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The Howard Drears: Episode One

In keeping with Webdiary’s policy of disclosure, I should start by making a few things clear. It was not until the show aired that I realized how many Federal politicians I had not actually met. I have never met Mr Howard but I have always despised him. Years after I had walked out of the Young Liberals I realized he was the real reason I had left. His influence on the NSW machine has brought it to its current apogee. You would have thought that blind Freddie couldn’t have lost the last State election standing against a dill like Morris, but the man from Vaucluse did it. Strange place Vaucluse. Strange place the conservative parties. There are only three leaders I can think of in Australia who have not only lost an election but their seats with it: Bruce, Howard and TOM’s predecessor but two, Peter Coleman. Wait for next time: TOM has managed to turn Wentworth into a marginal for the first time in its history. Another 1% and he goes into history as well in more ways than one.

Now Peter Coleman is a nice bloke for a Quadrant editor and he’s a decent chap too, but he’s better off for being out of it.

Another thing I should disclose before we start is that I have copies of episodes 1-3 (never mind how – but what you know has little to do with it). I am trying, in my usual objective, non-partisan way not to let myself get ahead of you but it isn’t easy.

I suppose I should last disclose that this review was not my idea. Blame Richard Tonkin who asked me to do it. All you can blame me for is complicity, oh, and the fact that over the past 33 years in and around NSW politics I know a few things that they aren’t telling you in their revisionist self-justification but I thought I might just share them with you anyway. As Bob Ellis often says: prove I lie.


EPISODE 1: A Hen in the Bathhouse

Gobsmacking. These fools were allowed to run the country. Who elected them? Who would have elected them if they knew what they were really like? Who would believe anything any of them said? Why?

Let’s take it from the top. Fran Kelly put this project together and she is well respected by other journalists (an interesting enough tale in itself). In my view she hasn’t done a very good job but when all you have to do is sit back and watch a bunch of self-important dimwits who’ve never done a decent day’s work in their lives commit hara kiri in front of you, I guess you lose the incentive to try any harder.

The first question was a challenge to the intellectually challenged to come up with one word to describe Howard (or, as I shall refer to him LLC – use your imagination). Now in my view, any response to that particular question starting with the letter c and containing more than four letters is excessive verbiage but let’s look at what some of the major players of the time said in response.

The best of the lot and a classic demonstration of what a complete dill he is was Bruce Baird who, when asked for his one word response, said: “Consummate politician.” One, Bruce, count it on your fingers, you only need one of them. Where the rest of them might be – well, we shouldn’t get too personal about people’s private habits. Just remember that this guy used to be the NSW Transport Minister – caught public transport lately?

Fahey (who I have met and who is a total moron and I say that as a trained psychological examiner): “Constant”.

Tim Fisher and Downer: “Conviction”.

Meg Lees (the lying bitch who told us there would never be a GST on books): “Committed”.

Now, I hadn’t realised that the LLC had been either convicted or committed but in hindsight it might have been a good idea. Really, where’s Gareth Evans when you do need him?

Costello was reluctant to answer. Almost as reluctant as he was to challenge. Thank goodness the Dollar Sweets case didn’t depend on him having to say anything in Court. And he went to Monash.

No-one from the ALP has appeared yet and why would you need them? The Liberals and Nationals are consummate self-immolators all on their own. Prune Goward has also been so far interestingly silent. Something she swallowed perhaps? It might just be because it’s Spring, or because, as in the old days at the Easter show, you just gave the man a cigar. [I’m dying to see how they plead that imputation.]

Back to Fahey and Costello. The LLC put these guys into the most sensitive economic portfolios in the country. Why? Fahey lost an unlosable election and Costello was Downer’s deputy. Maybe the LLC isn’t quite as stupid as I think he is – if those two could get away with it the country was bullet proof. Oops, getting ahead of myself – that bit’s in Episode two.

Oh no, he is as stupid as I thought he was: he actually believes his own lies. At least Goebbels knew how to do the thing properly: you lie but you know it’s a lie. Unstuck on the guns actually. And I wish he had asked Dad to do the dental work – not only would the crowns be better but we would have an extra investment property in the family (or possibly a registered mortgage on Kirribilli House – but let’s not go there – there’s a Kevin in there.) Anyway, Admiralty House has the better view.

The utter hypocrisy of all that was said in the programme about the gun control issue is falsifiable by the following anecdote. When Fahey spat the dummy after losing to Carr, I decided to run for Southern Highlands, his old State seat. I gave them a fair run for their money. The Federal member for the area, the seat of Hume, was a bloke you might have seen on the programme called John Sharpe (an early and almost only casualty of the LLC’s Ministerial Code of Conduct). During the course of the campaign, Sharpie (as he was erroneously known) and I met on the hustings the week after I had released my gun policy (published the day before the Port Arthur massacre – politics - 90% luck, 12% effort and 200% hard work – ask any of them and give them a calculator and an assistant paid about $36K a year to work it for them – job description – senior advisor- age about 12 – IQ, well, I said I wasn’t going to be personal). I ran the entire campaign from home and the car. I think it fair to say I was the only candidate living in Potts Point at the time. I introduced myself and asked Sharpie if he would pass on my sincere congratulations to the PM for what I thought was a bold and courageous policy decision (roughly in line with mine although not going quite as far – unlike John Anderson, I’ve never owned a gun let alone an arsenal but I’ve fired a few in my time including a Bren and a nasty thing we got during Vietnam that pours out a cyclical rate of fire of 600 rpm [GPMG – don’t you love acronyms?] – I accept farmers need guns for all sorts of reasons but no-one other than a soldier needs an automatic). Sharpie looked at me strangely in a funny way that reminds one of Julie Bishop – one assumes they wouldn’t even blink in headlights. I thought he just thought I was an idiot. He changed that view when I got 4.2% of the vote, effectively defeating his candidate in the process. It wasn’t until I found that figure out from the Liberal’s number cruncher, a fundamentalist Christian MLC called John Ryan, in the evening after the polls had closed that Ryan said to me something to the effect of, “You don’t think we made that decision [gun policy] without polling first do you?”

That’s where this pack of totally morally bankrupt clowns comes apart. All for Queen and Country, all for the good of the realm Deo, patriae, tibi: that’s what is engraved on my medal for Oratory. Well, Anderson was at St Paul’s (a residential College within the University of Sydney) but the rest of the Liberals, if anyone had told them, would probably think tibi was a cat (my apologies to the resident diabetic) and the Nationals would have been out trying to find where they could shoot it.

Yet that is not enough. The undiscovered gem in this series is the true Peter Reith. It is difficult to understand how the man has enough brain cells to walk. It is the disarming quality of the idiot savant, “Shocking ignorance, I suppose,” he said of his pathetic attempts to destroy the Maritime Union.

Now, I don’t want to appear biased here. These are the bastards who in WWII wouldn’t load munitions or food for my grandfather (and probably yours as well) to sustain him against the Japanese while he was in New Guinea – and all over a pay and allowance claim. Our grandfathers were lucky to get the allowance of managing to avoid a bullet or being eaten or a number of other things that the Japanese are well known for doing to whales for example. As right a set of union bastards as you could find. Yet here is the true genius of a man like Reith. In one sense it is the zeitgeist of the LLC’s reign: take someone for whom no reasonable person could ever have any sympathy and make him a victim (you’ll see more of that in episode 2). Where is Corrigan (who features prominently in the waterfront segment) now? Probably reforming another business into the ground like all good union-breaking capitalists. Haven’t seen any meat out of Mudginbury lately.

This is a series that raises the clear question: where do you draw the line between sheer stupidity and being a fuckwit? The question applies, of course, not just to politicians and the producers of the series might ask this of themselves: notwithstanding the constant media prating about holding people accountable as part of our rich fabric of democracy and the necessity for media freedom that that implies, what did they actually do to expose these drongos while they were happily and ideologically wrecking a once great country?

And while we’re at that one, what did they do to hold the Placido Domingo of Australian politics to account? Some sort of dingo anyway.

What happens is that, eventually, the public does the job for them either out of sheer boredom or disgust or a combination of both.

Reith then reveals a disarming quality: his word is his Bond. “I can’t recall.” He says on a number of occasions. Well we all have moments like that but one would rather have hoped that they wouldn’t happen while one was trying to run a country. There are three possibilities I suppose: either he is a liar or an idiot or both. Sadly, he isn’t the first lying idiot we have seen in Federal politics and he won’t be the last. Yet he says he “felt isolated”. Not isolated enough for my liking. It is the only decent argument I have heard for detention centres.

Then we get switched back to the LLC. “We have a tax system that discourages savings,” he said in a desperate attempt to cling onto what he thought was an election he was going to lose. The sad problem about that is he was the Treasurer who created that very tax system.

Then we move back to the Monash kid – Field Marshal’s baton in his knapsack but never takes the field. One of his assistants explains the toil he went through: 16 hours a day, 7 days a week to “design” the GST. It seems to be the political equivalent of Intelligent Design. You spend all that time to produce a system that is unworkable, punishes the people it was designed to help and lays the seeds of the destruction of your entire economy while your mates just keep stashing cash away offshore (then lose it there anyway). Thanks Pete. I suppose we’re just lucky he never got an economics degree. We haven’t touched on compulsory student unionism yet but I have hopes for later episodes.

Switch now to insane populism: the Hanson that dare not speak its name. Virulent, divisive, poisonous, deliberate, racism. Face it: she was expressing the dearly held views of a lot of our fellow citizens and, in any democracy, the minority no matter how disgusting to the rest of us has a right to be heard. Yet what does this programme reveal about the reaction of our “leaders” (interestingly Beazley’s appropriate and statesmanlike condemnation of the whole thing is entirely ignored)?

We get this. LLC: “I thought we could be a one term wonder because the polls weren’t good.” They were showing that he couldn’t afford to offend Hanson’s supporters though – what a leader. And the Monash kid? Well he put One Nation last on his how to vote because: “I couldn’t control what we would do throughout the country. I wasn’t the leader… I could decide what to do in my own electorate.”

As with all political documentaries, what is not said is almost as horrifying as what is and I just can’t help wondering at the end of this episode what would have happened if a Martian had landed in Canberra and come out with the classic, “Take me to your Leader.” You take him by the little green hand and you introduce him to the LLC and he turns to you, Martian astonishment showing clearly in his little green eyes and he says, “That’s your leader?”

And you re-elected them, folks. Episode 2 screens tonight on ABC 1.

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Very scary times

Ernest William: "IMHO there has not been any effort whatsoever by the media to encourage Australians to embrace the Rudd/Swan plan to stave off the worst of a world-wide recession."

There isn't an organization or person that can talk an economy into a recession. There isn't an organization or person that can talk an economy out of a recession.

My memory of WW 2 was that the media's attitude was that a nation must be united with the encouraged attitude of us and them. The media supplied acceptable hate and sensational information which was a profitable but an equally patriotic attitude.

Similar attitudes were expressed during WWI. At the time the "trench charge" would have all home by Christmas. Imagine if those "in the know" had spoken out. I'm suspicious of any person who uses patriotism alongside their views.

The world, at the moment, is pinning its hopes on very doubtful economics. Australians are involved up to their necks. It's about good or bad policy. It's not about politics. None of the mainstream political parties (western world) disagree (much) with the current policies anyway.

Meanwhile, in New South Wales....

Ernest William: "They too must help carry the burden. Mutuality is the key".

Just to put Rudd's "massive" economic stimulus into perspective, and to help clarify who's "carrying the burden" in NSW at least, take a look at this:

"The New South Wales Government will pay more than $1 billion to the owners of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel over the next 14 years, as part of the deal with the road's operator.

An Auditor-General's report this week showed that the Government must pay the tunnel operator the difference between the tolls collected and those guaranteed under the contract.

The payments made this year were $58.9 million or more than a million dollars a week.

Over the life of the contract that would add up to $1.1 billion, twice the original construction cost.

Would have to be the worst, most corrupt government in this nation's history, far and away...

American re-make of Kath & Kim

Talking of which:

"A contractor for a tollway project was expected to raise $US500,000 before the Governor would commit funds to the project beyond the $US1.8 billion already allocated.

"If it isn't the most corrupt state in the United States," Robert Grant, head of the FBI's Chicago office, said, "it's certainly one hell of a competitor."

If a blonde in a little black dress steps into Obama's vacant Senate seat....

When bullshit is accepted as truth we're no longer in Kansas

Ernest William "The Rudd/Swan plan, as I understand it, is to go to the very roots of our society to encourage money from the most disadvantaged to flow through to the businesses who can receive it if their pitch is fair dinkum and reasonable. They too must help carry the burden. Mutuality is the key".

Economic pap.

The type of smoke and mirrors garbage, that has, over the last fifteen years, got the world in its current mess. What this particular rubbish policy is, is an extension of the previous government policy (same policy different faces), Which is ultimately an extension of the Greenspan policies. Seriously, does any person believe politicians have the brains to come up with such a scam? You'll find the same key positions, still held by the same key people, and that I'd be willing to place money on.

What they're attempting to do is "churn" money. If people look they'll no doubt find a raising of government monopoly service prices to coincide with this alleged "free shit". Is this the case by any chance? Apart from not helping the economy a "one" off payment will hurt it. Do the employers of Australia understand that it's a one off payment? So the "spending spike" (if it happens at all) would be exactly that. Who in their right mind would employ under such conditions?

Honestly, how could any rational person believe these "kick starting' garbage claims?

Money spent on consumption takes directly from money invested in production. Consumption doesn't produce growth, business spending does, which in turn creates consumption. The whole policy has this simple fact around the wrong way.

Ultimately this will all result in less advantaged Australians suffering a loss of living standards. A one of payment is a con - there isn't any such thing as money for nothing. The government no doubt will have a number of quantitative analysts making a number of conclusions. They're just not telling you about those conclusions.

Money doesn't create wealth, manufacturing goods and services does. Without the latter the former becomes a moot point. And that's the nightmare that not only the United States faces, so does Australia. And it's going to get much, much worse before it gets better.

This program isn't a saviour it's a cruel joke. It's supported by the dying print media business in the forlorn hope it'll save it. It won't. Ad revenue has gone the way of the dinosaur and it won't be returning for a long time - just I'm afraid another necessary cut back.

Smart people will spend their Christmas sensibly evaluating their future. The rest will place their hopes in false messiahs, such as economic illiterate politicians. One group will prosper, the other will fall by the wayside. It's time to choose which group you wish to be a part of.

PS at the rate of world money printing we're in for inflation like the likes we've never witnessed. The in fact of the middle class. The obviously highly dumbed down middle class. If the warriors of the depression generation, were around today, they'd no doubt shed more than a tear.

Politics or Pop Stars

Michael de Angelos"Turnbull is going to really have to work hard on getting the message across that the Coalition has abandoned any form of "work choices" for all time. Remember they also have form here with Howard's 'never ever'GST".

That sentence sums up what's really at the heart of the world's political problems. Politics is now run by marketeers. There really isn't any belief (it all depends on who a politician is addressing). Politcal parties tell this group one thing, that group another, and the other group something different under the table etc. The absurdity of the lengths this has gone can be seen with the Obama election. People are now complaining he has "let them down". Nobody even knows what the man actually believes in - they still don't - which makes that feeling even more bizarre.

Politicians should find an ideology and stick to it - through the good and the bad (in voting terms). An ideology is no more than a business mission statement. The groundwork from which all other policies should flow. It's clear that political parties now only hold the ideology of that which is popular at a given time. The fact that some "popular" policies simply won't work, often causing great damage in the process, is now only a secondary matter. That's the "leadership that has been so sadly lacking.

Times are going to get harder and if Labor always comes across as the 'caring sharing' party Aussies will continue to re-elect them, which they will do in 2011 and I predict with an increased majority that sets them up for the following election.


Buying friends is ultimately unsustainable though. Eventually the money does run dry. An empty vessel is still an empty vessel.

My advice to a "pro-business" party would be to act like a "pro-business" party. A good start would be explaining why they believe this stance is best. Such an outrageous stance (in now days) would mean forgetting about the "daily polling" or "popularity contest". Like, start behaving as a "professional" with something to offer (in the policy stakes), rather than as a hooker in a window.

A good start would be explaining why large business profits are a good thing for "everybody". And really this point can't be argued against by anybody. The second point would be how those profits come about - and here is the argument. Like all negotiations there is give and take from all sides. Until the first point is resolved, the second point is moot. And the problem forever unresolved.

Stop taking this bonus so seriously

Is this one-off payment meant to be seen as a cure-all, Paul Morrella? It's just one small step that immediately injects a massive sum into the economy and gives some breathing space to pensioners etc, apart from the feel good factor.

It also nips in the bud the Coalition’s increasingly shrill cries about underpaid carers and pensioners (thereby actually doing them a favour as in their current deluded state the Libs seem to think this part of the electorate wouldn't remember who has kept pensions so low for the last 11 years.)

Politically it will move the normally conservative pensioner groups into Labor's hands when they also increase the pension probably in March/April next year. This is one wacky stance that exemplifies the policy mess the Coalition is in. They went on a no-holds barred attack on Labor over a group of voters they normally keep onside. Labor seeing the media also jump on the bandwagon has made a sensible decision that no-one can really knock. Further proof of Turnbull's lack of experience as a politician.

Turnbull is going to really have to work hard on getting the message across that the Coalition has abandoned any form of "work choices" for all time. Remember they also have form here with Howard's 'never ever' GST.

The electorate turned on Howard over the harsh conditions that would have resulted from "work choices" - job insecurity, loss of pay and conditions etc. Imagine if he had succeeded in the last election, got every condition across he planned and then the Wall Street/mortgage disaster happened?

Times are going to get harder and if Labor always comes across as the 'caring sharing' party Aussies will continue to re-elect them, which they will do in 2011 and I predict with an increased majority that sets them up for the following election.

As for government deficits, this is another of the great phoney bogeymen that the vast general public neither understands nor cares about - quite apart from the fact that government debt isn't a bad thing. If all individuals or corporations adopted the same policy thinking nothing would ever happen, no chances would be taken. There would be no need for shares and stock markets or indeed banks (apart from somewhere to place your savings). And if you live in a capitalist society, it's insane to believe debt is a bad thing - the system survives on debt.

Kathy, Kevin Rudd is a far more intelligent man than Howard. All Howard did was to try to break a record. Rudd will leave when he is on top and hand over to someone else while the going is good.

Well said, Michael

G'day , Michael. The Rudd plan to relieve the immediate stalling of the Australian economy is as good a decisive action as I could imagine.

It is not advertised in the media that the first wave of an economic downturn was occasioned in early 2008 - not caused by the world crisis, but by the constant raising of interest rates in an effort to hold back the inflationary pressures of the Howard debt laden false economy.

This was acknowledged in part by The Australian's Paul Kelly on the Insiders program when he stated that the Australian economy had already stalled in the early months of 2008.

So, the double whammy will be that after the Howard inflationary problem is dealt with (if it doesn't take too long) then Rudd/Swan have to face and deal with the tension of the US capitalist greed which created the world meltdown.

I always doubt the "New Order's" claim to be able to prove a negative before anything actually happens. Howard's mob did it consistently with the help of the conservative media barons.

The Turnbull/Bishop attack on the Rudd/Swan plans only began some three days after they wholeheartedly agreed to it, without any quibbling! Fair dinkum.

I can only think of the big picture Michael, and, as I see it, the tax breaks of mid-year did nothing to relieve the downturn, so the "New Order" argument that that should have been done again is merely opposition for the sake of opposition.

Secondly, the squandering of money on supporting the careless money lenders of Australia is the neo-con way of throwing good money after bad, as long as it favours the upper end of town.

The Rudd/Swan plan, as I understand it, is to go to the very roots of our society to encourage money from the most disadvantaged to flow through to the businesses who can receive it if their pitch is fair dinkum and reasonable. They too must help carry the burden. Mutuality is the key.

The worst thing that can happen is for Turnbull and the remnants of the Howard "New Order" to maintain the ploppy pants' attitude of caveat emptor - buyer beware.

So perhaps, instead of rewarding the type of business that caused the US problem, the decent Australian business community, large and small, may just agree that they can improve their survival chances if they encourage the people to spend.

All contributors to Webdiary know the way a journalist can create a report to carry a wrong message, whether intentional or by mistake. Just one word alone can change the import of the article.

Recently, some such actions have been used to influence the news. Such as "Malcolm Turnbull conceded that the Senate problem had some effect on his popularity". Just that word implied that either someone else made the statement or it was a fact?

In addition, the Governor of the RBA, Glenn Stevens, stated that this package may still work even if some of the beneficiaries decide to save the money.

Immediately, the TV announced that the Governor had advised the people to save the money.

What a dangerous group they are.

But I must say that I agree with the observation that you shouldn't pay too much attention to what Malcolm says but what he does.

And the factual and repeated examples of that may haunt him for a long time.

Moving on, not replying

In our small community with perhaps 60% pensioners or self funded retirees, there seems to be a genuine effort to throw off the doom and gloom of the Opposition and their media.

Paul Keating observed that it is not so much the oft used term liquidity but rather solvency. I assume that goes towards people having confidence in the solvency of the businesses that they deal with. And their guarantees are assured?

IMHO there has not been any effort whatsoever by the media to encourage Australians to embrace the Rudd/Swan plan to stave off the worst of a world-wide recession. This is just the old principle of the Daily Telegraph's sensationalism with the truism that good news does not sell newspapers.

My memory of WW 2 was that the media's attitude was that a nation must be united with the encouraged attitude of us and them. The media supplied acceptable hate and sensational information which was a profitable but an equally patriotic attitude. This propaganda was no different in essence than the converse information of the enemy - whoever that may be.

I understand the "kick your opponent when he is down" attitude of the Liberal "New Order" but that doesn't mean that I agree with it. In fact, under present circumstances I feel that the Howard disease is still prevalent.

IMHO the financial situation of the entire industrialised world is in dire straits, and the government of Australia, no matter of what political colour, has the same unity needs as that which is necessary during a war. Whether that be the convenient war against terror, a genuine one against poverty or to hinder the attacks on the freedoms of any nation, their religion or their race.

The contributors to Webdiary have no idea whether what I am writing is true or false, but my wife and I are buying items, not only because we want to support our nation's economy, but because we want to act normally and spend what we can afford for what we need under normal circumstances.

We believe that this world financial problem needs unity of purpose in Australia - not the opportunist doomsayers from the opposition and their like-minded media.


Cloud cuckoo land...

Michael de Angelos: " It's just one small step that immediately injects a massive sum into the economy and gives some breathing space to pensioners etc, apart from the feel good factor."

Actually, at a mere $10.4 billion it's a modest fiscal stimulus by comparison with measures being taken by other countries. Smallish, even. But it's a PR stunt, and that's all that matters to the Rudd government. So the actual amount is irrelevant.

Compare it with the public works program Obama has announced, and he's not even legally the President yet. He's planning somewhere between $400 billion and $1000 billion. The US populatuion is, what, ten times Australia's? So, the equivalent to Barack's plan would be between $40 and $100 billion down here.

Australians are completely deluded as to the efficacy of what Rudd's doing. For example:

"Deep cuts to official interest rates appear to be having the desired impact on consumer confidence.

Westpac and the Melbourne Institute survey consumer sentiment each month and this month's overall index has jumped 7.5 per cent...

Westpac's economists are still surprised by the strength of the result, saying the gloom surrounding the global economy and the threat to Australia could easily have overwhelmed all the positives.

They're surprised because that sort of confidence is completely unwarranted.

Australians are living in cloud cuckoo land...Rudd is a piddling charlatan, and the sooner Australians wake up to that, the better. And when they do, the blaming and finger pointing will be savage.

Rudd's genuinely perverse revenge

I am beginning to understand Australian politics better.  Rudd comes across as a managerialist mandarin but he loathes Howard's cowards as much or more than most of the rest of us.  What better revenge, then, than to simply give back the budget surplus to those people who generated it - working class taxpayers.  We are the ones who actually pay tax.  Popular? Off the bloody scale mate.

But why perverse?  Well, imagine dropping four grand into a family where the mum and her new defacto have a biiiig probem with what is nicely termed poly-substance use.  Hmmm.  It might have been better to have directed the surplus in an old fashioned Keynesian way to particular sectors and industries.  The trouble with that, though, is that the bosses, the middle classes and other sucker fish tend to cream the money off so it doesn't actually go into productive activity.

The perversion comes from the desire for an up you revenge to Howard.  Hi John, we just drank your surplus.

There is usually some truth?

G'day Anthonly Nolan,  I love it!

While I appreciate your take I really don't think that the pristine Kevin Rudd would intentionally allow himself to be a Howard counterpart - at least in that respect.

It is a fact that a part of the budget surplus was achieved by cut backs on Howard sinecures by the Rudd/Swan/Tanner efforts and the old adage that you look for surplus when you are in the good times (like the Howard era of a commodities boom) and spend that surplus when there come a "rainy day".


I notice some contributors are using the term "Keynesian" can you please explain that to me?

Cheers Ern G.



Keynesian Economics

Ernest: "I notice some contributors are using the term "Keynesian" can you please explain that to me?"

Wikipedia has a run down here, there are six principles of Keynesian economics oulined by a Princeton Prof here and the Telegraph has an article on it here. Someone with an economics background might be able to point you to better overviews but these seem a reasonable 'jumping-off point'.

Too old, Dylan

G'ay Dylan,

Of course that refers to me.

I have only read a part of your links but I must confess, I am a little too old to absorb such theories especially since I was never very good at maths anyway.

One small section however, resonated with my memories of the Menzies" era:

 "In the late 1960s, Milton Friedman, a monetarist, and Columbia’s Edmund Phelps, a Keynesian, rejected the idea of such a long-run trade-off on theoretical grounds. They argued that the only way the government could keep unemployment below what they called the “natural rate” was with macroeconomic policies that would continuously drive inflation higher and higher."

During his long tenure in government unemployment was rising and I distinctly remember Menzies saying that 6% unemployment was the middle road of his policies.

I have written about this before but I don't have the expertise to prove it.

Perhaps the two may not be as similar to you as they read to me.

My interpretation could easily be wrong because I believe that at the time of the quote, the rate suggested did not worry me, probably because I was in the Navy. In my younger days, the then called Armed Forces was a very secure employment.

Cheers Ern G.

Keynesian economics

G'day Dylan, thank you sincerely for your courteous and informative answer to my question.

Cheers and Merry Xmas.

Ern G.

There's a cuckoo in every clock

Michael de Angelos: "We won't be returning to normal (whatever that is) for some years so people will continue to vote Labor to ensure things like the 'bonus' happen and that correct measures will be put in place to mitigate economic hurt on a personal level. Besides, what can Malcolm offer as an alternative?"

Somebody could offer sensible policy for example. Will anybody? Probably not.

Sensible policy may be unpopular (for a time), ultimately it'll always win out in the end. Actually, it's just the correct, and expected behaviour of any professional.

A sensible policy would be an attempt at "ensuring" things like "bonuses" don't need to be paid out. A sensible policy would be "ensuring" a nation maintains (indeed encourages) that both its institutions, and citizens, operate with a medium of pride in themselves, as opposed, to a mob of self induced paupers and indolent charity cases.

As the economy tanks and Rudd's popularity soars, it is obvious that the Australian electorate understands basically who and what has caused the the recession we had no choice but to have - and that Kevin isn't responsible for it.

Economic carnage is therefore a good thing?

Perhaps Australia should look at mandatory drug testing before votes are allowed to be cast?

Alan & Eliot - wrong again

As the economy tanks and Rudd's popularity soars, it is obvious that the Australian electorate understands basically who and what has caused the the recession we had no choice but to have - and that Kevin isn't responsible for it.

We won't be returning to normal (whatever that is) for some years so people will continue to vote Labor to ensure things like the 'bonus' happen and that correct measures will be put in place to mitigate economic hurt on a personal level. Besides, what can Malcolm offer as an alternative?

If anyone believes the public will vote in the crowd that brought you "work choices" and the dreadful insecurity that would have created amongt the majority of workers, as a gigantic recession and the Wall Street collapse was just around the corner, then they are dreaming.

This is the way it will play - Kevin 11 and then Kevin 14 followed by a quick resignation and handover to Australia's first female PM, Julia Gillard. You heard it here first, as usual.

Herbert Clerk Hoover

Michael de Angelos: "If anyone believes the public will vote in the crowd that brought you "work choices" and the dreadful insecurity that would have created amongt the majority of workers, as a gigantic recession and the Wall Street collapse was just around the corner, then they are dreaming."

Time will tell. But if you think people felt "insecure" under Howard, and I challenge you to present any evidence they did so, wait till they realise the "bonus" will hardly make a dent in the recession.

Then they'll discover that Rudd won't have the means to fund anything like the sort of massive public works program that, say, barack Obama is talking about for the USA.

The deficit will grow and grow and grow with no end in sight...way beyond the levels even the most insoucient Keynesian would deem excessive.

But the jobs will still disappear, thousands and thousands each week.

Then we'll see about 'security'.

Right now it's turkeys like Peter Garrett and Penny Wong who are taking all the falls for Rudd. It won't be long though.

That's not how megalomaniacs think, Michael

Nonsense Michael!

Why would Kevin 747 hand over to Julia when he would still only be in his late fifties? Remember, John Howard was 68 when he lost the last election. And you did say that Rudd was "Howard without all the nasty bits".

Michael: "Besides, what can Malcolm offer as an alternative?"

You are certainly right there, mate!

Really, I did try and give the smarmy bastard a go. Rooly and trooly I did.

Ugh! Then it became evident that he was just another populist prick.

Spend spend spend - just do it !

At last the series is over - a stake has finally been driven into the heart of Dracula.

Monthly I am beginning to see why Kevin Rudd won and will slaughter the Coaltion again at the next general election. Despite some policies I am disapointed in, Rudd is simply going from strength to strength and watching The Howard Years was liking watching an expose of a conman who gripped enough people within his gaze to divert their attention from him fiddling with their wallets.

The Prince in Waiting still hasn't learnt to divest himself of the aura of a man being denied his rightful place in this world by Labor upstarts.He will never take the throne.

Next year is going to be the real period of Post Traumatic Stress for the Coalition as it finally sinks in-that they will not wake up in the morning and someone will say "it's all been a big joke folks-go back to the Government benches where you belong". Did they really think the Aussie people would carry a banker - from an industry which has created the worldwide mess we are in, into soaring levels in the polls?

My only query - why has small business been so quiet over Rudd's massive cash injection into Australia's finances with the bonus?

Or do they also truly believe what Joe Hockey, Wendy McCarthy and Hugh Mackay implied with Puritanical sombreness on the ABC on Friday afternoon? - that the great unwashed masses cannot be trusted with a small bundle of cash and obviously come from the beer sipping, fag smoking ranks of the pokie addicts?

My advice to Turnbull is to withdraw his troops to Western Australia and declare the state the 'Rudd Free Territory" and immediately employ Brian Burke as chief courtier.


I'd hate to rain on your parade, but there's a well known principle in statistics called 'regression to the mean'.

The fact that Kevin just gets more and more popular, even as things get worse and worse in the economy (and everywhere else), suggests to me his popularity and his performance are in no ways even connected.

As does the fact that his stunts, like the 20/20 Summit, the Apology, Kyoto, etc, etc, never result in anything.

Like, what happened to the full report of the 20/20 Summit which was supposed to be made public last month?

Remember that?


What single thing of substantce has Rudd achieved in his first year in office?


Nor will he achieve anything, because neither he nor the duds making up his cabinet have the intellectual horsepower to achieve anything.

And when people realise that, as they must eventually, then both vectors will be pointed in the same direction.

Things will still be getting worse. And Kevin's popularity will begin to wane. As it must eventually.

Kevin will begin to look very, very '07 indeed.

Then watch the pendulum swing back....

Man of the mode (frightful in-joke)

Eliot Ramsey, the correct expression both in Psychology and in statistics is "regression towards the mean". What dat mean is not that we regress to an absolute average, rather, we trend both from above and below it closer to it.


Eliot, You forgot to mention Broadband rollout which looks like a fizzer, the blowout in costs in the computer con as not EVERY child is going to get one.

However he and his ministers have given the airline and hotel business a boost with their overseas travel. Bit of a waste of money with Garrett and Wong.

Then this,

A further deterioration in economic conditions has prompted a prediction that the federal deficit will blow out to $25 billion next year, as the non-farm economy heads into recession. Just as well Kev007 is a fiscal conservative.

How the hell are his incompetants going to handle the spiralling unemployment.

The Howard Drears indeed

Malcolm B Duncan, I like your considerations and facts associated with this thread - not so much because it is a considered opinion, but because it resonates so true in my memory of that era.

I have always had a problem with bias even though I have developed one of my own.

Perhaps, as governments have to plead for the understanding and support of the lowest of their societies, Australians should wonder at the sudden demise of the Howard "New Order" debt laden false economy.

IMHO Malcolm, to me we were running parrallel with the Bush administration since 2000.

In your profession it is said that the law protects the guilty - surely that applies to the Bush/Howard administrations?

Cheers Ern G.

Not offended at all

As I understand it, you are a Navy lad - I'm keen to die with me feet on the ground. I do not doubt your conviction to your cause: that, however misguided it might be, is admirable, whether you are an Admiral or not.

I have been busy which is why I have been absent but the coming year is coming and we will all need a bit of pull and shove. Perhaps Navy lads will come in handy.

Happy Hogmanay to you and yours.

Yours aye,

From the damned cat, SWMBDO, SWMBO and the rest of us around here, including the recumbent astrologer, have a good night on NYE.

If you are around Malcolm B. Duncan

Like Scott I have a feeling that my refusal of your offer may have deeply offended you.

That means to me that you are a sensitive person, as I believe that I am, and if you are still available to this forum, remember that your attempt at levity may have offended people who should not be judged on your personal ability.

When I asked not to be on your hit list it was in fact a compliment.

I could not, in all honesty, engage with you on any subject but, I could have left it alone.

As an explanation - I have no problem disagreeing with Dylan Kissane, Eliot Ramsey and of course Paul Morrella - but you are certainly different.

Your thread The Howard Drears was, in my opinion, brilliant, and I wanted to contribute, but not if I was to be considered on anything but gut feelings.

I truly wish that you would return and I understand now the women contributors who appreciated your contributions more than I did.

Cheers Ern G.

Richard: Ern, I think MBD might have more likely fallen prey to being busy than fear of the likes of little ol' us.

I'm wondering

if, in the interests of polishing his reputation, Howard will start to distance himself from this disaster named Bush. I don't think so ... I think that the monetary advantages the association might bring to him and family will outweigh the thought of any possible historical criticisms.

What I really want to know is whether he is still striding out on his morning walks.  Can anyone tell me?

The only way to view

 After an extremely painful knee operation on Friday I sat up last night in Royal North Shore hospital and watched the latest episode hooked up to a morphine drip.It was surpisingly bearable!

Lies are a drug, Michael

G'day Michael. There is so much left out of this disgrace to the once unbiased ABC that one fears for the future of Australian journalism.

The issue most ignored is truth, which even any innocent interviewer would surely have expected from a situation where the comments on the Howard "New Order" is made only by the Howard "New Order". Fair dinkum!

We could, if we were so inclined, challenge or contradict just about every single excuse in the whole three programs so far - which are unbelievably self-serving. But that would tend to give it a value that it certainly does not deserve.

It is hard to believe, unless the ABC is intending to give an equally biased non-New Order opinion or fully factual report on what really happened entirely.

No Tampa, Michael, where Howard and his sycophants became Australia's first and only government to breach international maritime laws. The captain of the Tampa received an award from his country and that was deserved.

The "children overboard" disgrace was so diluted as to convey the impression that it wasn't a massive and all encompassing lie but, it didn't really happen at all. Admiral Barrie must have been coerced in the Howard manner, as were so many public servants were during the Howard years of tears, or else his attitude should have been NOT to comment.

How would the Captain of HMAS Adelaide fare if he was charged on the principles of the Nuremberg Trials. Indeed, how would Admiral Barrie, Howard, Reith, Downer, Max Moore-Wilton and all the rest involved in that scandal be similarly judged? But NOT by the ABC.

No mention of SIEV- X where 365 humans were allowed to drown in the floodlights of one of my country's naval vessels due to the orders of a government which forced its political view of "We will decide......" in the most inhuman way.

I wonder at the extent to which a Australian sailor is obliged to obey such an order. Or does it depend on the powers that be? Or are service personnel obliged to carry out the orders of their respective governments?

What hypocrites we have become. Just because we are considered to be isolated from the "big powers" do we really have to do a Howard "New Order" and become their echo on all policies?

In another disgraceful deception, the Bali bombings were shown apparently in a manner to consume the attention of the audience to the tragedy per se.

However, while the same program stated that a Howard supporter, General Cosgrove, had correctly described situations where intelligence, however minimal, must be acted upon regardless, the fact that the US intelligence warned Downer that there would be an attack on westerners in Bali was not mentioned.

Downer, in his inimitable manner (after the event) said that he considered the intelligence warning "was not specific enough" to even warn the Australians in the danger areas.

Subsequently 88 Australians died and, to the credit of the US, only one American.

No matter how the ABC or any other conservative media tries to excuse Howard's personal decision to follow the Bush regime into the illegal pre-emptive invasion of Iraq - no matter how they twist the sequence and substance of the facts - Howard followed the powers that be (the UK and the US) as indeed he has done all his life.

IMHO the whole show is intended to try to rewrite history, not in the records, which are already controlled by the very powers who wrote them, but in the minds of the many hundreds of thousands of Australian citizens who regret the day that Howard was ordained by the powers that be.

Can anyone imagine that if the media had sincerely done their job of reporting as is, Howard would not have lasted more than one term in office.

Nor would George W. Bush have become the President of the US.

How appropriate to look at them as the comet and the tail.

There is no history - only historians.

There is no truth - only the powers that be.


Too prolix

The title that is. "The" and "Years" entirely unnecessary. Disapointing. 

Fran Kelly can do better

Howard is the correct title for this show as it's just the last 10 years from his perspective along with his chief ministers. Something called The Howard Years needs a far deeper examination of the last decade and would indeed be most fascinating.

I doubt it will happen. People just want to move on both here and in the USA and, I suspect, the UK as well.

Memories flood back like puke over the edge of a sink

My resolve to not watch Howard and his cowards has failed me.  I watch now with increasing glee.  We were correct about so many events.  And we were correct to resist, to counter organise, to mobilise and participate.  The social democratic left, which is completely inadequately represented in the ALP, confronted Howard at every step: the demonstrations in support of INTERFET intervention in Timor, the reconciliation day "bridge walk", the massed opinion in favour of "sorry", the MUA pickets at Port Botany, the anti-Hanson counter-demonstrations that contested her ground in places like Newcastle, the continuing interest in SIEV-X and a decent showing at Bush's presence in Sydney last year.

Just imagine what things might have been like if citizens hadn't contested the political space?

So Alan, what do you like?

I love Alan Curran. Not once in any debate or column or thread has he made a comment of any kind that bears any resemblance to anything related to reality or a story.

Do enlighten us which one of the fatuous, inane, vacuous pills you like, Alan.  The sneering and giggling Downer or the bubbling idiot Reith?

So what

Marilyn Shepherd, I am begining to like the bumbling Swan, and the sneering Gillard.

I have no opinion on Downer and Reith, they are yesterday's men.

Tell me, Marilyn, how do you think Rudd's working families are going to cope with 7% unemplyment this time next year?

I don't know Alan, do you?

I guess if they are unemployed as you claim they will be they won't be working families, will they?

Rudd: 'We're all working families'

Marilyn: "I guess if they are unemployed as you claim they will be they won't be working families, will they?"

I wouldn't be so sure about that. Mr Rudd seems to include just about everyone - working or not - in his definition of working family. As he once explained when asked what a working family was:

Well, 'families' we use in just a very broad sense. I mean, if you're a single person who is a pensioner or a self-funded retiree, or someone who is being provided care by a carer, everyone is part of a broader family. So, when we say 'working families', we're not talking about some nuclear family of Mum, Dad and two kids; it's people who are out there in a set of family relationships either under one roof or beyond one roof, who are under financial pressure. And that means our senior Australians as well.

So 'working families' include people living alone and people who don't do any work at all. You are giving Mr Rudd too much credit if you imagine that he uses the words 'working' or 'family' in any regular sense.

A gentle jibe

Hey Marilyn! You have been way cool and mellow in your recent comments here.

Have you been popping prozac.. or.... could it be the thought of that new couch  that you will be stretching out on, next month.

Gotta be the couch, I reckon. Enjoy it. You deserve it!

My question is...

 Malcolm B. Duncan, would it be considered that I was breaking my word if I commented in this thread?

It reflects my memory too - even the infamous WW 2 wharfies' strike.

Cheers Ern G.

In the circumstances, Earnest

No. Feel free. But for goodness sake try (a) not to be boring and (b) keep it under 300 words unless you provide a link.

Ohhh, power, I'm starting to feel like Paddy McGuiness - gosh my back hurts. Well, let's get this perfectly cear: I think Paddy's back hurts and I don't feel for him in any other way that could be considered relevant.

Let me say this

Malcolm B Duncan, if my inability to joust with you has, in any way, restricted your contributions to this forum, then I apologise.

Malcolm, you have the education and the legal ability that I would like to have had but I ignored the Whitlam offer to improve, albeit that I was in my forties.

However, I still consider that, when a person sincerely believes in what they are feeling, whether real or imagined, they should be considered or ignored, but never ridiculed.

I have no right nor do I have the intention to lecture you, Malcolm, but I believe that this forum is poorer indeed without your contributions.

Long lunch

It is probably only a coincidence  Ernest but Malcolm hasn't blogged since our meeting and I too am starting to become concerned.

Am I reponsible? (Any one who feels inclined to say "no, you're irresponsible" forget it, it's been thought of already.)

It was long but we had a least 20 courses to get through and I seem to remember the fifth or sixth one was solid. A phone call at 6.30 pm broke it up but we walked upright and in a direct line back to Potts Point. Couldn't be that bad unless there were domestic considerations. Webdiary can be a dangerous place.

How egregious (Downer 2005)

The offer is not accepted under the circumstances.

To become one of the playthings of a vicious cat is not my cup of tea - mouse I might be but I would much rather stay off your hit list.

Ern G.

Does episode 3 get any better?

I'm suffering from terminal boredom after watching 1 & 2. I like Fran Kelly but this is the most dull, uninteresting political program of all time.

Two weeks of chortling Downer and Reith are enough for me.


Michael de Angelos, I am sorry you are not enjoying your TV viewing on Monday nights.

I will send you instructions on how to use the remote control, it has a little button on it that can change channels.  Also included are some videos, "Dining out with Belinda Neal","The Dismissal" , "London on $80,000 with the ETU" and "Flying Economy Class with Rudd".

Don't need the memories

I didn't watch that programme last week. I thought about it until I saw a preview of Downer, being Downer. After cleaning up the vomit from the floor I decided that having lived through the Howard years I did not wish to be reminded of the clowns we had to put up with. Besides my stomach has its limitations.

BTW, I would argue that the term LLC is an insult - to pussies - what would Claude say?

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