November 30, 2006
Cole Report: government corruption and lack of accountability is "immaterial"
Courtesy, Ron Tandberg
How do they sleep at night? Easy. Just ask Jeff Kennett. He used to brag about sleeping like a baby as he trashed Victoria's sense of community. Then again, his later years as chairman of Beyond Blue indicates he may have had the odd troubled dream about school closures, teacher culls, and the privatisation of accountability.
For Howard Government ministers without a conscience sleep comes with visions of plum après-ministerial postings. John Howard, Alexander Downer and Mark Vaile, would have needed a good night's sleep after their exuberant round of back-slapping at being exonerated from any wrong doing by Old Judge Cole. Though it's not certain if Mark Vaile can continue to handle the stress of guilt-free corruption -- he so often has a haunted look in his eyes. But that could simply be his (and everyone else's) acknowledgement of his mind-boggling incompetence.
With the publishing of Terence Cole's report into the AWB kickbacks scandal, Shaun Carney, in Politics of preservation, wonders why we bother to have any government at all.
Here are some excerpts of an article everyone should read:
…not one person employed by the Commonwealth — no public servant high or low, no elected politician — did anything wrong, according to Cole.
Not only did they do no wrong, it could not even be said that they were dilatory for failing to follow up the claims in 2000 and 2001 that AWB was bribing Iraq. Whether ministers or the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade could have or should have known what went on is "immaterial". This is Cole's conclusion.
If that is it, if that is the sum total of all endeavours to impose accountability on this scandal, then truly this nation has entered a new epoch.
If Cole is accurate and comprehensive in his assessment of AWB, then Australia does not really need ministers with authority vested in them by the people and the Crown. Nor does it need thousands of bureaucrats, whose responsibility is to uphold the interests of their fellow citizens. The behaviour of Prime Minister John Howard, Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile and Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer since Cole's report was issued on Monday suggests Australian politics has entered a new era.
Their combination of rhetorical aggression and sheer, unrestrained joy that has followed Cole's finding that they knew nothing about AWB's corruption creates a new politics. Ignorance and a total lack of responsibility are the new twin engines of power.
Without a hint of regret or embarrassment, the Government has used its total failure on this issue as its proudest boast.
That's the thing that sends chills up the spine. Downer and Howard have been exonerated by a whitewash and are hounding Kim Beazley and Kevin Rudd to apologise for ever having outrageously suggested they knew something. That's right, Munchian Scream fans, they lied, we know they lied, but Uncle Terrence said it doesn't matter and that is all that matters.
It will take a novelist to imagine just what the future holds for this government and the people they have made mugs of. Because this government has more and more become a fiction. Their grasp of reality is such that emergency services should be on standby around the clock. To what lengths will they go before someone, anyone -- the military? -- canes them off stage. For never in Australia's history has a government so badly needed instant removal.
A letter to The Age summarises this tragic belittling of a nation by a faux government of dodgy businessmen:
To sum up: the Howard Government knew positively about things that were not there (WMD) but knew nothing about things that were (AWB corruption). -- Bob Jeffs
Did you ever think you'd live to see something like this?
-- Olney Garkle
November 29, 2006
The obscenity of the Long Distance PM
Courtesy, Michael Leunig
November 28, 2006
Who says America hasn't turned Stalinist under Bush?
Here is what happened to two girls, one 14, the other 13, when they vented their spleen against their respective governments.
The first girl, Julia Wilson, is from Sacramento, California.
Upset by the war in Iraq, Julia Wilson vented her frustrations with President George Bush on her MySpace.com page.
She posted a picture of the President, scrawled "Kill Bush" across the top and drew a dagger stabbing his outstretched hand. She replaced the page earlier this year after learning in her history class that such threats are a federal offence.
Too late. Federal authorities had found the page and placed her on their checklist. The 14-year-old student at Sacramento's McClatchy High School was taken out of biology class last week and questioned for about 15 minutes by two Secret Service agents.
Yesterday, the teenager said the agents' questioning over her page on the popular teenage internet site brought her to tears. "I wasn't dangerous. I mean, look at what's (stencilled) on my backpack — it's a heart. I'm a very peace-loving person," Julia said. "I'm against the war in Iraq. I'm not going to kill the President."
You and I know it's terminally stupid to post death threats to anyone on the web or anywhere else. But to a 14 year old, this may not be so obvious. Thanks to America's Stalinist Homeland Security and Patriot Act, anyone who looks cross-eyed at the government risks being disappeared.
Julia Wilson has had many predecessors in the history of totalitarianism. Here's one, Nina Lugovskya, 13, who kept a diary much like Anne Frank's in early 1930s Moscow.
In 1932, when Nina started writing her diary, she was a 13-year-old Moscow schoolgirl with a father who was rarely out of jail or exile and a mother ground into the dust by daily strife.
Nina was 18 when her diary was confiscated by the NKVD (the proud forerunner of the KGB). She was accused of plotting to assassinate Stalin - the proof, after all, was all there in her inflammatory, raging diary entries. The NKVD combed through them with the utmost care, underlining countless incriminating passages, particularly Lugovskaya's vitriols against the "band of villains" that was the Communist Party and her clearly expressed hatred for "a dictator, a villain and bastard" that was the Father of Nations, Joseph Stalin.
None of her criminal thoughts was left without due attention. The attentive readers from the NKVD marked all entries that testified to her distaste and despair for Russian people, who, in her eyes, knew only how to "baah-baah" when led to slaughter. Her depressive and suicidal passages were singled out as well - they were considered acts of treason against the state - alongside entries describing Nina's persistent fantasies of killing "the vile Georgian who is crippling Russia".
Worn out by the brutality and hopelessness of interrogations, Nina Lugovskaya accepted the NKVD charges of, among other things, conspiring to assassinate Stalin. It was 1937, so her family's fate was predetermined - the Gulag.
She and her sisters survived years at Kolyma and Nina ended up marrying a fellow inmate, becoming a painter and living long enough to see the Soviet Union collapse. Her diary was discovered accidentally in the NKVD archives in the case-file of her father, Sergey Rubin.
The message? All nations are potential or realised police states run by fruitcake governments. If this doesn't bother you, your inclination to bleat "baah-baah" no matter what happens should see you through. If it does, remember that vigilance must be accompanied by judicial self-censorship. Unless, that is, you are a hero.
-- Tara R. Bümdier
Julia Wilson's story: Teen questioned for online Bush threats
Also reprinted in The Age: Teen's net result a Secret Service visit
Nina Lugovskaya's story: I want to live: The Diary of a Young Girl in Stalin's Russia
November 26, 2006
Labor, Labor everywhere … but where it counts
A most dispiriting commentary on Kevin Rudd by Jason Koutsoukis in today's Sunday Age, Labor's losing battle, takes the shine off Steve Bracks' easy return in Victoria. Writing about the alternatives to Simon Crean in 2003 (Kim Beazley, Mark Latham and Kevin Rudd), Koutsoukis writes:
Asked to write a story about who the Liberals might fear the most, I dug up this quote about Rudd from a senior Liberal strategist: "Rudd is the class prat, the sort of guy who would have worn a bow tie to the high school quiz contest," said my source. "He might know all the answers, but everyone would want to beat him up after school."
Rudd's reply to Koutsoukis is hilarious, but the point many of us wish to forget is made.
This is in fact what many of Rudd's colleagues whisper behind his back and it's the main reason why so many of them worry about putting their fate in his hands.
That if an apparent bookworm like Rudd was leader, would he be able to connect with the electorate? Would he end up turning away more voters than he won over? Which leaves the federal ALP in an awful predicament right now.
In the anti-intellectual, downright philistine climate John Howard has forged over the years, Labor could easily be wiped out with Rudd as leader.
Koutsoukis mentions other potential Labor leaders, but somehow overlooks Lindsay Tanner. This oversight is more than corrected by Matt Price in Saturday's Australian. In Straight talk from an underrated politician, Price says:
Lindsay Tanner is that very rare specimen, a thrice-married man who hasn't completely written off the prospect of becoming prime minister.
Sadly for Tanner, such glorious ascension is unlikely. The affable Victorian finds himself boxed in as the Jan Brady of Labor's litter; despite being one of the Opposition's better performers these past five years, Tanner rarely receives the attention afforded other ambitious, angling peers.
Price writes about why Tanner might be Labor's best bet, concluding with these pithy words: "... for all her flaws and neuroses, Jan Brady was easily the most interesting of the bunch."
If Kevin Rudd, the politician who knows more about everything than any other politician, is incapable of connecting with the electorate, perhaps it is time for Tanner to stand up and for others to stand up with him.
-- Olney Garkle
November 25, 2006
L'il Johnny just loves to lockup children
Never mind the $20bn the war on terror is costing Australian taxpayers, it's locking up kids from swarthy countries that titillates our noble Prime Minister the most.
That's right, child abuse fans, the Federal Government's "Detain 'em till they die" concentration camp on Christmas Island will feature play areas for unwanted babies and classrooms for their older siblings. Costing a mere $336 million of White Australian taxpayer dollars, the centre will house 800 boat people if ever they dare to darken our hallowed shores with their darky skin and un-Australian ways.
Speaking of "never mind," didn't the Howard Government pledge to keep women and children out of detention centres? And if so, only as a last resort? That's right, never mind.
Well, Our Glorious Leader and his sycophants just can help themselves. Howard, Ruddock and Vanstone love nothing better than to don jackboots and strip naked in the safety of their bedrooms as they pose in front of great mirrors while planning punishments for children who had the temerity to be born other than white in counties other than Australia.
Oh, and what was that headline in today's Australian? Iraq a moral blunder, says war hero?
Peter Tinley, former SAS officer who devised and executed the Iraq war plan for Australia's special forces says that the nation's involvement has been a strategic and moral blunder.
"It was a cynical use of the Australian Defence Force by the Government," the ex-SAS operations officer told The Weekend Australian yesterday
Golly, doesn't all this make you feel proud to be Australian? Perhaps the old dears who are so proud to be doormats for their racist, nationalist and xenophobic husbands should start making cut sandwiches and just desserts for our leaders as they prowl the corridors of the Kirribilli-bunker waiting for the retribution that is sure to come.
-- Olney Garkle
November 24, 2006
Carnage in Iraq and Qantas buyout: The common denominator is Umeruhca
The escalating carnage in Iraq is threatening the lives of those closest to Dick Cheney. Renowned for shooting his friends while hunting, the Vice President is also known to achieve monumental erections at the daily slaughter in Halliburton's playground. With the news that 152 people were killed in Baghdad yesterday, Cheney's weewee is reported to have wounded several staff members with bullet-like sprays of barren sperm.
Cheney may be the one getting his rocks off over the disaster in Iraq, but the responsibility falls squarely on George W. Bush's round shoulders. And by extension on the stooping shoulders of Tony "What would Ned Flanders do?" Blair and John "I was only following orders" Howard. These are the "men" on whose watch hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been murdered.
Of course, for these privileged white fellas, the actual horror being experienced by the living and erstwhile living in Iraq is of secondary importance to their reputations and/or chances for re-election and/or heroic places in the rewritten history books they have commissioned.
Meanwhile, Qantas Airlines, damn near the last mostly owned Australian company is up for grabs by an international consortium of Richie Rich's consisting of US private equity firm Texas Pacific Group and its local Trojan horse Macquarie Bank.
(For the lowdown on private equity companies, read Marc Moncrief's Conquer, divide, cut costs, and resell.)
Our Dippy Deputy Prime Minister for American Hegemony in the Antipodes, Mark Vaile, has assured America's Australian subjects that Qantas, the airline that calls Australia home, will remain predominantly Australian. For his next trick, he promised that the Flying Kangaroo logo would never ever be replaced by a Republican elephant in musth.
-- Tara R. Bümdier
November 22, 2006
Ashes to ashes: Cricket gets a new bard
The quaint sporting pastime of Cricket now has an official poet, one David Fine of Derbyshire England. Jim White of the UK's Telegraph reports:
"It suddenly occurred to me," he [David Fine] says. "I work as a poet, so I thought: why not see if the Arts Council would be interested in sponsoring me as the official bard of the Ashes tour. With 2012 on the horizon, they are very keen on promoting cultural links with sport, so they said yes."
In a brilliant piece of salesmanship, he persuaded the body to fund him for the entire series, to the tune of £7,000 (he is paying a further £3,000 himself). It was a sum which has upset some observers. John Humphrys harrumphed about it on Radio 4's Today programme this week, wondering how the funding body could justify spending seven grand on what, for most of us sports fans, would be reckoned the trip of a lifetime. Has the Arts Council turned into a branch of Jim'll Fix It?
At first, ignorant Aussie to the core, I thought "Jim'll Fix It" was the UK version of our own "Jim's Mowing," "Jim's Dog Wash," "Jim's Antennas" and the like. Turns out "Jim'll Fix It" was a long running TV show in England (1975 to 1994) where the host, Jimmy Saville, granted the wishes of several children each week. So, he didn't actually do repairs or clean gutters. Instead he did what politicians do, he "fixed it" for the lobbyists, in this case children.
But I have digressed. Cricket is now upon us like the day-long snores of a very large dog. Local media are doing their darndest to whip up interest, with radio and television adverts intoning the coming of the Ashes as if it were the most tantalising event since the Big Bang.
This may be true for Cricket fanciers, and I have no intention of describing them here as gentleman-or-yobbo alcoholics who use it as an excuse to vegetate, but for me Cricket is a sport that could have been invented by Monty Python. Indeed, the Python crew managed to "fix it" in my mind as a gathering of twits whose greatest gift to mankind is to put evolution on idle.
And now it has a poet laureate, a man who "works as a poet" no less. Well, move over Wallace Stevens, Charles Baudelaire, even Charles Bukowski, the real work of poetry is at hand. Mr David Fine has been charged with writing a poem depiciting the exciting moments of each day of the Ashes Test, 25 in all if it goes the distance and there are no washouts due to rain. Rain! Along with Cricket, rain is a subject for hours of nostalgic banter in pubs with sticky tables about the good old days when men were white and women lay back and thought of England.
I tips me hat to this dedicated entrepreneur, Mr Fine, and his bonzer idea. Sure beats hustling grants for research into why the human race keeps electing dodgy used car salesman types to look after their well being.
-- Hyper Roland
November 21, 2006
Labor supporters: Give us Rudd and Gillard for Christmas
Not that it matters anymore in a political system that's as democratic as a contempt of corporates enjoying cognac and Cuban cigars as they divvy up the spoils of their satellite nations, but … the Australian Labor Party needs to replace Kim Beazley and Jenny Macklin with Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. Just to give the punters with a conscience a wee glimmer of hope.
Beazley is tired and stale. Worse, he joined John Howard in selling out the Tampa refugees before the 2001 election, perhaps his darkest hour. No wait, his darkest hour came here:
When Andrew Fowler asked [Beazley] on Four Corners: "Where's the compassion in your support of the decision not to allow the fathers of the six drowned girls to return home to Australia, if they go to Indonesia to visit their grieving relatives?" Beazley never batted an eye. He didn't answer the question, either. His steadfast adherence to the repugnant refugee policy of the Illiberal Party has knocked the wind out of every decent person in this country. -- (Harold Hark, Day of reckoning in a moral vacuum.)
I can still remember the interview. The Kim Beazley many had thought to be a decent chap became not only another sleazy politician, but he sank into its lowest sub-category, the one reserved for John Howard.
As I've said before, Kevin Rudd is no Prince Charming, but neither is John Howard. Rudd has the charisma of a pedantic secondary school teacher all the kids make fun of at lunch. But at least he will have taught them something, and they will remember this. John Howard will be remembered as the man who brought out the worst in everyone.
Howard fears intelligence like a vampire fears the cross. He has chosen cunning and pragmatism to achieve his only goal, that of staying in power. By extreme contrast, Rudd is an enthusiastic intellectual, arguably the closest we have in current political life to a polymath (Barry Jones, of course, being retired). His comprehensive knowledge of foreign affairs ranks him among the world's most qualified in the portfolio. As the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, he compares to Alexander Downer, the pontificating fop currently making a mockery the job, as diamonds compare to rhinestones.
But this could be the rub. John Howard has virtually wiped any respect for the "intellectual' off the Aussie map. Thanks to Howard's relentless dumbing down of Australian morals and ethics, banality may win over substance for at least another generation.
Kim Beazley fits the banal profile to a tee, which is why Labor is frightened of shocking the electorate with someone three-dimensional. Especially after the Mark Latham debacle.
But Kevin Rudd is no Mark Latham. And despite John Howard's best efforts to make it so, the electorate has not entirely gone to sleep. By the next election, Australians will be ready to wake up and throw Howard and his Henchmen and women out on their "puffy, purulent" arses.
With Rudd as the next Labor Prime Minister and Julia Gillard as his running mate, Labor has a better than good chance of winning. It could even be a landslide. And, if current world trends continue, Gillard may be the Prime Minister to follow Rudd. Next May, France will likely elect Segolene Royal its first woman president, following in the footsteps of Chile's Michelle Bachelet, Germany's Angela Merkel, Mozambique's Luisa Dias Diogo, and New Zealand's indomitable Helen Clark.
Let's face it, aside from Rudd and Gillard, Labor has no one else. The party owes it to Australians to put some sanity, some life, and some integrity back in government. Another term of the indifference to human suffering and the desultory incompetence of the Howard Government is not tolerable.
-- Olney Garkle
November 20, 2006
G20's idol dies as Iraq undresses the "War on Terror"
At Saturday's G20 Usurers Summit, Australian Federal Money Lord Peter Costello put down his silver service long enough to comment on the violent protests outside Melbourne's heavily guarded Grand Hyatt Hotel. "They are trying to trash Australia's reputation," mewled he, picking up a solid gold toothpick to remove the remnant of a million dollar truffle from his teeth.
Age letter writer D. Fraser responded:
I had a chuckle to myself when I read Peter Costello had said that protesters at the G20 meeting were trying to "trash Australia's reputation" ( The Sunday Age, 19/11). It's a little late to say that, Mr Costello. Our reputation was trashed years ago with the way we treat asylum seekers, our abysmal human rights record, non-ratification of the Kyoto treaty on global warming and our blind and unquestioning aligning of this country to the US and supporting the invasion that has become the quagmire that is Iraq. The protesters in fact might well have shown the world that Australians have not been totally silenced under the Howard regime and are still capable of mounting protests against socially unjust causes.
Meanwhile, conservatives the world over were palpating desiccated tear ducts at the passing of Milton Friedman, the economist who thrilled Margaret Thatcher and other misanthropes. (** UPDATE ** Turns out The Mad Thatcher's big econo-squeeze was Friedrich Hayek. -- OG)
Age letter writer Graeme Lee sums him up:
Milton Friedman's regrettable legacy
The death of Milton Friedman (Business, 18/11) brings to our attention the contribution he made to modern economics and the great influence he has on powerful governments. We should remember, though, that he is the intellectualisation of the great shift of attitude to care that capitalist governments now have for their citizens: from "the common good" to "user pays". That shift came about from a decision at a conference of economic heads and business leaders in Basle in the early 1980s.
Britain's Margaret Thatcher crushed unions with it so that workers now have little or no representation in making their claim for the wealth they create. The widening of the gap between the richest and the poorest in capitalist economies is sickening, and Friedman must take some responsibility for that social tragedy.
It applies to him what Shaw said of Napoleon: that he was a man of great influence but the world would have been a better place had he never been born.
On the Iraq war, Alan Stretton, Leave now or perish, Mr Howard, writes on the phony trial of Saddam Hussein and the reasons it was not held before the International Criminal Court …
If this had occurred the world would have been reminded that it was the United States that armed Saddam Hussein during the war with Iran. It was also likely to publicise that the gas and chemicals used by Saddam against the Kurds came from the United States.
… the real reason for the invasion …
after 12 months of bluster and threats by Bush in the so-called war against terror, the Americans could not find bin Laden, and the Republicans were losing political support.
… what it has accomplished …
[T]he war against terror has had the opposite effect to that which the coalition of the willing intended. Instead of decreasing terrorism it has provided radical Muslims with a reason to call a jihad against American efforts to dominate affairs in the Middle East. It has provided the spark to start fires around the Western world that will take decades to extinguish.
… and why Australia is still there …
The cynical could believe that the decision to leave these forces there in an operational role has a political motive, so that their withdrawal can have a political impact closer to the federal election.
Then David Day, We keep making the same mistake, brings up examples of how, in Australia, it is always conservative governments who take us to war. They don't want to hear about that, preferring to tout their credentials as "good economic managers". But their economic management always comes at the price of social well-being.
Giving John Howard a new nickname, "Tag along", Day writes:
While ostensibly seeking to shore up the Australian-American alliance, the Government has effectively eroded that alliance by boosting America's isolationist tendencies and making it less likely that the Americans will look kindly on any future military commitments, including those that might be needed to defend Australia.
How can this blundering diplomacy be explained? The Government presumably calculated that the Americans were going into Iraq whatever Australia decided and that it would be better to tag along, rather than act as a restraining influence on the temporarily dominant neo-conservatives in Washington. John Howard was besotted by the idea of a rampant American empire and only too willing to play the part of a quasi-colony.
-- Olney Garkle
November 19, 2006
The Weekly Gee (32)
Copyright © 2006, Maurie Gee
November 18, 2006
Iraq is lost, but Bush and Howard still holding hands
"I think the military textbooks will be replete with the experiences of Operation Iraqi Freedom for many years to come ... We respect very much the leadership that you personally and your administration brings to the affairs of the world and we think the world is a safer, more optimistic place." -- John Howard, on his visit to George W. Bush at Crawford, Texas, 2003.
Price concludes: "And those textbooks will be full of Operation Iraqi Freedom for all the wrong reasons."
Three years later and the Village Idiot Who Rules the World and his Australian pet, The Man of Steel, are strolling arm in arm yet again. This time in Hanoi, scene of America's other right wing inspired military catastrophe. Bookmakers around the world will be betting their mortgages that the obvious irony of this setting will have escaped both Shrub and Grub.
Because Bush's entire being amounts to no more than a point in flatland, he cannot but continue his policy to kill young Americans and Iraqis of all ages by staying in Iraq "until the job is done". There is no room in the walnut-sized brain that resides in his pinhead for any other solution.
That's understandable. Bush is a dimwit.
But Howard? He's not stupid. And yet he too is unable to think outside the box of his limited worldview. Like a dog that has got hold of someone's pant leg and won't let go, he intends to stick with George W. Bush to the bitter end.
But what can staying "until the job is done" mean when in the only reality that counts, filthy lucre, America has already admitted defeat in Iraq. That is the bitterest of ends. But how is this so? Paul Krugman tells why:
Bechtel, the giant engineering company, is leaving Iraq. Its mission - to rebuild power, water and sewage plants - wasn't accomplished: Baghdad received less than six hours a day of electricity last month, and much of Iraq's population lives with untreated sewage and without clean water. But Bechtel, having received $2.3 billion of taxpayers' money and having lost the lives of 52 employees, has come to the end of its last government contract.
As Bechtel goes, so goes the whole reconstruction effort. Whatever our leaders may say about their determination to stay the course, I mean, complete the mission, when it comes to rebuilding Iraq they've already cut and run. The $21 billion allocated for reconstruction over the last three years has been spent, much of it on security rather than its intended purpose, and there's no more money in the pipeline.
And we're not planning to do anything about it: the U.S.-led reconstruction effort in Iraq is basically over. I don't know whether the administration is afraid to ask U.S. voters for more money, or simply considers the situation hopeless. Either way, the United States has accepted defeat on reconstruction.
Yet Americans are still fighting and dying in Iraq. For what?
They are dying for nothing. And George W. Bush and John W. Howard both know it.
-- Olney Garkle
November 17, 2006
Glitch fixed, comments working
Thanks to Movable Type's support, the leetle line of dastardly code preventing Bilegrip's dear readers from commenting has been deleted and replaced by the proper code. The question is, how did it get there in the first place? Tis a mystery I have no intention of trying to solve. Back to biz soon.
-- Olney Garkle
November 15, 2006
An upgrade glitch after all: Comments not working
At the moment it's impossible to make comments to Bilegrip. Bear with me.
-- Olney Garkle
Posted by Olney Garkle at 3:18 PM
High Court gives future Labor govt carte blanche to erase Howard deforms
The first thought I had on hearing that the High Court had quashed the States' challenge to John Howard's IR laws was: Is my passport current?
According to dissenting Justice Michael Kirby, the Court has given Howard the power to create an opportunistic federalism in which the Federal Parliament can cherry pick state laws they don't like by applying the laws to corporations. ACTU secretary Greg Combet says that working people have lost 100 years of protections. Michael Gordon has this to say:
The result, when it comes to workplace relations, is that Mr Howard — for as long as he commands the numbers in the Senate — will decide what is fair and what is unfair and be judged when he goes to the people.
Justice Kirby asserts that the imperative to ensure a "fair go all round", which was at the heart of federal industrial law, has been destroyed in a single stroke. The reality is that the notion of fairness will now be defined by the Howard Government, which will in turn face the people.
The other implication of the court's wide interpretation of the corporations power is, in the words of the other dissenting justice, Ian Callinan, the potential "obliteration" of powers that state governments considered unquestioned. This potential runs across health, education, transport and even areas covered by local government.
But John Howard, barely concealing his routine triumphal hubris, has bent over backwards to assure Australians that he has "no desire to extend Commonwealth power — except in the national interest," and that he promises not to use the Court's decision as "any kind of constitutional green light to legislate to the hilt".
Is that a core promise? Or one of those never-ever non-core pledges that have diminished Australia for a decade?
In fact, the ruling brings to fruition John Howard's dream of totally centralised government with himself as emperor. (Never mind that the political party to which he owes allegiance, the party of small government, is turning in its grave.) State Governments might as well start packing their bags. But in a small country like Australia, this might not be a bad thing. Besides a Federal Government, it would make more sense to have regional governments who know what their constituencies need rather than unwieldy State Governments who inevitably lose sight of what anyone needs.
Yes, it all seems like the best of all possible worlds for conservative Huns. But is it? Scrooge-worshipping employers and business groups should pause in their celebration of finally returning to 19th century control over the lives of their slaves, er, serfs, er employees. For this decision means that a Labor government will have the same carte blanche power as John Howard's. From Kenneth Nguyen's A weapon that may return to skewer the Libs:
"The irony for conservatives is that they may well have created the very weapon that could be used with devastating effect against conservative policy," said Professor Greg Craven, executive director of the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy.
"I heard some employers at lunchtime taking pleasure in this," said John Stone, arch-conservative and co-founder of the Samuel Griffiths Society. "I think they may dance to a different tune when — and I say when, not if — there is a change of government in Canberra and we have a … trade union-influenced government. The real backlash will occur when a Labor government in Canberra starts doing a lot of things that they bitterly oppose … It will serve them right."
That's right, vengeance fans, Labor will have the same power to reconfigure Australia, courtesy of John Howard. Just like Little Johnny has erased every last vestige of Hawke-Keating policy, so too can the next Labor Government erase his ten years of infamy.
And let's hope that Labor wakes up well before the next election. Beazley is more of a blancmange than ever. If Labor goes to the next election with Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, they will not lose. Sure Rudd has the charisma of a pedantic schoolteacher, but what kind of charisma does John Howard have? The difference between the two is that Rudd is intelligent and highly qualified where John Howard is only savvy and cunning.
-- Olney Garkle
Meaghan Shaw, Michelle Grattan: Canberra's power knows no limit
P.P McGuiness: Judges strike a blow for socialism
Brad Norington: Silver lining for Labor, unions
Mike Steketee: Canberra's power grows
November 14, 2006
What's this? The upgrade worked?
Upgrading certain operating systems and some blog software, particularly Movable Type, amounts to nothing less than a death wish. I have a stable Macintosh operating system, v10.4.7, but I can barely resist the urge to upgrade to v10.4.8, even though the internet is palpitating with dying souls who did and whose Airport connections are no longer working.
It's the same with Movable Type. Upgrading to v3.2 nearly cost me my sanity as well as about two weeks of hyperventilating emails to MT support. The new templates were obtuse, arcane, complex and about a hundred other teeth-gnashing adjectives. In the end, I reverted to my old, simple, templates.
Then a couple of months ago, v3.3 came along -- it's a mandatory upgrade, they said, owing to security issues. I resisted. The Net was frothing with complaints that it didn't work and the manuals were useless, as manuals almost always are.
But after the American elections, in which the 100 percent arseholes were finally checked by the 99 per cent arseholes, I relaxed. And let down my guard. "Let's bite the bomb and upgrade," I said to me hearties. The Bilegrip staff are, to a man (and now a woman), dawdlers and loafers of the worst order. Assured that several weeks of relaxed and comfortable inaction was on the horizon, they cheered me onward: "Knock yourself out, jefe."
So I spent Sunday cleaning the office, Monday backing up everything under this and all the suns of all the far-flung galaxies, as well as reading everything I could find on the subject. Today, Tuesday, I exhibited many if not all of the symptoms of the "Upgrade Syndrome" -- profuse sweating, a stony face not unlike that of a man who has died suddenly while watching John Howard speak, and an inordinate amount of life-shortening adrenalin pumping through veins and arteries about to burst from the illusory stress that upgrading is more important than life itself. In this condition, I uploaded the files, went through the upgrade procedure and ... by fcuking God, it worked. As this was manifestly not possible, I entered the state of depression common to "Upgrade Syndrome" sufferers: so sure the process is not going to succeed, they become depressed even when it does. Yet it still appears to be working. Tonight, as I gradually finish off that bottle of cognac, the elation is sure to come.
I owe it all to Elise Bauer, whose timely post, A Safe Way to Upgrade to MT 3.3, saved Bilegrip from certain oblivion. Unfortunately, the staff don't think much of her.
Of course, I haven't tried posting this yet. The death wish may still come true.
-- Olney Garkle
Posted by Olney Garkle at 2:28 PM
November 12, 2006
Timeout for an upgrade
Bilegrip is upgrading its blog software. As we use Movable Type and are unable to afford to hire someone who actually knows how to accomplish this absurdly complicated task, we may be offline for anywhere between one day and forever.
-- Olney Garkle
Posted by Olney Garkle at 4:50 PM
November 10, 2006
The great unravelling of a small mind
Poppy Bush and James Baker gave Sonny the presidency to play with and he broke it. So now they're taking it back. -- Maureen Dowd: A Come-to-Daddy Moment
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