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Carlos: Rats leaving a sinking ship?

7 August 2005 Margo update:  Janet Albrechtsen has joined Bolt -  see Pass baton to Costello. The latest Newspoll was a shocker for the government, and speculation is rife that next week Howard will either call an election or stand down. The Chaser proved that the emperor has no clothes - eerily reminiscent of the Bush visit to Canberra in 2003, when security waved what looked like a camera in without a security check and the AFP dressed civilians up to look like cops. Howard is about appearances, not reality.

25 July, 2007

Hello. Today, Carlos writes on the news that the Melbourne Herald Sun's infamous Andrew Bolt has called on Howard to stand aside for Costello. It could be a Melbourne thing, as Bolt is a Costello supporter, but still... This is Carlos's debut piece for Webdiary. I have his full name and have agreed he can use the nom de plume Carlos here.

Early this morning, Andrew Bolt wrote the most open call from a media government supporter for PM Howard to quit now, while he still can do it with some dignity.

Did Murdoch send word to cut the loses and play "kingmaker"? Did the Bolt lose a screw? See Howard must quit.    

What's really going on here? Is it a Melbourne coup? Bolt has called for a peaceful transition, a smooth change in the Coalition leadership, for a while now. But he has never before come out with such force and so openly. Of course he dresses the criticism in his convoluted rhetoric:

IT IS unfair, I know. But it's time John Howard quit. He must quit as Prime Minister not because he's a failure, but - perversely - because he's a success. He must quit because he's done so well he should be red hot to win the next election.

However, in a rare bout of honesty he can no longer keep up the pretence that most of the mainstream media has been propping up for most of this year:

Instead, every poll this year agrees he's stumbling to the mother of all hidings. And yesterday's pictures of him falling over are devastating in their symbolism.

Is Bolt trying to play kingmaker? To take some credit by being among the first to jump ship? That might be part of it. But there is more to this. The media strategy here is also to minimise the loss and rescue the dignity of Howard's legacy.

The last thing they need is for the government's dirty, unethical politics to be totally discredited where it really counts, the ballot box. These moves have one eye on history and the other in the practical electoral outcome of this year's voting: preventing annihilation.

It has been said before that Menzies at least knew when it was time to go.  He was able to hold the levy, if you like, to delay the Sixties' tide of change from forcing his hand on many issues.

Eventually Menzies knew his time was up and left with some dignity while the Sixties quickly made up for the delay during 1968-69 and arguably well into Whitlam's Seventies.

Let's contrast Howard's recent dismissive reaction to suggestions of retirement, that his key job was to secure power and once there to retain it, and that he was yet to meet a president or PM who sets out to retire or lose an election. He wanted to lead the Coalition to this election and he wants to remain PM and lead the Liberals for as long as it is in their "benefit".

While for some time now The PM has been aiming for policies with "legacy" implications, most have been reactive and carried out of a pure immediate political need. Opposing a return of Australian troops from Iraq, The NT Aboriginal Emergency, The Murray water initiatives, and of course the recent Terrorism scare with Dr. Haneef.

Hence, the logical reaction from the electorate. Australians, a bit wiser from Howard's past campaigns, now see every policy and big ticket item skeptically as a "wedge", reacting with a fair bit of healthy cynicism.

And yet the ALP and Rudd have been cowardly, doing very little, if anything, to propel this momentum. Meanwhile the mainstream media mostly regurgitated the official talking points, dismissing the bad poll results and focusing on more favourable "preferred PM" comparisons instead. (See Margo's Murdoch's men censor former Webdiarist Tim Dunlop.)

Basically, the Australian blogosphere has been on the mark for most of this year, perhaps better able to reflect the change in mood among most of the electorate.

Regardless, for Howard the tide has turned and he is likely to be left alone to personally cope the blame, from both the electorate and his party. That is the broader context for these current events.

But there's more! How about this from Murdoch's Courier Mail: Howard admits 'drunk on the job'

JOHN Howard has admitted addressing Federal Parliament while drunk during his so-called "wilderness years" after losing the Liberal leadership in 1989.

A new biography on Australia's second-longest serving Prime Minister reveals Mr Howard was deeply affected by his 1989 loss to Andrew Peacock, breaking down in a tearful apology to staff and sometimes drinking too much.

"Without the responsibility of a leadership role, Howard would on occasion drink more heavily than he should," the book, John Winston Howard : A Life by Peter van Onselen and Wayne Errington, says....

As things are getting really desperate, we should expect many more of these half-baked attempts to re-write the recent history of Howard and the future of his current electoral campaign. The drought is becoming a flood. Somehow things seem to be unravelling rather fast. And Howard seems caught in the perfect storm.

And the Rats are leaving the sinking ship.

Todays Herald Sun editorial, Howard's end?, seems an obvious attempt to have a bet each way, while being much more constrained than Andrew Bolt:    

PRIME Minister John Howard has maintained he "ain't for quitting" and has vowed to fight on for re-election.  In Saturday's Herald Sun the PM declared his party was a long way from deciding he had passed his use-by date.

"No, it's not close, mate, it ain't close," he said of any move for leadership change... If Mr Howard did choose to step down he would go having successfully contested four elections as a leader who has orchestrated a decade of growth and prosperity. He would avoid the ignominy of defeat, possibly in his own seat.

The vacancy would give Peter Costello - the man Mr Howard has repeatedly named as his natural successor - a tilt at The Lodge...

Any surrender by Mr Howard would also be seen as a cut and run in the face of defeat -- a principle he has rallied against in his Iraq policies. His departure could also risk an even greater loss of seats, leaving the Libs in opposition and facing a bigger deficit in the 2010-11 election.

On balance, even though he faces an uphill battle to retain government, the Prime Minister should stay the course and face the voters one more time.

After years of denouncing the Kafka-esque Howard years (especially Margo and many regular Webdiarists) it certainly feels a bit strange and unreal that it is Andrew Bolt who is highlighting the tough reality Howard is facing:

Most voters simply refuse to be impressed. They refuse even to listen any more.

Take Howard's bold decision to send in troops to help rescue Aboriginal children from appalling poverty, neglect and abuse. Yawn...

Time to turn the dial because voters seem bored to sobs by Howard after 11 years, and especially by that last half a decade of yammer about terror, Iraq and lies.

They insist in poll after poll they want to hear another track, albeit from the same kind of album, and so badly that they'll give a whopping 55 per cent of their votes to Labor's reassuringly conservative and, above all, fresh Kevin Rudd. To a New Howard who isn't actually Howard himself.

It's personal. And it's over.

It does feel really weird doesn't it? I'm not sure I've ever agreed this much with him!

Bolt even mentions the unmentionable:

Even if there were to be another terrorist attack, God forbid, the public is now so cynical it's as likely to blame Howard for provoking it as it is to admire his firmness in handling it...

What could Costello possibly do that Howard couldn't do better?   Simple. He'd make voters listen again to the Liberals, in a way Howard no longer can....

As things are bound to get a lot more desperate, we should not say I told you so.  What we must do is to critically look at what games are being played and we must prevent government mouthpieces from re-writing history.

 Instead let them say it: "John Winston. Thou, too, art mortal"

 You reap what you sow. Bring on the election!


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All We ask is a Fair Go.

The polls on Monday and/or Tuesday may show us how wasted that our money has been spent on Howard's APEC.

Otherwise it could help Howard in manipulating yet another election.

The thought of people not wanting to vote by intentionally making their votes informal worries me because I believe that voting is not only a privilege but an obligation.

In 2001 and 2004, the fact that the Australian Labor Party was considered even a chance was blasted by the results.  Why?

In 2004, the only newspaper that I noted on the net which forecast a Howard win, with increased numbers, was the SMH.  Why?

Before Howard and his well-known support from the U.S. and their CIA, I have always accepted the results of the elections and trusted the independence of the Australian Electoral Commission.

When the "New Order" Liberal Gary Nairn in Eden-Monaro was outed for telling a member of the AEC to shut-up (which he denied in Parliament) the Howard pressure on the AEC was evident.

The "New Order" control of the Commonwealth agency (the AEC) has "never ever" been so suspect as now.

We have been slowly advised of the secrecy and abuse of the independence of the federal Public Service and, it is time for more Andrew Wilkies to step forward.

Like Kevin Rudd, all we ask is a "fair go" - words that have no meaning to Howard's benefactor in the U.S.


What a Pair of Truth Cheats They Are.

The absolute hypocricy of people like Andrew Bolt and Janet Albrechtsen still amazes me.Margo's update and Carlos advice is very interesting.

I believe that there are:

  • Intelligent votes (informed).
  • Party faithful votes.
  • Donkey votes.
  • Selfish votes and;
  • Sympathy votes.

IMHO the first of those will put Howard and his robots out of power, where they belong.

The tripe these two "journos" spew into our eyes and ears has too long been understood as purely selfish and biased in the extreme.

If we put our minds to it, we could all remember that early this year Howard met with Murdoch and Rupert told him he thought it was time for the spiteful little schoolboy to go.

We would also remember that Kevin Rudd met with the mogul and, I believe, asked for a "fair go".

And again that - Kerry Packer's ex mouthpiece, Laurie Oakes, said about the same time that the "Moguls" do not tell the journalists what to write about!  Fair dinkum.

These people will "never ever" print the truth about a person whose abuse of power has made them infamous.

Nevertheless, they prove their ignorance of the public's awakening by giving Howard a bigger rap than the world's biggest Terrorist.

So, why suggest that their "little dictator" step down while they are praising him to the heights of a cult figure?

The Sympathy votes are what Albrechtsen and Bolt are aiming for.

I posted in WD some time ago that I thought that Howard could "retire" like his Menzies idol, but ONLY if he faced a level playing field with a worthy opponent who the media couldn't bastardise. Like they did with Whitlam, Keating and Mark Latham.

When there was a murmur of Howard having a heart problem, I wrote that I hoped he was alright: that he would contest the election and that he would be roundly defeated. 

And by the fair dinkum Australian people who he has so viciously disadvantaged over the 11 years of his fascist regime.

And that he would leave us alone and go to America where he belongs.


Enrol to vote now!!!

 Hello. Check your enrollment status on the Australian Electoral Commission site at https://oevf.aec.gov.au/. And if you've moved and haven't changed your details yet (like me) or are a first time voter, enroll now! Here's the latest email from GetUp!

Dear friends,

The Prime Minister can now call the election any day, and many think as soon he's finished at APEC he'll do just that. And when he does, the gates of democracy will swing firmly shut.

That's because the Government has passed new laws closing the electoral roll at 8pm on the very day the election is officially called. So click here -- or forward this email -- to make sure that you and everyone you know are properly enrolled:


Odds are, you're enrolled to vote -- but chances are you know someone who isn't. What may surprise you is just how many people you know aren't on the rolls. For instance, the Government recently admitted more than a third of all Australians aged 18 to 25 are not enrolled. That's a whopping 410,000 voters - four whole electorates' worth -- and we're only talking about young people.

To make matters worse, you're not informed if you've been taken off the electoral roll for some reason -- such as if a piece of mail addressed to you from the AEC gets returned to sender -- so many people do not find out until they turn up on election day, only to be denied their vote. You may not be enrolled right now, and not even know it. You can check your enrolment status here.


Your fellow GetUp members have been out in force, holding enrolment drives around the country to fill the gap these changes will create. We've even launched a TV ad on V and MTV ("Make Your First Time Special") encouraging young voters to get on the rolls.

Click below for your one-stop enrolment shop - whether it's checking your own enrolment status, signing a petition to reverse the changes, or making sure everyone you know is enrolled.


With all that's at stake in this election, let's all have our say. Forward this email to everyone you know, because once the election is called it will be too late.

Thanks for making it happen,
The GetUp team

PS: Our APEC climate change petition is almost at 100,000 Australians. There's still time to put your name here.

Congrats, Mark Kenny


Mark Kenny, the Adelaide Advertiser, my question is to Prime Minister Howard. Prime Minister you're here hosting some of the world's most powerful leaders, yet there's some talk amongst some of your most ardent supporters now that you should stand down in the interests in your party. I'm just wondering how you respond to those...to that talk and to those considerations?

PRIME MINISTER HOWARD: By referring you to the answer I gave two days ago. Okay thank you.

Let's All Sing The More Education Tune

Solomon Wakeling

Rudd swipes at Costello for not investing in skills, education, training and infrastructure. Note that three of those things are in fact the same thing.

Never ceases to amaze me how every vexed question is answered with: More education being needed. Have a room full of the most brilliant minds, and at least one of them will still need to make the coffee. Education needed on drawing straws perhaps?

Go on Oprah, and whine about your son of having a penchant for a couple of grams of charlie a week. More education is of course needed! Let's all  forget he is a Harvard graduate the moment........

Surely we do not have to put up with this crap forever?!?!?

Policy black holes

Rudd swipes at Costello for not investing in skills, education, training and infrastructure. Note that three of those things are in fact the same thing. Evidently Labor wants to spend its way to prosperity in some kind of Keynesian fashion. I think the Liberal theory goes that government spending is inflationary, and so there is a need to be "fiscally conservative", whilst the Labor argument is that under-investment is inflationary so there is a need to say that we are "fiscally conservative" and then not be. I am not an economics student and it is all voodoo to me but the whole debate is all too vague.

I don't expect to be any more enlightened about the underlying basis of either parties economic position through this election. I don't think this is true of elections in the eighties or early nineties when there was a great deal of enthusiasm for economic questions. Even Latham was more stimulating than Costello or Rudd. As it happens I am bored by politics and want some "grist" for the "grinding activity" of my mind, as F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote. I don't think I'm the only one.

Whatever happened to Wayne Swan? He wrote a book. Maybe I'll read it. He is still shadow treasurer, isn't he? Its like he has dropped off the edge of the world. Apparently he is a "rooster" which, apart from containing literal inaccuracies, doesn't actually mean anything.

Downer says:"I think when the next election comes people on reflection will come to the view that it is a great deal better to stick to stability, a known quantity, experience, a successful formula, than to start playing with an experiment with somebody like Kevin Rudd ... who, to be frank, is very unknown."

Note that the words "stability", "known quantity", "experience" and "successful formula" and "experiment" don't actually contain any content. We used to call this hubris. Downer has completely disassociated any policy positions from the reasons why we ought to vote for the Liberal party. Am I supposed to tolerate this kind of crap? I don't know who to vote for because no-one has given me anything to vote about. There are policies, but there is no why or wherefore. I might not even bother like in the NSW election. That was just a big a joke as this.

High ground

News Ltd has been trying to sweet-talk the Prime Minister in to resigning for a while now. It is not going to work. They have declined to give the real reasons and have instead resorted to sophistry and flattery. I don't know what the logic behind their loss of faith is but it could be anything.

My best guess is that when Howard started attacking Obama and saying that Al Qaeda wants a democratic President, he revealed to anyone with half a mind left that he has become both feral and fanatical. He is no longer a credible Prime Minister on foreign policy issues. He is a disgrace to the causes he champions, both Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a real danger that his incompetence will mean that the anti-war positions, which are often unsophisticated and self-serving, will remain unchallenged.

The cause for a democratic Iraq and a democratic Afghanistan are not being helped by this man, and neither is the cause against Al Qaeda or terrorism. In contrast Bush has been a faithful servant to that which he believes in and I feel a comparable respect for him in this regard.

The problem is that the Australian people may re-affirm him even despite this, because the far right seems to hold the balance of power in Australia, thanks to Howard's authorship and the opposition's complicity.

A comment Howard made about Keating that I read in Pamela Williams The Victory really illuminated something for me. He said about the so-called Kirribilli agreement that Keating had hidden this from the Australian people. The similar agreement claimed by Costello for a turn-over is, under Howard's logic, a betrayal of the people who voted for John Winston Howard. In fact I admire the substance and discipline of this argument. Howard owes Costello nothing and the people everything. Top marks for Howard on the domestic front.

The public has affirmed the Prime Minister in numerous elections. The last election was an affirmation of the Iraq war as much as anything else. Howard is less popular now not because people are not listening but because they are. The nonsense logic that Howard will fall for the line that he has presided over a good government but that the people are ungrateful and not listening is going to fall flat. Howard knows exactly what is going on and he has a better understanding of the electorate than the journalists, because he does his homework, and they are having their resources stripped from them and are increasingly dependent on shallow indicators like opinion polls, rather than detailed qualitative research. Howard can win this election, if he gets the right message across.

I said the other day that Costello would be no better because he is uncommunicative. I think perhaps I was missing the point and that the reason he is so uncommunicative is because he is undermining Howard's leadership. Essentially what he is doing is to focus all his energy on to the economic front, to try and get results, so that when the leadership is transferred over to him he can start explaining the basis of all his actions. He is not going to carp on the Prime Minister but he is not going to be his salesman either. It is very subtle, very smart and very effective. He gives hints, from time to time, about the depths of his knowledge, but he never quite betrays the whole truth. There is something petulant and undemocratic in it, which would explain (and justify) Howard's obvious distaste for the man.

I don't like Costello, yet, in a way I respect him - the same way they tried to sell Keating. I want to hear what he has to say on substantive points.

The problem with the government's ads on Industrial Relations is that they don't explain the changes that they are making or the reasons why. Rather all they do is rebutt union claims, which leaves the Australian public with a sum total of nothing in information flow. Both the union ads and the counter-campaigns deal in hypotheticals rather than reality. They both play on job "insecurity", in different ways, though in truth this not an actual problem but a potential problem. Those who have been affected in actuality are going to be a great deal less than those who are simply uncertain about the future.

What the public wants his frankness and facts. They want to know if the industrial relations changes have something to do with international competitive pressures from Asia, forcing Australians in to lower standards of living. They want to know if they should teach their children Asian languages at school, because it will lead to economic prosperity. They want to know what factors are really causing inflation and interest rates rises, what is causing high house prices and what they should do about all of this.

Australia used to have detailed economic arguments but under the Howard years this has gradually eroded. The GST was sold to the Australian public. The last few elections what was sold was the intangible "trust", without the facts and detail to back it up. The public accepted the "trust" argument, based on their own experiences, but they have no idea as to why and are just as likely this time around to attribute their economic prosperity to factors outside the government's control, or, to conclude that there would be just as much rain or sunshine under a Labor government as a Coalition.

They get nothing but Marxist babble from the Greens and other minor parties on economics, and, the Labor leader is not particularly strong on economic questions. He gives the indication that he could be but at the moment he is coasting along a little too easily for me to be comfortable with.

It is ironic to see Howard glorifying himself in the glow of APEC. It makes me see how in politics what really matters is the high-ground. This was a structure pioneered by Hawke and Evans but associated with Keating, who lost government because of he was deeply involved in such measures. In a deeper sense though he didn't lose because the structures are still in place. Losing an election isn't the same as losing an argument. Democracy rewards the popular which is not always the same as what is in the public interest.

I think Asia could win the ALP the election. Nobody asked the Australian people if they wanted a multicultural society, and the resulting alienating effects that it caused, but it has been around a fair while now and it is losing its foreigness. I think Australia is at the point now where it is willing to let go of the past and face facts. They want to know if they should change and adapt, not necessarily for themselves but for their children, who generally treat multiculturalism as their natural habitat, but who are not necessarily being taught the skills to operate in a multicultural and international economy.

Asian people contain a diversity of values and belief system, many of them intensely secular. The problems associated with integration of Islamic and other Arab peoples are not there with Asians anymore, because there is no sense by traditional Australian people of being judged or disliked by Asians as they feel by some Muslims and Arabic people. The only feeling that I sense in regards to Asia is of being over-whelmed and seperated by complex languages and people that seem inaccessible. There will be subtleties and points of difference, especially with Indonesia, North Korea and perhaps China but I don't believe this is projected on to Asian-Australians.

It think if people feel it is in their interests and the interests of their family to engage with Asia, I think they are now willing to contemplate starting on the long road to mutual understanding.


Great opener in today's Crikey email (subscription recommended):

It sounded like an odd approach to federal Health policy and we were confused at the time. The ABC's Lateline (video here, transcript here) had the story late last month:

    TONY JONES: Meanwhile talks on the Commonwealth/state health funding agreement broke down today when federal Health Minister Tony Abbott declined to negotiate. Mr Abbott says he won't negotiate a new deal before the federal election. But the states and the territories insist they can't wait.

The minister made his intentions clear enough:

    TONY ABBOTT: I don't see any point in having this discussion when there is some question as to who is going to form a government. The important task at the present time is to get re-elected and that is where my energies are focused.

It would seem, on yesterday's evidence, that he has managed to bring the Prime Minister to the same view. 


Bye bye any sort of planning for health. Hello roll out the barrel. Don't bother to apply if you don't live in a marginal seat.

And get this from our centralist PM yesterday:

01 August 2007

Tasmanian Hospital Announcement

Hello there,

Recently there have been suggestions that Federal Government intervention in traditional areas of state responsibility is a power grab by Canberra.

Let me make it clear, my government only intervenes in those areas where state or territory governments have not fulfilled their obligations and local communities feel let down, or where a co-operative approach having been patiently tried has clearly failed.

We intervened in the Northern Territory to help indigenous people because the Northern Territory Government had not met its responsibilities. This intervention will clearly benefit the Aboriginal community.

The historic $10 billion plan to save the Murray-Darling Basin was conceived because the cooperative approach between the Commonwealth and the Murray-Darling Basin states had failed. The states had repeatedly ignored the water-use caps voluntarily imposed under that co-operative arrangement.

We had tried the co-operative approach for years but it simply hadn't worked.

The Australian people are not especially concerned about theories of governance when it comes to the delivery of basic services such as health and education.

They want good outcomes and are not particularly fussed about which level of government delivers those outcomes.

Overwhelmingly they want more rather than less Commonwealth involvement especially where a state government has not delivered an adequate service.

In this spirit I will visit Devonport in northern Tasmania today to announce Federal Government funding to keep open a public hospital which services a community of some 70,000 people. This is not something the Commonwealth has normally done in past, but action was needed.

The Tasmanian government has announced plans to downgrade the existing hospital which has left the local community deeply unhappy.

The Commonwealth's true role in this case is one of direct intervention to help the local community.

Thanks a lot for listening.


Howard's interviews on the matter are here and here.  

Rats (again)

You dirty rats!

Certainly not the kind of rats I had in mind, Fiona! Bet they'd make shocking pets, eh?

The cartoon reminds me of a James Cagney line in one of his old movies: "Come out and take it, you dirty, yellow bellied rats, or I'll give it to you through the door!"

If only it were that simple. Heh heh heh...

BTW, Fiona, I changed the quote ever so slightly (rats instead of rat).

But the Captain is a Rat!

I'll bet that Howard will leave his sinking ship prior to the election but after APEC (which is his last big photo op). He is not a man who wants to go through the humiliation that Keating did! Besides, it wouldn't look good in his memoirs tentatively titled 'How I made the Rich Richer!'

I make one proviso: that he's not got a terrorist attack trick up his large sleeves.


Fiona: Daniel, great to see you again.

And Phillip Adams said...

I was surprised to read a Phillip Adams opinion piece in the Australian a few weeks ago in which he asked, why vote for "Mini-Me" Rudd when you can get the real thing by voting for Howard? Funny how things have turned around - Adams rejecting Mini-Me and Bolt rejecting Howard.

ARMs, Legs but no toes

Yes, Fiona, I have read a bit about the coming meltdown, don't understand a bit of it, but it looks like things will get worse when the adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) kick for many more in America later in the year.

I suppose many will simply lose an ARM and maybe a leg, but I bet none of them lose a toe. Now, that would be serious (I know).

Personally I'm safe, no debt, just lots of cash, around $27.27 at the last count. If interest rates go up I'll make a killing.

Isn't life wonderful?

It's the economy, stupid

A month ago, in its 77th Annual Report for the year ended 31 March 2007, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) warned that the global economy could be on the brink of a major depression similar to the one that happened in the 1930s. Now, this crowd is the central banks’ bank – hardly a bunch of unreconstructed Marxist chardonnay sucking, latte licking lefties.

In their report they made some specific criticisms of loose monetary policy and what they described as a dangerous credit bubble, which they suggest leaves the global economy at risk of an economic catastrophe.

In particular, they drew some interesting analogies between market sentiment immediately before the 1997 Asian meltdown, the 1970s oil shocks and – more unnervingly – the Great Depression.

Meanwhile, the shaky state of the US subprime market has elicited some interesting comparisons with the Japanese banking crisis of the 1990s.

And mortgagee repossessions of homes in the battlers suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne are soaring.

What a silly billy I am. Here was I believing that the Australian economy was going gangbusters – we’ve never had it so good, have we?

So why do I have the impression – not just from the financial media but also from conversations with a couple of merchant bankers – that the BIS’s concerns may be fully justified?

And the RBA may well be about to lift interest rates – again… . This may indeed, as Ross Gittins suggests, be frightfully bad luck for the Coalition, and Mr Howard in particular.

Yet – much an’ all as I’d love to see Mr Howard ousted – perhaps this would be a good election to lose. After all, if the economic !@#$ hits the fan under a Labor government, whose fault would it be? Alan Curran, L. Ferguson, even Paul Morrella – are you there?

Unsought reaction anticipated?

Prime Minister Howard "says he has raised the issue of the convicted Australian drug traffickers known as the Bali Nine during talks with Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono."

The PM is quoted as saying:

I thought it was appropriate to mention the fact that it's an issue that attracts a lot of interest in Australia. He understood fully my raising it but he also understood that I was not seeking any reaction from him or any reaction from Indonesia.

I'm open to suggestions as to what exactly the PM intends with this apparently futile initiative in diplomacy. At best, perhaps, President Yudhoyono will ensure that the firing squad will be stacked with crack marksmen, hopefully avoiding any sort of embarrassing stuff up of the executions.

Learning from the Landmine Master

Howard cannot win this time. He only won in the past because of 9/11 and Labor's bad leaders.

Now Labor has a good leader, and they've learnt how to step carefully around landmines placed by Howard and the media.

I would like to see Howard lose the election (although it wouldn't be for the right reasons of the Iraq War and kids in detention), but there's no point in the Libs keeping him.

There again, I don't think Costello wants to lead into this election because he'd be opening his account with a loss.

"Deserting Rats" is about right

I've always said that when things began to unravel for Howard it would happen quickly and dramatically and that's what is now in play. Everything comes to an end but Howard – like Thatcher and Blair – just couldn't see it happening before their very eyes.

I happened to be seated at a charity function many years ago at the same table as Michael Parkinson and I asked him what he thought of Thatcher. His reply was that "she is a perfect example of total power corrupting". That's exactly what we have with Howard but, unlike Thatcher where there were still many powerful and strong Tory party members who decided to give her the boot at the right time, the Coalition has been stacked by cowards who have been bedazzled by the PM who keeps getting mislabelled as a "clever" politician when he is anything but. Sneaky and unscrupulous is more like it.

The arrival of Kevin Rudd has been a circuit breaker and enough Aussies (not necessarily the brightest lot as they still fall prey for Nigerian scams in a big way) are now seeing the two most important things that Howard will leave them with: no job security and a false sense of wealth by rising housing costs. His re-election just promises more scary stuff like that. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Alan Ramsey has been correct all along-predicting a train wreck for the Coalition while Peter Hartcher from the same paper foolishly stated recently that Howard would win.

Bolt, never to be believed on anything, is simply the first so-called "conservative" columnist getting in first by stating the obvious.

Watch them all sucking up to PM Kevin Rudd next year.

The bad guy

I hope Bolt will be sitting in what my lad now calls 'the bad guy chair' on Barrie Cassidy's Insiders this Sunday morning.

Fiona: I'm so pleased to learn that your son has inherited his father's perceptiveness, Craig.


"WorkChoices" reflects how the Coalition has been operating. I think there have been two messages that have been put out in relation to the mean "Work Choices" legislation. The first is that we must accept lower wages and salaries so we can compete against the soaring economies of India and China. The other reason is that AWAs are a better mechanism to distribute wages and salaries in a more flexible market and is beneficial to management and workers alike; that’s the Coalition line anyway. The legislation allows for benefits and entitlements to be taken from workers – but workers can see right through all the hype provided by the Coalition.

The problem for the Coalition is that they are not believed in relation to "WorkChoices". On the contrary, they are seen to be quite deceptive.

Fortune telling

Bolt was right about the Rudd takeover. I tend to trust his judgement on these issues now. His piece is persuasive enough.

Rats leaving a sinking ship

Although I'm 39, could someone please explain to me the often quoted "I'll remain PM and lead the Liberals for as long as it is in their ‘benefit’”. Why? What about our benefit? And if the only trump card is JWH, what do the rest of them do or don't do that makes them think they can't do without him? After all, he can't and won't go on forever. Then what happens?

Margo: Hello Jason. Welcome to Webdiary!


Hi Margo, thanks for your welcome. I really enjoy what you do. I have been watching your site  for a while and thought I should at least make a comment.


Fiona: I join with Margo in saying welcome aboard. We are probably all in for a rough voyage, but we might as well have as much fun as possible...

It's A Shitty Business But Someone Has To Do It

Jason, it would be really nice to say that Australians have found their consciences again but it ain't so. Howard proclaims loudly that he has created an Australia where things have never been better. The problem is that it is all built on debt that in turns relies on Australia's fortunate position as a leading world supplier of mineral resources. We have little else to offer the world that it is interested in. Follow the Howard strategy to its logical end and you have an Australia that is just a great big hole in the ground that we can all stare into.

A burgeoning real estate market is an unrealisable source of wealth. Nobody is coming to Australia to buy our real estate. You can't relocate it. Its value to the individual owner is a two-edged sword. Great when you are downsizing and you can take the equity in cash. Even if you have a freehold on a property worth a million dollars you are not a millionaire unless you are prepared to live in a tent in the local caravan park for the rest of your life. 

Of course, Australians are stupid enough to believe the bullshit because the banks will give you a loan on your equity. They also now deal in fiction because the world is awash in money from pension funds looking for a fool to give it a home. You then pay the banks in perpetuity while fondly gazing at the boat you bought or snapshots of the $20,000 holiday you took.  A week ago, Bruce Baird called for an end to the madness but neither Howard or Rudd responded.

So if you're confused perhaps it because 'Honest' John and 'Honest' Kev and all the other pork-barreling pollies have a vested interest in their own vested interest. When Howard talks about "benefit" he is talking about his own and no one else's. Succession plans, building leadership talent among your deputies. Not in this universe.

I actually had to agree with Bolt

Actually to his credit Bolt does an interview in Adelaide on 891 every Monday night and he is often scathing of Howard and some of his excesses. Of course he rarely mentions that he supported a good deal of the excesses over the years, but at least he does get it.

Here is the thing now with the cynicism about the terrorism thing. Almost to a man, boy and woman and girl in this country when it was announced that the "terr'ist" Haneef had been arrested the response was bullshit.

Now we have an AFP happy to manufacture evidence, to verbal a "suspect" in courts, to manipulate information, to leave "evidence" unchecked and to lock up a man they knew was entirely innocent of anything and was not wanted in any jurisdiction except to confirm he knew his own cousin.

We have a DPP happy to let the above mob behave in such a manner while he remained silent.

That photo of Haneef in the van was a killer for this dreadful pack and they should have dropped the charges at the time instead of treating him worse than we treat mass murderers - they are only arrested after the evidence is available and that is not too often manufactured.

It is deranged to think that all of this is over a few dollars left on a phone card over 12,000 miles away but this is the same bureaucracy that covered up the incarceration of 247 Australian citizens and residents and I would bet a million they would not have investigated if I had not found the cases.

Rats leaving is right. Commercial TV is doing him over by showing the most unflattering sights possible.

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Margo Kingston

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