September 6th 2003

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: How to help democracy in Hong Kong

Australian Senate backs Hong Kong democrats against China

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Government stumbles over Manildra, Tuckey fiascos

STRAWS IN THE WIND: J'accuse / Shape of things to come

WATER: Murray River farmers face man-made 'permanent drought'

NATIONAL PARTY: Why John Anderson should stay

LETTERS: Sugar price

LETTERS: Rail the key to rural infrastructure

LETTERS: Amrozi death sentence

Ethanol, sugar and free trade

EDUCATION HISTORY: Social justice in education - self-interest disguised as altruism

FAMILY: Quick facts on marriage

BOOKS: GULAG : A HISTORY, by Anne Applebaum

BOOKS: The Maverick and his Machine: Thomas Watson Sr and the Making of IBM

Books promotion page

J'accuse / Shape of things to come

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, September 6, 2003

L'Affair Hanson, which most of us thought was ending in a whimper - with a familiar myth about a lost leader - has come alive with a bang. Pauline Hanson's jailing, the nature of her sentence, the kind of arguments produced in court to justify her conviction and, indeed, the initiation of the proceedings themselves, have produced for us, if we wish, an antipodean Dreyfus Case.

The revelations starting to come out, or to be prudent, the allegations surfacing as to who was behind the campaign to "Get Hanson", and therefore One Nation, promise big trouble for the Coalition.

It was patently clear that all the established parties faced the threat of a new party with widespread support (as One Nation already had) and with more promising to follow if it established itself. The status quo parties felt this to be an intolerable situation. None of them is in business to support liberal democracy or practise its core values, it soon transpired.

The rise of this party, or one like it, was almost inevitable, given the consensus between the main parties to ignore certain strong beliefs and preferences of the public and to ignore these wishes and values over a period of years.

In this case the split between parties and people were over immigration, multiculturalism, political correctness (i.e., conformism imposed, when necessary, by sanctions), contempt for core family and moral values, and views on education and on crime and punishment. The parties were out of step so ... a new party was in the offing and only needed a charismatic leader. She arrived.

What followed from Day One has been a litany of ambushes, foolish actions coming from inexperience performed by amateurs; penetration by crooks and flat-earthers, all made easier by the warning off of any potential supporters of substance having much to lose. Warned off by our multi-headed Establishment.

So, only those with nothing to lose but also nothing sensible or realistic to give, joined or remained.

Quite soon the party became a ship of fools, Ms Hanson being turned into the meat in every sandwich, a prisoner of her various advisers. I can understand her quarrelling with them.

But ... no matter how temperate or skilful she might have been - the electorate never found her very threatening or odious only the Establishment and its propagandists here and overseas, she would have been targeted. The threat was to its power and privileges and the plans it had for other Australians.

Everyone has his favourite memory of this period: mine is of the virtual withholding of police protection while orchestrated attacks by political thugs smashed her meetings and successfully drove the public away from even hearing the arguments.

Incidentally, these arguments weren't life threatening, they are in fact familiar to most people, some are question-begging, some gloriously general - but all part of normal political discourse; able to be discussed, rebutted, modified. But our emperors with no clothes thought otherwise.

Had it not been for the close involvement by the Queensland ALP in the court case and its lead-up, things could look very murky for the Liberal and National Parties, particularly the latter.

As it is, and depending upon the revelations that come out, the big parties may have to distance themselves from the activities of their enthusiasts, their commandos. This is far more serious than a traffic fine.

Prima facie: the only thing going for the Liberals is that John Howard never showed much stomach for "Getting Pauline" or for the more intemperate tactics of the media. Indeed, he was targeted for being too soft on her and of being a secret sympathiser with some of the One Nation critiques and complaints.

So, as the media angrily pointed out, he got the votes of past and putative One Nation people. But as to the rest - if it were further shown that groups and lobbies outside parliament had been egging on or helping to fund that anti-Hanson campaign, we really shall have our Dreyfus Case.

Alternatively, if this sting were financed out of Government funds - State or Federal - things could be very serious for the people concerned.

I won't discuss the Queensland judicial system and its conduct, but don't you worry about that.

Shape of things to come

The disaster in France whereby as many as 10,000 people - mainly elderly - appear to have died from the recent heatwave, has triggered a debate and a hunt for culprits and remedies with which we in Australia should be very familiar, except that the desire to cover up and deny, now observable in France, still rules the roost here.

President Chirac, who normally keeps out of domestic policy and politics - the norm for a French president - has intervened. He is now criticised for not doing so earlier. His suggestions for reforms and thereby the avoidance of a recurrence of such a situation, are routinely described as being too little or too late by people who had previously said and done nothing. These include France's political parties.

Chirac said many families and neighbours had gone on holidays and left the elderly to die alone. Many of them - as in Australia, etc - already lived alone.

He said, "How necessary it is for our society to become more responsible and more attentive to others." In a separate interview with Le Monde, he said, "The crisis showed France was coping badly with ageing, a problem shared by many developed nations."

Hospitals overwhelmed

He could also point out that hospital accident and emergency departments were overwhelmed partly because of a jump in patient numbers, but also because doctors had taken their holidays en masse, as had health workers, and resisted calls to return.

Whether the GPs who did remain performed home visits, or visits out of hours, I don't know. Quite a few people died in French nursing homes. I only hope that more French GPs visit nursing homes than do here. Only 16 per cent of Australian GPs will.

The Socialists blamed Chirac etc for, among other things, "being distant in their attitude to suffering". Yeah.

The Greens accused Chirac of "expressing compassion for the victims while trying to make their relatives feel guilty". That's right. Whereas the Greens do the opposite. And, "His intervention was devoid of concrete proposals".

They would be of necessity - for the people concerned would say "Non".

Doctors should make proper provision for patients when they bolt off and should be obliged to return - as soldiers on leave do when there are emergencies.

Hospitals should not allow themselves to run staff numbers down to risky levels. They should have the right to demand that staff stay on the job or be on call. Sure. But ... see what the staff, or their unions, would say and do. Whether they be French or Australian.

Chirac is not a magician, but he is telling younger people to look after their elderly. But they don't, and won't, will they? He could say the same for looking after their children. The parents should take far more responsibility for their progeny. In the developed nations, as Chirac says, young adults are solving the problem by not having any children.

Meantime the State - anyone but them - can do what they like with their parents. This is what is meant by a developed nation. The hard, dirty and poorly paid work should be done by migrants and guest workers.

The steadily declining Europeans should be freed up for making money or living off the state: taking holidays, or demonstrating against poverty and injustice in distant lands. While putting their money where their mouths are - underwriting the drug epidemic.

This sudden crisis of the abandoned old in France simply dramatises a permanent condition of social and moral decadence in "developed" Western society - as we know. The alliance of libertarian capitalism and libertarian lifestyles. Social Darwinism without the bonding - a certain recipe for the decline and death of the relevant species or group.

In Australia, one in ten live alone. In 20 years, it is projected, 40 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women will be doing so. If they live in nursing homes, hospitals, etc, 10 per cent now get regular visits from relatives.

Chirac was simply pointing to the social and psychological roots of the caring and bonding problems. How dare he! In a world where some folk prefer things to people, others trees to people, and others bats to trees.

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