The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (92)

Laurie Oakes, a Liberal voter, boasted proudly to Media Report that he had ruined Whitlam. First, by publishing the imminent Gair appointment and causing the 1974 election in which Labor lost seats; and then by blazing the Ba’athist Breakfast, a meal at which associates of Saddam Hussein promised five hundred thousand dollars they did not deliver to Labor’s 1975 campaign. At the time he called Whitlam’s ‘the silliest government on record’ and warned them ‘little things count’, like the Cairns-Morosi adultery and the colour of Khemlani’s skin. He boasted too that his leaking of Cabinet secrets during the Gillard-Abbott election meant Labor did not get a clear majority and the ten years in power they deserved and he was proud of that too, as he was of driving Craig Thomson with a television ambush close to suicide. He did as much, in short, as Johh Kerr to put a curse on Australia’s history, and was proud of it.

Christopher Pyne wished Julie Bishop ‘ten years as Prime Minister, starting now.’ He then said, ‘Oops, I mean Tony Abbott. Oops, I mean nine years. Eleven.’ His gaffe was thought symptomatic of an imminent mutiny, brought on by Abbott’s threatening of Putin, who was innocent as charged, with physical violence in Brisbane. Or his Billionairesses’ Baby Bonus perhaps, which almost no Australians now supported.

Abbott after the Ottawa shoot-out said the Australian War Memorial might be fired on too, as the Last Post played on, say, November 11. Some thought he he was putting evil thoughts into vulnerable teenagers’ heads, and his proposed new law against ‘encouraging terrorism’ could apply to him, and he should logically get twenty-five years for giving potential murderers clear and specific instructions on when and where.

More and more he seemed bizarre in his utterances, like a Prime Minister telling firebugs where best to set fires, and some of his colleagues thought he should be taken into care. Word went round that he would sack Hockey soon, make Julie Bishop Treasurer, and Turnbull Foreign Minister. And that three days later, Bishop — or Turnbull — would replace him.

And so it went.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (91)

The unindicted child tormentor Scott Morrison proposed to make himself Obergruppenfuhrer in charge of locking up Doctors Without Borders returning from Africa on a new Devil’s Island he would harshly administrate. Other Cabinet Ministers called this ‘a grab for power’ by an ‘increasingly deranged’ foul-hearted tongue-speaking man. The search for proof that Abbott was an Australian continued fruitless. It seemed he would have to resign, and give back all the money he earned as an MP, plus interest.

Word came through that the missile that brought MH 17 down was Ukrainian, and captured, perhaps, by pro-Russian rebels. This meant Putin had nothing to do with it, and Abbott would have to apologise for threatening to physically attack Putin and accuse him of mass-murdering Australians when he came to Brisbane. Aleksey Pushkov, of the Duma’s Foreign Relations Committee, said he, Abbott, was ‘extremely exposed’ by his premature lunatic libel of the most powerful man in the world. ‘You take care before you make such an accusation,’ Pushkov said. ‘You do not go off like, how you say, a hairy goat.’

Greg Sheridan, a Liberal voter, called Whitlam’s ‘the worst single government Australia ever had’, though he did not nominate a single policy, out of hundreds, he disagreed with. He said there was no ‘serious documentary’ made about Menzies, forgetting the ABC one about him and Churchill. He said Whitlam was ‘economically disastrous’, though he well knew the Hayden Budget was blocked because it would have worked. He said ‘only’ 19,000 conscripts ever served in Vietnam, chosen because of their birthdays, and unable to vote, and genitally crippled, some of them, by Agent Orange, in a war we lost, a mere bagatelle. 19,000 is one third of the Australian dead in World War 1. What a loathesome, third-rate, grovelling, overpaid Faust he is entirely. He must say, now, which of Whitlam’s policies he opposed, or spend a billion years in a small, cold room in Hell transcribing longhand Murdoch’s wrong predictions, over and over, with an inkhorn and a feather.

Abbott was revealed to have spent 254,000 on a table and some chairs and their transport to the APEC summit, money that might have gone to our soldiers, or our dead soldiers’ children, plus 150,000 on some computer tablets, 120,000 on ‘advice’ on ‘leasing armoured vehicles’, 34 million for security guards and 10 million for hotels. The 44 million 524 thousand thus spent would have kept ten small theatre companies going for a thousand years on the interest alone. But it was ‘well worth the expense,’ Abbott said, ‘to keep the mass murderer Putin comfortable for three days, and well fed on Queensland rump steak, and anxious to buy more of it, which he has unaccountably, lately, refused to.’

Abbott’s Billionairesses’ Baby Bonus had only one supporter in Cabinet, himself, the afr in sorrow reported. ‘Economic lunacy’ is how Hockey, the Treasurer, is said to have described it. ‘Paying one woman nothing to have a baby,’ he fumed, ‘because she has no job, and six other children, and another woman fifty thousand dollars, though she is wealthy already, is not, as Tony calls it, equality.’ All bebbies or born eekval,’ Cormann jeered. ‘Bert serm are more eekval zan uzzairs.’ He chuckled at his little joke, while others put their heads in their hands.

Abbott, losing it, called ISIL a ‘godless death cult’. Dutton, losing it, called Labor’s concern, and America’s concern, with the world plague Ebola ‘a scare campaign’, and demanded his government’s neglect of this pandemic be ‘bipartisan’. The next Black Plague, and his insouciance about it, he said, was too serious a matter to be ‘polticised’, or even spoken about.

And so it went.

A Coincidence

Ben Bradlee’s death yesterday continues a coincidence I first remarked on twenty years ago.

This is that actors who play living public figures usually predecease them.

Max Phipps predeceased Gough Whitlam. Ruth Cracknell predeceased Margaret Whitlam. John Hargreaves Jim Cairns. John Meillon John Kerr.

Peter Finch played Yitzak Rabin in Operation Thunderbolt and predeceased him. Kenneth More played Douglas Bader in Reach For The Sky and predeceased him. Gary Cooper Alvin York in Sergeant York and predeceased him. Charles Laughton, chosen by Churchill to play Churchill AFTER his death, died, at 62, three years before Churchill died at 90. Noel Coward played Viscount Lord Louis Mountbatten in In Which We Serve and predeceased him by five years, though Mountbatten was assassinated.

Jason Robards Jnr, who won an Oscar playing Ben Bradlee in All The President’s Men, predeceased him by decades.

John Stanton and Malcolm Fraser are both still living. Bill Hayden and Peter Sumner. Bob Ellis and Noah Taylor.

And we will see what we shall see.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (90)

It is hard to believe what the crazed and beautiful Papist Miranda Devine, a Liberal voter, said of Whitlam yesterday, but there it is.

‘He wrought destruction on his country,’ she wrote, with a straight face, not saying what part Medicare, free universities, the sewering of the suburbs, the recognition of China, no-fault divorce, allowing unwed mothers to keep their babies and the releasing from gaol of Vietnam draft evaders played in that destruction. He said he was a ‘western suburbs kid made good’, she said, though no-one had ever said that of him till she did, yesterday. The return of Aboriginal lands, equal pay for women, the sequestering from oil drilling of the Great Barrier Reef, she added, were all part of ‘a fantasy…that may become toxic’.

It was Menzies, not Whitlam, that invented ‘free universities’, she said, through Commonwealth Scholarships for the ‘better academically’ (no, dear, it was Chifley) and Whitlam’s ‘free for all’ was the beginning of the ‘age of entitlement’.

This loathesome piece of pond-scum was paid lavishly for this by Murdoch, Whitlam’s destroyer. May her afterlife be spent in a small room listening to a loop of John Howard’s Anzac Day speeches for a billion years, unsleeping.

The unspeakable Faustian cunt, Paul Kelly, the only first-rate intellect employed by Murdoch for more than a year, said Whitlam’s ‘scandal-ridden’ second government irresistably destroyed itself, not mentioning that Murdoch’s restless vendetta after Whitlam refused him the Ambassadorship to the Court of St James did much of the work, and the vote that blocked Supply was that of Albert Field, a man not elected to the Senate but appointed, improperly, against the wishes of the voters, by Bjelke-Petersen after Bert Milliner’s suspicious death. He said Kerr behaved wickedly but made no mention of Joh, or Reg Withers, or Garfield Barwick, or the constitution-smashing liar Malcolm Fraser. May he be locked in a small room listening for a billion years to Alexander Downer and Bronwyn Bishop singing Gilbert and Sullivan favourites unceasing, with Rolf Harris accompanying on shuffleboard and blowing whistles.

Andrew Wilkie took the Abbott government to the ICC over its human rights abuses on Christmas Island, Nauru and Manus. Scott Morrison sought, illegally, a ‘conclusive certificate’ by which he could stop any boat person whatever from getting permanent protection without saying why he did so, merely that it was ‘in the national interest’ to imprison them for life. They would be allowed no appeal against this life sentence. Child abuse on Manus continued. None of the abusers was arrested. They continued abusing the children and the young women, on their usual wages, in the usual filthy conditions. A Senate inquiry discovered that anyone with Ebola in Niugini our doctors would take two weeks to get to from here, arriving a week after his/her death. The time was then changed to five hours.

Pyne’s advisers on what Australian children should study in our schools proved to be almost all of them Liberals, Catholics or private school teachers, plus one public school teacher from Pyne’s electorate. Though this would automatically entail, in any civilised country, his immediate resignation, he continued, with his usual chirpy defiance, in office.

And thus concluded another day in the life of the worst free-elected government in the history of the democratic system, since its invention in Iceland in AD 934.

It’s Time

(From Mike Rann, Australian Ambassador to Italy)

Gough Whitlam was irreverent. He even joked about his own death. Some years back he mockingly complained to me that he thought the ALP would try to turn his funeral into “a fund-raiser, some kind of raffle”. As I sought to assure him that would not be the case, he interrupted saying “I’ve got news for them, my funeral will be bigger than Cleopatra’s entry into Rome”.

I am sure it will be.

Gough’s irreverent humour means that we can best honour his memory in the way he would most like; by joyfully celebrating his life and its impact on every Australian.

He certainly had a big impact on me, even though I was still in New Zealand during the time of the Whitlam Government. My first meeting with Gough occurred immediately after I had been interviewed by Don Dunstan at Parliament House in Adelaide when, at age 24, I was applying for the job as his Press Secretary and Speech Writer. Gough was in Adelaide to give a speech at Glenelg and popped in to see his long-time partner in reform. Years later, he later claimed credit for convincing Don to hire me. What he actually told me that evening, however, was “Go East young man, go East”. On this occasion, I’m glad I didn’t take his advice.

In the ALP, Gough was always there for us. He came to our policy and campaign launches and travelled the country to spruik for candidates, speaking at sub-branch meetings and barbecues. Even when he was wheelchair-bound, as he was at Sasha’s and my wedding, Gough would still come, if invited. He was a generous, kindly man of Olympian bearing, with his wife, Margaret, always there to puncture any hubris and bring him down to earth. She was his anchor as well as his support and the two of them are inseparable in their contribution to Australia.

Inevitably, most of the attention on Gough Whitlam right now is about his brief but tumultuous three years as Prime Minister, that ended with his dismissal by Governor-General Sir John Kerr, the political equivalent of an earthquake.

But, let us remember that in 1967 new leader Gough Whitlam inherited a party that was dispirited and accustomed to defeat. He understood that the ALP could not be elected with only the votes of its working-class union base. To become Prime Minister, he needed to build a bigger coalition with middle-class, professional and university-educated support. So Gough deconstructed and rebuilt the ALP, modernising, intellectualising, demystifying it, and exorcising from it the bigotry and racism that had soiled and shamed it from the earliest years with the White Australia Policy. Whitlam embraced a multicultural Australia with the duller “melting pot” replaced by a richer, more colourful “salad”. As a result, we are a much different nation today.

In opposition and in government he forged an extraordinary partnership with Don Dunstan, even though Gough was fundamentally a centralist with little regard for the states. Gough and Don were the Washington and Jefferson of modern Australian Labor politics in the 60s and 70s. They were champions of change, maestros of the possible, leaders who incessantly summoned their party and the Australian people to move forward.

It’s true that in his first week in office Gough Whitlam ended conscription, brought the remaining troops back from Vietnam, banned racially-selected sporting teams, while announcing that Australia would recognise China and seek equal pay for women.

It’s true that Gough’s abolition of university fees gave a generation of working class teenagers a hope of an education that would enrich their lives.

It’s true that his championing of universal health care, legal aid, urban planning, the standardisation of railways and his commitment to equal opportunity, anti-discrimination and Aboriginal land rights were each a big leap forward for Australia.

Kerr and then the voters got rid of Whitlam but most importantly his reforms remain. That’s the real test.

But Whitlam was much more important than any individual policy or achievement. Many people serve their country; Gough Whitlam changed ours. He lifted our individual horizons as people and made Australia more confident and more independent as a nation.

He was a Colossus, a big man in every sense who helped all of us and our country walk taller.

The Lies Told

A lot of lies were told yesterday, many of them in the documentary The Whitlam Years, whose ‘witnesses’ were lit like horror-film villains and whose Judy Davis narration was in its every sentence shallow, snide and sneering.

We were told that Gough till his arrival in politics had ‘led a sheltered life’. But he had been a bomber-navigator in World War 2, whose plane was once on fire, and crashing. He had lived in a two-man tent in Gove for three years. He had raised four children in Cronulla and Cabramatta. He had campaigned for three years among the migrant people of the outer suburbs. He had been expelled from a Canberra boarding school, and gone to another, in faraway Sydney. He had studied Greek, acted in revue, appeared as an extra in movies, and rejected Christianity. He was a twenty-six-year-old ‘perpetual student’ when he joined the War. He did Basic Training, for Christ’s sake.

Another was that he was in some way ‘arrogant’. He was the most genial, attentive and involved conversationalist I have known. He sat an an angle that allowed him to look up at you, not down. He crafted jokes for you alone. The jokes he made about being God’s rival, and so on, were jokes, raillery, in the manner of Noel Coward, and showed the opposite of arrogance, a willingness to mock himself.

Another was that his government fell because it was incompetent. It fell because a Senator, Bert Milliner, died, and a Country Party Premier, Joh Bjelke Petersen, appointed against all precedent Albert Field, an anti-Labor unionist, in his place, and Field voted with the Liberals to hold up Supply. A stolen dead man’s vote brought Gough down. This was never mentioned by anyone yesterday.

Nor was the ‘reprehensible’ sum Rex Connor sought to borrow, in order to buy back ALL of Australia’s mineral wealth, four billion dollars, to buy it back outright, forever, two thirds of the amount that Abbott’s baby money now costs, each year. How much that wealth could fund today.

Nor was Murdoch much mentioned, though his relentless jeering headlines — about Cairns and Morosi, about Tierath Khemlani, about Gough and Margaret’s marriage ‘breaking up’ — contributed a lot to the momentum that swept him out. Nor was the burning of crucial film of the day of the sacking which I, for one, witnessed, crowds jeering Fraser in King’s Hall, the crowds marching on Parliament House, the gallant, funny speeches of Fred Daley, that would have changed the momentum, and, possibly, the result. Less than a minute of that footage now exists. Imagine if only fifty seconds of 9/11 now existed. That much was destroyed.

Nor was the idiotic decision of David Combe not to criticuse John Kerr. He said he had 75 percent approval in the latest poll. I said ‘But that poll was taken before the Sacking.’ He said, ‘Yes, but it’s the only poll we’ve got.’ I proposed a slogan, ‘Tell the hijackers where to get off’. He preferred ‘Shame, Fraser, Shame’.

There was also the suggestion that had the Budget not been passed by the Senate, unawares, it would have somehow all been different. It would not. Fraser had already agreed to ‘advise’ a Double Dissolution, a condition of his appointment. Had the Budget not passed, he, as PM, would have advised it , as agreed. It would have been the same. Kerr corruptly, or drunkenly, had made the decision, and Fraser had colluded in its execution, on Garfield Barwick’s ‘advice’. The die was cast.

Whitlam could have torn up the letter of dismissal, and called the Queen, got her out of bed, and advised her to sack Kerr. She may or may not have agreed to do so. But he was a legalist, a constitutionalist, a proper man. He had also had no sleep for fifty hours, and a whole hour ticked by while he had a steak at the Lodge, and nobody knew what had happened. I was in Parliament House that day, and I remember that lost hour well.

And I don’t like the lies told about it. Or about Whitlam.

And so it went.

Goodbye, E.G.

(From Letters to the Future, 1977)

Come let us mock at the great
That had such burdens on the mind
And toiled so hard and late
To leave some monument behind,
Nor thought of the levelling wind.

Come let us mock at the wise;
With all those calendars whereon
They fixed old aching eyes,
They never saw how seasons run,
And now but gape at the sun.

Come let us mock at the good
That fancied goodness might be gay,
And sick of solitude
Might proclaim a holiday:
Wind shrieked – and where are they?

– W.B. Yeats, ‘Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen’

Dazed, Ellis watched through that election midnight and after as the huge, restless, red-faced, compassionate, stubborn man who for half his life had been all his hope, at long last very real as a person of flesh and blood and vulnerability and age, strode up and down, up and down, a half glass of beer undrunk in his hand, from computer to television set, television set to grieving corridor, corridor to lonely office, returning shy embraces, accepting sloppy kisses, responding eagerly and stoically on the incessant phone to even John Ducker (‘John! So nice of you to call. Oh, all right. You roll with the punches, you know?’), agreeing with all who ventured to dream it wasn’t over (‘No, of course not. Comrades together’), playing to the bitter end of this cruel personal and national tragedy the noble part because he knew no other. In him the noble part, though still a grand performer’s role, was bred in the bone, and thoroughly believed, leading him even to hire John Kerr as Governor-General, The Grouper, instead of some affable party hack. John Kerr was a qualified man. It was the right thing to do.

Whitlam was, in Ellis’s view, as he watched his chivalrous bearing that night of his final extremity, another eloquent variant, heroic in mould, after Churchill, Disraeli, Paderewski and Hitler, of the artist as politician. As deft as an ironic poet, when young, as the young Alexander Pope: and as vehement and wry a deployer of the English language, in his maturity, as any Bloomsbury dandy; as devoted and thoughtful an actor, to the end of his days, as Rod Steiger at the least, he seduced, as any good artist will, his audience into his own private universe, a universe of finicky Latinate propriety and intoxicating possibilities, among them a gallant elective civilisation not altogether of this world, a green suburban Valhalla, patriotic and grand. Like the English Christianity of Wyclif, Cranmer and the King James translation, his was a triumph of poetry over reality. For a time we believe, and then apostasy set in. For a time he was there, enormously there, like his exact contemporary John F. Kennedy, and then he was gone. There was much harm in Kennedy, too, now partly known. The harm in Whitlam, that of overshooting electoral reality, was not yet measured, but would be.

‘Come on, old person,’ said Margaret Whitlam to her husband tenderly. ‘What do all those bloody figures matter? Come home.’

Wet-eyed, Whitlam turned from the television set and, looking at her, mutely agreed.

‘Shouldn’t we wait for Tony?’ he asked. ‘He said he’d be along.’

‘I don’t think he’s coming any more,’ she said. ‘Let’s go home.’

He nodded, took a deep breath, and with his other children, Nick and Cathy, began with courteous finality to leave the building. Proceeding as always like battleships down this new and final pathway of tears, the Whitlam flotilla neared the door, and there was Graham Freudenberg, as always looking up.

‘Thank you,’ he said to Whitlam, shaking his hand, and Whitlam said, ‘Thank you.’

‘I’ll call you tomorrow night,’ said Freudenberg.

‘Any time,’ said Whitlam.

‘We have heard the chimes of midnight,’ said Freudenberg to Margaret.

‘Oh, I don’t know,’ she said and gave her great lascivious smile. ‘There’s a few good years in us yet.’

Freudenberg looked all the way up to her, and she looked all the way down at him, and then he said, wryly, ‘The earth moved for me too, Margaret.’ The Whitlams laughed uproariously, and soon were at the door of the lift and the era was over. In its last moment, a woman came up to him, a woman who had no right to be there, and spoke a little hysterically to him.

‘So nice to have met you,’ he said, and the lift doors opened, and he was gone. The world never felt so empty.

Later, after midnight:

In the dark on the nineteenth floor on election night, Ellis and Freudenberg, wandering among used paper cups and the end of their reasonable dreams, looked gravely and methylatedly out at an endlessly beautiful vision of the street lights and window lights of Sydney, a civilisation they had misjudged. It was possible, they grimly agreed, that Whitlam’s victory in 1972 had proceeded from nothing more than the famous decrepitude of Billy McMahon, and in 1974 from a vague belief in a fair go. His politics, his vision, his nobility hadn’t meant a thing. At one point Freudenberg’s open, round and quizzical face, so similar under the goggles in its vulnerability and benevolence to Whitlam’s own, lapsed over into manly tears.

‘Make sure you write,’ he said, ‘how when it became clear we’d lost the election, Whitlam got us all together, all his staff, and asked us what our plans were, and if he could be of any help. His first thought wasn’t for himself. It was for us.’

After a pause, Ellis then heard himself say to this small, sad man, whom he regarded as one of the intellectual giants of an era, and the finest articulator of a civilisation that was not to be, ‘I’m not here to comfort you. I think it’s important to know when something is over, and have the grief, and not seek any consolation: to remember how it was, and close the book.’

Freudenberg paused, and then looked at him with sharp, dark eyes. ‘It’s a strange thing altogether,’ he said, ‘to know that I’m, what, forty-two years old, and my life is over. I died tonight.’

His words, like similar words when uttered in a similar setting in a Hollywood movie, fell coldly and exactly into place. In due course, he too went away, and in the empty room, among the blazing lights of a city and a people he did not know, Ellis, too, wept. It was a movie, that was all, and now the curtain was down.

I came on a great house in the middle of the night
Its open lighted doorway and its windows all alight,
And all my friends were there and made me welcome too
But I woke in an old ruin that the winds howled through,
And when I pay attention I must out and walk
Among the dogs and horses that understand my talk.
Oh what of that, oh what of that,
What is there left to say?

– W.B. Yeats, ‘1924’

Certain Housekeeping Matters (129): Gough Whitlam

I will put up several of my pieces on Gough on this and on Ellis Gold in the next two days, and add, I guess, a new piece here. I should as well complete my piece on Margaret’s funeral.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (89)

Experts said MH 17 was shot down by Ukrainians not Russians, which meant Abbott, when he ‘shirtfronted’ Putin, would have to apologise to him in Brisbane, and meekly shake his hand. Bronwyn Bishop called off her persecution of women in burqas, and, asked if Abbott had told her to call it off, said, ‘No.’ Abbott said she had, which meant, if protocol was followed, he or she would have to resign.

Julie Bishop persuaded the Iraqis to sign a document allowing our soldiers to kill their children, but they let it be known they didn’t want any Australian soldiers fighting for them, boots on the ground, ‘because of what happened last time.’ Iraqi soldiers, meanwhile, wouldn’t leave their barracks, for fear they might be killed. ISIL occupied the outer suburbs of Baghdad, and their suicide bombers terrorised some of the inner suburbs.

Newspoll hid the bad news, that Abbott’s approval was down to 38 percent and his government’s vote down to 47, under a Murdoch headline suggesting his vote was up, because 63 percent ‘favoured’, and why would they not, him ‘confronting’ Putin over MH 17. The ‘better PM’ poll was down by 3 percent. Though landline only, and ‘weighted to reflect the population distribution’, showed Abbott 39, Shorten 38 and ‘uncommitted’ (an impossibility) 23.

Gough Whitlam died, and his usurper Fraser, a Labor voter now, wept for him. Howard, who cursed his every act, would doubtless do so too. Pyne, whose university education thanks to Gough was free, shrank back a little from his waspish punishment, with huge fees and huge interest rates, of those, especially women, who dared go to university after him. Abbott declared the flags would fly at half-mast, and frantically tried to put together a speech in praise of the lordly atheist republican he so detested.

…The speech was not half bad, and followed by other speeches of civilised agreement from the sado-Papist leeches now in brief power with nearly everything Gough did, but no apology for how he was cheated of mandate and his destiny, and how even now they were dismantling his legacy — to the universities, the disabled, the Indigenous, to women, to the health care system. To some observers they all seemed greedy, mendacious careerist Fausts, except for Turnbull, who spoke well, with tears, of a generous friend.

On his destroyer’s channel, Skynews, tributes were unceasing. Murdoch, a Liberal voter, and author by now of most of the evil in the western world, lived on in good health. Laurie Oakes, who at the time called Whitlam’s ‘the silliest government ever’, said the sacking was the government’s own fault, not mentioning the theft of two dead Senators’ votes, and Kerr’s connivance with Fraser before two Liberal senators voted the other way. More to come.

‘The World Just Is’: Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road To The Deep North

Flanagan’s achievement in this book is greater than most writers, surpassing or equalling Koestler, Hemingway, Orwell, Steinbeck, Hersey, Graves, McEwan, Pat Barker and Alice Munro on ‘our’ side, and some Japanese writers as varied as Basho and Ishiguro on ‘theirs’. There has been no better evocation of male suffering — in filth, disease, random death, and the daily struggle with starvation, mud, and physical effort — in anything I have read; nor no greater insight into what young women, ill-wed, oft-raped and putting up with it nightly, went through in my country in my lifetime.

For it is not just about ‘Dorrigo’ Evans, an army doctor made like ‘Weary’ Dunlop to choose what sick men will risk death with a day’s work on the Burma Railway next, and which ones are sick enough to live another day, and his haggling over numbers of available slaves any day, any week, with a Japanese bureaucrat who, if he does not meet the Emperor’s deadline, ever updated, for the finishing of the Line, will be obliged in honour to kill himself, and not just the terrible deaths men went randomly to (cholera, beheading, drowning in shit); it is also about the postwar life of the tortured men and their wives, the evasions and hypocrisies and willed forgettings — lest they remember — and the fraudulent simplistic sonorities of Anzac Day that cover so much that haunts their waking dreams which they dare not speak.

It is so well-written that, though confronted (by Hiroshima, death by hanging, an all-consuming Tasmanian bushfire, an old love refound too late), you can reach into the minds of dying men and their murderers like their Guardian Angels, if they existed, might have done. No punch is pulled; each major character dies — by cancer, car accident, infarct, blows to the head and body, hanging, decapitation, malaria, septicaemia, suicide — and some ‘happy’ endings are shown to be, as all life is, temporary, or illusory, and we are all very sinful in the end, and some of us over-punished, and some of us absurdly rewarded, some of us dead at sixteen, some at ninety, and so it goes.

Not since the best of Waugh has there been a a narrative so limpid and condensed. Fifty, sixty years of life are skipped across like a pebble on a pond, and we know the sum of each character truly after five, six pages, as truly as we would after sixty pages of Tolstoy. A chapter sometimes seems like a whole novel in summary, and the author’s constant nearness to each life — male, female, Tasmanian peasant, Melbourne old money, Queensland farm worker, worshipful slave of the Sun King Hirohito, dull Korean brute — never varies; he is on their side, whoever they are.

He even makes us understand the Japanese warrior-mindset: these men having lost the battle were obliged in honour to suicide, and since they did not do that they are worse than vermin and useful to the Emperor only if they work, on a third of the food a human requires, on the Line until they grow sick and die in the mud, after which other slaves, as ill and suppurant and starved as their predecessors, play bugles at their funerals and replace them in purgatory. Somehow we understand that too, and almost forgive it. No-one is to blame. The Nuremberg rules mean little. The deadline must be met. We follow orders, however mad and cruel they prove to be. It is the world, that’s how it is.

Structured like a symphony, or a troubled dream in the last hour of life, or a jazz improvisation, the book floats back and forth through seven decades, and does not airbrush the agonies of growing up poor, of dying uncompleted, and the knowledge, after diagnosis, of coming death. It shows us the fullness of existence, and the pangs that see us down into our always imminent ends.

There is no book like it, none. It is for the ages.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (88)

Julie Bishop flew to Baghdad to announce no ‘boots on the ground’ would follow her. No invitation had come from the government there, she said, though Abbott swore he’d received one. This meant he had, in fact, deceived the House, and, were proper procedure now followed, he would have to resign, or the Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, his new enemy, might now remove him permanently ‘from the service of the House’.

Abbott flew to Indonesia, where he said he would try to get into Joko’s inauguration, though he had not been invited, and Joko had warned him to stop sending boats back, and silkily threatened regional war if he didn’t. Morrison said he, Joko, should be more ‘grateful’ for the boats he, Morrison, had sent back illegally into his, Joko’s, crowded sovereign waters, as this meant more and more expensive prisoners would fester in Indonesia, and less and less on Manus Island. He then shouted at Plibersek that ‘other people’, like, say, Cuba, could fight Ebola in Africa, but we, Australia, wouldn’t, and mustn’t. We had other things to fight about, like Joko, and the ‘home-grown jihadists’, and the High Court, now likely to gaol him for piracy, kidnap, covering up a murder, cyberbullying and child abuse.

Cormann called Shorten a ‘girly man’. The hairy-chested Pyne refused to be interviewed about Spurr, whose ‘robust language’ about ‘Chinky-poos’ and ‘abo-lovers’ meant fewer and fewer countries would trade with us now, and our economy founder. Ten more million dollars were spent keeping ‘boots on the ground’ in Dubai awaiting deployment to Iraq, which regarded their arrival, now cancelled, as ‘the last straw’, and ‘a red line in the sand’, though ‘targeted’ bombing of women and children, preferably Sunnis, was narrowly permitted by the new coalition which had, at last, a Minister For Defence, though ISIL now controlled a quarter of Baghdad, and reshuffles might follow an imminent mass desertion of the government benches under bombardment and gunfights in the parliamentary corridors. The army, meanwhile, was cowering in its

It was thought by some commentators that Bishop contradicting Abbott about the invitation to make war meant she would soon overthrow him. More to come.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (87)

Gerard Henderson, a Liberal voter, criticised Richard Flanagan for not admiring Tony Abbott, a firm fan of the ‘skill’ and ‘honour’ of the beheaders of Australians in Burma, the Japanese. How dare he not admire Abbott, the old Papist ratbag railed. How dare he, moreover, admire David Hicks, ‘a well-trained jihadist’, though lately found guiltless of anything. He then attacked Mike Seccombe, who had mildly pointed out, on the television program Insiders, Henderson’s overpaid service as a Liberal propagandist these last thirty-eight years.

The young fool Seccombe, he asserted, had wrongly compared ISIL with Nazism, a similar genocidal virus of the mind. No, no, cried Henderson, Nazism was a ‘secular movement that advocated paganism’ and was denounced, in fact, by Pius XI in a little-known footnote in 1937. Hitler, a ‘baptized Catholic’ and never excommunicated, was destroyed, he blithered, becoming confused, as the senile do, by ‘Judaeo-Christian nations’; not, as historians assert, by the atheistic Soviet Union in its millions marching west.

‘Alienated types like Seccombe and Flanagan,’ he said, ‘underestimate Islam, and I do not.’ He was surprised to learn, after that, that his pay had been reduced, once again, to three hundred dollars a column, from two thousand a year ago.

Indonesia’s new president Widodo told Abbott to stop sending boats back. ‘You must respect international law,’ he said, and thus implied that war with his country would follow if this did not occur. In the smh it was revealed that international law had no place on Manus Island. A man still had bits of bullet in his back after January’s riot. Another had his hip, knee and chest crushed. Eighty men were waiting for ‘external specialist appointments’, and had been for nine months. The inmates lived in filth, malaria was frequent, and skin rashes. The report did not say how many of the suspected assailants, including the one who had slashed a throat, were still employed there, and on what wage. Morrison was ‘unavailable for comment’, and anyway on trial elsewhere for kidnapping, torture and child abuse.

Johnston announced Australian fighter-bombers had ‘killed’ some of the enemy, but wouldn’t say how many, how old they were, or what gender. For the fourth week, no invitation for Australian troops to be there had arrived, no Minister of Defence appointed, and ISIL were conquering more of more of Baghdad, and Turks were firing on Kurds, and thereby assisting ISIL, in the border country.

Julie Bishop ‘skirtfronted’ Putin, who, she said, promised he would help Australians look for corpses in a bombed sunflower field in Ukraine, a country he did not control, and was intermittently at war with, before snow fell on them. The discussion was ‘robust’, she said, and involved no martial arts. It is to be wondered how Pravda would report it.

John Kerry denounced the world for not doing enough to stop Ebola, which he compared to AIDS and polio. Bishop asserted it was too dangerous for even those who wanted to go there, for Australia to be of any assistance in stopping the next Back Plague, because Australia was ‘so far away’, and removing those medicos who caught the disease to, say, Cuba, a nearby country with safe hospitals, was ‘unacceptable’. It was a far, far better thing, she said, to be bombing instead the shit out of the Iraqis, and getting Australians the hell out of Baghdad, than preventing, as Kerry recommended, the decimation of human life on earth by a swiftly moving pandemic worse than bird flu. ‘We have sent eighteen million dollars, the price of two houses in Darling Point,’ she said, proudly, ‘and that, surely, is quite enough.’ Kofi Annan put his face in his hands.

Barry Spurr was forbidden to turn up for work at Sydney University, or to have any contact with students there, pending procedure that might see him dismissed and disgraced by that body. Though he had been Pyne’s principal advisor on what children should study (e.g. the ‘Judeo-Christian tradition’) he was thought unfit to assiciate with any of them.

And so concluded another day of the worst free-elected government in the history of western democracy since its foundation in AD 934 in Iceland.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (86)

Jackie Kelly, a Howard minister and ‘favourite’, resigned from the Liberal Party, saying how horrible it was. Xxxx, a Liberal member, resigned from her Maitland seat, boasting that she was the one that ICAC, amazingly, had not thought corrupt. Bronwyn Bishop, an Abbott favourite (‘I am her love-child’), lost her bid to be President of the Intra-Parliamentary Union because of her farcical bias as Speaker of the House and her previous wish, perhaps, that Mandela be hanged. Barry Spurr, a Pyne favourite, lately advising him what Australian children should study, was found to have in many emails called various Australians ‘Mussos’, ‘Chinky-poos’, ‘bogans’ and ‘fatsoes’, our Prime Minister an ‘abo lover’, ‘separated at birth’ from the much taller Adam Goodes, Desmond Tutu a ‘witch doctor’ and Mandela a ‘darkie’. He favoured the ‘Judeo-Christian ethic’ over others, and Pyne, a feral Catholic, praised him for this initially but now ‘declined to be interviewed’ about him, and seemed to disapprove of some of his more medieval views.

Putin’s people said it was ‘unlikely’ their boss would meet Abbott in private ‘in this life, or any subsequent incarnation’. Pravda compared the blaming of Putin for the shooting down of MH 17 with blaming Abbott for the Australians now fighting on the side of ISIL in Syria. Certain Victorian Liberal MPs were accused of watching porn on their worplace computers. A film was previewed showing Harold Holt, a leather-wearing Liberal Prime Minister, to have been a Russian spy.

Julie Bishop was in the same room with Putin, but did not shirtfront, skirtfront, or otherwise jump him, and chose instead to cringe back drinking champagne in the shadows, and claim she had not seen him there, and thus made Australia a hissing and a byword among the nations, rather more than it had been the day before. In furtherance of this, Bronwyn Bishop seemed adamantly determined to put women in burkas in a soundless goldfish bowl at the back of the House where they could not be heard interjecting, or shouting slogans from the Koran. Abbott lacked the constitutional power to stop her doing this, lacked, indeed, the power in his party room to do anything much at all any more, and would soon have to give up his Paid Parental Leave scheme, it now appeared, in order to pay for his war, now likely to last ‘somewhere in excess of a hundred years’ and necessitate an alliance with a nuclear-armed Iran, which Israel would then feel obliged to bomb to shit with nuclear weapons of its own, in what some called ‘Armageddon’, others ‘World War 3′.

Though he claimed the Iraqi ‘government’ had invited him to send troops there, the letter had not yet arrived, and he had technically deceived the House when he said the letter had, and he would be, some said, constutionally obliged to resign for this, if Bronwyn Bishop, who was now in a snit, required him to do so. Forty more people died in Baghdad, which all Australians were urged to leave, while other Australians were bombing shit out of other Iraqis a little to the north, and refusing to provide photos of who they were killing, lest the photos be ‘used against us’, Johnston, gulping, said. This suggested ‘we’ had killed some children, and images would be on a website of their body parts and shrieking mothers fairly soon.

Figures came in suggesting Hockey’s ‘budget position’ would be even worse than it was a week ago, and he would have to at least consider resigning; or Abbott, if he had not himself resigned by then, would have at least consider sacking him.

Palmer announced his wife was running for Parliament, and might thus add to his numbers in the House.

And so it went. An average day for the Abbottites, whose world was currently falling apart.

Recommended Reading

I will have read Flanagan’s prizewinning The Narrow Road To The Deep North by Saturday morning and will review it in these pages. Anyone else who would like to read and review it in the next month I will print here. It is remarkably good — of course — and worth a discussion. I will print, if offered, five reviews.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (85)

Abbott opened a new coal mine and said ‘our future lies in coal’, thus anguishing the Greens. Within hours a Green, Richard Flanagan, had won the Man Booker Prize and said he was ‘ashamed to be Australian’ because of what the Liberals were doing to Tasmania, his homeland, and its beautiful old-growth forests. No Liberal congratulated him on his prize. It was as though he had never been born.

Pravda said Abbott was ‘a disturbed mind crying out for therapy’ after he had threatened Putin with physical violence, or a metaphor for physical violence, or a jocular reference to an illegal move in a football game, or something. Kathy Jackson, a Liberal voter, claimed she too was a disturbed mind crying out for therapy and would they call off her trial now please. Her theft of six hundred thousand dollars was a symptom of her unfortunate madness, she said, and should be forgiven, unlike Craig Thomson, whom she had shopped for having thieved, or misused, one hundredth of what she made off with, from the same union, ‘whistleblowing’, as it was then called, ‘unbelievable levels of corruption’.

Hockey said it was wrong to call Australia ‘the dirtiest, most polluting nation’, though it was true on all the available figures. ‘I don’t believe in figures,’ he beamed, sweatily. Abbott complained that the Iraqis wouldn’t let him put our boots on their ground, unless he bribed them to. Half a million dollars were meanwhile spent on our troops while they waited idly, uninvited to their martyrdom and henceforth, by a new edict, tremendously underpaid. No exceptions would be made to the underpayment of everybody, Abbott said, ‘except, of course, pregnant billionairesses’.

In a second response, a Pravda journalist called Abbott’s ‘shirtfront’ utterance ‘the most blatant example of shit-faced ignorance and pig-headed arrogance since the times of Hitler and Pol Pot’, adding ‘childishness, incompetence’ and ‘the Australian people deserve better, especially Richard Flanagan’. Julie Bishop said she would see Putin soon, and ‘sort him out’. He would be told, she said, that though there was no evidence for anything other than an honest mistake, he was nonetheless guilty of deliberate mass murder, and would he buy our meat and uranium please, as all was forgiven, and a recession was looming, everywhere.

Malvolio’s cousin Chris Hartcher, the eminent Central Coast criminal, resigned his seat and made more likely Baird’s defeat in March, and a subsequent Royal Commission into Hockey’s corrupt Chinese lunches. The Deputy Premier, Andrew Stoner, resigned his seat also, wanting to ‘spend more time with his family’, who had ‘issues’, whatever that means. This brought to eleven the number of Liberal or National seats now fairly likely to be lost, and, with Robbo Labor on 47 percent two-party preferred, and needing only 1 percent to win, cataclysmic defeat for the Coaltition across the map likely, and growing more ominous by the hour.

For the Terrorist Scare had dwindled; seven hundred million unpoliced train journeys had occurred and no explosions; the Putin Confrontation was now a fiasco; the soldiers’ lowered pay, Abbott said, all Labor’s fault, though the billion and a half he was now committed to spend on seeking MH 370′s scattered skerricks in four oceans could have easily maintained, or increased, their levels of pay in the last weeks and months before their slaughter in Iraq, and so could the oil-rich Iraqi government, as the wily Palmer amusedly noted. The G-G, a soldier, knew this too, and was now more likely to sack a government which couldn’t get its Budget through and seemed unwilling to write another. All over the ship the Abbottites looked ludicrous and fumbling, and, in Pyne’s case, shrieking at Alberici. Even the army was against them now, and would never, never come back to them.

And so concluded another day in the life of the worst free-elected government in world history, since the invention of democracy in Iceland in AD 924.

The Joe Hockey Moment

Tony Abbott has now achieved his ‘Joe Hockey Moment’, the point in time when it became known to all voters that he didn’t know what he was doing.

With Brandis, it was when he said, ‘We all have a right to be bigots’. With Hockey it was when he said, ‘Poor people don’t drive cars’. With Abbott it was when he said he would ‘shirtfront’, or physically attack, Putin because he would not help to ‘bring to justice’ the men who shot down MH 17.

Bringing to justice men who in wartime made a mistake begs the question, ‘Bring to justice where?’ Abbott implied it would be here, in Australia. And he wanted Putin, a neo-Communist dictator, to arrest his own soldiers and deliver them handcuffed to Australian authorities who would put them, pending trial, in Goulburn gaol.

This is so far from reality as to suggest Abbott is mad. He has accused Putin of complicity in mass murder, yet wants his co-operation, in rounding up his accomplices. And, worse than that, he expects it.

And, on top of this, he treats the matter humorously, with a football metaphor, as though it was a jest, of the sort one sees in Monty Python. The death of three hundred people was now a jest. This is very, very crazy.

The look on Costello’s face, when he heard about it, betokened a good deal of regret. Abbott, in a job he could have had, was, as he predicted, a ‘catastrophe’.

Abbott will now, for certain, be overthrown. He is not just a laughing-stock among the nations, but among his own people.

He has no well of affection — like Hawke’s, like Howard’s — to draw on.

He looks like a crazy oaf, and is finished.

Abbott’s Early Dementia: The Evidence

Abbott’s reasoning grows more and more deranged, and his posturing more and more symptomatic of football-induced, or boxing-induced, brain injury.

First we had the ‘evil crime’ of the shooting down, and its ‘cover up’ by the ‘war criminal’, Putin. Then we had the threat that Putin would be stopped from coming here. Then we had the refusal to let him buy our uranium. Then we had the threat that he would be ‘shirtfronted’, or spoken to severely, in a scheduled one-on-one meeting (presumably with translators present) at a time of mutual convenience in Brisbane.

But there is no scheduled one-on-one meeting. Nor will there be; not now. There is no firm evidence, either, not yet, though months have gone by, not yet, of who in fact it was who did the shooting down. There is no likelihood that Putin ordered it. Nor is there any likelihood that, if his side did it, of his ‘assisting’ in the ‘bringing to justice’ of the ‘culprits’, who merely, accidentally, unintentionally, fired at an unknown shape overhead, as men in wartime do.

Is Abbott assuming Putin will be frightened, really frightened, by anything Abbott says, anything at all, into giving up a compatriot, or two compatriots, or five, to the sort of justice we see on Christmas Island, Manus, or Nauru, or we used to see in Woomera, or what came to David Hicks, or the sort of justice Brandis is lately planning for journalists? That he, Putin, will hand over ordinary Russian soldiers who did nothing unusual to twenty or thirty years in Pentridge or Goulburn? Really?

Does he truly think this will happen? That Putin, the world’s most powerful man, famed murderer of journalists, and master spy, will cower under his gaze, and quiver, and quake, and capitulate? Really?

More and more our Prime Minister seems crazy. Or else he has become so accustomed to spin-lines, and the action comics they conjure up that he doesn’t know what reality is any more.

Will Putin meet him in private? No. Will he even consider it? No.

He might meet him in a public debate. Will Abbott turn up for that public debate? No. He wouldn’t even debate Kevin Rudd more than once.

Will Abbott be pleased, after that, when Putin expels our diplomats, and arrests some Australian citizens resident in Moscow? No. Will he be surprised? Absolutely. He’ll be staggered. He never thought Putin was real, or dangerous, or capable of reacting on his own, a real politician, with turf to protect, a point to make, an agenda to pursue. Look, look, he’s real. And the most powerful man in the world. Challenging you to a public debate.

This is a dreadful, dreadful Prime Minister, playing nursery games with a world situation, and the seeds of world war. Footling. Blithering. Wanking. And no longer in his perfect mind.

And convincing no-one. Of anything.

And so it goes.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (84)

Abbott threatened to ‘shirtfront’ Putin when he came to Brisbane because he did not order the shooting down of MH 17 and had nothing to do with it, the cunning swine. He would not, however, ‘shirtfront’ Xi Jinping, who would be there also, because he refused to give long-promised democracy to ten thousand protesting students in Hong Kong, or, indeed, to 1.3 billion adjacent Chinese. Abbott knew the accidental deaths of three hundred tourists over a war zone they shouldn’t have been anywhere near was a far greater issue, and a far more suitable one, to anger a great power over, and bring on a trade war, or a world war, than the cancelled freedom of a quarter of the world. He knew what he was doing. He did some one-armed push-ups and practised sneering at the canvas.

He then had a cup of tea, and, on Hockey’s instructions, proposed to reduce the wages, and the holiday leave, of men he was sending to die in Iraq, a thrice-lost war he was keen to wage again, on behalf of some corrupt Shi-ite incompetent martinets whose names he couldn’t remember. These soldiers had to ‘make sacrifices’ also, he now determined, on top of their lives, as all good members of ‘Team Australia’ must. They must not only die, but die on less pay; and before then see their future widows less often; or, if they came back crippled, walk on cheaper crutches into tinier, grimier rooms. He waited for the call from Baghdad, inviting them to come and do this. The call did not come.

Clive Palmer said if the Iraqis wanted our boys to die for them, they should pay for their services, perhaps a higher wage than Abbott was offering. Abbott said this was ridiculous. We would die for the Iranian Shi-ite Ayatollahs for free. And our sick old women, in the doctors’ waiting rooms, would pay for their last hours and their funerals, as divine justice required.

Morrison’s people told the High Court he could board ships, kidnap civilians, not ask where they were going or what they were fleeing, lock children up without toys or books for twenty-two hours a day in shipping containers, deny them an education, knowledge of their fate or the protection of a male parent for two months on end, sell them as sex slaves to Cambodia, or send them back to their uncles’ torturers in Sri Lanka, and not be thought bad persons for having done this. Some civil libertarian lawyers argued that these were bad deeds for which the victims were owed money, money of the order of the three million Cornelia Rau got for being wrongly locked up, three million each. Half a billion for the bunch of them.

It was thought by some experts that ‘piracy’ was a good description of what had happened, on the high seas, far from Australian waters, followed by ‘child abuse’, by the responsible Minister, Morrison.

Morrison was nowhere to be seen. His firm view, that by doing this, by torturing innocents for months on end, he was preventing other innocents from drowning, was judged by some observers to be more and more demented.

And so it went.

And Now, The Putin Factor

‘Government by exclamation mark’ was how I came to think, in the early days, of Abbott’s rule. More and more this seems to be so.

Consider the number of shouts and whispers we heard after MH 17 went down. First the crime, then the cover-up. The criminals will be brought to justice. Putin will be held personally responsible for this act of evil. The worst peacetime atrocity in modern history. Putin ‘not welcome’ in Brisbane. Putin to be denied permission to come to Australia. Putin, if he comes here, will be ‘brought to justice’. Hundreds of millions to be spent ‘bringing them home’. A war should be suspended so we can recover the bodies. Hundreds of millions spent while we wait for the war to be suspended. A national day of mourning. A multi-faith service in a Melbourne cathedral for the innocent dead.

None of this, after Gaza, ISIS and Ebola, seems very proportionate any more. What was clear from the start, that it was an unintended shooting down of a plane that was foolishly in air space over a war zone and mistaken for another plane, seems the case now, like a six-car pile-up on New Year’s Eve, or a Mediterranean ferry sinking in a storm.

And now we have Putin coming to Brisbane. How will he be treated? As a murderous neo-Communist dictator the ICC should put on trial for crimes against humanity? Or as what he is, the world’s most powerful man, one we should treat pretty gingerly?

The politics of the exclamation mark make it difficult for us either to greet him or to shun him. Did he personally order the shooting down of the plane? Of course not. Is his war on Ukraine illegal? Absolutely. Was his takeover of Crimea constitutional? Possibly. Will we be selling him our uranium and beef again soon? Of course we will. So..?

Abbott and Newman are in a fix of their own making. They are accustomed to dealing with semi-fictional enemies — the wicked people-smuggler, the homegrown crucifying terrorist, the furtive criminal unionist, the heinous Kevin Rudd who personally sent boys into roofs where they were electrocuted — and faced with actual, complex, powerful humans with agendas of their own, they are at a loss what to do or say, lest the bad guy…answer back.

It is not beyond the bounds of likelihood that Putin will want to debate Abbott in a public place, and Abbott will flee from the encounter. It is not beyond the outskirts of possibility that he will persuade some delegates that Kiev did the shooting-down, and doubts will be officially articulated on this score.

But because Abbott, who deals only in menacing fictions, is unprepared for the real Putin, and not just a huffing muppet he wanted not to come here, Abbott, the hyperbolist, will have no words to deal with him face to face, as Bob Carr might have done, and engage him in actual conversation. And will look, as he usually does, a fool.

The Abbott adventure gets worse and worse. Kobane will fall, and Abbott will be shown to have been forbidden by Baghdad to send help there. Baghdad will fall, and ISIL command the former Mesopotamia. The Budget will be rejected, and Palmer demand that Hockey be sacked before any more negotiation take place. Abbott will be too weak to sack him, and Turnbull will move against him.

It is no joke to say, as I have every other day for eighty-four days, that this is the worst free-elected government in a thousand years on this planet.

And, daily, it gets worse, and worse.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (83)

Joe Hockey said Putin, the world’s most powerful man, would be allowed into Brisbane. He would not be arrested, put in shackles and brought to Darlinghurst on a charge of mass murder, as Abbott had previously advised. Nor would he be stopped at the airport, wrestled to the ground and imprisoned on Christmas Island. He would be welcomed, given a hotel room, police protection, a motorcade, a tour of the Gold Coast, and a choice of wines and prime steaks at several sumptuous Brisbane banquets. And talked to severely about the Ukraine, Joe said. After a few sharp words from himself or Julie Bishop, Joe implied, he would no doubt withdraw his troops from Donetsk and the Crimea. Barrie Cassidy contained his revulsion, and asked more questions.

In answer to these Joe fumed that Labor’s ‘mess’ meant every old woman would have to pay for the current war by working, perhaps, till she was seventy-two, and every child by going without new shoes. The idea that an extra one percent tax on big business would pay for it was ludicrous. Big business could not afford it. Many CEOs were being paid as little as eight million a year. As little as eight million a year, he emphasised. What had to happen was young fathers going without any money at all for six months after being sacked by incompetent employers, while applying for twenty jobs a month and living with their young families in cardboard boxes and begging for food. That would pay for the war. Those were the right priorities. Barrie Cassidy turned yellow and looked away, nauseous. He could not believe what was happening to his country.

Seven hundred old people remained alive in Kobane, among the rotting corpses of their younger relatives, and a stubborn Kurdish militia that was running out of bullets. They would all be massacred soon, experts predicted, and Abbott did nothing about it. The ‘paperwork’ had not come through, he havered. And the paperwork he had pre-agreed to with the Iraqi ‘government’, still without a Minister for Defence, kept Australian ‘boots on the ground’ and Australian fighter-bombers not only out of the neighbourhood of Kobane, but of all Syria.

The paperwork, moreover, that would let Australians kill Iraqi civilians and not be punished for it would probably not come through, not ever. And there would be no Australian ‘boots on the ground’, not ever. And two Australian bombs had been dropped in a week on a target he would not let be photographed, lest there be splattered humans in it. And this was the sole result of forty million dollars spent, this week, on a war of choice in a region, Mesopotamia, which our policies had already devastated in a search for atomic bombs that did not exist, and a religious war we had facilitated by firing the army and the civil service and appointing a genocidal maniac, Maliki, as dictator, and a cretin, Bremer, as ‘administrator’.

Cuba sent in hundreds of doctors to deal with Ebola, enhancing the Castros’ already high reputation in equatorial Africa. Julie Bishop would not send in any Australian doctors however, it was ‘too dangerous’, she said. African leaders pleaded with us for help, but none was coming. Kurdish leaders pleaded with us for help, but none was coming. Children on Nauru threatened suicide, but no help was coming. Australia was quickly becoming, in the world’s eyes, the scum of the earth. And so it went.

And so concluded another day of the worst free-elected government in the history of democracy since its invention, in Iceland, in AD 934.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (82)

The fanatical crucifying rebels took over more of Cobane and Abbott did nothing about it. The ebola plague advanced through Africa killling thousands and Abbott did nothing about it. Young demonstrators for democracy returned to the Hong Kong streets and Abbott said no word in their support.

Nor did he arrest the audience in Lakemba of Uthman Badar, a fiery defender of ISIL. Nor did he arrest Badar for ‘hate speech’ because there was, thus far, no law against it. He cringed back from the ‘war on bad thoughts’ he had lately declared on everybody but Alan Jones. He continued, though, to reduce the wages of army personnel he was considering, lately, endangering in Iraq. He said he was ‘uncertain’ he would endanger them or not, but certain he was reducing their wages.

Gerard Henderson, a Liberal voter, amazed his readership, now nearly in double figures, by saying Menzies founded the Liberal Party. ‘This little-known secret,’ he wrote in The Australian, ‘has come to light after sixty-eight years of exacting research by myself and my good wife, whose name for the moment escapes me.’

This fact had been concealed, he said, by ‘left-wing historians, primarily based in taxpayer-subsidised universities’.

These evil people had also alleged, he wrote, that the 1950s were ‘boring’, but this was not true. ‘Certainly,’ he reasoned, ‘the era lacked a national theatre, a national cinema, and its television ended with a short sermon before it closed down at 10.30, but it boasted many fiery anti-Communist speeches by my lover B.A. Santamaria and songs like ‘I Like Aeroplane Jelly’ and ‘Let Me Abos Go Loose, Bruce’, only left-wingers’ would find these things boring.’

Menzies favoured free speech, he added, but of course proposed to arrest, imprison and confiscate the property of ‘any Communist who had used it inappropriately.’

‘Menzies…made mistakes,’ he wrote, and put his head in his hands. He sniffled a little, wiped his eyes, and poured himself a third pre-breakfast scotch. On the other side of the vast empty room his wife regarded him coolly.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (81)

John Howard, a Liberal voter, praised Robert Menzies for getting the Domino Theory wrong, and himself for getting the WMD theory wrong, but would not take responsibility for the ruin of eighteen million lives, including a hundred thousand American ones, that followed on his ‘understandable’ mistake in Iraq. ‘With the benefit of 20-20 hindsight,’ he said, as he adjusted his pebble glasses, ‘we would not have shot three of Saddam’s lawyers and hanged twenty-five of his family, pulling the head off one half-brother, sacked all the army and the public service, and shored up for ten years the Shi-ite maniac Maliki whose genocide of Sunnis enflamed the situation into another hundred-year war. But,’ and here he smiled persuasively, ‘you can’t win ‘em all. Buy my book, which proves Menzies’ approval of Hitler was perfectly understandable when seen in context, and, as things turned out, not  all that wrong.’

Air Chief Marshall Biskin, a Liberal voter, criticised ISIL for not ‘moving in groups in the open’ where they could be pulverised by air attack. ‘They are not playing fair,’ he said. Asked if it was fair to be be attacking with air bombardment an enemy without an air force or anti-aircraft guns, he said he ‘couldn’t comment’, lest he be thought to be ‘encouraging the terrorists’ and go to gaol for twenty years. Asked if we could win this war from the air, he said, ‘No. The Iraqi army currently under court-martial for mass desertion, will have to do that on their own. Our job is to hold things up until Iran comes in and with nuclear bombs obliterates Mosul, Assad declares victory and Israel nukes Teheran and we can pull out again with our heads held high and Armageddon ensues.’

Credlin, sounding nervous, said Abbott was wrong in mistaking Hitz-ut-Tahrir for ‘preachers of hate’ on the Alan Jones show yesterday. ‘The term better suits Alan Jones,’ she said, before her husband, Loughnane, roughly shouldered her aside and seized the microphone. ‘Hitz-ut Tahrir are good fellows,’ he proffered, cautiously, ‘who want only to topple Assad; and, of course, thereafter set up if they can a world caliphate enforcing Sharia Law, and this is a purpose….which this government, for the most part, supports. But there are…some legislative difficulties we are working through. And we are undecided as yet as to whether those who turn up at the Friday meeting in Lakemba will get twenty-five years in solitary, or Scott Morrison appears in a fez to offer his comradely support and take selfies.’

Joe Hockey whinged in New York that if Labor really wanted this fool war they should abandon all party policy, accept his cuts and pass his Budget. Told he could save seven billion a year by abandoning the Billionairesses’ Baby Bonus and the vain search in two hemispheres for lost skerricks of Malaysian Airways, he said, ‘But that’s not the point. If this war is worth fighting — and losing, mind you, losing, because of the restrictions we’ve put on it — it should be Labor that sacrifices its policies, its long-held policies, not us. We have policies for so brief a time as a rule, we should be encouraged to hold on to a couple of them for six months, lest we look like a mob of wankers.’

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (80)

Parts of Kobane fell to the ‘death cult’ ISIL, which did some massacring, and our fighter-bombers did nothing about it. ‘We’re waiting for the paperwork,’ Abbott said.

Experts the world over said a fighter-bombers-only strategy was useless. Johnston said our fighter-bombers could turn back in mid-mission when ‘civilians’ were endangered, which was always.

Paul Kelly, a Liberal voter, said in The Australian,’The essential issue remains: does Labor comprehend the extent of its problem?’

With victory for Labour certain in Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia, the ACT and federally, the old fool claimed, and victory one percent away in New South Wales and Western Australia, Labor was clearly in big, big trouble everywhere. Big, big trouble. They would have to rip up the structure and sack the leadership which achieved these near-triumphant figures, the old fool assessed, and the Liberal Party, losing everywhere, should stay exactly the way it is. ‘Failure after failure,’ he said, ‘in war, economic management, national mood and social cohesion, has shown the Liberal Party to be true to its long tradition of serial, blithering incompetence, and this new Middle East war gets my Gold Star. Liberal, Liberal, Liberal, it’s the only way to be.’ He wiped some drool from the left corner of his old, downward-drooping mouth, emailed his copy and poured himself a scotch, and then another.

Morrison was told he might be under arrest soon, not for child abuse, kidnap, unjust imprisonment or piracy but revealing secrets he should not, under the Crimes Act, apparently have revealed. Choosing an odd word, he said that ‘mugs’ were having a lend of him, by persuading many, many children to attempt suicide, something they would not otherwise have done. He implied the guards who had forced some children to have sex with each other while they watched would stay in their present positions wielding nocturnal bullying power till the children changed their stories. His determination that they would serve ninety to a hundred years on Nauru, unemployed, unschooled and unmarried, was, he said, ‘unflinching. Who do they think they are? They could have come in June 2013 and they freely chose to come after August, and they must now face the consequences. Life. Life. For the term of their natural lives.’

Abbott was amazed some anti-Assad people were were being allowed to speak in Lakemba. He asked who let them in and was told, ‘They were born here.’ He became flummoxed and said, ‘Freedom of speech should not extend to people I agree with. Assad is a baddie,’ he explained, ‘and so are his enemies, I’ve made that clear, but anyone who agrees with me publicly on this is a menace to democracy, and should get twenty-five years.’ Astounded that no-one much was listening to him any more, he shouted, ‘There will be legislation, legislation, retrospective legislation that will punish this heinous impertinence, down the track.’ Asked if he would arrest everyone at the meeting, he said, ‘I…ah…I…ah…’

And his interrogator, Alan Jones, said, ‘Gotcha.’

And so concluded another day of the worst government in the history of democracy since that system’s foundation in AD 934 in Iceland.

The October Primates Poem

Behold the war that has no end,
Without good purpose now, or friend,
Whose crucifying maniacs,
With Armageddon at their backs,

Hacking heads and holding high
The latest pale young man to die,
Beseeching that the bombing cease
And there be some brief hour of peace,

Some day of peace since Shock and Awe
Inaugurated endless war
Where humankind first pitched its tent,
Made cities, laws, high art, and so it went.

It seems now barely worth a try
To ask in Babylon’s ruins why
We bomb to smithereens the past,
Museums, temples, built to last,

And blow up pilgrims at their prayers,
And shopping housewives unawares,
Because the way they dress, or live,
Is something we will not forgive,

Behold the war that has no end,
Primates, nor purpose now, nor friend.
Another hundred years will see
It out, but not, not we.

Let’s toast our fighter-bombers now
And ask of them not why but how.
Let’s raise a glass, and not bewail
The growing noise and fire. Wassail.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (79)

Abbott, leaking, let it be known he had Iraq’s permission to kill its children, then found he hadn’t. He told the press the ‘paperwork’ would take a few more days. Asked where he would find the half billion a year to pay for the war on top of the half billion a year for the new Red Alert, he said, ‘Labor’s debt and deficit disaster allows us, happily, a few hollow logs to find the money in.’ Cormann, perspiring, shouted, ‘Ve vill hev to rise texes!’, but Abbott, genially chuckling, said, ‘You’re quoting him out of context.’

Johnston said a ‘red card policy’ let pilots fearful of bombing children and doing twenty years in the slammer might mean very few ‘completed’ bombing raids. There would be none, for sure, around Kobane, where Kurds were being massacred in their ancient homeland, because the ‘paperwork’ in Baghdad wouldn’t let our strike-force go that far north.

XxxxWhite, an expert said the war would be lost without a force as big as D-Day prosecuting it, and making gestures round its edges was worse than useless. ‘We in the West have got to used to the fact that we can’t control what happens in the Middle East,’ he said. Montages on televison showed four American Presidents declaring four different wars on Iraq, to no avail.’This time it’ll be different,’ said Abbott. ‘This time we’re not even trying to win.’

Abbott announced he would spend another half billion on the search for MH 370, a plane wreck whose pieces were now in four oceans and could tell us nothing useful about anything. ‘If we don’t find it by this time next year,’ he added, licking dry lips, ‘we’ll spend another half billion looking for it. And our Budget will be in surplus in, ah, 2017.’ Cormann, beside him, howled like a German Shepherd and covered his face with his hands.

Today’s Morgan

Labor is down to 53 percent after Abbott involved us, with Shorten’s lucid support, in a ‘humanitarian mission’ some call a war in Iraq. Only 49.5 percent of men were voting, or preferring, Labor but 56.5 percent of women. 63.5 percent of 18-24 year-olds favoured Labor, 67.5 percent of 25-34 year-olds, 54.5 percent of 35-49 year-olds, 49 percent of 50-64 year-olds, and only 39.5 percent of those over 65, two of whom died while you were reading this.

These figures mean there will be a 50-50 Newspoll tomorrow, or a 51-49 favouring the Coalition.

Labor is ahead in Tasmania with 65 percent, in Victoria with 57.5 percent, and in Queensland with with 54 percent, and losing by only 50.5 to 49.5 in NSW, which usually means a state Labor win, and the same in WA which means, with Barnett so far behind as preferred Premier, a likely Labor win there too.

It is not certain what the false Newspoll tomorrow will do. It will cause Fran Kelly to rejoice, of course, and conceal the Morgan once more, the way she does, but the question of what will pay for the war may swing the pendulum the other way fairly soon. It is likely the Iraqi parliament will deny our forces a licence to kill, and this will be papereed over for a couple of weeks of ‘protracted negotiation’, but after that all delay will be harmful to the whole war scenario, and lethal to the Billionairesses’ Baby Bonus and the co-payment. So will the multiplying victories of ISIL in Baghdad and on the Turkish border.

And so it will go.

Notes On The Present Emergency (10): Bombs Away…

The Australian humanitarian bombs-away ‘mission’ in Iraq is already unravelling. Pilots refused to bomb civilians yesterday. The parliament would not let Australians help the Kurds, who were being massacred outside Kobane. Abu Ghraib, ‘an outer suburb of Baghdad’, is the hands of ISIL. Barely half the Iraqi army is thought ‘reliable’. They deserted in their tens of thousands in June, and we are there to ‘encourage’ them to go back into battle, go to their deaths defending a government nobody much likes, the US especially, and an army still under the command of corrupt incompetent slimeballs pocketing millions of dollars intended for soldiers who do not exist.

Will they listen to us? Really? We assisted in the torture in Abu Ghraib, the prison, and this is known. We were among the ‘Willing’ who killed 138,000 of their citizenry, half of them children, and this is known. Why would they be ‘encouraged’ by us? Why would they think we were worth listening to? Why would they not simply lie to us, and melt away in the night?

And why would they sign the ‘paperwork’ that is holding up our people on the ground, there to ‘encorage’ and ‘assist’ their cowardly soldiers back into battle-readiness against a growing, fanatical, crucifying juggernaut made up of their pissed-off neighbours and cousins, ‘radicalised’ by recent events? Why would they?

The critical clause in this ‘paperwork’ is a licence to kill — a permission to slaughter by accident even more Iraqi children unpunished — on top of the seventy thousand our side killed, inadvertently killed, after 2003, and the five hundred thousand children we killed, inadvertently killed, during the ‘no-fly’ fiasco of the 1990s. Why would they sign off on that? Ever?

Why would they forgive us? Why would they say, after all these war crimes, ‘Go for it’? Why would they?

Just asking.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (78)

Australian fighter-bombers went on a combat mission, then baulked at bombing anything. They feared they would kill women and children, and went home. This ‘mission’ cost fifty thousand dollars. Elsewhere in Iraq, some Kurds lost a battle for a border town, Kobane. By arrangement with the Iraqi non-government, which hates Kurds, Australia could not help them. Many Kurd refugees fled across the border into Turkey. Morrison, sadly, was not there to send them back. He had road-tested a slogan, ‘Turn back the Kurds’, but it did not do well in most of the Middle East.

S&M continued to employ some guards accused of rape and child molestation on Nauru after sending ten of their wicked accusers into exile on full pay. He spoke in tongues in his Sutherland church after going with Baird to a Lakemba mosque to express his lofty affection for Arabs he knew would burn in Hell, alongside the Maronite Arab Joe Hockey, his rival for leadership in the next decade if he is not by then in gaol for child abuse, and Joe in gaol for accepting bribes and eating corruptly purchased Chinese food in North Sydney. He seemed to some Lakemba Muslims to be of sound mind, to others ‘a little peculiar’.

Abbott announced the search in three oceans for MH 370 would recommence, and another half a billion dollars spent on it in the next year, and every year after that until Doomsday. Though it would provide no clues to anything, and bring no bodies home, and find no Black Box worth listening to, it would cover up for another year or so, he hoped, the bleeding obvious, that Americans in Diego Garcia had shot it down by mistake, as Russians in Donetsk had shot down MH 17 by mistake, and the guilty parties did not want to talk about it.

This and the new Iraq War would add a billion dollars to a Budget already forty-seven billion dollars in deficit, and Cormann said he ‘might harv to poot ep texes’, or double the co-payment perhaps, to pay for it.

The football final occurred, eighty thousand people were not body-searched, and no-one was beheaded at interval, though the High Red Alert continued nationwide and Bronwyn Bishop still proposed to put certain Arab women in an aquarium where they would not be heard blaspheming though her Leader beseeched her not to, and to ‘let common sense prevail’. She bridled, saying ‘Common sense is the last refuge of the scoundrel’, rang off and drank more gin as her plane landed. She went to a conference where she was unwelcome, to her surprise, as a persecutor of Muslims. ‘Only Muslim women, ‘she said in her defence, ‘and only Muslim women who dress like that. Muslim men, in whatever garb, I find rather hunky.’ Cries of ‘Shame!’ and ‘Pernicious woman!’ and ‘Thy mother mated with a camel!’ greeted this not untypical Bronwyn utterance, and small pieces of rolled-up mountain bread were thrown at her.

The price for Morrison’s ads beseeching refugees not to get on boats because Hell awaited them here in Australia went up by sixty-nine million dollars in the next three years, a sum that would keep fifteen small theatres going for a thousand years on the interest alone, but ‘well worth the additional expense,’ Morrison said. ‘Think of the four hundred children who did not drown because of these advertisements, and stayed in Sri Lanka where their uncles died under torture. Rejoice. Rejoice.’

A man employed on Christmas Island to comfort and counsel bereaved refugees went missing and seemed to have suicided. This was the sixth known death attributable to Morrison in a year. Though ‘inciting suicide’ is not a crime, it is frowned upon, as in the case of Dr Nitszke. Morrison kept up a cheery facade as he back-slapped wincing Arabs in Lakemba but was within, some said, praying vigorously.

Let Us Imagine

Let us imagine Stanley Baldwin, broadcasting  on BBC in September 1924, said, ‘We are going back to the trenches in Flanders. We are again at war with Germany. We are going to finish the job.’

Let us imagine Stanley Bruce, broadcasting on ABC in April 1925, said’ ‘We are going back to Gallipoli. And this time we’ll get it right.’

Let us imagine Robert Menzies, broadcasting to the nation in December 1951, said, ‘We are going back to Kokoda. We have unfinished business there. All men over eighteen will be selectively conscripted for this new battle against the Yellow Peril which I am advised will take ten years.’

Let us imagine Malcolm Fraser in January 1977 said on the new broadcast entity SBS, ‘War in Vietnam has recommenced. The next Birthday Ballot will be on Australia Day. As always, Australia will be there.’

It is reasonable to hazard a guess that none of these broadcasts would be popularly received, and none of these Prime Ministers would gain votes by making them.

Yet Tony Abbott thinks, eleven years after our first fool invasion of Iraq, the one about ‘regime change’ and the spectral, ever-receding WMD, we will be glad to go back in again, bombing from a great height what we hope will be the bad guys, and killing only a ‘minimum’ of women and children. And for every one of our guys they ‘behead’, we will bomb more women and children. That’s what we’ll do. And we’re doing it only in Iraq. If the bad guys flee to Syria, we let them go.

Is this a good idea politically? To go back to a country we have smashed, and smash it up some more? Imagining we will be welcome there?

After the first Australian death there, will Abbott’s vote go up or down? Or after the first Australian beheaded? Will his vote go up or down?

The critical word in this hypothesis is ‘Iraq’. It is known that we did not do well there, ‘training’ and ‘encouraging’ men who turned into ISIL. Some we put in Abu Ghraib. All we killed some cousins of. Some we killed the brothers of. Ten million we traumatised. Maybe fifteen million. We are now keen to turn Sunni against Sunni, in support of the Shi-ites who for ten years have been killing and impoverishing Sunnis, and blowing up their mosques. We think this is a good idea. We think it is good policy. We even think it is possible.

Will Abbott gain votes by doing this? It may be this weekend he will. But by next weekend, when the first bomber strike has not yet occurred, he will be haemorrhaging support.

For the fact is, there will be no permission for him to bomb anything. The Iraqi parliament will not invite him to do so. There will never be a Minister of Defence in the current Iraqi parliament. The Shi-ites will not trust a Sunni, and the Sunnis will not trust a Shi-ite. These two groups have been killing each other for a thousand years. The Prime Minister does not want Saudi ‘boots on the ground’, because Saudis are Sunnis, in Baghdad, and the Sunnis, whose Lord Protector Saddam Hussein we helped hang, does not want us anywhere near them.

58 percent of women already detest Abbott’s wild, cruel government, with its minimum of women and its punishing, paranoid rhetoric. This will be up to 62 percent by next weekend. And the 63 percent of men he will need to win will not be there.

‘Let’s go back to Vietnam and finish the job!’ is not a slogan Howard used. It would have been unpopular. Abbott saying, ‘They’ve declared war on the world, and we’re declaring Mission on them,’ an idiotic statement, will not be popular either.

And so it goes.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (77)

Abbott, who had once described himself as ‘the love child of John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop’, found himself in an oedipal ruckus with Bronwyn, much like, some scholars murmured, the Hamlet-Gertrude bedroom scene in Shakespeare’s play. He wanted her to change her ways, and she believed he was mad. Women in burqas, she insisted, nay, she knew, might someday shout from the Gallery in Arabic something unknown, their faces unseen, and this was insupportable, intolerable, near blasphemous, and not to be bourne in her august domain, and on this, as on many, many other things, young man, the lady was ‘not for turning’. Abbott, weeping, screamed that he had lost a quarter of a million female votes in three days, three days, Bronwyn, and attacked the furniture, and then mistakenly stabbed Morrison when he heard him speaking in tongues behind the arras. His last words, ‘Save…the…children’, were unintelligible to his leader.

His fighter-bombers, meanwhile, failed to take off and bomb the shit out of ISIL as the Chicken-Little-in-Chief had promised a day before. This was because, he claimed, ‘Iraq is on a holiday’, but the truth of it was that its government lacked a Minister for Defence to sign the agreement to let Australians bomb his country and kill Iraqis, an unwise document to sign. They couldn’t get a Minister for Defence because any nominee feared his children would be kidnapped and after torture serially beheaded. They would never get a Minister for Defence, probably. And Abbott waited for one, doing one-armed pushups while he waited.

Experts, meanwhile, said the bombing would do no good at all. The US had dropped more bombs on Hanoi than all the bombs dropped on Europe in World War 2 and still lost Vietnam. What was needed was two million boots-on-the-ground swarming all over Mesopotamia as in the days of Cyrus, King in Babylon. And where were they to come from? Where?

The difficulty, other experts thought, was the word ‘Iraq’. It was lines drawn on the map by Churchill and Lawrence of Arabia one drunken afternoon and meant nothing to the various Kurds, Allawites, Sunnis, Sufis, Ba’hai, Shi-ites, Maronites, Copts, Marsh Arabs and Mormons who clustered together, shooting intruders, in various groupings in various parts of the country. And the ‘Iraqi’ army had run away in their tens of thousands from advancing ISILs in a panic only three months ago, and had been court-martialled and forgiven. These, Abbott said, we would have to ‘train’ and ‘encourage to go back and fight’ against a superior, fanatical, motivated force likely to crucify the lot of them on the Road to Damascus after a short battle stuffed up by Angus Houston, or bury them alive on television.

No wonder there was no Minister for Defence. But Abbott was waiting, patiently, doing push-ups, to hear from one. And waiting to hear from Bronwyn too.

Gerard Henderson, a Liberal voter, said Numan Haider had got a ‘fair go’ when he was shot in the head two weeks ago, and Tim Soutphammasane should not complain about this, as it would encourage a ‘victim mentality’ in Muslims. A shot to the brain was, after all, the usual penalty for criminal accountants in China, Gerard went on, a country nobody found unjust, apart from a few ragged whingeing lefties in Hong Kong who would be shot in the head also soon, and rightly so.

That the boy was seventeen, and deprived of a wife by Morrison, and killed nobody, and could have been shot somewhere else, did not constitute an ‘unfair go’, in Gerard’s view. Nor did the recent threats to his grieving family. An Australian ‘fair go’ had a wider meaning.

It meant, for instance, that no-one could wear a burqa, lest he be a man concealing weapons — as could, indeed, a man dressed as Goofy in Disneyland, or Archbishop Mannix, a sympathiser with the IRA, who might under his vast red garment have been wearing a suicide belt. All these costumes should be banned, Gerard concluded, and falsies also, big enough, in some cases, for a hand grenade, and the Australian ‘fair go’ thus protected from those heathens who daily sought to blow it up.

He felt, however, no nun should be strip-searched when entering Parliament House. That seemed wrong to him somehow. He couldn’t say why. Perhaps he was going mad.

In Twenty-Six Words

Morrison has removed ten Save the Children aid workers from Nauru.

He has left the guards accused of rape and child abuse in place.

Oh boy.

The Madness Of Scott Morrison (11)

Several things might be said about Scott Morrison’s press conference this morning. One is that he looked a little tense. Another is that content of what he said was crazy.

Malign carers from Save The Children, he said, had persuaded scores of children to attempt, or pretend to attempt, suicide. They had further persuaded a number of women to say that certain guards had made them strip in front of them, and suck them off, in order to be allowed to use the shower, and had made certain children have sex with each other while they watched.

By these means, he said, these ‘politicised’ bastards had got some injured or traumatised children to hospital on the mainland. Three suicide attempts last week were ‘nothing to do’ with his, Morrison’s, announcement that they would ‘never see Australia’, but spend seventy years on Nauru. Nothing to do with that at all. What it was caused by was ‘bad stories’ told about him by these provocateurs.

This means, or implies, that all the reports from dozens of witnesses of Nauru being a kind of hell, especially for children, were fabrications too, and the suicide attempts, or the ‘self-harm’, were nothing to do with Morrison’s proposal to imprison children for life without adequate education or someone to marry, but more a mutinous attempt to ‘undermine’ him.

The ten accused Save The Children aid workers have been stood down, on full pay, and made to leave the island. All of the alleged abusers of children and women will continue, I imagine, on full pay, to harass and threaten their victims unimpeded. This is the way Morrison usually reacts: with disbelief, bluster, yelling, blame-shifting, hyper-denial, a bit like his fellow-Christian Rudd in the small hours of the morning. In his mind there is no connection, no dot-joining between his bullying and their depression, their prison riots and his bombastic pronunciamentoes, his refusal to give them an inch of happiness, not even the children, and their attempted suicides.

A simple Senate inquiry into his sanity, or even the rumour of one, would bring him down. He is hanging by a thread. He is guilty, in plain sight, of child-abuse, and cyber-bullying, and the covering-up of a murder, and so it goes.

If ever there was an emperor with no clothes, it is he.

Notes On The Present Emergency (7): Please Adjust Your Dress Before Leaving

It’s worth noting what the ‘burqa’ dispute, in the present context, means to the average voter.

The present context is a ‘red alert’ on suspected terrorists, men who might behead Peter Hartcher live on Sixty Minutes because they detest our freedom and happiness, or blow up St Mary’s Cathedral because of the ‘graven images’ within.

In pursuit of this ‘red alert’, however, no trains have been searched, and fifty million train journeys allowed to continue unhindered. Two football finals have occurred, but no explosion among the celebrities attending, or among the nation’s leaders.  The nation’s leaders have gone to operas, ballets, musicals, art galleries, commemorations, funerals, unharassed by ‘Security’.

And now we are told that women dressed in a particular way should not be allowed into the gallery of the Parliament, not because their vaginas contain lethal weapons, but because they might say something, in English, that might offend or inconvenience Madam Speaker. The ‘red alert’ requires they be sealed off, like wives in a hareem, like their oppressed female ancestors in The Arabian Nights, and not let speak, Madam Speaker has decided, lest they shout at her something improper, like their notorious fellow Arabian Bob Katter. And that is all she fears. But it is enough.

And it raises, does it not, in the ‘red alert’ context, and the context of new laws gaoling journalists for ten years for speaking up inappropriately or out of turn, it raises the question, ‘Do these dumb fuckers know what they’re doing?’

Bronwyn Bishop, especially, who throws out Labor people by the score for every Liberal, is thought a furious nutter on the first foothills of senility by many seasoned observers. Does she know what she’s doing?

And, if she doesn’t know what she’s doing, and she well may not, and she’s got this wrong, how wrong are the other precautions against terrorism?

No-one has died from a terrorist act in Australia since January, 1915, at the Battle of Broken Hill. And we are on ‘red alert’ now. Higher than we were after 9/11. Really?

And if this mob, as it now seems, don’t know what they’re doing, why are we, without debate, following them into a war? A ten year war?

It’s a serious question. The polls will show in the next few days how serious it is.

I predict that Labor, 2PP, will be on 59 by November 5 in Morgan, the only accurate poll.

And we will see what we shall see.

Recommended Reading

Paul Sheehan in the smh yesterday showed conscience, a quality some thought he had discarded, in a piece about the Muslims he knew.

Walid Aly was superb this morning, as always, in the smh, and Phillip Coorey very good in the afr.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (76)

Asked if children had been sexually abused on Nauru, S&M replied, ‘A man called Moss will let me know by Christmas.’ Asked if any suspects had been arrested, he said, ‘Of course not. They have their work to do, controlling disobedient children.’

Asked if he thought there was any truth in the allegations, he said, ‘Who can know? It may be that eighty-eight children have been coached in their evidence by a malign provider of services, funded by the taxpayer, and he, by heaven, will be punished within an inch of his life.’ Asked if he knew who was, he said, ‘Of course not. But Moss will tell me by Christmas. And, if he has not been sent to Cambodia by then, in an orange boat that may be lucklessly lost at sea, we will deal with him severely, and every journalist he talks to, who will get ten years.’ He was immediately hailed by Fran Kelly as ‘Tony Abbott’s most successful Minister, and a future Prime Minister for sure.’ She then confided that the guilty party, in this case, was a little known mob of dissident militants called ‘Save the Children’.

Abbott tried to tell Bronwyn Bishop not to lock up Muslim women in a soundless aquarium at the back of the chamber as this might cause war with Indonesia, but she didn’t return his calls. Fran Kelly acclaimed him for ‘stepping in decisively’, the way she does. Another million women considered not voting for him, bringing that number to 67 percent.

To divert attention, Abbott declared war, or not war, exactly, a mission, an aerial intervention, on an ‘apocalyptic death cult’ he refused to name. ‘It’s a death cult,’ he said, ‘it doesn’t deserve a name.’

Bronwyn Bishop locked herself in her room and drank gin. Morrison said he was amazed that ninety-five children had ‘obediently committed self-harm’ because this bad, bad man from Save the Children had told them to. Asked who he was, he said, ‘I have no idea. But Moss will tell me. Yes, Moss will tell me. Moss will tell me by Christmas. It all depends on Moss.’ He flagellated himself, the way he does, prayed in tongues, and had a vegetarian breakfast.

Asked why two hundred children had attempted, or thought of, suicide on his watch, he said ‘Save The Children are very persuasive. They are now, according the information I have, a Death Cult, and I am seriously considering renegotiating their Nauru contract in the light of this new information. It is taxpayers’ money after all, and it would be wrong to waste it on the vile Satanic practices of a Death Cult among piles of birdshit by moonlight instructing four-year-olds in methods of self-slaughter. But I will take Moss’s advice on this. I will do what Moss advises, good old Moss. I will announce his recommendations, perhaps, during the Queen’s Message on Christmas Day.’

Abbott called a ‘limited humanitarian bombing to shit of a Death Cult and its women and children, with the women and children regrettable’ when he announced at noon a non-war not with Iraq but in defence of Iraq or rather a cobbled-together simulacrum of an Iraqi government which didn’t have, and never would have, a Minister of Defence or an army that wouldn’t run away from battle as they did in their tens of thousands three months ago. They had been ‘forgiven’ for this, the non-Minister of Defence had assured him, and he was certain they would now all risk crucifixion and beheading, or ‘forced conversion’ by advancing fanatical former torturees of Abu Ghraib already occupying land the size of Britain and winning battles every day.

Though it was the size of Britain, Abbott, niggling, said, it was not a country — Monaco is a country and it is the size of Taronga Park Zoo — but an ‘idea in the mind’, that could not be defeated but ‘degraded’ by bombing it to shit, and its adjacent women and children. Asked how long this non-victory over an idea in the mind would take to not achieve, he said ‘A piece of string’. Asked what Christmas the boys would be home, he said, ‘Sometime this century.’

He thus kept S&M out of the major headlines, and the burqa, and the Bronwyn, and the Budget that was twenty billion dollars more in deficit than the Swan/Bowen one. ‘Watch the fireworks, boys,’ he grinned. ‘Watch the fireworks.’

A Prediction

Bronwyn Bishop, who supported Apartheid, may not back down on the burqa as quickly as Abbott wants. Nor will she resign as readily as the nation might hope when her Leader asks her to. She may take the view that she is accountable only to Parliament and hold her position, amid widening derision, until it sits.

This will bring into question all of Brandis’s ‘national security’ legislation, especially that part which imprisons for ten years journalists who, like Andrew Wilkie, reveal government stupidity. Stupidity as stupid as this.

Is Abbott himself now in trouble? I think he is. He is taking us into a war of which he allowed no parliamentary discussion. He spoke of ‘Team Australia’ yet allowed a ‘sin bin’ as ludicrous as this, and he may not be able to cancel it until Parliament overthrows his defiant, unfair, tyrannous, some would say ratbag Speaker. His competence, always in question (Costello predicted he would be a disaster), is now shown to be, well, further in question. He dare not move his ministry round, so low is his support in Cabinet. And he can’t get his Budget through.

He may limp on till December 1, but then, when Daniel Andrews’ huge majority is known, he may have to consider his position; and Malcolm Turnbull his.

And so it will go.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (75)

‘We will spend, gladly, five hundred million dollars,’ Julie Bishop said, ‘on bombing the shit out of ISIL, if we can find them, not in Syria of course but in Iraq, once we establish its borders, and only when its Prime Minister asks us to, which he hasn’t yet, he doesn’t trust us, why should he, we can’t get a corpse to a funeral, but not a penny on getting Ebola sufferers out of harm’s way, or helping Australian health workers mitigate this new Black Plague, not a penny. It’s a waste of money. Not a penny. And we don’t have a plane big enough.’ Asked if we might borrow one, from, say, Alan Joyce, she said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous. Qantas stewards are already infectious enough. My little joke.’ Peter Hartcher laughed immoderately, and meekly raising his yellow-stockinged knee, blew silent kisses in her direction. She smiled at him broadly, and looked away revolted.

Abbott said he didn’t agree with Cory Bernardi that nuns should enter parliament topless after full body searches, but he did agree burqas were ‘confronting’. ‘I’m a guy,’ he said, ‘and I like to see what I’m getting. If she looks like, well, Peta, fine, I can… work with that. But if she looks like, well, ah, Bronwyn Bishop, she’s scarcely worth the price of admission, I mean the time of day.’ Urgently advised by ninety-eight spin doctors to rapidly amend what he had just said, he murmured shiftily, ‘I don’t mean to imply that women can’t wear what they like, but the way I see it,’ and here he winked, ‘the less the better.’

Moves began to replace him as Prime Minister. Bishop, Turnbull and Hockey — a ‘proud Palestinian’ — said he could have expressed the thought better, or had another one. ‘But, but…he has these…”truth-burps”, Malcolm explained, ‘due, I think, to his massive boxing injuries when we were both up at Oxford, and I took a First, and he, ah, didn’t. He means well. Or he used to. But every now and then he just..stares at you, and nods, you know? and goes vague on reality, for twenty minutes or more. He’s a great leader. Or he was, he really was, when he had all his marbles. And a good friend. Ah yes. Ah yes. A good friend. What were we talking about?’

Nikki Savva, a Liberal voter, said Julie Bishop would be Prime Minister when Abbott ‘fell off his bike’, the sooner the better. She was ‘all muscle,’ Savva purred, ‘formidable, funny, pointed’, whose ‘words were missiles’, some of them anti-Abbott, and whose recent ‘full-frontal assault’ on the fascist bibble-babbling Shirelive empire-builder Morrison ensured, ho ho, that he would not now become, not on her watch, ‘a kind of one-man CIA’. She was ‘half his weight’, the Mrs Danvers of the Press Gallery adoringly continued in her famous husky amorous baritone, and added, quoting Peter Costello, ‘this was one Bishop who would make it to the top.’.

The other Bishop, Bronwyn, decreed that Muslim women would be silenced behind glass if they dared come to Parliament House, in a kind of aquarium thronged with noisy mocking children. ‘They might interrupt proceedings,’ the Australian Federation’s Norma Desmond explained, ‘with vile Koranic curses I, for one, do not wish to hear.’

Told this was a kind of ‘Muslim Apartheid,’ she said, ‘I should hope so. I supported Apartheid, and called for the hanging of Mandela, and it is my greatest regret that I did not then have the power to so punish a terrorist of that malignancy. I do now, by God, I do now, and his heirs and successors — in black beards, turbans, burqas and hoodies — had better fucking watch it. I am the second highest official in the land, and I have been walking with Destiny, and EVERYBODY had better fucking watch it.’ She sipped gin, and looked around the Chamber vigilantly, hoping to recognise a face.

And so concluded another day of the worst free-elected government in Democracy’s history, since that system’s foundation in 934 AD, in Iceland.

Breaking News

Alabadi wants no ‘boots on the ground’ from other Arab countries, or from the US, or the EU, or anywhere else. He especially doesn’t want Sunnis, from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, armed and uniformed, in his country.

This means his side cannot win, and we shouldn’t be there. It means the Shi-ite war on the Sunnis waged by al-Maliki and his corrupt, incompetent generals (many were paying themselves the wages of privates who didn’t exist) for ten years is bound to be lost now, lost decisively, and the best we can do is take in a lot of Shi-ite refugees, millions of them, plus those ‘moderate’ Sunnis that can’t cop the new feral fundamentalism crucifying its way south and already jeering on the outskirts, we are told, of Baghdad.

It cannot be won without boots on the ground. The Shi-ite army have no appetite for battle. And ‘Iraq’ (a western concept, nothing to with local realities) has been destroyed.

And so it goes.

Today’s Morgan

It’s not that great, but it’s the high water mark, probably, of War Leader Abbott and the Brandis attempt, successful so far, to end our democracy altogether.

Labor is on 54 in Victoria, and would win/will win comfortably there in November. In other states, however, it’s not as clear as that.

In Western Australia, where McGowan leads Barnett by 59.5 to 40.5, Labor loses with 47.5. In New South Wales, where Baird leads Robbo by 70.5 to 29.5, Labor is on 47, but can win (because of the Liberal votes locked up in Sydney’s northern suburbs) with 48, and might get there as the ICAC scandals proliferate.

In Queensland, where Newman and Palaszczuk are 50-50, the LNP is on 51 and Labor 49. But Palmer is on 6.5, Katter on 2.5 and Independents on 4.5, so it could end up with a Katter-Palmer-Labor-Independent coalition in government, narrowly (as Beattie did in 1997), or, more likely, Labor picking up 1.5 percent in the campaign; especially after the Senate exposes, or implies, criminality in the government and Newman refuses to turn up and give evidence.

In Tasmania, surprisingly, Hodgman leads Green by 63 to 37, but Labor, on 53.5 would NOT win, or would not win outright, because of the Hare-Clark system, and might have to seek, again, uncomfortably, a coalition with the Greens.

In South Australia where Marshall, amazingly, leads Weatherill 50.5 to 49.5, Liberal and Labor are on the same margins, 50.5 to 49.5, two party preferred. But it’s a state where entrenched Independents usually decide who rules. And Labor, which formed government with Independent help in March, has 2.5 percent more now than it did then, six months ago, and Abbott, in a broken promise, is threatening the submarine building industry after destroying, needlessly, the car industry and a former Liberal leader, Martin Hamilton-Smith, is in Labor’s cabinet.

These figures are real. The sample is 6,233 and mobile phones as well as emails and landlines are rung and contacted. And 2PP means less than it did, with PUP in the picture, and able with a celebrity candidate and lavished Palmer money to take out the odd seat in Queensland, NT and WA, if not elsewhere.

Labor’s primary vote is 32.5 in NSW, 35.5 in Queensland, 31.5 in WA, 35.5 in SA, and 33.5 in Tasmania, which gives the Greens (12, 18, 9, 14, 10, 19.5 respectively) the whip hand in policy, and means, or means lately, this war will be pivotal in how things go.

Two Australian casualties in the war would increase the Green vote everywhere by 2 percent and deliver Labor, probably, government everywhere.

And so it goes.

The Tolling Of The Bell

It became clear today that the Liberals now realise they are gone for all money.

The Clive move to go after Newman in the Senate means that uppity sarmajor will not now hold his seat, nor will his party hold power after April, and some combination of Labor, Katter and PUP will, if not Labor in its own right.

The lost Liberal seats in the Central Coast will panic Baird, already sweating on the ICAC decimation of his MPs, and Abbott, who himself will be implicated by ICAC soon.

Victoria, moreover, is gone for all money, and the Labor majority there, in double figures, will panic Liberals all over the country.

Martin Hamilton-Smith’s defection to Labor means the Liberals will never again hold power in South Australia.

The Liberals are now ten percent behind in Tasmania, and bleeding heavily support that is going, in some part, to what might be called The Jacqui Lambie Tendency.

The important thing is not that they are, as they have been for some time, in deep, deep trouble. What is important is that they now realise it.

The Senate Inquiry into Queensland will be, like the Thomson and Slipper investigations, a long-running thriller that will haemorrhage, day by day, the yapping sarmajor’s credibility and everyone, like Brandis, who speaks up for it.

The Budget will not get through, the War will soon go wrong, and the Governor-General may, just may, agree with the Senate that an election is needed.

And so it will go.

In Four Words

Earn what?

Learn what?

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (74)

Abbott proposed a thousand year war in Iraq without a debate in parliament. Though ‘unwinnable’, experts said, without six hundred thousand Christian ‘boots on the ground’ and a definition of ‘winning’, and though he didn’t propose to go anywhere near the enemy, he thought it, at a cost of eighty billion, ‘worth a try’.

His wild illegal crusading derangement echoed, some said, Menzies’ illegal declarations of war in 1939, on Germany, in 1956 on Egypt and in 1965 on North Vietnam and Howard’s illegal war on Iraq in 2003. ‘This time in Iraq, it’ll be legal,’ Abbott rejoiced. ‘But…because no enemy state exists, or it doesn’t in my view, we are declaring war, without debate, on a religion — on an apocalyptic death cult, in fact, oh boy, oh boy, be still, my heart — and reconquering thereby ground won by Richard the Lion Heart from the Saracen infidel in April, 1196. We are so keen to do this, we are so keen to do this, we are so keen to do this, we will even ally ourselves with Protestants, who, after the victory, the certain victory, in 2025, I confidently here affirm, will burn a billion years in Hell.’

‘He is not well in his mind,’ his giant Nubian body-servant Credlin signalled in sign language to her husband Loughnane, who ran the Liberal Party, as he watched from the Gallery shuddering. Looking up at him, Turnbull raised a single thumb, and winked.

‘I am calling this battle,’ Abbott grinned at the House, ‘Armageddon!’ Beside him, Julie Bishop put her face in her hands.

Kathy Jackson, a Liberal voter, was shown to have thieved from her union six hundred thousand dollars, or a hundred times the amount for which her colleague Craig Thomson was ruined by her, and by Pyne and Abbott who ran from the chamber to avoid the stench of his corruption. ‘There must be some mistake,’ she is said to have said, ‘and my years in a lunatic asylum have nothing to do with this. Many, many Liberal voters have been in straitjackets also. It comes with the territory.’

A wild-eyed foam-flecked candidate for such confinement, Scott Morrison, was revealed to have sent back to Sri Lanka men and women who were orally and anally raped, though not always gang-raped, by sobbing survivors of this ‘successful policy’. ‘It’s a policy that worked,’ claimed S&M, beaming jovially. ‘By these means we ensured that many, many children did not drown, but stayed home to be gang-raped by those unpunished war criminals of Sri Lanka whom I am proud to call my partners in twenty-first century diplomacy.’ Told that gang rape was a breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, he said, ‘But these are heathens, and they don’t count.’ Told that in the UN’s view Muslims also count, he said, ‘Well, that’s the first I’ve heard of it.’

Clive Palmer, a creative politician, connived with Wong and the Greens what amounted to a Royal Commission into his enemy Newman and thus ensured that uppity sarmajor’s defeat and his party’s extinction. Brandis howled that this was unfair. Himself a Queenslander, he declared that in that state ‘corruption is a given’ and since the days of the Blackbirders enslavement a ‘common aspiration’, and bigotry a ‘habit of mind that I, for one, am proud of’. Palmer and Labor, realising they would be together runnning Queensland by May next year, then swore as blood brothers to do the same thing to New South Wales, bringing Abbott and Hockey before the Senate to explain those expensive Chinese lunches, and who sent the Grange and who forged the letter that brought down the blameless O’Farrell, and how much $inidino$ was to be paid by the Sewage Lobby, and so on, right up till the election of March 24.

And so concluded another day of the worst government yet known in the history in the democratic tradition, founded in Iceland in AD 924.

The Real Julia

Fidler’s superb rapid conversation with Gillard revealed, at last, what the problem was. The lively, smart, disarming, attractive, collegiate woman, familiar from when she was a Beazley shadow minister — and when she talked to schoolgirls on Q&A — did not allow herself, she said, to seem female, shy and scatty in a ‘man’s job’ and confected a stately dignified portentous persona that wasn’t her, and didn’t work.

It was interesting how fast she talked to Fidler, and how slowly to the nation. It turned out, I think, that it was the pace, not the voice, that mattered. A Gillard vowel at a normal speed was…acceptable; prolonged, it was agony.

And the slow pace, as Fidler noted, seemed ‘stilted and false’. It also seemed as if she was lying. And this was almost the whole trouble with her. She halved her intelligence and abolished her charm by the pace at which, as Mother of the Nation, she chose to speak.

It is not wise to speak slowly. With their gorgeous baritones Kamahl, Gusmao, Netanyahu, Gordon Brown, can get away with it. Carr, with a good voice, and a famously durable one, chooses to speak really fast, and so, with similar vocal equipment, does Barack Obama. The rapidity of George W Bush’s utterance kept him in power. The slowness of Al Gore’s kept him out of power. John Gielgud, whom I play a lot lately, spoke very rapidly and so did Richard Burton, Paul Scofield, Michael Redgrave. JFK did too with careful, spaced small pauses. LBJ spoke very slowly and everybody hated him.

These things should be made known to working politicians. Many, not all, need help.

I am available at a modest price to give the dunces lessons that may, or may not, assist their current flagging trajectories upward, into the outer suburbs of glory.

And so it goes.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (73)

Four million train journeys traversed Australia unpoliced; thirty-eight million in the last seven days, unpoliced. Football finals occurred. No halfbacks were seized and beheaded live on Sixty Minutes. Lisa McCune sang Hello, Young Lovers to nine thronged Opera House audiences, unpoliced.

And no Australian died from terrorism, anywhere on our soil. More Australians died from one-punch attacks in Kings Cross in the past five months than from terrorism in Australian cities in the past ninety-nine and a half years. More died in that near-century from spider-bite; from slipping on soap in the shower; from death by misplaced dildo; by fast bowling in beach cricket; by crocodile, stingray, bushfire, pecking magpie and infarct while enduring fellatio. Tens of millions of dollars were spent nonetheless on invading in predawn helicopter-thumping raids a single pimpled suburban youth unguilty of any crime in any jurisdiction. ‘We are rooting the terrorists out,’ Abbott proclaimed,’ ‘wherever they are hiding, and killing, by Christ — on suspicion — those who look sideways at us over full black beards. This is the Liberal way. It is criminals we are after, not Muslims, however much they look like each other. Shoot first, investigate later. If he looks like a Muslim, you never know. This is the Liberal way.’

A Senate committee chaired by a Liberal found the Liberal policy of starving for six months under-thirty-year-olds who do not accept jobs as whores and slaughterhouse workers ‘contrary to their civil rights, and their human rights, as defined by the United Nations.’ Abbott, cackling, riposted in the House, ‘We don’t belong to the United Nations, except when we agree with what they are proposing, which is almost, Madam Speaker, ha ha, never.’

He was acclaimed by PVO, whose fool idea this was. ‘We don’t need the United Nations,’ the Choirboy grinned, ‘when we have the guidance of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, my birth religion, which has all the answers. Let me read some precepts to you.’ Abbott, a Catholic, tersely replied he would go to Hell, and fisticuffs were threatened, then postponed, and interfaith prayers essayed, which Andrews, a meek sadomasochistic Presbyterian, sombrely joined. Morrison entered speaking in tongues and a theological ruckus ensued which big Maori security men concluded with nightsticks and Rugby tackles, and then, after toasts in Morrison’s Cambodian champagne and broken glasses, performed a haka, which Abbott’s giant Nubian body-servant Credlin ‘much enjoyed’, she said, while cradling her punch-drunk employer’s bleeding unconscious head, the way she did fairly frequently these days, and clapping along.

Abbott, regaining consciousness, returned to the House and swore he would hunt down and persecute not only terrorists but those who gave them aid and comfort and financial support, with new menacing laws that would be, by God, retrospective. Asked if this included the notorious torturers of Abu Ghraib, whose methods ‘terrorised’ a billion Arabs, Iranians and European Christians, and their influential supporters Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney, he said, ‘That wasn’t torture, that was “enhanced interrogation”. I get worse from Credlin every Friday midnight, by appointment. She’s a big strong girl.’

He then proposed to give posthumously five million dollars to the four young men Rudd had with roof-batts deliberately killed. This ensured that Bernie Banton’s relatives and wheezing fellow-sufferers would ask a similar sum. The which annoyed more than somewhat Julie Bishop, aka PMT, or Princess Mesothelioma, who had argued in court for ten years they should get nothing, nothing at all, till James Hardie relocated their moral obligations to the Dukedom of Thule, well out of the reach of debt collectors. ‘It’s a tactic,’ she fumed to Peter Hartcher, ignoring his yellow stockings. ‘He’s keeping me out of the leadership by accusing me of complicity in the cover-up of a quarter of a million agonised, blood-coughing, prolonged, unendurable deaths. It’s not even half that number. Not even half. I’ll fix his wagon. I’ll fix his wagon.’

‘Darling,’ murmured Malvolio, besotted by her gorgon stare. ‘Is there anything I can do to…assist you? In the smallest way?’

She looked at him with revulsion, but kept smiling. ‘There is something,’ she said, appending a warm shimmer to her frozen smile.

Now read on.

Certain Housekeeping Matters (132)

No-one calls themselves ‘Balmain Trendy’.

Banned for life.

Certain Housekeeping Matters (131)

Salty Sea Dog is a ‘concern troll’ and banned for life.

Today’s Newspoll

Murdoch has demanded one of his ‘funnily enough’ Newspolls, and O’Shannessy in fawning obedience fabricated the pro-LNP figures.

Though Campbell Newman would lose his seat, he says, his new party the LNP would get 54 percent of the vote. Eighty thousand people have changed their minds, he says, in the last week or so and think his party a better thing than he is. Of course they do.

The poll was done by interviewing 1132 people on landlines over three months, 280, probably, at a time — an always inaccurate sample — of those at home to take the call; octogenarians, mostly, or the terminally sick. No PUP voters are listed, though ‘Others’ and Katter attract a quarter of a million more votes than they did in 2012. These have been redistributed, mostly, to Newman, whom Palmer and Katter detest, and have said so.

The poll, of course, of course, and this is not news, is a criminal fraud, and I ask Premier Palaszczuk to charge him with it after her election on April 18.

A fair indication of when Newspoll is lying is when it’s on page 2, the least read and least accessible page of the paper.

If the figures were true, and landline people voting the same way as cellphone people in a climate, Queensland’s, where everybody under fifty is mostly out of doors, the PUP and Katter preferences, now probably favouring Labor by 70 percent, would still put Labor on 51 percent, not 46, as they are now, ‘based on the preference flow in March 2012 state election’, before Newman and Abbott showed their bloodied fangs. But, of course, the actual Labor vote is — probably — 37 and the two-party-preferred vote 56, a wipeout for the LNP, and a Big Lie is needed to conceal this, lest the swing in Stafford of 18.4 percent become in the public mind what is now thought normal by those people, old and middle-aged, who for fifteen years voted Beattie and Bligh Labor.

If the poll were honest, there would be a Palmer figure in it, of 16 or 17 percent (the actual figure is 20 or 21); but this, of course, would give Clive publicity, momentum, stature, profile and moral force. If it were honest it would not show 24 percent ‘uncommitted’ on who the Premier should be. Is anyone ‘uncommitted’ on Campbell Newman? Any Queensland-bred human now living? Give me a break.

Fraud, fraud, fraud. And gaol, gaol, gaol for O’Shannessy.

Or perhaps you disagree.

Propaganda Studies (9): The ISIL Moment

It is worth asking why the ISIL/homegrown terror scare with which Abbott sought to restore his fortunes has lately, quickly, shrivelled away to nearly nothing.

It is due, in part, I think, to the New York Subway terrorist scare that was put about by the Iraqis and swiftly proved to be nonsense. It was due in part to the football finals, from which no famous quarterback was seized at half-time and beheaded live on Sixty Minutes. It was due in part to the advances on the Turkish border that showed the ISIL army not being ‘beaten back’, nor ‘degraded’, nor deterred by the  bombing, and the expert advice that a boots-on-the-ground force of maybe two hundred thousand might, in ten years, make some difference before we once more pulled out and lost, once more, a region in which we are, after Abu Ghraib, despised. It is due in part to thirty-eight million train journeys in Australia in the last week that were unpoliced.

But mostly, I think, it was due to the first skirmish of this war, in a carpark in Endeavour Hill, being so ordinary, dull, sad, and so…unscary.

A young man was unsettled by something a policeman said to him, and lashed out with a knife, and was killed. He was not frisked for the knife. He was not known to have plotted anything much, except the unfurling of a flag in a mall, and the getting of a bride from Afghanistan where his uncle, a martyr, had been lately killed by the Taliban, and where Morrison would not let him go; for a bride or anything else. He was not thought to be dangerous; and he died.

He was employed, a TAFE student, and seventeen. And he didn’t fit the model of a terrorist at all. Just a kid who had toyed, for a moment, with a big brave cause, in the way adolescents do.

And they couldn’t pretend, not even for a minute, they had thwarted a ‘grand plan’. They couldn’t find a group he belonged to, a cell, a conspiracy. Or any evidence, thus far, that he didn’t react in a kind of instinctive, animal self-defence, to a raised voice, or an ill-phrased threat, or a drawn gun, or a fired one.

They didn’t question anyone at his funeral. They didn’t arrest his parents or siblings. The wounded policemen said they felt sorry for him. And they were sorry they killed him.

And so it dwindled away to an ‘incident’, and, worse, a ‘tragic incident’.

And the fear… flagged. And the question now, as in New York, is what all the fuss was about. And why the fuck we are fighting, in Iraq, again in Iraq, another unwinnable twenty-year war that cannot without soldiers, and trillions, be effectively fought against an army that soon will have the equipment to bomb the Vatican, and the Louvre, and Westminster Abbey, and the urge to.

Like the search for MH 370, half a billion dollars and counting, and the quest for the dead of MH 17, never to be completed, Abbott has blown this high-bugling paranoid moment also. And soon he will be shaking Putin’s hand, and looking a goose.

The numbers have not moved his way in Victoria or South Australia. It is clear that Newman will lose his seat. Two byelections in NSW will go tremendously against the Liberals, and by December 1 Labor will have Victoria back.

That is ten weeks away. And the sands are running out for Abbott — and his party — fast.

Everywhere. Or am I wrong?

And this ploy, this mother of all ‘scare campaigns’, has not retrieved him.


Today’s Two Polls

Today’s Newspoll showing Labor in South Australia on 51 (translation: 53) and today’s Essential showing Labor in Victoria on 52 (about right) means Abbott will be in a panic this time next month and looking atremble at certain losses in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, no power ever again in South Australia (where the Libs have won legitimately thrice in a hundred years) and an even-money chance of losing Western Australia in two years’ time.

Baird will have lost thirteen members by then, to scarpering retirement and ICAC shaming, and, to judge by the latest Essential showing Labor on 47 (they win with 48) and likely, above the normal swing, to pick up three Central Coast and Newcastle seats, which the widening ICAC penetrations the new Premier, Robbo, will then encourage to entangle also, after Sinodinos, Abbott and Hockey, and leave the Liberal Party, probably, as smashed in New South Wales as in Victoria and South Australia and the LNP extinguished from history. And PUP, perhaps, engorging itself on its remains.

And we will see what we shall see.

Propaganda Studies (8): Reaching Out and Cracking Down

A ‘crackdown’ means, roughly a speaking, ‘a small but well-justified massacre’, as in ‘crackdown on militant Uighurs’ or ‘crackdown on Tibetan dissidents’, which we Australians currently, sombrely approve.

The interesting thing about it is the implied approval; it’s like ‘a rap on the knuckles’ by a schoolteacher, firm but not cruel; appropriate; well-deserved. In other millennia it would have been called a ‘surgical strike’, or’incursion’ or even ‘pogrom’. Like ‘collateral damage’ or ‘on-water matters’ its purpose is to cover up unjust violence, or murder, as Morrison does most months, to Fran Kelly’s girlish aroused approval. ‘Cracking down’, like S&M sex, has a whiff of pleasure to it.

‘Reaching out’ is a loathesome phrase, implying racial or intellectual inferiority.

One ‘reaches out’ to Aborigines, Native Americans, Muslims, disabled children, Gypsies, the Palmer United Party. Abbott doesn’t ‘reach out’ to Shorten, but he might to, say, Yudhuyono, or Yunupingu, or suffering Tamil children on Manus Island.

It is a relic of the age of slavery. You ‘reach out’ to your slaves, beseeching them to Christianity, and thankfulness for their God-given lot. You include them in your prayers.

It is a disgusting phrase, employed by the master race — the Israelis ‘reach out’ to the ‘moderate elements’ in the PLO, but not to Hamas who are ‘terrorists’, fit to be bombed into flying chunks of meat in the beds they share with their children — but not by the underclass they tyrannise. You ‘reach out’ to a timid collaborator, as the Nazis ‘reached out’ to Vichy France. You ‘reach out’ to an unplaintive Untouchable; to a cringeing leper; to a self-mutilated beggar in Calcutta. You ‘reach out’ to people you are slowly killing.

It should never be used again.