Classic Ellis: Bob Carr, 1996

(From Goodbye Jerusalem)

Ten days after the election, on the Monday night, I dined at his forceful invitation with Bob and Helena Carr in a small eating-house in Darlinghurst. We ate pasta and drank, to my mild surprise, a glass each, no more, of throat-ripping house white (there were differing views on whether Bob was currently a teetotaller and now I had eyes-on proof).

I asked him if he’d been in touch with Keating. He said he had and he’d found him pretty shocked and shredded, not so much at the defeat, but at the size of it, until his old friend and comrade Bob, whom he’d known since they were teenagers in the Labor right wing — and, for the want of a better word, mates — had offered him a measure of mordant solace.

‘Imagine,’ Bob said (or something like it), ‘that someone had told you authoritatively when you were sixteen and you’d just joined the Labor Party that you’d be a federal MP at the age of twenty-five. You’d have been over the moon. Imagine he’d told you then that you’d be a member for twenty-eight years, and a shadow cabinet minister, and then a federal Treasurer, then deputy leader of the party. You’d have said, even better. Imagine, then, to crown it all, he’d revealed you’d be Prime Minister for four years, and elected once in your own right, and you’d have the opportunity to change forever the direction of your country for the good. You’d have been filled with pleasure. Well, it’s happened. Be thankful.’

This, I divined, was Bob Carr’s prehumous bedside manner, his own private system of glad tidings when visiting the doomed, or their grieving widows, he’d had a lot of practice with it of late, on those parliamentary colleagues who had suffered fatal illnesses, or, in one case, that of John Newman, assassination. He’d done it with Andrew Ziolkowski, for instance, his Sports Minister Gabrielle Harrison’s husband when he found that Andrew, though a young state MP, was dying of cancer at the age of thirty. Take comfort, Bob said, from what you won’t have to see, the ecological doom of the planet. The economic ruin of the West. The physical destruction of Yugoslavia. The Prime Ministership of John Hewson.

It was as good a way to talk to the spiritually shattered, I decided, as any other — as discussing, for instance, how they would spend their leisure time in Purgatory, or the possibility of preserving their head in the fridge for eventual resurrection. Keating had taken his proffered comfort in good part anyway, and later in his resignation from Parliament had heartily asserted he wouldn’t have missed any of it, not for quids.

‘You know, it’s a strange life we lead in politics,’ Paul Keating said, confiding in me, or seeming to, a week before the sudden calling of the 1983 election. ‘When Parliament’s sitting you have the equivalent of five serious fights a day. But I don’t mind that,’ he said, and looked at me with amused aggression, ‘I like a little blood.’ Then noticing I had flinched, he quickly added, ‘But when you get to our age, Bob, to middle age,’ (I was exactly forty), ‘and you’re mellowing, and you have to be,’ (he was thirty-eight and a half, and looked nineteen), ‘it gets to be a bit of an exhausting way to make a living.’

I heard the words he was saying, but didn’t altogether believe them: they seemed to me like the simulations of ordinary decent humanity that Soviet leaders and black dictators and ideological apparatchiks put on for foreign journalists; a careful rehearsed denial that ambition is their nature, ambition and the love of contest. And from this efficient, fast-moving and frightening skeleton all superfluous human flesh has been stripped away. The flesh is only the costume they wear off-stage; and some of them wear it well. How quickly, I thought, and after how long a holding out, the Labor has fallen into the hands of what might be called ‘the Professionals’, and what a mixed blessing that is, Keating’s transparent white skin, dark appealing eyes, slanting teeth and pink nether lip disturbed me. He looked like Lucifer to me, a fallen angel, deprived by John Kerr of his due advancement as Whitlam’s youngest minister, and in this Hades of his banishment now capable of anything. The next Prime Minister but one? I wasn’t sure. I could get to like him, I supposed. When it comes to famous men I’m the equivalent of a cheap drunk. I wondered if Whitlam when young gave off a similar impression — of dark, ambitious precision, heaven-sent but unwelcome, bound to succeed and bound in the end to be good for the Party, but someone whose presence in the Party for a moment made you wince.

- The Things We Did Last Summer, 1983

We talked a good bit about Proust then, whose classic novel sequence Remembrance of Things Past we were by agreement jointly reading. Its characters, the Premier pensively owned, had become more real in the final election weeks, as he read on through successive mournful midnights, than people he knew in life. Then over the chocolate mousse he asked me what I thought were the lessons of the poll result.

I took a deep breath.

‘There is no leeway,’ I said with emphasis, ‘no leeway for a Labor leader in government. No leeway to sell Qantas or the Commonwealth Bank, to scorn the Press Gallery of enflame Kerry Packer, to increase the woodchip licence or bankrupt tariff-dependent industries and ruin country towns, or,’ I added with reisling-fuelled cheek, ‘to evict the Governor from his palace or suddenly decide not to cancel road tolls.’

He watched me expressionless, holding his teaspoon.

‘You have no leeway,’ I continued, ‘to be anything else, anything other, than a Labor givernment, playing a straight bat, hitting the ball in the middle, not slashing out in all directions, a six here, a leg-bye there, because you don’t have the media tgere on your side, or not enough of it, explaining what you’re up to. All you can be up to is the obvious, social reformist agenda, with safety nets all over the place, of traditional Labor. There is no leeway for anything else,’

Or something like that.

It penetrated anyway, as I glumly deduced in the following weeks on those Mondays when I had a brilliant idea and Bob would shout down the corridor, ‘There Is No Leeway! Bob Ellis, the twelfth of March 1996!’ and he grew more sly in power and less mischievous. I liked this odd, perpetually studentish bloke and always had, in the eighteen years of our distant acquaintance (‘We are intimate,’ I once told the press, ‘but not close’) despite our disagreement on many things: he admired Thatcher, for instance — or he used to — for her long-shot usurpation of power and subsequent massacre of the Tory establishment; I’d travelled with her and found her fucking mad; he opposed euthanasia and legalised heroin because, perhaps, of his brother’s overdose; I liked the word ‘Socialism’, he choked on it.

I found honour in him, dutiful concentration, a first-class political temperament and a broadcast voice — classless, dark and trust-inducing — that Keating once said he’d kill for. He had as well that irreplaceable quality John Kennedy called Fortune that is known in shabbier environs as dumb luck, wading through seven years of quicksand and mutiny to a majority of one and then, to everyone’s amazement, three. ‘A brilliantly disguised man of destiny,’ I called him one drunken night in response to John Singleton, who’d called him a dud. ‘A man with a hint of greatness in him, a Chifley for our time.’

It was Carr’s worst Monday thus far of his public life. Barry Jones the night before on Meet The Press had been tempted into agreeing that, yes, there might need to be an investigation by the look of it ino the New South Wales Right Wing over its millions-losing real estate foul-up in Sussex Street, and that selfsame machine, with Bob as its titular head, was seeking election to government that very Saturday; and trailing in the polls.

He flew into Coolangatta in a tiny swift Lear Jet on hire, it proved, unbeknown to his minders, from Kerry Packer, and with the local doomed-but-buoyant candidate Trevor Wilson for whom I’d done some desultory campaigning for home town’s sake. I met him at the airport. ‘Bob Ellis!’ he shouted, ‘What a boost!’ And I tagged along on the bus and the gloom deepened. His minder, Graeme Wedderburn, confided that Barry in his usual predictable whiskered vociferous fuddled bombatic fashion had probably done for them; without meaning to. He was very reliable in that way.

We approached Murwillumbah hospital, across the cul-de-sac from my unremarkable weatherboard birthplace, on which Bob with a splash of lime suggested there should be a blue plaque. Then underneath the round-cornered, orange-brick hospital building I recalled from my earliest childhood, in a green park of unblooming jacarandas (and looking out at the blue remembered mountains over canefields and canefields forever) he held his most crucial press conference.

‘Barry Jones was yesterday’s story,’ he said gravely, or something like it. ‘Today’s story is New South Wales’ hospitals, in which I hereby pledge I will halve the waiting lists within the first year of government, and if that target is not met I hereby promise to resign.’

‘Will you put that pledge in writing?’ enquired a dubious reptile.

‘I will sign in my own blood if necessary.’

‘Does that go for your Minister of Health as well, Dr Refshauge?’

‘It goes for the entire cabinet,’ he asserted, without missing a beat. ‘We will meet a year from Saturday’s election, and hand round cyanide capsules.’

There was murmur and merriment and then a silence and history hung — if the hospital story did not get up, and the Jones story persisted, he was dine for — in the balance. Then the Opposition Leader was asked if he was aware that he was flying in Kerry Packer’s jet, and what favours the Great He-Warthog would ask in return. Containing an impulse to rip out the reptile’s throat, he said the jet was hired for the media’s convenience, an act which, in view of their present ingratitude, he might not fucking repeat, through an unremarkable middle man who had, as it happened, not revealed it was Packer’s.

Then someone asked, ‘Did you talk to Barry Jones last night?’

Bob stayed completely deadpan. ‘Yes, I believe I did.’

‘What did you talk about?

‘As I recall it, we discussed the disposition of the hidden corridors of the Great Pyramid, the theory of the quark, the hereditary insanity of the Bourbon dynasty, the canals of Mars, the persistent traditions of the Samurai in modern Japanese society and the musical compositions of English kings.’

‘Did you talk about the interview he gave on Meet The Press?’

Not a blink. Not a flicker.

‘Yes, it might have come up.’

It was no more, of course, than a pollywolly-vaudeville routine, delivered with Sir Humphrey sang froid, and they liked it and over the ripple of laughter, aloud or suppressed, that followed on his jest, the possibility of further Jones headlines or what would have been much worse -CARR SLAMS JONES headlines and LABOR SPLIT LOOMS ON POLL EVE — receded and faded, and his Hospital blood oath took the day. I admired his temperament then (First-class temperament? First class intelligence? probably) and his tactical acuity — only blood would rinse the foolhardy blustering ex-quiz king out of that night’s newscast and blood, therefore, was promised — and I hitched a ride on his Lear jet south.

My heartland, slow and green, passed under the plane — Brunswick Heads, Bangalow, Lismore, Grafton, the yellow beaches and canefields and red tiled and fibro houses and the candidate and I, between bursts of interview with the unstoppable Craig McGregor, talked of W.C. Fields and Nabokov and Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer and how Roosevelt’s America had died at Chappaquiddick and what the Gilded Age had made of Abe’s America and the movies he might see (I recommended Natural Born Killers and he saw it and said he would never forgive me) — avoiding all talk of the election. I showed him two passages from All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy and he was astounded at how good they were. We got out at Coffs Harbour and hung round a mall with Bruce Clarke, the uneasily confident doggy-eyed local candidate, eating yoghurt with plastic spoons. As always in street crowds the Carr Factor changed votes. He was taller, and better-looking and shyer and nicer than anyone expected, and had that self-abnegating Clark Kent quality, that capacity to relax the potential voter into feelings of shared and flattered equality. I remembered watching him doorknock in the vital by-election in the Entrance — standing on doorsteps and conversing gently with Jimmy Stewart body language, and old ladies with blue hair changing their votes in forty-five seconds. I remembered the night it was won, and he came across a spotlit recreation field out of the darkness with Helena and the local crowd roared and it seemed there was destiny there to be had. I suppose life is made up of such remembered moments and no final victory is ever had. As Neville Wran said, you’re going to be chucked out some day, and the only worthwhile question is how you go.

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  1. Bob Carr quit today, describing the former Labor government as lacking cunning.

    Pretty accurate assessment I thought.

    Cunning. Its an interesting word.

    One usually expects politicians to be cunning.

    The Libs are cunning bastards. Thats a good thing I would have thought. One gets more cunning with experience. Less mistakes are made with a good dose of cunning. Just ask rats.

    Successful governments avoid pitfalls. Avoid getting mired in quicksand like climate change or promising to bring in a surplus. Good governments always have a cunning plan. They can do a swift two step and outmaneuver their opponents. They can wedge them in debate and slip away when needed. They always have a crafty escape hatch just behind the wood paneling. A plan B option.

    Cunning. We should encourage it. Successful adults and long term governments have rat cunning.

    Its a good word.

    • Bob Carr was a master politician. The NSW Labor government under Carr was, to use his words, as “cunning” as they come.

      Yes, cunning is an interesting word. I guess part of it is knowing when to quit. NSW Labor was never the same after Carr retired.

      • NSW Labor at their peak may have been cunning, but the Carr Labor Government, for all the vitriol that headed Labor’s way much later on, did some outstanding things for this state.

        I personally benefited from the Liverpool-Parramatta Transitway, and later on, having moved towards the north-west, the North-West T-Way from Parramatta to Rouse Hill, and the Blacktown to Rouse Hill T-Way, enabling long-term public transport users such as myself to benefit from much improved transport facilities for the west and south-west of Sydney. This would not have been done under the previous Liberal administration; indeed, the Liberal Party, especially with the Liverpool-Parramatta T-Way were most critical.

        Also, I completed my HSC under the important reforms instituted by Bob Carr and John Aquilina (a fine man who is much missed in the NSW Parliament). To complete a HSC, and not have to undertake a mathematics exam in the process (abstract mathematics eluded my mind; plus, I was more of a humanities person) was a brilliant reform, along with the other improvements that took place.

        Then we get to the Olympics, which were delivered beautifully by Labor during this time, and you have the icetip of a strong, decisive government. The failures of Iemma, in particular, to adequately govern (Scully, my local member at the time, would have been better), set the Labor Party back at least a decade, and ensured Keneally and Rees could not stem the tide towards defeat. As it was, the last year of that Labor Government was easily their best since 2005 with important transport reforms and forward-thinking projects such as the M2 upgrade and the South-West Rail Link getting underway.

        I, along with many others, will miss Bob Carr. He was a brilliant Opposition Leader, one of the best Premiers in NSW history (along with Greiner, Wran, McKell, Cahill and Parkes), and continued the fine tradition of Australian Foreign Affairs Ministers by adding gravitas to a Labor Party terminally wounded from the Rudd-Gillard imbroglio.

        I wish Bob Carr well, in what is a well-earned retirement, and any views to the contrary about his record, or bleating over not declaring his intentions (as I heard on 2GB this afternoon) are mere pettiness.

    • The description cunning Frank is cobblers. The Labor party came undone from within, aided and abetted by a corrupt media. The Liberals just sat back and let nature take its course.

      Frank I really can’t believe you think the climate change debate is a pitfall. Governments all over the world are coming to terms with the fact the global warming problem is becoming dire.

      The Libs are not cunning Frank, they don’t have to be. Although you did get the first letter of the word right. It should have read corrupt.

      In a just world Abbott/Randall eta al would/should be arrested for stealing. Yes that includes some of my party.

      Randall as a case in point would not come on the ABC this morning to explain himself. In every court in the land Frank silence is tantamount to guilt.

      Cunning in your world Frank = Corruption, nothing else.

      • Phill, you say “Governments all over the world are coming to terms with the fact the global warming problem is becoming dire.”

        Okay, lets name them. Line ‘em up! Lets see what they are actually doing, as opposed to talking about it on the ABC where you keep hearing from the Greenies that run the ABC the world is taking action on Climate Change.

        The UN Framework Convention on Climate has 195 members. Only 34 of those use anything resembling an emissions trading scheme. Of those, 27 are in the EU scheme. The current price: $7
        It raises $500m a year. You reckon that’s going to achieve anything? It’ll keep the bureaucrats in first class accommodation I guess.

        No one in the Asia-Pacific has an effective scheme.

        There’s a pilot program in China (Schenzen) where all the permits are given away for free. It has no impact on climate but makes the nancy-girls at the ABC get wet thinking China is acting on climate change.

        The Chinese are cunning.

        Japan has abandoned its plans for an ETS.

        The US has no carbon tax or ETS or ever likely to have one. Al Gore wished he could run that scheme and profit from it but he didn’t. Obama just likes to talk about having one. Not cunning at all.

        California pretends to have one but 90% of the permits are given away for free.

        Canada does not have an ETS or a carbon tax.

        New Zealand have a Claytons scheme: $1
        The Kiwi’s are cunning.

        India - nothing
        Indonesia - nothing.
        However they have fuel subsidies. They are actually Carbon positive initiatives!

        Its enough to make our resident warmist expert John S Almond slash his wrists and crawl into a gutter! :grin:

        Maybe one day they might do something if it was indeed serious, but given the track record of countries dealing with climate change right now, you would have to agree that en masse, we’d all rather talk lofty talk about it like Rudd and then sit and stew like frogs in hot water than do anything serious about it.

        Abbott still talks about he believes in Climate Change but you all know, like me he knows its a load of crap.

        Now that to me is either plain stupid or cunning. Take your pick gentlemen. I’m feeling generous today. :cool:

        • Frank doing something is better than doing nothing.

          You spent a lot of space to tell me what I already know.

          Yes governments are not doing what they should. But, no matter how you carve it up, global warming is a reality. The fires in the U.S. NSW are just the start of what’s to come.

          Frank…. what Abbott thinks matters not, if you were honest you know as well as I do, he didn’t win the last election, Labor squandered it..

          Abbott is one of those aberrations that comes along from time to time, the unexplained, the down right weird.

          But I will concede this salient fact Frank… Abbott knew which buttons to press in the electorate. That’s a skill that can be learnt Frank… cunning had nothing to do with it.

          If I admit that Abbott is cunning, that would mean he is intelligent. Notwithstanding his R

          • cont. Rhodes scholarship. Abbott is like some coppers I’ve met, you think to yourself, how the fuck did he pass the psych. But they do, Abbott in my opinion, is such an animal.

            But, not to worry, he’s one term, you are intelligent enough to know that.

    • Fwank, thanks for the laughs.

      I really enjoyed this quote of yours,
      “Avoid getting mired in quicksand like climate change or promising to bring in a surplus.”

      You lot are up to your armpits mate.

      Climate change.
      The UN.
      Al Gore.
      Cutting the funds available for victims of the fires in NSW.
      Appointing Amanda Vanstone to the business council wholly owned subsidiary AKA the audit commission.
      Saying it was perfectly OK for Randall to spend all that loot to meet with the erstwhile Lib whip Entsch face to face.
      (Merely the idea of a face to face with Warren Entsch is a scary thought anyway).
      Eleventy Hockey’s hypocrisy; prior to election debt bad, post election no its good,lets borrow a heap more.
      And the beauty of all this Fwank?
      Us Labor types don’t have to do anything-a few weeks of hypocritical Lib stuff and the chattering classes are in full song-twitter, facebook and any independent media you care to mention full of outrage.
      Just a few weeks after the election.

  2. Thanks, Bob, for more reminisces. We need a Paul now.

    • Yes, a Paul would do; but I’d prefer a Gough.

      Still, we have what we have, and Shorten may well prove a good leader. Let us hope so.

    • Here I am!
      We afficionados of the Grauniad have discovered the old campaigner has announced his retirement, from that most hallowed and august of places, the Australian Senate, having tenaciosly fulfilled his mission to bring enlightenment and sunshine to a dark place.
      The grief at the unobtrusively provided public comments section, was palpable.

  3. Senator Carr also said he had been “struck by a lack of canniness in the government”.

    “A lack of caution, cunning - canniness is probably the best word.”

    Senator Carr said that Labor had not been cautious enough about introducing the carbon tax.

    He added that there was also a lack of caution around Labor’s dismantling of the Pacific Solution, arguing there was not enough consideration over what it would mean for people smugglers.

    “I did notice a lack of calculation, careful political instinct from 2007.”

    • caution, shmaushion

      We need Labor leaders cautious like Whitlam, then they might not leave the country in the mess Carr left NSW in (transport, housing, environment, for instance)

      Cautious leaders are time-servers, great for giving all the boys time to plunder the public purse, useless for getting people out of the physicaal and mental hole most Australians live in

    • I merely quote his words, worthy of respect as a leader of standing and of substance.

      We need a Gough. But lacking a Gough, the leader once in government should exercise some caution. If he wants to be re-elected, that is.

  4. Meanwhile

    Krugman gets to the heart of the need for ACTION not talk on climate - and not just political action but direct action, in the streets, and elsewhere

    “Given the current state of American politics, the combination of self-interest, ideology, and hostility to science constitutes a huge roadblock to action, and rational argumentation isn’t likely to help. Meanwhile, time is running out, as carbon concentrations keep rising.”

    That is the case not only in America. (“Abbott says UN climate chief is talking through her hat”

    The time has come for some acts of real piracy, not just Russia’s trumped-up prosecution of Greenpeace

    Krugman goes on, in a piece in which he is himself far too sanguine about what is barelling down the highway towards us

    “Throughout this book [which Krugman is reviewing], Nordhaus’s tone is slightly cynical but basically calm and optimistic: this is ultimately a problem we should be able to solve. I only wish I could share his apparent conviction that this upbeat possibility will translate into reality. Instead, I keep being haunted by a figure he presents early in the book, showing that we have been living in an age of unusual climate stability—that “the last 7,000 years have been the most stable climatic period in more than 100,000 years.” As Nordhaus notes, this era of stability coincides pretty much exactly with the rise of civilization, and that probably isn’t an accident.

    “Now that period of stability is ending—and civilization did it, via the Industrial Revolution and the attendant mass burning of coal and other fossil fuels.

    “Industrialization has, of course, made us immensely more powerful, and more flexible too, more able to adapt to changing circumstances. The Scientific Revolution that accompanied the revolution in industry has also given us far more knowledge about the world, including an understanding of what we ourselves are doing to the environment.

    “But it seems that we have, without knowing it, made an immensely dangerous bet: namely, that we’ll be able to use the power and knowledge we’ve gained in the past couple of centuries to cope with the climate risks we’ve unleashed over the same period. Will we win that bet? Time will tell.

    “Unfortunately, if the bet goes bad, we won’t get another chance to play.”

  5. Tony the Phoney, the Fake and the Liar

    Don Randall billed taxpayers $5259 for a Cairns trip in November 2012 on the grounds of “electorate business”. A week later the MP updated his pecuniary interests, saying: “My wife and I have taken possession of the house at the Cairns location. We intend to rent the house as an investment.”

    Mr Randall has refused on seven separate occasions to answer questions on the issue. After three days of intense media pressure he promised to refund taxpayers to “alleviate any ambiguity”.

    Yet Mr Abbott, speaking on Fairfax Radio on Wednesday, suggested the trip was justified, saying Mr Randall had ”very important discussions” with the then Coalition whip. But when quizzed by The Australian Financial Review, Mr Entsch refused to divulge the content of those discussions and admitted he did not know if they constituted “electorate business” as Mr Randall had claimed.

    Asked why Mr Randall could not have used a telephone – rather than flying more than 3000 kilometres on business class flights with his wife to the same location as his investment property – the Prime Minister said some discussions were “best done face to face”.

    • A phony faking liar, but only where it counts for little. He’s also a man’s man, a firie, a sweater through exertion, a pedaller of treadlys and marathon leg-slogs, familiar with the smell of locker-rooms and the intensity of facing an opponent from inches away on the confines of the ring.

      These are the things that count in this land of antipodean values where hard men scrabble in dust to survive.

      • ‘aphony’ - is that a comment on Abbott’s 22 seconds with Mark Riley Canguro?

        • Ha! You’re quite bright at this early hour. What brand of tea are you drinking?

          Reply pending on the NIDA thread, was terrific to see consonance on TW and JJ. I’m outa’ here for now, off to earn a dollar.

      • Perhaps the CFA could govern this mythical bronzed Aussie tribe of 25 million people, most of whom won’t venture further than 1oo metres from the nearest airconditioner or KFC store.

  6. It read this morning of 4 Fingers Joe stepping through the Looking Glass:
    Debt is Bad
    Debt is Good!

    I almost choked on my cup of tea.

  7. another Abbott 3 word slogan

    “One Term Tony”

    • ‘One Term Tony’, ‘Four Fingers Joe’…it all reminds me of a movie called ‘Drowning By Numbers’

      • You mean Downing by Numbers? :oops:

        • No, Dali, I mean how the drowned asylum seekers are not seen as people,but they are only numbers to us…

          At least in Lampedusa you put flowers and even Teddy bears on the coffins…

          • I occasionally visit the very simple but moving monument to the Sieve X by Biddulph and the Uniting Church in Canberra beside the Lake. Very highly recommended on a visit to the capital.

            One problem in Australia is the remoteness of the scenes of our government’s crimes. The more compact Mediterranean allows the large part of the community that has a heart to express themselves


          • I didget your point, Ms H. I was trying to remind you of your drowning/downing faux pas of many moons ago.

            wrong joke, wrong time

            • Dali, I know you got my point; I’m the first one to laugh at drowning/downing, and hesitated between a smiley/ a coffin reply. :cool:

        • Earlier this year, Greenaway announced he was returning to the UK to film an adaptation of Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice.

          It should be interesting, maybe you can put yourself in the crowd; you can’t film Death in Venice in England. :roll:

        • I always use ‘Drawing By Numbers’. My portraits are always stunning. You can tell because the eyes follow you around the room.

  8. Queensland Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan has granted bail to an alleged bikie.

    Flouting the doctrine of separation of powers, a furious Premier Campbell Newman said it was time legal “insiders” got out of the way of the crackdown. Mr Newman said it was high time the judiciary understood that Queenslanders wanted criminal bikies behind bars. “What we need now is for the judiciary, those who run the court system, the insiders, to actually realise that’s what Queenslanders want as well,” he said. “And they need to have a look at how they’re operating and make sure they protect Queenslanders.”

    It’s not her job to protect Queenslanders, Mr Newman. Its her job to judge the guilt or innocence of individuals brought before her. She granted bail to someone with ‘FTP’ for F… k the Police tattooed on his forehead, because she decided there was not enough evidence to suggest he was a gang member.

    Police bosses say they will take legal action to overturn the decision.

    Fascism or not, this is an alarming development in terms of authoritarian rule.

  9. This is a telling letter in the Courier Mail about Queensland’s march to the goose-step.

    Justice Richard Chesterman said Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie’s amendment to the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act will breed contempt and is an unjustified attack on the Supreme Court.

    THE arrogance of Premier Campbell Newman showed its ugly head again yesterday when he agreed that retired judge Richard Chesterman’s comments were both legally and philosophically correct but that this was not what the people of Queensland want.

    I thought we had dug ourselves out of the sordid pit of the Bjelke-Petersen 1970s. But here we go again with Newman and Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie treating Queensland like their personal fiefdom.

    The State Government’s fear campaigns are retrograde steps, and those fortunate not to have lived through similar times in the past should consider their position carefully. These high-profile, fear-inspired issues pale into insignificance when compared with the underhanded, surreptitious crawl towards the type of government and cronyism of past National-Liberal governments.

    The corruption in the Queensland Police Service exposed by the Fitzgerald Inquiry blossomed as a result of the Bjelke-Petersen government’s leadership style. It’s not in our interests to promote or condone what smells similar to the pungent air of the 1970s.

  10. First time I have looked in for a long while and all is as I suspected, stages of grief have not yet reached Acceptance. Good, keep your spirits up. You will probably need them high. Stay positive.

    However, some reality checks do not go astray. As I see Baghdad Bob Carr has convinced Damian, along with millions of others over the years, I knew he would disappear from the Senate as soon as he could. Getting out from under has been his forte in later decades. I rather call him the White Ant Premier. He as the one managing the media cycle, while his hands-off/acquiescence style first enabled and then allowed the chief white ants (Obeid and factional warlords) to do their work unhindered and the Damians of this world didn’t notice that behind that seemingly-intact façade was a rottenness that you could put your fist through. A new coat of paint every now and then (Annoucement! Announcement! plus – in Damian’s case- “a Teeway” every now and then instead of heavy rail looked good for a while) made them feel good.

    Then he was able to flog the house off to some unsuspecting buyers like Iemma and it was just waiting to fall down, although by the end of 2011, gaping holes were appearing everywhere in the structure and it was beyond saving.

    On some other topics (mentioned here in answers to this post luckily)I supposed that there would be some people here who follow the Al Gore/ABC scare foolishness that these bush fires are something to use to try and revive the climate alarmism claims ( a bit dated, but tried and true for Aussie alarmists and Gore – don’t you know that the once-heaviest if them all, Mike Hume of the Tyndall Centre at UEA, realised that you couldn’t keep flogging this off because whenever there was the opposite happening, you could have your scares thrown right back in your faces). In any case, I laughed to myself as I watched the ABC carefully haul up a number of non-bush fire/forestry ‘experts’ to push the fire-caused- by meme whereas the single forestry expert immediate called it fir what it was – “record fuel build-up after record rainfall” and immediately was apparently banished forever from ‘My ABC” airwaves.

    And what would it be without some mug quoting Paul Krugman. Obviously reading the Niall Ferguson demolition of this fake was beyond that poster but maybe he should care to be told that Krugman has a preference for ETS schemes as it was he, as the chief Enron adviser, that saw it as a way for this later-failed (and losing executives to jail) coroporation to make oodles of money from the scam!!

    • Well thanks for whatever all that meant.

      ‘Whatever’ being the current word in response to such stuff.

      How’s the view from up on that rather high horse?

    • for what it’s worth, Nial Ferguson has been comprehensively exsposed as the intellectual equivalent of a TeaPartier - see Krugman and several other serious US commentators passim.
      Furguson is the US/UK equivalent of our own Henderson/Bolt/Ackerman/Jones.

      Ideal person for rootin’ to read and quote

      Ferguson has sold his soul for big money and prestige - his private life is as grotesque as his intellectual activities.

      Ferguson in fact personifies what is destroying our world - quite simply, greed allied to an intense self-absorption

    • Ferguson?!?!
      You must be joking if you think you can saunter in citing Ferguson as trump card or even legitimate authority on these matters.

      Aside from his own established and undenied partisanship, any author who drops this load of dogshite as argument needs to be thrown out with yesterday’s undergraduate essay.
      And to think that Forbes called it the “essence” of the Krugman “demolition” defies credulity.

      Read it.
      “[Ferguson] ….I am not an economist. I am an economic historian. The economist seeks to simplify the world into mathematical models – in Krugman’s case models erected upon the intellectual foundations laid by John Maynard Keynes. But to the historian, who is trained to study the world “as it actually is”, the economist’s model, with its smooth curves on two axes, looks like an oversimplification. The historian’s world is a complex system, full of non-linear relationships, feedback loops and tipping points. There is more chaos than simple causation. There is more uncertainty than calculable risk.”

      Read it Ryutin, and then EXPLAIN it to me, contradictions, irrelevancies, red herrings, and all. YOU used it as argument, now back it up, or get the fuck out with your disgusting cowardice and rancid propaganda.

      2 quick things: why do you preface your posts with the caveat that “you’ve just popped in”?
      I mean, really?
      Is it necessary?
      You pompous buffoon!

      And, your silence on the comedy capers of your beloved Liberal speaks louder than any words you may utter.
      And to think you thought we wouldn’t notice!
      How sweet.

    • No No No! You are quite wrong M Ryutin. Bob Carr’s moniker was not Baghdad Bob.

      I believe you are in error. Otherwise an excellent article. Its like a window was opened briefly in a stuffy room.

      Carr’s nick was Dubai Bob on account of his love of desalination plants. It was Carr, aka “Dubai Bob”, who saddled Sydney with a $1.9 Billion desalination plant because global warming was going to dry out the continent and we’d be all rooned like Hanrahan.

      This was on Tim Flannery’s advice and well before the floods came. He made the announcement in 2005, after a $120,000 trip to Dubai, via London of course. It was built and dutifully closed at Kurnell. Sydneysiders are still paying it off in their water rates. Around $100 a year forever…for something that’s closed? Why not.

      Nevermind, should Global Warming strike again, it will come in handy I guess…

      In fact many conservatives, (I’m not one of them) remember his love of locking up the NSW native forests into parks. An irony that escapes him, on the very day the forests are burning down from neglect burdened by excess fuel, he of course, announces his resignation.

      Exit stage left. Cheerio Bob! :cool:

      Just blame it all on Global Warming and big tobacco. Cue the ABC and their soft interview with chief climate spruiker Al Gore who does exactly that!

      And so it goes…

  11. Ryutin - Abbott was elected. How’s he doing?

    • Apart from some things, doing okay. Rorted-NBN analysis about to hit the airwaves, Fake Gonski underfunded, misdirected controls to be itemised. Underfunded, incomplete bodgy NDIS to be exposed as a pipe dream without 2018/9 funding instead of 2009/10 estimates - not met anyway by Gillard/Rudd. Proper progress will finally be made towards estimating the true cost of eligibility for NDIS too, with shirkers and bludgers thinking they have a pot of gold coming their way and soon to be disillusioned (800,000 getting benefits now have to be reduced to the 400,000 estimated by Productivity Commission when estimating the 2009/10 costs).

      Still trying to rein in the MP’s (and lobbyists) who think that they might be able to continue the ‘anything goes’ rule of Labor.

      What is URGENT though and what he is dragging the chain on is that he should get onto the rorts and rorters and get rid of the disgusting expenses trough that parliamentarians have been feeding from for years and years. As Minchin said today, in the first place, paying back is not and never was any substitute for honesty (and predated his own involvement in expenses regulation, such Minchin involvement clearly instructing that the department should refer dubious claims to the AFP when appropriate).

      No, start with a thorough revamp and sweep away those rorts that ALL MP’s are hoping will go away and do what Latham forced them to do against their will with the MP super rorts in 2004. They all fear THAT happening (and anyone with half a schmick of political nous knows that)!

      Then start on the disgraceful ‘mailing allowances’. I remember the country party leader who was able to spend $250,000 in mail outs to ever single elector some years ago and I wouldn’t be the only one in this election campaign to have letters from MPs from other electorates getting begging how to vote epistles from Senators and non-local MP’s touting certain candidates.

      While he was at it he could announce the most sweeping judicial enquiry into union management ever seen to fix the corrupt looters of union funds.

      And he could drop this rubbish about Direct Action on climate, order drilling everywhere for cheap energy and try and use our competitive advantage in energy to grow the economy and put the rorters out of business once and for all.

      Once the true state of the economy left by Labor is out I might come back and comment, but believe me, he will get a true report and not anything like the fantasies I have seen posted here over the years about Rudd/Gillard/Rudd.

      • “No, start with a thorough revamp and sweep away those rorts that ALL MP’s are hoping will go away and do what Latham forced them to do against their will with the MP super rorts in 2004. They all fear THAT happening (and anyone with half a schmick of political nous knows that)!”

        At last some common dog from Ryutin. The rank and file of the Labor party are screaming their nuts off about the M.P’s rorts. But, the Labor party will do nothing, they are not going to bite the hand that feeds all these bludgers. A bit of lip service, then business as usual.

        I mean, where else in the world can you get a job checking out the venetian sewage system, in the back of a Gondola, being serenaded by some swarthy bastard drinking a nice red? The whole rorts business is a national scandal.

        But Ryutin, don’t try and tell us your mob, that mob being the mums and dads on talk back radio give a fuck, because they don’t. They’re the reason these corrupt political charlatans are getting away with it.

        Still the Labor party won’t be getting anymore of my loot, so it can’t be all bad.

      • Ry, my question was “how’s he doing?”

        Seven out of the eight paragraphs you laboured on are about what Abbott ought to do. Quite telling.

        The first paragraph, apart from a few things, is a tirade of allegation containing an insult against people with disability.

        Your parting folly is that “he will get a true report” about the state of play – you mean from the CEO of the Business Council, ably aided by Amanda ‘pass the vino’ Vanstone?

  12. Hi Helvi,

    I haven’t had time to read all the latest posts.
    Are the boys really misbehaving? Worse than usual,
    I mean?

    I’ve been thinking about our conversation on the attitudes of
    Aussie men from previous generations.

    Do you think it is a carry over from the British and Irish?
    I would suspect it had a lot to do with with the harsh conditions in a penal, and later, settler colony.

    Imagine how vulnerable women and children would have been. Grossly outnumbered. Convict women literally chained in the kitchen. I imagine the moral panic would have been through the roof for decent men.

    I remember being really surprised how affectionate and tactile my Swiss and Austrian brothers-in-law were with their kids. Was your Dad involved in child rearing?

    Did you see the doco on the pack rape trial in Sydney in the 19th century. It was on after Bob’s doco. I bet this was
    the tip of the iceberg knowing the pitiful reporting stats in modern Oz.

    • Kb, I’ll dry my tears and come back to you… :cry:

    • My father was an exceptional man, I have measured all my men against him…most of them left wanting :smile:

      Not just adults but even children were drawn to him, when my brother’s young friends came to our place,they spent most of the time talking to our father…so much so, that my brother took his swimmers and said: stay here ,I’m off to the river…

      When our little hands and feet were half frozen from playing in the snow all day, it was him who massaged them back to ‘life’ again…

      It was him who told us stories, and it was him who comforted us if woke up with nightmares.

      He did not cook or wash dishes,
      we helped him on the farm during school and uni holidays, but he never wanted us to work too hard…because he loved reading, we all became readers…

      Mum smacked us when we were naughty, but I don’t remember father ever disciplining us physically..
      A gentle, caring, intelligent, peace-loving man with a wonderful sense of humour….

      I’ll have to leave my thoughts on Aussie males for later on.. :cool:

      • Thanks.

        Sounds like he was a wonderful bloke, Helvi.

        As Ellis would say: You mustn’t compare other men to him. You really mustn’t.
        (Only he’d use correct spelling and punctuation.) :grin:

        • Now it’s your turn Kb, I have told you where I live/ have lived,plenty about my childhood, and my dear Dad…what about you, what was your childhood like, what kind of person was/is your father, where do you live, have lived :?:
          Fair crack of the whip. :neutral:

          • Thanks, Helvi.

            I’m a freaky unit. The product of sixth generation, rural Australian Anglo, and post war (1946) non Anglo, urban parentage.

            Protestant father, Catholic mother.

            I’m a “Westie”, with a polyglot mother who married “poorly”.

            I had an ambivalent relationship with my father. He was basically a good man, damaged beyond repair by an appalling childhood.

            My childhood consisted of equal parts fun and terror.

            I live out of Sydney now, but commute up regularly to spend time with my charming and gently dementing mum. :wink:

  13. With the audit commission not reporting till May, it seems Joe Hokeidonia is happy to keep wasting tax payers money for another 8 months.

    Currently he is borrowing $2billion a week! Abbott delivers another sucker punch today by announcing scary commission of audit the day they plan to spend like drunken bankers.

    These are the cuts they would NOT tell us about before the election. The voters fell for it-conned. Never once since records started (before McMahon govt) have the Fibz ever had one year with a cut in real govt spending-biggest spenders ever.

    The govt will borrow $1.8 billion this week in addition to the $14.7 billion of extra gross debt since 9 September. So Joe, Labor are to blame for debt but not jobs, low inflation, AAA rating, low tax, rising wealth, rising real wages, low interest rates?

    • Brace yourself Womabat, Ryutin’s back and giving his particular brand of trenchant critique of the Liberal party -

      “Apart from some things, doing okay.”

      Say no more really.

      • I knew Big Boy Hockey would flush Wombabat out…
        Of course it’s all Labor’s fault….
        Got to take RJ for a walk to flush the ducks out…

  14. Go easy on Joe Hockey, his remedial arithmetic classes were put on hold for the election period.

    He will probably be able to count well before the next election.

  15. Australia’s government not satisfied with destroying the climate, now destroying our image around the world by carrying on like a 10-year-old

    Hunt, the Minister in charge of Destroying the Environment, asked by the BBC about Abbott’s ‘climate change is crap’ assertion:

    “”Look, with great respect you can swear on international radio, you can invite me from Australia to do this, you can be profoundly rude, I’m happy to answer, but I’m not going to be sworn at,”

    • God he’s silly, the face all puckered up with concern…

      Was he deferring to the word ‘crap’….is that a swearword?

      Well, if it is, then it’s Abbott who started the swearing…the use of naughty words. :roll:

      • “Crap” was Abbott’s word that sent little Hunty into shock

        In any school-yard in Australia Abbott’s scalpel-sharp debating style would be a winner: the UN Climate Commissioner points out that climate change causes bushfires- “Talking through her hat”; the climate scientists point out that the coal industry is destroying the planet- “Talking through their arses”

        Any other big world issues you want cleared up by the leader of Her Majesty’s government for the Commonwealth of Australia?

  16. In 1990 our current Environment Minister and climate denier won a university prize for his own thesis entitled “a tax to make polluters pay”.

    It argued that “a pollution tax is both desirable and, in some form, is inevitable” and noted that “even if some Liberal’s [sic] constituents do respond negatively, a pollution tax does need to be introduced to properly serve the public interest”.

    That old treatise has been replaced by his professed faith that a carbon tax is a dreadful Labor-Greens plot, and that Tony Abbott’s “direct action” plan is altogether superior.

    What a hypocrite. What a liar. What a turncoat.

    But we should NEVER forget the WORST piece of hypocrisy on the carbon tax. From the master himself:-

    In July 2009 he told Sky news: “I also think that if you want to put a price on carbon, why not just do it with a simple tax?”
    He added further that there should also be an added tax on electricity and petrol. Who said this?

    Well good old Mr Abbott of course!

    Why has Labor never used this to expose Abbott? Why oh why oh why!!?? Bob Carr summed it up yesterday.”Labor is not cunning enough”

    • Wombat, is it too late for us, you and me, to get into politics; we would sort them all, Labor first…and then we would go for the Liberals , hard, no mercy.. :cool:

      Everything would be exposed and shouted out from the roof tops… :smile:

    • Maybe Labor has to take climate change seriously itself before it can really put its heart into criticising the Libs for conniving at destroying our world

  17. Bob will be missed. A light on the hill.

  18. So, have we been underestimating certain contributors here?

    Are they not just demented old men grasping the arms of random passers-by and spluttering out their senile constructs of how the world works,

    Or are they highly-paid operatives in the employ of Turdoch!??!?

    “Fox News’ public relations staffers used an elaborate series of dummy accounts to fill the comments sections of critical blog posts with pro-Fox arguments.”

    The question must be asked: who are the Bob’s Blog sock puppets

  19. Frank… This topic is a good place as any to exchange notes. It appears every thing is on track, the process is working. I think about another three weeks will be just enough. We will meet in the usual place next week to exchange information on discs.

    A summary of our progress is as follows.

    DQ. I think DQ will be the hardest nut to crack. He has illusions of grandeur the likes I have never ever experienced before. He is under the extreme illusion he is a lawyer. He thinks men’s rea and actus reus is some kind of new dance. He is starting to go into fits of rage, so some elements of the process must be working. I suspect he may not join the Liberal party or be in the nut house until about May 2014.

    Canguro. Well this is a strange one to be sure. He doesn’t seem to like the word fuck and yet, he fucks Columbian whores. This is your area of expertise Frank, I will probably leave this one to you.

    Judd. Now this fellow is a special case, he dead set thinks he’s Stephen Hawking. But unlike Hawking, Judd actually does astral travel.

    John Salmond. This fellow thinks he is a women or a women who thinks he is a man, I’m not sure which. I suspect he is just barking mad, he will always be a socialist no matter what we do.

    Chris Hunter. Oh dear, he is a legend in his own mind. He has a split personality, one day he thinks he was reincarnated from Robert E Lee from the American civil war. The next, he thinks he is the direct descendent of Rembrandt.

    Dali. He has an unhealthy fascination of the Nazi party. He may well be a love child of our beloved Fuhrer himself. This fellow I think is already one of us.

    See you next week Frank.

    • Psst, phill.

      Over here.
      I’m in disguise with the bottom jaw that looks like a washbasin, just one of the boys.

      Frank is a double agent!
      Look out for the old exploding disc trick next week.

    • Insightful stuff well expressed Phill.

      • Phill, your post had me in stitches this morning. :lol:

        But head office at News Ltd. is dismayed with you Phill and are recalling you back to be reprogrammed.

        There’s a good chance Phill that you may have blown your cover as a stalwart ALP man who is waving the red flag and “manning the barricades.”

        You over-egged it a bit but you can redeem yourself.

        Comrade Phill, a tip. Just write a few posts about how you punched and kicked a Liberal today and why Abbott is a global warming denier and serial paedophile and wrecking the country and you should be back into the good books in no time.

        Remember what they told us at Langley when we were doing covert-ops 101.

        “To win over a Leftie - appeal to their confirmation bias.”

        Over and out.

        • Frank… Check out DQ’S effort underneath. A straight jacket is in order me thinks. Should we do a cull he squawks ? He is easy to switch on, what a squeezer.

          • Frank did I ever tell you the story about my days in South Africa fighting Aparthied ?

            It all started out when we realised how poor we were. My family lived in a hole in the ground, well not so much a hole a large crack really. We lived on water out of the Bwana’s next door dunny cistern, and mum made a weak soup by straining water through a dirty Chainman’s sock. The only property we had was an emaciated pet goat. Next week Frank I’ll tell you how I got involved with a left wing terrorist group.

            And how we fought for luxuries like food and clothes. It will make you cry Frank dead set.

    • hmm, on consideration, I will stick with the theory of befuddled old geezers waylaying strangers to retell their glory days in the New Guard

  20. Confirmation Bias is what we see from the Conservatives all the time. We also get to see “belief perseverance” (when beliefs persist after the evidence for them is shown to be false), the irrational primacy effect (a greater reliance on information encountered early in a series) and illusory correlation (when people falsely perceive an association between two events or situations).

    They exhibit these characteristics so strongly that no evidence to the contrary is ever credited.

    And the turn it around and accuse the so-called Leftists of doing just what they do : only believe what they want to believe and disregard the rest.

    We see it on the economy, on refugee issues, on climate change, on law and order issues. Even hard science is routinely disbelieved and discredited if it does not suit them.

    Should we do a cull?

  21. Bob, did Bob Carr tell you about his visit to Bohemian Grove?

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