Monthly Archives: November 2007

24 hours ago…

…it seemed we might get bipartisan agreement on the question of an apology to the Stolen Generation, something that should have been settled last century.

Now Brendan Nelson is starting his stewardship true to his past form as an Education Minister when he always followed the most right-wing (and worst) advice on offer.

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Premature ejaculations from both Right and Left

Kevin Rudd has been Prime Minister for about ten minutes, but already judgements are being made. I mentioned Peter Coleman in the previous entry:

Most of the reporters have always known that Kevin Rudd is the absolute Hollow Man. But since they hated John Howard more than they despised Rudd, they usually stood ready to turn a deaf ear to Rudd’s empty rhetoric.

Not all of them. One of the stand-outs during the election campaign was Annabel Crabb whose sketches in the Sydney Morning Herald of Ruddbot, our “first android prime minister” with a Muppet-inspired smile, helped save a little of the reputation of Australian journalism.

There are essential triggers, she wrote, hard-wired into the Ruddbot cortex. Ask the android machine about the number of union officials on its front bench and it will also promptly divert into a charming reverie about a rock star, an academic and a Mandarin-speaking diplomat. Include a reference to Mark Latham in a question, and it will reply “I am not aware of those reports.” Ask it any difficult question and it has been programmed to reply by asking itself several of its own. It will then answer them all with mechanical precision.

Crabb was not alone in comprehending the Ruddbot. Let’s not mention the small handful of pro-Coalition columnists. But take David Marr, a leftist critic of the Liberal Party. Ruddbot, he reported, killed Labor’s Victory Party in Brisbane. The Rudd we got then, he said, is the Rudd we will hear for the next three years—a grey, passionless performer with a middle-distance stare and big jowels…

Last night The Chaser embraced the David Marr/Annabel Crabb line. They have been adopting this line consistently, after all, for some time, last September being one of the better examples:
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What we’ve lost 3

Ancient conservative patriarch Peter Coleman (father-in-law of Peter Costello and Quadrant person in its better days) does not hold back:

So what went wrong? The usual view is that the electorate, and above all the young, believe that good times come naturally. (“It’s the resources boom.”) It doesn’t matter, they think, who is in charge of economic policy. In any case they want more from government than mere prosperity. They also want some idealism.

It is the Vision Thing. There is something of an old-fashioned melodrama in the Howard story, a sort of Picture of Dorian Gray. He emerged in public life as a young man of high ambition and great promise. He rose to dizzy political heights. But there was a fatal flaw which brought him low and devastated his Party. It is his colossal egoism.

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Posted by on November 29, 2007 in Australia and Australian, Brendan Nelson, culture wars, current affairs, John Howard, Political, right wing politics, Tony Abbott


What we have lost: 2

I would be the first to admit that Phillip Adams is hardly objective in his piece I quoted here yesterday, even if I agree with the general thrust of his remarks.

Ross Gittins has a somewhat more sober assessment in today’s Sydney Morning Herald: A vote for honesty and decency.

Wouldn’t it be great if the defeat of the Howard Government and the election of fresh-faced Kevin Rudd proved to be a turning point, a swing back to moderation in public policy and decency in public life? I am not at all sure it will – politicians tend to ape the ethical standards of their competitors – but it sure would be nice.
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Posted by on November 28, 2007 in Australia and Australian, industrial relations, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Political



What we have lost

This is SO unfair!

SPARE me the sentimental tosh about John Howard. Here’s why his departure is a joyous occasion.

The scene: The Great Hall at the University of Sydney. The grand opening of a conference for the Centre for the Mind. Crowds have gathered to see Nelson Mandela cut the ribbon. As chairman of the advisory board it is my duty to welcome our patron, the Prime Minister. That long-time opponent of sanctions against apartheid South Africa will then welcome Mandela. When I complain bitterly about my chore, the vice-chancellor murmurs, “Protocol.”
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Posted by on November 27, 2007 in Australia and Australian, current affairs, John Howard, Political, reminiscing, right wing politics


More gratuitous advice for the Liberal Party

I began life as a resident of The Shire and continued as such for my first quarter-century. I was, so far as I was political at all, a supporter of the Liberal Party in early adulthood. I was a religious conservative. I even subscribed to Quadrant, though I would venture to suggest the Quadrant of the 1960s bore small resemblance to the Quadrant of today. I supported, at first, the Vietnam War.

In due course I changed my mind about the Vietnam War, but always felt the extreme left’s take on it was hyperbolic and in its own way bigoted. The treatment of soldiers returning from that war in the early 70s was disgraceful. As I went into my teaching career I began to see through the conservative religion to the pit of absurdity at its heart, leading to a considerable (but useful) period in the wilderness in that regard. I became involved, in a small way, in the Teachers’ Federation and came to see the value and necessity of the trade union movement.

In 1972 I voted for Whitlam. Since then I have tended to favour Labor, the sadly dying Democrats, or The Greens, or, on occasion, Independents.

I have learned much from some left-wing, even Marxist or neo-Marxist, writers without ever being or even wanting to be a Marxist. Like Bruce I read Karl Popper’s The Open Society and its Enemies (or some of it), and Orwell, and S I Hayakawa’s Language in Thought and Action. Take just one quote from Popper:

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John Howard’s Farewell Speech: for the record

Give the speech the dignity it merits. It is a fine speech.

Goodbye, oh Great Grey Garden Gnome of Kirribilli House. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on November 25, 2007 in Australia and Australian, John Howard