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Who Do You Want To Wake Up With?


Changing governments changes the country. But it doesn’t necessarily change peoples’ lives, most of the time. This time it will.

Years ago we were all of the belief that Tony Abbott was unelectable. He was supposedly too crazy for the mainstream. He was too right-wing. He let us see what he really thought, and it was scary stuff! Knowing how he thought would be enough – we would recoil. Wrong! He unleashed the crazy people, and we have been stuck with them ever since.

Continue reading Who Do You Want To Wake Up With?

A Fair Go For Those Who Have A Go


For Scott Morrison to even utter these words is remarkable, because he has essentially cast aside the cloak of hypocrisy, and admitted that our home-grown brand of Conservatives are entirely without compassion, and that if you are a ‘loser’ in the game of life you deserve what you get, because the ‘fair go’ is reserved for those ‘having a go’.

This is a belief system called ‘prosperity theology’. If you have ever had the surreal experience of watching a televangelist performing, this will be a part of his spiel. Simply, it espouses the theory that wealth is a blessing from God, and that poverty, or a lack of wealth, well, that is a sign of God’s displeasure. Of course it is! Why else are the common people poor, if not for a lack of moral fibre?

So do not expect fairness, or compassion from our mis-named Liberals. They have long ago cast aside Robert Menzies’ care for the ‘forgotten people’. Here you see, in all its nakedness, contempt for those who are not necessarily winning, and perhaps never will. And for those among us who do care, and consider a safety net central to our idea of a society; we are on the wrong side of the divide.

Balance is over-rated


The Australian press and media is stricken with a terrible misunderstanding about its role, and responsibilities. It thinks that each and every view, no matter how stupid or misled, or just plain muddle-headed, needs to receive equal time.

This is wrong, because, in the immortal words of Donald Rumsfeld, there are certain things, which are known, while some are unknown, and some are just unknowable. It is up to the media, as gatekeepers, to make a call, and ignore the unbearably silly offerings of the wrong ones.

Most of what passes for conservatism, and conservative thought in this country, is just wrong. The right wing of the Coalition seem to have trouble grasping certain facets of modern life which are ‘known knowns’.

Global warming is happening, because we all watch weather reports, and we know the difference between climate and weather. Similarly, there is no connection between paedophilia and homosexuality. There is no credible threat to religious freedom in Australia, because most people don’t care about religion. And if they did, I do not know anyone who wants to impose Christianity on Buddhists, or Islam on the St Brigid’s schoolkids. Letting a transgender kid use a particular toilet will not lead to indiscriminate gender-swapping at the next toilet break. And we must remember that marriage equality will not lead to a craze for bestiality.

The massacre at Port Arthur really happened, and so did the moon landing, and vaccines really are beneficial, for you and your children. Most of the politicians and community leaders who think otherwise should be shunned, not necessarily because their opinions are wrong, but because they have the resources to better educate themselves, and yet they wilfully continue to believe in some sort of primitive voodooism, where all change is evil.

So let’s stop letting them onto television and radio. So let us stop presenting the counter-view as if it carried equivalent weight. It does not. Let’s stop electing idiots to Parliament. It is embarrassing. At some point a discerning public has to draw a line in the sand, especially when the stupid and the misled continue to spout rubbish.

There is also a sub-group of canny contrarians who actually take the controversial, road – less -travelled, type of journey. They don’t believe their particular rubbish, but they have spotted a gap in the market, and capitalise on the media’s penchant for ‘balance’, in order to obtain a platform.

An even better argument for not giving too much credence to obviously wrong – headed tripe.

Ask Santo Santoro – he can arrange it


It is often great to catch up with folk we have forgotten about. One such individual is Santo Santoro, a man with an interesting background, and clearly a big future.

Like many of our candidates for the “He’ll Never be Prime Minister Award” Santoro was never elected to his position in the Senate. That is correct – he was appointed by the Queensland Government, to replace a retiring senator, without receiving a single vote to become a Senator.

To be entirely truthful he was not overly stellar in his performance, although he did accuse the ABC of being “disloyal” to Australian soldiers serving in Iraq, because the staff were advised to not refer to them as “our troops”. Presumably this was in response to many in the Australian electorate (with whom Senator Santoro had had limited prior contact, due to his not having been actually elected) who considered the war in Iraq to be wrong, and not “our war”.

Be that as it may, he then had a slight stumble over some shares, and was found to be in breach of the Senate’s rules concerning declaring his interests. He resigned from the Senate. Apart from the fact that he was confused about the difference between a charity and a political lobby group, he left with apparently no stain on his character, as he next became a Liberal Party Vice-President.

He then became a full-time lobbyist, or as he seems to suggest in his marketing materials, he provides “introductory services” to politicians. He has apparently got Peter Dutton on speed-dial, and he will arrange a meeting with the Minister, for a figure of $20,000. Does this make him a sort of ‘matchmaker’? For a fee?

This is a disgraceful situation for our democracy. The Minister asserts that he gained nothing from his meeting with Huang Xiangmo, a man who is barred from visiting Australia, because he is suspected of being a Chinese agent. And yet a Minister of the Crown is spoken of as someone who can be somehow wrangled into a meeting, just by the lobbyist picking up the phone. This lobbyist is obviously a man with considerable pull to achieve such a meeting.

If nothing else, Peter Dutton has brought the Ministry into disrepute, again. Remember when Andrew Burnes from Helloworld stated that Joe Hockey ‘owed’ him? This seems to be eerily similar, in that past or present Ministers of the current Liberal Government, appear powerless to resist the blandishments of those who call upon them for favours. No wonder even Malcolm Turnbull is appalled! Never a better time for a federal ICAC.

Three Rich White Guys From Sydney – 1. Tony Abbott


I contend that this country has been cheapened, degraded and trivialised by the three individuals who have occupied the Big Chair over the last 8 years.

But first of all we had Tony Abbott. That sentence is almost enough, because we all roll our eyes, and we have visions of the guy in his tiny bathing costumes, the rictus of his smile, him eating an onion like an apple. But these are relatively benign matters, of taste rather than substance.

His transgressions against the body politic are beyond mere actions which can be reversed one day – they are of the soul, of the health of our collective psyches, of our belief in decency and truth. They are the sickness of seeing someone who cannot possibly believe what he says, and yet he says it. Even if he is contradicting himself. Even if he is arguing that he never said it, when we have definitive proof.

“No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions,no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.” Jan 30, 2014.

That seems to be fairly clear. But his successor (Malcolm Turnbull) claimed that he did not say it, of if he did, he didn’t mean it. I am paraphrasing, but to quote Malcolm Turnbull is a tedious process, because after he has covered any and all possible contingencies in the statement, one is in danger of expiring due to old age, or boredom, or possibly both.

Tony Abbott led the least successful government since the 1960s, if we judge governments by their ONE JOB, passing legislation. He also forced his successor to take the issue of same sex marriage to an expensive plebiscite, thus again forcing the government to avoid their ONE AND ONLY JOB!

Tony Abbott’s failures are so numerous that we forget how terrible he was, and embarrassing. Remember his comment where he confused “suppositories” with “depository”; why did he make that mistake? He is a Rhodes Scholar, with degrees in Economics and Law, and a Master of Arts from Oxford. One can only ask who was on that selection panel.

And don’t forget Prince Philip as an Australian knight. As I said in an earlier post, Abbott is the gift who keeps on giving.

Fraser Anning – Aiming high


Former Senator Fraser Anning is famous, because 1.2 million Australians wanted him removed from Parliament, after a succession of ridiculous and dangerous statements. He also physically attacked a 19 year old boy, who had ‘egged’ him at a press conference.

This is quite an achievement, because a grand total of nineteen, yes, 19 people voted for him originally. So he is way better at getting people to detest him than he is at getting people to like him. You could call it a gift.

How did Anning become a senator?

He is the real Bradbury candidate, as he replaced Malcolm Roberts in the Senate, after he was tossed out for being a dual citizen. Remember Malcolm Roberts, and sigh. Fraser Anning makes Malcolm Roberts look like a Rhodes Scholar, and a renaissance man, in comparison.

Anyway, although he had been one of Pauline Hanson’s candidates in the election, he immediately resigned from her party as soon as he was installed in the Senate. He was ‘vouched for’ by Cory Bernardi and David Leyonhjelm. (Talk about buyer’s remorse). His next move was to join Bob Katter’s party, but even Bob seems to have seen enough, and he expelled Anning from his party two months later. Bob Katter expelled him for extreme views. Don’t laugh – this is serious.

At the time of Anning’s elevation to our House of Review he was also facing bankruptcy legal action from a bank. The action was subsequently withdrawn, opening the way for Fraser’s stellar parliamentary career. I do not know why the proceedings were withdrawn. (On March 16, 2019 he was declared bankrupt, so the bank must have re-commenced proceedings.)

So to recap, he has been voted for by nineteen people, he is then vouched for by Cory Bernardi and David Leyonhjelm, then he is expelled from Pauline Hanson’s party, and then from Bob Katter’s party, and then, to finish off a great year, he blames the victims of the Christchurch massacre for their own murders. He actually said that the murders were the result of “the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate”. He went on, “while Muslims may have been victims today, usually they are the perpetrators”.

These comments drew immediate international condemnation. At the next election in 2019, he was not re-elected.

In November 2020, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) brought legal action against Anning, seeking a penalty of up to $26,640 for allegedly failing to lodge required financial returns for the 2018-19 financial year. On 16 February 2021, the AEC dropped the case because they were unable to locate Mr Anning in Australia despite several attempts to contact him, with the AEC believing him to be overseas. (Wikipedia)

He is now believed to be living in the United States of America.

We need the major parties to reform the Senate. Immediately. And we need a system where we can respect our elected representatives. So that means actually passing legislation; you know, the one job they are elected for.

This post has been updated to reflect recent developments in Mr Anning’s life.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan.-A short review


This is a long book. At first glance it appears to be based on the life of Sir Weary Dunlop, and it is written in a formal style, even slightly academic. Its title is taken from a 17th century haibun, a Japanese literary form, which synthesises haiku and prose. The range of haibun is broad and frequently includes autobiography, diary, essay, prose poem, short story and travel journal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haibun The author has steadfastly included an example of each element, as if ticking off in a catalogue.

Each of its parts is interesting, in its own way. One part serves as a catalogue of the horrors of the building of the Thai Burma railroad, by mainly Australian prisoners of war, after the fall of Singapore. Other parts are hit and miss, but the main message I take from the book is that worldly success does not make one happy.

It also leaps about in time, from the present, where the ‘hero’ is now an elderly, bored rake, looking back, mournfully, to the beginning of his journey, when his eye was not so jaded. There is, however, no credible depth, no real sense of despair. The best, but also the most tedious passages, document the inhumane treatment of the prisoners by their Japanese, and Korean guards. It can read as a cross between a translated diary and an unedited historical treatise.

While it pays due respect to the suffering of the prisoner/slaves, it suffers from being too wordy. Richard Flanagan lacks the elegance of a Henry James, who allowed his readers to provide their own versions of hell: Mr Flanagan provides episodes so overly-detailed that one almost begs for relief. In one memorable scene the guards beat a prisoner for page after page, after page, until it appears he is indestructible. (This sentence is not meant in any way to minimise the real suffering of those who were there, but to highlight the relentless, over writing.)

Preceding the hero’s memories of the war, and interposed, into and throughout, there is a ‘great love story’, wherein the hero chooses the woman he loves, based mainly on a preference for blue eyes over brown. This love story is at best perfunctory, and has very little in it in the way of passion, or credibility, apart from the fact that it is conducted with his uncle’s wife.

Similarly his marriage and subsequent family life are characterised by descriptions of adultery and failure, and a type of nostalgic longing, with flashbacks to the war, earlier love, self-disgust at his continuing philandering, and at his growing celebrity.

He is in an existential hole until he is miraculously rescued by the great Hobart bush-fires of 1967. He not only drives through road blocks onto the burning mountain, where his wife and children are on foot, but he finds them, amidst the firestorm and the smoke and the panic. This rescue is not only highly unlikely in such tremendously hellish scenes, and over such treacherous ground as an out of control bush-fire, but it appears to do duty as another box-ticking exercise, and to fulfil the need in the narrative for some selfless heroics. It lacks credibility as action, and also as redemption.

This book is not really a novel, in the sense that it does not project as a conscious work of art. It is almost an oral history, unedited, verbose, well meaning, and above all else, sincere.

The book seems to have garnered almost universal praise as an Australian classic, which is really more to do with the packaging, the subject matter, and the size of the project.