Monthly Archives: October 2014

Further Thoughts On The Present Emergency

I could be wrong about this, but it seems to me that Abbott has crossed, this week, a shadow-line, and nobody believes a thing he says any more, and nobody wants to hear his voice any more.

It may have been when he said the petrol price hike was not a new tax, it was an old tax, enlarged somewhat. It may have been when he said the hike was to bring the deficit down, then, correcting himself, admitted it was to build new roads with; not trains, roads. It may have been when, in a speech of no great subtlety, he gave the states a cruel choice of a bigger GST, imposed by themselves, or oblivion. It may have been the eight hundredth time he said ‘debt and deficit disaster’ in Question Time, or denied he had broken any promises, any promises at all, or when he refused to punish the big polluters, only reward them; including, it seemed, the coal billionaire Clive Palmer, co-author of his legislation.

But however it happened he’s hated now, as a creepy, malodorous, bride-deserting ashtray of mendacity and shiftiness, and the Victorian election, losing ten or fifteen seats, will speed a similar calamity in Queensland, and might in New South Wales, and keep Labor in office in South Australia for a hundred years.

I could be wrong. But I don’t sense any affection for him out there any more, even on Skynews, where his proposal to gaol for ten years any journalist with a good story about military incompetence (Keith Murdoch on Gallipoli, Oliver Stone on Vietnam, Julian Assange on Iraq) has bestirred even PVO to call him a fool.

I could be wrong. But it seems nothing is working for him: a Budget emergency; a search for corpses in Ukraine; a ‘shirtfront’ in Brisbane; a Red Alert in Parliament House; our own fighter-bombers targeting teenage Australians in Iraq. Climate change, against his wishes, will be discussed at APEC, in Brisbane. Australian doctors, against his wishes, will go to Africa and not die there. His quarter-million-dollar university degrees will not be enacted. Not a penny will be paid by old women to their G.P.

And the long slide down to the sewer has begun.

I could be wrong.

And we will see what we shall see.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (98)

Brandis assured the nation that though he had the powers to put in gaol for ten years any journalist he didn’t like, he would never use them. ‘Trust me,’ said. ‘Trust me. Though this new law says I can do it, I never would.’ His knuckles whitened, and he beamed, sweatily.

Ian Watt, the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, sick of Abbott, resigned in weary disgust. A Howard groveller, Michael xxxx, replaced him.

The US announced it had facilities in Africa, or would have soon, for Australians to survive Ebola in. Dutton refused to send any Australians to that plague-ridden continent. Seventy percent of Australians thought he should, according to Morgan, but he wouldn’t. Morrison, moreover, said he would stop anyone from the black part of that continent from coming here. He feared, he said, they might be ‘diseased heathens’ who, as Jacqui Lambie guessed, were ‘sent here to infect us’. The Hunt-Palmer climate change deal passed the Senate. It had no target for emission reduction, and no means to achieve it. It also spent lots of money on an inquiry into a new emission price, though Hunt swore there would ‘never, ever’ be any.

Joe Hockey thought we should go into a bank with China, but Julie Bishop countermanded him. She disliked the Chinese, and had upbraided them once, while cameras rolled. It would be better, she thought, to do deals with our ‘traditional beheaders’, the Japanese. They were building our submarines, after all.

Johnston said they weren’t, or ‘no decision had been taken’, to let them do so. Some frigates might be made in Adelaide, however, he said, ‘to compensate for the submarines made  in Japan, oops, can we do that again.’

A new law made it possible to arrest young people who downloaded music and movies. This reduced the Liberal vote among those under 30 to to 2 percent, and those under 40 to 5 percent. This alone would hound the Liberals out of public life in the next ten years, it was calculated.

But they decided to increase the chances of this a bit. They cut the danger money of soldiers in Afghanistan by 50 dollars a day, from 200 dollars that is to 150. This was after they announced the progressive reduction of the value of their wages in the coming years. ‘Some parts of Afghanistan are less dangerous than others,’ they explained. ‘In those places where the chances of getting killed are only twenty times those in, say, Kings Cross, the money paid will come down by fifty dollars a day, the equivalent of three quarters of the old age pension. Like dole bludgers, our Diggers must be punished for thinking we owe them anything. Of course we don’t. Of course we don’t.’

Abbott after a shouting match with Napthine announced, with Napthine alongside him, an urgent police investigation into unions. No police were on stage with them. No police official, indeed, had known about it till late the night before.

Hunt would not say if Clive Palmer would get any money for not putting so much filth in the sky in future years as in former times. Clive said he had no idea. ‘I’m not a mining billionaire any more,’ he said. ‘I’m a politician.’ Abbott said Clive was part of ‘Team Australia’ and Shorten was not. He had ‘rendered himself irrelevant in the national conversation,’ he added, licking dry lips. He then thanked him for supporting his war on terrorism, as a ‘true patriot’ would, not seeing the contradiction.

He grinned at the audience, not knowing where he was. Was he in Melbourne, or where? Who was this beside him? Napthine? How did you spell that? He snickered, tonelessly. His giant Nubian body-servant Credlin made more of his special tea. Her ally Julie Bishop, nearby, winked at her.

Turnbull swore blind he favoured the illegal downloading of music, and the financial ruin of Australian musicians, and no-one would go to gaol for it. Break the law all you want, he added. It’s nothing to do with me. Neither are our best musicians, going broke as I speak, because of this crime that I will not punish. Let me read that again.

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

Today’s Newspoll

Newspoll ‘excluded’ three hundred thousand voters, rang only landlines, based its preference flow on the 2011 election, omitted the Palmer United Party and came up with, wow, Labor on 45, up from 35.8 last time, and the Coalition winning handily, despite a 27.05 swing against it last Saturday in Charlestown, with a fabricated 55 percent two party preferred. Despite a 27.05 percent swing against it last Saturday. Wow.

Looked at closely, the properly distributed preferences would give Labor three more percent (compare Ipsos this morning, Victoria), the landline weighting (favouring old people) would give them one more on top of that, and the three percent ‘margin of error’ two more, and put them on 51-49.

Now Labor can win with 48.2 percent, because of the locked-up conservative vote on Sydney’s North Shore. So it’s likely, not certain, that this corruption-muddied government, already on its second Premier and third Treasurer, and suddenly without its Deputy Premier, may, just may, be booted out in March.

It will be helped in that direction by Abbott’s fuel price hike — just in time for long hours waiting in traffic while Christmas shopping, or driving to the beach on holiday outings — and the coming security debacle in APEC, and the replacement of Hockey with Turnbull, and Hockey’s ICAC arraignment for expensive Chinese lunches with property developers, and Julie Bishop’s coming move on the leadership, and the rest of it.

And we will see what we shall see.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (97)

Hunt said he would have an inquiry into an Emissions Trading Scheme but never, never enact one. It ‘wouldn’t hurt’ to have the inquiry, he said, though it would waste twenty million that might be spent on, say, the children of dead soldiers, or preventing Alzheimers.

A deal was done by which pollution would be reduced by giving money to polluters and asking them nicely to reduce their emissions, please, but exacting no penalty if they didn’t. Nor was a goal proclaimed of how much less pollution there would be by 2020, not even Rudd’s paltry five percent. Palmer, a rich coal miner, negotiated this, and Abbott, an apocalyptic believer in Christ’s fiery return, agreed to it. The only global warming he believed in was when Jesus came back and the earth burned.

Ipsos showed the Liberals on 44 and losing, in Victoria, seven seats. This was before Abbott put up the price of petrol and bewhispered a larger GST, thus losing, probably, another one percent and four more seats. Napthine shouted down the phone at Abbott, who winked at Credln unflummoxed. It was likely that in the real world a flow-on from the Victorian trouncing, now pretty certain, would lose his party New South Wales and Queensland, but he wasn’t much aware of the real world any more. She looked at him levelly, winked back, and made him his special tea.

Pyne in Question Time claimed his Costly Degrees Initiative was a good idea though the nation hated it. Far too many adolescents were going to university, he screeched, when they could be cleaning toilets or packing supermarket shelves or whoring themselves to earn money for their Ice and Crack Cocaine, and this shocking, shocking imbalance must stop. The higher fees, he reasoned, would bring the numbers down, especially of women, who had no business in university when round-the-clock nappy-changing was a pure and godly alternative, and increase the numbers of dumb rich boys, like himself, on Graduation Day, throwing up their hats beaming, and spraying their doting mothers with champagne. At the next Question Time, faced with figures that showed a female student of agricultural medicine would end up owing four hundred and thirty thousand dollars for her degree, he said the figure was ‘much lower than that’.

Abbott when asked how much of the reward to polluters would go to Clive Palmer wouldn’t say. No more than a hundred million, probably. He seemed unaware what corruption meant, but he would no doubt be ‘making enquiries’.

Morgan showed 70 percent of Australians favoured, and 23 percent disfavoured, sending Australian doctors and nurses to quench Ebola in Africa. Hunt said he would do no such thing: he would protect good Australians from their noblest instincts, and do what he could, by this ‘passionate neglect’, to spread this pandemic through the known world, and arrest everyone who came to Australia with it.

Abbott could not say what the details of his Direct Action plan were, nor if it would bring down our emissions by five, two or one percent. But he swore he would spend no more money on it. The money was for the polluting capitalists, he said, and they wouldn’t get any more, lest it seem he were in a corrupt relationship with them. If, however, they refused to do it, they wouldn’t get any punishment either. That was how principled he was.

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

Yesterday’s Bogeyman

(First published by Independent Australia)

The home-grown ISIL bogeyman isn’t playing very well for the Liberals lately. The boy they shot dead was seventeen. The boy in the recruiting video was a teenager too, red-haired and blue-eyed and clearly naive. It seemed wrong he should go to gaol for twenty-five years, or be targeted for assassination by drone in Iraq or Syria. And the Australian master terrorist Mohammad Ali Baryalei, now dead, killed perhaps by a fighter bomber ASIO gave information to, didn’t kill any of us, though he probably wanted to.

So the score, thus for, is two of them dead, none of us. And no Australian on Australian soil has died of ‘terrorism’ since January, 1915, three months before Gallipoli.

And so little is the issue resonating that a rise in the price of petrol of forty cents a week has overwhelmed it. People feel safe enough with the Muslims they know, and they’d rather gripe about petrol prices. In Queensland, where it should be playing up big (APEC, old white Christians, and so on) Palaszczuk has overtaken Newman for the first time as preferred Premier. In New South Wales a by-election occurred which if duplicated federally would leave the Abbott-Truss government with one seat, not their own. In Victoria a poll out this morning shows Labor gaining a majority of twenty-five seats.

It’s usually thought a national security scare helps the leader then in power. And it usually does. But Abbott is so creepy and sneaky and malodorous (would you buy a used pregnant bride from this man?) that anything he says is now suspected. We have found MH370 . Putin is behind the shooting down, and I will shirt-front him and say so. I broke none of the eighteen promises you mention, you just didn’t hear them right.

And none of the narrative is working very well. No Australian troops are in Iraq yet, and half the army there is AWOL, or buying their way out of battle, as rich young men did in Lincoln’s time. We are defending people who are clearly crooks and cowards against people we call ‘terrorists’.

There will be minimal precautions at the Whitlam funeral, which everyone famous is going to. There are no body-searches, none, on suburban trains. Five hundred million train journeys occurred in October unpoliced. We are hysterical about the Cenotaph, where an attack is unlikely, and blase about trains, where most terrorist acts, historically, occur.

One of the problems about the whole thing is that ‘terrorism’, lately, has either no meaning, or too much. A divorced husband who holds his wife and children at gunpoint in a siege while police bellow at him with loud hailers is, logically, a terrorist. A papparazzo with nude photos of a princess he proposes to sell back to her is a terrorist. A US drone bombing a village containing ‘suspected militants’ in Pakistan is practising terrorism. Everything Israel does in Gaza is terrorism. Most of what the CIA does in Homeland is terrorism. Most of the debt-collecting industry is a form of terrorism: inciting fear in a chosen victim, the fear of a worse lifestyle than the one that is now enjoyed.

And to call a terrorist someone who has merely talked about blowing things up, as most young men do in their adolescent years, and to put them away for twenty-five years if they do, is to take on the colouring of a South American police state, or Putin’s Russia, or a harsh, provincial, peasant religion punishing women for wearing lipstick, or men for swearing, by flogging them or putting them in the stocks.

There are already laws against killing people. There are already laws against conspiracy to murder. There are laws against attempted murder. There are laws against causing grievous bodily harm. There have been no deaths caused by Muslim ‘terrorism’ on our soil in a hundred years, except the boy we shot in the head three weeks ago.

Let’s leave it at that, shall we.

Recommended Reading

Paul McGeough on page 10 and 11 of the smh this morning.

As good a proof of the hopelessness of our engagement, past and  present, in Iraq as I’ve seen

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (96)

Abbott licensed ASIS to kill teenage Australians without trial in Iraq and proposed legislation that meant Paul McGeough could go to gaol if he reported this. McGeough said half the Iraqi army was AWOL, some giving half their wages to generals who are letting them not turn up for work. He may go to gaol for saying this if the legislation is retrospective, or he may not.

Christopher Walsh, a Liberal voter, employed the usual Murdoch sex-race headline hysteria (OJ Simpson the most vivid so far) to accuse Nova Peris, a thrice-wed black athlete Senator, of having an affair, and writing to her lover of her excitement, a shocking thing to do, before she was ever in politics, or even a member of a political party. He seemed unaware of the alleged affairs of Brandis, Pyne and Mirabella, which were not, he is said to have said, ‘in the public interest’; nor were the events on p68 of the book on Abbott by Duffy, never contradicted; nor, indeed, his discarding at the altar of a pregnant teenage bride, now dead, nor her shaming on television in 2003.

Some teenage Afghans exiled for eighty years to Nauru were attacked by some locals, roughed up, insulted and ‘threatened with death’. This was, Morrison said, ‘wholly a matter for Nauru.’ He boasted again to the House of his success in ‘turning back the boats’ by acts of piracy, kidnap, illegal detention and child abuse, but he was not asked where, in future, he would turn them back to, since Indonesia now thought his harsh piratical policy an act of war. Moves began in the Senate to have his sanity investigated.

Cormann’s ’40 cents a week, on average’ petrol price hike proved, in some cases, to be ten dollars a week, especially in country towns, and thirty dollars a week for truck drivers. Napthine squealed with rage, knowing it would cost him three seats, and power.

No Australian died from terrorism for another day, as none have died on our soil since January, 1915, nearly a hundred years ago now, though four died this week from domestic violence and eighteen from car accidents, and three hundred and thirty-six from cigarettes.

Melbourne University found a way to detect Alzeimer’s and Abbott proposed a Budget that cut its research money and CSIRO’s. More people caught Ebola in Africa and two hundred Cuban doctors worked there but no Australian, though eighty wanted to. Black people were not worth saving, it was signalled by our bizarre stubborn rulers, but white Australians were. Of course they were. Of course they were. You could tell just by looking at them.

Julie Bishop, asked if our troops were in Iraq yet, said this was ‘an operational matter’, meaning no. The cost of keeping them in Dubai doing nothing passed, this week, thirty million. This could have gone to dead soldiers’ children, but it was, alas, a benefit which Abbott’s proud, brave, unpassed Budget forbade. And there was still a possibility the Iraqi ‘government’ would sign a document permitting us to kill, unpunished, Iraqi children, and we could go there to shoot at some Iraqis but not others, the way you do. It’s worked before, Julie Bishop added. It’s worked before.

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

Certain Housekeeping Matters (132)

I have put up another section of The Capitalism Delusion on Ellis Gold, and will put up more each Monday until it is exhausted. I have written and will put up an inadequate review of Fury, a bad film, and will attempt to do bigger pieces on Homeland, Episodes and The West Wing, soon. And, of course, a big diary piece on the Whitlam funeral.

I apologise for my neglect of this part of the blog, but the evil Abbott does daily has been consuming my attention.

I beseech everyone to buy three copies of The Ellis Laws, and give two of them to relatives for Christmas.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (95)

Morrison ruled that genuine refugees from certain countries might be diseased and couldn’t come here, echoing the White Australia Policy of another era. All these people, happily, were black. Sounding madder and madder he told the House he would keep sending boats back, though Widodo wouldn’t take them any more; into cyberspace, presumably. Dutton said our army would not go into Liberia and help stop the Ebola plague. They would be better employed drinking beer in Dubai and waiting to be allowed into Iraq, a place which would not accept them because they wanted permission to kill Iraqi children unpunished. The total amount Australia gave to the Ebola fight, eighteen million, was being spent every fortnight on beer and hotels for our idle Diggers in Dubai.

Abbott said the Senate should pass the seven dollar co-payment because it would finance a twenty billion dollar research fund that might cure Ebola. He was told Ebola had been cured, probably, already.

Pyne tried to bribe Jacqui Lambie to vote for his Lifelong Debt For University Degrees Initiative with a special grant to Tasmania and she told him to go to buggery. Pyne, whose degree was free and whose house cost eighty thousand dollars, thought it only fair that later students should pay two million dollars for these advantages, and brought forward the legislation, demanding in a high, shrill voice that it be passed. Palmer told him to go to buggery. Joe Hockey had the answer, Clive said, on YouTube: free universities.

Abbott proposed the states get no money for health and education any more, but permission to impose a larger GST. The premiers told him to go to buggery, especially Napthine who feared he would be massacred now so voters could ‘send Abbott a message’ on November 30. Abbott called for a ‘mature debate, not a screaming match’ on the GST. This was the man who ran from the chamber to avoid accepting the vote of a man who had misused, if he did, six thousand dollars, and called the most successful response on earth to the world economic crisis a ‘debt and deficit disaster’.

It was revealed that Barnaby Joyce had deceived the House, then forged Hansard, crimes for which he might be expelled from Parliament. Pyne moved that Burke, three times, and Albo, once, be no longer heard, and a hundred words, perhaps, were spoken about this parliamentary equivalent of a capital crime. Barnaby’s empurpled face promised infarct for a while but he survived the day. Hockey screamed, ‘No! No! No!’ a lot, when asked if experts were right to say his Budget was damaging confidence, and sounded unhinged.

Cormann said he would evade Parliament and impose a new petrol tax on strapped and struggling commuters and country town car owners for a year and ask Parliament to ratify this by Christmas 2015. He thus made nonsense of Abbott’s cry on election eve of ‘No new taxes’ along with eighteen other broken promises, or was it thirty-three. He also made certain that Napthine would be massacred in five weeks’ time. Talk increased that Turnbull would replace Hockey, the least successful Treasurer in Australian history.

Widodo, a Muslim, put eight women in his Cabinet. Abbott, a Catholic, only one.

And so it went.

After Newcastle

It is worthwhile emphasising how bad is the news for the federal government after the two byelections in Newcastle.

In Charlestown, where the swing to Labor and the Greens was 27.05 percent, it means a duplication of those figures federally would leave the Coalition with one seat, or possibly two.

In Newcastle, where the swing was 11.83 percent, it means a duplication of that swing federally would leave the Coalition with thirty seats, or maybe thirty-two.

Because the rule in NSW is optional preferences, the published final figures in that state will be less spectacular. But federally, where preferences are compulsory, the figures are diabolical for Abbott.

They mean, must mean, that Daniel Andrews will have a majority of over 15 and as high as 25 in Victoria. It will mean a panic in NSW, where even Robbo is likely to win. This panic will take out Hockey, and the child tormentor Morrison, whose sanity is now in question.

Labor needs to seize the result, and exploit it.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (94)

Abbott’s blond bromance Mark Kenny said on Insiders that the 26.3 percent swing to Labor and the Greens in Charlestown was ‘nothing to crow about’ and gave Labor ‘no hope of winning in March’ though three byelections out of three had gone Labor’s way. Tory Shepherd, a Liberal voter, agreed with him, saying it was ‘a ho-hum result’, though duplicated federally it would leave the Coalition with one seat.

Abbott said he no longer wanted to abolish the states, but he would ‘try to stop duplication of services’ by cutting eighty billion out of education and putting up the GST. Troops continued to cool their heels in Dubai while the Iraqi ‘government’ refused to say in writing they would let us kill Iraqi children, like the six hundred thousand children our side killed between 1990 and 2003. They thought a licence to kill was a clause too far. Millions were spent daily on troops awaiting news of their deployment, on lower and lower wages, which they told the media they were hopping mad about. ‘Waiting to be killed is one thing,’ they said. ‘But getting less and less every week while you’re doing it is really…insulting.’ More to come.

Certain Housekeeping Matters (132)

Bob Rafto is banned for life.

The Newcastle Byelections

There was an 11.3 swing away from the Liberals in Newcastle, and a 26.5 percent swing in Charlestown yesterday, to Labor and the Greens. Duplicated federally, the Newcastle result would win Labor fifty more seats, leaving the Coalition with forty-five, and the Charlestown result would win them ninety-three more seats, and the Greens perhaps three, leaving the Coalition with one.

It is reasonable to suggest that some part of these swings are due to the corruption scandals enveloping the former Liberal members in those constituencies, and five other adjacent Liberal members. It is reasonable to suggest Tony Abbott’s cruel Budget had something to do with it; that, and Gough Whitlam’s remembered legacy; and, in a small part, Bill Shorten’s declaration of his approval for gay marriage.

A minimum reflection of these results would be a 5 percent swing to Labor two party preferred. A probable one would be 7 percent. This is before it is shown that Hockey must abandon his Budget altogether, Abbott must shake Putin’s hand, and Australia is reviled for not helping out in the noble purpose of battling the Ebola pandemic.

It prefigures a big win for Labor in Victoria, and narrow wins in New South Wales and Queensland. It cannot mean that Abbott is ‘in with a chance’ in any future federal election. He is now a busted flush, and has no future.

Or perhaps you disagree.

Certain Housekeeping Matters (131)

A lot of my respondents have said Barry Humphries isn’t funny. And none of them have seen his stage show. Those that have, please signify.

Following the rule that you do not judge what you have not seen I must ban the rest for life.

And then where are we?

This is just too fucking awful.

I think I am closing down the blog altogether.

What a bunch of nongs you are.

How dare you.

How dare you.

Certain Housekeeping Matters (130)

Phill said Barry Humphries wasn’t funny and was banned for a week. He then went into a snit and said he would never, ever write a single word in these columns ever again. Taking him at his  word, I have made it temporarily impossible for him to interpose his ragged stupidities in this blog any more. If he wants clemency he must apologise between dawn on November 1 and sunset on November 3, after which the iron door will close on his flailing fists forever.

I really dislike his tone, and a good deal of his content, and suspect he is a sexagenarian cunt, now living alone.

I ask anyone who has read The Narrow Road To The Deep North to submit a review. I will’publish the first five I get.

My book The Ellis Laws is out, and available in most bookstores. It will be launched by James Carleton in Gleebooks on Saturday, November 15. It costs, I think, 9.90.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (93)

Lying in his teeth, Gerard Henderson, a Liberal voter, said Labor failed in 1974 to get an absolute majority in the Senate. It got an absolute majority in the Senate, but two of its votes were stolen after one of its Senators, Bert Milliner, died, another, Lionel Murphy, went to the High Court, and they were replaced, unprecedentedly and improperly, by a Liberal and a Country Party premier, who had constitutionally the power, never used till then, to act unfairly and undemocratically in this way, and appointed Albert Field and Cleaver Bunton, two anti-Labor Independents, in their place. He said as well: ‘It had always been accepted that an Opposition had the power to block Supply in the Senate and that in such a situation the incumbent government would have to go to an election.’ No, it had never been tried before. And the votes were imminent for Supply to be passed, the votes of two renegade Liberals, on the morning when Kerr jumped the gun, and put his country in danger of civil war.

He spoke as well of Whitlam’s ‘excesses’, though he left Fraser no deficit, and Fraser left Hawke a big one. There was no conspiracy, he said, especially by his own longtime employer the CIA. It is puzzling then that Murdoch, a friend of Nixon, predicted exactly what would happen a year before, and over a dinner encouraged Kerr to do what he did. This is recorded in a number of books about Murdoch, and has been for a decade uncontradicted.

Henderson’s creepy denials grow by the day. He should fall to his prayers and ask his dead God’s forgiveness after eating his flesh and drinking his blood some Sunday morning, very soon.

Troy Bramston, oft called here ‘the smirking tapeworm in the anus of the Labor Party’, described as ‘inimitable’ the most imitated of public figures and mentioned none of his policy achievements in 1200 words. He knew free health, free education, equal pay for women, the giving back of Aboriginal land and the ending of the Vietnam War and the draft and the Birthday Ballot would win Gough praise and, like a loathesome half-extruded turd, left these, and four hundred other achievements out of his shilly-shallying ‘eulogy’.

None of Whitlam’s policy achievements occurred in fourteen articles about him in The Weekend Australian, since Murdoch, his destroyer, wished it so, and the ugliest photo ever taken of him featured prominently on page 20.

In the afterglow of the Whitlam obituaries two byelections showed a massive shift in voter intention away from the Abbottites. In Newcastle, the Labor vote went up by 6.3 percent, the Green vote by 5 percent. In Charlestown, the Labor vote went up by 20.8 percent, the Green vote by 5.7. If the Newcastle swing were duplicated federally, the Coalition would end up with twenty-eight seats. If the Charlestown swing were duplicated federally, the Coalition would end up with only one. Both votes were greater than what Labor got in 2009, an election they narrowly won. This suggested Labor would win back power in March in NSW and Queensland after landsliding back in Victoria in November.

And so it went.

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.