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Science & Technology Australia welcomes National Reconstruction Fund

Science & Technology Australia Media Release

The nation’s peak body representing 115,000 Australian scientists and technologists welcomes Australia’s National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) as a powerful new investment in the country’s future.

The $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund legislation passed the Senate last night, and secured final passage through the House of Representatives at lunchtime today.

The bill establishes the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation to administer the fund. The NRF will invest in Australian next-generation materials development, value-adding and advanced manufacturing among its seven priority areas.

Its remit includes clean energy and green technologies, mining science technologies, medical manufacturing, critical technologies, advanced manufacturing and value-adding in agriculture and food.

Science & Technology Australia CEO Misha Schubert said it would give Australia a powerful new vehicle to “spur and scale” the nation’s economic development and diversification.

“The creation of the new National Reconstruction Fund will be a transformative investment in our country’s future economic security powered by home-grown science,” she said.

“It will help to deepen Australia’s scientific and technological innovation – which is key to strengthening our national prosperity, creating jobs and securing new income streams.”

“This significantly boosts Australia’s pool of investment capital for next-generation materials development, value-adding and advanced manufacturing – the foundations of a strong, modern economy. This will help turbo-charge sovereign capability and economic complexity.”

On behalf of our 139 member organisations, Science & Technology Australia made a submission in February on the NRF’s design and implementation.

About Science & Technology Australia

Science & Technology Australia is the nation’s peak body representing more than 115,000 scientists and technologists. We’re the leading policy voice on science and technology. Our flagship programs include Science Meets Parliament, Superstars of STEM, and STA STEM Ambassadors.


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When you’re in the sights of trolls, they will never stop

By Georgia *

The following is the story of how I became the victim of cyber bullying in a NewsCorp run mothers’ group, for breastfeeding and supporting mothers struggling to breastfeed.

It started with an innocent post of me breastfeeding my daughter, captioned: ‘If you’re still breastfeeding keep going, you’re giving them the best!’ and I never would have imagined how bad it would get.

Right from the start I was told I was shaming mums just for showing the act of breastfeeding. My only goal, being there to rescue mums from the jaws of ‘advice’ that destroy a much wanted and chosen breastfeeding journey. I was there to inform breastfeeding mothers and provide the information and facts, but like a bunch of rabid dogs, other women (my bullies) did not let up.

No matter what I did I was harassed. My only crime, not subscribing to the affirmation ‘fed is best’ because breastmilk is the only biological infant food, and it’s better than infant formula and always will be, a basic fact we all know. Whether a mother breastfed or not, these facts remain unchanged. Information, education and support is best, aka ‘Informed Is Best’ because any other term undermines breastfeeding and the difficulties breastfeeding mothers face.

A group run by News Corp/KidsSpot, this is what they allowed to happen before silently removing me (or so they thought) after a coup of women (also mothers) was formed, demanding my removal over a rumour one sad individual gave life to all on her own one day.

Over the course of being a member in this group, NewsCorp/KidSpot allowed all of this to happen.

This is what I was subjected to on an almost daily or weekly basis, for breastfeeding, sharing my breastfeeding journey, sharing breastfeeding facts, stating breastfeeding facts and encouraging discussions around breastfeeding, but mostly for supporting breastfeeding women.

They started a poll about me, they tormented me, they sent me PMs with pure abuse. They told me to leave because no one wanted me there. They called me names constantly, they laughed at me, my appearance, my brother’s suicide, my ADHD and neurodiverse responses. They made fun of me because I’m a medical scientist. They said feeding my child a low carb diet is child abuse. They called me a nutjob, a c*nt, a pyscho, a bitch and many other names. They insinuated my breastmilk was diseased; and referred to my child in a derogatory manner saying they didn’t want to ‘see IT, sucking on my boob’. I was told my breasts and my breastfeeding photos were offensive and that they, along with others, needed a trigger warning. All while admin removed my comments and posts and kept theirs. The only comments and posts and the only narrative that was allowed was infant feeding that didn’t include breastfeeding. Admin even removed my attempts to clarify and defend myself as I showed examples of what actual mum shaming is versus what it is not, but admin declared it ‘bullying’. Admin even limited my ability to post for a month when no one else was silenced. I was censored at every turn and eventually, every breastfeeding post I made was deleted. They wrote constant posts about me, even when I wasn’t there, they tagged me directly insulting me, they spread rumours about me, tried to contact my work and doxxed me. Admin did not remove the person who doxxed me. They told me my family didn’t like me and my friends didn’t like me. They threatened to turn my family against me.

Then when that didn’t satisfy them they created another group to specifically exclude me and made it very known to me by tormenting me about it, telling me everyone was welcome but me. They also harassed me in another group and before I knew it I was removed from that group too. They claimed I was the bully, whilst enduring some of the most intense bullying I think I’ve ever endured in my life. But I held my head high, and stayed for the new mums who used the ‘post approval free’ group, as a platform to cry out for breastfeeding support all hours of the night and day. New mums who needed support to breastfeed, not formula feed, new mums posting and battling useless comments in a sea of misinformation and false affirmations from women who suggested formula instead-advice that did nothing to support their struggles or breastfeeding journey.

On Tuesday the 17th of January, I was removed from New Mums Australia, my bullies, waiting in the wings constantly checking to see that I was a ‘former member’, made a post in celebration, whilst I looked on from the screen shots of concerned bystanders who offered their support. The slander and defamation of my character continued. Admin took their time removing this celebration post. Some people who I thought were supporting me actually turned on me with no explanation. All of this, despite I have very very clear and concrete evidence of constant bullying, happening under the watchful eye of 7 women employed by NewsCorp. I know they were there, because they removed my posts as it was happening and many were witness to the sudden and record removal of my posts. On Tuesday the 17th of January, the admins of this group run by NewsCorp Australia, DID NOT remove my BULLIES, only me. My bullies are still there.

NewsCorp has ignored my attempts to contact them and even ignored an email sent by partner asking them to take action on my behalf. Every word of the above is true and I have the screen shots to prove it. I have almost 70 accounts of me and only me being subject to their humiliation, despite repeatedly being degraded and told I was the bully. I never once called anyone a name, except I did inbox 2 individuals who laughed/taunted me about my late brother’s suicide, but in my defence, it was his birthday. One individual who taunted me about creating a group to specifically exclude me, claims I created a fake profile and sent her a nasty message. She told the group that my name was attached to the message but refused to show proof. This is not only completely out of my character, but it is also completely untrue, it is a completely false accusation. If a message was sent to one of my bullies, it was not me.

When you’re in the sights of trolls, they will never stop.


Georgia is not the writer’s real name. We have changed it as to protect her from any more vicious abuse.

Admin at The AIMN have dozens of screenshots of the abuse Georgia has been subjected to. They are too repulsive to publish.


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Fresh Start for NSW: Premier Chris Minns Temporarily Extends Labor’s National Outreach

By Denis Bright

The NSW election results were a historical milestone in Australia’s political history. Labor is in control of both the federal government and each of the mainland states and territories. Only Tasmania currently lies outside the national loop of Labor hegemony which will be tested again before mid-2025 in that state as well as in forthcoming elections in Queensland, WA and the ACT.

In welcoming the result, both Prime Minister Albanese and Premier Minns promised to work diligently to advance contemporary concerns such as a greater voice for indigenous Australians and struggling families of all cultural persuasions. The Australian Labor Party in government is indeed in a new phase of rebirth with a capacity to extend its outreach by canny policies deliveries, internal consensus building and innovative political communication to a more skeptical electorate. in the future.

Australia indeed has run against the trends evident in other representative democracies where centre-left parties are largely in political retreat at least in the short-term pending electoral breakthroughs in the currently unhappy electorates in countries like France, Greece and Britain.

Basically, there is a lot of pain in neoliberal societies here and overseas. One of the greatest cheers from the assembled Labor faithful when Premier Minns gave his acceptance speech was his commitment to stop the privatization of government assets. As the investment arm of NSW Treasury Corporation (TCorp), the NSW Generations Fund was built on assets derived from privatization by successive state LNP governments. This privatization continued under the reign of the outgoing state LNP government with the transfer of government assets in the Westconnex motorway project to the NSW Generations Fund.

In 2021, The West Australian announced that a cash desperate state government had managed the seed capital invested in the NSW Generations Fund established in 2018:

“Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are being invested in tax havens and dictator-led nations accused of human rights abuses through a government fund established by the NSW premier, Labor says.

Shadow treasurer Daniel Mookhey released documents showing where some of the money inside the NSW Treasury Corporation’s NSW Generations Fund is invested.

The opposition estimates at least $225 million is invested in countries which it says are too risky, including Russia, Cayman Islands, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Peter Hannam of The Guardian (21 October 2021) made the following comments about the investment profile of the NGF:

“A controversial New South Wales government investment fund has hundreds of millions of dollars placed in countries ranging from Angola and Russia to the Cayman Islands tax haven, according to allocations made public for the first time.

The disclosures, obtained by the Labor shadow treasurer, Daniel Mookhey, reveal that the NSW Generations Fund has 12% of its $15bn-plus investments in so-called emerging markets.

The state’s new treasurer, Matt Kean, responded to questions from Guardian Australia saying he would a commission a review of the government’s managed funds to ensure they were ‘consistent with [environmental, social and governance] principles and in ways that build a better future’.

Set up in 2018 with $10bn in seed capital by Kean’s predecessor and now premier, Dominic Perrottet, the Generations Fund was intended to be used to repay state debt. However, with the budget now deep in debt and likely to remain so for years, the fund – earmarked to expand to $90bn by 2031 – will effectively rely on borrowing to expand.”

Capital growth in the NSW Generations Fund (GGF) is marketed as a Plan for the Future (Liberal Party of NSW):

  • Growing our economy so we can create secure and well-paying jobs and pay for the services NSW needs – and we’ll do it without taxing you more.
  • Reducing the pressure on household budgets by supporting you through the current challenges, while building the foundations for your financial security.
  • Investing in our frontline services for the long-term by hiring more doctors, nurses and teachers to recover from the strain of the pandemic.
  • Building for the future with our major infrastructure projects coming online, we’ll continue to invest in the roads, rail, schools and hospitals to keep ahead of future growth.
  • Empowering local communities because if we focus on our neighbourhoods, NSW will be stronger than ever.

Regrettably, the NSW Government has divested its financial interest in the WestConnex Road Project to top up the NGF’s Debt Retirement Fund. Treasurer Matt Kean praised this initiative which will increase the toll burdens paid for by motorists. The following details were included in the Third Annual Report of the NGF which was released on 21 December 2021.

Details of the most recent achievement of the Community Services and Facilities Fund (CSFF) were not available on the Treasurer’s Media releases and the list of achievements on the NGF’s Annual Report of course ceased at 30 June 2021. Appendix 1 does list the projects in the My Community Programme by state electorate to September 2021. Some have great merit such as the registered delivery van to provide emergency food relief in the Albury Electorate. Basically, this was pork-barrelling raised to exponential levels.

The NSW Government has been highly co-operative with new federal funding initiatives from the Albanese Government. The McKell Institute in Sydney has published an article from Samantha Hutchison outline funding shortfalls for NSW under the Morrison Government (October 2022):


NSW Treasury established a special fund to promote infrastructure and community development in fifteen local government areas across Western Sydney. WestInvest funding will be provided to build new and improved facilities that will deliver community benefit and help turbocharge economic recovery across six areas:

  • Parks, urban spaces and green space;
  • Enhancing community infrastructure such as local sporting grounds;
  • Modernising local schools;
  • Creating and enhancing arts and cultural facilities;
  • Revitalising high-streets;
  • Clearing local traffic.

These financial intrigues assisted the NSW electorate to overlook the troubled history of NSW Labor which readers might like to research on the ICAAC web site.

As counting proceeds well beyond election day to allow for the surge in pre-polling and postal votes, there are still many seats in doubt and the prized goal of majority government has yet to be delivered by future counting as shown by the last releases from ABC News on election night. The final projections were probably a little too cautious in winding back the number of Labor seats to 45 over earlier projections of 47 seats.

It is still not certain if the NSW electorate has completely rejected the appeal of minority government from the cross-bench with every major policy item being subjected to the whims of Green and independent members. In the NSW Regions and the Legislative Council minority parties still had a field day on 25 March 2023.

The National Party’s only casualty was in the seat of Monaro. This was an epic result for a difficult to win regional seat which is of course influenced by the proximity of Queanbeyan to Canberra. Monaro is only won by Labor during the most favourable phases of the historical election cycles. The landslide to Labor in Monaro was not repeated in more marginal National Party seats such as Tweed and Upper Hunter.

Labor was largely triumphant against the Liberal Party along the Hunter-Metro Sydney-Illawarra Corridors which also extend west to the remarkable result in the seat of Blue Mountains. This seat is well covered in ABC News graphics with the sitting member Trish Doyle achieving a final result of 72.8 per cent after preferences.

In Western Sydney, Labor gained a 6 percent net swing after preferences. Only Badger’s Creek electorate offered some resistance to Labor’s campaign with the assistance of preference votes from One Nations vote of 8.5 per cent.

Mainstream politics in NSW is well nurtured by generous levels of government funding as defined by the NSW Electoral Commission for party endorsed candidates and independents in both houses of the NSW parliament. The eight-year term available to members of the NSW Legislative Council to re-elect half the chamber every four years is a colonial anachronism which offers government funding at a rate of $5.25 for each vote generated from a politically skeptical electorate.

Public funding rates have certainly not gone up as fast as real wages, housing prices and rents for struggling household across NSW.

The shadow of minority government has not been completely eclipsed from Australian political life. In government at federal and state/territory levels in mainland Australia, Labor’s tenure of government is always on trial from a volatile and difficult to please electorate. The Labor Movement’s political and trade union branches are opened to all comers.

The broader Labor Movement can welcome political dissenters back into the fold to restore greater stability to governments at all levels and less reliance on intrigues with foreign powers to the glee of military industrial complexes in Britain and the USA as commenced by the Morrison Government with its unfortunate AUKUS proposals.

Prepare for more financial instability for the next half century with new reservoirs of high-grade nuclear wastes when and if the proposed nuclear-powered submarines based in Port Kembla and other locations are pensioned off in the 2070s.

As an aside to the final results from the NSW elections, Premier Minns must work with the national Labor government to negotiate real alternatives to neoliberal financial frameworks. Half of all NSW state finances are dependent on grants and GST revenue carve-ups from Canberra. This is an agenda which the outgoing state LNP government chose to marginalize as a key public issue. Perhaps the electorate itself is more astute than our own cautious political establishment.


Denis Bright is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback by using the Reply button on The AIMN site is always most appreciated. It can liven up discussion. I appreciate your little intrusions with comments and from other insiders at The AIMN. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Reply button.

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Reform in Qld ALP Still Needed: MORE THAN EVER

By Callen Sorensen Karklis

A strong history of Social Democracy

The Australian Labor Party was founded by striking shearers during the Australian Shearers strike in 1891 under the Tree of Knowledge in Barcaldine. Unlike the Eureka stockade in 1854 where rebelling unionists striking on unfair mining licenses against the Victorian Colonial Government were acquitted after the battle. One of the leaders Peter Lalor became the Speaker of Victoria’s Parliament. The striking leaders of Barcaldine were not acquitted and forced to serve time on St Helena in Brisbane’s Bay side.

Like the leaders of Eureka these leaders ended up becoming engaged in parliamentary politics as social democrats. William Hamilton, William Fothergill, Julian Stuart, and George Taylor all served sentences on St Helena for a time. Upon their release after several years in prison. Hamilton later became the MP for Gregory, and later the Qld Legislative Council and its President. Fothergill became a Barcaldine Alderman, Deputy Mayor, and later Mayor. While Stuart and Taylor returned to Western Australia.

In 1899 the world’s first Labor Government was elected in Queensland under Anderson Dawson (which only lasted 7 days) followed by Chris Watson who would become Australia and the world’s first Labor Prime Minister (in 1904 in a government that last 3 and half months). In 1904–1907 Qld Labor governed in a coalition government with Liberals. Labor in the 1890s–1900s became a successful political force. It also held the balance of power in the Australian parliament in coalition with the early protectionist government of Barton and Deakin in 1901–1904, and 1905–1908, before gaining enough support on its own to gain its first majority federally in 1910 under Andrew Fisher, while TJ Ryan won a majority as Premier in 1915 in the state parliament (Dyrenfurth, N. Bongiorno, F. 2011).

Ever since, the Australian Labor Party has been a political force to reckon with on the centre–left, with social democrats achieving significant reforms as a nation building party of the Australian political system. We all have welfare benefits, workers’ rights, the weekend, 40 hour week, penalty rates, universal healthcare in Medicare, superannuation, the NDIS, post war migration, Snowy River Hydro scheme, infrastructure like the Sydney Harbour bridge (Sydney), Story Bridge (Brisbane) Anti-Discrimination Act, no-fault divorce laws, Sex Discrimination Act, Native Title, Environmental protection of Antarctica, the CSIRO, ASIO, easier accessibility into high school and tertiary education, an Apology to the Stolen Generations – all thanks to Labor Governments. Labor has had a successful track record as social democratic movement compared to political movements globally.

With strong track records on both the state and local level as well: 70 years in Qld, 69 years in Tasmania, 63 years in NSW, 57 years in Western Australia, 54 years in South Australia, and 51 years in Brisbane City Council across all the voting electoral history of Australia since the 20th century.


A long history of internal party reforms

Despite Labor’s successes, there are moments where reform internally was needed. The first being the conscription issue. Where members of the ALP led by Labor figures like Frank Anstey (mentor to John Curtin) and TJ Ryan successfully pushed Billy Hughes out of the ALP as Prime Minister in late 1916 during the height of World War One. There were also figures like Ted Theodore who as Treasurer in the Scullin Government unsuccessfully advocated for Keynesian economic stimulus which Labor Premier William Forgan Smith advocated in his economic policies funding many of his programs which included benefiting the unemployment on construction projects at the University of Qld, and Story Bridge. Whilst Theodore was unsuccessful his policies were later adopted by both major political parties in Labor and the Coalition during times of economic hardship over the next century, particularly during the 1960s recessions, GFC, and COVID–19 pandemic.

At the time Keynesian methods were seen as controversial and split the ALP with Joseph Lyons and his supporters joining the Coalition to lead Australia as Prime Minister on the right and Jack Lang on the Left thinking the reforms didn’t go far enough forming their own Labor Party during the 1930s (Depression years). Former journalist John Curtin – who advocated against the conscription during the First World War – would become the new Labor leader and Opposition Leader during the Depression wildness years for the federal ALP. Ben Chifley and John Curtin were tasked with the necessary reforms needed to rebuild the ALP into a political body able to become electable particularly in NSW where the 2nd split did long-lasting damage to the party’s chances. The conciliatory leadership of Curtin and Chifley rebuilt Labor, uniting it in time for the Second World War (particularly in NSW) which Labor successfully led Australia through until its early post war years from 1941–1949, pushing for post-war reconstruction and benefits to assist everyday Australians.

As the post war years set in with Cold War hysteria and Labor once again faced a 3rd split, this time on Communism, and the hysteria of the Vietnam War which Labor opposed under Arthur Calwell (former Curtin/Chifley minister and Fabian). Fabian member and reformist Gough Whitlam rose through the ranks to lead the ALP in 1967 with a strong focus on Australia moving away from the White Australia Policy and advocated a strong reform agenda on national health cover, free education, land rights for Indigenous people, funding the arts, improving relations with Asia and China and withdrawing troops from Vietnam. To win government Whitlam had to focus heavily on the participants and Fabians like Race Matthews and Barry Jones, reforming the Victorian ALP away from oligarchic rule of old dominant Left faction at the time which continued with the help of the Independents in the 1970s–1980s in the Victorian ALP.




Whitlam was elected in 1972 as Prime Minister at a time that Labor had spent 23 years federally in the wilderness. Under Whitlam’s Treasurer and successor as Labor leader Bill Hayden from Qld advocated for strong reform in the party particularly in Qld which the Communist split cost Qld Labor government in 1957. The factions of the Old Guard left-wing Trades Hall controlled the ALP until the intervention of 1980–1989, where Labor did not win a state election for a record 32 years where the Country/National party reigned supreme under Frank Nicklin/Joh Bjelke–Petersen and successors.

The reform group were particularly focused on environmental, civil liberties for First Nations peoples and LGBTIQ people, and women’s issues. Led by Denis Murphy, Manfred Cross, George Georges, Wilf Ardil, Terry Hampson, and Mike Reynolds aligned with support from party organisers Peter Beattie and Wayne Goss. The intervention laid the groundwork where the branch rank-and-file could have more of a say whereas prior to 1980 it was a union-controlled party (Yarrow, S. 2015). The reforms made Labor electable over the next decade where Wayne Goss became Premier of Qld (1989-1996). Under Goss much of the issues Qld ALP reformers and Fabians advocated for, became government policy; such as the decriminalization of LGBTIQ status, the Fitzgerald Inquiry recommendations into corruption, and ending sand mining on Fraser Island. Labor also benefited from Hayden’s party reforms for 13 years federally under the leadership of PMs Bob Hawke/Paul Keating who reshaped the health system, environment, welfare, and both Indigenous and women’s rights.


Political Wilderness under Howard era (1996 – 2007) to the Rudd/Gillard (2007 – 2013) era

During the Hawke/Keating era, factions of the ALP became more institutionalized, thanks to the reforms of Hayden. Factions have always existed in political parties since time immemorial, but they became more accepted during the 1970s-early 1980s of the ALP as society changed and to avoid party infighting having learned from the lessons for 3 party splits federally, and 4 on a state level. William Kidston objected to the socialist objective in 1907 and resigned from the ALP as Premier. Hawke also organised the Labor Accords with the business and trade union communities to ensure stability. Factions exist but perhaps more in Labor where it was used by the Coalition during the Menzies era to the Coalitions advantage when highlighting the “Faceless Men of the ALP”. Because they are so entrenched in Labor they can be a tricky area to manoeuvre. I was in 2 during my Young Labor days having been a whip in the Young Left state conferences, socializing with the Soft Left subgroup and recruiter while also assisting the moderates in the Old Guard Unity in my mid-20s after becoming disillusioned on certain social circles, preselections, and party policy areas relating to First Nations issues and the environment.

On the left is the ETU (electricians), UWU (miscellaneous; representing blue collar workers who are; cleaners, childcare workers, disability support, hospitality, health, aged care, logistics, supermarket supply, security, farming, manufacturing, and market research), the AMWU (Australian Manufacturing Union), the CFMMEU (Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union) and on the Right is the AWU (Australian Workers Union), the TWU (Transport Workers Union), and the SDA (Shop Distribution Association) which had been controversially known for its part in the Industrial Groups in the 1950s-1980s and the DLP (Democratic Labor Party) during the communist split. The Left has usually been more in favour of economic interventionist policies while supportive of social justice issues, while the ALP right has been more politically liberal.

In most cases factions worked within the system of the party and through conferences, meetings, conciliations to cut deals on matters of both senate local preselections via the electoral college, which the union bosses to this day have some say over. Not all unions in the ACTU are part of the ALP despite some of their staff being active in the party. But a majority of the unions involved in the ACTU and Qld Council of Unions are affiliated members of the party. Most ALP staff and unionist organise around themselves being in a faction to climb the political ladder and have sway over their preferred candidates and policies. But most ALP branch members are not aligned with a faction, nor are all of Labor’s politicians. In 2003 former Labor and ACTU leader Simon Crean sacrificed his leadership by granting more say for branch members in preselections. The unions in turn turned from Beazley to Crean, to Latham to Beazley upon defeat after defeat.

During the Rudd/Gillard era Labor abolished the controversial and highly unpopular WorkChoices laws introduced by the Howard government, introduced the Fair Work Commission, increased LGBTIQ financial rights, apologised to the Stolen Generations, stimulated the economy during the GFC maintaining a triple-A credit rating, introducing a Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, the NDIS, the NBN, improved international relations with Asia particularly India and China, paid parental leave, reforming the Murray River water management, transforming federal/state health funding, reforming secondary education and expanding tertiary education, withdrawing troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan and instituting a carbon price. Despite these achievements the Rudd/Gillard era was eclipsed by the egos of constant leadership spills and revolving doors which was due to several contributing factors; personality politics, union bosses, reliance on 24/7 news cycle and polling. On the mornings of 24th June 2010 and 27th June 2013 Australian voters woke up to a new Prime Minister in both occasions where the Australian people didn’t have a say on the change of Prime Minister. True, this had occurred 4 times historically when Stanley Bruce and Earle Page rolled Billy Hughes in 1923 as Nationalist Prime Minister, Robert Menzies returning from an overseas trip to Britain to a divided Coalition unhappy with his first leadership term in 1941 resigning for Arthur Fadden, William McMahon rolling Liberal Prime Minister John Gorton in 1971, and the Hawke/Keating spills of 1991.



But due to a 24/7 news cycle and digital space the attention became more focused and refined from a time where print media was moderate in the public space and attention span. In response to the infighting a lacklustre federal election result in 2010 John Faulkner and former NSW Premier Bob Carr and former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks recommended more branch rank and file say in the rules and preselection process of the wider ALP in the form of a review. Rudd – during his brief second term as Labor leader – introduced the 50:50 leadership rules where the branch members and party members would have half of the proportional say in future Labor leadership elections or spills. Where the over half would be decided by the federal parliamentary wing of the ALP. On a state level in the aftermath election loss of Anna Bligh to Campbell Newman’s LNP where Labor had only secured 7 seats to the LNP’s 78 seats.

The party’s greatest success in structure also became its undoing in the 21st century, especially as unionists accused some reformers of being “anti-unionist” while reformers said of some union bosses of being “antidemocratic”. In some ways it was difficult to many internally who were pro-reform yet also proudly union. Unfortunately, like most institutions in a modern context union membership today sits at 1.5 million (estimate) according to 2016 figures while it was 2.5 million in 1976 (Bramble, T. 2008). As of 2020 at the start of the pandemic the ALP federally has 60,085 members with the Coalition on a similar number nationally. A big change when compared to the days when a major political party of Australia held a membership of almost 200,000 members in the 1950s and a declining primary vote since 1949-1972, exacerbated in the 1990s-early 2000s. [Figure 1.0].


Recent Reforms during Recent Wilderness and Rise of ALBO! (2013 – Present)

In 2013 after the federal election loss of Labor to the Coalition, local Labor was founded along with Open Labor in Victoria to support ALP party reform again in a more modern context. The QLD Labor branch introduced 30:30:30 as a compromise with the unions having a contributing say for branch members, and the parliamentary members in the State Parliamentary wing of the party. Most of the recommendations of Faulkner, Carr, and Bracks were largely ignored in NSW until after the 2015 election loss with the ALP out of state power since 2011. The captain’s pick of then Indigenous sports star Nova Perris as Senate candidate over long-term Labor Senator Trish Crossin (1998-2013), and Qld Senator Jan McLucas who won 57% of the branch vote but lost the union vote and support in 2016’s preselection in the lead up to the 2016 Federal election.

Local Labor was led by Stuart J Whitman; a Townsville Labor acolyte of party reformer and former Qld Speaker Mike Reynolds, Rudd staffer and supporter. He was assisted by Rudd staffers Brad Newman, Rod Biesel (Annerley Labor Branch and Leftie), Kevin Conway (former public servant, Labor Leftie, later state and federal Fabians Secretary), Mike Smith (Labor Leftie, public servant who also grass roots campaigned with the US Democrats in 2012’s US Presidential elections), Kerrie Kahlon (former Australian Young Labor President), Chaiy Donati (whom I originally had disagreements within Young Labor, who was originally from the AWU right and later moderate reformer who was the former President of Qld Young Labor). I also endorsed the reforms as Labor Branch Secretary, Vice-President and President (2012-2015, 2017) in the Cleveland area as well as being the Vice-President of both the Bowman FEC and Cleveland SEC and was the SEC Secretary for a time also assisting in a Labor Party conference vote as the Returning Officer for Bowman.

Before becoming disillusioned with the party processes in 2017 over First Nations and environmental issues surrounding the Adani and Toondah Harbour PDA issues, the ALP lost the 2019 federal election on negative gearing, tax policies and the Adani issue namely in Qld. I remained active in Labor LEAN only from 2017–2020 on the Toondah campaign, Assistant Secretary and Interim Secretary of the Qld Fabians (2016–2018) and advocating for the unemployed in the AUWU in 2020 during the pandemic before working in Cr Peter Cummings Wynnum Manly ward BCC office (former Labor leader of BCC 2016-2020). I was briefly the Local Labor Secretary in 2017 where Local Labor were successful in advocating for a code of conduct policy with the Qld branch of the ALP when former state MP Evan Moorhead was State Secretary. Considering former candidates being improperly managed or bullying in the party particularly in areas of Young Labor or across Branches. Such as the case of Peter Watson in 2012 who made neo-Nazi and gay slur comments or in some cases discrimination and sexual harassment.

As a proud union member and supporter more branch rank-and-file say could be seen as controversial but considering how less Australians view unions less relevant to them. Having union members encouraged to join the ALP to be part of the process as branch members could be a good thing. I’ll never forget an AWU organizer shouting at the 2013 Qld State Labor conference “If its broke don’t fix it!”. Not helpful comments considering how Labor at the time had lost elections across the board on every levels of government.

As Whitlam once professed in his speech in the 1967 annual conference of the Victorian ALP, “Only the Impotent are Pure” when describing the self-defeatism culture of the ALP then prominent in Victorian Labor. Members and former MPs also called for an independent dispute’s tribunal in the party. Former Labor leader Bill Shorten even called for increased membership involvement in preselection’s for the Lower House (70:30 split between local members and a central panel) and for the Senate (50:50 split), increased AA (affirmative action for women), and direct elections of delegates to the national conference(s) of the ALP. As of 2014-2017, there was shift to the ALP in Victoria (2014), Queensland (2015), and Western Australia (2017). Unfortunately, despite the good these governments did it was clear there was still room for improvement as was the case of Adem Somyurek (former Andrews Minister) who according to 60 Minutes was behind a massive branch staking operation in the 48th Victorian Parliament.

These issues mirrored the Shepherdson Inquiry in Queensland Labor in 2000 during the Beattie era, when 3 MPs and several party officials with links to the AWU right of the QLD ALP had links to falsified documentation of branch recruitment. One of which scenario included recruiting dead people into a Labor Branch from a cemetery. This saga saw the downfall of 3 state MPs including Deputy Premier Jim Elder, who was a long-term Goss/Beattie minister as well, and former State Secretary of the QLD ALP in 1993–2000, Mike Kaiser. all in the lead up to a state election. Like Peter Beattie in 2001, Daniel Andrews in 2022 used accountability front and centre to their election campaigns and Labor increased its vote. As the MPs in question relating to the branch stacking controversies resigned, a notable temporary reform pursued by Local Labor and Open Labor groups was the Labor Academy in South Australia to ethically train new ALP activist and staff on skills-based focused rather than the revolving door of using Young Labor factionalism as a means of recruitment.

Today in the current parliament there are several new independent MPs, namely the TEALs (environmentally savvy MPs funded by the group Climate200). The surge of Greens MPs in South-East Qld Brisbane seats and Melbourne which has steadily been rising since 2010 along with increasing TEAL aligned MPs. Although the ALP won a majority on 77 seats, and the majority of TEALs has mostly affected the Coalition moderate MPs base attracting middle–class progressive voters on issues like climate change action, feminism, and implementing a national ICAC. The Teals won 6 seats nationwide in 2022, including Zali Steggall, and Helen Haines who held office since 2019. In Brisbane Labor failed to win the seat as the Greens won the seat with Stephen Bates as Labor lost former Labor safe seat Griffith to Max Chandler Mather (a former colleague in the Young Labor Left before switching to the Greens). The LNP also lost its safe seat of Ryan to Elizabeth Watson Brown and the Greens. Labor only won all of its incumbent seats bar 1 loss in Griffith, with most of its gains in NSW, SA, Victoria, and particularly WA. The ALP to date only holds 5 seats in the federal lower house and 3 Senators when compared to the 2007 federal election when Labor last won from opposition when it won 15 seats including 4 seats in the Qld regions (Leichardt, Dawson, Capricornia, and Flynn). These seats failed to come close to Labor in 2022, which could be trouble for Labor at the upcoming 2024 Qld State election if it’s not careful.

Compared to Labor’s first elections in Qld federally it used to be the heartland of federal Labor with both Andrew Fisher and Frank Forde holding seats for a time; Fisher in Wide Bay (1901-1915) and Frank Forde in Capricornia (1922-1946). The Father of Medicare former Whitlam health minister (1972-1975) Dr Doug Everingham also held the Capricornia seat in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s. It had a strong Labor history of 87 years being held by Labor despite being regional in all of federation, with an increased margin of 14.60% towards PHON in the seat [Figure 3 & 4] and regional Queensland voters shying away from Labor to both the LNP, PHON and the KAP on preferences, particularly as Queensland transitions into renewables away from fossil fuels mining and transitions into mining lithium, cobalt, and nickel mining.

The 2022 Federal Election and 2017 and 2020 Qld State Elections which saw the election of Amy MacMahon of South Brisbane against former ALP Deputy Premier Jackie Trad in 2020, along with Michael Berkman in Maiwar in 2017. With the votes towards the Greens increasing particularly in Brisbane City Council wards in 2020 in 6 ward areas such as Walter Taylor, Paddington, Brisbane Central, Coorparoo, Pullenvale, and the Gabba, while the ALP is increasing its margins in 5 wards with its already held 5 Labor wards; namely Calamvale, Bracken Ridge, Enoggera, Jamboree, and Merchant. Hypothetically, if Labor and Greens were to do well in the 2024 City Council elections in Brisbane or beyond it would put the Greens possibly on 6 seats compared to Labor on 9-10 giving both parties a 15-16 majority the first time the progressive side of politics has done so since 2008 since Campbell Newman and the LNP sustained a landslide for well 16 years.

The LNP have adapted to greening Brisbane to hold off the rising surge in progressive voters. But this might not be enough as voters from further south have called SEQ home during the pandemic interstate migrations as well as an increasing younger voting population, and voter disillusionment with the major parties [Figure 2.0]. It may be a hard pill to swallow for Qld Labor, but it may have to negotiate both a preference deal and or coalition administration with the Greens in Brisbane City Council, considering that Brisbane is the largest City Council in Australia and home to 2.6 million people. It outranks the NT, ACT, and Tasmania put together in sheer size of population and administration, with a public service larger than some states and territories. It would follow the same steps Labor had to with the Greens in Tasmania (2010-2014), ACT (2012-present), and New Zealand (2017-present) under both Ardern and Hipkins. To do not do so could be political suicide.

The Greens have become cleverer, grassroots, particularly engaging in unionism among groups like the AUWU and RAFFWU where the SDA has failed members on industrial matters with Fair Work. It also doesn’t help when Qld has been the highest ratio of state Labor branches to refuse membership to new members without disputes tribunal process say and or on grounds of environmentalist pushing more people towards the Greens and Teal campaigns by being more inclusive. Labor too must adapt and change this.

The ALP and the labour movement are far from perfect; they are always evolving and changing. Remember that Labor while envisioning a working men’s paradise at the turn of the 20th century also strongly supported the White Australia policy well into the early 1970s. Although it created public assets for much of the 1910s-1970s, and privatised assets during the Hawke/Keating era like the Commonwealth Bank, Qantas, and QR Rail under Bligh in 2009 during the 2007-2008 GFC. Good and bad decisions are made, and good and bad people can exist in any Labor faction but for Labor to survive into the next century, in this century it must adapt to continue its democratic trend. The nature of the beast in politics is sometimes leaders are both faced with difficult circumstances and need to make difficult decisions as well. Perhaps Labor could also learn from the issues that have made both the Teals and Greens electable in seats in 2019–2022, such as the housing and rental crisis, including dental in Medicare bulk billing, limit overdevelopment in environmentally sensitive areas, limit gas and coal projects in favour of new industries, fight homelessness by initiating similar programs that William Forgan Smith did, support compulsory preferential voting. Considering that Labor only holds several regional councils in Townsville, Rockhampton, and Mt Isa. With most QLD regional City Councils being held by LNP Crs would it be so bad to implement compulsory preferential? It would mean increased Greens Crs, sure! But it would increase Labor candidates’ chances in local races as well as Independents regardless their politics which would be better for democracy.

As democracy is being challenged by extremist and “strong men” taking over the American Republican party under Trump, Putin in Russia, and Xi in China, now is the time for Qld Labor to showcase its democratic credentials and adapt to the times and it might even win more seats on any of the 3 tiers of government.


The 2022 Federal Election Results; House of Representatives ALP = 77 seats Coalition = 58 seats Independents = 10 seats o Teals = 9 seats o CA = 1 seat Greens = 4 seats KAP = 1 seat


Local Labor’s Patrons

Chris Haviland (Admin Committee NSW Labor, public servant, teacher, cricket umpire)

  • Campbelltown City Council Alderman (1987 – 1993)
  • Macarthur Federal MP (1993 – 1996)
  • President of the Bradfield FEC (LEFT faction)

John Faulkner (teacher, research officer, Assistant Secretary NSW ALP: 80 – 89)

  • Senator for NSW
  • Minister for Veteran Affairs (1993 – 1994)
  • Minister for Defence Science and Personnel (1993 – 1994)
  • Minister for the Environment (1994 – 1996)
  • Special Minister of State (2007 – 2009)
  • National President ALP (2007 – 2008)
  • Vice – President of the Executive Council (2007 – 2010)
  • Minister for Defence (2009 – 2010)
  • Father of the Australian Senate (2014 – 2015) (LEFT faction)

Janelle Anne Saffin (teacher, lawyer)

  • NSW Legislative Council (1995 – 2003)
  • Page Federal MP (2007 – 2013)
  • NSW Lismore State MP (2019 – Present)

Andrew Leigh (lawyer, academic author, professor at ANU)

  • Fraser Federal MP (2010 – 2016)
  • Fenner Federal MP (2016 – Present)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to Julia Gillard PM (2013)
  • Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities, and Treasury (2022 – Present) (RIGHT faction)

Fiona Richardson (political advisor) (passed away in 2017) (RIGHT faction)

  • Victoria Legislative Assembly (2006 – 2017)
  • Parliamentary Secretary for Education (2007)
  • Parliamentary Secretary for Treasury and Finance (2007)
  • Minister for Women and Prevention of Family Violence (2014
  • Oversaw the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence in 2015

Curtis Pitt (public servant) (MODERATE RIGHT faction aligned with LEFT in QLD)

  • QLD State MP Mulgrave (2009 – Present)
  • Minister for Disabilities, Mental Health, ATIS Partnership(s) (2011 – 2012)
  • Treasurer of QLD (2015 – 2017)
  • Minister for Sport, Employment, Industrial Relations, ATSI Partnership(s) (2015 – 2017)
  • Speaker of QLD Parliament (2018 – Present)

Denise Allen (beauty therapist, modelling agency, retail business owner) (passed away in 2022)

  • State MP for Benalla (Victoria) (2000 – 2002)

Join us in Local Labor Qld if you would like to campaign in Local Labor Qld to advocate for compulsory preferential voting reform in QLD, social justice issues, and more democratic say in Labor for members! Contact me via M: 0450 359 863.

Contact Chris Haviland, or Nicole Campbell for INFO about NSW Local Labor (or) Janet McCalman or Eric Dearricott via the Open Labor Victoria website.


Extra Resources

1 Troy Bramston is senior writer and columnist with The Australian since 2011. He is also a contributor to Sky News and a former speech writer in the Rudd Government. This book analyses the need for reform in the ALP after the 2010 federal election hung parliament.

2 Australian Fabians



Figure 1.0 [Primary Vote(s) since 1949]


Figure 2.0 [Comparison of Generational Voting]


Figure 3.0 [Capricornia Primary Votes]


Figure 4.0 [Capricornia TPP = Two Party Preferred Votes]


Figure 5.0 [Australian Federal Election 2007]


Figure 6.0 [Australian Federal Election 2022]

Note: 1 regional seat is ALP in QLD (Blair) while the rest are LNP or KAP. QLD Labor only has 5 seats in the lower house.




Alexander, J. (2022). The rise of Australia’s teal climate warriors. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Barry, N. (2015). Longing for Labor to reform itself? National Conference may not provide it. The Conversation. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Bracks, S. Faulkner, J. Carr, B. (2010). Review 2010| 2010 National Review| Report to the ALP National Executive| Australian Labor Party (ALP) <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Bramble, T. (2008). Trade Unionism in Australia. A History from Flood to Ebb Tide. Cambridge University.

Bowden, B. (2013). Modern Labor in Queensland: It’s Rise and Failings, 1978–98. Labour History. Griffith University.<> accessed 05/03/2023.

Clarke, P. (2013). Whitlam The Power and the Passion. [DVD] ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Davies, A. (2020). Party hardly: why Australia’s big political parties are struggling to compete with grassroots campaigns. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Dyrenfurth, N. Bongiorno, F. (2011). A Little History of the Australian Labor Party. University of New South Wales Press.

Giuliano, C. (2022). Voting Patterns to major parties by generation. Australian Parliament. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Grattan, M. (2022). Age and education key demographics in government’s election loss: ANU Study. The Conversation. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Green, A. (2020). Brisbane City Council Election 2020 Results. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Green, A. (2022). Australian Federal Election 2022 Live Results. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Jabour, B. Hurst, D. (2012). Labor teen regrets wording of gay slur, but stands by racism. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Manwaring, R. (2011) The paradox at the heart of Labor’s review. Inside Story. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Massola, J. (2012). ALP must change or be changed: Crean. Financial Review <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Mccalman, J. (2021). Open Labor. Non – aligned Victorian Labor politicians poster 1970 – 2018.

Parnell, S. (2020). Labor’s one – time rising star Mike Kaiser lands back in government ranks. IN QUEENSLAND. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Sansom, M. (2015). Asset sales dominate NSW and Qld elections. Government News. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Wahlquist, C. (2022). Teal independents: who are they and how did they upend Australia’s election? The Guardian. <> accessed 05/03/2023

Yarrow, Susan (2015). Split, intervention, renewal: the ALP in Queensland 1957 – 1989. MPhil Thesis, School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, The University of Queensland.

<> accessed 05/03/2023.

Callen Sorensen Karklis, Bachelor of Government and International Relations.

Callen is a Quandamooka Nunukul Aboriginal person from North Stradbroke Island. He has been the Secretary of the Qld Fabians in 2018, and the Assistant Secretary 2018 – 2019, 2016, and was more recently the Policy and Publications Officer 2020 – 2021. Callen previously was in Labor branch executives in the Oodgeroo (Cleveland areas), SEC and the Bowman FEC. He has also worked for Cr Peter Cumming, worked in market research, trade unions, media advertising, and worked in retail. He also ran for Redland City Council in 2020 on protecting the Toondah Ramsar wetlands. Callen is active in Redlands 2030, Labor LEAN, the Redlands Museum, and his local sports club at Victoria Pt Sharks Club. Callen also has a Diploma of Business and attained his tertiary education from Griffith University. He was a co-host from time to time on Workers Power 4ZZZ (FM 102.1) on Tuesday morning’s program Workers Power. He currently works as a public servant in Qld and the Secretary for Qld Local Labor.

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BRICS: The opponent awe of the West

By Isidoros Karderinis

Brazil, Russia, India and China originally formed the bloc in 2009 after a series of meetings and understandings. The first BRIC Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia on June 16 of the same year, where the heads of states in question agreed to strengthen dialogue and cooperation between them.

The following year, in Brasilia, Brazil in April 2010, the second Summit was held, where the leaders of these countries emphasized the necessity of a multidimensional global intergovernmental system.

Then, at their third meeting in New York in September 2010, the BRICs agreed on the entry of South Africa. South Africa managed to join after a strong effort as a result of its active foreign policy, this coalition of states changing it from “BRIC” to “BRICS”.

At the Fourth Summit in March 2012 in New Delhi, India, a first announcement was made of the establishment of a New Development Bank (NDB), which was formalized at their Fifth Summit in Durban, South Africa in 2013, with the clear intention of independence of BRICS by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the US and the European Union. The agreement for its establishment, after resolving disputes over organizational issues, was finally reached in 2014, during the sixth BRICS meeting in Fortaleza, Brazil.

The BRICS countries comprise 40% of the world’s population, which amounts to over 3.1 billion people. BRICS co-exists countries with different degrees of development and different strategies.

Brazil is the largest country in South America, both in population (about 213 million) and in area, since it occupies 1/3 of South America by itself. It is also the fourth richest country in the Americas in terms of GDP. However, it does not have the appropriate infrastructure (inadequate road and rail network, inadequate port infrastructure, etc.) and in combination with extreme economic inequality (1 in 4 citizens lives in absolute poverty) do not allow it to emerge as a economic superpower. According to the World Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum, Brazil ranked 108th among 137 economies in 2017 in terms of the general quality of its infrastructure. Corruption scandals are also present in the country. Brazil deals with regional issues.

Russia, which is the world’s largest transcontinental country of global influence and a large economy, also possesses the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet and enormous military power, which it has used in Syria and now in Ukraine. Russia provides the best standard of living for its residents, compared to the rest of the BRICS countries, with 3.5% of GDP spent on education and 3.1% on public health. The number of residents living below the poverty line amounts to just 0.2% of its population. The Russian economy suffers, however, from the critical problem of corruption-which exists in all countries to a greater or lesser degree-as well as from the significant lack of banking infrastructure, due to insufficiently developed financial markets, difficulty in obtaining loans and limited investment options.

India is an emerging world power with an ever-growing economy. It is currently the fifth largest economy in the world based on its GDP, while its territory is home to the second largest population in the world, after that of China, reaching close to 1.4 billion people. The country’s GDP growth has been among the highest in the world over the past decade, achieving an annual growth of between 6-7%. However, India has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world, while facing huge social problems at home due to poverty. India has the lowest percentages of GDP spent on education and health among the BRICS, at 2.7% and 1.2% respectively. India is regionally oriented.

China, which is home to 1.4 billion people, is expanding rapidly with economic penetration in Asia, Latin America, Africa and other regions of the world. It is the economic giant of the East with an annual growth rate of 6.6%, thus threatening the economic primacy of the USA. China has been the world’s leading exporter since 2014. At the same time, China, although it is the second largest economy in the world, remains a middle-income country as its per capita income is still only about a quarter of that of countries with high income and about 375 million Chinese live below the poverty line of $5.50 a day. Finally, corruption appears at particularly high rates.

South Africa, due to its geographical position at the southern tip of the continent, which gives it access to two oceans, is a hub country. South Africa is China’s largest trading partner in Africa. At the same time, hundreds of Chinese companies, both state-owned and private, are currently active in the country. South Africa’s economy is the second largest on the African continent behind Nigeria’s. It has natural wealth in gold, silver and coal but also one of the highest rates of inequality in the world. The richest 10% of the population owns about 71% of the net wealth, while the bottom 60% owns 7% of the net wealth. It is a country with particular political weight in Africa as the only African member state of the G20 group, which, however, needs a reform effort for its further economic development.

The BRICS are, therefore, the opposing camp of the West, whether this is expressed politically, by the US-Anglo-Saxon countries-European Union alliance, or militarily, with NATO, or economically, with the international economic organizations of American origin, such as the IMF, the World Bank or the World Trade Organization. The bloc’s strategic direction is close cooperation to effectively and successfully counter the US-dominated international financial architecture.

After fifteen years, during which many questioned the viability of the scheme, the existing global balances lead to the enlargement of the bloc. Many countries have expressed their desire to become members of BRICS, such as Argentina, Egypt, Venezuela, Mexico, Iran, Vietnam, Bangladesh and others.

In closing, I would like to emphasize that the agenda of the BRICS, which have succeeded in consolidating their position on the global political and economic scene, leads to the reduction of the dominance of the USA and the Western world in general and to the establishment of a new multipolar reality.

Isidoros Karderinis was born in Athens in 1967. He is a novelist, poet and columnist. He studied economics and completed postgraduate studies in tourism economics. His articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and websites around the world. His poems have been translated into English, French and Spanish and published in poetic anthologies, literary magazines and literary newspaper columns. He has published eight books of poetry and three novels in Greece. His books have been translated and published in the United States, Great Britain, Italy and Spain.

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Business as usual: the opposers keep opposing

By Paul Smith

“Whitefellas know best” has failed as the way to “look after” Blackfellas. The Voice is the way Blackfellas propose to look after themselves. Most Whitefellas agree that that’s the way to go, but some won’t have a bar of it. They claim that the opposition of some Blackfellas to The Voice justifies preserving the status quo. At stake is ability of supporters of The Voice to achieve a morally sustainable Australian nationhood; and, for its opponents, the preservation of the colonial project – dare I say it … white privilege.

Let’s look at the arguments:


It won’t close the gap

The Uluru Statement from the Heart calls for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament as a means of improving policy development and service delivery to overcome historic disadvantage – in other words, to close the gap.

The Nationals oppose The Voice because “it won’t close the gap”.

This is business as usual – the latest instance of Whitefellas asserting that they know what’s best for Blackfellas.

But what about Jacinta Yangapi Nampijinpa Price (JYNP) who opposes The Voice because “it won’t close the gap”? Shouldn’t she and those she speaks for be heard? Isn’t that what The Nationals are doing?

Non-indigenous Australians have to choose between contrary views within Indigenous Australia on The Voice.

So, yes, what about JYNP? Is she “a majority of one” or “the exception that proves the rule”?


Unduly influential, more right than her peers

Two phrases may be useful in considering the role of Jacinta Yangapi Nampijinpa Price in the debate on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament: “the exception that proves the rule” and “a majority of one”.

When a person is drastically out of step with everyone else yet insists that theirs is the correct position or point of view, they can be regarded as the exception that proves the rule. It’s sarcasm which uses illogical construction to mirror the perceived quality of the dissenter’s reasoning. Such a person may be regarded as ludicrous but harmless.

The phrase a majority of one has a similar but more sinister meaning, i.e. someone feeling entitled to assert, and, if possible, impose himself in ways that, though welcomed at first, become intrusive, and irritating to others until rejected as illegitimate. Such a person comes to be regarded not just as presumptuous but as unduly influential; requiring courage and endurance on the part of others to put one man of abundant gall in his place. Yet this phrase once had, and can still have, the exact opposite meaning.

Andrew Jackson is alleged to have said, “One man with courage makes a majority of one.” David Thoreau coined the phrase when he said, “Any man more right than his neighbours constitute a majority of one.”

So, there are two ways of being a majority of one: the way of egotism and the way of integrity.

The question is, how can we know what we are seeing when someone defies what we think we know to be true?


Courage? Or the desire to be noticed?

Those who might, without giving it a second thought, prefer the Nationals’ position on The Voice are likely to regard Price as “a majority of one” in the sense in which Jackson and Thoreau used the term.

Likewise, those who might, with unquestioned certainty, support the Uluru Statement from the Heart, are likely to agree with Noel Pearson who, though he didn’t use the phrase, “the exception that proves the rule,” explained Price’s opposition to The Voice as the result of being caught in a “tragic redneck celebrity vortex”.

Is Price fearless and courageous, more right than her peers; or is she indulging the desire to be noticed and punching down on other blacks to get her fix?


The stakes

Framing these starkly contrasting versions of Price together sharpens awareness of what’s at stake.

Price ceases to be just anyone with a dissenting voice and becomes a crusader at the head of an insurgency bent on “taking the country back” … from … what? Woke culture, of course; and supporters of The Voice, sensing the prospect of decades of progress, towards an agreement on whose country it is, voided by a failed referendum, feel the imperative of righteous cause burning not in their heads but in their guts.

So, what is at stake?

What’s at stake for The Nationals, and anyone they speak for, is the perpetuation of the Colonial Project; and for supporters of The Voice, a consolidation of the project of a morally sustainable Australian nationhood.

Both in their own way about “taking the country back”.


The Colonial Project and morally sustainable Australian nationhood

Historically, the Colonial Project was the dispossession of Indigenous people from their land; the murder of an estimated 50% of their number; confining the survivors in ghettos; erasing their languages and cultures; denying them agency in every aspect of their lives; stealing their wages; fomenting and maintaining an attitude of contempt towards them as people, and much, much more.

The Colonial Project is also all the material prosperity achieved at the expense of the people whose land was taken away (stolen) from them. All non-indigenous Australians participate in and benefit from the persisting Colonial Project.

The Constitution is the formal framework by which the Colonial Project operates as a Nation State.

The Constitution continued explicitly to exclude Indigenous Australians.

Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians is not about privileging them with something that no one else has access to.

It rectifies the exclusion of Indigenous Australians from the project of Australian nationhood.

The ongoing Colonial Project manifests as policy making at all levels of government and non-government enterprise that maintains and perpetuates the material conditions that originated in dispossession. Even when policy has purported to remedy those conditions it has always been on the basis of a non-Indigenous understanding of those conditions.

Effective policy cannot emerge from colonial assumptions about the situation. Redressing the effects of the Colonial Project in Australia requires a response from the lived experience of colonised Indigenous Australians. There is no other transit from the Colonial Project to a morally sustainable Australian nationhood.


Decolonisation!? Who … us!?

(1) Perpetuating established relationships, and (2) responding critically to a changing world, are the diverging priorities shaping our post-Second World-War political trajectory. The triggers for critiquing and reforming pre-war norms were twofold: our knowledge of and response to the Holocaust; and Decolonisation.

A quest for respectful and inclusive relationships emerged as a response to the Holocaust. Ideas and actions denigrated as Politically Correct or Woke are some of the fruits of post-Holocaust recalibration of the moral compass.

Decolonisation – self-determination – enabled the overwhelming majority of people in the world to seize back their own voice, and that in turn became the opportunity for us in the West to redefine who we are: no longer masters but partners.

But not in Australia.

All former colonies achieved independence after the Second World War, either by returning fire against the violence of colonial powers attempting to reinstate the status quo ante, or by the power of moral persuasion and diplomacy.

Self-determination became the self-evident moral right of people living in their own land.

In countries where the colonisers became, and will, therefore, always remain, the majority population, treaties were made between colonisers and indigenous people; and though repeatedly broken, treaties legally recognised the prior occupation of the land by, and ongoing presence of, Indigenous people.

Only in Australia is there still no treaty or other form of recognition.


Demanding and delivering recognition

Indigenous Australians have been asserting their right to recognition since 1934. In 1972 the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was hoisted as an umbrella and later erected as a tent in front of Parliament House, to demand land rights and to assert Sovereignty and the right to Self Determination… and remains the oldest continuing protest occupation site in the world.

The right to Constitutional Recognition was acknowledged by John Howard in 2007.

A decade of negotiation and consultation with Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, culminated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and its call for Voice, Treaty and Truth. A further two years of co-design involving senior Indigenous leaders and representatives of the Australian Government, and ever ongoing public consultation, produced a comprehensive plan for the implementation of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

In 2022 Anthony Albanese committed to holding a referendum to enshrine The Voice in the Constitution.

The Referendum is this generation’s opportunity to end the colonial relationship between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians; and to begin decolonising all of our minds as we undertake a shared journey towards a morally sustainable Australian nationhood.


Ignominious excuses

235 years after the British penal colony was dumped at Warrane, later known as Sydney Cove, Australians are on the cusp of moving on from the Colonial Project but there is some resistance, ostensibly to the means of doing so, but in fact to doing so at all.

There can be no valid reason to maintain the Colonial Project.

The shameful hope of doing so is, therefore, disguised as red herrings and lies about the means:

there is no detail;

it would represent the interests of Redfern and not the diversity of Indigenous Australians;

it would be a third chamber;

it won’t close the gap.

There are 272 pages of detail in the Indigenous Voice Co-Design Final Report which was twice presented to the Federal Cabinet. “There is no detail” is a barefaced lie.

To withhold support for The Voice because “there is no detail” when there is a fully articulated design and rationale is disingenuous.

To oppose the Voice despite the “fact” that there is “no detail”, is absurdly inept at best or blatantly obstructive and even intentionally adversarial.

The report provides for thirty-five Local and Regional Voices to inform the National Voice. The imputed dominance of urban interests is a malicious wedge.

The function of The Voice is “… to make representations to the Parliament”. The wording makes it clear that it is not conceived as part of the Parliament.

“It would be a third chamber” is a deliberately shameless misrepresentation of the words and their intent.

The failure of “Whitefellas know best” is the whole point of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament. The assertion that “it won’t close the gap” is a breathtaking assertion that “Whitefellas still know best”; and a blatant disregard for the principle that policy should reflect the interests and awareness of those about whom it is made.


Ideological intransigence or realistic relationship

Some high-profile Indigenous Australians oppose The Voice, the most prominent being CLP Senator Jacinta Yangapi Nampijinpa Price, former Liberal candidate Nyunggai Warren Mundine and Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe.

Such exercise of free choice is expected of non-indigenous Australians, but considered problematic if replicated by Indigenous Australians. For example, non-indigenous Australians who don’t support The Voice cite its lack of unanimous support among Indigenous Australians as a reason to continue with business as usual and oppose it.

Yet when the Federal National Party announced its opposition to The Voice, it exposed the lack of unanimity within its own ranks. It unveiled a fault line between ideological intransigence and recognition of the need for a realistic relationship with Indigenous Australians.

The push back from within its own party room and State Divisions of the party affirms Noel Pearson’s account of gaining the widespread support of National Party members for The Voice throughout Australia.

What, then, accounts for the federal party’s surprising move?

To return to my question about Price on the first page of this series of posts: Is she “a majority of one” or “the exception that proves the rule”?


How can we know?

I earlier said: There are two ways of being a majority of one: the way of integrity and the way of egotism.

The way of integrity as coined by David Thoreau:

“… any man more right than his neighbours constitutes a majority of one”;

and for Andrew Jackson: “One man with courage makes a majority of one.”

The way of egotism manifests in someone feeling entitled to assert, and, if possible, impose himself in ways that, though welcomed at first, become intrusive, irritating to others and illegitimate. Such a person comes to be regarded not just as presumptuous but as unduly influential; requiring courage and endurance on the part of others to put one man of abundant gall in his place.

Or woman.

As I asked earlier: How can we know what we are seeing when someone defies what we think we know to be true?

Is Price more right than the likes of Marcia Langton, Tom Calma, Megan Davis, Noel Pearson, Pat Anderson, Mick Gooda, Jackie Huggins, Lowitja O’Donoghue, June Oscar, Marion Scrymgour and Pat Turner, to name those who spring immediately to mind?

Is Price being courageous by channelling the Colonial Project in opposition to the orthodoxy of Indigenous Self Determination?

Or is she the cherry picked black with views that ‘legitimise’ the ideologues’ preferred position on matters Indigenous, who has outmanoeuvred any expectation on their part of being able to control her?

This article was originally published on Tuckerucci Fairytales.


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First Among Equals: The Voice


By Paul Smith

PREAMBLE – Addressed to serving military personnel and veterans

Reconciliation with former enemies ought to be prominent in the ethos of the Australian military – serving personnel and veterans alike. What greater example is there of such mutual generosity than the existence of Turkish subbranches of the RSL in NSW and Victoria? The very people Australians fought, in what most people once thought was the war that made Australia a nation, commemorated ANZAC Day with Australians in Korea and have done so, virtually ever since. Furthermore, veterans of the war in Vietnam know the warmth of genuine welcome whether visiting the south or the north of the now unified country. In fact, there is no former enemy on whose land Australians veterans are not welcome.

Every day in every part of Australia non-indigenous Australians are welcomed by Indigenous Australians to the land of its traditional owners. This is an offer of friendship that non-indigenous Australians can fully appreciate when we acknowledge that the first Australians’ 140-year struggle to defend their land was the first war that made us the people we are today – Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians alike.

The Australian War Memorial has acknowledged the Frontier Wars. At the same time, constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians is at the forefront of nation’s agenda. As military veterans we are especially invested in the success of these two developments in our nation’s ever-changing understanding of itself. That is to say, we who went to war in support of an empire to preserve White Australia became a multicultural society that supports self-determination wherever it is possible in the world; and we who pride ourselves as being the kind of Australians who treat Indigenous people fairly must surely want all Indigenous people to be treated fairly by all other Australians.

Like the Turks, who we made the enemy by invading their land, Indigenous Australians are embracing their former enemy with extraordinary good will. What follows is a nine-point case for reciprocating that good will by supporting the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

1 A simple proposition

Will you recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution in the way they want to be included?

2 Why are we talking about recognition of Indigenous people in the Constitution?

To formally recognise the special status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the First Peoples of our nation. We must recognise the distinctiveness of Indigenous identity and culture and the right of Indigenous people to preserve that heritage.

The right time: see constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians: address to the Sydney Institute, Sydney. John Howard, 11 October 2007.

3 Isn’t The Voice just a lobby group?

The question is phrased to diminish the importance of lobby groups. It thereby brushes off the rationale for The Voice. But if lobby groups were not vital to the functioning of Australian Democracy they wouldn’t exist. How is it reasonable to question the legitimacy of The Voice as a lobby group, yet accept the legitimacy of other, powerfully organised, interest groups? Example of such groups are:

Australian Christian Lobby, Australian Coal Association, Minerals Council of Australia, National Association of Forest Industries, National Farmers’ Federation, Business Council of Australia, Australian Institute of Company Directors, Australian Beverage Council, Australian food and Grocery Council, Centre for Independent Studies, Institute of Public Affairs, the HR Nicholls Society.

All of these organisations advocate for the interests of specific (narrow) segments of Australian society in the expectation of achieving desired outcomes. The Voice is designed to do exactly that and more. The Voice is Indigenous Australians’ means of influencing policy development to address their actual needs and so close the gap.

The Voice is envisioned as more than just a lobby group. It is also intended as the platform for forging greater unity in diversity among all Indigenous people, taking account of dissenting voices in pursuing their own causes within their own communities, the better to inform those elected to advocate at the national level on behalf of Australians who have been explicitly excluded from the Colonial Project.

4 The Colonial Project! What’s that!?

The colonial project is the dispossession of Indigenous people from their land; the murder of 90% of their number; confining the survivors in ghettos; erasing their languages and cultures; denying them agency in every aspect of their lives; stealing their wages; fomenting and maintaining an attitude of contempt towards them as people, and much, much more. This has resulted in policy making, at all levels of government and non-government enterprise, that maintains and perpetuates the material conditions that originated in dispossession. Even when policy has intended to remedy those conditions it has always been on the basis of a non-indigenous understanding of those conditions. Effective policy cannot emerge from a false consciousness of a situation. Redressing this history requires an accurately informed consciousness of the situation and that can come only from Indigenous Australians.

5 Is The Voice fair to other minority groups in Australia?

Will other minority groups such as, say, Greek Australians, be entitled to similar constitutional recognition? Greek and all other non-indigenous Australians are participants in the colonial project which has served all of their interests by dispossessing and excluding Indigenous Australians. The constitution is the formal framework by which the colonial project operates as a nation state. The constitution continued explicitly to exclude Indigenous Australians. Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians is not about privileging them with something that no one else has access to. It rectifies the exclusion of Indigenous Australians from the project of Australian nationhood.

6 How will The Voice be constituted and function?

In the lead up to the referendum the structure of The Voice will be widely publicised. As it is presently conceived, it will be in two parts: Local and Regional Voices (L&RV), and a National Voice. The L&RV will provide advice to all levels of government about what’s important in communities and in the region; work in partnership with all governments to make plans on how to meet community aspirations and deliver on local priorities; and provide local views to the National Voice where this informs national issues. The National Voice will be a national body made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that will provide advice to the Australian Parliament and Government on relevant laws, policies and programs; and will engage early on with the Australian Parliament and Government in the development of relevant policies and laws. More precise detail on how the two bodies will be established and operate will be determined by the Parliament.

7 Were there predecessors to the proposed Voice to Parliament?

The Australian constitution expressly excluded First Nations people from citizenship and the other benefits of Australian nationhood. The grudging and grossly inadequate provision that was made by governments and non-government organisations was explicitly regarded as welfare rather than inclusion in the project of Australian nationhood. From the outset, therefore, First Nations people sought redress of this Singular, Exceptional, Conspicuous, Bizarre Unfairness. In 1937 William Copper petitioned King George VI for representation in Parliament; The following year, the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet, a Day of Mourning called for full citizen status and equality within the community. The right to vote was achieved by the early 1960s, and since 1967 First Nations people are counted in the census. In 1968 the Gorton government took the first tentative step towards dialogue with First Nation people by establishing the Council for Aboriginal Affairs. In 1973 the Whitlam government unequivocally endorsed First Nations participation in policy development by establishing the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee. Between 1976 and 2005, there were four further representative bodies – the National Aboriginal Congress, the National Aboriginal Conference, the Aboriginal Development Commission, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission – reflecting the varying priorities of successive governments which often conflicted with the growing confidence and assertiveness of First Nations people. In 2005 the Howard government abolished and did not replace the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

8 A nation of minorities

All non-indigenous Australians already have a voice to parliament by virtue of their participation in the Colonial Project, from which Indigenous people were excluded by their dispossession, and by the constitution which continued explicitly to exclude them from the project of Australian nationhood.

If non-indigenous Australians feel unrepresented it’s not because they don’t have access but because they haven’t adequately engaged with the institutions of representation.

Non-indigenous Australians will learn much about how to use their voice when a legislated and operational Indigenous Voice to Parliament impels a paradigm shift in the identification and resolution of First Nations entitlement within the project of Australian nationhood.

Inspired by First Nations leadership in effective (because patient and morally justifiable) self organisation, people who, in any numbers, recognise a shared unmet need, will engage with the nation and the Parliament in pursuit of a more just and sustainably diverse society, in contradistinction to the contest for undue advantage by lobby groups that is characteristic of the dynamics of the Colonial Project.

All will become beneficiaries of the principle and practice of self-determination, when Australians recognise that we are a nation of minorities and reject the false, colonial dichotomy of a non-indigenous majority and an indigenous minority.

9 First Among Equals in a nation of minorities

Indigenous people are not a minority in multicultural Australia, even if numerically few in relation to immigrants and their descendants. Indigenous culture is uniquely entitled to the role of First Among Equals in the project of Australian nationhood.


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It’s frightening when you join the dots in a different way

By Andrew Klein

In 2023 we see violence against segments of the community, economic violence and neglect that have not been addressed and given the recent decision to go all the way with Uncle Sam, will not be addressed.

In view of the recent months in Canberra I am minded to re-write something that I wrote about violence against children in 2019.

In 2023 we see violence against segments of the community, economic violence and neglect that have not been addressed and given the recent decision to go all the way with Uncle Sam, will not be addressed.

Following the disastrous years of the Liberal ‘Morrison’ government that relied on the art of scapegoating and social mischief making in dividing the community against itself, an art learned from the most mediocre of minds, John Howard.

Is there a trickledown effect when institutions we ‘trust’ are actively involved in abusing our young and in essence our communities? When those institutions include the elected government, when transparency and accountability are buried in the ‘national interest’ or the ‘in commercial in confidence’ humbug, we have a problem.

I refer to my previous article merely to highlight the problem that Australia has become traumatized, that inflicted trauma is not wholly a religious issue but that there are dangerous overlaps in the way people are treated. We are seeing charities running fund raisers to assist Australian Children in Poverty, we are asked to donate money to enable children to have educational opportunities that are otherwise denied. I know members of my own community that have to choose between utility bills and medication, but worse still, I see the same scapegoating and blame shifting that has made as such a lucky country where political pundits regard the electorate as punters.

Child sexual abuse and the destruction of communities (2019). The context of what I see in 2023 is below:

“The past few months have highlighted what can only be described as a plague that has infected our communities for generations.

The ‘Pell’ matter simply brought things to a head for many in our communities.
One would have to be wilfully blind or deluded to pretend that the sexual abuse of children in faith-based organizations was an aberration rather than a twisted and perverse new normal.

Hardly a day goes by without a historic case being reported by the media. Obviously not all the cases related to the Roman Catholic Church are uniquely Australian, but as the name ‘Catholic’ indicates, they are universal and they touch each and every one of us.

I doubt that there are many readers that have not been impacted either directly or indirectly by cases of sexual abuse of children. Children either abused whilst in care of faith-based organizations or in care of those trusted by their parents, their families.

Often the abusers were either seen as part of the family/community structure or were in fact related to the children concerned.

In all cases, as far as I have learned over many years, this has involved both grooming and frightening as it sounds, the very tacit or complicit behavior of those who should have been expected to act in the best interest of the child. Volumes have been written about ‘stranger danger’ and the threat posed by external forces. Yet it seems to me at this point in time that the real danger to children came in the guise of respected members of the community and as far as I can tell, these always involved a degree of power imbalance between the perpetrator and the child and its family.

In fact, there are times when it is hard to tell the difference between the two.

Churches have historically been seen as agents of spiritual and religious growth. As such clergy and laity were allowed both into the physical proximity of children and certainly into the inner reaches of the child’s mind.

Were these positive things then I might accept that there is a role for this. But the overwhelming evidence, the case after case presented, the body of evidence presented to the Royal Commission into the abuse of children in faith-based organizations makes it clear that the impacts have been far from benevolent. In fact, they have undermined communities and destroyed individuals.

We, as a society, accepted a redress scheme that allowed predatory organizations to hide the incidents of assault and abuse by the planned use of confidentiality agreements.

It is interesting to note that in 1922 the Vatican changed its approach to crimes against children by concealing the facts on pain of excommunication, a punishment that was to be applied to any of the faithful who allowed knowledge of the crimes committed to become public knowledge. This too is part of the evidence given to the Royal Commission here in Australia.

My point though is that children were not only sexually abused in churches, it occurred in other organizations and certainly within family structures. All the places that were thought to be safe were in fact compromised and following the lead of the Roman Catholic Church, the model applied was one of pastoral care and treatment of the offenders and more often than not the victim became secondary to the rage of saving the predators and the reputations of organizations and families.

I write this today thinking of all the survivors that I have met over the years. I write this knowing now that many of them were denied the opportunity for a happy and productive life, I write this knowing now that they did complain when they were young. That often the troubled behaviour that they displayed was a cry for help that we as a community did not hear or chose not to hear.

The lies and deception, the vested interests and power imbalances that enabled and protected predators still exist.

I know what it says about the Roman Catholic Church, and I know what it says about churches in general. To me it places the burden of responsibility fairly onto the leaders of the church and those organizations that were trusted with the souls of the innocent. It also says a lot about our society, our culture and how this abuse was permitted to occur for generations. It says something about the power and control that churches exercised over the minds of the faithful, but it also speaks volumes about the families who knew about the abuse and remained silent as they were promised both a physical reward in this life and one for the life eternal.

It says much about a culture that decried the child sacrifice mentioned in the Old Testament and yet was prepared to see children belonging to less powerful economic and social groups as the less worthy, the ‘wardies’ the orphans and the ‘bastards’ born out of wedlock.

These are hard and painful words, but it pains me to know that such language was used in my lifetime. It pains me to know that a large body of work dedicated to preventing child abuse is now tainted, either by association or by it being the product of willful misdirection and of created ignorance.

I cannot look into the eyes of the many survivors that I have gotten to know over the years and offer the platitude of “I feel your pain”.

I am grateful not to know that level of pain, to have grown up relatively unscathed by the machinations of those who saw no issue with using children for personal gratification. I am thankful that I was not trafficked by my family to ensure economic success or to obtain favours.

I can say that your words haunt me, that the betrayal that you suffered disgusts me and that your stories have changed my view of society for ever.

I have learned that to prevent a repeat of the horrors of the past, to end the horrors of today will require vigilance and dedication by every member of the community. It will require the rebuilding of trust and safe spaces and above all, it will require a level of ruthlessness in dealing with predators that may appear to be in conflict with the pastoral care and treatment model offered to date to the many criminals who preyed on our children.

It requires a paradigm shift in our communities and cultures, one that acknowledges the rights of the child well above the rights of any organization, no matter what claims it makes.

It will require us, as a community to value parenting and mentoring far above the sperm deposit and ownership of a child response.

Children are not property; their value must not be determined by class or by economic worth.

Above all, it will require all of us to act as parents if called upon and if we choose to respond to the call.

It requires boundaries that are easily understood and that are enforced if they are breached.

Every child has the right to know itself in a safe space. It is our duty to ensure that we, the adults, take reasonable steps to ensure that all children are safe. That all organizations are accountable and above all, transparent.

That we act as parents, uncles and aunties and mentors to all children and that parents who are struggling can reach out for support and guidance without being treated as flawed.

That the rights of the child are paramount simply because that child will one day be called on to be a force for good in its own life and the lives of others, that healthy and functional communities raise healthy and functional children.

Let us not repeat the historic failure of the recent past nor continue to hide the truths of child sexual abuse.

The violent society that we live in represents the violence and abuse that children were subjected to.”

Get your head around the scale of the thing before you pontificate on the goodness of churches and then think about how these attitudes have leached across into governments of all persuasions, how neoliberal trickle-down economic theory and the myth of the resilient and tough individual impacts on government policies and the attitudes displayed by those in power. Robodebt, the most recent example of the disconnect and moral disengagement that is pervasive in Australian politics today.

The ubiquitous ‘othering ‘ of those on social security who are deemed as a liability to be minimized, the same approach used to deal with Veterans who have served the nation and are expected to be enamoured by the platitude of ‘thank you for your service’.

There are endless examples of suffering that could be addressed with more vision and compassion. Suspend your disbelief regarding the abuse of children in faith-based organizations. Now shut your eyes and envision a country traumatized and bamboozled for generations and then see the similarities.

Individuals forced to live on the razors edge of economic destitution, homelessness. Social justice delayed, hence denied. The orchestrated rise of Nazi like groups and organizations playing by the authoritarian playbook, the manufactured faux outrage regarding individuals coming to terms with their own sexuality. The polarization of political belief, which eerily resembles the dark ages of ‘faith’.

I do not believe that all is lost, that we have to surrender our integrity, our shared humanity to appease those who want us to choose one colour or another.

This is not Trump’s America, and we should all make an effort that we don’t follow that path to political insanity. There is hope, but hope is never enough.

There has to be more involvement from the grass roots level of our communities. Not the voices of the extremes alone, but the voices of the ‘quiet Australians’, an accolade that demonstrates the contempt in which we are held by those with a sense of entitlement.

Democracy is, by its very nature, a challenge. There are those who see it as a hinderance to ‘economic growth and market expansion’. This should come as no surprise as the cost of doing business is socialized and the profits internalized. But if we allow democracy to fail, if we accept the words of politicians and media spin doctors unchallenged, the cost of that failure will resemble to price paid by the victims of structures that we know of, even if we choose to look away.

We simply do not have the luxury of time to look away, to stick our heads in the sand.

Those who go without meals, education and opportunity have no time at all. It’s happening right now, every day. Is that the Australia that we will be satisfied with? If so, all our self-congratulatory attempts, all our flag waving and claims to being a sovereign state become a moot point.


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Solar industry feeling the heat over disposal of 80 million panels

University of South Australia Media Release

The renewable energy sector is facing a quandary: how Australia will dispose of 80 million solar panels in an environmentally friendly way when they reach the end of their life.

Paradoxically, one of the reasons people are installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in huge numbers is to help the environment, but the industry is now grappling with the anticipated waste generated by 100,000 tonnes of panels due to be dismantled in Australia from 2035.

A new study led by the University of South Australia has proposed a comprehensive product stewardship scheme for solar panels, which was prioritised by the Federal Government several years ago.

In a paper published in AIMS Energy, UniSA researcher Professor Peter Majewski says incentives are needed for producers to design solar panels that can be more easily recycled if they are damaged or out of warranty.

“Australia has one of the highest uptakes of solar panels in the world, which is outstanding, but little thought has been given to the significant volume of panels ending up in landfill 20 years down the track when they need to be replaced,” Prof Majewski says.

“There are some simple recycling steps that can be taken to reduce the waste volume, including removing the panels’ frames, glass covers and solar connectors before they are disposed of.

“Landfill bans are already in place in Victoria, following the lead of some European countries, encouraging existing installers to start thinking about recyclable materials when making the panels.”

Prof Majewski says landfill bans are a powerful tool but require legislation that ensures waste is not just diverted to other locations with less stringent regulations.

Serial numbers that can track a history of solar panels could also monitor their recycling use and ensure they are disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.

“Several European nations have legislation in place for electric car manufacturers to ensure they are using materials that allow 85 per cent of the car to be recycled at the end of their life. Something similar could be legislated for solar panels.”

Weatherproof polymers used in solar panels pose environmental risks, releasing harmful hydro-fluorite gas when incinerated. Exposure to the gas can severely irritate and burn the eyes, causing headaches, nausea, and pulmonary edema in the worst cases, sometimes leaving permanent damage.

Another primary material used in solar cells is silicon, the second most abundant material on Earth after oxygen and the most common conductor used in computer chips.

“The demand for silicon is huge, so it’s important it is recycled to reduce its environmental footprint.

“About three billion solar panels are installed worldwide, containing about 1.8 million tons of high-grade silicon, the current value of which is USD 7.2 billion. Considering this, recycling of solar PV panels has the potential to be commercially viable.”

Prof Majewski says a second-hand economy could also be generated by re-using solar panels that are still functioning.

“Solar panel re-use offers a variety of social and environmental benefits, but consumers will need guarantees that second-hand panels will work properly and provide a minimum capacity in watts.”

Any end-of-life legislation will need to address existing and new panels and support the creation of a second-hand economy, Prof Majewski says.

A levy on the panels may also be needed to help finance an end-of-life scheme.


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Hocking tells Charles, “apologise!”

Despite her early childhood in England skipping through a host of golden daffodils (true) guest columnist Tess Lawrence is an impatient and noisy Republican, ditto the Treaty and The Voice, an unholy trinity that exposes the weeping canker left upon the flesh of this Great Southern Land by the brain dead British Empire, kept on life support by a monarchy that has wantonly, in Trumpian audacity, not only meddled in our political affairs but also jettisoned a prime minister from office through coercive control and exquisitely devious political stratagems that even Scott Morrison couldn’t confect.

Content warning: This article mentions Tampons, the Republic and something else that I can’t remember.

First, the warrior historian Jenny Hocking both humiliated and infuriated Queen Elizabeth with her sensational The Palace Letters coup.

Now she’s aimed her bespoke sling shot at Lizzie’s first born, the tampon romantic, King Charles, for decades his Mama’s loyal spaniel in a kennel of corgis.

Hocking calls for King Charles to apologise for Dismissal role

The diminutive, feisty Professor Hocking is calling for the King of Oz to apologize for his role in the notorious dismissal of Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in November 1975.

Many Australians may be unaware of the King’s (previously known as Prince) blatant fraternising and sneaky facilitating in the political scandal known simply as ‘The Dismissal.’ The improper Charley was also a go-between to Her Majesty and her man in Australia. Please read on.

In Pearls and Irritations, founder John Menadue, himself a former private secretary to Gough Whitlam when Opposition Leader, quotes from the warrior historian’s publication, The Dismissal Dossier:

John Kerr sidles up to Prince Charles in PNG

‘In the heat of early spring 1975 in the New Guinea highlands, the Governor General, Sir John Kerr sidled up to Prince Charles and suggested a quiet chat. Their topic? The possible dismissal of the Prime Minister whose guest at the Papua New Guinea Independence Day celebrations they both were. Kerr’s prime concern in confiding this exceptional matter of state to the Prince was, as ever, his own job security. … In Kerr’s own mind he and Prince Charles went way back – to at least the previous year when Kerr had been blessed with a startlingly frank discussion about the Prince’s endless wait to ascend to the throne. His royal ennui, a sort of privileged loose end that the Governor General had been only too willing to help tie up. … John Kerr also discussed with Prince Charles the suggestion that he might one day come to Australia as Governor General.’

The King’s outrageous, unconstitutional interference in Australian politics when he was a mere prince, has yet to be publicly addressed by Charles. (Like Mama, like son.) But at least Madge was a Queen. Charles was merely the heir, loitering with intent. And intent on loitering. That didn’t stop him having his two florins worth, but.

The Dismissal: most egregious royal interference

The take away from this is that the King was privy to what his mother was up to.

And if there is any greater egregious proof/example of collective royal interference in contemporary Australia politics, then I do not know of it.

And if you’d like French fries with this, remember that the front man who did all the dirty work for Her Majesty in grooming and flattering our needy Governor-General Sir John Kerr, was her long-time courtier and bestie, none other than Lieutenant-Colonel Martin Michael Charles Charteris, Baron Charteris of Amisfield. And Charteris was like an uncle to Charles.

Queen Elizabeth weaponised the Monarchy

This is the precis of the coup d’etat in a gumnut shell:

Hocking wanted access to the secret archived letters between the Palace and that self-important pompous git, the Governor-General Sir John Kerr, that subsequently proved the above, that Palace Inc, the Queen and other members of the royal family and courtiers not only colluded with Kerr to dismiss Whitlam, but also desperately sought to cover up what can be fairly described as the weaponising of the monarchy.

In Hocking’s words from the website:

There is one crucial part of Kerr’s papers that remains blocked to us – ‘the Palace letters’. These are the secret letters between Sir John Kerr and the Queen at the time of Kerr’s dismissal of Whitlam.

The National Archives of Australia is refusing to release these letters, claiming that they are ‘personal’ and not official Commonwealth records. The Palace letters are embargoed until at least 2027, with the Queen’s private secretary holding a final veto over their release even after that date. It is entirely possible that they will never be released.

National Archives accomplice to the Queen

It was a true battle royale between the Queen, aided and abetted by our shameless National Archives versus Hocking the individual. How could the Queen’s letters to her/our Governor-General possibly be deemed personal? Even if Lilibet and Kerr were lovers, their letters would still be deemed political. No question.

In a spectacular landmark case that turned the master key to all Commonwealth archives to some degree, Hocking and her pro bono legal team went on to successfully argue against such arrant nonsense and win the day after the long night’s fight for justice.

You would hope our National Archives would be the vanguard in releasing the ‘Palace Letters’ to the Australian people. But alas, it wasn’t.

Fricker tried to pulverize Hocking into submission

Instead, the then Director – General of the Archives, David Fricker, was Hocking’s histrionic combatant in the protracted legal stoush and spent hundreds of thousands of Archives dollars (taxpayer money) trying to pulverize citizen Hocking into legal submission.

From the ABC is this short grab of Fricker fronting Senate Estimates. Is he bowing his head in shame?

Fronting Senate Estimates today, the Archives’ director-general David Fricker said more than $1 million in taxpayer money had been spent defending the original decision to block access to the letters.

(NB: Fricker failed to do any such thing. His ridiculous attempt to prevent Hocking – and thus the Australian people – from access to its own history was surely an ignominious assault on the very raison d’etre of a national archive.)

Fricker hadn’t reckoned on Hocking’s tenacity

Like some of her critics, Fricker had not reckoned on Hocking’s tenacity or that of her legal team. Frail looking, fine boned and with her trademark glasses, she reminds one of Coco Chanel with her fringed bob and impeccable elegant appearance.

As well as being lauded by her peers as an historian, Hocking is also famous for her forensic investigations, research and analyses of political and social history. Her books, papers and lectures on terrorism, justice and intelligence agencies make salient reading and it is worth noting how her earlier works have proved to be disturbingly prophetic.

At times, it almost seemed that Fricker was more ardent than the Queen (read Palace) in fighting Hocking’s application.

Hocking paid heavy price for Australia

Hocking knew she would have to pay a heavy price on so many tiers, in the fight to legally force Fricker to release those palace letters from their imperial prison. Nonetheless, she was up for it.

For four long arduous years she fought a cause that is inextricably linked to our colonizing monarchy and yes, the notion of lese-majeste and all the privileges that have been greedily subsumed within the empire, along with the acquisition of entire nations including this very continent stolen from our First Nations peoples under the falsehood of terra nullius.

We ought not underestimate the accumulative physical, mental and financial toll this protracted and needless court case inflicted upon Hocking and inevitably her family circle and friends. In effect, she was a whistleblower and she was upsetting the Establishment and the status quid pro quo.

It was utterly preposterous that Australia had been denied access to its own historical legacy and documents. Let us put aside diplomatic platitudes.

Court case evidence of master-slave Australia to Britain

What remains manifest in that denial is evidence of the residue of a master-slave subservience and obeisance to the frayed remnants of the British Empire; the colonizer still attempting to inflict her will upon the colonised; remnants that lurk in our parliaments, courtrooms, laws, legislation, judicial system and constitutional mores and habits.

The Hocking case is a case in point and it’s good to know, for the sake of our own truth and storytelling, that a documentary series is being planned. Hopefully, the series will be cathartic for Hocking and all concerned.

Because inevitably in such cases, one becomes consumed with the task at hand. Although the big hand on the clock moves, the mind does not. Rather it is fixed on attempting to thwart legal tactics and argument and never-ending obfuscation.

Hocking copped a lot of shit

She copped a lot of shit and was regarded as a pariah by some. Her enemies lied to her and about her, even in public and even unto this day.

And where is the erstwhile Mr Fricker now? Well might you ask.

At the time of going to press, according to his Linked In page, he is now domicile in a Middle Eastern country in a place where secrecy is mandatory.

Fricker now in Abu Dhabi. Where else?

Where else would someone who abused public monies in a futile attempt to disallow citizens from accessing their own history in the ‘West’ find himself? Why, in Abu Dhabi of course! As special Advisor to the Director-General National Library and Archives of the UAE, no less.

Why am I not surprised?

Strangely, amongst all his listed qualifications, jobs and achievements on Linked In, there was nothing about the Hocking case debacle. Why not, I pondered?

Was it a career fail? Well yes, of course it was. Was it a monumental waste of public monies and court time? Well yes, it was. Was it all about tugging the fetlock as well as a forelock before the monarchy? Of course it was! And was it about serving conservative political masters? Yes, yes, yes!

Fricker’s loss to Hocking a career fail

But here’s Fricker’s hilarious killer punch. “Throughout my tenure I
worked hard to advocate for transparency and integrity in public administration.”

Fricker, as he can’t stop telling everyone, is a former Deputy-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and I sometimes wonder if Hocking’s writings on terrorism and our intelligence agencies have irked him. I feel as if he has a personal gripe with Hocking.

Whereas Fricker has been imbued with a tradition of secrecy, Hocking is a champion for transparency. And she revels in sharing information and history, as her books attest.

Her incisive journalism and ability to merge academe with literary flair has made her a compelling media commentator in print and on screen.

Little wonder then, that Hocking was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2023 Australian Honours for “significant service to the preservation of Australian political history.”

Hocking stars in The Scandal Mongers podcast

Or that the other week she starred in a near hour-long episode of the newish, naughty and fearless English podcast The Scandal Mongers featuring two names also well known to the Palace and especially His Royal Highness.

Ep.13 | 1975 An Australian Scandal… and a Royal Apology?



Lifelong cobbers Andrew Lownie and Phil Craig are wonderfully jovial, irreverent intellects and co-hosts. They are two sharp dudes.

Lownie and Hocking have much in common. Both are celebrated biographers. His subjects include John Buchan, Guy Burgess, the ‘Traitor King’ Edward V111- the Duke of Windsor. Both have fought the Establishment, powerful institutions, their respective governments and the Palace to gain access to royal papers.

In Lownie’s case, it was the Mountbatten papers bought with public monies by the University of Southhampton ostensibly to ensure public access to the archive. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

The university, the Cabinet Office and the Palace had other ideas. The ensuing court cases, despite ‘charity fees’ charged by Lownie’s legal team now leaves Lownie in debt to the dirge of more than five hundred thousand pounds (£500,000). Costs were awarded against him. Little wonder he has sleepless nights.

One would have thought the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the United Kingdom would have taken a pro-active role in Lownie’s case. The Office espouses its very existence is dedicated to empower people through information. Sure.

In what seems an act of utter malicious bastardry, after Lownie’s book on Mountbatten was published (without him gaining access to the papers) Southhampton University released the Mountbatten papers and plonked them into the public domain. So, what was their legal challenge really about?

Phil Craig knows Australia well. The Beeb was his alma mater and he brought those credentials with him to Australia’s ABC in October 2012 when he was appointed Head of Factual.

Among his responsibilities was the documentary series, Whitlam. And Hocking was a consultant to this series.

Given these happy coincidences and given the bald fact that the Whitlam dismissal was a right royal scandal, it was almost compulsive for the lads to interview their Antipodean counterpart for their 13th episode of The Scandal Mongers. He said what? He wrote what? He did what?

Charles stymied: minions in the dominions

The King was, I’m told by our palace meeces, furious with Hocking apparently accusing her of trying to put a spanner in the Coronation works.

The gathering of nuts and bolts for May 6th may well be stymied by his minions in the dominions.

But Charles was equally furious with the scandal mongers for giving Hocking a platform to “mouth orf” an expression that King Charles quite possibly picked up from his time in Orstralia.

Nightmare on Coronation Street

In fact, he thinks it’s all a pro republic plot. Not as in QAnon but as in KAnon, now that the Queen is dead, long live the King.

The story ricocheted around the world, and commonwealth countries in particular would have made note.

And we have the good oil that certain members of the British Press are primed to ask Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese if he will ask the King for an apology for sticking his royal proboscis where it doesn’t belong, when he goes to London for the Coronation. Governor-General David Hurley who’ll also be in attendance can expect questions on whether Charles should apologise and The Dismissal.

Should Charles apologise? Too right!

Furthermore, Charles can expect to be asked if he will apologise on behalf of the institution of the Monarchy, for the reprehensible interference of his mother, Queen Elizabeth in the 1975 constitutional crisis, an extrajudicial palace coup, by any measure an unfriendly act by Granny England as the Palace Letters attest.

And he should certainly be asked about apologising to our First Nations brothers and sisters and everyone who suffered the yoke of the British Empire. It comes with the territory.

Of course, during this time, Charles, PM Albanese and Governor-General Hurley will be quarantined from the press, but press conferences, if not pooled, can provide for a where journalists will throw away the script. After all, these questions are not only pertinent but also legitimate.

We owe Hocking and her legal team much and more than mere money. They restored our self-respect in this endeavour. Fricker and the Palace treated Australians like children seeking access to books for adults. I still find it difficult to fathom.

When Hocking turned that key in the lock of the royal vault, she also set a precedent that may well assist in other members of the Commonwealth in their own requests for pertinent papers.

The dismissal has long been a suppurating sore on the rump of our political history.

For years Hocking, the diminutive warrior historian fought Lilibet, Australia’s longest reigning Head of State and her obsequious collaborator, our National Archives, eventually succeeding after an arduous and torrid legal stoush, in gaining access to what are now known as ‘The Palace Papers‘ – that proved the Queen colluded with our supercilious Governor-General, Sir John Kerr in getting rid of his nemesis, Whitlam.

So it is with great pleasure we present for your amusement and enlightenment, Episode 13 of The Scandal Mongers podcast, entitled 1975 An Australian Scandal … and a Royal Apology? fast accumulating a cult following with the Royal Family and we of The Great Unwashed.

Through the miracle of the temple of Zoom, we bring you Aussie rock star historian Jenny Hocking mouthing ‘orf’ with those notorious scandal mongers, Andrew Lownie and Phil Craig.

Out with the popcorn and your favourite tipple, alcohol or no and settle down for some shocking fun … and it’s all true.

Fair dinkum.

* * * * * * *


Professor Jenny ‘Coco’ Hocking somewhere in the British colony of Orstralia with one of her adoring fans and local identity, Toby the Wonder Dog, president of Canines for a Green Republic. Photo credit: The Scandal Mongers Fan Club.


Hocking doesn’t always confine herself to writers’ festivals and big ticket media events. Here she is receiving a gift of a portrait painted by book club co-host John Ford after speaking to a sellout audience.


Tess Lawrence is Contributing editor-at-large for Independent Australia and her most recent article is The night Porter and allegation of rape.





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Brits spy on master spy writer

By Andrew Lownie

I have never considered myself as a dangerous radical or enemy of the state and my background and activities would not suggest it – I have been a Cambridge history fellow, Parliamentary candidate for the Conservative Party and been a member of several smart London clubs. Yet I’m being spied on by the State.

The monitoring by the Cabinet Office and Foreign Office includes my social media accounts, collecting a flyer for a talk I gave at a private club, details of a lecture at a Cambridge Alumni weekend and a library talk with an internal heading by the Cabinet Office of ‘Not just any cook-along this week’. I know this from various Subject Access Requests under data protection laws to those two departments relating to the personal data which they hold on me and which I have applied for over the last few years.

Though public authorities are required by law to supply such information, both departments have been reluctant to do so, citing a series of excuses ranging from costs compliance to vexatious behaviour. The Foreign Office, and only after seven months and the intervention of the Information Commissioner who regulates Information Rights, provided four brief mentions covering the period March 2021 to March 2022 when I had requested all data held over the last five years, a period which included repeated FOI requests, Parliamentary Questions and several Information tribunals.

The Cabinet Office eventually admitted that they held so much material on me for the past five years – they estimated it would take over 656 hours to collect the information – that my requests needed to be broken down into six monthly intervals. Their releases showed that my activities were brought to the attention of the Permanent Secretary, Alex Chisholm, and the ‘Cabinet Office COPRA team’, that my speaking engagements, newspaper articles and crowdfunding activities were monitored and that information was also collected on other parts of my life. This included employment tribunal and defamation cases which I had successfully defended, and which had nothing to do with my FOI requests or activities as an historian. The inference was that this information might be useful to smear me.

My crime? As an historian to push back against the censoring of our history by government departments and to highlight their failures to adhere to various Public Records Acts and the Freedom of Information Act.

My concerns about historical curation go back to researching a biography of Guy Burgess over a decade ago, where I found huge gaps in the record. There was nothing on his time in the Information Research Department, a secret unit set up at the beginning of 1948 to counter Russian propaganda and which he betrayed months after it was set up. Likewise, nothing on his time in the News Department, in the private office of Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin’s deputy Hector McNeil nor the British Embassy in Washington between 1950-51 – though there were papers for the period either side of his time in Washington for diplomats doing the same job. In historical parlance this is known as ‘dry cleaning’ the records.

My suspicions about Establishment cover ups were further confirmed when I began researching a book on Dickie & Edwina Mountbatten, the last Viceroy and Vicereine of India, in 2016. Their letters and diaries had been extensively quoted in previous books and a major fundraising campaign had been mounted by Southampton University in 2010 to buy their papers so they could be ‘open to all’.

I was therefore surprised to be told by the Southampton archivist that they knew nothing about these diaries and letters, part of a £2.8 million purchase under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme and with contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Hampshire County Council and other organisations.

Eventually after several years, numerous FOI requests, the intervention of the Information Commissioner and the unprecedented threat of contempt proceedings against Southampton University, in 2019 a Decision Notice was issued ordering the release of the material.

Southampton and the Cabinet Office appealed the decision but then, just before the November 2021 hearing, dumped 99.9% of the material (over 30,000 pages) on the internet. The material that they had kept closed for a decade, and fought so hard to prevent being made publicly available before my book The Mountbattens: Their Lives and Loves was published in 2019, proved to be entirely innocuous.

And they knew this because in March 2018, some eighteen months before they appealed the Information Commissioner’s Decision Notice, a review of the material organised by Southampton and the Cabinet Office had concluded there was nothing sensitive in the personal diaries and letters.

The tribunal, however, ruled that the Cabinet Office still had the right to apply FOIA exemptions to the diaries and letters which meant that just over a hundred redactions – some a single word, others several paragraphs – were applied on the grounds they were communications with the Sovereign, or that they would damage International Relations or National Security.

Until just before the four-day hearing in November 2021, Southampton had argued they were bound by the mysterious Ministerial Direction controlling the letters and diaries, but they dropped this argument saying that simply specific FOIA exemptions would be applied. On such grounds the Cabinet Office had no role to play in the hearing, no right to ‘review’ anything or to dictate to Southampton what to do with FOIA, but this was ignored by the tribunal.

There was no evidence that the diaries and letters had ever been ‘closed’ – neither the Cabinet Office nor Southampton could cite a specific notice but tried to argue that by implication they had been caught by the ‘undertakings’ concerning Dickie’s official papers in agreements in the 1960s and 1980s, but this could not be. The diaries and letters are expressly defined as AIL Chattels in the 2011 Purchase Agreement – not ‘Excluded Records’ i.e. the papers that the Cabinet Office had closed. The 2011 agreement expressly stated that the vendors were free to sell all AIL Chattels and that they are not subject to the Undertakings. Thus, the proviso in the Ministerial Direction couldn’t apply in any event to AIL Chattels. All this was ignored by the tribunal.

The upholding by the tribunal of various requested redactions is also baffling. Some names from the Royal Household were redacted – even if they were already in the public domain from the London Gazette or other books or, indeed, unredacted on other pages of the diaries. Other similar roles were not redacted so there was no consistency on how the FOIA exemptions were applied.

The tribunal also ruled on the grounds of National Security that a reference in Lord Mountbatten’s 1943 diary to an intelligence organisation under Captain G.A. Garnon-Williams should be redacted even though his P Division has extensively been written about and there are numerous references to him and his organisation in the database of the Mountbatten papers.

It was also ruled that a reference to the Pakistan leader, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in Edwina’s private diary should be redacted on the grounds that it would be prejudicial to relations with Pakistan even though the test is that ‘The public authority must show that there is some causative link between the potential disclosure and the prejudice and that the prejudice is real, actual or of substance. The harm must relate to the interests protected by the exemption.’ It is hard to believe that such a reference in a private diary seventy-five years ago would still damage relations with another country, especially when there is plenty of evidence already in the public domain from books about Edwina or by family members drawing on their access to the diaries, that Edwina had a low opinion of Jinnah. Aren’t India and Pakistan entitled to know what the Vicereine thought in this anniversary year of Independence? If not now, when?

This FOIA exemption – section 27 – has a public interest test and Southampton even then had no obligation to apply it but they did so. An FOIA exemption is available to a public authority in respect of any FOI request but it is not bound to plead it; the authority has a discretion – unless providing the info would otherwise be unlawful (under Data Protection Act, Official Secrets Act etc). Southampton were perfectly free to publish the material that allegedly would damage relations with India/Pakistan but Southampton choose not to do so in what looks like an academic institution censoring history.

It is quite clear, contrary to the Cabinet Office and Southampton’s claims, that the diaries and letters were open when purchased – they would not have satisfied the Acceptance in Lieu scheme otherwise – and that the reasonable course of action would have been to review the collection to see what could be released when it was acquired in 2011 and not only after they had been forced to do so a decade later. This could easily have been done by experts at Southampton. Instead, through to the hearing in November 2021 Southampton claimed that all the diaries and letters were so sensitive they had to be closed, that digitalisation would take years, the material was illegible and fragile etc. None of this was true.

Access to the diaries and letters before my book was completed would have made my book richer and more nuanced and, as I was not awarded my costs, it left me personally with a legal bill of over £400,000. No private individual should be financially penalised seeking access to material which was purchased with taxpayers’ money on the basis that it would be open to the public, but that is the position I now found myself in.

Millions of pounds of public monies were spent purchasing the total Broadlands Archive (even though we don’t know exactly what was apportioned to the diaries and letters) to make this important collection publicly available. And then, given that Southampton and the Cabinet Office deployed two top QCs and a plethora of lawyers, probably well over £1 million has been spent suppressing them. However, neither Southampton nor the Cabinet Office will say, even after Questions in Parliament and FOI requests, how much public money has been spent on pursuing this needless appeal against the Regulator.

This was only the start of my problems with officialdom. After I discovered a wartime FBI file which claimed Mountbatten was ‘a homosexual with a perversion for young boys’, I requested other listed files held on him, only to be told they had been destroyed. When I asked when that destruction had taken place, the American authorities candidly admitted, “After you had asked for them.” Clearly this had been at the request of the British Government, previously unaware that such damaging material existed.

The Irish police, the Garda, accepted that they had car logs for the visitors to Mountbatten’s holiday home in Ireland for August 1977, the month two sixteen-year-old boys claimed he had abused them, but they would not release them on the grounds that they were part of the investigation into Mountbatten’s murder – which took place two years later.

Even though we now have a twenty-year rule for deposit of historical records, I found that no files on Mountbatten’s 1979 murder had been deposited in archives, either in Ireland or Great Britain. The Garda claimed it was still ‘an active investigation’, even though the bomb maker had been convicted, served a sentence and was released under the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Indeed, many of the files relating to Mountbatten’s funeral, seen by millions around the world on television, are closed because they reveal sensitive information about the procession route, who sat in which carriage etc.

For my next book, researching the Duke of Windsor’s time in the Bahamas during the Second World War, I discovered that, while the Colonial Office Files in the National Archives were thin on him, there were mirror copies of the files in the Bahamas. These were much more extensive and full of revealing detail – such as the Duke posting the Commissioner of Police to Trinidad on the morning of a murder which the Duke wanted covered up.

Last year I requested a 1932 police protection file relating to the Duke of Windsor. Dozens of similar files have been available at the National Archives for twenty years. They contain useful titbits on the then Prince of Wales’ movements but nothing remotely secret. The Metropolitan Police refused to release the file on the grounds that it would jeopardise the present safety of the Royal Family.

That decision was upheld by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) so I took the matter to a tribunal. A judge asked if I would supply examples of information from other protection files of the period but, when I sought to do so, I discovered that the twenty files I had highlighted in my submission, and which had been publicly available for over twenty years, had been withdrawn from the National Archives. They included MEPO 10/35 which reveals Wallis Simpson’s affair with a car salesman called Guy Trundle, which has been copied and quoted numerous times by historians and is published in all its juicy detail on the website of the National Archive. Yet historians cannot look at the original file.

No terrorist has mounted an attack after spending hours wading through such files, yet on no evidence whatsoever the file was closed. Incidentally, I was told by the Special Branch weeder that there were dozens of other Special Branch reports on Edward and Wallis but only this representative file had been preserved. The others were not deemed worthy of preservation. Says who?

That relatively simple tribunal was held in November yet there has been no judgement. Justice delayed is justice denied.

I looked into writing a biography of Prince Philip to find almost all the files, even after his death, remain closed though I had some successes in securing releases. These included a file relating to his application to join the Royal Navy in 1938 consisting of written reports by his headmaster, briefings for various foreign trips going back to the 1950s and two pages were released relating to the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme in India in 1983. Quite why these files were ever closed in the first place beats me. Other requests failed such as files on his tour of South America in 1975, a briefing for a 1967 visit to Greece and a 1975 tour of Poland.

For my next book on Prince Andrew, I have given up FOI requests because, though some files are listed at the National files, often relating to foreign trips which were widely reported at the time, I know that data protection will be used to deny access.

The preservation of royal records is a real problem as the division between family and state records is unclear. It is known that Princess Margaret burnt huge quantities of the Queen Mother’s papers. The reputable author Christopher Wilson gave up writing his life of the Duke of Kent’s father after being refused access to his papers at Windsor. The Royal Archives give no access whatsoever to files on the reign of Elizabeth II, which include correspondence not just with prime ministers of the UK but premiers and governors-general of the Commonwealth realms. They also decide which historians they want to let in or not. Historians wishing to gain access to files from previous reigns are obliged to sign a form to say they will inform Buckingham Palace how any material will be used. Cameras are forbidden and there is no public inventory – rather like a restaurant with no menu.

Recently the campaigning organisation Index on Censorship published a report on censorship of Royal records pointing out that almost 500 files at the National Archives were closed including:

Royal Family flying training 1977 -1978. Record opening date 1st January 2066.

Family name of Royal Family members 1952-1960. Record opening date 1st January 2027

Remains of the Russian Royal Family 1993 Jan 1 – Dec 1993. No release date.

Family name of the Royal House 1952. Record opening date 1st January 2053.

Air travel for the Royal Family: Containing information relating to the financial arrangements for and other matters relating to the Royal Family 1936-1952. Record opening date 1st January 2053.

Visits overseas by members of Royal Family 1954. Record opening date 1st January 2055.

Declassified recently reported that over 200 files on overseas trips made by King Charles going back to the 1970s remain closed. They include a 1983 visit to Australia which will only be released when Charles is 121 years old.

Historians cannot look at important historical material from almost a century ago, yet Prince Harry can spill intimate secrets from a few months ago. As the former MP Norman Baker, author of And What Do You Do? What the Royal Family Don’t Want You to Know has said; ‘There’s no reason for these to be kept secret. The normal excuse given is that it’s to uphold the dignity of the crown. But the dignity of the crown is upheld by them not behaving in an undignified manner.’

There are lots of techniques used by public authorities to avoid disclosure. They can kick the can down the road as long as possible, sometimes amounting to over a year. They can keep changing the exemptions deployed as each is addressed and shown not to apply. They can simply not answer requests and hope the requestor gives up. They can play with semantics in carefully phrased replies which are economical with the truth. They can agree to release documents and then do nothing or redact them so heavily as to make them worthless. They can aggregate separate requests and then refuse on grounds of costs of compliance. They can claim a request is vexatious or deploy FOI exemptions without a Public Interest Test and which cannot therefore be challenged.

Time and time again, authorities hide behind national security or law enforcement or claim not to have material, only to miraculously find it when evidence of its existence is presented. Intriguingly, only the most sensitive documents are ever affected by damp or asbestos. A favourite trick is to use Section 22 (where the information is held by the public authority with a view to its publication, by the authority or any other person, at some future date) but where the material mysteriously never finds its way to the National Archives. A weeder has personally told me that when in doubt reviewing material, they are told to just use an absolute exemption, such as Section 23 National Security.

My experience with Mountbatten is a good example of public authorities, often pleading scant resources when responding to FOI requests, yet deploying costly lawyers to battle invariably under-represented requestors and to try and break them financially. It is clear from the recent House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report that the Freedom of Information Act 2000 – both in terms of legislative reach and enforcement power – is simply not fit for purpose and Parliamentary unease at the antics of the Cabinet Office and the weakness of ICO as a regulator is justified.

There are too many loopholes (“exemptions” which are very broadly drawn), and the government – particularly the Cabinet Office – has become extremely adept in exploiting them. They include from my own experience:

(i) The licence given to public authorities to entirely change their reasons for refusing to disclose information at almost any stage – however late – in proceedings. This leads to what could be described as the absurd game of ‘whack-a-mole’ – and of course drives up costs. In my case the Ministerial Direction was used to justify closure for a decade until I questioned its existence.

(ii) The lack of any mechanism to ensure public authorities adhere to deadlines, or even Decision Notices. Because they can ignore these with impunity, researchers are faced with the prospect of incurring costs to bring a delinquent body into line. My lawyers constantly had to chase both Southampton and the Cabinet Office for responses, even though they had statutory time limits, to the extent of bringing contempt proceedings. All this cost me money which was their aim.

There is scope for some simple reforms such as:

  • Statutory deadlines for an authority to respond. There are, for example, no enforceable deadlines for Internal Reviews which should take no more than forty days. It wouldn’t be difficult to tweak FOIA to include unequivocal – and actionable – timetables across the process.
  • “Deemed refusals”. Scotland’s FOIA includes this provision, by which the absence of a response within the required timetable is taken as a formal refusal, which can then be appealed by the applicant.
  • Sanctions for failures to comply with timetables. Public authorities, routinely flout deadlines – whether statutory or in ICO guidance. The way to discourage this is by an automatic financial penalty – payable to the applicant – for every deadline missed. Train companies (for example) are now required to pay passengers what amounts to a fine for failures to arrive on time: there is no reason why Whitehall should be any different.
  • Severely reduced licence for public authorities to ‘change horses midstream’. If the Cabinet Office pleads Section 22 at first FOIA request, it should not be allowed to amend that to a different exemption without the explicit permission of the regulator. And the bar for being allowed to do so should be set extremely high, with accompanying statutory requirements for the disclosure of evidence supporting any such request.

The culture of cronyism needs to go. Either archives are secret, or they should be made available to everyone. Tame journalists are often tipped off about document releases well in advance of the rest of the media and there are a select number of writers who are given privileged access to write commercial books.

There needs to be proper, separate oversight. Internal reviews are conducted by the same department, and, from my experience, they have all upheld the original decision. There is the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives Committee, but it has little power and its members appointed by the DCMS. It needs to be replaced with a much more robust body and given stronger powers.

The ICO requires more money and staff, it needs to be truly independent of the Cabinet Office (who are the worst abusers of FOIA), and it has to be prepared to use its enforcement powers. Indeed, I believe the ICO should be left with just its data protection role and a new regulatory for Information Rights set up.

There also needs to be a sea change in attitudes in Whitehall. I have seen very senior civil servants lie to the media, Parliament and my lawyers. After the former Foreign Secretary, Dr David Owen, called on the Cabinet Secretary to reimburse my legal costs on the Mountbatten case, he was fed a tissue of lies by a senior member of the Cabinet Office. The weeders need to have a lighter touch and FOI requests need to be dealt with more quickly while a rather more enlightened attitude must be taken towards FOI exemptions to really protect what is important.

The balance between accountability and transparency on the one hand and protecting national security on the other is a difficult one to strike. Once records are released the genie is out of the bottle, but it is hard to argue that records, which in many cases are over 60 years old and where the officials involved are dead, should not be released. If our history is to be written accurately, we will have to have all the records made available – not just those a government department believes we should have – and historians should not be penalised for seeking to ensure that happens.

Andrew Lownie was educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he was Dunster History Prizeman and President of the Union, before taking his Masters and doctorate at Edinburgh University. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he later returned to Cambridge as a visiting fellow at Churchill College.

He has been a bookseller, publisher, journalist, writing for the Times, Telegraph, Wall Street Journal, Spectator and Guardian, and since 1988 has run his own literary agency specialising in history and biography.
He is President of the Biographers Club, sits on the board of Biographers International Organisation and is a Trustee of the Campaign for Freedom of Information.

His books include biographies of the writer John Buchan, spy Guy Burgess and the top ten Sunday Times bestsellers The Mountbattens: Their Lives and Loves and Traitor King: The Scandalous Exile of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. His biography of Prince Andrew will be published in 2024.

(Image from Byline Times / Photo by Hardeep Matharu)



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High Court fight for safe housing in remote Indigenous communities has far-reaching implications for renters nationwide

Grata Fund: Media Release

On Thursday 16 March from 9.45am, the High Court of Australia will consider whether compensation is available for distress or disappointment suffered by First Nations people living in dilapidated housing in remote communities. It is the first residential tenancy case being heard by Australia’s highest court in a generation.

Whilst this case is brought by remote Indigenous public housing tenants, the High Court’s decision will likely impact all renters across Australia. Approximately one in three Australian households are renters and more than half of Northern Territorians are renters.

The case is a culmination of a fight for housing justice that started more than seven years ago when tenants Enid Young and Mr Conway (who passed away during the case) from the remote Northern Territory community, Santa Teresa began proceedings with 68 other tenants from that community. That battle has already established that the legal standard for ‘habitable’ premises requires that the premises be not only safe, but also reasonably comfortable. This High Court hearing is the next step and examines if compensation should be paid for the distress and disappointment suffered by tenants when housing does not meet legal standards.

Badly maintained houses have left many people in Santa Teresa without electricity, hot water, cooking facilities or functioning toilets for weeks, months and even years at a time. The lead tenant in this case, Ms Young, endured more than five years without being provided a door for an external doorway of her home. Without a front door, Ms Young felt unsafe in her own home and was fearful that her home could be invaded by snakes or her possession stolen when she left the house. Another tenant, a young mother, regularly had to wake up multiple times a night to mop up leaking sewage to protect her young children’s health. The High Court will now consider how compensation should be paid for distress caused by these types of breaches.

Dan Kelly, Solicitor at Australian Lawyers for Remote Aboriginal Rights (ALRAR), says: “This case is the culmination of a long struggle for housing justice, led by the remote community of Santa Teresa. Housing is a human right, and the deplorable state of housing in remote communities, its impacts on health, education and employment opportunities, should not be tolerated in a country as wealthy as Australia. As it stands, legal action such as this is the only way remote communities can enforce their basic rights to habitable housing.

Isabelle Reinecke, Executive Director, Grata Fund says: “Tenants from Santa Teresa have been fighting for decent homes for their families, against the sometimes very hostile NT Government, for years. Today, they’ve reached the highest court in the country where they will argue that renters should be compensated for the distress caused by their landlord’s failure to complete repairs to ensure their homes were safe and habitable. Through this landmark case, First Nations community members from the small remote town of Santa Teresa are leading the way and fighting for better housing conditions for all Australians.

Ms Young, the late Mr Conway and the community of Santa Teresa are being represented by ALRAR at no cost to the community. Grata Fund has provided funding and support to the community throughout the legal journey.

Joel Dignam, Healthy Homes for Renters, says: “With more and more people paying through the nose for their rental home, it’s essential that the place is at least habitable. What’s important to recognise is that this should include that people can comfortably and liveably use the home. We hear from many renters who can’t use their bedrooms in summer because they get too hot, and end up sleeping in the lounge, sometimes for weeks on end. Landlords should be held accountable for making sure that rental homes are habitable, and this means more than just a few walls and a roof, it means that people should be able to live a full and decent life in their homes.

At the same time, Santa Teresa and other remote Indigenous communities are experiencing significant distress as a result of the NT Government’s recent introduction of the new rent rate hike that will see rent increases for 68% of remote renters. These rent hikes, regardless how dilapidated the house, will push tenants even further into poverty, at a time where cost of living stress is impacting Australians nationwide. The rent increases are up to 300% previous rent rates.

Skye Thompson, CEO, Aboriginal Housing NT says: “Aboriginal families living remotely across the Territory have been left to live in dilapidated homes that make elderly people sick, are unfit for young children and unsafe for far too long. We need homes that are culturally appropriate, energy efficient, keep our families safe with services delivered through an Aboriginal community-controlled system. We’re ready to work on the solutions, and we look forward to continuing to work in true partnership with the Northern Territory and Australian Governments to deal with the systemic issues that remote housing has been plagued with for far too long,

It is expected that a decision by the High Court in the Santa Teresa housing compensation case will be reached later this year.

Grata Fund advocates for a strong and functioning democracy by using circuit breaking litigation to hold the powerful to account. Grata is Australia’s first specialist non-profit strategic litigation incubator and funder. Grata develops, funds, and builds sophisticated campaign architecture around high impact, strategic litigation brought by people and communities in Australia. We focus on communities, cases and campaigns that have the potential to break systemic gridlocks across human rights, climate action and democratic freedoms.

In February 2018, the Santa Teresa community won at the NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal and established the Santa Teresa community’s right to ‘habitable housing’ – defined as ‘at least safe’.

The case went to the NT Supreme Court, which found in favour of the community. It confirmed their right to habitable housing, but said that habitable meant not only safe, but reasonably comfortable, judged against contemporary standards. This is a much stronger definition.

In February 2022, the NT Court of Appeal confirmed that the NT Government must provide decent housing, and rejected the NT Government’s third attempt to water down its obligations.

The community’s fight has had a huge impact that will not only benefit the 76 remote communities in the NT, but all tenants in the NT. Thanks to their efforts, all landlords – public or private – are now required to keep their properties in a decent condition.


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No AUKUS Coalition Victoria: Media Release

The drums of another US-led war are beating louder every day. This time in our region. A series of baseless and hysterical articles in the Melbourne’s Age and Sydney Morning Herald are designed to condition the public to accept the necessity of Australia’s support and involvement in a US-led war, potentially a nuclear war.

The whipped-up hysteria is being strategically promoted on the eve of Prime Minister Albanese travelling to the US where an announcement on Australia purchasing AUKUS nuclear submarines will be made early next week. The warmongering articles are also designed to hose down and silence the growing public questioning of Australia’s involvement in a US-led war with China, and on the eve of mass rally for peace in Melbourne on Saturday 18th March A Call for Peace, Truth Not War – State Library, Swanston Street, Melbourne 1 pm. (Details below.)

The rabid warmongering is also designed to condition the public to accept the necessity of Australian government spending hundreds of billions of people’s taxes on another US imperialist war with profiteering by multinational weapons corporations from death and suffering by millions.

The 5 so-called “experts” cobbled together for the propaganda articles provide no facts or evidence. The 5 “experts” are either members or actively involved with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), funded by the Department of Defence and major US and British arms manufacturers – Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon – and also receives funding from the US government. Some are also members of US “think tanks”.

China does not pose a military threat to Australia. However, we have much to fear and lose from our involvement in a US-led war with China. As a US base and launching pad for its war, will automatically make Australia China’s military target. We are dependent on China sustaining our national economy. More than 90% of our fuel is imported through the trade routes vulnerable to disruptions during a war.

However, the fact that these 5 Red Alert “experts” are using fear to prepare the public for Australian involvement in US-led war with China is a measure of some success by the work of the peace movement over a number of years.

18th March Peace rally:

A Call for Peace, Truth Not War

On 20th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq

1.00 pm

State Library of Victoria


Dr Margie Beavis – Medical Association for Prevention of War

Prof. Richard Tanter – Nautilus Institute

Dave Sweeney – Australian Conservation Council/ICAN

Alexia Fuentes – Bayan Australia

John Lander – former Deputy Ambassador to China and Ambassador to Iran

Shirley Winton – No AUKUS Coalition Victoria/Independent and Peaceful Australia Network

David McBride – War Crimes Whistle Blower

More speakers at Treasury Gardens after the march through the city.


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“Road to War”

Media Release: The Road to War

Latest film by David Bradbury

Premiere to be held in Melbourne 6.30pm, March 22 at the Cinema Nova, Carlton.

Online tickets can be purchased here.

A Q&A will follow the screening. Special guests (some featured in the documentary) to join David Bradbury:

John Lander, former deputy ambassador to China, former ambassador to Iran;

Dr Richard Tanter, former President Australian board of the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017; Simone Pavavakis: environmental activist, novelist.

(Hobart screening on March 23 at the State Cinema with special guest Bob Brown. Adelaide screening on March 29 at the Capri Theatre. Further screenings in other cities and regional centres TBA).

Further information or interviews with David Bradbury:

As international tensions rise to a new level, with the Ukraine war passing its first anniversary and the Albanese Government set to announce its commitment of hundreds of billions of dollars to new weaponry, nuclear propelled subs, Stealth bombers etc, The Road to War brings into sharp focus why it is not in Australia’s best interests to be dragged into an American-led war with China.

The Road to War is directed by one of Australia’s most respected political documentary filmmakers, David Bradbury. Bradbury has more than four decades of journalistic and filmmaking experience behind him having covered many of the world’s trouble spots since the end of the Vietnam war – SE Asia, Iraq, East Timor, revolutions and civil war in Central and South America, India, China, Nepal and West Papua.

“I was driven to make this film because of the urgency of the situation. I fear we will be sucked into a nuclear war with China and/or Russia from which we will never recover, were some of us to survive the first salvo of nuclear warheads,” says the twice Oscar-nominated filmmaker.

“We must put a hard brake on Australia joining in the current arms race as the international situation deteriorates. We owe it to our children and future generations of Australians who already face the gravest existential danger of their young lives from Climate Change,” says Bradbury.

There is general concern among the defence analysts Bradbury interviews in the film that Australia is being set up to be the US proxy in its coming war with China. And that neither the Labor nor LNP governments have learnt anything from being dragged into America’s wars of folly since World War II – Korea, Vietnam, two disastrous wars in Iraq and America’s failed 20-year war in Afghanistan which ripped that country apart, only to see the Taliban warlords return the country and its female population to feudal times.

“Basing US B52 and Stealth bombers in Australia is all part of preparing Australia to be the protagonist on behalf of the United States in a war against China. If the US can’t get Taiwan to be the proxy or its patsy, it will be Australia,” says former Australian ambassador to China and Iran, John Lander.

Military analyst, Dr Richard Tanter, fears the US military’s spy base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs, will be the first target of any direct confrontation between the US and Russia or China.

“The US military base at Pine Gap is critical to the US military’s global strategy, especially nuclear missile threats in the region. The generals in Moscow and Beijing would have it as a top priority on their nuclear Hit List,” says Dr Tanter whose 40 years of ground-breaking research on Pine Gap with colleague, Dr Des Ball, has provided us with the clearest insight to the unique role Pine Gap plays for the US. Everything from programming US drone attacks to detecting the first critical seconds of nuclear ICBM’s lifting off from their deep underground silos in China or Russia, to directing crippling nuclear retaliation on its enemy.

“Should Russia or China want to send a signal to Washington that it means business and ‘don’t push us any further’, a one-off nuclear strike on Pine Gap would do that very effectively, without triggering retaliation from the US since it doesn’t take out a US mainland installation or city,” says Dr Tanter.

“It’s horrible to talk about part of Australia in these terms but one has to be a realist with what comes to us by aligning ourselves with the US,” Tanter says.

“Studies show in the event of even a very limited nuclear exchange between any of the nuclear powers, up to two billion people would starve to death from nuclear winter,” says Dr Sue Wareham of the Medical Association for the Prevention of War.

“The Australian Government, Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, and Minister for Defence, Richard Marles, have a serious responsibility to look after all Australians. Not just those living in cities. Were Pine Gap to be hit with even one nuclear missile, Health Minister Mark Butler would be hard pressed to find any volunteer nurses and doctors willing to risk their lives to help survivors in Alice Springs, Darwin and surrounding communities from even one nuclear missile hitting this critical US target,” says Dr Wareham.

Clip from The Road to War:




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Coalition support for cruel live sheep trade a retrograde step

Media Release: Australian Alliance for Animals

The Australian Alliance for Animals has today condemned the Coalition’s policy of reinstating the cruel live sheep export trade should it return to government.

The comments come as opposition leader Peter Dutton visits the Woolorama Show in Western Australia.

Alliance for Animals’ Policy Director Dr Jed Goodfellow said the Coalition’s position would harm animal welfare, export Aussie jobs overseas, and would be resoundingly rejected by the Australian community.

“This would be a retrograde step and would take Australian agriculture backwards.

“The Coalition seems intent on keeping Aussie farming in the dark ages when it comes to animal welfare.

“The last thing the Aussie wool industry wants is for its brand to be tarnished by the international stain that is live sheep exports,

“The Coalition need to see the writing on the wall – the Australian community and international markets want higher standards of animal welfare, and the live sheep trade is incompatible with this.

“Polling commissioned by the RSPCA in 2022 shows that 78% of Australians (including 79% of Western Australians) support a phase out of live sheep exports if farmers are assisted in the process.

“Reinstating the trade after an effective phase out would see Aussie jobs in local processing facilities and further value-adding opportunities exported back to the Middle East,

“Peter Dutton’s stance is ironic given it was the previous Coalition Government that commenced the phase out, with 70% of the trade declining since 2018 due to new regulations introduced under David Littleproud’s watch.

“Despite all of the regulatory reviews in recent years, sheep still suffer heat stress when traversing the equatorial and Middle Eastern climates, and they’re still slaughtered without stunning.

“The Albanese Government’s policy is simply picking up where the Coalition left off but it’s doing so in a way that provides the industry and the community with more certainty.

“Any attempt to continue this cruel trade will not be well received by the majority of Australians, and the level of concern just gets higher with every generation.”

About the Australian Alliance for Animals

The Australian Alliance for Animals is a national charity leading a strategic alliance of Australia’s key animal protection organisations with a combined supporter base of over 2 million people. Core members include Animals Australia, Humane Society International Australia, World Animal Protection Australia, Compassion in World Farming, FOUR PAWS Australia, and Voiceless, the animal protection institute. Website: Australian Alliance for Animals.

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