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Category Archives: Politics

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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The Clear Bias Of The Labor Government!

For years, we’ve heard the Murdoch Malevolents complain about the bias of the ABC and, when anyone suggests that they themselves are biased, the response is: “We’re a private company; we’re allowed to be biased.” The ABC, on the other hand, don’t have that right and the Murdoch press complains that it presents a different point of view to them so therefore, it’s far too left-wing.

Recently, however, I’ve noticed the odd comment about how the Labor government is showing a bias towards the Voice and how dare they not be impartial when it’s there’s an upcoming Referendum…

Let’s stop and think about that for a moment.

A political party showing bias. You know, actually have a point of view and not being impartial. Why that’s unheard of. It’s outrageous. I can’t see why the Governor-General doesn’t sack them and install the army to rule…

Of course, the people complaining about the bias of Labor on the Voice aren’t the slightest bit concerned that the Liberal Party have adopted a position. Neither are they concerned about the National Party’s decision to oppose it. Or Pauline Hanson’s One Notion. Or…

No, it’s only the government who are meant to be unbiased.

Let me be clear here. The complaints weren’t that the government was funding one side and not the other, or that the Yes case was first in that little booklet that we got and that the No case was on the opposite page. No, the complaint was that members of the government were expressing an opinion.

How dare they? Senator Neville Bonner would be turning in his grave because, as George Brandis, assured us, the first Indigenous Liberal senator would have been dead set against a Voice to Parliament, and if there’s one thing that the Liberal Party has shown over the years, it’s that they are in the best place to speak for people who can’t speak for themselves like women and other minority groups… Yes, well women may not be a minority group in the general community but that one woman in Tony Abbott’s first Cabinet must have felt like real progress was being made when he made one of the biggest percentage increases when it went up by 200% with another one added!

I guess Senator Bonner went to Canberra in order to say nothing because he was so against this “Canberra Voice” being proposed by Anthony Albanese who isn’t listening to the everyday Indigenous people like Price and Mundine… Mundine organised the recent CPAC so there’s no way you could think of him as being part of the elites.

There haven’t been many referendums that have successfully changed the Australian Constitution. Successful ones have generally had bipartisan support and even that doesn’t guarantee success. Peter Dutton’s opportunism to have the Liberals oppose it was an attempt to gain the low-hanging fruit of scuttling its success and making people think he could actually achieve something, even if that something is actually nothing. It should be a slam dunk and we shouldn’t even think that there’s a chance of success. And that’s before all the misinformation, disinformation and attempt to play on people’s fear of change.

Now I’ve prattled on for years about this, but we have to accept that either the media is just this passive receptacle which just reports everything without filter or else we have to understand that everything is an active choice and part of that active choice is saying, “Actually, Mr Smedley, I don’t know that you can assert the idea that the Australian Constitution has been declared null and void by the High Court without producing some sort of evidence… and no, it’s just not fucking true that the evidence you have has been suppressed by Putin acting in concert with Obama and the Chinese who had this all planned from the time they managed to get your granny to put out the good china when you came over for afternoon tea…”

The media have a role to educate… but I guess that’s hard for them when they’re populated with people who don’t know very much beyond the fact that if they make people angry then they’re more likely to engage with them the next day because it’s easy to get people to come back out of anger than to come back to learn something new…

If you don’t know, come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you more things that I don’t know and you can get very, very angry about the fact that one of those people who aren’t you are trying to take my Jaguar that I’ve worked hard for and you can have one too if you just agree that I should have it and not someone who’s angry about something else and part of the outrage industry which is… Oh, yeah, well, it’s wrong to suggest that I’m part of an outrage industry even though we’re perpetually outraged…I’m outraged for good reason and don’t we need to agree with that property developer, Tim Gurner, who said that the workers are getting a bit uppity and a dose of unemployment will put them back in their place where they need to say, “Please sir, can I have some more?”, so we can bundle them off like Oliver Twist was along with all those unions in the glorious days past!

Yes, it’s getting very strange. I was out walking my dog and whenever he does his business, I give him a little treat. I guess that’s the business model of Murdoch. Whenever Andrew Bolt or whoever puts out some shit, they get a little treat.


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Coming Soon to a Screen in your Area: The Danger of Political Fairytales

We are constantly learning about yet another mass shooting in the US. However, these tragic events have recently been occurring with such rapidity it can be difficult to keep track. As a result, Aussies have largely stopped paying much attention.

But I am not implying this is callous – or even unusual. Precisely the reverse. It is an entirely understandable reaction. We are all constantly watching ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ waving guns about on our tele, so it is disturbingly easy to push all of these ‘stories’ about mass shootings and the proliferation of guns into this same frame of reference. I do it all the time.

I read an awful lot of American newspapers. Yet even so, I normally just ‘blip’ over the many local ‘crime’ stories about gun crime and mass shootings as they are simply too disheartening. But sometimes, when the debate regarding the regulation of firearms bleeds into the political press and election coverage, it becomes a little difficult to ignore the topic. Hence this article.

But I am not writing about gun crime in the US per se. The ultimate aim of this short muse is to consider how discussion of this matter – as well as many others – has now drifted into the realm of the absurd, and why and how this is dangerous. But one thing at a time.

This is initially a story about the new emergency order that the Democratic Governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, recently issued. An emergency health-order that suspends the right to carry firearms in public, in and around Albuquerque, which is the state’s largest city.

The Governor explained that she had issued the order in response to a recent spate of shootings, including a suspected road rage incident outside a minor league baseball stadium that killed an 11-year-old girl standing on the sidewalk and critically wounded another in a vehicle; a 5-year-old girl fatally shot as she slept in a motor home; and the murder of a13-year-old girl, by a14-year-old boy, with his father’s gun.

Before considering the response to the issuance of this order, it is helpful to closely examine the claims being made by the Governor. Certainly, these tragic murders are horrific. But does the current situation warrant such an intervention? I went looking for a bit of context.

Albuquerque is not a large city, especially by American standards. With a population of about six hundred thousand it is comparable in size to Newcastle (if you add the Maitland district). Also, while Albuquerque is a more dangerous place to live than is commonplace in the USA, the same is also true for Newcastle. Over the last two years, Newcastle has generated a murder rate that is five times the average for the rest of NSW. In total, there were five murders in the Newcastle district in 2021, while in the preceding year there were four.

These statistics have generated concern but nevertheless, Australians are not generally too worried about getting shot. Even those living in Newcastle. And when the stats are interrogated, this seems a perfectly rational response. The total number of murders in Australia has been in the range of 300 to 350 per year (for the whole country) for the last two decades, with guns being involved in only about 21% of these homicide incidents.

Then there is the situation in the similarly sized city of Albuquerque. In recent years there has been a recent surge in homicides all across the USA. While arrests for most forms of criminal activity have either been static or falling, instances of murder by firearm have become almost commonplace most towns and cities across the USA. Albuquerque is emblematic of this trend.

Just like the rest of the country, Albuquerque has also been experiencing a murder by firearm ‘surge’. So, as the Wall Street Journal observes:

Despite the largest single-year increase in homicides on record, the overall violent crime rate in [in Albuquerque, in] 2020 remains relatively low by historical standards.

In fact, Albuquerque police records indicate that in 2023 alone, there have already been 73 homicide cases opened, involving 77 victims. Moreover, 83% of these murders involved the use of a firearm. This indicates a murder by firearm rate that is at least fifteen times that of Newcastle.

Consequently, it is evident that the USA is, oddly, both the most rigorously policed country on the earth, as well as being very near the head of the pack in the both the rate of gun ownership and death by gunshot. Yet while any other relatively unbiased observer would thus likely conclude that there is – more than likely – at least some connection between these factors, that does not seem to be the case in much of the commentary in the US. The New Mexico Governor certainly makes such a connection. Additionally, I would suggest that any reasonable observer would likely deem her response as being modest.

The order issued by the New Mexico Governor is only for thirty days, and only applies to carrying weapons in public in Alburquerque. Nothing else. Yet the instant response was dozens of highly armed citizen protestors, marching into the Civic Plaza in the centre of the city, carrying high powered rifles. All before the New Mexico Attorney General, Raúl Torrez, publicly declared that he would not uphold the governor’s public health order, or defend it in court, thus immediately sparking a political war within the local Democratic administration.

The order instantly provoked both partisan and interparty criticism. Some of it ludicrously passionate. Some of it just ludicrous. Mostly it has become a story about the traducing of constitutionally enshrined rights by an overzealous public officer. One picture (published by the Associated Press) features April Polichette, at a ‘Second Amendment Protest’ meeting in Albuquerque, holding a sign that asserts boldly that: ‘The right to bear arms is what keeps us all safe.’

Which brings me to the crux of this missive. Which is that it is evident that much of the media coverage in the US, of a great many topics, is passionately unhinged. I suggest that we have to guard against a similar situation developing in Australia.

For example, the carrying of firearms in public is a constitutionally protected ‘right’ that was invented by right wing activists during the nineteen sixties. All of the jurisprudence up to this date indicates that the second amendment is (as the plain text of the amendment indicates) all about ensuring that the various US states could have their own little armies if they wanted them. Not a great idea, but certainly not as stupid as the idea of allowing every individual citizen to carry around an assault rifle in public. Thus, when I comment that this ‘right’ to carry arms was invented in the modern age, I am simply stating a fact. It does not exist before nineteen sixty. The second amendment does not say that everyone should have the right to carry a gun. The writers of the amendment did not intend for the second amendment to mean that everyone could carry a gun. Nor did those who voted for the amendment ever think that this might be the case.

But more significantly, just because the Supreme Court decided in District of Columbia v. Heller, to entirely renovate the interpretation of this amendment, does not thereby mean that the whole of American history and jurisprudence has also been altered. Nor does it mean that reality has been suddenly re-ordered in accord with right wing ideology.

Yet all of the responses to the order by the New Mexico Governor, from both the right and the left of the political spectrum in the US, has nevertheless been focused on the removal of these ‘rights. The whole basis of the discussion thus implicitly cedes to the right wing the ability to rewrite the past and be shielded from scrutiny. Consequently, I suggest that any discussion of gun control in the US should always commence with a simple acknowledgment that these ‘rights’ are manufactured, for political purposes. That the Federalist Society first stacked the US Supreme Court with partisan political figures and these individuals changed the interpretation of the second amendment to suit their personal political predilections. Yet even though all of this is undoubtedly the case, going by the coverage that is usually provided this issue in the US, the right wing have largely succeeded in rewriting history. Orwell would be astounded at their audacity, yet it seems to work.

In all the US press the proposition that the second amendment protects the right to own and carry a gun – any sort of gun – in public, is now simply assumed. Even though, throughout the ‘wild west’, virtually every town had a law that strictly prohibited the carrying of arms in public. So, all that the Governor of New Mexico is proposing is a return to the status quo circa 1880. A return to the good old days where a similar, quite commonsensical measure was ruthlessly enforced, for the good of everyone in town. (Those paying attention will likely understand that just such a town ordinance is at the centre of the story in the Shootout at the OK Corral.)

Yet the wholesale rewriting of American history and jurisprudence is rarely even mentioned in the mainstream media in the US. Or the takeover of the Supreme Court by a partisan group of religiously inspired nutters. Which brings me to the moral of this essay, which is that we need to reign in the more egregious, ideologically inspired claptrap that often passes for commentary in our media, in Australia; before it is too late to even engage in such a discussion.

The toxic impact of a purely partisan ‘mainstream’ media environment is made manifest in America. It should stand as a warning. The American press is now cut into two separate parts and a similar chasm is developing in our country. It will result in a situation here, just like in the US, where all of the press is chock-full of partisan ideologues, lecturing their partisan audience, on exactly why they should be outraged and regarding exactly how outraged they should be (ie, always very very outraged).

We are already seeing a similar disconnect between reality and the media narrative in some parts of the media in Australia, especially regarding topics such as the upcoming Voice referendum. For example, Marcia Langton labelling much of the recent coverage of the Voice debate in Australia as being racist is nothing more than stating the bleeding obvious (see The Great Australian Gaslighting). Yet instantly, the entire media pack in our country have descended on poor Marcia. Just for describing reality.

I do not want to pretend that the mass media has been better in the past. But I am asserting that we can, and should, aspire to a more nuanced and fact-based media narrative. More importantly, I suggest that we collectively need to revisit the idea that press agencies in our country are expected to be politically aligned. It seems to counter to the public interest that the many different press agencies in the west have decided to not only cover politics but also become politically active.

That these aspirations seem to be naive simply serves to illustrate how low our common expectations have sunk. But unless we begin to look at the coverage of news and current events as being a core and important issue, and take steps to stop our current slide into partisan nonsense, then our Australian media environment may very soon become as hopelessly gridlocked and fractured as in the US.

This is why the current discussions regarding curbing the instances of misinformation and disinformation in our media are both necessary and should be applauded by all Aussies, regardless of their political bent. But these regulatory measures can only be viewed as a starting point. There is a need to move to decentralise our media and unwind the massive monopolies that currently exist. The good health of our democracy depends on cultivating a healthy press environment.

The stakes are high. Big Brother is not just a scary tale. Nineteen-eighty-four is not in our rear-view mirror. Just as in America, very soon parts of our media may also become so utterly detached from reality, that half our population will begin agitating for renovations to our law, in accord with a brand new and improved history of Australia; fashioned just for us out of whole cloth, by News Corp, the Evangelical Church, and the Industrial Arms complex of the United States of Australia.

Have a nice day.


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The war on “gender” is a fascist threat

The Right is obsessed with gender. This deep paranoia comes out of America and international far right movements. It harms straight people and LGBTQIA+ people differently, and we need to fight it before our copycat Right entrenches it here too.

On Sunday night, Channel 7 broadcast a deeply specious piece of argumentation about trans youth suffering regret. It featured few examples and generalised that experience on the basis of activist talking points and from outlier medical opinion. The international far right is very enthusiastic about the “investigation.”

Most pain that might inspire regret is described by trans people as emerging from the difficulty of living within families and societies that demonise and discriminate against them.

In fact over 95% of trans youth embrace their changed form with joy. Most have only hormone treatment which has proven to be a saviour of mental health and life. Very few have irreversible decisions made before adulthood and expert consultation. To suggest that any other treatment is common is misleading and dangerous for the fostering of hate that it provokes. The estimated overall rate of regret at transitioning is as low as 0.5%.

Depicting children as victims of harm is one of the most powerful ways that a faction can ignite violence against a chosen enemy. Spreading propaganda against the weight of evidence to fuel this terror is indefensible.

The international Right shares a single concept as the enemy for which their targets operate: gender. For them “gender” is the unifying force behind modern society’s disorder and degeneracy.

The concept of gender in society was meant to highlight our wholistic identity and life choices. It was meant to free us from the dictates of biology which limited women’s options in particular. Gender stood in contrast to an idea of sex that determined our lives.

For the Right, however, the idea of binary sex is the prized attribute, with gender its perverted enemy. The Catholic Church invented the mythical “Gender Ideology” in the 1990s as a focus for the fear of LGBTQIA+ existence and feminism. The term now pervades the international Right. For these forces, biology must dictate sex. There can only be male and female. These (mistaken) “facts” are irretrievably based on sex allocated at birth. That sex label must dictate most elements of the life that follows. Man is strong, traditionally masculine, a leader in the world and at home. Woman is reproductive, but only within the confines of sacred marriage.

They must function together as a reproductive unit, within the “traditional” family home. This unit, it is argued by many on the further Right, ought to be the basis of any democracy they allow. The father must have the sole family vote, acting for his wife as he does now for his children.

In Republican states across America, women’s access to reproductive healthcare has been savaged as a result. Ironically this has also made desired pregnancies much more dangerous too. Plans exist to make abortion illegal nationwide, despite the disingenuous Supreme Court arguments that the Dodds decision was about states’ rights. In discussion also are plans to block access to contraception and women’s ability to initiate divorce.

The intent is that women will be functionally removed from the civic space: uncontrolled reproduction is a crippling weapon. It is not just implicit, however. The American Right is selling this message overtly too.

Turning Point USA, the youth arm of the MAGA movement, holds an annual Young Women’s Leadership Summit. There predominantly women with successful media careers tell school and college-aged young women that they should not aim to pursue careers, but embrace a glorified domesticity.

This year, a medical student asked organisation founder Charlie Kirk how to manage her career with future family. He told her to spend time with babies, to contract baby fever. If she was implicitly unnatural enough not to become infected then she was welcome to her medical career, and a miserable future with cats for company.

The more frightening aspect of this attack on gender is that LGBTQIA+ people have no place at all and certainly not anywhere near children.

Christian Nationalism embraces America’s Purity Culture. It fosters a prurient obsession with what people do with their bodies. It leads to a focus on distinct dress that is both sex-appropriate and modest.

Anyone who does not dress or live according to these mandates is advertising their sinfulness. Indeed within the Pentecostal movement so important to today’s Right such people are literally demonic.

Instead of seeing gender as describing a whole person, the Right sees “gender” as depicting a person misusing their God-given reproductive organs. This focus on genitalia is manifest in the way that homophobic groups are fighting to have children’s picture books labelled as literal pornography.” It explains why merely speaking in support of LGBTQIA+ existence earns the label “groomer” on social media.

If two penguin dads raising a chick in a picture book are “pornographic,” imagine the fate of LGBTQIA+ people in these regions. In fact, we don’t need to imagine. Bills have been tabled in their hundreds in Republican states to constrain not just trans but all LGBTQIA+ people. The presidential campaign of Ron DeSantis has trumpeted that his gubernatorial term in Florida has been an attack on all LGBTQIA+ people, not just trans people. DeSantis has painted Trump as the pro-Queer candidate to discredit him.

Russia has also been a leading force in social media’s spreading of bigotry against Queer people and feminism. The international Right has been fusing these campaigns since the end of the Cold War, depicting both feminism and LGBTQIA+ existence as societal threats. The attack on LGBTQIA+ people has been core to Russia’s propaganda justifying its invasion of Ukraine. Hungary’s Viktor Orban is a particular conduit of this ideology into Australia.

Both these threats are on display in our Coalition parties under siege by Christian Nationalists and Orbanist Eastern European “traditionalist” politics.

No identity’s existence is a matter for “debate.” No group (or rights) should be used as wedge issues for political gain.

Australians who want to be free to make choices about our own bodies need to join together against a Right who would eliminate us.


This was first published in Pearls and Irritations as Channel 7 fostering fascist politics

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To Hell in a Hand Basket

When a government department requires your land for a new electricity transmission tower, a highway or some other infrastructure they normally advise you of the need and negotiate a sale around the price identified by an independent valuer. The price doesn’t take into account that you will never be able to look at the spot under the gum tree where little Jenny (who is now 35) took her first step, or where little Johnny (who is now 32) first rode his bike unaided – but your compensation for having to move is usually reasonable. Some government departments will notify owners of properties 20 or more years out that the property will be required in the future and inviting discussions around the sale at any time the owner is ready.

Who knows, the sale of the family home to the authorities may be the catalyst to eliminate a number of financial or physical issues to do with aging, the state of the house you are living in or may generate a much wanted change in lifestyle. At the very least you will usually be in a similar financial position to where you were before the sale and most will quickly find the location of the local supermarket, sporting clubs and so on that is part and parcel of moving to a different community.

In 1788, our First Nations people were not give the opportunity to negotiate a sale price for the continent that subsequently became Australia and there was no prior notice given either. In fact the English invented a legal fiction know as “Terra Nullius” to justify their actions. Some First Nations people were massacred, others forced to live in squalid conditions on the boundaries of towns or forced to relinquish their children in a process of ‘assimilation’. Most were never compensated for the loss of their history and lands. Yet, some will tell us if we formally recognise our First Nations peoples lifestyles and traditions were irrevocably changed without any chance of input into the process, we will all go to hell in a hand basket.

The introduction of the Native Title Act in 1993 by then Prime Minister Paul Keating was bitterly opposed by then Opposition Leader John Howard. There were claims that no Australian backyard would be exempted from claims from First Nations Peoples making ‘land grabs’. The reality is somewhat different

According to the National Native Title Tribunal, the 2022 statistics for the existence of Native Title in Australia includes:

555 Registered Native Title Determinations, of which:

441 were by consent – meaning a court or other official body negotiated an agreement under the Native Title Act. 60 of these were unopposed, and not contested by another party.

55 were litigated – meaning it had to go to trial.

So much for Howard’s claim Native Title Legislation would mean the Australian way of life would be going to hell in a hand basket.

In the early 2010’s then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott claimed that emissions reduction legislation would be the ruin of Australia. His Chief of Staff and now one of the Sky after dark ‘talking heads’, Peta Credlin admitted years later that the claims were ‘brutal retail politics’ with no basis in fact. So much for Australia going to hell in a hand basket.

The Marriage Equality legislation was implemented by the Turnbull Government in the mid 2010’s. While the process taken to get there was questionable (there was no reason for a plebiscite when the various Members of Parliament could ignore the direction from their electorate) the outcome was in accordance with the general mood of the country. While those with a moral axe to grind didn’t like the outcome and foresaw all sorts of moral and physical harm as a result of the legislation becoming the law, again Australia hasn’t gone to hell in a hand basket.

As a matter of fact, the scare campaigns have existed for centuries. According to various interest groups at the time, decimal currency, the introduction of the metric system, changes to legislation to promote equal pay for equal work regardless of gender and similar changes to our lifestyle have generally improved lives for those affected – despite the claims of the naysayers that each change would mean that Australia would go to hell in a hand basket.

Given Australians love of travel, it is interesting to note that the naysayers of the 1830’s claimed the use of railways to carry people to different towns would lead to ‘decay of moral fibre’. Perhaps the real concern here was that those that defined ‘moral fibre’ in each small community saw the potential for travel to broaden the mind and potentially people would find out the guardians of ‘moral fibre’ in the next community down the line might have been more liberal. Regardless, people moving from community to community and later across the world didn’t mean the world went to hell in a hand basket.

The point is that change is really the only constant in life. Our families change with the birth of new children, people finding their life partner, family members moving to or from the area local to you and so on. We routinely change jobs, vehicles, furnishing in the home, allegiances and points of view. If we never changed anything, the ability to light a fire would never have been successfully popularised by cave dwellers. Those that want to live forever in what is a halcyon era (for them) commonly don’t reflect that the era may be anything but agreeable for others. Why should you be able to impose your chosen point in time without questions?

You would have to wonder if those that are considering voting ‘no’ at the forthcoming referendum because they don’t know what the consequences will be are still concerned about the use of mobile phones, television, computers and many other items that are in daily use around the world. If they aren’t, they should be as not all of the current features inherent in the latest mobile phone, television or computer operating systems were explained in detail and agreed prior to the introduction of the first itineration of the devices some years ago. The lack of consistency in accepting upgraded and new features without full relevant disclosure at the same time as voting against the ‘voice’ because you claim not to have enough detail is duplicitous at best.

And the biggest example of duplicity goes to current Opposition Leader Peter Dutton. He has offered to run a referendum if he gets to be Prime Minister at the next election to create a symbolic reference to our First Nations people in the Constitution – while justifying his absence from the Australian Parliament’s 2008 apology to the stolen generations because in his view, it was only symbolic. It’s almost Trumpian, isn’t it?

Why should we let Peter Dutton and his fellow travellers confuse the real issue for their own political ends? The Voice is necessary to enable our Fist Nations people to have a discussion with our elected representatives around what they need – rather than governments forcing what they believe First Nations peoples want. Determining what people want without input has worked so well in the past!

The Voice may not be perfect, it may not answer all the questions but it’s a start and just like most other changes we have seen in our lifetimes, won’t lead us to hell in a hand basket.


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Lowe Down, Joyce Gone And One Less Payne In The Liberal Party…

The Australian Financial Review was supportive of the ex-Reserve Bank Governor, Phil Lowe, telling its readers that he was the “scapegoat” for Albanese and Chalmers “their foolish promise to lift the wages and living standards of ordinary Australians without any plan to do so”.

Poor Phil, he was a man who had the impossible task of trying to fix inflation and it wasn’t his fault and he didn’t do anything wrong and it was all those nasty politicians that spent too much during the pandemic and anyway, it wasn’t a promise to keep interest rates at their current levels until 2024 so anyone who took it as a guarantee only has themselves to blame…

The final point sounding suspiciously like: “You knew what I was like when you married me so how can it possibly be my fault that I said I’d do something and then didn’t?”

Whatever the fairness or otherwise, it does strike me that those who worship money are quick to forgive the transgressions of their fellow travellers while being quick to tell the poor and downtrodden that it was just their lack of enterprise/work ethic/personal quality which found them on struggle street.

Now I don’t mean to be too harsh here but there is something rather strange about a situation where the governor of the Reserve Bank, who has the task of ensuring that inflation is kept under control and that the economy is kept from any shocks, decides that it’s necessary to make a prediction that is so far into the future that anything might happen, argues that it’s not his fault that his prediction was wrong and anyone who listened to him was rather silly because he was just thinking out loud and nobody was meant to take it as a definite thing and the only reason that he did it was so that people had some idea about the future.

Putting aside his unfortunate attempt at fortune telling, the fact remains that, if one of his jobs was to keep inflation under control, then one would have to say that he failed at that rather spectacularly when it’s been necessary to raise interest rates so many times. Of course, the counter argument was that the inflation was nothing to do with Australia and that there was nothing he could do… which sort of suggests that he was just putting up interest rates because he needed to do something and that was something, so he did it even though it was only going to make some people less able to afford to eat, while others reaped the benefit of more income from their savings… which is potentially inflationary.

Some people were saying that Lowe has been proven right by the fact that inflation is starting to come down. This is wrong for two reasons. The most obvious being that if it wasn’t his fault that inflation took off, then how can it be his actions that brought it under control. Once the horse has bolted, you can’t claim credit for shutting the gate and then firing shots at the horse in the hope that you’ll either scare it into going back to the stable or kill it… which makes it easy to catch but any hope of a soft landing for the horse is out of the question. (Just to be clear here for anyone taking the analogy too literally and wondering how it can get back into the stable once the gate is shut: The horse is the economy and the soft landing is the lack of a recession.)

The second is that it’s generally conceded that the inflation wasn’t caused by excessive demand, but by costs and supply problems. Therefore suppressing demand would have had minimal effect on it. I mean, I can say that I sacrificed a virgin chicken every full moon in order to appease the gods of inflation and I was successful because now inflation is retreating. The only real difference between that and Lowe’s strategy is that his didn’t involve cruelty to animals… just mortgage holders, but the RSPCA doesn’t care about them.

Anyway, Lucky Phil has gone and 2023 is the year of good-byes. We also say good-bye to Alan Joyce and we can once again look forward to Qantas only cancelling flights that exist. The incoming head, Vanessa Hudson, has announced the novel idea that she’d be working on improving customer service and that this would actually work to help their main aim of boosting the share price so that the outgoing CEO’s package would be worth more. A source told me that Qantas are developing a radical new concept where people’s luggage will be put on the same flight as they are but this may take some time as it will involve a whole new business model.

In breaking news, Senator Marise Payne has announced that she will be resigning from the Senate at the end of the month. This came as quite a surprise to many as she’d been so quiet lately that most people presumed that she’d quit at the 2022 election.

Whatever, her colleagues wished her well and heaped praise on her achievements even if they couldn’t actually remember about any specifically. Opposition Leader (surprisingly, he is that even though the media report his thoughts on just about everything), Peter Dutton said: “For more than 20 years, Marise has not only been a wonderful colleague, she has also been a dear friend – someone who engages in the battle of ideas in the great Liberal Party tradition.” This being code for: The outgoing senator was argumentative and didn’t always agree with me, even though I’m always right!

The rumour is that Tony Abbott will replace Payne in the Senate, but I’d ignore it because the only person spreading it is Tony himself. Scott Morrison said that he was up for the job, before changing his mind when someone convinced him that he couldn’t be a member of both houses, even if he was five ministers in the previous Parliament.

There’s also a rumour that Scott Morrison will quit Parliament as soon as he gets another job, so that’s not likely to be any time in the life of the current Labor government.


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The Voice: Ignore the misinformation and disinformation

I have been asked to provide some further details regarding the referendum, particularly as it appears a lot of misinformation and disinformation is being fed to people by various forms of media.

Why the Voice

In his evidence submitted to the Joint Select Committee on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice Referendum (‘Joint Committee’) the Honourable Ken Wyatt AM said (see page 17) that as the former Minister for Indigenous Australians, he was aware legislation is regularly drafted and passed without significant consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups despite its clear effect on them. Mr Wyatt explained that he had conducted a review of Coalition party room papers to ascertain which entities had been involved in shaping the policy, and outlined his findings. In the period of 2022, the social services legislation amendments certainly had carers in the carers sector but there was no Indigenous representation to that legislation. The amendments to the Religious Discrimination Bill had many, many groups but not Indigenous people whose dreaming is their religion and their faith and their belief of our country and our Nation and our origins. The government amendments to the social security legislation amendments streamlined participation bill have some 20 organisations listed but not one is Indigenous, yet they have profound impacts on Indigenous families and communities.

How on earth is that fair?

The 2020 Productivity Commission report records the terrible disadvantage First Nations still endure in Australia, as does the 2022 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Previous Committees

Mr Wyatt’s evidence before the Joint Committee is also enlightening regarding how previous federal governments have dissolved First Nations committees out of political expediency:

“I would say to you that we have a history across this nation – every time a government changes, Indigenous advisory structures are abolished, and significant national bodies have been abolished when they have given advice that a government hasn’t liked. And our people have always been frustrated by abolition of any advisory mechanism which they see as an opportunity of sitting with governments and putting community perspectives into the mix of thinking. So the reason they want it enshrined is that they want it protected, so that no government can just come in – and I’ve sat on committees, by the way, where I’ve walked into a minister’s room, they’ve thanked us for the work done and they then finished by saying, ‘You’re now terminated as a committee,’ even though we were making improvements in education. This is the frustration that Indigenous Australians have had, and the Uluru Statement from the Heart was about enshrining a voice that would never be taken again.”

Mr Wyatt’s evidence also included his opinion ATSIC was a model which was delivering regional solutions.

Race and Division

Race is no longer recognised by academia: paper prepared by Sarah Pritchard at PDF (page 7 of 14). Sarah Pritchard’s paper is also a useful resource regarding the matters I am to subsequently discuss herein about s.51.xxvi of the Constitution.

It is a vile and misconceived argument about #TheVoice bringing race and division back to our Constitution. It is a vile argument because it is stroking a divisive sentiment which is neither true in its conception nor principled in its intention. It is misconceived because the words of s.51.xxvi of the Constitution already relevantly provide:

“s.51 The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:

(xxvi.) The people of any race, (other than the aboriginal race in any State) for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws…”

The text in brackets are the words removed by the amendments made to s.51.xxvi of the Constitution after the successful 1967 referendum so that the Commonwealth could make laws regarding First Nations. Racial division never left the Constitution but it should have. S.51.xxvi is the Commonwealth’s power to make laws about a race even though that term is an anachronism of nineteenth century ideology. As Bret Walker SC has recently stated this an opportunity to fix a social legacy.

Former High Court of Australia Chief Justice Robert French AC has stated this year regarding #TheVoice,

“…it accords with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for which Australia voted in 2009. It is consistent with the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Suggestions that it would contravene that Convention are wrong.”

The Voice is Safe and Provides for Regional Voice

The Voice is safe and supported by:

1. Inquiry into the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice Referendum, particularly pages 38 to 53 within which retired High Court Justice Kenneth Hayne KC AC, Professor Anne Twomey, Mr Walker, Professor George Williams and French CJ quite emphatically say:

(a) the alleged backlog of judicial review is not only unlikely, but the wording of proposed s.129(iii) makes it clear that would be untenable;

(b) s.129(iii) provides for the regional or local voice because of the parliamentary power over #TheVoice;

(c)the Constitution still provides for race (i.e., s.51.xxvi) and it is an anachronism;

(d) the proposed s.129 is not about race; the proposal is responding to history and entrenched disadvantage;

(e) past High Court decisions have already limited the meaning of the ‘executive government’;

(f) there is no power of veto;

(g) parliament controls how the representations are made;

(h) within the country there are a very substantial cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and persons closely engaged in their communities whose skills, experience with and knowledge of their communities and their challenges can be called upon to compose the Voice and the local, rural and remote bodies from which its members might be drawn;

(i) to say that somebody is empowered to do something and that a facility or mechanism is created by which they can do it does not then engender a whole lot of ancillary implied constitutional obligations;

(j) the Voice does provide us the opportunity for a mechanism that will enable us to develop more coherent and finely tuned policies and practices, as well as laws, in trying to deal with one of the most important and difficult areas of government that we have.

2. ‘Double precaution’: Bret Walker on the Voice referendum wording, The ABC.

3. Former CJ French joins discussion on the Voice, Proctor.

4. Former Australian judges publicly endorse Indigenous Voice to Parliament, The ABC.

5. Law Council backs Voice referendum, Proctor.

6. NSW Bar Association Media Release on the First Nations Voice.

7. Indigenous Voice to parliament: Victorian Bar Council votes Yes, The AFR.

8. Voice to Parliament, Queensland Law Society.

Your Rights

It is perhaps worth considering the misconceived idea that Non-First Nations’ rights are imperilled by #TheVoice or the Uluru Statement from the Heart (‘Uluru Statement’). That deliberate feed of disinformation by any form of communication is wrong, both in law and morally.

Since Mabo v Queensland (No 2) [1992] HCA 23; (1992) 175 CLR 1; (1992) 107 ALR 1 (‘Mabo’) it has been received law Australia did not commence with the First Fleet. However, non-First Nations rights and interests, whether they have recently migrated to Australia or, in the majority of cases, by way of being a descendant from those in whom the colonies and then the Commonwealth originally saw fit to permit them to live here, are protected regarding a valid grant of land to them (Mabo at ALR pages 50 and 51). It was the enlarged version of terra nullius that First Nations were too low in the scale of social organisation to be acknowledged as possessing rights and interests in land (Mabo at ALR 41).

Brennan J (as Sir Gerard then was) expresses (see Mabo at ALR at page 50):

“First Nations were dispossessed of their land parcel by parcel, to make way for expanding colonial settlement. Their dispossession underwrote the development of the nation.”

18 years before the First Fleet arrived in 1788, Captain Cook, Joseph Banks and other members of the Endeavour had established enough contact with First Nations to understand they were a civilisation of continuous possession inhabiting the southern continent; diary of Joseph Banks diary 12 to 19 July 1770 cited at pages 88 to 91 of ‘The Ship, Retracing Cook’s Endeavour Voyage’ by Simon Baker; pages 69, 85, 116 to 125, 130 to 140, 191 of The Ship; ‘James Cook, The Story Behind the Man Who Mapped the World’ by Peter Fitzsimons at pages 278 to 315 and 333 to 365). Indeed, Joseph Banks’ evidence before the House of Commons had been misleading about the numbers of First Nations inhabiting the southern continent (Mabo at ALR 74 per Gaudron and Deane JJ). First Nations had a system of finance and trade with Indonesia and other countries long before Captain Cook declared the misconceived and enlarged terra nullius over Australia.

In Mabo, Gaudron and Deane JJ (see [55] of their joint judgment) considered the erroneous use of the declaration to be:

“Inevitably, one is compelled to acknowledge the role played, in the dispossession and oppression of the Aborigines, by the two propositions that the territory of New South Wales was, in 1788, terra nullius in the sense of unoccupied or uninhabited for legal purposes and that full legal and beneficial ownership of all the lands of the Colony vested in the Crown, unaffected by any claims of the Aboriginal inhabitants. Those propositions provided a legal basis for and justification of the dispossession. They constituted the legal context of the acts done to enforce it and, while accepted, rendered unlawful acts done by the Aboriginal inhabitants to protect traditional occupation or use. The official endorsement, by administrative practice and in judgments of the courts, of those two propositions provided the environment in which the Aboriginal people of the continent came to be treated as a different and lower form of life whose very existence could be ignored for the purpose of determining the legal right to occupy and use their traditional homelands.”

Claims made by the No campaign suggesting some great risk arises from #TheVoice or the Uluru Statement are just plain nonsense, and it ignores the manner in which First Nations were dispossessed of their rights.

Membership of First Nations

Undoubtedly the most egregious form of disinformation being spread by some people regarding #TheVoice, and about First Nations, is the somewhat puerile allegation anybody can claim to belong to First Nations. That is simply untrue. It is a sensitive matter, both for the applicant and the particular First Nations elders considering the ancestral heritage.

Membership of First Nations depends on biological descent from First Nations and on mutual recognition of a particular person’s membership by that person and by the elders or other persons enjoying traditional authority among those people (Mabo at ALR pages 44 and 51).

The slighting contention anyone could claim to be First Nations is wrong in law, including First Nations law. It is also insulting to First Nations. If you consider you have a First Nations heritage, here is some more information for you to consider:

26 Pages

The 26 pages are a record of the dialogue; they are not the Uluru Statement.

The Sky News presenter Peta Credlin decided to embark upon a freedom of information application for a document already available to the public. This risible notion of there being another 26 pages to the Uluru Statement has been given too much attention by some members of our media. To his credit, the Sky News presenter Chris Kenny has called this nonsense out.

I am currently writing a paper about the United Nations 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol (‘Convention’). The Convention is 56 pages in length. The background record of dialogue between the member nations before finalising the Convention, the travaux preparatoires (preparatory work), is 246 pages long. The travaux preparatoires does not form part of the Convention. The same is true about the 26 pages of dialogue and the Uluru Statement.

For more information about the 26 pages of dialogue refer to these websites:

The Dialogues

Referendum Council

Uluru Statement from the Heart | The Voice


By now you should have received in the mail your Australian Electoral Commission (‘AEC’) referendum pamphlet. The AEC is not responsible for factchecking the facts or matters contained within the pamphlet.

The pamphlet contains information contended by the Yes and No campaigns. The Guardian Australia has specifically fact checked the Yes and No arguments contained within the pamphlet. It is apparent the No campaign information contained within the pamphlet is highly misleading:

The yes pamphlet: campaign’s voice to parliament referendum essay – annotated and factchecked | Indigenous voice to parliament, The Guardian.

The no pamphlet: campaign’s voice to parliament referendum essay – annotated and factchecked | Indigenous voice to parliament, The Guardian.

Hopefully, I do not have to repeat these facts and matters again. #TheVoice is a simple amendment.

You’re #TheVoice, Australia. History is waiting. #VoteYesAustralia

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Lifetime War Abolisher of 2023 award to David Bradbury

By Sandi Keane

The cracks in Labor ranks over AUKUS won’t be going away despite Albanese staring down dissenters at Labor’s national conference. A pitched battle over the choice of submarine base is guaranteed – and now we discover that Albanese has suffered the mother of all brainsnaps: Australia has agreed to set up a weapons-grade nuclear waste dump. At the heart of the resistance to this militarism has been David Bradbury’s documentary film The Road to War (2023).

Last week, Australia’s legendary political filmmaker, David Bradbury, achieved another media milestone with this much-lauded anti-AUKUS documentary, The Road to War. Adding to the list of International and Australian film awards including two Academy-award nominations (Frontline (1979) and Chile Hasta Quando? (1985), his latest documentary won the World BEYOND War’s Individual ‘Lifetime War Abolisher Award’ – named for David Hartsough, who co-founded World BEYOND War in Virginia, USA in 2014.

The creator of 26 documentary films, Bradbury advances our understanding of war, peace, international relations and peace activism. His films have been broadcast around the world on the BBC, PBS, ZDF (Germany), and TF1-France, as well as ABC, SBS and commercial television networks in Australia.

Bradbury is no ordinary film maker. Not for him the mercenary characters like Prigozhin lauded in Hollywood with their larger-than-life bravado, greed and murderous intent. When interviewed, he said:

“Peace activists operate out of a sense of ‘the Other’, the Greater Good for Humanity and ALL species on the planet and rarely given their moment ‘in the Sun’, whereas War and those who pursue it are, in some twisted way, elevated to Hero status.”

Bradbury added:

“Those of us who work against the Grain, against the entrenched Conservatism and self interest of the ‘Capitalist’ press – the Fourth Estate who mostly, with some wonderful exceptions, do a miserable job in exposing the entrenched privilege of the Ruling Class – do our work for Peace tirelessly, without financial gain…”

Bradbury shoots his own footage, traveling widely, and seeking out people with uncomfortable truths to tell – sometimes at great risk. Bradbury has filmed in Iran during the final days of the Shah, in Nicaragua during the CIA-Contra war, and in El Salvador during the days of death squads during the early 1980s. His film on Pinochet’s Chile, Chile Hasta Quando? (1985) was nominated for an Academy Award. He has filmed independence struggles in East Timor and West Papua, and in India, China, and Nepal.

In The Road to War, concern is raised among the Australian experts interviewed by Bradbury about Australia’s AUKUS commitment of hundreds of billions of dollars for new weaponry, nuclear propelled submarines and stealth bombers – to protect us against our biggest trading partner – China. Yes, China. The film shows why it is not in Australia’s, or the world’s interests to be dragged into another US-led war and brings into sharp focus that Australia is being set up as USA’s proxy:

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

We all appreciate the Labor Government was still on its toddler legs when it signed the AUKUS agreement and had only 24 hours to decide – or be wedged on Defence by the Coalition in the 2019 federal election.

But the cracks in Labor ranks won’t be going away despite Albanese staring down dissenters at Labor’s national conference and enshrining the tripartite security pact in the party’s policy platform. A pitched battle over the choice of submarine base is guaranteed – and now we discover that Albanese has suffered the mother of all brainsnaps: Australia has agreed to set up a weapons-grade nuclear waste dump. According to the Fact Sheet: Trilateral Australia-UK-US Partnership on Nuclear-Powered Submarines:

“… as part of this commitment to nuclear stewardship, Australia has committed to managing all radioactive waste generated through its nuclear-powered submarine program, including spent nuclear fuel, in Australia.”

Who knew about that? Hats off to Crikey for disclosing the secret no-one is talking about. Where was the spirited public debate about which port such terrorist “bait” will be shipped to, how it would be transported? By truck? Train? Where to? Given the Coalition has had a nuclear waste dump on the back burner for decades, Maralinga is the likely bet.

The lack of debate now resembles the barely reported signing of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership by Prime Minister John Howard on 5 September 2007. Had the Coalition won the 2007 election on 24 November, Australia was on track to become a global nuclear waste dump. Did anyone know about it then? Like now, it went under the media radar. MSM were MIA.

Back then, Howard had control of both houses. All the ducks were in a row. The Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Bill 2005 had passed effectively transferring power to the Minister to nominate nuclear waste dump sites. The ANSTO Bill passed around the same time giving ANSTO the power to accept waste generated outside Australia.

Maralinga in South Australia seemed to tick all the boxes. But they forgot that nuclear waste produces hydrogen when it eventually breaks down and Maralinga is sited right on top of the Great Artesian Basin.

John Large, whose company, Large & Associates handled the salvage of the stricken Russian U-sub, Kursk, told Julie Macken in an interview in New Matilda on 15 November 2006 that when the waste breaks down, it produces hydrogen and “there is simply no way, over a 100,000-year time scale, to stop the fuel leaking out.”

Large was shocked to hear that Australia wanted to go down this path. Question is: “are we about to do just that?”

As Bradbury sums up in his acceptance speech:

“Neither government of either stripe have learnt anything from being dragged into America’s wars of folly since World War II – Korea, Vietnam, two disastrous wars in Iraq and America’s failed 20-year war in Afghanistan which ripped that country apart, only to see the Taliban warlords return the country and its female population to feudal times.”

He continues:

“Each of us, each of you have the option of either sitting back and letting our leaders take us into a nuclear war which will end life on this planet as we’ve always known it. Or we can rally and come together and support each other in communities across the world to say, WAR NO MORE. EARTH CARE… NOT WARFARE.”

The 2023 War Abolisher Awards and the video of David Bradbury’s acceptance speech can be accessed on the website at War Abolisher Awards.

War Abolisher awardees are honoured for their body of work directly supporting one or more of the three segments of World BEYOND War’s strategy for reducing and eliminating war as outlined in the book A Global Security System, An Alternative to War. They are: Demilitarizing Security, Managing Conflict Without Violence, and Building a Culture of Peace.

You can view a clip from The Road to War below:



Bradbury’s films can be viewed at Frontline Films.

For further information, email

Editor’s Note: The next showing of Bradbury’s film is scheduled for 21 September at ANU Film Club, Canberra. A variation of this article was published in Pearls and Irritations on 3 September, 2023.

Sandi was a former editor Michael West Media, and prior to that was editor at Independent Australia. Before that she ran a highly successful business which landed her on the front cover of Personal Investment magazine. Sandi has conducted corporate investigations, principally into the CSG and media sectors. Her investigation into the anti-wind lobby and Waubra Foundation was used to support Labor’s Clean Energy Bill, thus, making it into Hansard. One of Sandi’s investigations into the CSG industry saw Santos forced to pull its TV advertising. Sandi holds a Masters degree in Journalism from the University of Melbourne. You can follow Sandi on Twitter @jarrapin.

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The Great Australian Gaslighting

We are all accustomed to being fed nonsense by the right-wing. Sky News after dark is largely untouched by common-sense, decency, or journalistic balance. When reading the Australian, or the Telegraph, we all share an expectation that we will likely need to wade through a swamp of ideological claptrap. But it does not have to be this way.

Once upon a time these same media outlets at least pretended that they were trying to be ‘fair and balanced’. There was a sometimes-indistinct line drawn between commentary and the ‘news’. It was a blurry boundary, but it was there. However, in recent days, in their ‘coverage’ of the impending referendum, it seems that the whole of News Corp has been given over to gaslighting. In all their outlets the pending question is never described as being a referendum formulated in response to a grassroots movement, it is ‘Albanese’s referendum’. Or ‘Labor’s referendum’. The LNPs hand in developing the idea has been erased from history. As has any hint of non-partisanship. Instead of a relatively powerless advisory committee, the Voice is depicted as being the plaything of rich aboriginal city-slickers, who are all Labor stooges.

Moreover, the dog-whistle is just about deafening. Every tired old racist trope has been given a further airing. Often many are trotted-out in quick succession. For example, today in the Australian (behind their paywall), Maurice Newman advises his readers that:

If the proposal is carried, a small racial minority will have constitutional privileges denied the majority of Australians. It will permanently define our system of government as one country, two systems. It will establish a platform for the politics of envy. The very expectation of race-based benefits is no doubt reflected in the latest census, which recorded a 25 per cent jump in those identifying as Indigenous.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart may be well-intended, but its authors are open to the charge that it’s really about more power and money for elites. After all, Indigenous people are anything but voiceless now. Indeed, in the past 15 years, thousands of Indigenous voices have been heard and tens of billions of taxpayer dollars, together with royalties and service payments, invested where the collective voices recommended. It is not clear how an additional voice will improve Indigenous lives.

It is a wonder the sun doesn’t momentarily dim every time Newman opens his mouth! I will not canvass any more of this article as further exposure could very well cause actual brain damage. And it would provide the article and author with a degree of consideration that they do not warrant. Plus, the details are entirely immaterial. There is no actual intent to deliver a message – just stir the possum. These many articles are designed to support and reinforce the torrent of racist bullshit and nonsense that is being given voice in the threads of these newspapers and all across the right-wing swamp. These are not articles designed to inform but rather inflame.

Which brings me to the nub of this article. The difficulty with political commentary such as this is that it commonly hides behind the proposition that all that is being advanced is merely an ‘opinion’. So, even though the author is presenting puerile and tangibly insulting claptrap which is quite obviously designed to reinforce many of the commonplace lies that are currently circulating within the right-wing media, it is not illegal (even though it is palpably dishonourable and despicable). Nor should it be illegal. What is needed is to address the root cause of this problem, which is that we only have two large media conglomerates in our country, one of which is a right-wing outfit, while the other is a far-right wing organisation that is owned by Americans and is run from America.

I feel passionately about the need for media sector reform as that is the only way to effectively banish this sort of hateful rhetoric from our mainstream press. It results from allowing just one or two players to have an outsized impact upon the social discourse. Regulating what can be said by any given journalist is not going to address this sort of problem. The problem is not the language but rather the tacit and sometimes enthusiastic pedalling of falsehoods via a massive megaphone. We need lots and lots of smaller megaphones.

Regulating the minutiae of the press is not an option, simply because it does not work. It will not address this problem. The right wing in Australia know that they are pandering to a racist minority and they carefully, yet quite consciously, craft articles such as that quoted above, which are all dog-whistle and no substance. These many utterly objectionable articles are not being written by fools, nor are they being read by fools. A racist dog-whistle is being sounded gleefully and its meaning is being clearly understood. If you change the rules then the tune being played will simply change – yet the noxious intent and the facility to do mischief will remain. As Marcia Langton observes,

They’re very clever falsehoods. They appeal to the long-held tropes of discrimination. You know, we’ve heard words like ‘squalid’, ‘underbelly’, ‘maintain the rage’ thrown about. It’s as if, you know, the frontier wars were still happening. It’s very disappointing that so many Australians have been deceived…

But I am not as forgiving as Marcia. I know that many of the people who are throwing these racist tropes about are doing so quite deliberately. Yes, many readers are being deceived, but many others are enthusiastic about being given the chance to air their repugnant racist views in public without drawing down upon themselves any well-deserved derision.

Thus, we are all witnessing the Great Australian Gaslighting of 2024. It may or may not be successful. But regardless of the outcome of the referendum, these last few weeks have served to illustrate just why there is a pressing need for a Royal Commission into the media sector.

During the last few weeks, the Murdoch newspapers have been quite deliberately, and successfully, stoking racial division and disharmony in Australia. Which demonstrates the disproportionate degree of influence that is currently being welded by News Corp; which is a foreign controlled entity that is based in America. The influence of this media group is palpable. Consider that at the moment, the right-wing forces in our country are not in government anywhere on the mainland or in the federal sphere. Yet despite this overwhelming rejection by the Australian public, our media is still chocka-block full of the concerns and fears of the right-wing conservative rump.

Very few Aussies are far right-wing conservatives, yet we nevertheless have an entire segment of the press in our country, including several major masthead newspapers, that enthusiastically embrace and openly advocate for such an ideological position. As a result, it is evident that News Corp is acting as a political player and not just a disinterested media concern. For the entirety of the last year, the actual federal opposition in Australia has been News Corp – not the LNP.

This is an unacceptable situation. So, I would suggest that regardless of the outcome of the referendum, the behavior of News Corp during the last few weeks demonstrates that the right-wing press is currently a clear and present danger to our national interests.

The gross concentration of media ownership in our country is a problem that must be addressed soon. The existing monopolies must be broken up. The ability for one corporation to own large segments of both print and broadcast media, in several states, must be eliminated. We must return to the days when we had laws that served to supress the development of just these sorts of media monopolies. After all; there were laws in place to guard against the situation that we currently find ourselves in. Laws that were progressively watered down and abolished in response to the many lies that were sold to us by these same media magnates.

Those with long memories will remember how, over the course of several decades, the need for both horizontal and vertical integration in the media sector was sold to us by these big media conglomerates as being necessary. We were confidently informed that the only way to ensure that our media sector would not fail in the new digital world was to allow the big players to get bigger. So, for twenty years, we were all constantly fed a diet of unadulterated bullshit.

Despite the massive concentration of ownership that we now enjoy, all of the negative outcomes that we were warned about have nevertheless still come to pass. Most of the newspaper groups have disappeared and all of the large newsrooms have been merged. Almost all of the small regional newspapers have been bought up by the bigger players, then shuttered. Thousands of journalists have been laid off. And now we have only two huge media corporations left standing. Which is the worst of all possible outcomes – unless you are an owner or shareholder a media conglomerate.

The current referendum debate concretely demonstrates that the current media environment in Australia is not serving our national interests. At the moment, the whims of one non-Australian media owner, living in another country, are serving to dictate the nature and content of much of the social and political discourse of our country. As a consequence, our social discourse is becoming less civil and more extreme. Due to the baleful influence of News Corp and its deliberate spreading of misinformation and racist claptrap, after this referendum is over, regardless of the outcome, there needs to be a reckoning.

That the political thuggery has become quite overt is well illustrated by another article in the Australian today (also behind the paywall), in which the top corporate contributors to the ‘Yes’ campaign are listed as if they are guilty of war crimes. The article invites the reader to deride the corporations and their leaders, which are all named and shamed individually. The inescapable inference being that it would be a dandy idea if all of the readers of the newspaper boycotted these companies. Which, I would suggest, are just the sort of transparent mafia tactics that we can all live without.

The political thuggery has become overt. There has to be pushback, to not do so would be dangerous.


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Criminalising Activism: Woodside, Protest and Climate Change

On August 1, protesters against the Burrup Hub expansion in Western Australia, a project of one of Australia’s most ruthless fossil fuel companies, took to the Perth home of its CEO, Meg O’Neill. The CEO of Woodside was not impressed. In fact, she seemed rather distressed. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a member of the business community, in professional athletics, or just a school kid… everybody has the right to feel safe in their own home,” she subsequently told a breakfast event. “What happened Tuesday has left me shaken, fearful, and distressed.” In distress, opportunities for revenge grow.

Members of the Disrupt Burrup Hub have had Woodside in their sights for some time. Their primary object of concern: the Burrup Hub project, consisting of the Scarborough and Browse Basin gas fields, the Pluto Project processing plant, and various linked liquified gas and fertiliser plans found on the Burrup Peninsula in the Pilbara region.

On this occasion, the group’s practical efforts proved stillborn. One of the protestors, Matilda Lane-Rose, found herself facing over a dozen counter-terrorist police lying in wait on O’Neill’s property. Lane-Rose, along with three other members of Disrupt Burrup Hub, were charged with conspiracy to commit and indictable offence.

The howl of indignation has been eardrum splitting. Mark Abbotsford, Woodside’s executive vice president, stated that there was a line, and it had been crossed. Former Greens MP, Alison Xamon, questioned the wisdom of the protest, suggesting that there “is a sense that people’s homes should almost be off limits.” The media imperium owned by the mogul Kerry Stokes expressed fury at the antics of “eco fanatics”.

Seven West Media also took the national broadcaster to task for having covered the actual protest as part of an intended program for Four Corners. Their journalists, for one, suggested that the ABC had overstepped, despite those from their own stable having done precisely the same thing on two previous occasions. In 2021, for instance, Channel Seven found itself covering a protest that blockaded Woodside’s facilities on Burrup. They even got live crosses into the market ready for breakfast television.

The Western Australian Premier, whose electability in that state is determined by fossil-fuellers, was also critical of the ABC. In a letter to its chair, Ita Buttrose, Roger Cook wished to “express [his] serious concerns about the ABC crew’s actions and urge you organisation to reflect on the role it played in this matter.”

The prosecuting police, holding their side of the bargain protecting a citizen of such sweet purity as O’Neill, painted a picture of sinister domestic insurgency at her doorstep. In the Perth Magistrates Court, WA Police prosecutor Kim Briggs had stern words for two of the protestors seeking bail, Jesse Noakes and Gerard Mazza. “They prepared their actions in detail including surveillance and reconnaissance.” They also “parked near the residence and Ms O’Neill’s departure time was worked out to maximise disruption.”

The intention of such conduct, Briggs alleged, “was to damage the property using spray paint and lock themselves [to a gate] with a D-lock to hinder the ability of Ms O’Neill to leave the property.”

Whatever the immediate merits of the publicity seeking exercise by the Disrupt Burrup Hubbers, Woodside had a devilish card to play. After all, anything that might divert, or at least stifle interest in an expansionist agenda that promises to produce billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2070, would prove inevitable.

Despite already having protective bail conditions in place that would prevent the protesters from approaching O’Neill in any capacity, let alone any Woodside property, the company wanted more. A legal remedy to effectively extinguish speech and coverage on the executive, the company and the protest, would be sought. The target, in other words, was publicity itself. In a novel, even shocking way, Woodside sought Violence Restraining Orders against the protestors. A VRO is intended to restrain a person from any one of the following: committing an act of abuse, breaching the peace, causing fear, damaging property or intimidating another person.

Through August, VROs were served on Lane-Rose, Emil Davey and Gerard Mazza. The relevant clauses note that the campaigners are not to “make any reference to [the Woodside CEO] by any electronic means, including by using the internet and any social media application” or “cause or allow any other person to engage in conduct of the type referred to in any of the preceding paragraphs of this order on your behalf.”

This could only be taken for what it was: a violent effort to stomp on speech, especially of the critical sort. Barrister Zarah Burgess, representing Disrupt Burrup Hub, described it as “a transparent and extraordinary attempt to gag climate campaigners from speaking about Woodside’s fossil fuel expansion.” Never before had she seen the VRO system used in such a manner. “The intended purpose for granting VROs is to protect people, predominantly women and children, usually in the context of family violence.”

A dismayed Alice Drury of the Human Rights Law Centre was blunt: “Woodside and the multibillion dollar fossil fuel industry are trying to send a chilling message to anyone who dares to speak out: you will be intimidated and silenced.”

This brutal reaction from O’Neill and company says everything about Woodside and its place in Australian society. It advertises itself as “a global energy company, founded in Australia with a spirit of innovation and determination.” And, just in case you forget, the company provides “energy the world needs to heat and cool homes, keep lights on and enable industry.” To that, can be added another jotting: it will seek to prevent, and even criminalise free speech and protest on the environment if permitted. The legal authorities in Western Australia, at least pending appeal, agree.


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If You Don’t Vote Yes, You’ll Have To Vote Again… Pete’s Genius At Play

The chorus of “You’re The Voice” begins:

“You’re the voice, try and understand itMake a noise and make it clear…_”

One of the No supporters on social media was suggesting that this was a terrible own goal by the Yes campaign because it was suggesting that it was hard to understand but given the slogan “Don’t Know, Vote No”, I’m not so sure that they’re right.

I mean, the slogan “Don’t Know, Vote No” has a subtext that if you’re ignorant, come and join Pauline and Andrew Bolt and Tony Abbott because you’re our sort of person…

Ah yes, I’m typical of those elites who think they know better just because they didn’t run a fish and chip shop or drop out or university or knight a Duke. Actually I would think that giving a knighthood to the Queen’s husband is about as elitist as one can get but whatever…

Last week was a bad week for Labor and the Voice according to Newspoll which had Labor slipping by two percent in a recent poll and a majority against the Voice. While it’s true that this has probably been the worst week for Albanese since he was elected, it’s also another time when the media reported a poll as though there’s no such thing as the three percent margin of error. And, while we’re at it, let’s all ignore the fact that polls have been less than perfect when picking election winners. Polls aren’t useless but it’s bit like getting the score at three quarter time and trying to work out which football team will win. There’s a lot still to happen, so if one team has is a little closer than they were it doesn’t mean that much to the final outcome.

But the big news of the week was Peter Dutton’s amazing stroke of genius where he promised a second poll on First Nations recognition when he’s Prime Minister.

On one level this is a bit like me promising a free electric vehicle to every driver once I’m PM; it’s a bold promise but I’m never going to be PM so what the hell…

However, it does raise a few interesting points. For a start, it does beg the question is this like the recognition that Howard promised or is it more like the recognition that Abbott promised? Or are we talking about the plan from Malcolm Turnbull. Did Scott Morrison mention it at all or did he say, “Look mate, I don’t hold a referendum…”

Whatever, I’m sure the plan is to try to win over those who think that there should be some sort of recognition but are a bit confused about what a Voice looks like because the No campaign have been suggesting that nobody knows what a Voice looks like because you can’t see a Voice, you can only hear one so the idea of putting one in the Constitution is at odds with what the people writing the Constitution wanted because they expected the Indigenous population to do the decent thing and disappear so we’d be going against the wishes of our forefathers who weren’t racist and it’s outrageous to suggest that we should call anyone a racist unless they’re one of those people voting Yes.

But Dutton has opened another risk by suggesting a future referendum.

I want to make it clear that not all people voting No are racists. However, I do notice that some of the people who are making incredibly racist remarks are very upset when anyone suggests just because they’ve said something bigoted that they’re a racist, complaining that it’s the Yes voters who are sanction apartheid and we’ll end up losing our backyards to people who never bothered to invent the Hills Hoist in 60,000 years.

And it’s these people that form the hard NO. If they turn on Dutton because he dares to support recognition to people who we don’t like because if it wasn’t for them nobody would be calling us racist, then Dutton may have a whole new set of problems. What will Pauline think about this second referendum idea? How will t go down with Andrew Bolt?

At the moment, the media is giving a lot of time to people arguing a case against the proposed change – supposedly on the grounds of balance. I’ve noticed that they are a number of Indigenous people being interviewed who are members of organisations which aren’t exactly high profile. There was a whole story on what Tony Mundine thought. However, the only Indigenous people seeming to be given exposure are high profile proponents of the Yes case like Linda Burney or Thomas Mayo. However, if there’s one thing the media like, it’s conflict and if there’s any sort of a brouhaha on the No proponents then it might all shift to the divisions between them. Sort of robbing Peter to pay Pauline.

The other possibility is that by the time the vote comes around, that some people will be so sick of the conversation that they idea that we’ll have to go through the whole thing again if Dutton gets elected that they may vote Yes just to get it out of the way.

And amazingly, the anti-Voice voters seem upset that the Yes campaign have managed to obtain approval to use a 1986 hit, complaining that, by giving it, John Farnham sold out, even though he wasn’t paid. Someone even posted that they’d thrown all their John Farnham records in the bin, which – given they’ve already purchased them before CDs were a thing, won’t cost Whispering Jack a cent. (Wondering if I should. add what records are for younger readers… Mm, also wondering if I should explain what CDs are…)

While it does seem like an uphill battle for the Voice to succeed, I wonder how many people will go into the polling booth thinking that this won’t get up so I might vote Yes anyway because I don’t really want to be on the side of Hanson and friends.


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Weasel Words in Aviation: Protecting the Flying Kangaroo

Ambrose Bierce, whose cynicism supplies a hygienic cold wash, suggested that politics was always a matter of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. It involved conducting public affairs for private advantage. How right he was. One way of justifying such an effort is through using such words as the “national interest” or “public interest” in justifying government policies, from the erroneous to the criminal. They become weasel-like terms, soiling and spoiling language.

In various large-scale industries, companies can find themselves in the pink with governments keen to underwrite their losses during times of crisis while taking a soft approach to their profiteering predations in time of prosperity. The former is a policy that socialises losses, thereby throwing public money after deals gone bad; the latter is simply called, absurdly, the free market (another weasel term), where corporate gains are put down to entrepreneurial genius.

There is no evident sign of that genius in the global aviation market. In Australia, with a market typically in the stranglehold of a handful of firms, its absence is conspicuous. In one of the world’s most concentrated markets in the field, two operators reign: Qantas and Virgin. This classic duopoly has made the idea of reduced airfares a dreamy nonsense, an aspiration of the deluded.

The picture from an international perspective is also dire. Despite its appalling conduct over the last two years, be it towards ground staff, the gruff cancellation of flights, the stubbornness in refunding them, and the squeezing of extortionate fares, Qantas was privileged by a government decision to block an offer by another carrier to operate more flights into Australia. The move also had the faint odour of protectionism, made somewhat stronger by the A$2.47 billion in profits registered by the only aviation outfit that was generously cushioned by Commonwealth government funding during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In July, Canberra rejected a bid by Qatar Airways to add 21 extra flights per week into Australia’s three largest cities: Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. These would have supplemented the 28 weekly flights currently on offer. But it took till August for the government to cook up a feeble justification for having made a decision that will annually cost the Australian economy, according to one estimate, between A$540 million and $788 million.

According to federal Transport Minister, Catherine King, speaking to Parliament, “We only sign up to agreements that benefit our national interest, in all of its broad complexity, and that includes ensuring that we have an aviation sector, through the recovery, that employs Australian workers.”

Given that Qantas has relished sacking workers – in certain cases illegally – the comment was not only patently wrong but distasteful. But King seemed happy enough to continue distastefully, claiming that an agreement to furnish “additional services is not in our national interest, and we will always consider the need to ensure that there are long-term, well-paid, secure jobs by Australians in the aviation sector when we are making these decisions.”

The decision was at least perplexing enough to excite the interest of such Labor Party stalwarts as former Australian treasurer Wayne Swan. In his view, expressed as the party’s current national president, an “appropriate review” of the whole matter was necessary. (Reviews, in such cases, is code for identifying the damnably obvious.)

The rejection certainly drew baffled consternation from the inaugural chair of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), Alan Fels. “It’s really a bad decision by any standards, especially if the government is talking about doing a competition review.” Prices, he noted, were already 50% higher than they had been before the pandemic. “They would come down a lot if Qatar entered.”

Much the same view was expressed by another former ACCC chair, Rod Sims. “What we see now particularly in Australia is very high airfares internationally and not enough capacity. If there was a time to allow new entrants in, this is it.”

The federal government’s decision is also a curious one in light of policies pursued by the State governments. Queensland, for instance, made a decision to attract airlines to the state drawing from a fund worth $A200 million. The scheme yielded agreements with some 25 international airlines.

While this was happening, the ACCC was marshalling its resources to launch an action in the Federal Court of Australia alleging that Qantas, has “engaged in false, misleading or deceptive conduct, by advertising tickets for more than 8,000 flights it had already cancelled but not removed from sale [between May and July 2022].” The ACCC is also alleging that, for more than 10,000 flights scheduled to depart between May and July 2022, the company continued selling tickets on its website for an average of more than two weeks. In certain cases, this persisted for up to 47 days after flights were cancelled. Not content with robbing actual ticket holders, the carrier is happy to advertise tickets for spectral journeys.

There is nothing to suggest that more flights will automatically reduce prices per se. As Karl Marx documents with expansive brilliance, markets tend towards concentration. In time, companies, much in the manner of hoodlums carving up neighbourhoods for their drugs trade, will divvy up their share and keep prices lucratively high. Miserable customers make for happy shareholders.

In the Qantas-Qatar Airways affair, the basic motivation to at least moderate the pricing regime in the short term is simply not there. Threatened, Qantas would have to respond. To date, given its traditional, enduring dominance, the approach of the Flying Kangaroo has been to stomp and box competitors into the ground, always aware that it has the backing of the Commonwealth government. That’s the sort of private enterprise its outgoing CEO, Alan Joyce, is most pleased with.


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A World Without Trump: The Great Orange Flameout of 2024

It’s going to be huuuge. The election campaign in the US of A, next year, will be bigger than Ben Hur. However, I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that many commentators are talking shit.

The media is obviously struggling to cope with the dawning new reality. Namely, that Trump is political toast. That point where all the chickens come home to roost has at last arrived. You have all been asking ‘Are we there yet! Are we there yet!’ And now we have arrived. Thus, anyone who cares to look out the window will notice that everyone who is familiar with Trump’s travails is either giggling, looking for a new job, or changing channels.

Don’t take my word for it, just weigh the scenario for yourself. Donald Trump is now facing more than several criminal indictments and has already been told, nicely, by at least two judges, to please stop abusing judges, counsellors, prosecutors, and those testifying against him. He has largely ignored these requests.

How long do you think it will be before Trump lashes out at a prosecutor or a judge in a way that simply cannot be ignored? I suggest that by the time we all get around to Christmas lunch, we will already be sick of hearing about Trump being locked up, yet again, for contempt.

Others have done all the same sums. The Governor of Florida, at the moment running second in the Republican primaries, is currently being very, very careful with his words. I just heard one otherwise fairly rational commentator observe that this is odd, considering that he is thirty points behind Trump. ‘So why is he behaving like a front-runner?’ he asks.

I find this disappointing. It indicates that this poor fellow is so deeply engaged in beating up on Trump that he has failed to realise that Trump is already a political corpse. Guvnor De Santos knows this. He knows he is actually the front runner. That Trump is no longer in the race.

For those who are failing to pay attention: let me explain the bleeding obvious in simple terms.

The only people left in America who actually like Trump are a few far, far right-wing politicians, the consumers of right-wing media, and some of the entirely non-informed. Everyone else hates the chappie. Even the owners of the far-right media are ambivalent. You get the sense that they prefer their fascists to be a little more coherent and a tad more competent.

Therefore, while I believe that the election campaign will be huuuge, it will not match the spectacle of Donald Trump v the rest of America, as he flames out in a huge fireball of angry indignation and incompetence.

The numbers do not lie, and the numbers currently indicate that Trump, even should he stumble anywhere near an election campaign, would have snowballs hope in Hades of winning. He is currently the most actively hated person in America.

A substantial majority of women dislike Trump. Along with democrats, teachers, students, unionists and anyone who has ever worn a Che Guevara tee-shirt. But while these people dislike him intensely, it is generally not nearly as much as many Republicans. This is because, ever since the first wave of conspiracy obsessed, flag-waving, MAGA crazed fans crashed through the doors of the Republican Party, in 2016, the Republican Party of America has been engaged in a civil war. Most of the Republican old-guard have since come to hate Trump with a greater passion than even the Hilliary deprived. They are no longer in charge of a staid and feared bastion of power. (See The real fight is between America and the Trump cultists; and America is kicking butt). Worse, the bastion has fallen to weirdos with a bunch of stunningly weird ideas. Which is fair-enough for a Republican, but in this case these strange ideas all serve to benefit only one person, not the 1%. Which does not make any sense?

Yet still, for now, the right-wing media remain captive of their own audience. They are hemmed in by the truly loony far, far right-wing media outlets, so they have to ever feature Trump, and ever repeat that they truly and dearly love the fellow. They have to eternally explain that if you listen to him carefully, in just the right way, then he makes perfect and enduring sense. And, of course, they must ever profess that they believe he will win. But even on the couch at FOX n’ Friends you can sense that they know the end is nigh. Soon the knives will be out.

Indeed, very soon it will become almost impossible for anyone, including the right-wing press and crazed Trump critics, to sustain the fantasy (or nightmare) of a potential Trump victory.

The most important number has nothing to do with presidential popularity, but rather Trump’s extraordinary and growing unpopularity. In January of this year even the most favourable polls had Trump’s disapproval numbers in the low fifties. But in recent days polling shows that a tipping point has been reached. His supporters are all jumping ship. On FiveThirtyEight the average of polls shows that in just a couple of weeks Trumps unpopularity has soared, from the low fifties into the low sixties, with a corresponding drop in his approval numbers. Plus, these polls are looking backwards a couple of weeks, and he has hardly had a good ten or so days.

I know that we have all been hearing about the imminent downfall of Trump for what feels like forever. But Trump is currently older than Reagan was when he completed his second term, is currently under massive pressure, and very soon may even be forced to pay for his lawyers out of his own pocket.

The sharks are circling ever closer. As soon as Christmas, I humbly suggest, Trump will be out of the running, dead, or in goal.

But regardless of how the end game unfolds, you can be assured it is about to commence. Thus, a world without Donald Trump is nudging ever closer. I promise. Yes, kiddies; we are nearly there.


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Peter Dutton Noes Everything!

Today I saw a book entitled “Everything You Need To Know About The Voice.” Needless to say it was supporting the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

It got me wondering if there’s a book coming out soon by Peter Dutton “Everything You Don’t Need To Know About The Voice” which is filled with blank pages.

I shouldn’t be too hard on Dutton. It must be difficult knowing that when you went to all the trouble of organising a spill against Turnbull that your colleagues preferred Scott Morrison… And it must be even harder knowing that you’ve basically been put in as leader while they try to find someone who can match Albanese for charisma.

So Mr Dutton is adopting the Abbott strategy of opposing everything and making it as hard as possible for Labor to succeed at anything. The big difference is that Abbott had the advantage of Labor’s leadership woes but – in spite of a few likely problems about Qantas – Albanese looks pretty safe.

Speaking of Qantas, I found it interesting that their support for the Voice was called “virtue signalling by certain people. Isn’t a virtue something good? So logically in order to “virtue signal” you have to be doing something that’s positive and right. Yep, some of the No supporters are actually suggesting that it’s a virtue to show your support for Yes.

All right that mightn’t be what they actually mean, but they are a confused lot. After telling us that it’s not clear that all Indigenous people are supporters and that it’s the First Nation “elites” and “activists” who are pushing it, they were quite outraged that the AEC was spending money getting Indigenous people to enrol to vote. “The AEC is trying to help the yes vote!” they bellowed, which sort of undercuts their argument about it only being the “elites”.

I’ve always been confused by the use of certain words as an attack. Elites, for example, are people who are superior in some way so surely they’re worth listening to. Ok, I realise that it’s being used ironically to suggest that these inner city types only think that they’re elite. Of course, it was strange when the monarchists were arguing against a republican and calling its supporters “elites”. After all, how much more elitist can one get than becoming the head of state by virtue of the fact that you’re a member of a special family.

And, of course, there’s the attack on all those “woke” folk, which makes me wonder what the critics consider what the opposite is. I mean the dictionary lists words like “asleep”, “hypnotised” and “mesmerised” as opposites so if you’re not woke are you hypnotised by someone else’s power?

Andrew Bolt: You are all getting sleepy, your eyelids are heavy, my voice is like a warm blanket, wrapping around you and soothing you. As you listen to me, you become more and more relaxed. Your body is becoming heavier and heavier, sinking into the chair. Your eyes are becoming heavy, too, and you can feel yourself drifting off to sleep… You will reject political correctness and believe me when I say that black is white and you will read the Murdoch papers and believe them. When I count to three you will seem to be awake but you will never be properly woke and you will tell everyone how I’m the only one making sense…

Putting the Voice aside, Mr Dutton has his best chance for some time to take the shine off Labor thanks to the cosy relationship with Qantas. While it’s annoying to have a flight cancelled, it’s even more annoying when you find out that the flight didn’t even exist at the time you booked it. Even though this isn’t the fault of Labor, it doesn’t help when you’ve just knocked back Qatar airline’s request for extra flights citing a number of different reasons for the decision apart from the actual one which was: Qantas didn’t want us to.

There’s a lot of potential ammunition for the Liberal Party over this so why do I feel that – yet again – they’ll end up using it to shoot themselves in the foot one more time?


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