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Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

G'Day. Craig Warton has been a regular Webdiarist since the last federal election. This is his debut piece for Webdiary. Thank you, Craig. Great piece! Maybe I could resurrect the BLANK experiment of late last year.   

Who I am

by Craig Warton

When I posted a comment recently about the standard of Webdiary Margo made the comment that I could always go elsewhere and I was welcome to contribute.

To take the first point – why should I go elsewhere? Surely to feel that this forum should have open slather on all yet be immune from the same is hypocritical? Well I happen to think it is, and several other “right wingers” or “Howard Lovers”, as we are perceived to be, have made the same comment.

This is a matter that should concern all who contribute to or read Webdiary. Much has been written about the partisan politics displayed in the “mainstream” media, or the abusive nature of several blogs. I have had a look at the blog frequently mentioned on here and that was a one off event. Thanks but no thanks; I don’t need to read pages of abuse. The problem is the tone of Webdiary of late though. It  reads the same, but from the other end of the political spectrum. Is that all to expect and hope for from this forum?

There is a quote from a German philosopher that is repeated ad naseum here, and I am sure you know the one I mean. The first they came for….. etc. Let me quote another truism for all on here. “It is hard to soar like an eagle when you fly with turkeys”. Do you want Webdiary to be an eagle or a turkey? I want an eagle! I want an alternative venue that is open to all thoughts and that doesn’t howl people down because they go against the status quo. A forum that isn’t full of clichés – from either side of the political fence.

One of the most over used terms on Webdiary is left wing and right wing and apparently I am a right winger. This is news to me as I had never really considered where I am. My family is just one of your average families. Well I thought we were at any rate. The title of this piece is who I am, so now I will tell you more about both myself and my family and you can decide if I am left or right or what I actually am.

I am 41 years old and currently employed as Production Manager for “a large American Multinational”, my wife Joeann is 42 and works as a Dental Nurse. We have two children, a daughter aged 14 and a son aged 13. One goes to a private girls school (work out which!), while the other is a student at a selective high school. As I mentioned, we live in the Campbelltown area.

We all like animals, and we have a dog (Dalmatian) and four cats. The cats all live indoors and go out under supervision. I can’t abide letting cats run around killing all and sundry. We also have tropical fish. If anyone suspects I like animals they are right. I don’t even kill spiders, I take them outside to let go. Obviously the rest of my family think I am a little crazy in this respect, but they always call me to save them anyway.

I have several hobbies, my main one being railway modeling. I model the Great Western Railway in 4mm scale to P4 standards. I put that in because I discovered by chance that one other member of my group also contributes on here, and was very involved in several of the recent threads about creationism and science! My other main hobby is a interest WW2 German ground forces. This includes building models as well as study of the aspects that interest me. I get very particular when I see references to SS units on here and people get designations or details wrong. That might sound pedantic, but if the basics are not right what are the odds for the other things?

My library of books is another thing I love, mainly railways and military related in line with my interests, I also have a large selection of historical photo albums of Australian life; I love Max Dupain's photography and Ansell Adams stirs my soul and makes me wish I would spend some time doing black and white photography

I also like art, though my own preferences in painting tend towards the well known 19th century Australian artists. I can look at most things and an art gallery will keep me amused for hours.

I like eating, anything that can’t get away is fair game. The people who work for me are from many nationalities and we have a bit of a game that has gone on over the last few years. They try to find things I will not eat. Naturally I cannot let them win, though the dried, curried squid was a close call. I took it home and it stank the house out.

I also have a casual interest in Rugby league and cricket. I support Cronulla as I grew up in “the shire” and I still call them Cronulla because I dislike the changes that Super League inflicted on the game. My second team is Wests Tigers, and I go to quite a few of the home games with my son. I don’t mind the odd beer either, and have grown more partial to it as I have (ahem) aged. I also like wine and spirits.

I can listen to most types of music, though I still tend towards the punk I grew up with in the late 70s and early 80s. I still like the punkish bands around now, and share CDs with my children. They in turn raid my collection and have introduced their friends to things like  The Smiths and The Cure. We are all going to the Greenday concert in December, provided my company does not send me overseas again.

I am not religious. Don’t call me an atheist or agnostic, I won't let you put me in your of your religious categories. I happily talk to any religions that come to my front door. They find my acceptance of death rather hard to grasp. Enjoy what you have now people, after this you are compost.

Obviously, I am interested in politics otherwise it is unlikely I would read Webdiary. I think I caught that from my mother. So where do I stand politically? I don’t think it is possible to outline everything I think or my opinions, so I will go through a few of my thoughts on things that crop up regularly in this forum.

I support mandatory detention, until it is determined that a person is a refugee. By the same token, it should not be unlimited or open slather. There should be a set period. I am worried by people smuggling and I find this very disturbing, as I do the fact that people magically hop through several countries and appear here. It smacks of large scale corruption and prejudice and not only here. DIMIA is a mess, like many things that government does it can and should be run better.

Telstra: I have no problem with the sale of Telstra. Many people seem to have a romantic notion that this company is something special because “we” own it. It isn’t. They rip us off blindly when they can, and delay the introduction of new technology as long as they can so they can rip us off as long as possible. People in the outer suburbs of cities pay STD rates to call the city centre. My family pays STD rates to call me at work – a 32 km drive. We use our Orange mobiles to call each other, they are free for the first five minutes. I look forward to the day when I can avoid paying Telstra a single cent.

Medicare: Free universal health care is a wonderful notion, if only it wasn’t so expensive. I am puzzled by the notion that water and petrol should be more expensive to discourage use, but we persist with the idea of free health care. Despite the protestations of some, it does need fixing and throwing more money into the hole will not fix it. By the same token, dental care should be included in Medicare. I believe in being responsible for myself, so we have private health insurance. At least if we want something done we can get it done in a private hospital quickly. If more people thought the same it might even cut the waiting lists a bit, thus making the services available to those who cannot afford private insurance. They are the people Medicare should be looking after.

Government allowances: By this I mean the dole and all the other things the government provides. These are essential, we should be supporting and assisting people who require this. I don’t see a problem with some work for the dole, to me it would be better than sitting at home going crazy, but that is just my thought. There are a lot of unemployed, disability pension and the mythical single mothers in my area. I don’t have a problem with payments for the single mothers, nor the genuine cases in the other two categories. I have no tolerance for the fraud cases in the other categories. But I would sooner support them than have no system. I just don’t understand why they would choose to live on so little.

Conspiracy theories: Webdiary abounds with these. I do not understand how we can go on for page after page about how stupid the USA has been and think they have the ability to do some of these things. Americans can’t keep quiet at the best of times, yet no one speaks for over 4 years after flying radio control planes into the WTC? Sorry, I think it is silly and people who worry about that need to walk away from the PC occasionally.

Iraq: Sorry to say, I don’t get worked up by the notion that a government lied or was liberal with the truth on WMD. All politicians of all persuasions are loose or vague when it suits. Similarly I don’t go for the great neocon conspiracy stuff. Saddam was thumbing his nose at the UN and the US for a very long time. It was going to wear thin on the US at least at some point. The UN seemed more inclined to keep on doing what ever they had been doing…. for ever. I think that’s the European influence. The Europeans love bureaucracy, and procedures and process. The US doesn’t think long enough. A far better approach would have been some where in between, preferably removing Saddam in the process. I don’t like the US meddling in other countries, in the same way I didn’t like the USSR doing it. Webdiary seems rather silent on the actions of the USSR after WW2 in the Eastern bloc countries while railing against the US in Vietnam. I smell a touch of hypocrisy myself.

Although I am uncertain about the process of getting there, the simple fact is that we are there. We now have an obligation to rebuild the country. There is much talk about the separation of church and state in these parts, yet many seem to be quite content at the idea of a religious fundamentalist group (ie the resistance) gaining control. Killing of civilians is wrong, and that is regardless of it is by missile or car bomb. It’s a bit like lynching and bombing really. Different process same result.

The environment: I do care about the environment, but my stance is tempered with reality. Some things are critical – fixing the damage to the Murray River system is one of them as is halting – and reversing - land clearing. Improving Public Transport is a great idea too, but how do you do it? I can only really speak of Sydney, but one of the major problems with our railway system is that all the lines converge to Central Sydney because that is where they grew out from starting in 1855. In the meantime, work patterns have changed and far more people go across the city than was ever imagined 100 years ago. How do you fix this? The predilection of the NSW Government for announcing new railways and then doing nothing suggests they don’t know how. Longer trains are needed – probably 10 cars at least. Now imagine rebuilding all the stations – including the underground. As well as that the electrical system as it probably couldn’t handle it. Do we all have deep pockets?

Of course there is also the matter of coal fired power stations, isn’t there?

We have just installed solar hot water and are getting a water tank so that is a start, but I suspect there is much more that will need to be done. At least the rise in the price of petrol has seemingly reversed the exodus from public transport. In addition we may see even more small cars and maybe even the extinction of those wretched city 4WDs (I can hope).


This is only a smattering of thoughts on various things, some clear and some not. Many are probably inconsistent – I’m only human after all.

I have voted Liberal since 1996. I voted for the ALP before that but the Keating “true believer” election was the one that did it for me. Following that election, all that it seemed the ALP was concerned with was how to win the next election. They had simply run out of steam and ideas.

Sadly for us they have not got it back yet. I know the Left is often touted as the “progressive” side of politics, but what exactly is progressive about wanting to revert back to a variety of schemes that were implemented 30 years ago? That is ideological stagnation. Nothing is free about free education, health care or a myriad of other things. The money comes from some where – you and me. I expect that what is taken out is efficiently handled and distributed not sucked up in a maze of Government that exists just because.

If the ALP does eventually work out where it is going I may vote for them again. But for a start they need to distance themselves from the unions and be seen to be independent. Yes, the Liberals have connections to the “big end” of town, but how many Liberal members have been given preselection to a safe seat because they sat on the board of a company? At the moment the ALP does not seem to be cohesive or have direction. Every time they have lost there is an excuse. Stop making excuses and start trying to make an alternative government – one that appeals to the majority of Australians.

I decided to contribute this because I firmly believe that too much on Webdiary is from the extremes of both ends. I am a Liberal voter. I am not religious, I am not a neocon and I am not racist. I happen to think that things are never as clear cut as you imagine, and nothing is black and white.

I like Webdiary, and I am not planning on going. I am doing this because I dislike the idea of it being hijacked (and destroyed) by extremists of any kind. My family thinks we are middle of the road, and our friends seem much the same as us.

So what am I?


Margo, Tuesday, September 27: This is the exchange between Craig and I which he refers to in his piece. It is published in comments to Howard's 'World Statesman Award': on what criteria, please, New York's 'Appeal of Conscience Foundation'?

Dear Margo, I read with  great deal of interest the comments by Jay White on this thread. They perfectly sum up my own feelings and impressions about the current state of Webdiary. Where for example are comments on the by elections in NSW, the disgusting remarks by Frank Sartor or the increases in the use of public transport?

Not a peep. Instead we must suffer the constant stream of abusive from your resident self styled 'radical leftist' academic. I am, of course, referring to Damian Lataan. No one else on here seems to be able to get away with posting conspiracy theories and providing no credible sources. I would remind this person that "what really happened.com" is hardly a primary source, with its fixatation (that he seems to share) on Jews being at the root of all conspiracies. When challenged he continually has the hide to say 'you prove me wrong'. I would remind all readers that if you challenge an accepted fact the onus is on you to prove the fact wrong and that your case is correct.

The constant stream of 'lying tyrant, USA terrorists' and sundry other quotes makes it appear that he learned to write at the Tokyo Rose School of journalism, or maybe it was the Lord Haw Haw school.

Margo, unless you take steps to reign in people like this Webdiary will self destruct. I sincerely hope that an effort will be made so this site becomes the fair and balanced place it should be. Decrying media domination by positioning yourself at the other end of the political spectrum is not reducing domination. Most importantly it is nether fair nor balanced.

Margo: Hi Craig, and thank you for coming across to the independent Webdiary. You say Webdiary is not covering every big story around. True, but it never has. For nearly 5 years Webdiary was a one woman operation. After the changeover to the new publishing system last September, the ever increasing number of Webdiarist's comments bogged me down in editing them. Now I'm independent, and am paying Hamish Alcorn and Kerri Browne to work full time on editing comments, publishing pieces, and co-ordinating the technical development of the permanent site. I have dreams of being able to cover big stories in every State, but they're dreams for now, Craig. Feel like helping make my dream come true? If you'd like to help, in any way you want, email me.

On the other matter you raise, comments editing is full on, Craig, and is absolutely punishing on anyone who does the job for more than a few weeks. Yes, mistakes are made, but we're trying always to get consistency in editing. I made and announced an editorial policy decision on content this week, that no comment questioning the fact of the holocaust would be posted. I'll make more editorial policy decisions as issues arise, and on the permanent site these will be listed, along with the date they are made.

Craig, I reckon you've always got a fair run from me. If you don't respect my editing of Webdiary, or of your work, or both, there are many other places to go. I hope you keep contributing here, and I hope to visit your workplace for a tour when mutally convenient. Webdiary has always been and will always be a work in progress. Webdiarists' critiques and suggestions are welcomed by me. I stand on my record as editor of Webdiary for more than five years. It's there for all to see. Your call, Craig. 

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re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Marilyn Shepherd: "there are no people smugglers" just agents that help escapees to leave in secret.

I'm about to be pedantic, but I think you are too. If I was to hide someone in my boot and cross the border from one country to another, I'd be smuggling a person - people smuggling. Whether that person is escaping from torture or arbitrary arrest or whatever, I'm still smuggling him/her.

I also suspect that many people smugglers are in the game to make a quick (and big) buck off the backs of desperate people and families. The people smuggling market is after all, fairly unregulated and I suspect that in some areas supply is low, demand very high and the price equally so.

But my point is, I don't see why we can't both condemn people smugglers (for things such as loading 100's on bodgie boats destined to sink) and also treat asylum seekers with compassion (i.e. without mandatory detention).

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Yet another thought-provoking piece you would find very hard to come across in the mainstream publication. Future must be entrusted to voices of Craig Wartons. May those voices be equal to the task ahead!

This week Naomi Shihab Nye is reviewed by Dallas News where she is quoted as stating: 'We must remind ourselves that fanaticism of any kind is dangerous. We must work every way we can toward wider expression and dialogue. We must keep reading poetry with renewed vigour, for courage and hope. Poetry, the most intimate form of expression, gives us a deeper sense of reality than headlines and news stories ever could.'
Poet builds bridges, line by line (Just a reminder go to Bugmenot.com if you're prompted for a user name and password)

In my eyes Margo has a huge and generous heart and her words and ideas are aimed designed to build a inclusive and magnificent cathedral. A cathedral of many voices. Yet to paraphrase Craig Rowley, WD is not for everybody - just the soulful and open minded people ;-)

If Mohandas Gandhi were to contribute a piece to WD it probably would have run along Craig Warton's lines. No matter how much WD gets ridiculed and torn by the mainstream media we might care to recall Mohandas's experiences: 'First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.'

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

I don't agree with a lot of what you say Craig. However, it is great that you have said it in a considered way. I guess we all have opening premises that we base our views on.
I find whats happening in politics very disturbing. The Liberal Party has lurched to the right, and Beazly seems to be forever saying "me too". We do not have a Opposition Party at present. A lurch right back to the Centre sounds great.

The terrorist threat is being driven for all its worth by the Coalition as a mechanism to control the electorate.
A lot of ordinary people have been hurt by the administrative violence of the Howard Government.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Craig Warton, I quite enjoyed reading your opinion piece, however, there are some points which I believe you are wrong on, WMD's and Saddam Hussein for one.

You state that Saddam was thumbing his nose at the UN and USofA; quite wrong, he had in fact carried out all the requests of the UN Security Council, as was proved when the US Military Experts reported that there were no WMD in Iraq at the time of the US led invasion, the invasion that was politically motivated by a madman in George W Bush and his hangers on Howard and Blair.

Universal Health Care: what is wrong with the free medicare system apart from Governments of all persuassions decreasing funding to the public system, particularly the 30% rebate for Private Health Insurance, a rebate which was said would keep increases to a minimum, when it has actually led to some of the highest premium increases in years.

I am not against Private Health cover, although I do believe that anyone taking out such cover should not expect to be given a rebate for a life choice matter.

Welfare: one can tell you are a business manager when you use the term, so called single mothers and the other two categories. It would appear from this that you have very little tolerance for any one not in paid employment. As a DSP recipient with several health problems, ie Spinal Fusion, Arthritis, Gout, nerve conduction problems and severe depression, taking strong narcotic medication and anti-depressants, would you as a manager employ me? I doubt it very much. As for work for the dole, it is a fact that this policy is nothing more than a feel good for Liberal politicians; it does nothing to assist the unemployed find work as it takes time away from their prime responsibility to find work by requiring time be spent on unpaid work.

Telstra: Yes a large percentage of Australians do have an emotional tie to Telstra, mainly due to our belief that as an essential service it should be owned by the people, not become a tradeable commodity for the share market. What happens when it is sold off completely and we really do have an attack on our national security. Do you really believe that a foreign controlled privatised Telstra will really allow unfettered access to the communications infrastructure? No, they will do everything possible to hinder, as their sole objective is profit, not the security of a country.

Environment: Coal fired power stations are a nineteenth century technology and should be wound down; we should make better use of Solar and Wind Power Technology, however, the Howard Government has cut funding to renewable technologies favouring Mineral Resourced technologies. The Government should be looking at greater rebates for home owners wishing to install solar energy panels onto their homes instaed of giving money to resource industries to look for more coal. We have solar hot water and have had for years and we would dearly like to utilise our spare roof space for solar electric generation, only the cost is too much for a normal homeowner to carry without government assistance.

The Labor Party: They will never regain government until they stop preselecting academics and union officials and start putting people in winnable seats who are just average working people wishing to make a change for the better in society. As for Beazley, he will never lead the Labor Party to government, he has no fresh ideas, is quite happy to hang onto Howard's shirt tails and never make a definitive policy which would seperate Labor from Liberal, and if the caucus do not drop him and allow someone like Wayne Swan a go at the leadership then another three years in the wilderness is assured.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

I agree with almost all of what you have written Craig. There may be slight disagreements on some policies but regarding Webdiary we are one and the same.

I think Webdiary began more as a protest against John Howard. I think that it has since become much bigger than that. I could be wrong but I get the feeling that they also wish to progress even further forward.

The fact is finding a large Australian political blog is difficult. I have only come across one other of equal size. I like the format used here and this was the first one I posted on so I would prefer to stay a part of it.

I really am not interested in extreme politics or conspiracy theory type stuff. There are places for these things all over the net if one wishes for it.

A large blog such as this does not need it and because of the choices available elsewhere can hardly be accused or should be concerned about taking away freedom of speech. There is nothing wrong with moving a 'business/site' in the direction most people wish to see it presented in.

Debating issues with 'unproven' conspiracy theories thrown in is similar to trying to bottle mist. This site should be about personal opinion and accepted facts. A site of this size should look to be taken seriously. That will not happen with a site on the fringes.

I hope the site does well because it offers a outlet and a voice outside of mainstream media. People come here because they wish to be heard and to read what others think. That is always a good thing.

Finally as a fanatical Saints supporter I say damn those Tigers. Although I still hope they win the Grand Final.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Craig, there are no people smugglers - I wonder how many times you have to have that explained to you? When people have to leave a place where they face being persecuted, tortured or killed they have to leave somehow without their torturers knowing. So they pay agents and leave in secret - that is not smuggling, it is survival as old as time.

What you are getting confused with is trafficking. The traffickers of this world take young girls and sell them for sex. About 1,000 or more of those young girls come here each year and all Australia does is lock them up and deport them without really trying the traffickers for their crimes.

Please stop confusing the two.

Now to crossing over several countries. The fact is that they have to get to a country that is a part of the refugee convention determination process and if they come from Afghanistan there is nowhere but here.

Now for locking people up without cause. Why? Why would anyone like to lock up children for no reason?

It is legal to cross the countries Afghan refugees cross to come here so why lock them up? Explain it if you can and then ask if you want it to happen to you.

Now to Iraq. WMD were the reason we went and Howard, Bush and Blair knew very well there were none.

Iraq is now an absolute catastrophe of our making.

Please, what are you thinking?

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Damian Lataan, and hundreds of thousands died from inaction from the UN in Iraq before then. Who is worse, Damian?

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Craig Warton says: “Sorry to say, I don’t get worked up by the notion that a government lied or was liberal with the truth on WMD.” Why not? Tens of thousands of innocent people died as a result of those lies.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Thanks Margo! It is, to my mind, EXACTLY what you & I - and all of us here w/a genuinely positive outlook - are striving for.

Keep up the good work - and, I hope to see you soon in Brisbane.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Craig Warton...well said! I'll admit that I'd disagree with you on several details here, BUT on the whole, you're EXACTLY the type of person that Webdiary so clearly needs.

Please don't despair of this forum - even if the ideologues (on both sides) drive you to despair! Just keep reading - and thinking - and contributing...because, you're exactly the type of person that Margo - and the rest of us who want to rebuild the centre - need to make Webdiary a success.

As the (esteemed) Craig Rowley has just written...[we] "thank you for it."

all the best

John Henry Calvinist

Margo: Hi JH. 'Rebuilding the centre'. I like that metaphor.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Well, quite clearly, you are a Campbell.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Craig Warton: "So what am I?"

You are a good writer Craig. I enjoyed reading this piece and thank you for it.

Where do you stand politically? Not that far away from me really. It's true. Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Stuart, that would be all those children in Iraq who died as a result of the UN backed sanctions?

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

First, Stuart Lord, since when did two wrongs make a right? It is ridiculous to argue that since hundreds of thousands have died, hundreds of thousands more must die in order to stop it. It’s a non-argument.

Secondly, the US was not interested in going into Iraq in order to stop the killing. The way Saddam Hussein ran his country was not of the slightest interest to the US government, or the British government, or to the Australian government. The rest of the world knew the real reasons why the US wanted to go into Iraq and did not want to be a part of it. It is why the rest of the world was unwilling to support the invasion and occupation and why the UN denied the US and the COTW authority to do so.

Third, the US and its allies have done far more damage to Iraq and its people than Hussein ever did in any equivalent space of time.

As a result of the invasion, occupation and plundering of Iraq, the nation has descended into chaos and into the first stages of civil war. And we all know that civil wars can be the dirtiest and most deadly of wars that usually result in extraordinarily high numbers of innocent civilian casualties.

What could have been done about the Saddam problem? I don’t know, but I do know that the Iraqi people and the Iraq nation deserved a lot better than what they have now, courtesy of the lies of Bush, Blair and Howard.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Marilyn: You are correct when you state that refugees “have to get to a country that is a part of the refugee convention determination process” but I believe you are exaggerating a little when you go on to claim that for refugees that “come from Afghanistan there is nowhere but here [Australia].”

Afghanistan shares borders with China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Of these China, Iran and Tajikistan are party to the Refugee Convention and the Refugee Protocol. Of around 5500km of Afghani borders, around 40% are borders with Convention and Protocol acceding states.

While it is possible to imagine a route from Pakistan, through India and Indonesia and onto Australia – which has ratified both the Convention and the Protocol – to suggest that refugees from Afghanistan can go “nowhere but here” seems extraordinary.

Surely there are other reasons why Afghani refugees and people claiming to be Afghani refugees choose to come to Australia instead of crossing a closer land border to a Convention and Protocol ratifying state. As your reply to Craig’s post only mentioned the Convention, perhaps you could suggest some other reasons why refugees from Afghanistan have nowhere to go but here.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

I stopped posting because of the war-mongers, and that is what they are, clear and simple. I don't swallow the bullshit of altruistic intentions to liberate the Iraqi people. You obviously have an abiding interest in the military and the tactics of battle, and may be seeing Iraq through rose-coloured glasses of this method of solving things.

Keep your eyes on those increased anti-terrorism detention laws about to come in. Who are they going to come and get when they have already targeted peace activists? Would you trust a DIMIA type agency with that unfettered power?

As a manager in a multinational you obviously don't need union support to put your case, but remember not all managers will be as accommodating as you in regards to treating staff as human. I have just seen my company of 11yrs go down the gurgler because of bullying and mismanagement but some of the staff are rallying to put ourselves into debt to buy out some of the remains and try to claw back our previous credibility. A lot is also reliant on being paid our long service and other leave through GEERS (unknown deity please bless Stan Howard) so we are feeling inspired about our prospects, but are being held up by the extended swan song of the previous co being performed by departing manager, who despite his obvious advantages chose to feather bed himself with the wrong section, and is now crying foul.

Margo's book Not Happy John was a call to reject the current status quo and seek a new inclusive politics so all manner of government bashing should be expected.

I criticise US policy because Australia supports it and I am Australian and wish us to stop our lockstep march to privatised military madness. Critical comments towards the previous USSR would be a waste of time as I have no influence in those countries.

Single man, 44, in share accom in inner west, no car, one bicycle, one indoor cat (with a taste for my blood) and I save spiders as well.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

What a loverly dreamery world Craig lives in.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

The most refreshingly different piece we have had on Webdiary for some time. Most welcome.

Margo: Hi Ian. Did you get the book and if so how are you going with the book review?

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Well its good to see that Craig Wharton can still find time from his work to send his posts. Join the liberal party Craig, John Howard needs you. A couple of issues that I would like to comment, before I go to my monthly stop work Union meeting which I always attend when I am home on leave from my work.

First of all , My Wife was offered casual employment by a large meat processor in West Australia recently, she started work on the afternoon shift, and was then asked could she go onto the day shift, and it was explained to her that overtime would often be available after the 8 hour day. She accepted this offer but in doing so had to resign from a another casual job that she was already doing during the day.

Things were going fine until last Sunday Week when one of her work mates, on behalf on the supervisor rang her to tell her that she would not be required for work on the Monday. Her casual employment contract stated that the company or my wife only had to give one hours notice to terminate the contract, and to think John Howard’s IR changes have not even come into force yet.

This is an example of the two way street that he says is fair. The company only has to give you one hours notice to terminate your employment and you are entitled to do the same. How is that fair, What do they think, that my wife was running around applying for other jobs when she was working for them Mon to Friday with compulsory overtime, so that she could go to work on Monday and give them the hours notice to resign.

On another matter today’s polls published in the SMH show once again how bad the Labor party is performing with Kim Beazley as leader, Why wouldn’t they, John Howard wants compulsory detention if he thinks you are a terrorist suspect, Beazley goes one better and says the local police can hold you for 14 days with no charges laid whatsoever. Both Howard and Beazley are an absolute disgrace to themselves, to the Australian people they are supposed to represent, and to the basic decent human values they say they have. A pox on both of them and all of there fellow travellers.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Stuart Lord, it's extremist ideologues such as yourself that Craig's article was criticising.

Craig, you say that you consider yourself 'average Australian' and that your friends think of your family the same way. Most people consider themselves 'average Australians' and tend to surround themselves with people with the same world view, so its unsurprising that your friends consider you 'average'. But that doesn't mean it's true.

Craig, the language you use and the way you frame your arguments illuminates your beliefs.

You write, "Saddam was thumbing his nose at the UN and the US for a very long time". Do you see the problem? When you say 'thumbing his nose' you've already framed your argument to arrive at your destination. Others may have said, "Saddam was refusing to be bullied into action by the world's sole remaining superpower" or "Saddam was continuing to negotiate with the UN to alleviate its concerns while maintaining its sovereignty". But you chose to say "thumbing his nose" and thereby cast your argument in an emotive way to help illustrate your point that the US was correct in invading Iraq. I'm not making an argument supporting Saddam Hussein, what I'm arguing is that Craig is engaging in rhetoric, he is attempting to persuade others to his point of view while presenting himself as dispassionate.

Another example - Craig writes, "I do care about the environment, but my stance is tempered with reality". The assumption here Craig is that you are in touch with 'reality' on the issue of the environment and that assumes that those who disagree with you are not in touch with reality. What makes your point of view closer to reality than the point of view of someone who chains themselves to an old growth tree? A tree in the Tasmanian wilderness may be hundreds of years old and the loggers may wish to turn it into woodchips? In an era of global warming, in a time of eco tourism and the economic benefits it brings, considering that woodchips can be made from plantation grown trees doesn't the actions of the green protester have a basis in 'reality'? But yet you argue that your point of view is based in 'reality'. Do you see the problem. Again you engage in rhetoric, an argument aimed at persuading, not illuminating.

On Telstra, "They rip us off blindly when they can, and delay the introduction of new technology as long as they can so they can rip us off as long as possible." I argue that Telstra acts as a monopoly, or duopoly does. What make you think it will be better if Telstra is sold? Why would you prefer a private monopoly to a public one.

"I am puzzled by the notion that water and petrol should be more expensive to discourage use, but we persist with the idea of free health care." I'm puzzled that you're puzzled. Why shouldn't health care be free? I think that it's a basic right of citizens to live healthy lives and this shouldn't be dependant on their capacity to pay.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Craig responds:

Sorry for my confusion, Marilyn. So who do these agents represent? Plainly it is not the Australian Government, or any representative who would authorise entry to this country. Do they represent one of the other countries that they manage to pass people through?

What’s that…no? So who do these agents represent?
They arrange great travel accommodation too – worn out fishing boats, or perhaps if you are heading to Europe you can ride in the back of a refrigerated van. But you are of course correct; these are agents and not smugglers.

Crossing several countries? Marilyn, with respect, unfold a map of the world and look where we are and where Afghanistan is. There is a lot of distance, both land and sea between here and there. A person being shuffled from one country to another is a crime. It is a trade of the very worst kind. The places they pass through know what is going on, and they are not signing any conventions because then they would have an obligation. Instead, they extract money from the “agents” to turn a blind eye until the problem is passed on to some where else.

The people are not locked up without cause. They are detained until it can be established that they are in fact what they claim to be – a refugee. We can argue about how that process should be carried out, and as I said, I think it should be handled better. But you don’t want to quibble about things Marilyn. You don’t want a process at all and that is a fundamental difference.

Damian, I asked you in another forum on here how many innocent people the “resistance” have killed, and you have not answered that. I am sure that is because you missed the question. One of your cohorts was insinuating they are collaborators so I hope you can clear things up for him and me.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Craig Warton, smashing piece sir, do continue! Funny how our friends all seem like us. I guess that's why they're our friends. I can count a few friends who think radically differently to me, but not too many, I'll confess. The new idealogical tribalism rules!

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Craig, firstly let me thank you for having the guts to expose yourself to the slings and arrows of Webdiary.

Secondly, let me state that I am a Howard Hater and I’m proud of it. I hate Howard for two reasons;

1. His appallingly racist comments about Asian immigration in 1988, although I was only 11 years old at the time I still remember it very clearly because my best friend was a young man by the name John Huang a recently arrived immigrant from Taiwan. I was in love with his older sister and his mother made the best fried rice in the whole world.

2. Howard is a pathetic ideologue who has mortgaged the long term future of this nation because of his ideological hatred of the Labor Party. In 1996 Howard and Costello set about undoing not only the bad work of the Keating Labor government but the good work too. In my opinion one of the worst pieces of Howard and Costello economic policy was the dismantling of Labor’s research and development initiatives.

We are facing a skills and innovation crisis today precisely because of this ideological short sightedness. The R&D initiatives weren’t scrapped because they were too expensive or poorly targeted or bad policy. They were scrapped because they were Labor policy and more specifically Keating policy. These policies go to the heart of the kind of Australia we are trying to build and they go to the heart of the kind of future your children are going to have.

The hope of every parent is to create a world for their children that is better then their own. I’m not sure that we are creating that world.

Just imagine for a second if the Howard government hadn’t attacked Labor’s R&D initiatives and instead had built upon them and made them more efficient and effective? Imagine if we weren’t only selling wine to the French but DVD players to the Japanese and luxury cars to the Germans?

Howard has presided over unprecedented economic prosperity but it is a prosperity that has been shared by all industrialized nations to some degree. Australians have never been richer, but neither have Americans, Britons, the Japanese (and they’ve been in recession for the last 15 years). Despite all this prosperity I am hard pressed to identify a Howard government policy that has actually genuinely contributed to it. The real driver of economic prosperity hasn’t been Howard government policy or there lack of, it’s been technological advancement. Australia is facing a productivity slump not because it’s too hard to sack people but because we haven’t been building on the technological advancements that have come before.

Australia is nowhere on the map when it comes to highly-technological development. We don’t value add, we don’t make computers, we don’t write software, we don’t build components, we don’t create the future. Instead we are a nation of accounts and financial advisors, a nation of mediocre middle managers. We don’t create wealth, we simply push it around, and what wealth we do create we dig out of the ground and sell to someone else who then sells it back to us at a premium.

Craig, while I agree with most of what you said I have to take issue with this, “I don’t get worked up by the notion that a government lied or was liberal with the truth on WMD.” It’s sad that such an obviously intelligent and informed member of the Australian community holds such an alarming opinion. If people like you Craig hold such opinions what hope is there for a decent future for our kids?

The problem is not that politicians and governments lie to us, they will and do. The problem is that we accept the lies and by accepting them we invite more lies.

How many people have to die because of those lies before middle Australia will find the guts to stand up for what is right? Are we waiting for Australian’s to be killed? Does one of my three friends in Iraq have to have his head ripped off before middle Australia will give a f..k?

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

If a person was about to be killed I would bring them out of the country in a boot.

Full stop. What is wrong with you lot? Here is a newsflash.

99% of the Afghans who came on the boats live here as genuine refugees. That is because they came this way and the only nation that has signed the refugee convention is us.
If they had other protection elsewhere we would not owe them protection under the convention - we did and they are here.

That is now a dead argument that was always wrong.
Don't you guys understand this yet? It was a lie. Ruddock made it all up.
If it was true not one asylum seekers would be entitled to help from any of the 146 countries that have signed the refugee convention and genocide would be the result.

Let me say it again - Ruddock made the story up. If he had been telling the truth not one of the refugees on boats would be here - 99% of them are here and they are permanent residents.

They might live next to you, their children might go to your children's schools, their mosque or church might be in your neighbourhood.
And they are here with the same rights and entitlements as you.

Do you understand that? The country of first asylum only holds if the country has signed the convention and if the agent takes you there.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

I saw those polls Ben Oquist and have just one thing to say about them. If Howard gets back in because of this book (or for any other reason) it will a truly monumental disaster for all progressive Australians, Greens included.

J.Wilshaw I don’t know about Tajikistan but the president of Turkmenistan (if I remember correctly) is a rather Saddam-like fellow who has made it illegal to name organizations in Turkmenistan after anybody bar him or his mother.

Would you go to Turkmenistan to escape tyranny?

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Carl, thanks for the links. I don’t understand your point but oh well.

Funnily, since the Tampa incident, their have been no more boats.

If were the only country between Afghanistan and here who could accept these people were have the hundreds that were arriving a month gone for the last two or three years?

The answer I think you will find is they have gone to other destinations closer to their point of origin.

This is the way the convention was meant to work. It was never meant to be a way for a “refugee” to "pick" their country of choosing, fly/ sail/ train half way around the world to lob on someone else’s doorstep and say " let me in"!

If their is a regional disturbance in our region (Timor, Indonesia, Fiji, Solomon Islands) then id be more than supportive of refugees fleeing from their to here.

But don’t try and sprout a load of crap that the first place between Afghanistan and Iraq that a refugee can seek refuge is Australia. That’s just bloody ridiculous.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Thanks Craig but my head is somewhat reeling as I feel I've just come back from lunch at my Howard supporting brother's house in Cremorne. One can only answer a few of your thoughts to save space. Who thinks health and education is free ?. No-one I know, but we do want good education available to everyone so that the best minds can soar. That's why we expect corporations to pay their tax as they'll be the ones who benefit when they employ our sons and daughters who they will choose for their abilities rather than which school they went to. Likewise a healthy society is bound to be a far more productive society. Personally I like the idea of my taxes paying for these beneficial types of things, rather than bombs to blow up Iraq but I never hear Howard supporters complaining about the cost of a useless war, when there's a single mother somewhere to be demonised.

I'm a bit worried that you dismiss Howard's WMD speeches to parliament and the people as the reason for the war, as being fairly insignificant. It can only mean one of 2 things. Either he deliberately lied to take Australia into a war against a sovereign nation-no matter how odious Saddam was-and apart from thousands dying as a direct result, it was the reason several were convicted as war criminals at Nuremberg and hung.

Or he was lied to by his allies George Bush and Tony Blair, or mis-led by our own intelligence services. As I too value our security I abhor that it can be used as a political football and want to know what went wrong. If our allies lied they are not our friends. If our intelligence services got it so wrong they need to be booted out and honest people employed. More importantly, the Prime Minister needs to address this issue rather than constantly change the reasons for conducting a war, before someone who really hates us decides to strike us in our own homes, for that is the point he has taken us to.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Carl Barker: J (and I for that matter) didn't claim that any of these bordering states are particularly nice places to visit.

Marilyn, on the other hand, did claim that, "The fact is that they [refugees] have to get to a country that is a part of the refugee convention determination process and if they come from Afghanistan there is nowhere but here."

If, as Marilyn seems to claim, these supposed refugees come to Australia because there is no other state signed up to the Convention, J's question is entirely valid.

Your claim of "total ignorance" on his part is misplaced.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

A fine piece Craig Warton. You spoke about private health care before, might I run an idea by you?

In light of the fact that the private health system is effectively subsidised by the state through the 30% rebate what do you think of the idea of the Government putting a cap on premium increases, which, for the last three years, have been pushing 8%?

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Tax reform - to be or not to be?
with Louise McBride

Take the law into your own hands. The Commissioner of Tax does when it suits him.

"Aberrant behaviour on the part of the commissioner should not be tolerated whatever the Australian Tax Office or the tax profession think of the High Court's grasp of Australia's tax legislation.” – (Louise McBride, The Australian, 26 September 2005)

“John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull recognise something needs to be done to fix the broken tax system. But is Peter Costello listening?” says Louise McBride, an adviser to the Board of Taxation and director of Grant Samuel in Sydney.

In a recent series of articles in The Australian, Louise McBride has argued that the top tax rate should be cut initially to 30 per cent, to bring it in line with the corporate tax rate; that under the current tax rates the people responsible for the bulk of individual savings and investments are hit by punitive tax rates; and that the “plethora of available deductions only makes the tax system even more complex, distorts investment decisions and undermines economic efficiency”.

Louise McBride argues that, because of hefty compliance costs with the GST, many small businesses are forced to keep their legitimate business under $50,000 which means the black economy is alive and well and keeping tax rates high. In her view, one lasting legacy the Howard Government could leave would be to reduce the top marginal rate substantially “It's time,” McBride writes, “for our politicians to be accountable and trim their spending to a budget.”

Join in the great tax debate at The Sydney Institute
Louise McBride,
Adviser to the Board of Taxation, director Grant Samuel

Tax Reform: What Should Be Done?
Wednesday 28 September 2005 - 5.30 for 6 pm
41 Phillip Street, Sydney – note change of venue
Light refreshments
RSVP: (02) 9252 3366 or email

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

J Wilshaw lovely display of total ignorance with your question to Marilyn. See here and here for the answers you so desperately seek.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

While the SMH chose only to publish the two party preferred poll result this morning, The Age newspaper did publish the primary results for all parties.

Greens are steady on 10%.

Greens 12% in city, 7% rural. 11% 16-24year olds, 12% 25-39's and 7% over 55
year olds.

So the poll results lately for the Greens nationally are as follows:
Newspoll (out today also) 8% (up 1)
Nielson 10% (steady)
Morgan 10% (up 3)

And while much of the political class and commentariat play down the role of the Latham diaries, the punters are seeing it differently I reckon. Latham's 'kiss of death' on Gillard seems to have actually done her the world of good in the polls

And how about Matt Price's predication on Insiders on Sunday last? Mr Price said he thought the punters would actually reward Beazley for how well he handled the Latham issue (i.e. voters would side with the current leader over Latham). Matt predicted Beazley's approval rating would go up in the polls. Oops!

And don’t you think that with more me-toosim from Kim Beazley this week on Howard's civil liberties crackdown he has yet again shown himself incapable of being an alternative Prime Minister. As a good Green from Melbourne suggested to me this morning, Beazley is shaping up as 'the most calamitous leader Labor has ever had'.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

J Wilshaw, Marilyn need not only explain those two states. How about Iran and China which have also signed on and - if Marilyn checks the map - also border on Afghanistan.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Hi Craig. Thanks for the thought provoking contribution.

I am really interested to know what would get you 'worked up' if lying about the reasons for embarking on a war of aggression doesn't do it for you?

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Marilyn, Re: we being the only country between Afganistan who has signed the Refugee convention.

What about Tajikistan and Turkmenistan?

Heres a map link FYI.

You can see that they are a touch closer to Afganistan than Australia. In fact blow me down, they're right next door.

Please tell me why if they're only thought is to get to a country that has signed the convention, why don't they just go next door? Or is it really the truth that we WERE seen as an easy oppulant ticket.

I await your reply.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Michael de Angelos, no gentleman comes back from lunch at 1:15 pm.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Craig wrote: "I don’t see a problem with some work for the dole, to me it would be better than sitting at home going crazy, but that is just my thought."

There is an article on page 3 of the Canberra Times today (not posted on web unfortunately) entitled 'Work For the Dole a Failure: New Study'. It reports that people who take part in work-for-the-dole programs spend longer on unemployment welfare than those who do not, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Melbourne. They found work-for-the dole programs tend to perpetuate unemployment, rather than achieving the aim of getting people back into the workforce.

The researchers also found taking part in work-for-dole tends to "lock, in" the effects of unemployment, for three main reasons:

1. working for the dole reduces the amount of job-search activity of participants;

2. There is a stigma attached to work-for-the-dole which discourages potential employers; and

3. Working for the dole is a minimalist form of intervention in unemployment, designed only to provide work experience, not skills training that would make a person more employable in the future.

I believe previous studies have reached similar conclusions.

And this is why I can't understand how you can tolerate a government that lies to us. This government has insisted until it is blue in its collective face that work-for-the-dole has been a stunning success (a lie if you want to be uncharitable, spin, if you want to be kinder.) Now its my personal belief that it gets away with saying so against the evidence partly because people want to accept this line whatever its veracity, because they hate the thought of people getting something for nothing. Fair enough, they should feel free to believe whatever they want.

But if the government routinely lies to us, then how can we be expected to judge them on their track record when elections come around? And if people like Craig keep saying "I don't mind if they lie," then why should they ever start telling the truth?

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Hi Craig, I found your piece intriguing in a number of ways, and liked the opportunity to put a bit more of a face behind the signature.

I can't say I agree with most of your views, but I do agree that we need to keep it very civilised here. Most of the issues that we talk about are hot-button ones, and people (me included) can sometimes get too agitated, which makes the debate become worthless. Thanks for reminding me of that.

One other thing that I found interesting was the fact that, while on the face of it our views diverge, there's still a hell of a lot of common ground. I suspect that, if we got together and had a good verbal wrangle, we'd come to complete or partial agreement on many things.

And I must admit that I'm fed up to pussy's bow with this 'left-right' dichotomy too. I'm so utterly and completely sick of being labelled in that way, because it invariably means a dismissal of whatever I'm trying to say. Once someone lets slip the 'left/right' label, or a catch phrase like 'people like you...', then there's no possibility of continuing a rational discussion, and it all goes to Helena Handbasket in a chorus of "Nerny nerny ner"s.

I think this type of article, as well as being informative about our fellow 'Diarists, can help recover that distance that we need from time to time. We all need to take a step back and look at the big picture, instead of getting wrapped up in details of what some general said to some chief panjandrum in April of 1952.

Onya Craig. Nice work.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Craig, thank you for your comments – I think there needs to be more of this sort of debate. I am in my thirties, divorced, childless, don't own a house and have spent six or so years of my life living abroad. The sort of person who gets left totally out of the equation in John Howard land. If I had lived my whole life here perhaps I would feel differently but after returning to Australia in 2004, I was and remain dumbfounded at the changes to my ‘home’. I base that comment on the fact that I’ve lived in the US, Japan and Korea and have experienced several other daily realities. I grew up in a Fraser hating household but these days, find myself listening to him with admiration (?!?). I still don’t understand why Keating is lambasted for being arrogant when his egotism pales into insignificance besides John Howard's born-to-rule attitude. I heartily agree with Carl Baker about John Howard. I try not to hate – it’s not healthy - but I have a hard time with what this government has done to our country. I was ashamed by the way they have used racism to score political capital and that most of the Australian population was gullible enough to fall for it. I was a 17 in 1988 when John Howard made his appalling comments about Asian immigration and I haven't forgotten them (neither has the Chinese, Korean or Japanese governments). I've had many conversations with people in Korea and Japan about this.

I do live in hope that Labor will one day present us with a viable alternative but even so, at election time, it’s a choice for me between bad and worse and John Howard will always be worse (with the exception of Tony Abbot).

Refugees: I don’t like mandatory detention. People applying for refugee status are not criminals and most of them are ruled ‘genuine’ refugees anyway so why lock them up? Why can't they be out working, contributing to society while their cases are considered? With the skill shortage we keep hearing about, you think it would be a no-brainer. But if you look at it from a racist angle, it makes perfect sense. While the current system of mandatory detention continues, there must also be more accountability. Also, why does our government contract this kind of work to private companies? Do they not want to know what actually goes on inside so they can deny any culpability? How do those private companies make a profit? Their ‘clients’ are people who arrive in this country with nothing. They are just milking tax dollars. Why is taxpayer money being poured down this sink? I have met people who became refugees through no fault of their own. We cannot judge people who flee conflict or repression unless we put ourselves in their shoes. This requires us to realise that life out our little country is often quite different elsewhere.

Telstra: Are you comfortable with the way the government has rammed through the legislation in the Senate? I find the lack of debate and input highly disturbing in what is supposed to be an open and democratic country. The government effectively gagged elected Senators from speaking by limiting their speaking time when the Bill was presented so hardly anything has been recorded on the Hansard. What kind of democratic government is that? Who is going to benefit from this sale anyway? Fund managers? Corporate lawyers? Government ministers who get plumb industry jobs when they leave office? Does anything in the process up to now make you feel uncomfortable? What precludes a government from running a business such as Telstra profitably anyway?

Medicare: Nothing in life is free and I agree with you that those of us who can afford private health insurance should have it in order to free the system up for those who can’t afford it. I can and do pay for it but I don’t agree with the middle class welfare that comes with it. I don't need it. The government’s 30% private insurance rebate needs to go back into the public system, not into the pockets of the already wealthy private insurers. I am prepared to pay more for my private health insurance so people like my sister, a sufferer of mental illness, or my partner, whose pre-existing medical condition excludes him from private insurance, can have the help they need, when they need it.

Government Allowances: My sister currently gets a disability pension due to her mental illness issues. She is highly intelligent and has spent the last few years taking on the legal system by herself as she exhausted all other legal avenues on a particular matter. Her mental skills are better than most peoples I know but she is also unable to look after her basic day-to-day needs and sometimes doesn’t even know what day it is. It is not a choice for people like my sister to live on so little. Sometimes, it is all they can manage. Are you prepared to employ a person such as this for 15 hours a week? And yes, she does have a family who loves her and tries to help but often she won’t let us.

Conspiracy theories: Ridiculous and sometimes entertaining but in all things, real life is stranger than fiction so instead of buying into the spin about conspiracy theories, try reading books such as Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins instead.

Iraq: I’ve lived indirectly with the consequences of the conflict in Iraq as I was married to a soldier who spent too many years being sent off to kill people in other countries including Iraq in 1991 and 2003. It all became too much for me to cope with and it messed him up big time and continues to affect the lives of those around him to this day, even though he is now retired. Multiply my small story by the millions of people alive who have been involved or are involved in armed conflict. I read this quote on war recently which sums it up for me: “young men being sent to fight old men’s battles for the acquisition of land”. We will all end up paying for the consequences of our actions or disinterest one of these days.

Environment: I’m right with you on 4WDs. Didn’t Paul Keating want to introduce a tax on them many years ago? A bit ahead of his time?? If Katrina and Rita haven’t been able to knock some sense into the US government, nothing will. Our government seems unable to make their own decisions independent of the US so lets hope that some sanity prevails on environmental issues in the years to come.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Margo well that sounds fair enough but what is "living comfortably"?

To a person from some nations this would be free healthcare and a welfare benefit more than their average wage paid once a fortnight. To another person this may mean enough money left over after the bills to have a friday night out and so on.

Left of centre people love the tag "the rich" so I would like to know what it actually is? If somebody for example was earning a hundred grand yearly and spending it all with nothing left over, would they be "poor"? Against say somebody earning say fifty and saving to send the kids to a private school, would that make them "rich"?

I think these are very legitimate questions that the political left should be answering clearly if they wish to be taken seriously.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

I guess I'm an extremist.

"If you want government to intervene domestically, you're a liberal. If you want government to intervene overseas, you're a conservative. If you want government to intervene everywhere, you're a moderate. If you don't want government to intervene anywhere, you're an extremist." Joseph Sobran, Editor of the National Review at one time (1995)

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

There has been a lot spoken lately about the "average Australian". I personally do not know what this is and do not really care. I have always wondered however what income on Webdiary makes one rate as rich and one as poor? I often read things written about these two types of seemingly different person.

Can any person on here give a clear answer to this question? Or is this just another use of meaningless tags?

Margo: Hi Jay. Interesting question. How about this for an opener - someone is rich if he or she can live comfortably on the income from their investments or their business.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

J Wilshaw and Dylan Kissane, it seems that both of you fundamentally misunderstand what it is to be a refugee.

A refugee is not an illegal immigrant; a refugee is not an economic migrant. A refugee is someone escaping rape, torture and persecution. A refugee is someone seeking peace and security, freedom and a future for their children.

If it is peace, security and freedom you are after Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and to an extent China are not exactly the best places to find it.

For asylum seekers (as opposed to a refugee) it is not possible to lawfully seek asylum in Australia from overseas, you must be in this country before a claim for asylum can be received and processed. If an asylum seeker is found to have spent more than seven days in country in which they may have sought protection they will be deemed ineligible for a permanent protection visa.

The average refugee or asylum seeker does not one day simply decide that they would like a better life, pack their bags and hop a leaky boat to Australia. The average refugee is first raped or tortured or persecuted or a member of their family is raped or tortured or persecuted. Because there are no local legal remedies they will try to escape the rape and torture and persecution. Often the first attempt fails and that results in more rape and torture and persecution.

The first real port of call for most Afghani and Iraqi refugees is the refugee camps in Pakistan. Home to over two million people these camps are squalled and disease-ridden hell holes with no clean running water, no sanitation of any kind and sporadic and rudimentary health care.

Those refugees escaping intractable civil conflicts or tyrannical dictators being propped up by the West can find themselves living in these camps for decades. These people are just like you and me. They recognize that life is precious, that the education and safety of their children is paramount and so a tiny fraction of these people seek to take control of their own destiny and dare to hope and dream of a better life in countries like the United States, the UK and the greatest country on earth, Australia.

Why do some refugees seek to take matters into their own hands? Well, the total of worldwide refugees numbers almost 12 million. Of 191 countries only 20 have active refugee resettlement programs. At the current rate of resettlement and repatriation it will take over 120 years to resettle the existing population of refugees.

Let me ask you both this, if a woman who had just been raped came knocking on your door begging for your help would you turn her away because she had passed through someone else’s front lawn to get to your house? Would you throw her back onto the street and tell her to wait for the proper authorities to deal with her? Would you detain her without proper medical care until you could ascertain that she was a genuine rape victim? Or would you give her immediate entry to your home, keep her safe and secure and seek out help?

I await your considered responses.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Marilyn Shepherd, I don't think the Australian Government has a problem with people who actually come from Afghanistan. Is not the problem that the Government believes many are coming from Pakistan and other countries making them economic refugees?

Also if you only take into consideration those nations that have signed the Refugee Convention; nations such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Cambodia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan and a few others would be closer to Afganistan than Australia no?

One must remember that being a economic refugee does not count under the Convention. Australia is entitled to have an assesment made of who is in need of protection and who is not. Economic issues do not count in this assesment.

Australia is not breaking any rules it is simply following the correct procedure.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Here is the article from the Canberra Times Sue Bushell was referring to

Work-for-dole a failure: study
September 26, 2005 - 1:15PM
(Extracts only)

"People who participate in work-for-the-dole programs spend longer on unemployment welfare than those who do not, a new study has found.
Researchers from the University of Melbourne found that work-for-the-dole (WfD) programs tended to perpetuate unemployment, rather than achieving the aim of getting people back into the workforce."


"The researchers found that in the six months after beginning the scheme, WfD participants spent an average fortnight longer on payments than those who didn't taken part..."

"Originally, the work-for-the-dole program had the objectives of gaining work experience, building networks, improving self-esteem, and contributing to projects that are of value to the community," Prof Borland said."

What do they mean by work experience? The question should have been WHAT type of work experience? How were they suppose to build networks, when they were never in one place for more than a day or two? Improving self-esteem- how exactly? by taking on jobs that don't require much skills like clipping branches, and filing? Might be termed as work- but not exactly employable work. The last one is the real kO... contributing to projects that are of value to the community... Really? That is just the gift wrapper, the wool over the eyes...

"It was quite clear this was part of the armoury of policies to attack the problem of youth unemployment."

"You would have to say that the available evidence is that this scheme has not been successful in moving people more quickly to work or providing significant skills."

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...


The question that you ask (why should I go elsewhere?) should be preceded by another before you attempt to answer your own question.

What is the function of Webdiary? To me this is a simple question with a simple answer.

It is a means of exchanging data/opinions on current issues. Of cause there are some rules, but Webdiary gives us all a chance to learn what other people think/feel about issues of the day. By reading postings by others, one has a chance to review ones own views.

Therefore if you wish to discuss the issues of the day continue with Webdiary if not … the choice is yours. However, remember once your have put your views on this forum, you are asking people to agree or disagree with you. As long as the postings satisfy Webdiary ethics I would contend that you have nothing to complain about.

It would appear that you believe that the structure of Webdiary is somehow biased (and I would have to assume biased against your views) and that maybe some issues that you feel strongly about has been somehow ignored.

I would find it strange (in today’s climate) if most of those who contribute/read Webdiary did not feel the same. This claim of bias is everywhere today and appears to be based on the argument that if “I” don’t agree with everything that is published by a medium, than that medium must be biased.

The thing that will hurt Webdiary is the hurt egos that fluff up when things don’t go their way or when someone disagrees with their argument. There are postings on this forum that I find disappointing, and I get annoyed when some keep quoting incorrect facts as though they were “holy writ”, or they dismiss standards/morals as if these things are not important. So remember you are not alone.

However, if you feel strongly enough could I suggest that you give Margo a hand. I would place a dollar or two on your offer being taken up.

You bemoan the fact that some have labelled you “right wing” and then provide a list of issues and your attitude to them to support your argument. One has to remember that these sorts of generalizations are just that, a generalization. Again we all have this problem. As I oppose the war in Iraq, sale of Telstra, and many other issues put forward by the Government, I am considered left wing. However, I hold a number of views that would place me in the far right of the Liberal Party. As you stated your views are spread over the political spectrum (like many of us) but generally one could easily say that your views are more right of centre than to the left. However, you seem quite happy to accept another generalization such as being part of “an average family”.

You are also troubled by the views that you class as extreme from both ends of the political spectrum. What is extreme is very much in the eye of the beholder, and is usually applied to views that we disagree with the most. I am sure that you could very easily class some of my views as extreme, while I could class some of your views as extreme. Those with “extreme” views are also entitled to put and support their views in any medium. How many ideas that are considered mainstream today were originally classed as extreme?

There were a number of your comments concerning specific issues that deserve comment, however I will limit myself to just one. You stated in your opening comment concerning Iraq that “Sorry to say, I don’t get worked up by the notion that a government lied, or was liberal with the truth”. The act of lying is in my view the most corrosive element for our system of Government. It is worse that any other “sin” for it undermines our country, our Government, and our institutions, and diminishes our participation in the democratic process.

It is worse than say murder for if the murderer tells the truth at least we know the nature of that particular politician. For a democracy to work we need “perfect knowledge” as they say in economics. Now of course we will never get this “perfect knowledge” but a deliberate act to deprive us of knowledge we use/need to evaluate out voting intentions, is NEVER acceptable. So when any politician tells us after the election that there were core and non-core promises we should be very angry. Sadly Australians have now set the standard – lying is ok.

You try and justify your position by saying that they all do it. Well it is clear that they all put the best “spin” on it. However, one must also be clear as to what is a lie. Lying is not election promises, or a change of mind (i.e. John Howard and the “no GST’ statement) or an opinion, but it is a statement of fact knowing it to be incorrect). The core non-core promise statement was simply an admission that the Government made promises during an election knowing that they had no intention of keeping such promises.

It follows that once one accepts that someone has lied, how can anyone trust anything they ever say again.

You lament the ALP’s lack of policies and its desire to get back onto the Treasury Benches. Could I remind you of the single-minded approach of our current Prime Minister to attaining the “Lodge”. In fact that is a quality to be admired in Mr. Howard. In respect of policies could I ask you what policies of the Liberal Party caused you to change your vote 10 years ago. Could I suggest that it was more likely disaffection with the then Government?

To use one of those quotes you are so troubled by – Oppositions don’t win elections, Governments lose elections.

Craig, you ask at the end “So what am I?

Does it really matter what others think? My opinion is that I know what I am and I don’t give a “rats” what you are anyone else may think as to “what I am”.

The important thing for you is that you know “what you are”.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Just on Work For The Dole, I once knew someone who was funnelled into this. Despite the fact that he was attempting to study while unemployed, to improve his chances, the dept in their wisdom decided he should gain some 'work skills' in the dishwashing field. I'm told this is fairly common.

Carl Baker: "Instead we are a nation of accounts and financial advisors, a nation of mediocre middle managers. We don’t create wealth, we simply push it around, and what wealth we do create we dig out of the ground and sell to someone else who then sells it back to us at a premium."

Not quite. One of our top export earners is, or at least used to be, higher education. I think it was up there right behind primary industry. That's a particularly good one, since there's no environmental damage, we lose nothing in selling it, and it helps our reputation overseas.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Malcolm, your sentiments are admirable, but in this instance I contend that Michael de Angelos's "as if" renders his observation - notwithstanding the time at which it was made - metaphorical, if not hypothetical.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Jay, it's impossible to know where anyone is from if we turn the boats away. Australia turns away both legitimate asylum seekers and illegitimate ones, indiscriminately. Evidently the government does have a problem with genuine refugees, or it wouldn't do so. The only correct and intelligible procedure for sifting refugees from unlawful non-citizens is to take people in and process their applications.

The Government's (stated) policy is to use off shore processing, mandatory detention and turning away of boats as a deterrant for people coming here, regardless of whether or not they are genuine refugees. This is what you voted for.

re: Nothing is as clear cut as you imagine...

Margo, he is rich indeed who has time to think without worrying where his next meal will come from or whether he will have shelter over his head; richer still if that time is free of physical pain; and richest of all if he is as unworried by those concerns for his family and friends. Who then of us in the modern world is rich?

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