's disease threatening to kill me due to gangrene and a blocked bowel.

No sense

Mary j Shepherd, "Who cares if Gillard is treasurer?"

I think most people would be worried if she was. She was a failure as Shadow Health Minister, could not understand her own Party's Medicare Gold. As Shadow Minister for IR she is a disaster, she spends more time on her hair than on her job.

"Waiting 2 hours is hardly a chore".

It might not be a long time for you, but for most people two hours of waiting in emergency whilst in pain can be traumatic.

Who Is Nicole Cornes, Alan ?

"Star recruit" is one of the stupid media terms invented to denigrate a person. As we haven't a clue who the vast silent toadying backbench of the current Coalition is, a gaffe from a Labor candidate is a mere blip on the radar-but handy when you want to divert the main story.

As for Greg Combet in charge of IR, what an eminently suitable candidate. He has demonstrated he can organise, conduct business and win. He is just what the country needs-you know like the old days when unions and business could co-operate just as they do in the largest exporting country in the world-Germany. Or perhaps most of the Scandinavian countries that enjoy a terrific lifestyle despite the great furphy pumped out years ago about how "unhappy" Scandinavians were under leftish  governments .

The alternative? Kevin Andrews removed before he can make yet another gaffe but merely stuffs up wherever he, is or perhaps the perfectly coiffured ex-leftie Brendan Nelson who possibly still puts those earrings in when he goes home knowing his whole political life is a sham.

More blips

Michael de Angelos, another Labor blip.

"The Labor Health Minister, Reba Meagher, told Parliament yesterday that William Walters, head of the Royal Hospital for Women at Randwick, and Cliff Hughes, head of the Clinical Excellence Commission, would conduct the inquiry into the latest incident at Royal North Shore.

The terms of reference limit the professors to:

■ investigating the treatment of ***********, whose miscarriage in the emergency room toilet of Royal North Shore Hospital sparked an outcry when it was revealed yesterday;

■ reviewing all "practices and protocols" at public hospitals for women presenting with miscarriages or threatened miscarriages";

■ and making recommendations stemming from their review".

Just don't roll up to emergency with any other kind of suspected medical condition.

Don't you just love Labor Enquiries, whatever you do don't upset the Unions.

Sad, sad incident

Alan, the incident that occurred with the woman in the emergency reception area was sad. I thought, too, "how long before the states receive proper funding from Canberra, from the billions hoarded or assigned to tax cuts for the wealthy?”

Great minds think alike?

BTW Jenny, I see you didn't watch the Dateline report on Palestine (as example), otherwise you have offered a less inaccurate and denial-ridden response to my comments.

Alan and Jenny, what did you think about all the workers at that trucking company being ripped off and then some beaten up by police thugs. Marvellous system, ours.

"Union" thugs? What a joke!

Denials, Paul ?

Paul Walter: "BTW Jenny, I see you didn't watch the Dateline report on Palestine (as example), otherwise you have offered a less inaccurate and denial-ridden response to my comments.

Alan and Jenny, what did you think about all the workers at that trucking company being ripped off and then some beaten up by police thugs. Marvellous system, ours" 

I think you will find most of the denials are in the left camp, Paul. I at least can acknowledge that there are many forces at work in those countries. But to the left all the problems and suffering in the ME are the child of the West. And that is patently not true.

I did watch Dateline, and for the record I have no time for thuggery on the part of anyone in the ME, be it Hamas, Fatah, the Israelis, the Afghan men against their women, or foreign troops. But I hardly see that program as relevant to the issue of the plight of Afghan women which is primarily what I was discussing. But in any case I think nothing will change for the better for the Palestinians until they stop fighting each other and decide they really do want peace. And whether they like it or not they will have to engage with the Israelis toward that goal, just as the Israelis will have to engage with them if they want to be free of rocket attacks. But I doubt I will see that in my lifetime. The hatreds run too deep just as they did in Northern Ireland.

I do not agree with Mary that our troops are not helping the Afghans. If they are trying to protect others carrying out reconstruction work, putting their own lives on the line, then clearly they are there for a good purpose. If other forces in the country, including the Taliban, undo or make that work almost impossible, then that is hardly their fault, or that of the Government.

And for the record,  I have no time for either boss, or union or police thuggery. I think it is scandalous that workers can pull up a poor last behind the banks when a firm goes bust, and not get their entitlements. Unfortunately when people are very angry things can very easily get out of hand, on all sides.

And in passing, I note people in the city do not like to see the farmers baled out, but when the Government steps in after these company failures and says it will guarantee the workers' entitlements are met, there is no complaint from the public or on WD from the left. Seems there is one rule for the bush, and another for the city in the minds of many city folk.  But we are used to that and can live with it.


Paul Walter, it would not matter how much money the Feds gave to NSW, Labor would waste it as they are a bunch of incompetent idiots. Thank goodness I do not have to rely on public health, transport or education. The hospitals are crying out for money and Iemma spends $500,000 on refurbishing the office of the Minister for Environment. It's the old Labor story: once they have their fingers in the honey-pot, they waste it.

As for the workers at the trucking company, that was a disgrace – it should not have happened. I happen to subscribe to the theory that all businesses large or small should treat their workers with respect, and that goes for the workers too. I have recently sold my business to an overseas company, but I have made sure that everybody employed by me got their full entitlements and a little bit extra.

As for the police activity, I cannot comment as I do not know what happened there. However, they did look like an ugly mob at the gates and inside the premises, and they had every right to be upset. However, I did watch as the union official whipped it all up whilst the cameras were there.

As we wind down to the election it looks like Labor may just win. I am glad that by the end of next month I will have retired and nothing that happens in the world of politics will have any effect on me. I shall watch with interest how you all struggle under a Rudd government, and await your comments as Labor squanders all the gains of the last ten years.

Scuse me!

Alan Curran: "it would not matter how much money the feds gave...NSW...Labor would waste it ...The hospitals are crying out for money and Iemma spends $5,000,000 refurbishing the office of the Minister for Environment."

Believe it or not, I think that you speak truth and I understand your sentiments perfectly. It's missed your attention as to previous posts of mine that I detest NSW Labor probably almost as much as you do and also not always for reasons different to yours. I dislike them because they are knowing, grafting, political animals of exactly the same worldly type that infest the federal coalition. Both lots should have been shot out a fair while ago.

Now, given your feelings concerning the wastage you mention above, I presume you must feel equally offended at similar sums wasted by Howard on Kirribilli House and travel, let alone the taxpayers’ $billions wasted cumulatively on advertising and propaganda that could also have been spent on hospitals.

Jenny, my little one, you don't recall the ABC news either last night or the night before concerning 700 workers locked out of a Sydney trucking company, with the principals having disappeared back offshore while leaving behind a pile of bookkeeping irregularities and the readies gone from the can?

Alan seems to, though.

BTW Alan, my kudos to you for your correct treatment of your work people. I will expect and hope that you thus enjoy a long, relaxing and guilt-free retirement, worthy of an Australian citizen.

Yes I do, Paul

"Jenny, my little one, you don't recall the ABC news either last night or the night before concerning 700 workers locked out of a Sydney trucking company, with the principals having disappeared back offshore while leaving behind a pile of bookkeeping irregularities and the readies gone from the can?"

Yes Paul, I do, and that is what I was referring to in regard to workers being abandonned like that and then getting pushed around when they were rightfully very angry about it.

There are many kinds of corporate thuggery, including by those charlatans in investment firms with their shiny prospectuses taking people's life savings, knowing they are putting them at risk. 

But you never see many of those shonky salesmen or those trucking company crooks end up in gaol where they belong, do you?

And I firmly believe that when a company goes bust or clears out like that, any banks owed money should take second place in line for anything that might be left, after the workers and the small investors. But they always draw the short straw, don't they? I have no objection to the Government stepping in and meeting their entitlements, none at all.  Like farmers, they have to eat and feed their kids. 

But surely the compulsory super payments were made by that firm. The worker has to be shown on his payslip that they were lodged in the fund of his choice. Is it that they never paid the super into the funds in the first place? If so there clearly needs to be a change in the system. And maybe companies have to be made to put workers' leave and other entitlements into a Government run fund and taxed each year at a higher rate if they fail to comply. And that tax could be quarantined to meet those entitlements if they fail to do so.  

Our family must have been mugs. When a farm worker was in trouble we often paid him his wages in advance to help him out even though we were skimped most times ourselves. Only one ever let us down and cleared out, failing to front for any more work. 

And what's this Jenny, my little one. Who says I am little? I'm all of 5 foot 4 but don't ask me to put that in cms. And I have a big heart. Too big at times.

Fiona: I am sure that, coming from a gentleman like Paul, it was a term of endearment, Jenny. Don't tell Ian.


Michael de Angelos, "a gaffe from a Labor candidate is a mere blip on the radar", it might be a blip on your radar but I'll bet it is ringing alarm bells in SA.

"As for Greg Combet in charge of IR, what an eminently suitable candidate. He has demonstrated he can organise, conduct business and win". You are kidding are you not, what skills does it take to organise a union march? Paint a few banners and get everybody to stand in a straight line. As for business, some people well remember the ACTU's foray into business.

Then there is little bit in the SMH this morning,

NSW's peak nursing body says wards at RNSH are illegally understaffed.

The NSW Nurses' Association (Union) has blamed inadequate staffing levels and a lack of resources for Ms Horska's miscarriage.

"At North Shore Hospital we've got some shifts on the wards there run without registered nurses, now that's illegal,"said association assistant general secretary Judith Kiejda.

Funny she never said anything about this during the recent NSW election.

Is This Howard's Method of Hoping we will Forget?

IMHO, we have the following situation developing on the political front:

  • Howard/Ruddock's "Dirt Agency" is almost at full speed.
  • Howard's "Crystal Ball" of negative politics isn't challenged.
  • Predominately "New Order" Ministers having a "free to air" exposures in the visual media while opposition shadow Ministers remain virtually unknown.
  • Even the ABC becoming more attuned to international and platonic news issues rather than the pending "pivotal" federal election. Simply put, return to freedom and democracy or further into fascism and a third world status in Globalization.
  • Justifiable mentions of State Hospital failures without any mention of the Howard/Costello continuing under-funding.  If the States want to raise taxes to take-up the short-fall, Costello reduces their GST.  Certainly a no-win situation manipulated to discredit the States and to disenfranchise their voters.
  • Preparing "Mandates" on "National Emergencies"; Take overs of State powers and Interventions even as Howard said "where I believe they are necessary". 
  • Downer appearing to address Climate Change in the United Nations when in fact he was not in the major forum and had a very scarce audience at that.

Let's hope that the media begins to give equal coverage to the Shadow Ministers and their issues during the election campaign.

It was refreshing to see Tony Jones of the Lateline show give an interview of the Australian Labor Party's Peter Jarrett to balance the interview with Downer the previous night.

While Howard continues to treat the voting Public with contempt - are we entitled to know when he expects to hold the election? Keep up the balance Tony.

Bring it on.



Ernest William, here are some more things that are happening out there, which you forgot to mention.

* Rudd/Star recruits making fools of themselves on air.

* Looks as though if Labor wins Gillard will be the  Treasurer and Combet Minister for IR. Recipe for disaster.

* State Labor governments still mismanaging Health, Education and Transport.

* The reason we are not hearing from the Labor Shadow Ministers, is that Rudd has gagged them because he knows they are idiots. He is making all the announcements himself, and making gaffes.

* Unions pulling more stunts, watch as they blow it for Labor.

Howard has every right to call the Election when he decides to do so, unlike Rudd he does not take orders from Sharon Burrows. Who is Peter Jarrett?, a new Star recruit. Ern even you are making mistakes now. Struth.

Jenny we ain't helping the Afghans

I hope you watched Four Corners on Monday night Jenny to see how much we are helping the Afghan people, especially the women.

We sit around doing not too much while the poppies grow, the children are sold to pay debts and the women kill themselves and while 2 million widows are allowed to starve.

Our "aid" to Afghanistan so far is about $1 per year per person.

Only up to us?

Mary: If you read my earlier comments you would see I was commenting on the situation in Afghanistan on the basis of that program. The program made it clear, despite the obvious bias of the reporter that the repression of women by Afghan men causes enormous grief to Afghan women.  And it is naive to think that that repression does not have its roots in fundamentalist Islamic belief.

It is also naive Mary, Paul and Bryan to try and apportion blame for all the ills of the ME on the West, while downplaying the wider issues. As I said there are a multitude of forces at work in the ME and the suffering of the people cannot be attributed wholly to one or the other, much as many here would like to try.

And don't think Mary that women are only sold to pay debts. One Pakistani expressed his disgust to me that tribal people in the border areas of that country have been known to sell their daughters in order to go on the Haj. His claim, not mine. He was western educated by the way which may explain his enlightened view.

Afghanistan is very poor and has been for a very long time. There are many reasons why countries fall into poverty - war, overpopulation, corruption, poverty of soils, lack of resources, repression of the peoples' rights, being just some. 

You only have to look to Burma and Zimbabwe, countries rich in resources to see the role played by corrupt and repressive governments.

You might tell me Mary, since you seem to suggest it is up to us, what those Afghan men might do to help those widows begging in the street. Treating them with respect would be a good start don't you think?

Who's Responsible?

This thread started as a discussion about the Australian polity.  I’m an Australian who’s interested in what we do and why as an expression of our national aspirations and values.

I contend that Australia has:

recently created much mayhem and damage in Afghanistan by engaging in warfare;

used propaganda instruments at home to justify the war.  One key instrument has been the claim that our war-making will liberate Afghani women from oppression, and all citizens to democracy;

betrayed all Afghani citizens, especially women and children, by failing to meet any responsibilities for reparation and reconstruction.
I’m happy to admit that Australia hasn’t been the biggest monster on the block, nor is it responsible for pre-existing Afghan cultural values.

I’m holding out the things we are responsible for, and the way we are shirking those responsibilities.  Will Jenny and Mike admit these are issues worth discussion in Australian democracy?

Or is it all the brown fellas’ fault once again?

Oh don't be silly Bryan

Bryan: Or is it all the brown fellas’ fault once again?

Don't be silly. The issue of the treatment of women under Islam has nothing to do with the colour of their skin, a rather beautiful colour I might add. And beautiful women too. We whites are not the most attractive race on earth.

Our soldiers are in Afghanistan attempting to provide protection for teams working on construction projects, by keeping the hated Taliban on the run.

It is not true to say that there is no reconstruction going on in either Iraq or Afghanistan. But I would agree that it falls far short of what is needed and what was promised, and that makes the suffering of women even worse due to economic hardship, lack of medical care and so on.

But the deliberate oppression of women in the country, and the lack of services etc are two entirely separate issues.

I see no point in us going round in circles Bryan so you'll just have to live with this.

Mike: Thank you. People shoot the blame back to the West , specifically us and the Brits and the US all the time. And that simply reflects an unwillingness to accept and try to understand the compexity of the forces at work in these unfortunate countries.


Must say I find the idea that the problems in places like the Mid East are down to "Islam" egregiously reductionist. This is just a rewrite of Huntingdon's nonsense, which is just recycled fear-laden Manichean essentialism that reeks of the same paranoia as besets mad fundamentalists elsewhere.

What about the role of conservative Catholicism in agrarian Latino countries as part of a system that maintains an unjust and violent status quo? And Burma is Buddhist, but also in trouble as the local elites battle the masses. If Islam is the sole requirement for regime failure, how about atheist Albania or the old Stalinist East European countries? Fascist Italy? And what part have the flat-earth anti-Darwinist Christian fundies in the US played in that country's decline of late? Or the “ultra" nutters of Israel as to its loss of soul?

Perhaps it's reasonable to propose alternatively that difficult circumstances, particularly over a long time involving chronic tension, violence and poverty, create certain conditions where an extremist version of any ideology or religion can thrive. Worse if the religion and violence become self replicating and symbiotic. Desperate conditions create anger and urgent demands for relief: immediate solutions couched in emotional black and white terms.

“Things are bad; it must be because we disobeyed God (not understanding that the downfall may have more mundane causes); let's find and punish wrongdoers who must have been responsible, before it's too late".

Panicked people find scapegoats and these are sacrificed on the altar of fear. Are these people intrinsically "bad" or just perhaps deserving also of pity and an attempt at understanding? Surely, time to see history as processive and component laden rather than through solely a moralistic lens? Even in the West, mild versions of irrationalist fundamentalism like Hansonism or McCarthyism have surfaced during uncertain times, so it’s easy done.

I think the West does have major questions to answer for its conduct over decades, generations and centuries. Particularly in recent times when we should have known better and followed more closely our own maxim of "do unto others". Our wealth and power is due to our cleverness, but also to ruthlessness in milking dry conquered areas throughout the Third World. How responsible should we be for what our ancestors did? Sackcloth and ashes? Perhaps not. Should more have been done recently both as to our own materialism and the misery of others elsewhere? Surely. And that includes getting beyond blaming the victim, or easy rationalisations as to cause, in avoidance of rigorous, unwelcome investigation. Rather, time for embracing a little self-honesty. That 4 Corners was grim, confronting and unpalatable. Am glad in the end I endured watching it, which is small beer indeed to having to live it, because I learnt two things. Firstly, when people on average have to survive in bombed out slums and villages on 135 pounds or dollars a year, as the second poorest nation on earth after a generation of war, it's little wonder the place is dysfunctional, violent and reactionary, and that's hardly going to be down to "Islam" alone, for heavens sake!

Why are other Islamic societies not daft if it's solely "Islam" that creates these breakdowns? What about the non-Islamic countries undergoing breakdown?

Also don't forget who was happy to arm the warlords, and later the Taliban, from the 'eighties, in pursuit of objectives of its own regardless of consequences for the Afghanis. Just cats paws and patsies, ultimately worth no more consideration than as incidental collateral damage (like the Palestinian Arabs, who also can just bugger off to the desert when it's no longer convenient for them to be in a certain place).

I also learned that Australians live in a dream world that finds it awkward thinking about pain and suffering and facing what it might be (like) although it scares the bejesus out of us at the mere thought. It's us who have to get real, not the poor of the Third World. If for no other reason that laziness, dishonesty and cowardice might lead us to eventually having to live like them, as a consequence of that.

Let’s not try to gloss things over. Particularly in the unworthy pursuit of emotional manipulation of other people who feel sensitive about what has happened including concerning refugees who were known personally to them.

BTW, caught part of that Insight, Solomon. What about that bastard Hartigan, eh?

Qur'an and conformity

A proper application of Islam might see an improvement in the rights of women (and men) in Iran. The punishments for adultery in the Qur'an are pre-modern but they don't include stoning. Stoning is no longer official policy in Iran but it still occurs. One rather strange suggestion by Iranian officials is the implementation of "temporary marriages", which have an historical basis and which the Prophet Mohammed is said to have condoned at one point, though later restricting. This to me is typically Islamic in its permissiveness towards what it would otherwise prohibit so long as it is conducted in a certain ritualistic manner. No Western Christian group would ever countenance "Temporary marriages"; a marriage is the union of soul to soul.

Of course the moral police are still out and about and can arrest you for wearing make-up or "un-islamic" dress. In the past this included colours, which is perhaps the most absurd illustration of the dreariness of fascist conformism. In Australia Muslim women where veils of all kinds of colours and patterns, sometimes with aggressive (and tasteless) tigress patterns. It represents a certain level of individualism, in contrast to the "Islamic Republic's" preference for conformity down to minutiae. Some do not wear veils at all, like the stunningly beautiful Sabrina Houssami, Miss World Australia, who was on Insight last night.

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