Monday, October 31, 2005

Whatever happened to the Oz version of the Palme Affair?

The Palme affair in the US recently cost “Scooter”, Chief of Staff to Cheney his job. Annoyed at a former State official spilling the beans on their repeated false assertion that Iraq was sourcing yellowcake from Niger, the Whitehouse outed the fact that the official’s wife was a CIA operative – which is a big no no. Now a couple of years on, the Grand Jury in the States has finally charged someone with this miserable piece of Republican bastardry. Charged with lying about what they knew however, as opposed to actually disclosing the identity of Ms Palme.

It’s big news in the States. Well, big news for those people that care. I think Fox has been distracting the bulk of their viewers with its ‘Watch us and get free fried chicken’. And in effort to soothe the worries of Republicans that actually do feel some disquiet over the Bush administration’s continued politicisation of fair and unfettered intelligence advice, some other commentators are happily alleging that the official outed his own wife at parties by saying ‘this is my wife, she works at the CIA (wink)’.

The cad ! I’ve yet to see any record of this actually happening, such as a witness swearing it was true, but as long as the world ‘alleged’ is used, then it’s ok. The official, Joseph Wilson, has of course denied this. Here is a link to his recent riposte to the White House over the issue.

Here in Oz we too faced Intelligence difficulties. Now to be honest, our guys do a bang up job when not politicised. The Defence Intelligence people produce an excellent product, as do the civilian agencies. The only time their product is in question is when the political arm gets a hold of it.

One classic example was during the Child Overboard affair. Our esteemed PM waved an Office of National Assessment’s (ONA) report [our political/economic strategic assessment body] which mentioned children had been thrown overboard by asylum eager parents during the height of illegal migration attempts on leaky wooden hulled boats run by unscrupulous ‘snake head’ gangs. The report was actual a media summary of the day’s news – which included media reports that children had been thrown overboard. Reports of words by … John Howard.

I’m not surprised. According to Andrew Wilkie, the former analyst at ONA who left that agency due to the Howard government’s distortion of intelligence product for political ends (WMD in Iraq for example), whenever reports came back from Howard’s office, they could see which bits the aides had marked in yellow pen as the important bits. That’s all Howard, who admittedly is a busy man, had time to read.

And there it lies. Why politician’s use and abuse intelligence product and make fine analysts look like lying twats. Because they don’t read the entire report. And they ignore the caveats provided, such as ‘this source may be unreliable’, or ‘we overheard this at a bazaar … purple monkey dishwasher’, or quote selectively from the intelligence assessment’s provided.

If you’re curious about the intel failure on Iraq Oz side, read the Flood report (Flood being the ex-secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade). It can be found here

I like how the report concluded with a recommendation for massive budget and staff increases. For which there actually is a compelling case. But I’ve yet to see a public service report into systemic failure that didn’t recommend more of the green stuff to fix its ills.


To the nub of the matter. Our Oz version of the Palme affair.

Andrew “Rubber Pelvis” Bolt, whose semi-monthly leg splayding can be seen on the ABC’s Insiders, is a right wing commentator for the Herald Sun. Allegedly the most read paper here in Australia. It is owned by News Limited (aka Rupert Murdoch), and as such dumb their news down to the ‘whoops, don’t mind me Vicar’ Fleet Street level. It is also host to right wing views and punditry, mostly in the form of Bolty.

When Andrew Wilkie left ONA to criticise the Howard government’s distortion of intelligence (and earning the unspoken thanks of hundreds of analysts no doubt), Bolt savaged Wilkie’s analytical ability. He quoted from a top secret report that Wilkie had drafted where Wilkie had predicted a possible refugee crisis in Iraq following a US invasion of that country. An issue which did not materialise (and therefore, so the Bolt argument went, Wilkie was full of crap).

Andrew Bolt does not have a security clearance. Andrew Bolt published material, however innocuous, from a highly classified report in 2003. Therefore Andrew Bolt received intelligence material, which is a breech and disseminated information (which is another breech – because what was he to know what was classified and what was not) Who did he receive it from? According to Wilkie’s sources, the alleged likely offender is someone in the Minister of Foreign Affairs' office, a single copy of the then sixth month old report called for by someone in government in June of 2003, and released to Bolt that same month. See here for an SMH article on the matter.

Now my question is this. Apparently the Australian Federal Police were tasked with investigating this issue. It’s been nearly two and a half years. As I understand it Bolt has not confirmed if he's been spoken to, and whether anyone bothered to check fax records from around that time in his office, or the likely sender's office is unknown. Indeed, I believe at last public mention, the AFP was ‘still investigating’.

My pimpled anus it is. This sort of sh_t is exactly why I hate the Howard government. Their hue and cry in opposition about Labor so called ‘playing with the truth’ when it came to unfettered advice is rank hypocrisy given their efforts in the last ten years. And as for feeding a pet lap dog of a journalist a top secret report in order to lamely attempt to blacken the name of an analyst who could take no more of the Australian Intelligence Community being used as another plank in the Liberal-National coalition to rule use until the end of man, that is just despicable.

So I want to know Australian Federal Police. Just how is that investigation going? Still need more time? Is it still open? Is it going to feature on the Aussie spin off of ‘Cold Case’ in 10 years time? Have you actually sat down with ‘can fit his legs behind his ears’ Bolt and asked him who gave him the classified information?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

F_ckwits who think they are better than us

I got roped into being a fire warden, or section warden, at my work. Here in Oz, in the Public Service, we're big on testing our fire alarms once a month, and have a drill at least once a year. And usually at least twice a year we get to evacuate my building due to smoke in a plant room, someone burning toast (or leaving, somewhat inexplicably, a tea towel over the top of the toaster), or dust from construction getting into the ventilation system.

The section warden training consisted of me being yelled at about making sure no one messed with my hat. Seriously. The fire warden trainer is big on making sure that your emergency control message is not interfered with because some f_cker drew 'Top Cat' or a turtle on your helmet. He had a range of helmets to show us that had been so poorly treated, including a natty little affair that someone had lovingly screwed horns on. I loved it. Fire Warden trainer – not so much. He told a sob story about how the firies (that's Oz talk for firemen) had turned up to an alarm and were met by this 'clown' in the 'devil hat'.

I had previously done this training sometime in the last millennium and I can remember how he was likewise fixated on making sure none of your standby electronica was on in the home when you were not there – on account of the fire hazard. Guess what f_ckwit? They're meant to be like that. The power button is not designed to be pushed in and out constantly. Do you know how I know that? Because after the 100th time I did it, my TV blew up and nearly caught the house of fire.

I digress.

So I have been a Section Warden (in charge of herding 20 odd people out in an emergency) for the past several months. It's even in my 'statement of agreed outcomes' six monthly assessment now. The other role is to man the red phone during an alarm.

Today's false alarm took about an hour and a bit to resolve. Which is a long time to stand with an un-graffitied plain helmet when you shotgunned a Pepsi Max® and are busting for the lav. So the 'Alert' tone had gone off (which is get ready to go), but not the 'Evac' signal (when you go). In the meantime the fire doors had swung shut, meaning the stairs were off limits until we knew what was happening, and the lifts were not meant to be used.

Grand tally of people who did not listen to Harrangueman was about 12. Four f_ckheads using the lifts (I told them when they got out that we were in alert – which they knew – on account of the f_cking fire doors being closed), and about eight using the stairs. The first few were my bad. I forgot about the rules. Being bored standing by my 'incredibly loud when it goes off' red phone I re-read them. Then I stopped letting people through.

The worst violator was from the floor above where the smoke was coming from. An overweight senior exec and his toadying subordinate. They had elected to leave via the other stairs down to my floor, then along the corridor near to the exit I was guarding.

'Mate, we smelled smoke, so we're f_cking out of here.'

'Sorry sir,' I says, ever polite. 'You're not to leave until we're told to go. Nor can you use the stairway because it may be needed to move people.'

'Aw what? I'm a busy man.'

'Sorry sir, it's the rules. I know it's a pain but I am sure it won’t be long.'

Then I turned around to look down the corridor and he just went off through the doors. His Mr Smithers just smiled and shrugged and trotted lap doggingly after him.

So f_ck you you fat not listening to the section warden f_cker. As a senior exec you should know f_cking better than to not obey the rules regarding emergency situations. You're the sort of f_cking twat who would have donned a shawl and falsetto at the 'women and children first' call for would be occupants of the limited edition set of lifeboats on a tragically sinking ocean liner.

I hope a hysterically ironic accident happens to you involving flame, an accelerant, women's clothing, a greased up Scotsman, and a large Rottweiler named 'Thör, the mighty schlonger analripper'.

Left: Harrangueman hopes that this may be a component featuring in the cross dressing demise of Mr 'Don't mind me, I know boats' snooty thinks he's better than HM senior executive.

Just because you outrank me normally doesn't mean you don't listen to the man in the red f_cking hat. Because I am between you and fire buddy and don't you forget it.


Man I wish I'd had some hairspray and a BBQ lighter when he did that.

Any of you lads out there trapped in the inglorious task of emergency type management in your job? Send stories of woe to Harrangueman. I know Cass has got some corkers…

In Loving Memory...

Techno's Favourite movie ...

... is apparently Ferris Bueller's Day Off. For those of you not a child of the 80's then I pity you, for you will not understand just how awesome this movie was. Every line, and I mean EVERY line is quotable in some way.

This is my favourite. Ben Stein as the economics teacher. According to IMDB (accessed through Techno's page - see links cause I can't be arsed sticking in the URL), John Hughes writer/director said to Stein to just give an economics lecture - Stein being a trained economist.

His line is as follows

In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the... Anyone? Anyone?... the Great Depression, passed the... Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered?... raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work? Anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work, and the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression. Today we have a similar debate over this. Anyone know what this is? Class? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone seen this before? The Laffer Curve. Anyone know what this says? It says that at this point on the revenue curve, you will get exactly the same amount of revenue as at this point. This is very controversial. Does anyone know what Vice President Bush called this in 1980? Anyone? Something-d-o-o economics. "Voodoo" economics.

The trouble is, without having seen the movie, the above seems to be a pointless waste of everyone's time. But I bet you there's not an 80's kid out there who does not know that Vice President Bush said something d-o-o economics.

Techno, I salute you for your awesome choice.

Cue favourite movies ... now !

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bratz Dolls; a trend driver or following a trend

You must be insane, locked up in a prison or another place where you don't get out much, or live like 92% of the rest of the planet in a non wealthy western country not to have noticed the Bratz attack.


Bratz dolls are the new must have doll for the trendy tween about town. And if you're still in Barbie Alley then you're not cool or 'with it'.

Do the kids say that? With it? I don't know these things.

Bratz dolls (pictured below) have a number of interesting features. The first is their oversized heads that make them look like they are the end result of a cross breeding program between humans, and the various aliens that have appeared above trailer parks in America to kidnap humans for amnesia inducing prolonged colonoscopies.


Left: A super slutty doll and her super slutty accessories.


The second is that you don't actually change their footwear. You change their feet. Their entire feet come off with footwear moulded into the foot in a one stop shop. If only real women could do that. That would be some rwoorr action.

The third thing is that, on the face of it, Bratz dolls appear to be the distilled essence of Girrrrrrl Power meets Megacorporate marketing. They are as about as slutty as a doll can get without having the words 'THREE HOLES' emblazoned on the package and, by law, provided to a customer in a brown paper bag.

Their clothing is not modest. In fact it's barely there. The high heels are very high, the micro minis look like they need to be placed with the assistance of a steady hand and a powerful microscope, and the hot pants are so hot I'm surprised the doll's pelvis doesn't have third degree burns.

Bratz dolls have attitude or 'tude'. They are 'in your face', 'going on', 'struttin' it', and '$50 for blow, $100 for the full f_ck, and $200 for the bare back honey – hey what you lookin' at (jiggles breasts at old couple passing on sidewalk) – I'm trying to do business here.'

Seriously man. It's like the makers of Bratz but some complete fluke had all its focus groups staffed by members of the Sex Workers Union.

But I don't know if this is a thing the marketeers are following, this morphing of 'girrrrl power' into 'flaunting my pre-pubescent body power', or whether it's the marketeers trying to steer the ultra young ladies in the direction of associated products like fashion and make up accessories that they of course have had designed, produced, and in the shops for their consumption.

Let me go on the record as saying I am powerfully heterosexual. Once I nearly hit myself in the eye during a relief session that went seriously awry - when I was totally thinking about the ladies. Women, young, mature, and slightly more than mature get my motor running and, had I not been the vehicle equivalent of a Leyland P76, I'd have happily parked in any garage that would have taken me.

But this sexualization of the tween set, defined as girls in double digits but not yet sexually mature, even has me worried. Attractive women in next to nothing (or hell, a burlap sack) has its place, but 12 year olds with 'super sluts' emblazoned on tiny shirts above the micro minis looking, to all intents and purposes, like one of the alien-esq Bratz dolls come to life and eager to shop for more man firing upping accessories, in between presumed bouts of tonguing it on with an equally young female friend in an expression of feminist out there girlness, is, well, just disturbing.

I was listening to Hack on the way home (The current affairs half hour on JJJ – the youth station funded by the Australian government) where the host was discussing female raunch with the author of a book called 'Female Chauvinist Pigs'. The author investigated this culture to find what girls really thought of it. Whether they really thought Paris 'vagina soon to drop to the floor' Hilton was worthy of being a role model and worthy of emulation.

Let's see, I'll go to Amazon. Ah, here we are

Female Chauvinist Pigs : Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (Hardcover), by Ariel Levy

Here's a review from Amazon

(Publisher's Weekly) What does sexy mean today? Levy, smartly expanding on reporting for an article in New York magazine, argues that the term is defined by a pervasive raunch culture wherein women make sex objects of other women and of ourselves. The voracious search for what's sexy, she writes, has reincarnated a day when Playboy Bunnies (and airbrushed and surgically altered nudity) epitomized female beauty. It has elevated porn above sexual pleasure. Most insidiously, it has usurped the keywords of the women's movement (liberation, empowerment) to serve as buzzwords for a female sexuality that denies passion (in all its forms) and embraces consumerism. To understand how this happened, Levy examines the women's movement, identifying the residue of divisive, unresolved issues about women's relationship to men and sex. The resulting raunch feminism, she writes, is a garbled attempt at continuing the work of the women's movement and asks, how is resurrecting every stereotype of female sexuality that feminism endeavored to banish good for women? Why is laboring to look like Pamela Anderson empowering? Levy's insightful reporting and analysis chill the hype of what's hot. It will create many aha! moments for readers who have been wondering how porn got to be pop and why feminism is such a dirty word. (Sept. 13)

I'm not a chick, and as we’ve established I do likes the ladies in an almost eye blindingly way. But what do you people out there think? Is female raunch, and the Bratz dolls, and their stripper fashion an example of the natural ascendency of woman, even those who are girls and no where near being a woman? Or is it that somehow, somewhere, the sexualization of women got distorted along the way by corporations hungry for a new demographic to twist and exploit to their shareholder hungry whims?

Harrangueman must know.

By the way, according to the interview, Paris Hilton allegedly took a phone call during one of her infamous Video Sex tape shockers. If that's true, well, that's just so very, very sad for her.

Also, is it possible, just possible, she could pose for her next photo with her f_cking head straight?

RED NOSED ROAD RAGE; CLOWN CUT FOLLOWING COMEDIC CAR COLLISION

Ringling Brother's Circus, the ring; Bonzo the clown, lead harlequin entertainer in the Ringling Brother's Circus, was arrested today after savagely slicing his colleague Tiddles across his oversized bib following the unfortunate jester's rear ending his clown car into Bonzo's similarly styled vehicle.

'You stupid f_ck, holy f_ck look at my f_cking car,' had screamed Bonzo after he alighted from the vehicle to inspect the damage, causing the circus band to falter into silence.

'Well how was I to know you'd brake suddenly you red nosed twat? Do I have magic f_cking clown breaking senses? Do I, you over paid hack?' had allegedly responded Tiddles.

It was then Bonzo produced a large knife which many assumed to be of the hilarious rubber and/or 'blade slides into the hilt' non damaging variety, but was in fact a tungsten blended Keely original fine steel blade, Bonzo had drunkenly purchased in town two hours before the accident.

'I'll cut you, you f_ck,' Bonzo then said and in front of terrified onlookers proceeded to slash at the chest of Tiddles, causing his novelty bib to be sliced neatly in two, and scraping his skin beneath, causing a fine line of blood to seep to the surface.

'You … you cut me you psycho clown,' Tiddles then said, before stumbling backward in an effort to escape Bonzo's further repeated attempts at slicing him open in the ring.

Left: Tiddles the Clown and his car ... in happier times.


It reportedly took two clown wranglers, the strongman, and the Amazing Alonzo, master trapeze artiste, to subdue Bonzo after the terrified Tiddles had scrambled into his car, locking the doors in an effort to keep the knife wielding clown from spilling his entrails onto the dusty ring floor. A task that proved somewhat difficult.

'Trouble was that Tiddles' clown car has this schtick with the locks, where he'd lock one and one of the three others would randomly pop up making a honk noise,' said Clown Wrangler Titus Bozley.

'It normally forms a hilarious routine where Tiddles tries to lock his car to go to the shops, and is mock annoyed when the locks keep flipping back up with the honking. Kids love it. Tell you what though. It's not funny when a f_cked up clown with a large f_cking knife is trying to cut you, and running from door to door as the lock honks open. Tiddles was weeping and then he f_cking wet himself man. You know how much dry cleaning costs on a f_cking clown suit? No sir, you do not.'

A clown towing service was called to transport the wrecked clown cars to a nearby clown car service yard, however the tow truck driver proved somewhat incompetent and took several attempts before successfully winching Bonzo's car on the back of his colourful repair vehicle. The repair vehicle then travelled just a few feet before a loud bang emanated from its engine, causing white smoke to pour from the bonnet, and confetti to shoot out of the tow truck's exhaust pipe.

My helping Buckwheat was not fun

I finally managed to make it to the hotel where this conference was being held to load in a CD ROM and double click on it, because Buckwheat the Luddite was dancing around the laptop with a crucifix and making hissing noises.

'Watch what I am doing,' I said. 'This is the folder with the files in it. I have labelled them one to eight. Double click on the icon, then click here to start the slide show. It's that simple.'

'HISS, HISS, SNARL' (waves crucifix) 'SNARL, HISS'.

Left: Buckwheat somewhat resembled Ozzy in full flight, at the terrfying spectacle of a operating an 'lightning box with the moving pictures (SNARL, HISS).


The idiots at the hotel had likewise failed to order a remote and had assumed the presenters would be sitting with the laptop like Uncle Ronnie fresh from his trip to the Ozarks where he'd seen the most delightfully frisky racoon try and mount his good lady wife. Fortunately one of the presenters knew what he was doing and managed to manhandle it to a lectern – but with the end result of cables stretching at knee height in a room full of geriatrics. Not a great combo.

I got out of there the moment I could.

This morning Buckwheat thanked me for the help. I accepted but with a proviso. 'You have to learn how to set up a laptop because I ain't going to be there again for this. I will show you how okay.'

'SNARL, HISS, HISS' (wave, wave).

If Buckwheat was a My Little Pony (tm) she'd be the f_cked in the head one that eats Patterson's Curse and dies a horrid death in the back paddock.

Batteriesnotincluded.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Am I too wordy?

Do you think I am too bombastic, chatty, diffuse, discursive, flatulent, gabby, garrulous, inflated, lengthy, long-winded, loquacious, palaverous, pleonastic, prolix, rambling, redundant, rhetorical, tedious, turgid, verbose, voluble, or windy?

I don't accede, acknowledge, acquiesce, admit, allow, buy, buy into, check, clinch, comply, concede, concur, consent, engage, give blessing, grant, okay, pass on, permit, play ball, recognize, set, settle, shake hands, shake on, side with, sign, stand together, subscribe, or say yes to that at all.

The Australian Newspaper, aka The Liberal Party Manifesto, tells us ‘Don’t Panic’

The Weekend Inquirer, the Oz (The Australian) answer to the Sydney Morning Herald’s News Review, rarely fails to make me grit my teeth in annoyance at their right wing demagoguery. Every week there’s usually something in this 12 page hand out on ‘why you should vote for the coalition’ that ostensively is a more detailed analysis of subjects of interest from the week’s news.

The front page of the Weekend Inquirer from this weekend was headlines ‘DON’T PANIC’ in large unfriendly letters, accompanied by that much used iconic painting (or series of paintings) ‘The Scream’ – the surreal shaped bald man mouth agape in roaring fear. The subheader was as follows; ‘Ignore the doom merchants – the Government’s changes to labour and security laws will have little impact on our way of life.’

Left: Edvard Munch's 'The Scream', which the Oz helpfully uses to make it's point that we shouldn't panic. Personally I think their graphics editor was having a lend of them.


Perhaps if you’re a well off whitey it won’t. The labour article talked long about the glorious economic revolution in NZ that had reduced unemployment from 11% to 4%. We’ll just ignore the fact, completely unmentioned, that average wages in NZ, esp for professionals are about 25% less than Australia shall we? It also managed to link the Union movement to backing the White Australia Policy – which it did – in the 50’s. The same Union movement that were behind the Green and Black bans that helped assist aboriginal and environmental protests back in the 70’s. It does not talk about at all the pain and suffering many kiwis went through in the last decade because of economic reform that was ham fisted and mean spirited.

The terror sub article waxed lengthily about the recent Mercury anti terror exercises and the fact that terrorists had tried to blow up the Australian embassy – which they did – and I hope the people behind it get a delicious taste of some justice there. Indeed it also mentioned the danger of CNBR terror – which is a real threat and I am not denigrating it as a potential risk to Oz at all. It’s just that this ‘You Won’t Get Locked Up’ article didn’t actually touch the subject of the piece, the new detention provisions until page 24 – following on from their page 19 front page (Weekend Inquirer is numbered as part of the normal paper and starts on page 19). As a crafter of communication missives I know full well that reader fatigue is such that only few bother to continue on if you split across pages. So basically the message the casual scanner was is ‘terror’s bad, m'kay’ like Mr Mackey from South Park.

Left: Change the word 'Drugs' to 'Terror' and that's the thrust of the article RE anti-terror laws. M'kay?


Continuing on. ‘The global phenomenon of Islamic terrorism has posed complex new challenges for governments, generating a new range of laws that could not be foreseen five years ago.’

Reeeeeeeally. Five years ago eh? What’s that, the year 2000? When Clinton’s administration had desperately been attempting to battle fundamentalist terror and was stymied by the Republicans at every turn – for example stronger banking regulations designed to prevent charities from fronting for terror groups blocked by Republicans in the pay of the banking lobby who disliked the regulation. Not to mention the current Bush administration pig ignorant blinkered view that missile threat was the risk of the day – not insane arabs with art supplies hijacking planes. But it’s okay people, nothing to see here, the Patriot Act is here to protect you. Anyone else get Orwellian undertones from that title??? I know I did. Want to be scared some more? Read here. Yanks at least have a bill of rights to protect them from abuse of the process. We sure as hell do not and, as I understand it, are the only western democracy that does not.

The article then goes on to laud the 2002 ASIO changes about how great they were, and how they were made with due consideration of civil liberties – and anyway they’ve only been used eight times. Probably because they were scrutinized properly, probably because they ALP took a hit on the chin to make sure 12 year olds couldn’t have an official don gloves to pry open the 12 year old’s anus and look for the microfilm of plans to the death star up there. Probably because it has a sunset clause that kicks in after three years. These new ones have a sunset clause – after … ten … years. Woo hoo (Harrangueman fires off poppers and starts singing Aud Lang f_cking Syne). I should also point out that the 2002 laws did not allow for, I don’t know, locking up people without charge for 14 days at a time. Or sentencing them to electronic monitoring because at some point in the 80’s they picked up an AK47 in Afghanistan against the Russian occupiers – something we supported.

If you can – have a read of the ‘Don’t Panic’ twin set in the Oz (22 to 23 October). Then grit your teeth like me and seethe. Because it’s blinkered right wing texts like this that reinforce political apathy in this country. Because people see it and go ‘feh, it’s the news so it’s got to be balanced right?’ Wrong baby. The Australian should have ‘Bought and paid for by the Liberal and National parties’ stamped across every f_cking page.

(PS I should have put this up on the W/E but I was too busy procrastinating and so forth)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Buckwheat came around to offer us carrot sticks...

We had a large mornos. They're always quite big. Right next to Buckwheat's desk in fact. She was part of the supply team for it. Later she came passed our workstation and tried to offer us the remains of her contribution. The untouched carrot sticks.

Carrot sticks are not exciting. But I can understand their presence at a morning tea for healthy, sensible eating types. But the trouble was she was wearing a black and white check version of the jacket from 'you may ask me why I am wearing such a very large suit?' Talking Heads style. Huge shoulder pads. Like a gridiron player. So it put me off.

I don't know why she thought I wanted the carrot sticks. I did previously at the morning tea mock them and their very presence on the table of snacks.

My co-worker doesn't eat many vegies. He had a weird allergy about it as a kid. So I start going on about his childhood trauma about carrots and how he once got coshed on the head by a carrot, that had been part frozen earlier. She just stood there, blinking her weird eye blink, her tupperware container held forth holding her now limp carrot sticks.

On Monday I have to help her burn CD's because she thinks Computers are the 21st century equivalent of the Spinning Jenny. Then I have to go to a conference to make sure the computer and the light pro are hooked up properly because she doesn't trust herself.

Later I found she'd used my bowl I keep near the sink to store left over sandwiches in. So I chucked them out and hid my bowl from sight.

I really am very petty. And tired. So very, very tired. Hence this crap blog about nothing. Night.

(F_ck me next I'll be saying Dear Diary and going on about my little f_cking ponies or something.)

Dear Diary,

I got the most splendid My Little Pony(tm) from mother today. This pony is called thehorror,thehorror. It's grotesquely overweight, and bald, and spends all day in a semi dark stable whinnying incoherently. All the while worshiped silently by smaller montagnard ponies dressed in funny paint. Later there's going to be a party and thehorror,thehorror has asked me to come into its stable and help it with something. Oh I can't wait. Buckwheat gave me some carrot sticks to give it, so I shall bring her to the stable too. And a machete. Because you'll never know when you might need one.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

How to avoid Charity Bucket people

I don't mind giving to charity. And I do. I have a direct debit set up on my account to a worthy group. I'm not blowing my own horn, just making sure you don't think me an ass when outlining the below.

But I really dislike bucket people loitering outside my building. I find it disquieting. I just wish they'd f_ck off.

So here's a trick I've learned. If you hug the wall on the way in, almost touching, you can usually get past them without catching their eye. Especially if they're in one of those Wilderness Koala suits or something.


Left: Back the f_ck off koala man, lest my boot smack you fair in the gum trees.

Lately of course they've moved inside the building into the foyer. So it makes it harder. So what you do is head for the phone bank in the corner, sternly looking at your watch - or looking focussed - like you're late. Then, once past
their charity cordon, angle towards the security gates until you're in. Note that they don't use people in suits that often. Most of the time it's attractive earnest looking young ladies. This can make it difficult sometimes, especially when they smile.

By the way, direct debit for charity is great. You don't notice it going (if you're able to afford it of course) - and the statement comes around tax time saying how much exactly you can claim back. And when those depressing ads come on the tellie featuring that well-fed Santa look-a-like f_cker you can feel a little better for having contributed a tiny fraction of what you earned to a probably worthy cause.

I didn't give any money to the Tsunami either. The charity I donated too probably did. So it all works out in the wash.

Oh, and to any dickhead that likes to hustle for change via the standard 'hey mate, I need to get the (insert public transport type) home. Can you spare some bucks?', I hope said
(insert public transport type) ends up whacking into you. You people harden the hearts of those who genuinely want to help people out. And if you do it, and I've just given you enough money to get the ticket, at least have the decency to wait for me to walk off before you go three steps and hustle someone else while I am still standing there.

Man that steams me up. Why can't some extra judicial action be loosed on these f_ckers??? If the anti terror laws targetted 'got any change for a bus home mate' types I'd seriously re-consider my stance.

No, wait, on balance, I still don't want end up in a facist dictatorship under Herr Howard. Sigh, fine, here's $2 and I hope .. what? Don't go and ask her - I just GAVE you the money ... oh for f_cks sake (storms off).

Malcolm Fraser - rehabilitated in my book

Malcolm Fraser is the former Prime Minister of Australia (75-83), when the Liberal-National coalition last held office before 1996. For those of you not in the know, Fraser successfully held the then Labor government in 75' to ransom by blocking supply (money to the government), causing the Governor General of the day, Sir John Kerr, to sack the Labor government and call an election a few weeks later. An election that Fraser comfortably won - the Australian people more concerned with a faltering economy and rampant inflation than they were with the dubious departure of the last government via an unelected official. For more information I guess see wiki. The incident is known as "The Dismissal".

But despite being a member of the conservative right, and well its leader, Fraser's politics was never touched by divisive, racist, behaviour. When the first waves of Vietnamese boat people launched their way to freedom he was instrumental in making sure Australia helped settle some here. He launched SBS for christ's sake.

The Liberal party in their shift to the far right in the past few years now no longer recognises him as a worthy member of their pantheon of heroes. Indeed, at a conference in Tasmania, the Young Liberals called for a vote to strip Fraser of his lifetime membership in the party. This is because Fraser has an annoying habit of calling for things like non racist policies, backing a republic (shock f_cking horror), and lately severely criticising planned anti terror laws.

Which he did last night at the
Stephen Murray-Smith Memorial Lecture, State Library of Victoria. This speech is so awesome it must be shown in its full glory. If I violate copyright for this then I'm sorry. But it is a remarkable summary of why these laws are divisive, unwarranted, and dangerous.

Malcolm. You may have caused a constutional crisis in the 70's. But I'll give you your due. You are standing up for what you believe in. And against the party that made you too. Like Petro, it is an act of decency and courage, and it shows you to be a moral man who puts principle ahead of politics.

The below transcript was taken from here

How Democracies Fight Terrorism

Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH

Today’s world is preoccupied with terrorism. How we in Democracies respond is critical to the maintenance of our own values and to the ideals of liberty. There is a danger that Islam, which is essentially a peaceful religion, will be blamed for the actions of terrorists and that we will be increasingly divided by religion and race.

We need to understand that terrorism is as old as the human race.

The Crusaders from Britain who fought against Islam in the Middle Ages; the Spanish Inquisition; the IRA and the Protestant militias in Ireland all practised terrorism; all were Fundamentalist in their beliefs; the Chechnians wanting independence, are terrorists. People in some parts of the Philippines who want independence, were once called Communists, then Freedom Fighters are now called terrorists. The Basques in Spain; the Belgians in the Congo; the Portuguese and Spaniards in Central and South America; the Red Army and the Red Brigades in Germany and Italy in the late seventies and early eighties were all terrorists.

These groups were mostly fundamental in their attitudes. They all practised terrorism.

Many in today’s world say Islamic Fundamentalists have no cause and no purpose but hatred and destruction of the West. In a major speech to his own Labour Party last year, Prime Minister Tony Blair made that point but on the very next page he said that peace between Israel and Palestine would do more to end terrorism than all the bullets in the world. Both statements cannot be true. The second is true.

Many believe the war in Iraq has provided a new motivation for terrorists, to end the occupation of an Islamic country by an infidel army.

To understand that there are different causes of terrorism is not to condone but is essential if we wish to overcome and end terrorism.

Because civilisation as we know it was so nearly destroyed during the Second World War, in its aftermath, leaders of all major states believed they must strive and work to achieve a better world.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was agreed in 1948. In the years since, protocols and conventions established under it were designed to build a law-based world. The International Criminal Court finally came into force on 1 July 2002. This was a further major step in that direction.

It is more than unfortunate that our response to terrorism has reversed much of that progress and leaders in too many countries do not seem to understand that that is happening.

I want to look briefly at the response of Britain, of the United States and of Australia.

In Britain, the government had attempted to put asylum seekers permanently in jail if they were not successful in their claims and if they could not be returned to their country of origin. The Law Lords made it plain that jail of more than a few weeks was inappropriate under British law. Unless the detainees had to be charged and tried. A compromise was reached which involved judicial and parliamentary oversight.

Since the London bombings the United Kingdom has sharpened some aspects of its laws against terrorism, especially laws in relation to aliens. It seems to have done this however, with greater discussion and openness than we have had in Australia.

In the United States, long before war was declared on Iraq, members of the Administration, especially from the Justice Department, the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House, began an involved paper trail which sought to define how far interrogators could go in 'intrusive questioning'. Their purpose was to avoid charges of torture under United States or International Law, or to avoid being in breach of the Geneva Conventions.

The US Administration published these papers. They are put together in a large document called the Torture Papers by the New York University Center for Law and Security, published by Cambridge Press. These papers were before Iraq, designed to define the treatment that could be metered out to prisoners taken from Afghanistan. The papers were intended to place such prisoners beyond the reach of any law and to provide immunity for the jailers.

President Bush came out of it with credit. He signed a short note which said “any interrogation must be humane” - he did not elaborate. Colin Powell argued that to torture prisoners would place American servicemen at risk and, on that practical rather than on an ethical ground, he argued against the practices.

A State Department lawyer, William Taft argued fervently against torture. Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee argued that if you caused major organ failure or death, it would be torture but short of that, it almost certainly wasn’t. Former Assistant Attorney-General Bybee is now a judge.

Attorney-General Gonzales in his confirmation hearings before the United States Senate, claimed that he was opposed to torture, but he signed a piece of paper, which appears in the Torture Papers, which many would construe as endorsing torture. The Justice Department has most to be ashamed of in its perversion of both domestic and international law in relation to torture.

Torture began to be outlawed as reliable evidence by British Courts in the 1500s. For a long while now domestic jurisdictions and international law have outlawed torture absolutely. We cannot take one step along that path. To take one leads to many. To its credit, the Supreme Court of the State of Israel in 1999 made a judgement that torture was outside the law in all circumstances. On practical grounds it is recognised as the most unreliable means of extracting evidence, but on moral and ethical grounds it betrays the core belief of our existence. By acceptance of torture too many have stepped into a darker past.

General Taguba’s report, and the Red Cross report on Guantanemo Bay, both use careful language, as one would expect. But it was clear that abuse was pervasive and substantial. Long before Abu Ghraib, it was possible to see how every violation of decent behaviour, later revealed at Abu Ghraib, had its origins in high level memorandum, passed between the highest organs of United States Administration.

There was a clear attempt to place prisoners taken by the Northern Alliance and handed over to the Americans outside the reach of any law of any human decency. They were described as 'unlawful combatants'. The Taliban were described as a 'failed state' which Colin Powell pointed out was wrong because the United States had always held all states and in particular, Afghanistan to their international obligations.

Torture has been further reinforced as a technique by the expanded Rendition programmes, which most recently brought American authorities into sharp conflict with the Italian government.

A Canadian citizen had earlier been taken to Egypt and was only released 12 months later, after the most vigorous Canadian protests. There is no point in the Rendition Programme unless it is to place prisoners in a jurisdiction where they can be tortured.

One of the Australians at Guantanamo Bay reportedly spent six months in Egypt on his way to Guantanamo. He has since been released without charge. The Australian Government claimed that it had approached the Egyptian authorities who had no record of him entering or leaving the country. Egyptian immigration authorities would not be lined up to record people who were taken off an American executive jet to an Egyptian jail under the Rendition programme.

The United States’ response has also involved the establishment of special Military Tribunals. There is a body of opinion, which has condemned those Tribunals as lacking basic justice. These include Lord Goldsmith, First Law Officer of Britain, who said that they would not provide justice required for a British citizen. As a consequence the United Kingdom persuaded the United States to return British citizens held in Guantanamo Bay to Britain. One of the Federal Courts in the United States has ruled Military Tribunals unconstitutional on the grounds that prisoners were not told the evidence against them and on the grounds that the tribunals accepted evidence taken under torture.

Major Robert Preston and Captain John Carr, both within the United States system and both Prosecutors, condemned the process as not providing a reasonable basis for a just trial. Captain Paul Willey, head of Australia’s Military Bar and Navy Reservist has also been heavily critical of the process. The President of the Law Council of Australia has described the attitude of the Australian Government as an outrage. Geoffrey Robertson, QC has joined in the criticism. He suggested that an Australian should be required to sit as Judge with the Military Tribunal. There are two problems with that suggestion. The United States would not accept it and secondly, no reputable Australian judge would take part in the proceedings of those Military Tribunals. Prof Tim McCormack, Australian Red Cross Professor of Humanitarian Law at Melbourne University and one of the drafters of the Statues of the International Criminal Court, and adviser to the War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague has said that at the very least Hicks deserves the same standard of justice that is being provided for former President Milosevic of Yugoslavia.

The weight of opinion and the weight of evidence is overwhelming. The rules for the conduct of the Tribunals, their lack of independence, the lack of a judicial appeal, deserve condemnation from all of us.

The United States has a Bill of Rights and so their legal system has come into play.

The courts have ruled that people in Guantanamo Bay must have their day in court. Unfortunately it has not yet taken the step of confirming that the Tribunals are unconstitutional.

Australia has supported the military tribunals. The Government has said that Hicks will get justice, but the majority of opinion is against the Government which unlike the British Government has abandoned its own citizen. We have, by implication, supported the Rendition Programme and therefore have not opposed torture.

The ASIO legislation of 2002 underlines Australia’s official indifference to 'due process' and to what until recently would have been regarded as universally accepted Rule of Law.

We are the only democratic country, I am advised, to legislate for the detention of people whom the authorities do not suspect of any wrong doing or even of any wrong thought.

In Australia, any of us can be detained merely because authorities believe we might know something that we don’t even know we know. The authorities do not have to believe we are guilty of any crime, or are planning any crime, or have consorted with any suspicious persons. How could such a law be drafted by the Government and supported by the Labor opposition? You can be detained for one week but then on a new warrant, another and another and another week. Unless it is approved in the original warrant, and why would ASIO do that? - you are not allowed to contact your wife, your husband, your child, your mother, your father and of course not a lawyer.

If you don’t answer ASIO’s questions satisfactorily, you can be charged and subject to 5 years in jail. But the law is reasonable, it goes on to say that if you don’t know anything, then it’s not an offence not to tell ASIO anything!!! But you have to prove you didn’t know anything and so the 'onus of proof' is reversed.

You can be asked to produce a paper and if you don’t, you also go to jail on prosecution for 5 years but the law goes on to say, being fair-minded again, if you don’t have such a paper, it’s not an offence not to produce it but you have to prove that you didn’t have it. How do you prove that you do not have something that you do not even know exists!!! Again, the 'onus of proof' is reversed.

If a journalist heard that you had been detained and sought to report it, he would go to jail for 5 years. If a detained person were released and talked to anyone about his or her experiences, subject to prosecution, five years in jail.

This seems to be a law for secret behaviour by authorities, for making somebody disappear. It is a law that one would expect in tyrannical countries and not in Australia. Do we do nothing about it because we believe it will not apply to ourselves? Do we believe it is only going to apply to people of a different religion who look a bit different?

United States authorities and others have, time and again, denigrated those in Guantanamo Bay. We have been told they are the worst of the worst, that they are terrible people, that they do not deserve the normal protection of the law.

People who make such comments clearly do not understand or believe in the Rule of Law as it has evolved through the ages. They have taken such views because they believe those in Guantanamo Bay and others are not 'people' like ourselves. In a different day and a different time, but within the memories of many, we have heard those words before.

In other words the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, the presumption that all people should have access to “due process” in a properly constituted legal system is no longer valid in Australia.

It is not reasonable just to blame the Government alone for such laws. The Labor Party approved such laws.

There was one change of particular significance so I give credit for that. The original legislation applied to people of any age, even to children, except that intrusive strip searching should not take place of a girl under 10. The Labor Party took the view that the legislation should only apply to adults. It now applies to those over 18.

As a consequence of the Government and the Opposition basically agreeing, Australian law already provides for the abolition of 'due process', of Habeas Corpus and the presumption of innocence.

All this is already law.

Australian Law or lack of it has already failed many individuals and groups. Amongst these we can include: Aboriginals; people held in the Department of Immigration detention centres; an Australian citizen deported; Australian citizens wrongly held in detention centres without medical attention; a United States citizen deported without 'due process' and an Australian citizen being tried before a Military Tribunal. By the detention of the innocent, by the questioning of people known to be innocent by the authorities, by the right confirmed by the High Court with a majority of 4 to 3, to keep a failed asylum seeker in jail for the term of his natural life, if he could not be returned to his land of origin.

Authorities in Australia already have the capacity for the exercise of extreme and arbitrary power without adequate judicial safeguards.

Much of this involves the gravest failure of administrative and ministerial responsibilities. As shown in the Palmer and Comrie Reports the Department of Immigration has been at the centre of much of it. Two Ministers have been in charge, neither Minister is responsible. As far as one can tell, nobody has been held accountable. The people involved appear not to have mattered to the Administration or to the Government.

Australia now has new proposals in front of it providing even greater power to the police and to the Government. Attention should in particular be turned to those provisions that allow for 'preventative detention' and the use of 'control orders' to arrest and to limit and monitor the activities of individuals. No cogent case has been made for the expansion of these powers, except a general one that it is necessary to fight terrorism. It would be reasonable to ask why, it would be reasonable to expect a considered answer.

The legislation says that a control order may be sought if, on the balance of probabilities the order would substantially assist in preventing a terrorist act, or if the person has provided training or received training from a listed terrorist organisation and furthermore, on the balance of probabilities that the order is reasonably necessary to protect the public from a terrorist act.

The intelligence rationale for a 'control order' is not easy to grasp. If surveillance is thorough why not watch the person, collect more evidence and then charge the person with an offence?

One consequence of a 'control order' would be the immediate disappearance of all the subject’s contacts and collaborators. They would know from their point of view that something was wrong, they would fade away and disappear.

The terms of the legislation are broad. One of the grounds for a 'control order' is that a person has provided training to or has received training from a listed terrorist organisation. Does the organisation need to be listed when the training was received? Does the training have to be recent, could it have occurred 20 years ago in different times and different circumstances?

In one respect more severe problems arise in relation to detention orders. A person can be detained for a limited period if there are reasonable grounds to suspect the person will engage in a terrorist act, or has done or will do an act in preparation for, or planning of a terrorist act. Again the terms are broad.

There is no involvement of a court in achieving authority for a prevention order'. An issuing authority is appointed by the Minister. In the draft legislation an issuing of authority is defined as: the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, or a member of the Australian Federal Police above the rank of Superintendent. For continued 'preventative detention' the issuing authority is a Federal Magistrate or a Judge but acting in a personal capacity, not presiding over a court.

The same questions arise once 'preventative detention' is applied, a person’s collaborators, colleagues, will again know from their point of view that something was seriously wrong and they would fade away.

If there was valid grounds for concern, why not double surveillance, collect more information, which would enable a charge and a prosecution to be laid. The strategy of 'control orders' and 'preventative detention' may have some relevance but the case has not been made. Furthermore the lack of judicial involvement in the application for 'preventative detention' is a total derogation of justice.

There appears to be no involvement of the judiciary in application of a 'preventative detention' order and secondly, the involvement of legal officers in the case of continued 'preventative detention' is marginal, and would be totally ineffective. No legal officer would in those circumstances be prepared to second guess the policeman. In reality, 'preventative detention' and continued 'preventative detention' can be imposed solely on the involvement of ASIO and the police.

Do we really believe these powers will be effective in the fight against terrorism, or do we believe that the powers themselves are likely to lead to a sense of grievance or alienation? These are powers whose breadth and arbitrary nature, with lack of judicial oversight, should not exist in any democratic country. If one says, but they will not be abused, I do not agree. If arbitrary power exists they will be abused.

All this has happened in a country which has not experienced a significant terrorist incident for many years. What would be our Government’s reaction if this great city were tied up and disorganised by terrorist attacks similar to those which recently occurred in London?

The Government is really saying on these issues, trust us, but no part of the history of the Coalition’s invasion and occupation of Iraq gives any member of that coalition the right to say on these issues: 'Trust us'. We were told there were weapons of mass destruction. There weren’t. The British were led to believe that weapons of mass destruction could be dropped on London within 45 minutes. They could not and the authorities knew they could not.

More recently published British Cabinet Papers have made it clear that President Bush had made the decision to go to war seven or eight months before the American people were told.

During the time when Dr Hans Blix, Executive Chairman UN Monitoring, Verification & Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) was painstakingly revealing the truth about weapons of mass destruction, or the lack of them in Iraq, the United States had no intention of allowing that process to continue, to conclude. They did not indeed want it to conclude because it would have taken away the primary cause for war - a decision which had already been made.

More particularly after the Tampa, after the Children Overboard, the experience and treatment of asylum seekers, the abandonment of Hicks, all suggest that any right to trust has been long destroyed. Would Cornelia Rau trust the Government? Would Vivian Solon trust the Government? Concerning the Tampa and Children Overboard, the Government knew they were playing to the more fearful and conservative elements in the Australian community and with great success. The Government also knows in relation to terrorism that the public is concerned, even fearful and can be made more fearful. These laws again play to conservative elements in Australian society.

It may be brilliant politics but will such laws make Australia secure? By its actions, the Government has long abandoned and lost the middle ground. The Rule of Law and 'due process' has been set aside. Has the Government already created an environment in which people will accept too much if the Government says it will help in the fight against terrorism?

These new proposals should be opposed. No strong case has been made that these breaches in the Rule of Law will be effective in the fight against terrorism. The London bombings are probably used as a rationale, but apply these laws to London bombings, they could not succeed. The laws should be opposed on the basis of substance. The powers are arbitrary altering the quality of ASIO and of the police in significant ways. There are no real safe guards, there is no adequate judicial review.

The laws should be opposed because the process itself is seriously flawed. Instead of wide ranging discussion the Government has sought to nobble the field in secret and to prevent debate. The laws should be opposed because they provide arbitrary power which would be dependent on trust, a trust that has not been earnt.

Western civilisation is again betrayed by the treatment metered out to prisoners at Abu Ghraib and at Guantanamo Bay. We are told that this was the view of a few misguided, low-level troops but Donald Gregg, former National Security Advisor to the first President Bush, wrote that the memorandum, published in the Torture Papers: 'cleared the way for the horrors that had been revealed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo that make a mockery of Administration assertions that a few misguided enlisted personnel perpetrated the vile abuse of prisoners. I can think of nothing that can more devastatingly undercut America’s standing in the world or more importantly our view of ourselves than those decisions.'

The Government and the Labor Party have both assumed that we cannot fight terrorism and adhere to the basic principles of justice and democracy. They have assumed that certain people are outside the law and do not deserve justice. They are already saying to us 'Trust us' on the issue. I suggest they have given us every reason not to trust them on these issues of peace and war and on security for our people.

From Australia, our Government has constantly said that our participation in the Coalition in Iraq has not increased the risk of terrorist attacks in Australia. But the former head of ASIO, Dennis Richardson, and the former Chief of the Defence Force Staff, General Cosgrove, have both suggested the contrary.

Professor Naomi Chazan said, in the recent Gandel Oration in Melbourne: 'There is one standard and one standard for all, and the challenge that is posed by terrorism is how to defend the rights of those that we don’t agree with?... How can we defend the rights, the basic human and civil rights, of those whose ideas we simply abhor?'

Unless we do so, the terrorists have already had a significant victory. It is not enough to say we believe in justice, in human rights for those who agree with us, for those whom we classify as honourable and law abiding citizens. It is the system, the process, the courts, it is the measurement of justice that determines the nature of our civilisation.

Churchill put it this way:

He suggested that the great privilege

...of Habeas Corpus, and of trial by jury, which are the supreme protection invented by the English people for ordinary individuals against the State – the power of the executive to send a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law and particularly to deny him the judgement of his peers – is, in the highest degree, odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian governments...extraordinary powers assumed by the Executive with the consent of Parliament in emergencies should be yielded up, when and as, the emergency declines... This is really the test of civilisation.

Thomas Paine said:

He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his own enemy from oppression, for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

That is succinct and accurate advice. It is an expression of what has happened through the course of history. If we stand silent in the face of discrimination and in violation of the basic principles of humanity, then we betray our own principles and our way of life. We must fight extremism, fundamentalism, terrorism, whatever its origins, whatever its objectives.

Fundamentalism has, throughout history, often been represented by an extreme and arbitrary belief, often without justice and without principles which make it possible for us to lead our lives as part of a civilised community. I regret that many, who almost certainly mean well have so little faith in our freedom, in our democracy, in our laws, that they believe they must throw basic rights overboard to defend those same rights. Such views are wrong and will make it harder to overcome terrorism.

Transcript of the Stephen Murray-Smith Memorial Lecture, State Library of Victoria, 19 October 2005



Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Ah fond memories

Pauline Hanson. For some reason she has been rehabilitated in the eyes of Australians. Recently she starred on Dancing with the Stars (hosted by Darryl 'narcoleptic' Sommers). We may also recall that she was delightfully banged up in a women's prison for a few months when the electoral commission took umbrage with her use of a Tennis Club constitution as the template for the rules of her One Nation party. She was freed on appeal - her conviction quashed.

Left: Pauline in all her permy glory.

For those non Ozzers out there - see her wiki entry. She was a blight on this country. A stain representing the very worst negative aspects of the ill educated, the fearful, the ignorant, and the scared. Apparently she made some friends with aboriginal women while she was inside, and has allegedly softened her views towards the most dispossessed in our society. I guess a few months of people looking up your woo hoo if you hug your kid on a weekly visit to the big house will do that for you.

It took a while to track down, but her it is in all it's glory. Her maiden speech from 10 September 1996. From the Hansard website here

Ms HANSON (Oxley) (5.15 p.m.) —Mr Acting Speaker, in making my first speech in this place, I congratulate you on your election and wish to say how proud I am to be here as the Independent member for Oxley. I come here not as a polished politician but as a woman who has had her fair share of life's knocks.

My view on issues is based on commonsense, and my experience as a mother of four children, as a sole parent, and as a businesswoman running a fish and chip shop. I won the seat of Oxley largely on an issue that has resulted in me being called a racist. That issue related to my comment that Aboriginals received more benefits than non-Aboriginals.

We now have a situation where a type of reverse racism is applied to mainstream Australians by those who promote political correctness and those who control the various taxpayer funded `industries' that flourish in our society servicing Aboriginals, multiculturalists and a host of other minority groups. In response to my call for equality for all Australians, the most noisy criticism came from the fat cats, bureaucrats and the do-gooders. They screamed the loudest because they stand to lose the most—their power, money and position, all funded by ordinary Australian taxpayers.

Present governments are encouraging separatism in Australia by providing opportunities, land, moneys and facilities available only to Aboriginals. Along with millions of Australians, I am fed up to the back teeth with the inequalities that are being promoted by the government and paid for by the taxpayer under the assumption that Aboriginals are the most disadvantaged people in Australia. I do not believe that the colour of one's skin determines whether you are disadvantaged. As Paul Hasluck said in parliament in October 1955 when he was Minister for Territories:

The distinction I make is this. A social problem is one that concerns the way in which people live together in one society. A racial problem is a problem which confronts two different races who live in two separate societies, even if those societies are side by side. We do not want a society in Australia in which one group enjoy one set of privileges and another group enjoy another set of privileges.

Hasluck's vision was of a single society in which racial emphases were rejected and social issues addressed. I totally agree with him, and so would the majority of Australians.

But, remember, when he gave his speech he was talking about the privileges that white Australians were seen to be enjoying over Aboriginals. Today, 41 years later, I talk about the exact opposite—the privileges Aboriginals enjoy over other Australians. I have done research on benefits available only to Aboriginals and challenge anyone to tell me how Aboriginals are disadvantaged when they can obtain three and five per cent housing loans denied to non-Aboriginals.

This nation is being divided into black and white, and the present system encourages this. I am fed up with being told, `This is our land.' Well, where the hell do I go? I was born here, and so were my parents and children. I will work beside anyone and they will be my equal but I draw the line when told I must pay and continue paying for something that happened over 200 years ago. Like most Australians, I worked for my land; no-one gave it to me.

Apart from the $40 million spent so far since Mabo on native title claims, the government has made available $1 billion for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders as compensation for land they cannot claim under native title. Bear in mind that the $40 million spent so far in native title has gone into the pockets of grateful lawyers and consultants. Not one native title has been granted as I speak.

The majority of Aboriginals do not want handouts because they realise that welfare is killing them. This quote says it all: `If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. If you teach him how to fish you feed him for a lifetime.'

Those who feed off the Aboriginal industry do not want to see things changed. Look at the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. Members receive $290 a day sitting allowance and $320 a day travelling allowance, and most of these people also hold other very well paid positions. No wonder they did not want to resign recently!

Reconciliation is everyone recognising and treating each other as equals, and everyone must be responsible for their own actions. This is why I am calling for ATSIC to be abolished. It is a failed, hypocritical and discriminatory organisation that has failed dismally the people it was meant to serve. It will take more than Senator Herron's surgical skills to correct the terminal mess it is in. Anyone with a criminal record can, and does, hold a position with ATSIC. I cannot hold my position as a politician if I have a criminal record—once again, two sets of rules.

If politicians continue to promote separatism in Australia, they should not continue to hold their seats in this parliament. They are not truly representing all Australians, and I call on the people to throw them out. To survive in peace and harmony, united and strong, we must have one people, one nation, one flag.

The greatest cause of family breakdown is unemployment. This country of ours has the richest mineral deposits in the world and vast rich lands for agriculture and is surrounded by oceans that provide a wealth of seafood, yet we are $190 billion in debt with an interest bill that is strangling us.

Youth unemployment between the ages of 15 to 24 runs at 25 per cent and is even higher in my electorate of Oxley. Statistics, by cooking the books, say that Australia's unemployment is at 8.6 per cent, or just under one million people. If we disregard that one hour's work a week classifies a person as employed, then the figure is really between 1.5 million and 1.9 million unemployed. This is a crisis that recent governments have ignored because of a lack of will. We are regarded as a Third World country with First World living conditions. We have one of the highest interest rates in the world, and we owe more money per capita than any other country. All we need is a nail hole in the bottom of the boat and we're sunk.

In real dollar terms, our standard of living has dropped over the past 10 years. In the 1960s, our wages increase ran at three per cent and unemployment at two per cent. Today, not only is there no wage increase, we have gone backwards and unemployment is officially 8.6 per cent. The real figure must be close to 12 to 13 per cent.

I wish to comment briefly on some social and legal problems encountered by many of my constituents—problems not restricted to just my electorate of Oxley. I refer to the social and family upheaval created by the Family Law Act and the ramifications of that act embodied in the child support scheme. The Family Law Act, which was the child of the disgraceful Senator Lionel Murphy, should be repealed. It has brought death, misery and heartache to countless thousands of Australians. Children are treated like pawns in some crazy game of chess.

The child support scheme has become unworkable, very unfair and one sided. Custodial parents can often profit handsomely at the expense of a parent paying child support, and in many cases the non-custodial parent simply gives up employment to escape the, in many cases, heavy and punitive financial demands. Governments must give to all those who have hit life's hurdles the chance to rebuild and have a future.

We have lost all our big Australian industries and icons, including Qantas when it sold 25 per cent of its shares and a controlling interest to British Airways. Now this government want to sell Telstra, a company that made a $1.2 billion profit last year and will make a $2 billion profit this year. But, first, they want to sack 54,000 employees to show better profits and share prices. Anyone with business sense knows that you do not sell off your assets especially when they are making money. I may be only `a fish and chip shop lady', but some of these economists need to get their heads out of the textbooks and get a job in the real world. I would not even let one of them handle my grocery shopping.

Immigration and multiculturalism are issues that this government is trying to address, but for far too long ordinary Australians have been kept out of any debate by the major parties. I and most Australians want our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished. I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. Between 1984 and 1995, 40 per cent of all migrants coming into this country were of Asian origin. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate. Of course, I will be called racist but, if I can invite whom I want into my home, then I should have the right to have a say in who comes into my country. A truly multicultural country can never be strong or united. The world is full of failed and tragic examples, ranging from Ireland to Bosnia to Africa and, closer to home, Papua New Guinea. America and Great Britain are currently paying the price.

Arthur Calwell was a great Australian and Labor leader, and it is a pity that there are not men of his stature sitting on the opposition benches today. Arthur Calwell said:

Japan, India, Burma, Ceylon and every new African nation are fiercely anti-white and anti one another. Do we want or need any of these people here? I am one red-blooded Australian who says no and who speaks for 90% of Australians.

I have no hesitation in echoing the words of Arthur Calwell.

There is light at the end of the tunnel and there are solutions. If this government wants to be fair dinkum, then it must stop kowtowing to financial markets, international organisations, world bankers, investment companies and big business people. The Howard government must become visionary and be prepared to act, even at the risk of making mistakes.

In this financial year we will be spending at least $1.5 billion on foreign aid and we cannot be sure that this money will be properly spent, as corruption and mismanagement in many of the recipient countries are legend. Australia must review its membership and funding of the UN, as it is a little like ATSIC on a grander scale, with huge tax-free American dollar salaries, duty-free luxury cars and diplomatic status.

The World Health Organisation has a lot of its medical experts sitting in Geneva while hospitals in Africa have no drugs and desperate patients are forced to seek medication on the black market. I am going to find out how many treaties we have signed with the UN, have them exposed and then call for their repudiation. The government should cease all foreign aid immediately and apply the savings to generate employment here at home.

Abolishing the policy of multiculturalism will save billions of dollars and allow those from ethnic backgrounds to join mainstream Australia, paving the way to a strong, united country. Immigration must be halted in the short term so that our dole queues are not added to by, in many cases, unskilled migrants not fluent in the English language. This would be one positive step to rescue many young and older Australians from a predicament which has become a national disgrace and crisis. I must stress at this stage that I do not consider those people from ethnic backgrounds currently living in Australia anything but first-class citizens, provided of course that they give this country their full, undivided loyalty.

The government must be imaginative enough to become involved, in the short term at least, in job creating projects that will help establish the foundation for a resurgence of national development and enterprise. Such schemes would be the building of the Alice Springs to Darwin railway line, new roads and ports, water conservation, reafforestation and other sensible and practical environmental projects.

Therefore I call for the introduction of national service for a period of 12 months, compulsory for males and females upon finishing year 12 or reaching 18 years of age. This could be a civil service with a touch of military training, because I do not feel we can go on living in a dream world forever and a day believing that war will never touch our lives again.

The government must do all it can to help reduce interest rates for business. How can we compete with Japan, Germany and Singapore, which enjoy rates of two per cent, 5.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively? Reduced tariffs on foreign goods that compete with local products seem only to cost Australians their jobs. We must look after our own before lining the pockets of overseas countries and investors at the expense of our living standards and future.

Time is running out. We may have only 10 to 15 years left to turn things around. Because of our resources and our position in the world, we will not have a say because neighbouring countries such as Japan, with 125 million people; China, with 1.2 billion people; India, with 846 million people; Indonesia, with 178 million people; and Malaysia, with 20 million people are well aware of our resources and potential. Wake up, Australia, before it is too late. Australians need and want leaders who can inspire and give hope in difficult times. Now is the time for the Howard government to accept the challenge.

Everything I have said is relevant to my electorate of Oxley, which is typical of mainstream Australia. I do have concerns for my country and I am going to do my best to speak my mind and stand up for what I believe in. As an Independent I am confident that I can look after the needs of the people of Oxley and I will always be guided by their advice. It is refreshing to be able to express my views without having to toe a party line. It has got me into trouble on the odd occasion, but I am not going to stop saying what I think. I consider myself just an ordinary Australian who wants to keep this great country strong and independent, and my greatest desire is to see all Australians treat each other as equals as we travel together towards the new century.

I will fight hard to keep my seat in this place, but that will depend on the people who sent me here. Mr Acting Speaker, I thank you for your attention and trust that you will not think me presumptuous if I dedicate this speech to the people of Oxley and those Australians who have supported me. I salute them all.