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What song to sing?

Melanie La'Brooy has written a piece in today's Age about  how people who learned to fight politically during the Howard years don't find it fun to kick the Liberals while they're down.   She explains that those who fought for the causes that Howard was perceived to oppose (mentioning Margo Kingston and her Not Happy John campaign) aren't predisposed to Schadenfreude.

Perhaps she's right.   These days I don't even feel like picking on Alexander Downer, though his continual grabs for publicity space suggest that digging in the odd toe every now and then to be sure he stays in place can't do any harm.  And the fact remains that Howard's Libs did a lot of things in our name that many of us did not approve of, and engaged in activities that some of us consider criminal in nature.  If we're not going to punish them, we should still be scolding them for some time to come.

The piece has got me thinking about what happens now to those who found their political voices while chanting in protest once their calls have been heeded  Do they consider the job done and go home to put the telly on, or do they take the skills that they've acquired and try to use them in ways that they think might "make a difference" ?

Melanie puts it well when she says that  "When Howard exited, stage right, his political legacy was both the reinvigoration of the left and the awakening of the political conscience of hundreds of thousands of Australians, who will empower our democracy for years to come."  Perhaps it might be an overly-rosey viewpoint.  With the fires of passion quelled, I think many will be happy to return to their previous placidity.

Does a new Government want a vociferous populace monitoring its movements, with the implied threat of beligerence if their whims aren't fulfilled?  Probably not- but, like it or lump it, that's what they've got. 

Yes, democracy in Australia is healthier than it's been in years.  Have we cured it, though, or placed it on life-support?  It depends on how we act now.

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Xmas Island pictures

Send me those photos Richard, they will be circulated.

Richard:  I'll email you tomorrow, Marilyn.   Haven't even scanned them yet.

Singing for the public service

Public servants in DIAC and the former DIMA deported Australians, locked up Australians, wasted money by taking years to make refugee decisions, used false documents to cancel visas, broke the law when they cancelled other visas, and generally cost the Australian public hundreds of millions by their sloth, incompetence and general ignorance of our own laws.

DFAT deported people on false documents, dumped them illegally in the wrong countries (see Following them Home by David Corlett), deported Australians, didn't read dozens of cables about AWB giving $300 million to Saddam Hussein, and stayed rigidly silent when many of them must have known they were committing crimes.

ONA, DIO, and other intelligence agencies knew very well that no children were thrown into the sea, they knew there were no WMD in Iraq, that Saddam did not have a shredding machine, that David Hicks had been taken to Gitmo and Mamdouh Habib had been rendered to Egypt to be tortured, and they all stayed silent except for Andrew Wilkie.

ASIO and the AFP have kidnapped citizens off the street illegally, detained them illegally, created this deluded set of control orders against people convicted of no crime and fitted up Dr Haneef while terrifying the life out of his family and colleagues.

Centrelink threw thousands of people off payments and left them penniless and homeless, made millions of mistakes in benefit assessments and have used millions to get back money for their own mistakes.

If these public servants are having to finally work with some efficiency I have not one jot of sympathy for the poor widdle diddums and think they should all be fired or suck it up.

He has fixed it

That is the point, Eliot: he has fixed it and it will cost taxpayers millions more in compensation for the cruel and stupid policies of John Howard.

You really need to keep up.

Mister Fixit

Marilyn Shepherd: "These two cases explore the illegal incarceration and deportation of innocent people again and still not one public servant has been sacked over these hundreds of fiascos."

Don't worry. Once Kevin Rudd is Prime Minister, he'll fix it.

Familiar haunts

I have in my possession some photos of the Christmas Island detention centre that an artist mate who was sailing by went ashore and took.  I'm thinking of publishing them as a photo essay.

What would've been the next step from swapping inmates between Guantanamo and Nauru?

The bits and pieces at Baxter were auctioned off on Friday.  I'm so glad that this part of our history is over.  That one of the original champions of Amnesty (now calling for Guantanamo closure, castigating Australia for the control order on Hicks and the mistreatment of Haneef) could be a major architect of this fiasco and walk away scot-free is something I find appalling.

Speaking of Haneef, it's dismaying to see what kind of farce the inquiry will be.   The umbrella of non-compromise to UK to security will be a catch-all for just about everything, since this what was actually all about.  Hopefully at least the level of deception in leading us to believe that he was considered a threat to Australia will come out.   Those photos of the inside of his flat need a good airing.

F Kendall, I too try to collect ghost stories where I find them.  I think that one on the ghosts of Adelaide pubs would be a cracker.  The ghost in the bathtub story was supposed to have happened on our premises twenty years ago.  At least it's the given explanation of how the lady in question broke her leg falling out of the bath.  I can only imagine how I'd react if, while engrossed in my morning underwater reverie,  I found myself face to face with somebody who hadn't been been there before.  Then again she could have been up to something else requiring a colourful explanation for her predicament, for all I know.

But I do know the one of the sceptic barmaid.  We have an island bar, a lamp atop a shelf in the middle that at the time was only sitting there ... screwed down now.  As this lass was saying to the locals that she didn't believe such rubbish, the lamp, swinging on its power cord, arced from its resting place to gently brush her hair as it swung by.  After that she believed.

Things don't just go bump in the night, either. Dad once spoke to a couple of elderly gentlmen having lunch in the front bar.  One was saying what a lovely lunch they'd just had, the other explaining how they'd just watched a man walk through the bar to its end and vanish a la a Star Trek teleport.

Sunday nights I like to put a CD on for the ghosts, my little way of saying thanks for putting up with us for another week.

The ghosts/mobile phones relationship is intriguing. Must look into it.  Who ya gonna call?

I wonder if Howard feels haunted these days.  He ought to.

Another two results of my snooping


These two cases explore the illegal incarceration and deportation of innocent people again and still not one public servant has been sacked over these hundreds of fiascos.

I still think that if I had not found the piece about 33 people being illegally detained the department would never have been forced to investigate.

the sky falling in

Richard Tonkin: "...what happens now to those who found their voices...Do they consider the job finished and go home to put on the telly".

Norm (circa mid seventies):

"....warm the tube and cool the tinnies (prehistoric alcopops, for younger contributors)"

Last year's politics was cataclysmic and people did take a break, for a rest and to wait and see what eventuated. It's taken some time for what's now in play to emerge to the extent of being able to comment, involving things like privatisation, environment, etc.

Now that new picture is emerging people are getting interested again, usually because, in their opinion, the new government is either going too far, or not far enough and whether this or that is then "the end of life as we know it".

Same with international news – things have lulled a little. But suddenly, with Burma and China, we see just how things can change in a flash.

With events in the two unfortunate countries mentioned, something akin when combined, to the awesome and fearful Aceh Tsunami of several years ago has finally and sadly occurred.

But because people have held their peace does not mean they have not watching from the wings. Personally I feel they go not far enough, others think they will involve themselves in ill-considered change.

Article 36 of the Migration Act

Article 36 of our migration act along with article 65 are the incorporation of the refugee convention into our migration act.

To claim otherwise was simply Ruddock's own little slice of lunacy.  Alan, do you know what?   After seven years of telling people that Ruddock made it all up I am really, really tired.

 Do some searching and reading of HREOC and law cases all by yourself and then get back to me.

Before Ruddock made that statement over 11,000 refugees had arrived on his watch on boats and not one of them were ever charged with anything at all which proves surely that he was talking drivel.

Our migration act changed in 1992 when all offences for being in or entering Australia without a visa were removed.

If you find the High Court case of Al Kateb and read para graph 86, which I have posted on Webdiary about a million or so times already, you will see the truth.

The right to seek asylum

Every person has the right to seek asylum, Alan, and the reality is those people you accuse of sneaking in were watched by the AFP in Indonesia who then told Canberra who then followed them all the way to the islands and then flew them to Australia because it was their right to be here without papers and ask for protection.

98% of them are still here becoming citizens.   Enough of this nonsense about sneaking in and economic migration and the rest of it - it was all made up by Ruddock to justify torture.


Marilyn: "It was all made up by Ruddock to justify torture."

Care to elaborate on that statement?

Aborigines, refugees, and Rudd

Yes Fiona, and after twelve years of not only neglect but outright theft and parallel genocide through studied inactivity, they far from merely doing "something" token "for electoral gain" , went exponentially lower, in scapegoating and smearing Aborigines for their own popularity, same as Hitler smeared the Jews.

The feature of interest here just at the moment is the conversation between Marilyn and Alan.

A long time ago, I might have leaned closer to Alan's position. But the last few years have revealed that many refugees were treated far more harshly in (prolonged) detention than appeared obvious at first. Whatever merit there have been to the detention aspect of the policy, there can be little doubt the policy failed at least concerning the lack of attention to duty of care and basic humanity, in the application.

As to Eliot and Marilyn, I'd agree that Rudd made a big mistake in not dealing effectively with Iemma. In this current case the counter-argument that Iemma is state and Rudd federal does not wash – they are both Labor and should have the communities’ interests first – he blinked when it came bringing Iemma into line and the resulting symbolism, leading to the over-compensation involving things like Iran, Israel and Henson, is that he is therefore not "in control of his own house", as he was previously.

But I agree with Marilyn that he need not be demonised. He is still likely relatively young, idealistic and energetic and his errors are those of inexperience rather than malice. His heart is surely no more in the wrong place than any one else’s. And the Rudd government is of a certainty no more amoral than the Howard government previous to it, or the current cynical Nelson opposition.

And 135 compensation claims possible

From my finding of 33 people who were released because they were illegally detained the department came up with a further 247.

They very carefully claim they have not claimed liability but they have sent out letters telling people they are probably entitled.

Evans and refugees

Comparing 42 people to the plight of 11,000 over the past 12 years is fairly pointless and the dopey "review" by Pamela Curr is absolutely meaningless.

Why on earth do you keep banging on and on and on attempting to paint Rudd as the most evil thing on earth when to date he hasn't harmed a living soul.

He didn't support bombing Iraq, or locking up kids, or the tear gassing, or giving Saddam Hussein $300 million so your attitude is beyond commonsense.

And Alan, stopping 1500 people for a few years at a cost of $3 billion is spurious and ludicrous when we had to destroy human beings who were not doing a single thing wrong.

Which part of "everyone has the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution in other countries" is it that you don't get?    Have a look through all the human rights instruments that Australia helped to write and find the bits that exempt us from being human beings and treating other fairly.


Marilyn, I have never painted Rudd as "the most evil thing on earth". I have called him a con-man and I believe I am right in my assessment of him. Look at the con job regarding Fuelwatch - and that is only the start of things.

So Rudd has said "Sorry" but the way Labor does things you will see nothing significant happen for 20 years. Housing Affordability is another con, there is nothing he can do or will do.

I do not object to people seeking genuine asylum because of persecution in Australia, but not when they want to sneak in for economic reasons.It seems that Rudd agrees with me on this point as he has knocked back over 40 in the last few months, but I do not hear you complaining. Anyway it is people like you who have to survive under a Rudd governement, I wish you luck - you are going to need it.

The Sorry mess they're in...

Fiona: The problems there are vast, and anyone who thinks that they can be "fixed" in six months, or a year, or even a decade, should think again.

Yeah. I kinda recall the previous Minister saying that. Ms O'Donoghue's disappointment is unwarranted, then?

Fiona: Of course Ms O'Donoghue's disappointment is not unwarranted. I'm disappointed, too, that so little was done under the Howard government's 11.5 years rule until it became, as they thought, politically (electorally) expedient to be seen to do something.

Rudd's pompous hypocrisy on refugees

Alan Curran: "As for the people locked up, there are a few at Villawood because they were up on the roof the other day."

This is what upset them:

"THE Rudd Government is rejecting asylum seeker applications at a higher rate than the Howard government, according to an analysis of new figures.

An Asylum Seeker Research Centre report says the immigration department has knocked back 41 of the 42 cases it has had referred to it since Labor took power after the November 2007 election, a rejection rate of 97.6 per cent."

Rudd no more intends to loosen restrictions on refugees than bring the troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Kevin Rudd - he's so 2007

Alan Curran: "Marilyn, the dopey one was Rudd for promising the people at the last election that he would set up Fuelwatch, Grocerywatch and Housingwatch."

Not to mention the now patently hypocritical and dishonest 2020 Gabfest stunt. And then there was the phoney "Sorry" stunt;

"Ms O'Donoghue's speech, given as part of Reconciliation Week, was her "swansong", she said.

The first chairwoman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission said she felt relief, gratitude and sadness when the apology was made but her heart remained "heavy with the sadness of how little has been achieved"

Isn't that what Wilson Tuckey said would happen?

I told you all this would happen.

Fiona: I don't know whether you have ever spent time in remote indigenous communities, Eliot. I have, and am about to do so again. The problems there are vast, and anyone who thinks that they can be "fixed" in six months, or a year, or even a decade, should think again.

What rot

Alan, we already know for sure that Coles were ripping off consumers, that Woolworths is selling to us more expensively than to New Zealand, that they are running price fixing rackets and so on.

Now get a life, sunshine. Howard lost. Someone should tell you.

And the people locked away under Rudd's watch amount to almost nothing, with most of them getting permanent residence and being allowed to have their families here.

Evans is already getting the re-written legislation prepared, but the only people locked up now are those few fishermen who were actually fishing illegally.

More rot

Marilyn, I am fully aware that Howard has gone, and for your information I have a life and enjoy it to the full. However, look who you have got in his place: a smooth talking con-man called Rudd who it seems cannot get through a day without a butler.

As for the people locked up, there are a few at Villawood because they were up on the roof the other day. The fishermen you speak of were sent home a couple of weeks ago.

If you are going to wait for Rudd to get Coles and Woolies to drop there prices you are back in cloud cuckoo land again. That's about as likely to happen as the broadband internet or a computer for every student.

Just wait till the end of the year when you will see the true colours of little Kev007 and those other L-Platers Macklin, Roxon and Garrett.


Marilyn, the dopey one was Rudd for promising the people at the last election that he would set up Fuelwatch, Grocerywatch and Housingwatch. He also promised to keep downward pressure on inflation and he is going to fall flat on his face on all of these promises. The $3 billion was money well spent as it has stopped the flow of boat-people; now Rudd does not have to buy all those patrol boats that Beazley was going to buy. By the way, why are you not out protesting about all the people still locked away under Rudd's watch?

We could explore our dopey press gallery

What is bizarre this week is the cheerleading by the dopey press gallery for Brendan Nelsons' even dopier 5 cents per litre excise rebate for dopey, fat drivers of Toorak tractors.

When it is boiled down the so called saving could be achieved by slowing the car by 5 km per hour or simply buying one less litre of the stuff.    About the size of a litre of milk I don't think anyone would ever notice but the press gallery have all lost the plot over it.

They are all ranting because Rudd said he couldn't physically bring down petrol prices and entirely missing the reason they are so high in the first place - sort of the last lot decided blowing up Iraq was a great idea.

One idiot proprietor had his 175 editors supporting the invasion in one voice with the hope of getting $12 per barrel oil.

We should be punishing the last mob and let the new mob get to the point they are making mistakes like blowing up countries without cause, spending $3 billion locking up innocent people, Dr Haneef, David Hicks, Mamdouh Habib and other catastrophes brought down on our heads by Howard.

I am happy to pick on them, constantly.

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