POOR BUGGER ME: Bill LEAK

 

I am sorry that Bill Leak died so young. In deference, I deleted this entry over the week-end, but after seeing The Australian lauding him over six and a half full pages, including all the letters, all of the editorial, and by almost all of the rabid right, I have decided to restore this post. After all, free speech is what they are always on about, so I shouldn’t let the side down.

Poor Bill Leak. Now I’m not going to say that he was on the piss with one of the great dickheads of our time, and fell off a porch as pissed as a parrot  and damaged his brain, (particularly the bit which makes one funny) because that might not be true. It is a worry however, to see someone who is really struggling with their craft kept in the employ of the only national newspaper in the country, pouring out the drivel which he does, day after day after day. The poor man demonstrates the seriousness of his struggle when he latches onto a single idea, which he trots out for weeks, if not months on end. For example, he gets the idea that Kevin Rudd looks something like Tin-Tin, so he draws him like this for a couple of years. Hilarious!

And of course those who might or might not get on the piss with multi-millionaire wankers and fall arse-up off the toff’s porch would naturally hate the Labor Party and the trade union movement. So what could be funnier for someone who might or might not be suffering from irreparable brain damage, than to depict Bill Shorten as a puppet, operated  by a thuggish trade unionist with CFMEU stamped across his shirt. So funny! Especially the first time, and perhaps the second time and maybe the third and possibly the forth, and struggling the fifth, and perhaps not quite so hilarious the thirteenth or fourteenth time. This was Leak’s attempt to destroy Bill Shorten in the lead-up to the recent election. It failed miserably.

But would you believe it? After Malcolm Turnbull was left with egg on his face after the election, Mr Leak was so pissed off with his hero that he depicted him as King Louis XIV dressed in his fine regalia for day after day after day after day. So funny! Alas our hero was running out of funny, but then came the perfect opportunity for someone who might just be a wanker who gets full of piss at his rich mate’s mansion and falls off the porch and lands on his head to demonstrate just how superior he is to trash like the working people of Australia and those who fight for their rights, and those even lower, the Blackfellow. For it doesn’t matter how big  a wanker you are, you can always attack the Blackfellow if you need to convince yourself that you are superior to someone. And with the power of the most widely distributed newspaper in the country, it is just so easy.

Ah, but poor Bill. He has now depicted himself as the victim, being cruelly dragged off by a policeman, and delivered into the arms of a a vicious lefty (you can tell he is a lefty, because he has a beard) who is armed with a noose and a club, with a big nail in it. Almost as thuggish as those CFMEU terrorists. Keep it up Bill. Show us your pain for the next week or two as you try to think of something fresh, and new, and perhaps even funny to say.

Who knows, you may yet convince us that the real victims in our society are not the poor, not the dispossessed, not the imprisoned, but the upper class snobs who get pissed with their millionaire mates and fall off the porch and damage their brains. Not that this is what happened to you of course. I have heard you state that you were not drinking at the time, and I have no reason to doubt you. After all, that could be stereotyping.

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Ten Years On. The Bloodiest War. the Dirtiest Lies.

History is littered with easily defined tyrants, and their lust for power, resulting in wars quite justifiably deemed criminal and unjust. Some were so good at waging war that history views them with awe rather than horror. Figures such as Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and the Emperors of the Roman Empire come into this category. Although there was no justification for their acts of aggression, there is a kind of ‘they were good at what they did’ attitude which sees their exploits viewed as momentous rather than callous, murderous and greedy; chiefly because of the huge mark they left on recorded history.

In more modern times, when a more liberal and reasoned view of the causes of war could reasonably be expected to bring about a more civilised means of settling disputes, we nonetheless saw the bloody carnage of the First World War, with foot-soldiers massacred under the onslaught of heavy artillery, their fervent goals of King and Country converted to little more than mincemeat and fertiliser. Some ten million military personnel, and seven million civilians died in the ‘Great War’ for little more reason than it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Twenty years later the second World War, for which the seeds had been planted by crippling reparations included in the armistice of the first, resulted in a wrecked economy and crippling inflation, bringing about the conditions which enabled Hitler to seize control of a humiliated Germany. His evil is so pervasive that he may never be viewed with the awe of his bloodthirsty predecessors. The Japanese too, undertook an aggressive expansion, in part because of a dearth of energy and manufacturing supplies from the West, and in part because of humiliation at the hands of a Western expansionist arrogance which saw Asia as a Colonial plaything of pompous Empire builders. Whatever justifications the aggressors thought they might have had, there is little doubt that evil, bloodthirsty and expansionist tyrants were soundly beaten by allies united in justice and honour.

The Korean War served as a chess-board on which the mutual paranoia between the Western purveyors of Capitalism and the Totalitarianism of Communism played out a deadly draw; and the Vietnam War, a Chop Suey of of rotting imperialism, paranoia and domino theory, saw the slaughterhouse of the US withdraw like craven dogs, despite inflicting deaths in the millions upon their third world opponents.

The Vietnam War was the first war which included participants from civilian ranks, whose mass demonstrations and exposure of the Allied lies through the myriad forms of mass media, but especially through that of our television screens, saw ‘rat-bag’ protesters take considerable credit for the U.S.’s ignominous withdrawal; minus 50,000 war dead.

It is sobering and depressing, therefore, to have lived through an era in which the greatest mass movement in history, armed with the most revolutionary means of communication yet devised, in the form of the internet, found itself impotent against a regime who had suffered the traumatic humiliation of 9/11, and was determined to demonstrate what havoc it was capable of inflicting in retaliation. The evil Saddam Hussein was the convenient recipient of this demonstration, and Iraq, the cradle of civilisation, was the modern secular Middle Eastern country chosen to be blown into ruins and chaos through the implementation of Shock and Awe, and the dehumanisation of the Iraqi people.

The lies and distortions of the perpetrators were supplemented and augmented by News Ltd., the Murdoch Press, which unequivocally downplayed the protestations of weapons inspectors, and inflated every exaggeration, distortion and downright lie of the aggressors. Saddam Hussein, in no doubt as to the intentions of the US, released thousands of CDs containing information on previous weapons caches, (his harbouring of Weapons of Mass Destruction being the justification for the invasion) and gave carte blanche to weapons inspectors; and millions of demonstrators around the world, seeing through the lies, marched hopelessly against a tsunami of propaganda released by the Murdoch Empire.

Bush, Blair, Howard, and their Liars-in-chiefs, the Rumsfords, the Cheneys, the Downers, literally drove honest men to their graves in their crusade, and Bush’s Secretary of State, the respected Colin Powell, perjured himself in a televised performance at the United Nations, a humiliation he will never live down.

What could be more ironic and hypocritical, than a country accusing another of harbouring weapons of mass destruction while raining a torrent of bombs and rockets on a hopeless opponent, an attack designed not just to hit military targets, but to wipe out the power, the television stations, the roads, and the water supplies, to the extent that ten years later, such services remain crippled.

As the ‘war’ continued, The Australian delighted in showing the heroic invaders giving water to their captives, as examples of the humanitarian way the US and its allies were conducting the war. Not even the Oz could disguise the slaughter on the streets though, as vehicles full of families were blasted into oblivion, and American thugs invaded houses full of families and dragged men away from their wives and children; ultimately to subject them to the unspeakable and barbaric conditions of Abu Ghraib Prison.

No weapons of mass destruction were found. Not one.

That champion of free speech, that paragon of a free press awash with blood, which questioned the patriotism of those opposed to the war, which lauded the destruction of Iraqi society, (still suffering regular bomb attacks to this day) and which attacked those who did not whole-heartedly support this wanton slaughter, such as the ABC, was supportive of an invasion, a war of aggression, mass human rights violations, and a naked abuse of power.

It is now engaged in a holier-than-thou campaign against a mild reform of media laws which would see, in some small degree, some answerability for a failure to report fairly, to be answerable for distortions, to forgo bias. It is not hard see why they don’t like it.

The Bloodiest War. The Dirtiest Lies. The Murdoch Press.

Kevin Rudd, ‘Fiscal’ Conservative?

 

Just over a year since the Howard Government was thrown unceremoniously from power, with their leader, John Howard, losing his own seat (his party didn’t have the guts to dump him, but the voters did) it is an appropriate time to take stock of the Labor Government under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Perhaps there was a portent of the direction and flavour of the incoming government on the night of the election, when, flushed with the euphoria of victory and more than a glass or two of celebratory drinks, we endured Mr Rudd delivering an uninspiring cliche-ridden speech in a flat monotone. Anything was better than John Howard though, and we lived in hope of a more tolerant society.

 

Within a couple of months, Rudd signed Australia up to the Kyoto protocol, and delivered an inspiring, eloquent and emotional apology to the ‘stolen generations,’ those Aboriginal people taken from their parents and institutionalised during the greater part of the last century. Rudd’s speech, and the occasion, epitimises the high point of the government’s tenure in the eyes of many Labor supporters. Aided by the election of Brendon Nelson to the position of Liberal Party leader, (a walking carcass from the moment he was chosen) and his recent replacement with Malcolm Turnbull, (a more worthy opponent but yet to land a blow), Rudd’s rating remains high. His mantra of being a fiscal conservative during the lead-up to the election has proved to be true, and no doubt appropriate for the times, with few questioning his prompt moves to stimulate the economy. I do, however, have my reservations about this government’s conservative approach to other than the fiscal management of the country. 

During the lead up to the last election, John Howard’s most notable contribution to a rapport with the Aboriginal people was to wave his fists and shout at them, at, of all places, the televised launch of the main Reconciliation conference meant to further this process. This was the nearest he got to reconciliation, and without his support the reconciliation movement passed into irrelevance. 

Miraculously, months before the last election, John Howard rediscovered the Aboriginal people. The catalyst was a report called ‘Little Children are Sacred’ which suggested that the sexual abuse of children was rife in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. Howard decided to intervene, under the pretense that he was ‘saving the children’, with the support of his well meaning but autocratic minister for Aboriginal Affairs Mal Brough. Brough, an ex army officer, literally sent the troops in; to examine children for molestation, to check their general health, and to undertake maintenance of essential services in these remote communities. 

The intervention went much further though. Social security payments were to be controlled, in that half would be paid in money, and the rest in food vouchers. In addition, the Commonwealth would take control of Aboriginal lands in the Northern Territory until further notice. Aboriginal people found that not only would they not be able to access all of their welfare money, but that it would be decreed where the food vouchers could be spent, meaning that food stores not on that list suffered a huge fall in sales, while the option of choice for the shoppers was curtailed. The Racial Discrimination Act, for the purposes of the intervention, was ‘suspended’.

The Government also decided to control the wages of those receiving CDEP payments. CDEP provides work and wages for thousands of people in the NT, for performing work such as rubbish collection, road works, ranger duties, working in the community stores, ect., but when the government realised they could not purloin these wages, they simply decided to discontinue CDEP altogether. All of this served to make John Howard seem to be the man of action with regard to dealing with the alleged child abuse, while disempowering Aboriginal people with action more akin to the 19th century. The Labor party decided that rather than allow the issue to ‘wedge’ them in the lead-up to the election, that they would go along with all that Howard proposed. 

Under the new Aboriginal Minister, Jenny Macklin, we see that twelve months later little has changed. Macklin authorised an enquiry into the intervention which reported a few months ago with a host of recommended changes. She binned the lot, dealing a slap in the face of those who prepared the report. 

The fiscally conservative government is now looking decidedly conservative, not only on Aboriginal issues but on many other issues as well. Howard lackeys who were rewarded for imprisoning children, supporting an illegal war, denigrating refugees, and untruthfully stating that refugees had thrown their children overboard, are still sitting in plum jobs overseas. When an Indian Doctor working in Australia was wrongfully arrested on terrorism charges by the Howard government, charges which a recent report has shown lacked substance, the Rudd Government decided that no-one needed to be punished. The current slaughter of innocents in the Gaza strip by the biggest weapons of mass destruction owners in the middle east, elicits little concern from the Rudd Government, who mouth the same simplistic homilies as the Bush administration, who see only the white hat Israeli ‘goodies’ and the black hat Palestinian ‘baddies’.

Despite these reservations of mine towards Kevin Rudd, I am reminded of the ugly and mean spirited racist who preceded him this week, when it was announced that John Howard is to be awarded the US Medal of Freedom next week by his partner in crime George Bush, the village idiot who became President. It seems that Howard will be staying in Blair House, where guests of the White House usually stay. For this reason, the President elect Barack Obama has been unable to use this facility as he moves into Washington in preparation to take over from Bush on the 20th January. No doubt Obama, like Rudd, will not turn out to be all that we hoped for, but as two of the most discredited people ever to assume power celebrate their final love-in together, we can only be thankful that soon they shall both be gone. Despite all of the challenges the new leaders face as we step shakily into 2009, things can only get better.

Ode to John Howard

Nothing, apart from the Howard Government winning this years election, (which is not going to happen), would disappoint me more than if John Howard had chosen not to contest it as his party’s leader. For a while it seemed, he was contemplating retirement; passing the baton to his economic partner throughout his eleven year reign, treasurer Peter Costello. Fortunately Howard’s hubris, along with his life-long dedication to conservatism, and his love of power, has seen him remain to fight his last fight. I didn’t want him to retire, because I want to see him defeated.

 

Defeated is far too mild a word. I want to see Howard demoralised, crushed, shamed and humiliated. I want to see him beaten in his own seat, too shattered to publicly concede his defeat. I want him slinking off with his rodent tail between his legs to a justified oblivion. I want the commentators who will pronounce learnedly over his demise, to finally call a spade a spade, a dog a dog, and a rat a rat. I want all of his lies to be documented ruthlessly. His complicity with the bribing of Saddam Hussein, at the very time he was talking up the invasion of Iraq. His contempt for refugees fleeing Saddam’s regime, as he argued for the invasion of Iraq to liberate its citizens. His total indifference to the ongoing slaughter in Iraq, so whole-heartedly supported by him and his compliant clique of passionless sycophants. His unbridled hatred of the trade union movement, his barely disguised contempt for Australia’s Aboriginal people, which he masks behind a veil of equality, while espousing paternalism, a total lack of consultation, and a diagonal nod towards the legions of racists who approve of him. 

No tactic is too low for Howard. His speciality lies in demonising people, particularly the hopeless. You won’t see any sympathy for Iraq families who have Bush’s goons crashing into their houses in the night, terrorising the occupants and dragging men away who might, or might not be guilty of defending their country. No regrets for the thousands of innocents slaughtered by the military and the mercenary in the streets, in their houses, from the air, and in the gulags. For Howard, talking tough, for whatever political benefit it may bring him, means that refugees are dehumanised, that Aboriginals are threatening to take over 80% of the country, and that trade unionists who fought for justice for the thousands of victims of the James Hardie asbestos industry, are nothing but ‘union thugs’.

Nothing is more expendable for Howard, than the rights of individuals. Thus David Hicks could have rotted forever in Guantanamo Bay without charge, were it not for the political pressure brought to bear on him, finally seen as a threat to his re-election, and the only reason he acted on the issue. An Indian doctor distantly related to some terrorists in England? Never mind a complete lack of evidence, as revealed by the Keystone cops record of interview released by Mohamed Haneef’s lawyer. Never mind selectively leaked and incorrect information designed to influence the Haneef case, such as his SIM card being used to detonate a bomb. Even when all of this duplicity is exposed, Howard’s attack dog, Kevin Andrews, chooses to deport Dr Haneef. Why? Because he’s a foreigner, because he’s a muslim, because Howard sees a political advantage, and because little people with funny names don’t really matter.

Perhaps Howard’s greatest skill as a politician is reflected in his ability to couch his contempt for the minorities and the oppressed in language which disguises his true prejudices, while striking a chord with those he is targeting. So “We will decide who comes into this country, and the circumstances in which they come..” sounds decidedly more statesman-like than “We will march refugees off at gunpoint, lock them away for years in off-shore islands, and accuse them of throwing their children into the sea.” The real John Howard showed himself, most extraordinarily, at, of all venues, a nationally televised reconciliation conference. Enraged when members of the audience turned their backs on him, principally because of his dismissal of the stolen generations report, and a refusal to say sorry for the suffering of children taken from their parents, Howard lost his temper, waved his clenched fists, and railed at the reconciliation audience in a loud and angry voice. His recent foray into Aboriginal affairs purports to have the interests of Aboriginal people at heart. This subject requires a dedicated blog of its own, but suffice to say, as John Howard has often said of himself “At least people know where I stand.” 

Yes we do John. Nothing could be clearer than the way you expressed yourself on that day of reconciliation, before you closed the whole reconciliation process down. May your humiliation be total, your retirement relaxed and comfortable, and may we never lay our eyes on you or your ilk again. Australia deserves better. 

The Rat to go Down with his Ship

Nothing, apart from the Howard Government winning this years election, (which is not going to happen), would disappoint me more than if John Howard had chosen not to contest it as his party’s leader. For a while it seemed, he was contemplating retirement; passing the baton to his economic partner throughout his eleven year reign, treasurer Peter Costello. Fortunately Howard’s hubris, along with his life-long dedication to conservatism, and his love of power, has seen him remain to fight his last fight. I didn’t want him to retire, because I want to see him defeated.

 

Defeated is far too mild a word. I want to see Howard demoralised, crushed, shamed and humiliated. I want to see him beaten in his own seat, too shattered to publicly concede his defeat. I want him slinking off with his rodent tail between his legs to a justified oblivion. I want the commentators who will pronounce learnedly over his demise, to finally call a spade a spade, a dog a dog, and a rat a rat. I want all of his lies to be documented ruthlessly. His complicity with the bribing of Saddam Hussein, at the very time he was talking up the invasion of Iraq. His contempt for refugees fleeing Saddam’s regime, as he argued for the invasion of Iraq to liberate its citizens. His total indifference to the ongoing slaughter in Iraq, so whole-heartedly supported by him and his compliant clique of passionless sycophants. His unbridled hatred of the trade union movement, his barely disguised contempt for Australia’s Aboriginal people, which he masks behind a veil of equality, while espousing paternalism, a total lack of consultation, and a diagonal nod towards the legions of racists who approve of him. 

No tactic is too low for Howard. His speciality lies in demonising people, particularly the hopeless. You won’t see any sympathy for Iraq families who have Bush’s goons crashing into their houses in the night, terrorising the occupants and dragging men away who might, or might not be guilty of defending their country. No regrets for the thousands of innocents slaughtered by the military and the mercenary in the streets, in their houses, from the air, and in the gulags. For Howard, talking tough, for whatever political benefit it may bring him, means that refugees are dehumanised, that Aboriginals are threatening to take over 80% of the country, and that trade unionists who fought for justice for the thousands of victims of the James Hardie asbestos industry, are nothing but ‘union thugs’.

Nothing is more expendable for Howard, than the rights of individuals. Thus David Hicks could have rotted forever in Guantanamo Bay without charge, were it not for the political pressure brought to bear on him, finally seen as a threat to his re-election, and the only reason he acted on the issue. An Indian doctor distantly related to some terrorists in England? Never mind a complete lack of evidence, as revealed by the Keystone cops record of interview released by Mohamed Haneef’s lawyer. Never mind selectively leaked and incorrect information designed to influence the Haneef case, such as his SIM card being used to detonate a bomb. Even when all of this duplicity is exposed, Howard’s attack dog, Kevin Andrews, chooses to deport Dr Haneef. Why? Because he’s a foreigner, because he’s a muslim, because Howard sees a political advantage, and because little people with funny names don’t really matter.

Perhaps Howard’s greatest skill as a politician is reflected in his ability to couch his contempt for the minorities and the oppressed in language which disguises his true prejudices, while striking a chord with those he is targeting. So “We will decide who comes into this country, and the circumstances in which they come..” sounds decidedly more statesman-like than “We will march refugees off at gunpoint, lock them away for years in off-shore islands, and accuse them of throwing their children into the sea.” The real John Howard showed himself, most extraordinarily, at, of all venues, a nationally televised reconciliation conference. Enraged when members of the audience turned their backs on him, principally because of his dismissal of the stolen generations report, and a refusal to say sorry for the suffering of children taken from their parents, Howard lost his temper, waved his clenched fists, and railed at the reconciliation audience in a loud and angry voice. His recent foray into Aboriginal affairs purports to have the interests of Aboriginal people at heart. This subject requires a dedicated blog of its own, but suffice to say, as John Howard has often said of himself “At least people know where I stand.” 

Yes we do John. Nothing could be clearer than the way you expressed yourself on that day of reconciliation, before you closed the whole reconciliation process down. May your humiliation be total, your retirement relaxed and comfortable, and may we never lay our eyes on you or your ilk again. Australia deserves better. 

Election Looms – Howard’s Doom?

 

After what seems to have been a year of a phony election campaign, the incumbent John Howard, Australia’s Prime Minister, will soon have to call an election. He is in no hurry to do so, as his so-called ‘Liberal’ party trails the opposition Labor Party by more than ten points, and the Labor leader Kevin Rudd is being perceived as a fresh face. Howard is increasingly being seen as a man who has run out of ideas, but also as a man who has brazenly danced around the truth far too often.

 

Howard has always been a formidable debater, and I can recall watching him run rings around the Labor stalwart Tom Uren on television in the mid 1970’s. He has also been a man of firm convictions. He has always held a pathological hatred for the trade union movement, a barely disguised contempt for the Aboriginal people of Australia, and although at times he has managed to muddy the waters, he has always harboured an ingrained and ongoing strain of racism. Howard knows he is perceived as a racist, which is why he is forced to deny it; and he knows he is seen as a liar, or he would not see the need to deny that he is on national TV. 

There is a consistency about Howard. The man who turned away a boatload of refugees who had been rescued at sea by the bulk carrier Tampa, in 2001, and who demonised them, assailed them in parliament, and had them herded off to detention camps at gunpoint, is the same man who, while serving as a cabinet minister in the Fraser Government, was the only one to vote against that Government’s decision to admit Vietnamese refugees known as the ‘boat people’ in 1976. In the wake of the attacks on the world trade centre in September 2001, Howard gleefully turned the Tampa incident into a divisive debate on racism, and even went so far as to nurture the outright lie, initially pedalled by his minister for defence at the time, Peter Reith, that refugees had threatened to, or had, thrown their children into the sea. Photographs of children in the ocean, taken during another incident when a refugee ship sank, were even proffered by the Howard Government as proof that these evil people had done just that, and far from attempting to establish the truth of this incident, disputed from the start, Howard solemnly declared that he ‘would not like people who would do that to their children coming into this country.’ Howard won the election, and his minister for immigration, Phillip Ruddock, who was given the responsibility of driving the anti-refugee agenda, was given a standing ovation as a tide of racism and fear swept Howard back into power. 

During Howard’s next three years of power, he managed to support the invasion of Iraq by the United States, while simultaneously subjecting those fleeing from the evil Saddam to years of detention behind barbed wire. Men, women and children attempting to flee to Australia in leaky boats found themselves in desert gulags overseen by mercenary guards, or despatched to Neuru for years on end; – the so-called ‘Pacific Solution’, wherein vast regions of Australia were declared to be no longer a part of Australia, so that international obligations regarding refugees could be avoided. Dirt-poor Neuru was paid to house many of these poor wretches, thus stymying attempts by those imprisoned on Neuru to get efficient legal representation. Despite the bastardisation of these people, the great majority of them were eventually deemed to be genuine refugees. 

Howard’s 2004 election was won with an almighty scare campaign about interest rates, combined with the eccentric performance of the then Labor leader, the sometimes brilliant, sometimes erratic, and occasionally intimidating Mark Latham. Latham gave Howard a scare for a while, but less of a scare than Howard gave the voters, who voted him in with an increased majority. Latham may not have helped his cause when he roughed Howard up with a televised vigorous handshake at an ABC studio, which in retrospect, was a lost opportunity to apply a well executed head-butt. 

Incredibly, and partly because of an all-too-clever allocation of Labor Party preferences in the Senate which enabled the conservative Family First Party to gain a seat, Howard found himself in control of both houses of parliament, and immediately set about fulfilling his life long wishes. He was able to privatise Telstra, something the vast majority of voters were always opposed to, but high on Howard’s wish-list. He outlawed compulsory student union fees for universities, depriving the campuses of millions of dollars which went towards providing services for students, and weakening the influence of these dangerous radicals. Finally, he dispensed with an arbitration system which had served the country well for over a hundred years, abolished laws which protected workers against unfair dismissal, and passed the so-called Work Choices legislation, designed principally to side-line unions, and to force workers into individual contracts. During this term of Howard’s Government, it emerged that the Australian Wheat Board, responsible for the marketing of Australian overseas wheat sales, had paid Saddam Hussein’s regime bribes to the order of three hundred million dollars, at the very time which Howard was supporting the invasion of Iraq. Incredibly, no-one in the Howard Government, despite numerous tip-offs, seemed to know anything about it, and unsurprisingly, an enquiry with limited terms of reference, and muzzled public servants, deemed that the government was squeaky clean in the affair.

The Howard Government has enjoyed good economic times during its reign. It is a combination of good management, of reforms initiated by the Hawke/Keating Labor government before it, (such as bank deregulation and the floating of the dollar) and of the export mining boom driven largely by the expansive boom in China. To Howard, economics is everything. It must be a mystery for him, as to why the people of Australia seem inclined to reject him at the next election. The mystery for me, is why a country which purports to be the land of a fair go, ever voted for him in the first place.

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Watching the ABC’s Q&A tonight was excruciating. A good program, somewhat like a good Government which can’t get it’s message out, was bogged down for a half hour of leadership discussion which brought to light absolutely nothing. Julie Bishop point-scored, Bill Shorten defended, and the collective audience yawned or switched off with boredom.

The amount of progressive legislation passed by the Government is impressive and wide ranging. The amount of alternative policy from the Opposition is negligible. The Liberal Party call for an early election saying all their policies will be revealed in time for the election, despite the fact they are planning to completely rearrange the budget, discard the carbon tax, and discard the mining tax, while cutting some seventy billion dollars from the budget.

The Australian financial situation is the envy of the world. And any rational assessment by voters would see Labor swept back into power at the next election, and yet it seems if there is an early election, the Government will be soundly defeated.

There is one main reason for this, and it is that despite being a capable Prime Minister, Julia Gillard is not liked by a large section of the Australian community. Opposition leader Tony Abbot has conducted the most negative display of negativity ever seen in this country, and despite him being just as unpopular as the PM, it seems a never ending avalanche of naysaying in combination with Gillard’s unpopularity may well be enough to see a party bereft of policies and ideas swept into power.

A press corp obsessed with leadership beat-ups and paying scant regard to policy, and in the case of The Australian, openly hostile to the Government adds to this dismal state of affairs.

On the government side, it is hoped that the beginning of the carbon tax with the associated tax cuts and incentives which will kick in mid year, will turn around the negativity, the leadership diversion will go away, and the Government will settle in for the election to be held in 2013.

The opposition are hoping to inherit government on the sole issues of the PM’s unpopularity, and their rabid opposition to everything. Don’t expect to see any policy until they gain government, however.

Bob Innes