Media Alert - Refugees Say "Fair Go, Albo"

A protest vigil will be held for 4 days at the electoral…

The Voice reveals the urgent need for truth…

The fact that Elon Musk has just halved his election integrity team…

Desperate refugees hold their ground

In Melbourne, there have been rolling protests by refugees outside the electoral…

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Manus, Nauru way worse than Pezzullo texts

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Now, how do I tackle this? Do I use the information in…

Cruel Prerogatives: Braverman on Refugees at the AEI

Suella Braverman has made beastliness a trait in British politics. The UK…

Dictator Dan Quits And Victoria Is Free...

With the resignation of Dan Andrews, Victorians can once again go to…


Category Archives: Politics

The Voice reveals the urgent need for truth reforms

The fact that Elon Musk has just halved his election integrity team this week on X/Twitter at the same time as a former integrity executive at the platform warned that foreign government and extremist bad actors are intervening there to distort the debate on the Voice, policy action to protect our ability to trust government, the media and social media is more important than ever.

Protecting the democratic project ought to be one of our most important goals. The Albanese government has made several timid steps in this direction, but in other crucial areas is dawdling over integrity measures that need urgent attention. One of the most important aspects will be legislating towards promoting truth in political speech.

This ought to have been done before the announcement of the Voice to Parliament referendum: the disinformation deployed by the No campaign threaten this crucial project that ought to be debated based on truths not fear-mongering fantasy.

The Right has elected to make the Voice into a political weapon to try to damage Albanese and strengthen its own chances at the next election. Given that the Voice is such a mild proposed advisory body, the No campaign is manufacturing deceptive propaganda to alienate an inflation-stressed public. Politicians will not even be obliged to consult with the Voice when making policy regarding First Nations’ people, so the dire threats are ludicrous.

The knowledge that the official AEC Yes and No campaign pamphlet sent to every home in Australia was not obliged to be factual is shocking: Australians do not understand the utter cynicism of the contemporary Right and many are likely to assume something issued by a government-affiliated body will be factual, missing the later fact-checks that pointed out the many misleading elements in the No campaign section of the booklet.

This unreliable material was issued at taxpayer expense; so too is the campaigning against the Voice being carried out by serving Right wing politicians. This ought to impose obligations towards truth, even if it doesn’t oblige politicians to serve the public interest.

It is a Herculean challenge to control the flow of conspiracy disinformation on the internet. Some of it is started by paid operatives and spread by bots, but much of the rest is organic, each new conspiracy detail slotted into the metaconspiracy (or omniconspiracy) that the political Right is exploiting. Health misinformation related to the pandemic merged into QAnon and ideas from Pentecostal preachers. These intermingle in a digital jigsaw that makes room for every other conspiracy theory, to form what Naomi Klein in her latest book labels the “Mirror World.”

Such is the complexity of the mirrored “reality” that its people believe those in the fact-based world are actually in a “clown world” or “the matrix.” Klein explains “we are not having disagreements about differing interpretations of reality – we are having disagreements about who is in reality and who is in a simulation.”

In Australia, the Voice is being used (like the war on “gender”) to activate this radicalised base drawn into MAGA Plus Trumpist politics. It is depicted as an “elite” conspiracy aimed to “enslave” Australians to a “global landlord.”

Above all Klein’s Mirror World features a loathing of everything that emerges from academic and professional expertise. Anything from the old sources of authority is intended to deceive and exploit. Fact-checkers are part of the conspiracy world’s enemy elites. There is no source of information outside their sphere that people within the Mirror World will trust (unless it reinforces their current beliefs).

AEC commissioner Tom Rogers declared the scope of the wild rumours spreading about the Voice referendum is “tinfoil-hat-wearing bonkers mad conspiracy theories” including that the vote is rigged or that the AEC is using Dominion voting machines, the company targeted in the Trump election lie conspiracies. These illustrate that the wider implication of the demonisation of the Voice is an unfounded attack on our democratic processes as unreliable.

With this epistemological crisis, it is crucial that political speech – and the news media that disseminates it – is obliged to lean closer to truthful speech. We must earn and protect the trust that the community not yet drawn into the Mirror World should be able to have in these sources.

Truth in political advertising must be legislated at the federal level as it is in many of our states.

We must also legislate that government-affiliated bodies’ publications be fact-checked before publication, not merely trust that the public will find such fact-checks after the item is distributed.

It is time for debating whether we need sanctions for politicians who systematically mislead the electorate. Obviously this would be unpopular with both main parties since, for example, misleading the public on the functionality of climate “solutions” such as carbon sequestration is standard business. Nonetheless, we can only make the best decisions for the country’s present and the world’s future by pushing for this political reiteration of corporate spin to be challenged.

We should demand a public and real-time register of affiliations of politicians (and political journalists). From whom do they accept money to perform speeches? From whom do they accept travel and accommodation? With which bodies do they regularly associate?

We need a more stringent definition of the nature of “think tank.” If the nature of the thinking is to generate propaganda talking points rather than actual research, they need to be accurately labelled as lobbyists. Bodies that are connected to international ultra-free market strategists like the Atlas Network need to be publicly labelled and forced to reveal donors and pay tax.

The Murdoch Royal Commission must be commenced, with other commercial news organisations to be covered by findings about ensuring true “fair and balanced” coverage. In an age where politicians deploy lies in abundance, we need news organisations compelled to be cordoned off from the propaganda mission – or labelled accordingly.

The ABC needs the many recommendations to strengthen its independence from political interference implemented.

The Greens and independent candidates are correct: there should be no exemption for “professional news content” in the attempt to crackdown on social media misinformation.

This domestic program ought to be more straightforward than the daunting challenge of dealing with international mis- and disinformation fomented on the internet. That ‘X’ is so much worse for bigotry and disinformation than Twitter illustrates two key points. The settings implemented by management can work to limit disinformation. It also illustrates the damage of leaving massive platforms in private hands.

Robert Reich recently posted this message: “The forces undermining our democracy, polluting our planet, and stoking hatred are counting on you to give up.

“They have money.

“They have megaphones.

“And they have an even more powerful weapon – one that’s harder to spot but incredibly effective: Cynicism.

“Don’t give up.”

The Albanese government has the power to ensure that Australian political speech is as truthful as possible in a world where reliable information is both difficult to determine and utterly crucial.


This essay was first published at Pearls and Irritations


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Cruel Prerogatives: Braverman on Refugees at the AEI

Suella Braverman has made beastliness a trait in British politics. The UK Home Secretary, fed on the mush and mash of anti-refugee sentiment, has been frantically trying to find her spot in the darkness of inhumanity.

Audaciously, and with grinding ignorance, she persists in her rather grisly attempts to kill the central assumptions of international refugee protection, flawed as they might be, elevating the role of the sovereign state to that of tormenter and high judge. In doing so Braverman shows herself to believe in the ultimate prerogative of the state to be decisively cruel rather than consistently humane. The result is a tyrant’s feast, bound to make a good impression in every country keen to seal off their borders from those seeking sanctuary.

In her speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Braverman came up with a novel reading on how the United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951 has been applied of late. In her mind, there had been “an interpretive shift” towards generosity in awarding refugee status when, conspicuously, the opposite is true. She was particularly irked by those irritating judges who had endorsed “something more akin to a definition of ‘discrimination’.” All in all, “uncontrolled and illegal migration” posed “an existential challenge for the political and cultural institutions of the West.”

Lip service is paid to the rights of asylum seekers, though not much. She shows a keen fondness for the term “illegal migrants” such as those who made their way to the Italian island of Lampedusa, proceeding to sleep on the streets, pilfer food and clash with police. “Where individuals are being persecuted, it is right we offer sanctuary,” she conceded. “But we will not be able to sustain an asylum system if in effect, simply being gay, or a woman, or fearful of discrimination in your own country of origin, is sufficient to qualify for protection.”

Trust Braverman to turn universal human rights into a matter of gender or sexual politics. She further teases out the battle lines by attacking the “misguided dogma of multiculturalism” that “makes no demands of the incomer to integrate.” Such a failure had happened because “it allowed people to come to our society and live parallel lives in it.”

A quick read of the definition of “refugee” in the Convention stipulates a number of considerations: “a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particularly social group or political opinion”; that the person is outside their country of nationality and unwilling to “avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”

In 2022, a mere 1.5% of the 74,751 asylum claims lodged in the UK cited sexual orientation in their applications. The countries most prominently featured as points of origin for the applicants were Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria. It remains unclear how many were accepted as a direct result of mentioning sexual orientation, but these numbers hardly constitute a radical shift.

The UNHCR was unimpressed by the Home Secretary’s AEI show, though hampered by the language of moderation. “The need is not for reform, or more restrictive interpretation, but for stronger and more consistent application of the convention and its underlying principle of responsibility-sharing.” The body suggested that expediting the backlog of asylum claims in the UK might be one way of approaching it, something Braverman has failed, rather spectacularly, to do.

The Refugee Convention has provided fine sport for abuse and blackening for over two decades, its critics always bleating about the fact that the circumstances of its remit had changed. A list of Australian Prime Ministers (John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abott, just to name a few) would surely have to top the league, always taking issue with a document regarded as creaky and unfit to deal with the arrival of “unlawful non-citizens”. From the implementation of the Pacific Solution to the creation of such odious categories as Temporary Protection Visas, the protective principles of the Convention became effigies to a system that was being forcibly retired.

In Britain, New Labour’s Tony Blair, always emphasising the New over Labour, never tired of haranguing his party, and constituents, about the reforms he was making to a number of policy platforms, with processing refugees being foremost among them. During his election drive in 2001, Blair claimed that, “The UK is taking the lead in arguing for reform, not of the convention’s values, but of how it operates.” At the time, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, Nick Hardwick, gasped. “The Geneva Convention on Refugees has saved millions of lives worldwide.”

Blair’s Home Secretary, Jack Straw, had already set the mould for Braverman in his promise in 2000 to initiate a “complete revision” of the Refugee Convention, one that would see “a two-tier system to cut the flow of asylum seekers” coming into the UK.

At home, Braverman has made a royal mess of things. Keeping up with an obsession nurtured by the Johnson government, she has persisted in trying to outsource and defer the responsibility for processing asylum claims to third countries. The favourite choice remains distant Rwanda, a country unfathomably praised for its outstanding “modernising” credentials.

While the government scored a legal victory in the High Court in December 2022, which saw nothing questionable about undertakings made by Kigali in the Memorandum of Understanding and Notes Verbales (NV) about how asylum claims would be processed, the Court of Appeal thought otherwise. On June 29 this year, a majority of the Court decided to give Rwanda’s human rights record a stern, rough comb over, finding it wanting on the prohibition against torture outlined in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Sir Geoffrey Vos, Master of the Rolls, felt that “there were substantial grounds for thinking that asylum seekers sent to Rwanda under the MEDP [Migration and Economic Development Partnership]” at the date the decisions were made by the secretary in July 2022 “faced real risks of article 3 [European Convention on Human Rights] mistreatment.” Such a conclusion was inevitable after consulting “the historical record described by the UNHCR, the significant concerns of the UNHCR itself, and the factual realities of the current asylum process itself.”

Lord Justice Underhill underlined the lower court’s own admission that the Rwandan government was “intolerant of dissent; that there are restrictions on the right of peaceful assembly, freedom of the press and freedom of speech; and that political opponents have been detained in unofficial detention centres and have been subjected to torture and Article 3 ill-treatment short of torture.”

As a result, Braverman finds herself at sea, struggling to find a port, or centre, to park her own, brittle dogmas. In July, she told the House of Commons that she disagreed “fundamentally” with the view of the court “that Rwanda is not a safe place for refugees.” She went on to say that her government took their “international obligations very seriously and we are satisfied that the provisions of the Illegal Migration Bill comply with the refugee convention. The fundamental principle remains, however, that those in need of protection should claim asylum at the earliest opportunity and in the first safe country they reach.”

And that, ultimately, is the rub: domestic politics vaulted by individual ambition. When considering the stuffing in such speeches, the international audience is less important than those listening at home. Braverman is likely to have her eyes on the prime ministerial prize, having failed to secure the Conservative leadership last summer. A troubled Tory MP, speaking to the BBC on condition of anonymity, had some advice for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak: best get rid of the Home Secretary as soon as possible lest it “reflects poorly on him”. It’s a bit late for that.


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Dictator Dan Quits And Victoria Is Free…

With the resignation of Dan Andrews, Victorians can once again go to coffee shops and cafe owners will undoubtedly be offering free coffee in celebration… Strangely the little bit of Sky News I watched didn’t even go to them, but chose to interview journalists about how they found the Premier combative and evasive as he stood there refusing to give them the answers that they were after, particularly during Covid lockdowns when he failed to acknowledge the fact that Gladys had been unfairly treated by the ABC when she was merely canonised when she should have been deified…

Of course, I have to admit that all those people who predicted that Dan Andrews would stand down were right, even if they got the timing wrong by something like two years. I know how frustrating it is when my wife won’t accept that when I say there’s no need to water the garden because it’s going to rain that I was right because it did rain… Ok, all the plants are dead because it’s three months after I predicted it, but I was basically correct, even if the timing was a little out.

All right, I should just stop and acknowledge that whatever else, Andrews did a lot right as Premier. Nobody’s perfect and during his time as leader, Victoria has done a whole range of things that I thought were too progressive for any government to risk. From assisted dying to safe injecting rooms to laws preventing protestors from harassing women seeking an abortion to attempting to improve public transport to… Well, there’s been a lot which is why he’s upset so many conservatives and pretend conservatives who like to feign outrage and complain about the fabric of society being destroyed while they demonstrate their commitment to family values by only having an affair and not breaking up the family.

Of course, there were a number of articles this morning about what a shocking job he’d done and how the voters were just idiots who didn’t know how oppressed they were. Phil Coorey who is best remembered for his article on how Gladys saved Australia wrote in this morning’s Financial Review that his government came “stone motherless last on every metric in terms of handling the pandemic”. Interesting that the paper he writes for was also critical of Mark McGowan for closing off his state and streeting the rest of Australia in every metric and lost very few people to Covid meaning that he can’t be accused of being stone motherless last. Surprisingly, Coorey was terribly impressed with Gladys in spite of the Ruby Princess, the untested chauffeur setting off a wave and various other things that one would have thought rivalled any alleged mistakes that Andrews made.

Credlin, Bolt and various other Murdoch commentators seemed to be genuinely aggrieved that Dan had managed to leave on his own terms, rather than being dragged out by the ugly mobs marching on the Victorian Parliament and strung up on the gallows that someone had erected.

Rachel Baxendale, journalist for The Australian, was on the ABC telling viewers that Andrews avoided scrutiny by ignoring the media. Strange that she should forget that, during the pandemic, Andrews fronted the cameras day after day, answering the questions that she managed to skillfully read from her phone without ever letting it slip that they were from a prominent Liberal.

How dare Andrews use social media and speak directly to the public, is the subtext of Baxendale’s complaint. It must be frustrating for these people who, in days gone by, would have been the gatekeepers of information and carefully filtered what we got to see and hear. Well, yes, they still try to do that but these days, you can also read what I have to say. And not just me, there are lots of other people who can blog, post, tweet… sorry X, or whatever takes their fancy. And, by and large, they’re unfiltered…

Which, of course, raises the obvious question: Does information filtered through a respected media that people just presume is telling the truth represent a bigger threat to democracy than unfiltered information from unverified sources that don’t follow any rules?

And, of course, that would be an interesting question to pursue were it not for the simple fact that thanks to the advent of the Murdoch media, there is no longer any concern with rules or the facts or fairness. “Fair and balanced” was only adopted by Fox News after it was realised that “Fair and Right” made them sound a little too much like the Nazis.

As Steve Bannon said: “The Democrats don’t matter. The real enemy is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.”

Next time Peter Dutton announces on Sunday that he’ll hold another referendum if elected, only to say that he won’t on Thursday, or Dan Tehan tells us that Albanese should call off the referendum (which can’t happen without the approval of Parliament which won’t sit before the vote), then ask yourself if they haven’t decided to take Bannon’s advice.

P.S. I wonder if Dan Andrews thought about making a comment about how Rupert Murdoch quit before he did.


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The Legacy of Daniel Andrews: Recognising the Good with the Bad

Today the impending retirement of Daniel Andrews – Labor Premier of Victoria – has been announced. For many of us this came as a surprise; but it seems Andrews wants to leave on his own terms.

Andrews has led a reforming Victorian Labor Government. While championing the rights of trans women and men, Andrews also presided over a radical increase in the number of women in Cabinet. He also oversaw controlled legalisation of euthanasia and medical cannabis. What is more he oversaw the shift towards railway crossing removals as a much-more cost-effective means of reducing road congestion. The Andrews Labor Government also took something of an authoritarian turn during the Covid-19 crisis, but perhaps the unparalleled times called for this. Andrews also oversaw the beginning of negotiations for a state-based Treaty: blazing a trail ahead of his Federal colleagues.

On infrastructure and Health, Andrews made big investments in public health: most specifically in increasing the number of nurses on the ground; and providing incentives and financial support for future nursing graduates. A total of over $150 million was invested in indigenous Health (with an anticipated 100,000 extra appointments); as well as free IVF, women’s health clinics, and a mobile health clinic. Further, public Aged Care levels were maintained; and funding provided to assist in ensuring a registered nurse was provided in every aged care facility. Almost $50 million was maintained for GP Respiratory clinics: whose importance I testify to personally as a person whose mother died of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease after a long and traumatic illness before this was made available. And since 2021 the Andrews Labor Government has invested over $6 billion in mental health: largely in response to the Mental Health Royal Commission. This includes the establishment of the new ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022’ which will modernise the operation of mental health in Victora, with dialogue and inclusion of families and consumers in decision-making emphasised.

On infrastructure, in addition to investments in health infrastructure (hosptials and the like) Andrews Labor also made big investments in public transport which anticipate future need. This includes projects such as the Metro Tunnel, North East Link Program, and West Gate Tunnel – which together have created over 50,000 jobs. Failing to invest here would come with a huge social and economic cost into the future, with uncontrolled congestion and a decline in the overall quality of the public transport network.

On the other hand, though, it is against these backdrops that the Andrews Labor Government has continued a now long-held Labor government tradition of privatisation (acknowledging that 50-year leases are not ‘technically’ privatisation; though they will effectively operate as such for decades and decades to come). Amidst a strong sense of irony, the Liberals argued in November 2022 that Andrews had raised approximately $20 billion from the (effective) privatisation of the Port of Melbourne, VicRoads, and the Land Titles Office.

Consumers will pay the price for this for decades to come. Some of these are now effectively private monopolies in their fields.

But in a seeming Ideological U-turn Andrews Labor also announced the re-establishment of the SECV (State Electricity Commission Victoria). Those of us old enough to remember the old SECV may recall a time when energy was provided relatively cheaply; and natural public monopoly effectively held down cost-structures. The new SECV will be a substantially different creature – despite the nostalgia. Beginning with a $1 billion investment, the new SECV will emphasise the building of renewables infrastructure, with (according to Andrews) the creation of 59,000 jobs. The task will not be the recreation of natural public monopoly, but the re-establishment of a part-public player: which might perhaps be run on a not-for-profit basis – and inject significant competition into the sector. In this case consumers would stand to gain. Depending on what the involvement is with superannuation funds, however, there will be pressures to run ‘for-profit’.

In June the Federal Government – in an olive branch to the Greens – announced a $2 billion fund to be provided to the States for the construction of public housing.

This was enough to get the Federal Government’s $10 billion public housing fund passed with Greens support for this year. The Greens’ defence of this behaviour was that over the long term a $10 billion fund could not provide enough turn over to substantially increase and improve public housing stock. But in the future this $2 billion expenditure will have to be renewed every year – or even increased (perhaps to the vicinity of $3 billion). This is because State Governments (including State Labor Governments) are pressed for cash and rely on Federal money to get many projects over the line.

That said, the housing crisis is real, and Andrews Labor’s response has been disappointing on many fronts. Recently the demolition of 44 public-housing towers was announced – to be replaced mainly by ‘affordable’ and ‘social’ housing (alongside mainly private dwellings) in the form of ‘public private partnerships.’ Social-Housing is ‘broadly defined’; and includes so-called public-private partnerships (which can be light on the public component and deliver rivers of gold to private investors). Public land will be made available for private investors in return for a 10% ‘affordable housing component’. The alternative for developers is to pay a levy accounting for 3% of the project’s worth; then diverted into social housing.

There is a place for ‘affordable’ housing in ‘the mix’; but looking to Austria for instance, public housing can be done so much better than this. In Vienna nearly half of the city’s housing market is covered by co-operatively owned players and city-owned housing. Not only does this deliver for equity: it provides quality and flexibility.

Benita Kolovos of ‘The Guardian’ has observed that: “of the 30,000 proposed new dwellings on public land, only 11,000 will be available to public housing tenants.” This has led the Greens to brand the policy as ‘the biggest privatisation since Jeff Kennett.’ The continued ‘ghettoization’ of public housing will see it marginalised on an ongoing basis. To break out of that ‘ghetto’ – and to break prejudices and stigma – public housing needs big ongoing investments; and it seems now the only hope for that lies in bigger purpose-tied commitments from Canberra. And this requires Federal Labor to move away from overly conservative fiscal policy.

Again: State Labor Governments, and State Labor parties – need to be pressing Federal Labor to provide at least $3 billion a year for this purpose. Andrews Labor’s expansion of the market may increase supply over time, and in-so-doing do something to contain prices. But at the same time quality housing will remain out of reach for many struggling families. Perhaps if Labor had diverted the $3 billion earmarked for the Commonwealth Games into public housing this would have been more palatable.

So in conclusion, there is something of a ‘mixed report card’ for Andrews Labor. On many fronts – despite absurd jibes about ‘dictator’ Dan (Comparing him to the North Korean despot Kim Jong-Un) – Andrews Labor has proved itself ‘more socially liberal than the Liberals’. In this day and age that is not all that surprising. In-so-far as there was a streak of authoritarianism it was only under the unique circumstances posed by Covid-19. But the structural costs of a suite of privatisations will be passed on to consumers for decades to come.

Federal Labor needs to ‘step into the breach’ to remove fiscal incentives for State Labor Governments to ‘sell what’s left of the family silver’ in order to pay for big projects. A good Labor government is one which expands the social wage and welfare state, while also strategically expanding the public sector. Ideological preference for ‘Small government’ will not do (though the source of Andrews Labor’s policy was more pragmatic than Ideological). Whoever takes the helm of Victorian State Labor; and whatever else happens Federally – something needs to change. And hopefully this article is suggestive of where we could start.

This article was originally published on ALP Socialist Left Forum.


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Fascism is unlikely: idiocy is the real threat

The fight against domestic fascism is as American as apple pie. Even though much of the modern mythology of the western world celebrates the USA as a bastion of democracy, providing a steady and unalloyed example of democratic virtue for the rest of the world, this is misleading. It ignores the actual history of the land.

Back in the real world The People of the State of New York v. Donald J. Trump is certainly not the first case in which the forces of niceness in America have moved to prosecute a bunch of runaway fascists, and it is unlikely to be the last. So, it is comforting to note that while Trump and his clowncar full of fascists do garner an awful lot of attention, they are also incredibly incompetent. Whereas the last time a coup attempt by a bunch of fascists was thwarted by the Justice Department it involved a plot being overseen by competent individuals who were all acting in accord with a potentially viable and well thought out plan.

In the 1930s American Fascism was on a roll. It must be remembered that until the entry of the US into WWII, in December of 1941, the idea of fascism was perfectly respectable in the US. Great swathes of the American population were avid followers of political activists who were avowed and self-professed fascists.

At this time the polarisation of Europe was echoed by a domestic polarisation within the USA. The large and growing domestic socialist movement in the USA, that had existed prior to WWI, had been the target of a concerted domestic backlash both during and following the war, with groups such as the American Defense Society in concert with many federal government authorities leading the charge. A similar polarisation was evident inside the workers organisations in the US, with the revolution in Russia forcing a schism between more moderate forces and the radical Leninists.

All of this context is mentioned so as to stress that up until the commencement of WWII, the idea of fascism in the US was perfectly respectable. Not like being a nasty un-American commie, or a Unionist. Fascism was popular. It was a growing trend.

Throughout the late 1930s radical demagogues such as Father Coughlin were drawing huge radio audiences. This Hitler loving cleric talked directly to more than thirty million listeners every week, preaching an anti-Semitic, antidemocratic, racist ideology to a growing and ever more radicalised listenership. As Mark Twain has observed, while history might not repeat itself, it often rhymes. So, at this point it is helpful to once again broaden our focus to include Trump and his clowncar. This is because, regardless of the epoch, American fascism – as with fascism everywhere – always remains much the same. It hums an ‘us and them’ song. A populist, ultranationalist, ditty that preaches the need to return to the values of a glorious past – a far greater and more glorious past. An utterly mythical past. But the focus is always on the unpatriotic hordes.

The targets change but the song remains the same. Coughlin was anti-Jew, anti-Black, anti-Labor, anti-atheist. He sympathised with strong man regimes around the world. He quite deliberatively provoked hatred for those he deemed to be un-American. He praised Hitler, urged his followers to get involved in politics at every level, and demanded that they strive to rid the American political system of Jewish, Socialist, Communist, and Atheist sympathisers. By the late 1930s Coughlin led a broad populist movement that was spread right across the USA.

The targets change but the song remains the same. Trump rants that gay transgender druggie leftists are stealing America. That black criminals are stealing America. That refugees are stealing America. That welfare queens, unionists, students, feminists, the entertainment industry, Silicon Valley, teachers, fully stocked libraries, RINOS and Democrats – and the rest of ‘them’ – are all engaged in stealing America. As with all fascists, the list of those who are patently unpatriotic is endless.

Father Coughlins’ fascistic dreams culminated in 1939. In February the American Nazi’s held a rally at Madison Square Garden that was attended by more than 20,000 supporters. This caused the Attorney for the Southern District of New York to become concerned. His office publicly petitioned the Feds to take action. In response, in December of the same year, the FBI raided the offices of the Christian Front and so famously thwarted a well-funded, carefully organised and more than adequately armed insurrection plot, just two weeks away from launching a full-blown coup to take over the government of the USA.

Following the raid seventeen people were indicted. They were charged with conspiring ‘to overthrow, put down and destroy by force the Government of the United States and by force to take its property’, as well as the theft and stockpiling of ‘Federal munitions and property’. Then history intervened.

Late in 1941 the USA entered the war against Germany, and as the Naz’s were allied with the fascists, the fight against ‘fascism’ was a now national security priority. At once the national mood changed. Fascism was instantly uncool. The charges against all the Christian Front operatives were vacated in the first year of the war. It was deemed to be against the public interest to engage in a lengthy and somewhat embarrassing trial during wartime, especially as there were bigger fish to fry. The domestic fascist threat was suddenly a thing of the past.

Yet even though the Trumpian hordes sing a fascistic song, and his followers dance a fascistic jib, which is all directly comparable to that which was celebrated by millions during the 1930s in the USA, most media outlets in the land still refuse to label it ‘fascistic’. Or acknowledge we have seen it all before. Which is entirely understandable for those outlets that have declared a partisan political allegiance, but not the rest. Or the major political parties.

I feel this is largely down to category confusion. Many are critical of Trump but are nevertheless confused regarding what they are seeing occur. They are careful to avoid calling it a ‘fascist’ movement as they mistake this as being a reference to a political movement or idea. Which is simply a failure in comprehension more than anything. Fascism is expressed politically but it is not at all about politics. Fascism is all about populism and raw power, it is always both anti and non-political.

Which is to say, fascistic movements everywhere in the world have always derived their strength and support from drawing from all sides of an existing political spectrum. But more significantly, they are populist movements that serve to mobilise a large proportion of otherwise politically unengaged citizens. Consequently, one of the defining characteristics of both the movement in the 1930s, and the Trumpian horde, is that a large proportion of these people were previously politically unengaged and unaffiliated. These are voters who are largely new to any sort of political discourse or action and who commonly profess to be largely disaffected with all sides of the political process prior to their becoming fascistic supporters. Thus, these are people who are seeking a different message and solution to those that are being considered and offered by mainstream political parties. In simple terms, a fascistic movement is always characterised by simple, dangerously fantastical, ideas. The propositions of a mythical past might differ (be it a glorious Roman or American Republic), but the systemic denigration of minority groups remains the same. The targets change but the song remains the same.

Therefore, the principal threat that is posed by the rise of a fascistic dialogue (as is perfectly illustrated by the MAGA movement), is generally missed. It is unlikely that the fascists will take outright power. Yet the concerns and arguments that are pedalled by the fascists nevertheless do take a terrible toll on our social life and governmental institutions. This is because fascism is not politics, it is organised hating. Fascism is an ideology that hinges on the identification and civic defenestration of mythical enemies. It is undemocratic, but to dismiss it as being ‘unpatriotic’ simply leads to an ever more determined failure to focus on the imaginary world of American nationalism and the need to be careful and considered in our political speech. It only serves to further blur the line between mythic representations and reality. When we entertain or respond to ‘culture war’ idiocy in our media, policy discussion is thus slowly abandoned. It is far less interesting. It catches fewer eyeballs than any good culture war fight.

Thus, seamlessly and slowly, the possibility for any sort of rational and coherent policy discussion is largely obviated. Idiot propositions are normalised. All that is left in the commercial ‘mainstream’ is the proposition of nonsense and the countering of the nonsense; an ongoing, ever-expanding and ever more nonsensical culture war. Thus, in my opinion, the biggest threat from fascism in the modern age is that it serves to debase our pollical discourse. The real threat from the Trumpian discourse is not that a fascist government in the USA is a likely prospect. The real threat is the normalisation of idiocy.

The biggest threat is to allow people to spout overtly fascistic idiocy and false information in public, without this drawing hoots of derision and guffaws of astonished laughter. Without these idiots being laughed off the stage. The real threat is that large swathes of our media now actively indulge in fostering an ‘us and them’ fascistic worldview, where cultural uniformity and traditions, in accord with a (mythical) glorious past, are always privileged, regardless of the topic under consideration and usually instead of the topic under consideration.

In such a manner, fascistic thinking is caustic. It rots the brain by privileging the basest tribal instincts. A lot of time can be saved by simply identifying the one small segment of the American population that is ignored by the fascists. When considered from this vantage, it is very soon obvious that the only ‘real Americans’ in the USA – according to both Father Coughlin and Trump – are white, affluent, Christian and heterosexual. It is simple bigotry and runs counter to the intent of the founders of the American Republic and the plain text of the American constitution.

The battle is against the celebration and retailing of idiocy and bigotry. Not Trump. There are commercial forces in the media that have decided that they will dictate that the political dialogue of the whole world will be either Trumpian nonsense or the refutation of Trumpian nonsense, as this averts all eyes from much needed media and monopoly law reform, and for as long as we are thus engaged in arguing about nonsense, we suffer the crazy status quo.

So, while I expect that in the next few months we will see the long-awaited implosion of the current fascistic movement in the US, in much the same manner as it dissipated very quickly last time around, I suggest that it will take a very long time to repair the damage done to our media and political discourse. Which requires that we all refocus our attention on all of the boring yet actually consequential topics that the current political discourse seems to ruthlessly avoid.

(Funny thing that. Have a nice day.)


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Murdoch: King Lear or Citizen Kane?

By guest columnist Tess Lawrence

It may be premature to write Emeritus Chairman Rupert Murdoch’s epitaph now that he’s ostensibly handed the keys of his media empire to his favoured scion and heir, Lachlan.

Bubba Lachie, you will recall, is the infantile drongo recently forced to payout on a rather silly defamation action against our feisty independent cousin,, after daddy’s flagshit Fox News Network settled a defamation action brought against it by Dominion Voting Systems, opening yet another vein on the corporate corruption of (some) journalists and journalism within Murdoch’s bespoke empire.

Bubba Lachlan and Naughty Crikey

Dominion’s victory also conveniently proved the legal case for Crikey.

In a deliriously audacious and courageous flourish, Crikey took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times challenging Lachlan Murdoch to make good his threat to sue over an alleged defamation. Bubba took the bait. Silly sad boy, Bubba.

Dominian proved case for Crikey

Basically, Dominion proved a bunch of Trumpian Fox News stooges masquerading as journalists, commentators, experts and news executives, promulgated lies about Dominion’s role in the 2020 presidential election.

Ultimately, Murdoch and Fox News were hoisted by the one petard. Dominion did us all a favour. Into the public domain and courtroom was tipped a container load of Murdoch/Fox News documents and data from their countless devices that proved unequivocally they were guilty as hell.

The Murdoch machine had to shut down the case. They settled. They paid up. But hey, not before the squalid and unethical behaviour of these entitled dudes was writ large upon the internet’s skies sans frontieres.

At US$797.5 million, It was a helluva payout, even though it was only half of what Dominion sought for injury caused to its reputation and business by Fox.

Uncle Sam became Uncle Spam

At the time, the unelected President Donald Trump might well have been the network’s prime anchor, such was his Fox profile. Fox morphed into the Zombie Trump News network. It was like, Trump 24/7.

Too much Trump was never enough. The endemic mantra it churned was that the election was rigged and that really, Americans had unanimously re-elected Trump. Uncle Sam became Uncle Spam.

Trump: Clickbait for Fox advertisers

But even before that, whilst Trump was still president, any appearance or call-in by the big guy was advertiser clickbait for Fox and friends. Ratings mean advertisers. The talking heads were vying with each other to get Trump on their shows and incessantly talked about him and interviewed experts and others who talked about him to get a ratings uptick.

While they were at it, they spread even more conspiracies and lies. With impunity. As the records now show, they knew their boss, ever the dirty digger, felt no shame in them clothing the butt naked truth in a transparent cloak made from immoral fibres threaded with lies.

Mother Fucker Carlson, Yawn Hannity, Laura Ingraham frontline pit bulls and bitches

Fox’s frontline pit bulls and bitches like the man they call ‘Mother Fucker Carlson’ (aka Tucker Carlson), Yawn Hannity (aka Sean Hannity) and Laura Ingraham, whose sobriquet I do not know, were three heavy hitters who were let off the corporate leash.

All three were indisputable propagandists for Brand Trump. You would be forgiven for thinking they were on his payroll and certainly via the ratings, he was contributing to theirs. There were others.

One thing is certain. Fox News Network and its journalistic mercenaries, still have a case to answer over their collective role in the attempted political coup and insurrection on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Fox: Flesh-eating ravings maul truth and democracy

Their on-air flesh-eating ravings contributed to the savage maulings of democracy, truth and journalism itself along with the unforgivable betrayal of the people by bearing false witness to the truth and the bleeding obvious.

If the Proud Boys were Trump’s Pretorian Guards, then Fox News, under the tutelage and watchful eye, we now know, of Commandant-in-Chief, Rupert Murdoch, provided the pussy grabber with a propaganda unit of which Joseph Goebbels would have been proud, such was its effectiveness in building upon nationalistic white supremacist fervor fueled by hate and fear, lies and more lies and fake news. Surely it/they, were the equivalent of a journalistic Squadrismo.

For the Fox juggernaut, raking in the money from advertisers and the pursuit of even more power and influence was the coveted prize. The Murdoch Machine collected the former whilst Murdoch pocketed the other. For him, power is a bottomless pit. Can’t get enough. Perhaps it’s what gets his rocks off. Perhaps he even covets power more than money.

Murdoch needed Trump. Trump needed Murdoch. Who was/is the neediest of them all? This is unfinished business. There is history yet to be writ.

Hannity goes gaga on Trump’s MAGA stage

Who can forget Hannity being summoned onstage by Trump at a Make America Great Again (MAGA) rally? Supporting causes is one thing, supporting messianic Trump, quite another. Supporting the Republican Party is one thing; endorsing Trump and exploiting his dangerous buffoonery and more, inflating Trump’s public persona to deific status, all served to turn America into Nation Trump. For a moment, Trump was America. And an America far removed from the nation that elected the likes of Barack Obama as its president.

In these dystopian times, such is the stuff of nightmares. Where was the American Dream on the day of the seige upon the bulwark of American democracy, once held up like Liberty’s lamp, as a beacon to the world? It was a warning to us all.

Murdoch’s journalism takes road most travelled

In all of this, are the globally wandering hands of an arch power monger: Rupert Murdoch. His kind of journalism invariably takes the road most traveled. How often he has sat back and commanded, encouraged, nurtured others to do his bidding.

Hannity’s odious master-servant relationship with Rupert Murdoch, emblematic of many, but certainly not all, of Rupert’s frontline journalistic mercenaries, especially those in the United States, Australia, as we here know only too well, and in the disunited kingdom, Britain, the off-shore home of our own meddling monarch, Charles.

This CNN video shows you that despite Hannity’s denials, his onstage appearance with Trump was clearly pre-ordained and for all we know, Trump wizened, puppeteer Rupert Murdoch himself, may have ordered this sickening display of media sycophancy and blatant ratings chase.



Fox News ratings smashed competitors, once beating those of CNN and MSNBC combined.

Trump’s ego ballooned even further. Like orange ectoplasm, it continues to ooze from every orifice, conflated and inflated by Fox News.

In October 2008, the Donald trumpeted the boast that Fox’s prime time ratings of 2.8 million total viewers was because they “… treat me fairly.”



Little wonder that Fox News abandoned its hollow motto “Fair and Balanced.”

It ain’t over for Fox yet. Another company, Smartmatic is going to take on Fox News.

They’re mad as hell too. They’ve even prepared a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to tell us why.

Murdoch: King Lear or Citizen Kane?

In the farcical self-aggrandising memo penned to his workers, Murdoch’s personal tragedy warrants scrutiny.

With breathtaking hypocrisy, his reflections reveal a brilliant and shrewd journalist who nontheless remains a deft proponent of industrial strength fake news, gross journalistic misconduct and Trumpian-like delusion on how he is perceived. Is he more King Lear than Citizen Kane?

The memo

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to let you all know that I have decided to transition to the role of Chairman Emeritus at Fox and News. For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change. But the time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams and a passionate, principled leader in Lachlan who will become sole Chairman of both companies.

Neither excessive pride nor false humility are admirable qualities. But I am truly proud of what we have achieved collectively through the decades, and I owe much to my colleagues, whose contributions to our success have sometimes been unseen outside the company but are deeply appreciated by me. Whether the truck drivers distributing our papers, the cleaners who toil when we have left the office, the assistants who support us or the skilled operators behind the cameras or the computer code, we would be less successful and have less positive impact on society without your day-after-day dedication.

Our companies are in robust health, as am I. Our opportunities far exceed our commercial challenges. We have every reason to be optimistic about the coming years – I certainly am, and plan to be here to participate in them. But the battle for the freedom of speech and, ultimately, the freedom of thought, has never been more intense.

My father firmly believed in freedom, and Lachlan is absolutely committed to the cause. Self- serving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose. Elites have open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class. Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth.

In my new role, I can guarantee you that I will be involved every day in the contest of ideas. Our companies are communities, and I will be an active member of our community. I will be watching our broadcasts with a critical eye, reading our newspapers and websites and books with much interest, and reaching out to you with thoughts, ideas, and advice. When I visit your countries and companies, you can expect to see me in the office late on a Friday afternoon.

I look forward to seeing you wherever you work and whatever your responsibility. And I urge you to make the most of this great opportunity to improve the world we live in.

Murdoch’s obsession with father, Sir Keith

Keith Murdoch in war correspondent mode Photo: Wikipedia

The memo reveals Murdoch’s well-known obsession with his father, Sir Keith Murdoch, on whose media foundations, Murdoch the younger built his monopolistic empire. In fact, Keith Rupert Murdoch was named for his father and seems to have spent his life endeavouring to prove himself as his father’s equal and more, to his much-loved mother and matriarch of the clan Dame Elisabeth Murdoch.

The beautiful, redoubtable and indefatigable Dame Elisabeth, a noted philanthropist and tireless community entrepeneur, she lived a life of enduring public service. She founded and/or supported so many community initiatives and was still involved up to the time of her death at 103 in 2012.

Indeed, she bequeathed the family home, Cruden Farm, with its famed gardens designed by Edna Walling, to the people. Cruden was where Rupert and his three sisters spent their childhood.

Elisabeth Joy Greene was a mere slip of a 19-year-old who caused a minor scandal when she married the handsome ambitious Keith, because he was 23 years older than she.

It is said that serial matrimonialist Rupert’s penchant for much younger brides, is due in part to the loving relationship and dynamism between his parents.

Dame Elisabeth adored the lauded journalist Sir Keith, of Gallipoli Letter fame and practically deified him after he died. Rupert’s endeavours could never match let alone eclipse that of her beloved husband. She disapproved of his salacious newspapers and the gratuitous Page 3 girls. And she certainly disapproved of Wendi Deng.

Dame Elisabeth gives Rupert Bollocking over turfing Anna for Wendi

An insider told me Dame Elisabeth gave Rupert a right bollocking about the way he discarded and divorced his second wife, Glasgow born Anna Torv, for Deng.

Anna Murdoch’s business acumen contributed to Murdoch’s empire building.

“As well as being beautiful, she has brains, she’s savvy, bright and clever, really sharp. She’s also very warm and has that ability to put people at ease. She’s a wonderful hostess and had no trouble adapting to New York’s high society, such as it was. She reeked old money rather than new. She has a grace about her. But she’s tough as tungsten, a bit like her mother-in law, or should I say her ex mother in law, who was very angry with Rupert. Rupert was a bastard, the way that he treated her at the end. She’s also well read, witty and very funny.

When Wendi Deng had an affair with Blair, I thought to myself, right, Rupert you bastard, now you know what it feels like.”

Deng Murdoched in cold blood

Wendi Deng, you will recall, was rather fond of Tony Blair’s “butt.” The publicly cuckolded Rupert expedited a speedy divorce. As usual. Deng, who has two daughters with the tichoon, was Murdoched in cold blood.

Blair has denied any liaisons with Deng, dangereuses or otherwise. But then, he lied about the Iraq War.

A Catholic, Anna Murdoch bore three of Rupert Murdoch’s six children by three mothers. Lachlan, James and Elisabeth just happen to be the key media players in the family.

In a world exclusive with David Leser in the then Kerry Packer owned Australian Women’s Weekly the usually discreet second wife, married to Murdoch for 31 years, told it like it was.

This from a wrap by Christopher Zinn in the UK Independent in July, 2001:

… She described her state of shock at the divorce, her wish not to appear as a victim and her feeling of “coming out of a deep mental illness”. She also detailed the way that, despite reports of an amicable separation, she was unceremoniously dumped as a non-executive director of News Corp. Of her once-admired partner, who she helped to secure a papal knighthood in 1998, she said: “I began to think the Rupert Murdoch that I loved died a long time ago. Perhaps I was in love with the idea of still being in love with him. But the Rupert I fell in love with could not have behaved this way.”

The since remarried and renamed Anna Murdoch Mann, was brutally honest and one can sense her pain and injury at that time.

… “I think that Rupert’s affair with Wendi Deng – it’s not an original plot – was the end of the marriage. His determination to continue with that. I thought we had a wonderful, happy marriage. Obviously, we didn’t.” She went on: “I don’t want to get too personal about this… but [he] was extremely hard, ruthless and determined that he was going to go through with this, no matter what I wanted or what I was trying to do to save the marriage. He had no interest in that whatsoever.”

She also revealed she’d been forced off the Board of News Corp on which she sat, alongside Lachlan. She wasn’t given a choice, she told Leser.

Perhaps to prove he is his own man and truly owns his chairmanship, Bubba Lachie might reconsider a role for the now Anna dePeyser.



In 1998, Rupert Murdoch joined dozens of prominent Southern California Catholics who were awarded a papal knighthood.

Murdoch, who was thought to have converted to Catholicism, stated a while back, he wasn’t baptised in the faith, but would accompany Anna to Mass.

His donations of large sums of money to local Catholic churches was rewarded with the Order of Knight Commander of St Gregory the Great, conferred in 1998. It works in much the same way as donating monies to political parties, perhaps not so effective. Dame Anna also received the same papal award, although that fact received less attention.

It’s said that Anna leaned on Cardinal Roger Mahony who in turn, leaned on the Pope to secure their Honours.

The camel, eye of the needle and rich man Rupert

Because of the phone hacking and Dominion scandals, there have since been calls for Murdoch to be stripped of his papal knighthood.

Here’s Anna Murdoch’s clever quip after the ceremony, that had Rupert chortling:

Rupert: “I thought it was very spiritual and very moving. I was very impressed by what the cardinal said.”

Anna: “I think it was very humbling.

We’re both trying to get through the eye of the needle. Perhaps this is the beginning.”

Some of you will recognize Anna Murdoch’s wry and telling alluding to the words of New Testament gospeller Matthew (verse 19.24) reporter-at-large for Jesus, quoted as saying:

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

* Some scholars contend the translation of the word ‘camel’ should be ‘rope‘ but hey, let’s not get into the fake news bizzo.

Note Anna’s use of the word ‘humbling.’ Years later, after appearing before the UK’s House of Commons Committee investigating Murdoch’s News of the World phone hacking scandal in July, 2011, he referred to it as “the most humble day of my life.” Not only did he eat humble pie, but it was also the day he had a cream pie thrown at him, the security breach bravely thwarted by his then wife Wendi Deng. Talk about having the cake and eating it too.



Murdoch’s memo: He’s still on Planet Fox!

Murdoch’s memo wasn’t only to his minions. It was also a press release to the world and no doubt he hopes that obituary writers in due course, will quote the noble sentiments he espouses.

His words also reflect the pathos and reflection of those of us who hover closer to death than life. In his carnal pursuit for power, Rupert Murdoch has strayed far from the rebellious swashbuckling disrupter he once was. There is self-pity in his reckoning words, is there not? Truisms as well:

… But the battle for the freedom of speech and, ultimately, the freedom of thought, has never been more intense…

No mention of the fact that time and again such freedoms have been savagely mauled by he and his media outlets, News of the World, Fox News Network et al.

Then there is this:

… My father firmly believed in freedom, and Lachlan is absolutely committed to the cause…

Here’s an apt cliché whilst I get a fresh vomitbag. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Bubba Lachie is so committed to the cause of freedom, that one of his first grown up actions as chairman of daddy’s empire, was to nominate none other than a man renowned for his suppressive rigid right-wing politics and views, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the board of Fox Corporation.

Who better than the bloke who scurried out of Parliament to avoid voting in the same sex marriage debate?’s Liz Burke fingered Abbott this way:

“… But when it came time to vote – and he could have voted against it = he made a gutless lurch for the door.

Mr Abbott’s weak act didn’t have anything to do with democracy, it was a protest against it. And history won’t forget that.”

There’s a litany of testimonials about Abbott’s attempts to curtail, even abolish freedoms of all kinds, so I guess that makes him a perfect candidate.

Surely, disgraced ex Qantas Chief Alan Joyce, will be next.



Murdoch speaks of ethics, denounces elites

Perhaps the more egregious calumny embedded in Murdoch’s memo is this paragraph:

…Self- serving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose. Elites have open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class. Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth.

Such abject hypocrisy. Such pathos. It smacks of Murdoch’s perennial interference with the truth; nothing more than a press release from which he hopes obituaries writers will quote. Nothing else to see here. No 13-year-old murdered Milly Parker phone to hack today. Don’t mention the war on truth.

Milly Dowler and her family were/are no elites. The cruel violation of their grief and family privacy was as an inside joke to the then News of the World.

Can you imagine a News journalist hacking Dame Elisabeth’s phone messages after she died? It wouldn’t be right. But Murdoch journalists and agents thought it was alright for little Milly.

How dare Murdoch give us a lecture on freedom and ethics. Both are beggars in the Murdoch millieu.

His words are from a man closer to death than to life, like many of us. What happened to that reforming swashbuckling disrupter of the media who lived and breathed journalism. At what point was journalism cast asunder for the power and the glory?

When I read Murdoch’s memo, the words about the elites rang a bell. Sure enough, Murdoch, who I’m told, has written his own obituary for publication throughout his media outlets, both electronic and print, must keep it in the second drawer on the right.
Cop this 2015 tweet (X):



Murdoch, she wrote

Some years ago, I published an article in Independent Australia about Murdoch.

Certain people were alarmed that I’d discussed Murdoch use of SawPalmetto used, among other things for sexual dysfunction. He couldn’t get it up. No shame in that.

He had a wife 37 years his junior. Then again, age doesn’t matter when one is in love. Right?

Moreover, I’d seen and verified correspondence and the physician concerned also verified it to me in person. I was told that Murdoch was furious at the revelation – and comments I made in relation to his father Sir Keith. Sacred ground.

I thought of the Milly Dowler phone hacking scandal and the obscene, cruel and brutal invasion of that murdered little 13-year-old schoolgirl’s forever grieving family and the gross moral turpitude of the News of the World and I thought this is a man who can dish it out but can’t take it.


Milly Dowler, with her dad, Bob. Photo: Daily Mail


Imagine if a News of the World journalist/agent hacked Dame Elisabeth’s phone messages before or after she died.

We are publishing the article in full because it contains pertinent matters hardly discussed in the hagiography written about Rupert Murdoch’s abdication as Chairman.

Murdoch most foul

(Originally published on Independent Australia)

DOES it really matter if Rupert used Saw Palmetto to increase his libido to service his young wife?

Does it really matter that despite industrial strength botox and other wrinkle spakfillers Rupert Murdoch still looks like a pantomime Dame and decades older than his Mother?

You can’t blame him for wanting to be Peter Pan for his Wendi.

Here’s the headline. Came to me in a flash. “Linga Longa Denga” Gotcha!

Does it really matter that the late Professor John Avieson, who wrote a still unpublished and not entirely flattering biography of Sir Keith Murdoch, was warned by Dame Elisabeth Murdoch at a social gathering that the book would never see the light of day as long as she lived?

Does it really matter if Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal in 2007 as marital insurance for his ‘China Doll’ (a more polite employee nickname than Chairman’s Mao) to call her own in the event of his premature death or ejaculation as Chairman or in the event of clan ructions or corporate infarction?

Well yes, brothers and sisters. It matters. And it matters mightily.

Okay, the WSJ might not be the Taj Mahal, but it’s up there in media mogul terms of journalistic prestige. Or was. Maybe now it will get its mojo back.

Of course, Rupert might have bought it for the former Deng Wen Ge (thank you Eric Ellis) to get back at the Bancroft family who’d owned it for 100 years, because just seven years earlier, the Journal published an article about Wendi he didn’t like.

You know, like the obverse of the famous ad – he hated the company so much he bought it.

He has a reputation as a man who cradles grudges and who never forgets a slight.

But intercorporate rutting is a boardroom artform. I believe the Bancroft family is still represented on the Board.

This stuff is right up the rectal columns of stabloids like The Sun and The News of the World and the Murdoch media in general. Why shouldn’t it be? What’s good for the goose is good for the propaganda.

It is news and it’s fit to print. But whilst you’ll read such things about celebrities and we of the great unwashed, you won’t read it about Big Daddy.

You won’t read about it in his newspapers. And you won’t read about it in other papers that he might as well own by default and by virtue of an extended coterie of power and influence.

We forget that the rebirth of The News of the World under Murdoch was baptised in murder and mystery just as in the wake of its death throes, there is great sorrow and mystery at how the courageous whistleblower of the phone hacking scandal, journalist Sean Hoare was found dead in his Watford home on Monday.

Writing about him in yesterday’s Guardian, investigative journalist Nick Davies, described Sean as “a lovely man”.

Explaining why he had spoken out, he [Sean] told me:

“I want to right a wrong, lift the lid on it, the whole culture. I know, we all know, that the hacking and other stuff is endemic. Because there is so much intimidation. In the newsroom, you have people being fired, breaking down in tears, hitting the bottle.”

“He knew this very well, because he was himself a victim of the News of the World. As a show-business reporter, he had lived what he was happy to call a privileged life. But the reality had ruined his physical health:

“I was paid to go out and take drugs with rock stars – get drunk with them, take pills with them, take cocaine with them. It was so competitive. You are going to go beyond the call of duty. You are going to do things that no sane man would do. You’re in a machine.”

Nick Davies, it should be said, must rank among the more courageous of journalists in his relentless work to uncover and publish the truth about the News of the World Hacking Scandal.



I doubt that anyone in Australia would have easily published it here. And that is an indictment of the moral cowardice of our profession. Perhaps we will find greater courage now that the beast is wounded.

When one contemplates the blind and steadfast courage of the likes of Sean Hoare and lost lives of citizen journalists and correspondents in the frontline of war and terrorism, our comfortable and flaccid obeisance to a media tsar is a betrayal of all that we should hold dear and worthy.

I think of young journalists I know, who in the Bosnian war, daily risked their lives to keep radio stations and communications open for foreign reporters.

I think of Libya, of Egypt, of Pakistan, of Afghanistan and Somalia and Sudan and the wholesale slaughter of journalists in the Philippines and elsewhere.

I think of Iran. I think of revolutions perfumed with jasmine and blood and the stench of fear.

And I think of how easily we here and in Britain and the States, squander our freedoms. And how easily our silence is purchased.

And how often we do unto others that which we would never want done to ourselves.

And of how the Fourth Estate is so often barren ground. Of how truth and justice and compassion are spent seed upon its harsh surface.

It seems that Sean Hoare had a not untroubled life. But still he found in his heart and in his conscience a shared humanity that compelled him to knowingly jeopardise his life and most certainly his career to expose the truth to The New York Times and fine journalists like Nick Davies.

I am alarmed at how, almost immediately, police reports were filtering out stating there were no suspicious circumstances over Sean Hoare’s death.

Given the indecent alliances between the police, News Corporation and politicians, asking us to have faith in anything any one of these groups does at the moment is too big an ask.

Like most, Sean had his demons, but even they could not mar his sense of justice. At least he exorcised one by telling us the truth and he has undoubtedly altered the global media landscape in doing so.

If you read Nick’s full article here, you will get a better picture of both Sean and Nick.

Writing in Sunday’s Independent, journalist Jonathan Owen backgrounded some unsavoury connections between the NOTW, private investigators and some interesting information about Rebekah of sunny Brooks animal farm.

Two former senior News of the World editors wanted for questioning by police

Detectives investigating phone-hacking allegations at the News of the World are keen to question two former senior journalists at the newspaper. Scotland Yard officers have been told the two, former executive editor Alex Marunchak and deputy news editor Greg Miskiw, were both key figures linked to the use of private investigators to access confidential information.

Rebekah Brooks appointed Mr Miskiw as the News of the World’s assistant editor in charge of news, and it was he who employed Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the heart of the phone-hacking scandal.

… After examining documents taken from Mulcaire’s home, police are anxious to question Mr Miskiw, who is living in Florida. His also featured in documents obtained by police following a raid on the Hampshire home of private detective Steve Whittamore, who was used by a large number of journalists to obtain information about public figures. Whittamore was later convicted under the Data Protection Act in 2005 at Blackfriars Crown Court of obtaining and disclosing information after passing information obtained from the police national database to customers.

Whittamore’s network was investigated and broken up by the Information Commissioner, who discovered he was accessing sensitive information from the Police National Computer, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, British Telecom and a number of mobile phone companies.

The investigation, called Operation Motorman, showed 23 journalists from the News of the World hired Whittamore more than 200 times. The names include Rebekah Brooks, who allegedly commissioned access to confidential data from a mobile phone company.

Mr Miskiw is known to be a close friend of Mr Marunchak, a former crime reporter and senior executive at the NOTW. The two reportedly had mutual business arrangements including the importation of vodka from Ukraine. Mr Marunchak, who left the newspaper in 2006, claims to have been appointed as a special adviser to Ukraine’s UK embassy in 1999.

Mr Marunchak is said to be a friend of a private investigator called Jonathan Rees who was employed by the NOTW to help provide reporters with illegally obtained confidential information. Rees was later jailed for falsely planting cocaine in an innocent woman’s car but was re-employed by the NOTW’s editor Andy Coulson after he served his sentence. [My emphasis]

Detectives also suspected Rees of bribing corrupt officers to supply information to the media. A surveillance operation was carried out on Rees including a bug being placed in his office. It was later revealed that among the hours of taped conversations were many between Mr Marunchak and Rees discussing transactions involving thousands of pounds for work carried out for the newspaper.

[Click here to read the Independent‘s powerful larger story.]

The gutless self-censorship in this country about Rupert Murdoch and his various media dealings is disgusting. We have yet to address our own media cankers.

How many Australian or UK newspapers have ever retold the undoubtedly bizarre and ripping yarn of the tragic story of Muriel McKay, who was mistakenly kidnapped instead of Rupert’s then wife, Anna, a few days after Christmas Day in December 1969 – the same year Murdoch bought The News of the World?

The hapless Muriel, wife of Alick McKay, then Deputy Chairman of News of the World (he wasn’t made a Lord until 1976) was actually driving the Murdoch’s Rolls Royce whilst the Murdochs were in Australia.

Alick McKay returned to his Wimbledon home to find the doors forced and Muriel missing.

In a saga that belongs on the ‘tall tales but true’ shelf, it transpired that two brothers, Arthur and Nizamodeen Hosein, who were living beyond their means on a country estate and vainly trying to insinuate their way into a disdainful British establishment, apparently saw Rupert Murdoch being interviewed by David Frost and thought it would be a good idea to kidnap Anna for a ransom that would put an end to their financial woes.

The Jamaican-born brothers were subsequently caught and charged with kidnapping, murder and blackmail. Both were given life sentences. I understand that Nizamodeen Hosein is now back in Jamaica and have unconfirmed reports that Arthur Hosein is now out of prison and lives in England.

If ever there was a cold case begging to be re-examined, this is it; given the advances in forensic science and if there’s anyone left at Scotland Yard.

Tragically, Muriel McKay’s body still hasn’t been found. It is said that her body was dismembered and fed to the pigs.

Lucky that the sub editor who wrote the infamous headline ‘FREDDIE STARR ATE MY HAMSTER’ was not on duty that day.

© Tess Lawrence

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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“This Is All A Giant Push By (INSERT NAME) To Trick You Into (INSERT PARANOID FANTASY)



“So what you been up to this week?”

“I went on a march to support the No Campaign.”

“Really, why?”

“Look there’s no need to attack me just because I don’t support apartheid in Australia and I want to stop aboriginals being given my house.”

“I wasn’t attacking you, I just wondered why you were marching when you’ve never been political before.”

“Yeah, well, most political causes rely on you knowing what you’re talking about and some smart-arse will tie you up in knots, but this time it’s great because the whole case behind No is about knowing nothing. They said: “If you don’t know, vote No!” and I thought that sounds like me, so…”

“I just worry that some of the people who were telling us to us to “do our own research” during the pandemic are now telling us that we shouldn’t do any and just vote accordingly…”

“Look mate, there were a whole range of different people marching. Men, women, black, white, old, young. There were all sorts.”


“Yeah, like I said, there were all sorts.”

“It doesn’t worry you that you’re on the same side as the Nazis?”

“Why should it? I mean we didn’t invite them and if they choose to come and march with us, why can’t they. It’s a free country.”

“Yeah but doesn’t it worry you that you’re on the same side as them.”

“Nah, you got that wrong. It’s them who are on the same side as us. We don’t support their views, they just happen to support ours.”

“I don’t really see the difference.”

“Look, if someone’s walking down the road and you start going in the same direction, then you’re following them, but if you start walking before they do, then it’s them that’s following you…”

“Yeah but if you’re both going in the same direction, isn’t that a worry?”

“Nah, why should it be?”

“Well, if you don’t wonder why you’re both going to the same place… I mean, it’d worry me if I was in a group and I found that we were all going to line up to get tickets to a Rolf Harris tribute band…”

“Is there a Rolf Harris tribute band?”

“No I was just… Anyway, let’s change the subject. Did you hear that Tony Abbott’s been appointed to the News Corp board?”

“Yeah, great move. Whether you agree with him or not, he’s a man who always says what he thinks. He was one of the few leaders to tell us that this climate change stuff is all crap.”

“But he said he didn’t say that!”

“Well, he had to say that to get elected, didn’t he?”

“You just said that he was a man who always says what he thinks and now…”

“You can’t always say what you think when you’re in politics, but I always knew what he was thinking.”

“I never he knew when he was thinking.”

“Ha ha. No Tony was one of those who really stuck it to the inner-city elites who keep trying to tell us what to do.”

“How exactly?”

“Well, by becoming Prime Minister and pissing them all off by stopping all that politically correct, cancel culture nonsense.”

“And then the Liberal Party cancelled him, followed by his own electorate.”

“Yeah, that’s the trouble: people don’t know what’s good for them.”

“So they should be told what to do?”


“But not by inner city elites. I see.”


“Never mind.”

“Look people get sick of being told what to do by people who think that they’re superior. Take Sam Newman. All he said was that people should boo the welcome to country and all these virtue signallers said that he was an old fart who’s had too much botox and it’s gone to his brain. I mean who are they to tell Sam what to do. He’s got as much right as anyone to come out and tell people to boo. That’s the trouble with the country today people who think that they’re always right and feel that they should be able to dictate to others and I don’t think that it should be allowed!”

“But you’re just contradicting yourself. It’s like all those people who complained that Russell Brand is innocent until proven guilty and that they know that all the people making accusations are part of some giant conspiracy.”

“Yeah, so?”

“Well, if Brand has the right to the presumption of innocence, don’t his accusers have the same right?”


“Why not?”

“Because they’re probably guilty.”

“But… Never mind. Do you want another beer?”

“Nah, I better be getting back to work. I’ve got an opinion piece to write on how schools are dumbing down the curriculum and making our kids stupider.”

“Ah, are you for or against?”

“Against. How could anyone be in favour of people being dumber?”

“Yeah, I wonder that myself sometimes.”


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Dutton reminds us of Abbott, but not in a good way

Reading Nikki Savva’s The Road to Ruin is a depressing read, because it validates what many of us believed before Tony Abbott became Prime Minister.

Tony Abbott and his road to irrelevance

Many believed he was unelectable. He lacked seriousness. He lacked grace. He, like so many other ‘Rhodes Scholars’, appeared to have gotten his degrees out of a Wheaties box. He believed that he understood the country and its people. He was dangerously over-confident, and heedless of consequences.

The mistakes flowed thick and fast, and the photos of him being coddled by his Chief of Staff, the cleaning of crumbs from his clothes, the solicitous looks bestowed on the ‘warrior prince’, reminded us of how our mothers prepared us for those ‘moments of truth’, like going to school on your first day.

His greatest mistakes were that he did not listen, not to his parliamentary colleagues, and not to the public mood.

Never a policy specialist, he imported what he needed from the IPA’s shopping list, and then failed to understand that Australia had changed.

He excelled in saying “No”. Loudly. As Opposition Leader he was never a believer in climate change, and he capitalised on the Labor Party’s convoluted and tortured responses to it. He can be squarely blamed for the current existential catastrophe, by sowing doubt where there was no room for any.

He also undermined, and removed the Liberal Party’s only hope for a successful future, Malcolm Turnbull. Turnbull is the acceptable face of liberalism, and the embodiment of the sensible centre.

Abbott played to the backward-looking members of the community, who put climate change, same sex marriage, Indigenous rights and multiculturalism into the too-hard basket. He thought he could rule without the cities, and frankly, without the young.

Peter Dutton has no idea of the damage he is unleashing

We are now watching a dreadful remake of the same movie. Peter Dutton is reprising the role of Abbott, down to the same faux seriousness, the same appeal to those who look backward, the same dog whistling to the chronically angry.

They want us to return to the golden days of fortress Australia, where we will choose the types who come to our shores, we will choose the low road, and we will bring the country to a position halfway between the cheerful nihilism of Boris Johnson’s Brexit, and Donald Trump’s failing state.

For a man of such limited intellectual resources, Dutton has managed to confect a formidable coalition of nay-sayers.

Of course, he didn’t have to work very hard getting the National Party on-side. They decided on a No vote before the ink was dry on the proposition.

Jacinta Price and Warren Mundine, who represent possibly the most potent symbols of the No side, are incomprehensibly voting against their own interests. Their power to split the vote, and hence the country, is immense. Lidia Thorpe, who seems to be sacrificing ‘the good’, for the sake of ‘the perfect’, is similarly powerful. And wrong.

Dutton’s reasons are purely self-serving

Dutton has continued with his paper-thin repudiation of the Voice referendum with a typically threadbare slogan worthy of Tony Abbott: “If you don’t know, Vote No.”

Anyone with a shred of intelligence would substitute the words “Find Out”, instead of “Vote No”. The No side is not interested in sharing enlightenment, they much prefer doubt and fear.

He has never bothered to calculate the cost, to his party’s standing into the future, or to the social cohesion of Australia.

His recent statement that he thinks the Coalition can win government in 2025 is pure fantasy. But therein lies his reason for going hard against the Voice.

He sees it as a one-on-one contest against Albanese, and in some ways he is correct. Albanese has allowed this to degenerate from a contest of ideas to a personal political battle.

As many have noted the Voice is an advisory body only and placing it within the Constitution merely stops it from being abolished, like ATSIC was, by John Howard.

The Voice, whether enshrined within the Constitution or not, can be ignored. That is the salient point of the whole issue. The fact of Constitutional recognition is nice, but it does not help ‘close the gap’.

That objective lies with us, as to whether we demand that governments listen, and having listened, act to redress wrongs, and build a reasonable future for our fellow citizens. It is the least we can do.


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No means no

As the now former Royal Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales discovered recently, no means no. Kissing someone on the lips without consent has consequences – and rightly so. There were various arguments put up why the non-consensual action was permissible before the reality hit that the action was completely inappropriate and even if Rubiales thought the gesture harmless, it wasn’t. His ‘resignation’ is pretty fair and reasonable in the scheme of things. We teach our youth that ‘no means no’ for a reason. There are no exemptions or excuses such as it was harmless or it didn’t mean anything to reduce its severity or ‘explain it away’.

There seems to be a growing list of those opposed to the Voice to Parliament who are claiming they are supporting the Opposition Leader Dutton ‘no’, Warren Mundine’s ‘no’ or the Senator Price ‘no’. In reality, it doesn’t make a scrap of difference – no mean no. Regardless of which ‘no’ you favour, no means nothing happens to alleviate the centuries of pain, torment and angst caused to the First Nations of this country by those who have immigrated or lived here since 1788.

The ABC recently published an article online that discussed what would happen to the Constitution if the referendum is agreed to. First of all, the Constitution covers:

  • the structure and law-making powers of federal parliament
  • how the federal and state parliaments share power and expenditures
  • the roles of the executive government and the High Court of Australia
  • frequency of elections

The constitution is a legally binding document and has a special status – it can only be changed through a referendum and it overrides all other laws.

Even a law passed by federal parliament is invalid if it contradicts the constitution.

Those that believe their actions are legitimised because of the ‘bill of rights’ should be concerned because:

Unlike the constitutions of some other countries, Australia’s does not include a list of the rights of citizens or a “bill of rights”. [There is also no legislated ‘bill of rights’ in Australia.]

These rights are, instead, protected by common law (made by the courts) and statute law (made by parliament).

Also, the Australian Constitution didn’t include a reference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people until 1967, when recognition was included as a result of a referendum.

So what are the changes? According to the ABC:

The federal government is proposing to add a ninth chapter to the document.

It comes in response to the Uluru Statement from the Heart – which was signed by more than 250 Indigenous representatives and calls for constitutional recognition through a Voice.

The proposed chapter would come after Chapter 8 and just before the Schedule and Notes.

The new chapter contains four paragraphs and are typed out for you to read and consider if you click here.

Like in a lot of discussions, there is considerable nuance that separates the views of different members of the community. Dutton’s ‘no’ seems to be predicated on blanket opposition to anything proposed by the Australian Government rather than any ideological concerns with the Voice. He had a number of meeting s during the planning stages with supporters to attempt to come to an agreed common ground. Dutton also has a history of not understanding our history with First Nations People, having walked out on PM Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generation in 2008 (although he did apologise for that 15 years later when politically expedient to do so).

Senator Price’s ‘no’ seems to be because she believes that the Voice effectively doesn’t go far enough. She may be correct, however the Voice referendum is the product of the Uluru ‘Statement from the Heart’ where 250 representatives of First Nations Peoples came together and developed a consensus view of a way forward. As each of these people would have brought different views and objectivity to the discussion, the result is a distillation of the views and almost certainly not the view of one or two individuals. Senator Price has every opportunity in the Parliament to influence the makeup and process of the Voice – should it be agreed to, but she will have to compromise as she is one of over 200 Parliamentarians that consider federal legislation.

Warren Mundine’s ‘no’ seems to be less ‘hard line’ that Price’s, however he still argues a treaty between First Nations people and the Australian Government is required. Mundine’s list of requirements also includes changing the date of Australia Day to a day less emotive for all of us.

The obvious question is if a representative group of First Nations people determined that the current process is preferable, would those opposing it be acting any different if Australia was voting on a proposed treaty that didn’t cover off on their individual requirements? Realistically – probably not. In any society not everyone is going to get everything they want – ever.

When you’re watching your favourite football code finals over the next week or so, just remember that no one has got on the field because they stood back and covered off on all the risks and uncertainties. The players, coaches and team staff are there because they took calculated chances. The Uluru ‘Statement from the Heart’ participants have taken the calculated risk and hope to achieve a positive outcome.

They developed a solution that was acceptable to the majority at the forum and presented to all Australians for consideration. It may not have been the best, almost certainly could have been worse, but it is a consensus and a pathway to finding a solution to a long running sore that is holding back Australia. Regardless, there seems to be people who are telling us to disregard the Uluru ‘Statement from the Heart’ because it doesn’t represent their world view of the ideal process for recognition and treaty. It’s a bit like the 3-year-old child throwing a tantrum because they aren’t getting their own way.

Voting ‘no’ is essentially a vote to not change anything because there might be something we didn’t think about that happens down the track. As countless people, including the former Spanish Football President have found out to their cost – no means no – there are no excuses. Your ‘no’ vote is the same as Dutton’s, Price’s or Mundine’s – regardless of how you try to justify it to yourself or others.

And if you don’t know – do the research. Here’s a link to help you start.


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Mission to Free Assange: Australian Parliamentarians in Washington

It was a short stint, involving a six-member delegation of Australian parliamentarians lobbying members of the US Congress and various relevant officials on one issue: the release of Julian Assange. If extradited to the US from the United Kingdom to face 18 charges, 17 framed with reference to the oppressive, extinguishing Espionage Act of 1917, the Australian founder of WikiLeaks risks a 175-year prison term.

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce, Labor MP Tony Zappia, Greens Senators David Shoebridge and Peter Whish-Wilson, Liberal Senator Alex Antic and the independent member for Kooyong, Dr. Monique Ryan, are to be viewed with respect, their pluckiness admired. They came cresting on the wave of a letter published on page 9 of the Washington Post, expressing the views of over 60 Australian parliamentarians. “As Australian Parliamentarians, we are resolutely of the view that the prosecution and incarceration of the Australian citizen Julian Assange must end.”

This is a good if presumptuous start. Australia remains the prized forward base of US ambitions in the Indo-Pacific, the spear pointed against China and any other rival who dares challenge its stubborn hegemony. The AUKUS pact, featuring the futile, decorative nuclear submarines that will be rich scrapping for the Royal Australian Navy whenever they arrive, also makes that point all too clear. For the US strategist, Australia is fiefdom, property, real estate, terrain, its citizenry best treated as docile subjects represented by even more docile governments. Assange, and his publishing agenda, act as savage critiques of such assumptions.

The following views in Washington DC have been expressed by the delegates in what might be described as a mission to educate. From Senator Shoebridge, the continued detention of Assange proved to be “an ongoing irritant in the bilateral relationship” between Canberra and Washington. “If this matter is not resolved and Julian is not brought home, it will be damaging to the bilateral relationship.”

Senator Whish-Wilson focused on the activities of Assange himself. “The extradition of Julian Assange as a foreign journalist conducting activities on foreign soil is unprecedented.” To create such a “dangerous precedent” laid “a very slippery slope for any democracy to go down.”

Liberal Senator Alex Antic emphasised the spike in concern in the Australian population about wishing for Assange’s return to Australia (some nine out of 10 wishing for such an outcome). “We’ve seen 67 members of the Australian parliament share that message in a joint letter, which we’ve delivered across the spectrum.” An impressed Antic remarked that this had “never happened before. I think we’re seeing an incredible groundswell, and we want to see Julian at home as soon as possible.”

On September 20, in front of the Department of Justice, Zappia told reporters that, “we’ve had several meetings and we’re not going to go into details of those meetings. But I can say that they’ve all been useful meetings.” Not much to go on, though the Labor MP went on to state that the delegation, as representatives of the Australian people had “put our case very clearly about the fact that Julian Assange pursuit and detention and charges should be dropped and should come to an end.”

A point where the delegates feel that a rich quarry can be mined and trundled away for political consumption is the value of the US-Australian alliance. As Ryan reasoned, “This side of the AUKUS partnership feels really strongly about this and so what we expect the prime minister [Anthony Albanese] to do is that he will carry the same message to President Biden when he comes to Washington.”

The publisher’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, also suggests that the indictment is “a wedge in the Australia-US relationship, which is a very important relationship at the moment, particularly with everything that’s going on with the US and China and the sort of strategic pivot that is happening.” Assange, for his part, is bound to find this excruciatingly ironic, given his lengthy battles against the US imperium and the numbing servility of its client states.

Various members of Congress have granted an audience to the six parliamentarians. Enthusiasm was in abundance from two Kentucky Congressmen: Republican Senator Rand Paul and Republican House Representative Thomas Massie. After meeting the Australian delegation, Massie declared that it was his “strong belief [Assange] should be free to return home.”

Georgian Republican House member Marjorie Taylor Greene expressed her sense of honour at having met the delegates “to discuss the inhumane detention” of Assange “for the crime of committing journalism,” insisting that the charges be dropped and a pardon granted. “America should be a beacon of free speech and shouldn’t be following in an authoritarian regime’s footsteps.” Greene has shown herself to be a conspiracy devotee of the most pungent type, but there was little to fault her regarding these sentiments.

Minnesota Democrat Congresswoman Ilhan Omar also met the parliamentarians, discussing, according to a press release from her office, “the Assange prosecution and its significance as an issue in the bilateral relationship between the United States and Australia, as well as the implications for freedom of the press both at home and abroad.” She also reiterated her view, one expressed in an April 2023 letter to the Department of Justice co-signed with six other members of Congress, that the charges against Assange be dropped.

These opinions, consistent and venerably solid, have rarely swayed the mad hatters at the Justice Department who continue to operate within the same church consensus regarding Assange as an aberration and threat to US security. And they can rely, ultimately, on the calculus of attrition that assumes allies of Washington will eventually belt up, even if they grumble. There will always be those who pretend to question, such as the passive, meek Australian Foreign Minister, Penny Wong. “We have raised this many times,” Wong responded to a query while in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly. “Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken and I both spoke about the fact that we had a discussion about the views that the United States has and the views that Australia has.”

Not that this mattered a jot. In July, Blinken stomped on Wong’s views in a disingenuous, libellous assessment about Assange, reminding his counterpart that the publisher had been “charged with very serious criminal conduct in the United States in connection with his alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of our country.” The libel duly followed, with the claim that Assange “risked very serious harm to our national security, to the benefit of our adversaries, and put named sources at grave risk – grave risk – of physical harm, and grave risk of detention.” That gross falsification of history went unaddressed by Wong.

Thus far, Blinken has waived away the concerns of the Albanese government on Assange’s fate as passing irritants at a spring garden party. However small their purchase, six Australian parliamentarians have chosen to press the issue further. At the very least, they have gone to the centre of the imperium to add a bit of ballast to the effort.


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The Angertainer Steps Down: Rupert Murdoch’s Non-Retirement

One particularly bad habit the news is afflicted by is a tendency to fall into discussions about itself. Its members, some of them at least, used to call it the “Fourth Estate,” an unelected chamber of scribblers supposedly meant to keep an eye on the other three, yet finding itself at times distracted, gossip-driven, and rumour filled by its own exploits.

The greatest distraction that weathered province falls is coverage of its own moguls and pop-representatives. When it came to covering, for instance, the wiles and frauds of Robert Maxwell, little could be trusted about the brow-beating bruiser’s exploits. You certainly could not trust what the likes of his own Mirror Group Newspapers or the New York Daily News, printed about his affairs. Editors and journalists were terrified; his inner circle, subservient. When a colossal £460 million gap was unearthed in the pension funds of his empire, feigned surprise was registered.

On September 21, a press release from News Corp announced that Rupert Murdoch was “stepping down as chairman of each board effective as of the upcoming Annual General Meeting of Shareholders of each company [Fox Corporation and News Corporation] in mid-November.” But stepping down in the post-modernist slushy argot of Fox Corp and News Corp never means retirement in any conventional sense. One continues to read, for instance, that Murdoch “will be appointed Chairman Emeritus of each company.”

This announcement should have simply caused a wave of sniggering and guffawing. The most savage and imperialist press mogul of them all had always insisted that he would not release the reins of power, stating in 1998, at the age of 67, that he was “enjoying” being in charge, admitting it was “a selfish choice. To walk away and retire, it’s a pretty dismal prospect – I don’t want to do that.” Were he to do so, he would “die pretty quickly.” One of his sons, Lachlan, seemingly the perennial successor in waiting, had to concede in 2015 that his father was “never retiring”.

One of the reasons Murdoch has cited for refusing to step down has been those heel nipping, unprepared progeny of his. “I don’t think my children are ready yet. They may not agree with that, but I’m certainly planning [to] wait several more years.” That was 1998. But in 2023, now aged 92 years, he has reached a point where he would not so much step down as shuffle slightly to the side. This left Lachlan holding the chairmanship of both Fox Corp and News Corp.

Media outlets dutifully covered the announcement. Politicians were careful, respectful, even servile. Australia’s Labor government seemed terrified to say anything contrarian about the man’s horrific, degrading legacy. “Whether he’s chairman or not, it appears he will play a very big role at Fox and at News,” education minister Jason Clare observed on Channel Seven’s Sunrise. Treasurer Jim Chalmers told ABC’s News Breakfast that Murdoch had “been an incredibly influential figure on the global media landscape.”

Murdoch’s open letter to employees was defiant and characteristically arrogant. “Our companies are in robust health, as am I,” went the sinister note. “Our opportunities far exceed our commercial challenges. We have every reason to be optimistic about the coming years – I certainly am, and plan to be here to participate in them.” Threateningly, he promised that an entire professional life dedicated to an engagement with “daily news and ideas” would “not change.” Editors and hacks, remain on your guard.

The letter does not deviate from a formula Murdoch embraced from the moment he became a newspaper proprietor in 1952. This did not involve news as accuracy so much as news for purpose, one armed for the fight. “My father firmly believed in freedom, and Lachlan is absolutely committed to the cause.” As he so often does, Murdoch tries the populist tone for size, attacking the grey suits, the “[s]elf-serving bureaucracies” that seek “to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose.” He persists in having a fanciful idea of elites who continue showing “open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class.” He follows with the predictable observation that, “Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth.”

Murdoch is right about the establishment collusion but ignores his own role in the venture. He was the man who, after all, entered the sacred temple and acquired such establishment relics as the The Times of London and the Wall Street Journal, showing that establishments are not always monoliths. At times, they can even be protean, shifting and vulnerable.

The era of Donald Trump and his presidency signalled the arrival of Fox as its own establishment and king maker, the hailer and railing force against the pointy heads, the experts, the technocrats. Foetid swamps were drained of establishment types, only to be replaced by Trumpist types.

In doing so, Murdoch’s corporate attack dogs engendered what former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull disparaged as an “anger-tainment ecosystem”. Turnbull has every reason to be bitter; his political career was scalped largely because of the urgings of the News Corp hounds. (His own Liberal Party cheerfully took heed and did the deed.) Looking to the United States, Turnbull also saw the Fox ecosystem and its devastating effects: the enragement and division of the citizenry, while “knowingly” sowing lies “most consequentially the one … where Donald Trump claimed to have won the 2020 election.” This, as Turnbull should know, is only part of the story.

There will, or at least should be, a good number wishing for the implosion of this insidious empire. Under Lachlan and Rupert’s oppressively cast shadow, everything will be done to prevent that from happening. But the imperium’s burgeoning legal liabilities may tickle interest in a sale, though this remains a hypothetical musing by Fox watchers. The $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, reached after Fox’s false claims of fraud perpetrated during the 2020 presidential election, has emboldened a number of lawsuits, including another worth $2.7 billion by Smartmatic Corp.

Whatever the changes, A.J. Bauer is surely right in quashing any assumptions that Fox News “would suddenly become a bastion of journalistic integrity.” The rot, its dank and enervating properties, has well and truly set in, blighting journalism in toto and subordinating political classes too afraid to admit otherwise.


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The ALP is best prepared to take us into the future

There’s a myth created by the Coalition as far back as I care to remember and perpetuated for many years since, which is nothing more or nothing less a tale. A born to rule one.

The myth is that the Conservative parties are better at managing the economy and the nation. I shot the money myth down in the article Who are the best managers of the economy? in 2019. Then I went further with a piece titled The Masters of Scare. Notwithstanding those two slap downs, I followed up with Which major political party is more qualified to embrace urgent change?

This time, I’m more specific about the new world of Artificial Intelligence and which philosophy is best qualified to manage its implementation. However, before we decide which of the major parties is best suited for this momentous task, we have to do two things.

The first identifies what changes artificial intelligence (AI will) make to our society, and the second is each party’s philosophy or ideology.

“Artificial intelligence is the science of making machines that can think like humans. It can do things that are considered “smart.” AI technology can process large amounts of data in ways unlike humans. The goal for AI is to be able to do things such as recognise patterns, make decisions, and judge like humans.”

I found this in an A1 Superhuman email newsletter:

“Doctor With great power comes great responsibility, as the saying goes. And according to a new report, Meta and Google may have developed tech so powerful that they had to shut it down and keep it to themselves. However, recent AI developments could make the technology widely available very soon.”

In a speech to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute conference on Thursday, 14 September, Australia’s top military leader, ADF chief Gen Angus Campbell, warned that:

“… democracies will be vulnerable to “truth decay” as artificial intelligence tools eventually leave citizens struggling to sift fact from fiction.

This tech future may accelerate truth decay, greatly challenging the quality of what we call public ‘common sense’, seriously damaging public confidence in elected officials, and undermining the trust that binds us.”

How Artificial Intelligence is being used and in what areas

Examples are Health, Retail, Military, Manufacturing, Banking, Life sciences and the Public Sector.

As technology progresses, so will artificial intelligence:

“Over the next ten years, AI will become increasingly complex and sophisticated.”

“Technical advancements in this field will likely focus on creating general intelligence that rivals or surpasses human capabilities.”

It will undoubtedly be a prelude to 40 or more years further on.

There is no area of our existence that technology will not dramatically change.

The ideology of Conservative political parties

What is a conservative?

I know I have put the same question before, but I have expanded a little more here:

Conservatives believe in free markets, individual liberty and traditional values. Change is anathema to them and should be advanced incrementally, typically in science, politics, or religion. They believe the role of the Government should be to provide people with the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals.

Lower taxes, less regulation, reduced spending, balanced budgets and religious freedoms are part of the Conservative ideology.

Note: Contrary to what they believe, they, the far-right, now seek to control us.

Conservative policies generally emphasise the empowerment of the individual to solve problems. And they are cautious about change or innovation, typically in science, politics, or religion. They stick to tradition and institutions.

They believe that free markets produce more economic growth, more jobs, and higher living standards than those systems burdened by excessive government regulation.

The right supports the separation of church and state but allows its conservative views to affect its legislation in practice.

What is a neo-conservative?

Neo-conservatism goes back to the 1930s; however, it identifies with George W. Bush in its modern form.

Bush embraced unbridled capitalism, corporate greed, and literalist Christianity to form modern-day neoconservatism.

Carl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld and others added global superiority, believing American exceptionalism was above the rest of the world in every aspect. Donald Trump completed the assortment of capitalists who would make America great again.

But a society and its traditions can only endure if it can also change.

What is a social progressive?

Social democrats (the left) believe in:

“Government action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all. The Government must alleviate social ills, protect civil liberties provide health services and individual human rights, thus believing the role of the Government should be to guarantee that no one is in need.”

And that:

“Government must protect citizens from the greed of big business. Progressive policies generally emphasise the need for the Government to solve problems.”

Social progressive democrats believe that a market system in which the Government regulates the economy is best. Unlike the private sector, the Government is motivated by public interest. Government regulation in all areas of the economy is needed to level the playing field.

The left also supports the separation of church and state: free health and a move to free education. The common good and that change is attached to progress.

Substantial and worthwhile change often comes with short-term controversy, but the pain is worth it for the long-term prosperity of all.


What, then, are the rudimentary differences between the two doctrines? The difference is between individuals’ rights and the Government’s power to make worthwhile change. Those on the left believe society is best served when the collective, through the Government, can improve culture.

Those on the right believe that:

“… the best outcome for society is achieved when individual rights and civil liberties are paramount and the role – and especially the power – of the government is minimised.”

We are now entering a period of even more significant change. The second Enlightenment brings with it artificial intelligence. Society must decide which political party is best placed to see its introduction.

Let us look at the qualifications of the two major parties

The Greens and others of English Liberal philosophy might argue their case for inclusion, but we only have two possibilities and a minority Government.

By scrutinising the historic social reforms of Australia’s major parties and comparing them, we can determine who is best qualified to take us through this period of change, including political, social and economic reforms and the ethics that might accompany them.

We can often become so trapped in the longevity of sameness that we never see other ways of doing things.

The Left side of Australian politics until now:

Has implemented the following reforms or policies that have directly contributed to change for the better.

A National Health Scheme, a National Disability scheme, compulsory superannuation, a National Broadband Network, Paid Parental leave, major educational reforms, a price on carbon, equal pay for women, the Aged Pension, Mabo and the Apology to the Stolen Generations, plus of course the Hawke – Keating major economic reforms that gave the country 25 years of continuous growth.

Labor’s platform

To protect workers who could lose jobs to AI:

“The platform pledges Labor will enact rules to protect against harmful uses of AI while focusing on “lifting national productivity and competitiveness and supporting the development of new businesses and ideas that can improve the lives of Australians.”

The ‘right side of politics has implemented the following: Howard gun buyback, the GST that benefited the rich, increased immigration after the Second World War, and Harold Holt introduced a bi-partisan referendum that gave Indigenous people the right to vote in 1967.

And there, I have to stop. The Liberal Party website provides a list of achievements in Government as distinct from significant policy reforms. Here is the list for you to judge for yourself.

The Liberal Party AI Platform

The Coalition Government has a comprehensive strategy to make Australia a top 10 data and digital economy by 2030.

Note: Its policy only talks about artificial intelligence in terms of economics. It is much more than that. The death of truth is at stake. National security will be at risk.

In a world where science, technology, and information progress so quickly, change sometimes disregards opinion and becomes a phenomenon of its own making, with its own inevitability.

Conservatives oppose change and are wary of science and intellectualism. Never was this so evidenced by the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison Governments. Almost ten years of comprehensively rotten Government leaves the writer in no doubt about who is the best party to take us through this period of significant change.

The ALP, demonstrably, is best prepared to take us into this new world of the future: artificial intelligence.

My thought for the day

We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that makes us feel secure. Yet change is part of the very fabric of our existence.


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The sad truth

Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price’s comment that:

… she did not believe there are any ongoing impacts of colonisation, but in some cases, a “positive impact”.

… begs to be disputed. There is zero positivity in the planned extermination of the world’s oldest culture. But that was the plan.

However, in fairness to Senator Price she, as with most Australians, is most likely unaware of the extent of the cruelty and intent administered by governments against the First Nations people for over 200 years.

Let’s look at the evidence as proven by historical events.

* * * * *

The video of Lang Hancock’s disgusting proposal to what he believed was the “Aboriginal problem” is again, thanks to Senator Price, doing the rounds on social media. Hancock suggested that by doping their drinking water – that caused sterilisation – was one simply way to ensure the extinction of the race.

Anyone seeing this video for the first time will be shocked, even angered. And rightly so. Even more shocking is that Hancock’s sinister idea was not dissimilar to government policies that ran their course not a generation earlier.

In a younger Australia there was an agenda in both the colonial and early federal governments; that being the extermination of Aborigines. Not only was it the will of ‘man’ that the Aborigines be exterminated, but also the will of God. Or so they believed.

Was the total extermination of Australia’s Indigenous people deliberately intended? Of course it was. It was OK to shoot Aborigines. God – they presumed – had no problems with good white Christians killing Aborigines as it was the white man’s belief that God had condemned Aborigines to extinction and the white man was simply hurrying things along for Him. It had His stamp of approval. It was ordained genocide.

But the massacre of Aboriginals was frowned upon by latter governments, however, it did not mean that they were not considered a doomed race. These governments had a sinister role to play in that consideration; that of the evolutionary masters. That of God.

Let us trace this.

The nineteenth European scientific discourse of the Great Chain of Being “arranged all living things in a hierarchy, beginning with the simplest creatures, ascending through the primates” and to humans. It was also practice to distinguish between different types of humans. Through the hierarchical chain the various human types could be ranked in order of intellect and active powers. The Europeans – being God-fearing and intelligent – were invariably placed on the top, whilst the Aborigines – as perceived savages – occupied the lowest scale of humanity, slightly above the position held by the apes. Such ideas were carried to and widely circulated in the Australian colonies and helped shape attitudes towards Aboriginals. So dominant was the concept that it helped develop the fate of Aboriginal people, even before Australia’s colonisation. The image of the Aborigine simply confirmed prejudices based on this doctrine of evolutionary difference and intellectual inferiority.

In harmony with the Great Chain of Being, the “theory of evolution in the social sciences” (known as Social Darwinism), was accepted by nineteenth and early twentieth century Australians as further justification for their treatment of the Aboriginals. Central to the theory of Social Darwinism was the ideology that the Aborigines, who were considered to be less-evolved, faced extinction under the impact of European colonisation and nothing could, or should, be done about it. Government policies reflected these ideologies and provided the validation of oppressive practices towards the Aborigines, founded on the perceptions of racial superiority.

Four of the major policies are those relating to protection; segregation; assimilation; and the integration of Aboriginal people into the wider community.

Protection was influenced by the evolutionary theory that Aborigines would die out as a result of European contact. Subsequently, all that could be done was to feed and protect them until their unavoidable demise. The policy thus took on short-term palliative measures that saw enforced concentration of Aboriginals in reserves and missions – protected from European contact and abuse (such as hunting parties) to await “their closing hour.”

This policy was a humane one based on its presumptions, however, nature had not selected Aboriginals for extinction. Only the colonisers had. Subsequently, governments eventually and willingly used protection policies as a mechanism for social engineering. The policies of protection changed its fundamental goal to segregation. Their differences are difficult to identify although their purposes are not: the Aboriginals belonged to a dying race so they were protected from the wider community; the Aboriginal race had failed to die off, so they were segregated from the wider community.

The social theories that legitimised and institutionalised racism were never more evident than in the practices of segregation. Segregation created two social and political worlds in Australia: one white and one black. Whilst the Aboriginal race had ignored extinction, government policies reflected the attitude that, nonetheless, by the 1940s they had still failed to progress since European contact. “Sentiment thus ruled that continued segregation of the Aborigines from the wider community would ensure white racial purity” (source unknown).

Segregation was pervasive in all aspects of public or political life. Church or social organisations discouraged Aboriginal participation, and access to community facilities such as swimming pools or theatres were severely restricted, if not refused altogether. Custom in many business establishments was also refused for fear of offending the white clientele. Perhaps the most damning indicator of this racism, however, was the neglect of medical treatment and health services by white practitioners. Policies of segregation were to degenerate into practises of apartheid when, in South Australia for example, association between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people became a criminal offence under Section 14 of the Police Offences Act 1953.

The policies of protection and segregation were continued even though the Aborigines had not faced their final hour. ‘Full-bloods’ remained on reserves until their demise, yet the problem for the government came in the form of the ‘half-caste’. These people looked increasingly like white people but behaved like ‘Black’ people. The only way this could be countered was to assimilate them into the general population.

Assimilation of the lighter-caste population was still an endeavour to destroy Aboriginality: by absorbing them into the wider community – the breeding out of the colour, “the process of genetic change” – it was hoped that they would eventually disappear. A radical suggestion that selective mating would breed out the colour was also proposed.

Of the endless record of horrors associated with colonisation and racial supremacy, some of the assimilation policies adopted in the 1950s equal the worst. In particular the taking of children away from their families by the Aboriginal Protection Board – as their legal guardians – and disposing of them as they saw fit. As a prelude to the Reconciliation Convention, the Government reflected on this practice:

Children were taken away under government policies of protection and assimilation aimed at having indigenous people adopt European culture and behaviour to the exclusion of their family and background. The assimilation policy presumed that, over time, indigenous people would die out or be so mixed with the European population they became indistinguishable (The Path to Reconciliation, 1997, p 24).

Yes, I would argue that the total extermination of Australia’s Indigenous people was deliberately intended. If not by the bullet, then by the policies of those governments that saw them as a stain on white purity. God favoured the white man and they set out to do His work.

Summary: The sad truth

The Great Chain of Being, along with Spencer’s evolutionary theory had considerable influence on social thinking in nineteenth century Australia. This influence was to impact upon the Aborigines who, in theory, were destined to die out having now encountered a more superior race. ‘Their passing was graphic proof of evolution itself.’ (Reynolds, 1987:125). This led to their dispossession and disadvantage, which under the philosophy of natural law were considered justifiable acts.

Government policies towards Aborigines were a measure of, in particular, Spencer’s influence. Convinced that the Aboriginal race would die out, the government pursued a policy that protected them from the wider community while they awaited their inevitable demise. This policy, in essence, continued under the guise of segregation when it became clear that their numbers were increasing. Segregation created many racial divisions in Australia’s social and political life.

An increasing number of ‘mixed-bloods’ in the community threatened white purity, and the policy of assimilation was therefore an endeavour to breed out Aboriginality. One of the practices was to remove children from their families and culture, presuming that over a period of time they would become indistinguishable with the wider European population.


Beckett, J. (1988). editor Aborigines and the state in Australia. The University of Adelaide, South Australia.

Broome, R. (1994). Aboriginal Australians. 2nd edition, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW.

Critchett, J. (1990). A ‘distant field of murder’: western district frontiers 1834-1848. Melbourne University Press, Carlton.

Duguid, C. (1973). Doctor and the Aborigines. Rigby Limited, Adelaide.

Evans, R; Saunders, K; and Cronin, K. (1993). Race relations in colonial Queensland: a history of exclusion. University of Queensland, St Lucia.

Evans, R; Moore, C; Saunders, K; and Jamison, B. (1997) editors 1901 our future’s past; documenting Australia’s federation, Pan Macmillan, Sydney.

Goodwin, C. (1964). ‘Evolution theory in Australian social thought’ in Journal of the history of ideas, volume 25, pages 393-416.

Hunter, R; Ingleby, R; and Johnstone, R. (1995). editors Thinking about law: perspectives on the history, philosophy and sociology of law. Allen And Unwin, St Leonards, NSW.

Kearney, G. (1973). editor The psychology of Aboriginal Australians. John Wiley and Sons, Sydney.

Kingston, B. (1988). The Oxford history of Australia volume 3: glad, confident morning 1860-1900. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Kociumbas, J. (1992). The Oxford history of Australia volume 2: possessions 1770-1860. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

McConnochie, K; Hollinsworth, D; and Pettman, J. (1993). Race and racism in Australia. Social Science Press, Australia.

McGrath, A. (1995). editor Contested ground: Australian Aborigines under the British crown. Allen and Unwin, St Leonards.

Reay, M. (1964). editor Aborigines now. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.

Reynolds, H. (1987). Frontier: Aborigines, settlers and land. Allen and Unwin, Sydney.

The path to reconciliation. (1997). Commonwealth of Australia booklet, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.


A shorter version of this article was originally published in 2020 as They’re going to die out anyway. Senator Price’s comment warranted re-publication.


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Elon Musk And The Terrible Brand X…

Lately I’ve started reading a book called, “The End Of Reality” by Jonathan Taplin which has the tagline: “How Four Billionaires Are Selling Out Our Future.”

While the book has been interesting so far, there was a section about Elon Musk which grabbed my attention. He was driving Peter Thiel, his partner in PayPal, to a meeting and demonstrating “the awesome acceleration” of his $150,000 McLaren sports car when he plowed into an embankment. Apparently Musk told Thiel: “You know, I read all these stories about people who made money and bought sports cars and crashed them. But I knew it would never happened to me, so I didn’t get insurance.”

Musk had the controlling interest in the company at the time and he wanted to drop the name PayPal in favour of, even though there was some suggestion that sounded more like a porn site and it was likely to confuse existing customers.

Of course, the money men were a wee bit concerned about Musk’s erratic behaviour, so they forced him to step aside as CEO and, as we know, PayPal still exists as PayPal and the only things that have the name “X” are one of his children and the site that used to be known as Twitter.

Musk resembles a child whose parents won’t let him name their pet “Fartin’ Martin”, so he grows up and names his first child that to show that he’s now an adult and he can do what he likes, so there!

For anyone who’s noticed how business normally works, it’s pretty usual to try and keep your customers happy and if you have a recognisable brand and name then it’s a good idea to keep it. Frequently the reason people change the name of a business is so that unsuspecting people won’t realise that it’s the same company that has been annoying their friends and family.

And speaking of Brands, you’ve probably heard about Russell’s troubles…

Well, I want to make it clear here that I support the concept of the legal process which includes the whole we need presume innocence until guilt is proven.


I would just like to point out that it’s rather strange when people start down the path of the whole innocent until proven guilty thing, only to then start to suggest that various other people are guilty of various other misdeeds.

For example, when someone asks why they didn’t report it at the time, it shows not only a misunderstanding of how intimidating it can be to report a crime and how it may take time to process what’s happened and to summon up the strength to see it through. Add to that the fear that they may not be believed. Strangely that last point is dismissed by the very people who are doubting the person who has come forward.

The other strange idea is that this whole thing has been manufactured because good old Russell is presenting alternative views and has upset certain people and that it’s all part of some conspiracy. Well, of course there is a possibility that certain people have been upset by some the things he’s said and they’re more than happy to let the story run. But again, this sort of makes it sound like Mr Brand has only just lately started saying the sort of things that upset the powers that be and that this is how they’re going to shut him up.

Notwithstanding the idea that everyone has a potential influence, it would be easier to shut someone up by not giving them any airtime, the fact remains that something like this is more likely to give Russell Brand an audience than no publicity at all. This gives him the perfect platform to announce that he’s being stopped from speaking in much the same way that Andrew Bolt frequently uses his colon to complain about censorship. (The “colon” was initially a spellcheck error but it sounds more appropriate than “column” so I let it stand.)

Of course Russell has previously had the support of Elon Musk: “I watched some of his videos. Ironically, he seemed more balanced & insightful than those condemning him! The groupthink among major media companies is more troubling. There should be more dissent.” We’ll probably find Musk tweeting… sorry, Xing, something that will give an even bigger boost to Russell even though they may have seemingly different political philosophies.

In some ways, they don’t differ all that much. Musk espouses an anti-government libertarian philosophy and some of you may remember a number of years ago when he was guest-editing “The New Statesman”, Russell Brand announced that he didn’t vote because the system was ineffectual and encouraged others to do the same, because by not voting then politicians would somehow feel the pressure and lift their game.

It seems to have worked a treat because in the intervening years, the British have had Conservatives elected a number of times and the Brexit referendum passed. It’s easy to say that the other party are no better when you’re not the one relying on the government to actually provide funding for your wheelchair. Those Communists in the British Labour Party may not have the same enthusiasm for lining the millionaire up against the wall as we’ve come to expect in the 20th Century, but they still spend a touch more on things like Health and Education.

And, devotees of Russell’s Revolution not voting in the United States may have helped Trump to become President where he managed to appoint enough judges to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe versus Wade.

Even if you don’t like the alternatives being presented, simply not voting isn’t really likely to change the system. If enough people turn up and vote for the “Let’s Have A Party” Party or the “May The Fourth Be With You” Party, then, at the very least politicians will start to wonder what ideas they need to steal from them.

But like I said, let’s not presume guilt just because a handful of women who don’t know each other all make a claim against someone. After all, it could be that Big Pharma is so upset that Russ is complaining about them and they regard him as so influential that they feel the need to make up this whole thing instead of just having him arrested by planting drugs on him… which being Big Pharma, they could manufacture quite easily…


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Your choice – people or ideology

Don’t know if you’ve noticed that in some of the major supermarket chains they have cameras throughout the store. If you use one of the farcically named ‘assisted checkouts’ in some stores there is a camera focused on your face. The large supermarket chains tell us the reason for all the cameras are that people were scanning high value goods as lower value goods. What a surprise! People will take advantage of the opportunity to steal from a large supermarket. In fact the supermarkets budget for a certain amount of theft, making the business decision that items not being scanned correctly is cheaper than employing people to ensure items are scanned correctly.

And if the people that are staffing the ‘assisted checkouts’ can get a break from attempting to get the checkouts to work when someone does something the programmers didn’t think of – they are supposed to be watching for people scanning $20 items for 20 cents. Given that frequently if the staff member has left school, it wasn’t that long ago, assertiveness towards thieves incorrectly scanning goods isn’t guaranteed. ‘Assisted’ checkouts are really a recipe for stock disappearing from the store without payment. Yet, the stock disappearing is the justification for increased video surveillance and those that have to buy food losing more of their privacy. The stores are happy to shout from the rooftops how low their prices are or how fresh their food is, but won’t address the ‘own goal’ of self serve checkouts, making the rest of us responsible for their economic decision.

Melbourne relies on Skybus to transport passengers to and from the major airport in the city. While the Skybus service and cost is reasonable, it is less environmentally friendly and has a lower capacity than the electric trains used in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Various Victorian State Governments have announced that they will construct a rail line to Tullamarine Airport which would link into the Melbourne suburban rail network. The latest version of the scheme (first discussed nearly 60 years ago) was supposed to be completed by the end of the decade and cost $13billion.

The Guardian recently reported

Transport and planning experts agree a train line to the airport has multiple benefits. It would reduce emissions from car travel, ease road congestion, cut travel times and improve connectivity for Melbourne’s western suburbs – which include some of the fastest growing local government areas in Australia.

However, there is a shortage of construction workers and material that would add to the cost of the project, so it is likely to be delayed.

But Infrastructure Australia found most of the project’s benefits would not be felt until the recently widened Tullamarine Freeway – which links the airport to the city – reaches capacity. This is expected to happen in 2036.

“Delaying it would not reduce those benefits because the benefits were not expected to be felt for some time,” says Bradshaw, from the Grattan Institute.

Jago Dodson, the director of RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research, argues an airport rail project would help Victoria be a competitive city.

But he says the wider issue Victoria faced was not having an overarching transport plan to determine infrastructure priorities, which he believes is “failing” the state.

“If we had a coherent transport plan it could have asked whether it was preferable to leave the Tullamarine Freeway at previous capacity and for a rail line to pick up the future additional travel to the airport,” he says.

What a surprise! Spending billions on what was probably the more popular option (because people could see the work occurring) – widening the Tullamarine Freeway – is not the best answer to the real problem which is the ability of airline passengers and workers to travel to and from Melbourne City and surrounds quickly and efficiently. The article reports that transit times on Skybus (and logically every other vehicle accessing the airport from Melbourne) are expected to almost double over the next 30 years. Again, those that came up with the solution didn’t think through all the issues before implementing a solution that will cost more in the long term. And if the construction of a rail line is left until the Tullamarine Freeway reaches capacity in the mid 2030’s, Melbourne’s residents and visitors will have to put up with many years of substandard transport to and from the Airport until the infrastructure catches up with the reality that is already understood. To be fair, the same commentary could be applied to the Cross River Rail works in Brisbane or the need for the abundance of toll roads in Sydney. Again, we all pay for the ‘own goal’ of economics.

We could end up like the UK where there are reports of the roofs on schools are falling down because of lack of funding for repairs. It seems that there is a cost to the 13 years of austerity and ideology supported by the Conservative Government.

In 2010, when David Cameron and Osborne, with the help of Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems, ushered in austerity, they presented it as a short period of necessary pain that had to be forced on the country to put the public finances right.

Instead, today, the images and experiences are of under-resourced services and a general decline resulting from chronic, systematic lack of investment.

During the first term of Tory rule, austerity often went hand in glove with ideological arguments about creating a smaller state. But here, too, as Conservative MPs search for positive stories, there is instead evidence of mismanagement in pursuit of those ideological visions.

What a surprise! Poor building standards and a lack of maintenance even when essential, eventually ensures that infrastructure starts to decay.

The thing is that it doesn’t have to be like this. Essentially austerity and ‘small government’ hasn’t worked, as demonstrated in the UK. Can Australia become the ‘lucky country’ again by observing the problems elsewhere and refocus on people rather than attempting to judge when an economic benefit will be realised in the short term?

We can start by supporting the Voice Referendum. Giving our First Nations people input into decisions that affect their lives is logical because we all know that imposing economic solutions hasn’t worked for over 200 years. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the next referendum was to revoke the Voice to Parliament because there was essentially equity in lifespans and opportunities between all who choose to live in this country?

We have the means and ability to help people rather than ideology on October 14 – don’t waste it.

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