November 19th 2005

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Terrorism: Australia's moment of truth

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Voters suspicious about workplace reforms

INTERNATIONAL TRADE: Canberra fails to defend Australia's trade interests

PRIMARY PRODUCTION: Brazil, Argentina threat to Australian exports

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Icarus and I / Drugs and getting on with our neighbours / France's Muslims - and ours / Varieties of bribery and corruption

SCHOOLS: Doing without grammar, punctuation and spelling

MEDICAL SCIENCE: Embryo stem-cell research - hype and hope

ECONOMICS: Sun still rising - Japan's invincible might

UNITED STATES: Court assault on parental rights

THE HOLOCAUST: 'Auschwitz' and Górecki: reflections on evil and hope

RU-486 a recipe for nightmares (letter)

Saddam and the Australian Wheat Board (letter)

Labor Party's morass (letter)

BOOKS: THE TYRANNICIDE BRIEF: The Story of the Man who sent Charles I to the Scaffold, by Geoffrey Robertson

THE COST OF 'CHOICE': Women Evaluate the Impact of Abortion, edited by Erika Bachiochi

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Icarus and I / Drugs and getting on with our neighbours / France's Muslims - and ours / Varieties of bribery and corruption

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, November 19, 2005
Icarus and I

On the general principles of catch-up and me-too, The Age has followed The Australian in filling their columns, day after day, with the 1975 Gough Whitlam Dismissal.

The ABC, which has never left it alone, is back with carefully selected old footage from that bizarre event. Why do they waste our time with this Stone Age politicking, this cultural necrophilia?

After all, there are still enough people around who remember what a total disaster the Whitlam term in office had been. What incompetent, obnoxious frauds so many of that government were. And what a preening, booming, empty vessel the Great Demagogue had revealed himself to be.

I remember being incensed at the circumstances of the Dismissal. For a start, the office of the Governor-General - one of the few iconic institutions considered above politics, in the view of the deeply cynical electorate - appeared to have been politicised and, for many, de-legitimised; and there, for many, it has remained.

The slide towards a republic started there, set in motion by conservatives, greedy for office and refusing to wait. If Labor were unfit to continue being our government, so were the conservatives unfit to take their place.

Our conservatives asserted they were born to rule, and seemed ready to respect democracy only insofar as it helped them. Already, early in 1973, people such as Ivor Greenwood and Reg Withers were discussing as to how the new government could be blocked, even brought down, by the Senate - as state Labor governments had already been by hostile upper houses.

And the first attempt to do just this was in 1974, with Whitlam emerging the winner.

The fact is, the Liberals were in such a hurry to seize power, and Whitlam so determined to hang on at any price, that the Governor-General Sir John Kerr was on a licking to nothing. It's good that his then secretary, Sir David Smith, is still around to tell it as it was.

Cult of the Lost Leader

The consequences have been disastrous. A cult of the Lost Leader was immediately set in motion by the media and by the ALP spin-hacks, who'd originally worked to bring Whitlam to power and whose identity and public image depended on people believing that this whole Labor term had been a triumph, not a disaster.

So, a kind of rustic Battle of the Boyne legend was spawned. Had there not been a surfeit of bogus marches and phoney rememberings, of which the public are now totally sick, I can imagine a scruffy march of the usual suspects wending their way through the conservative suburbs bellowing, "Shame, Kerr!" and "Maintain the rage!"

The "Left" don't criticise Malcolm Fraser nowadays, even though the circumstances whereby he came to power made his three terms of government seem illegitimate to many hardliners.

In fact, it damaged his fragile self-confidence, and set him on the path of showing he really was a good guy ... by taking up, or continuing, every radical or feel-good nostrum of the defeated Whitlamites. His way of saying "sorry".

Later on, he started telling the rest of us that we should be "sorry", for something else.

This born-again benevolent conservative, in a period of great international change, and radical excitement, was then drawn like a moth to the flame to championing the cause of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. I suspect that that will be the political act for which he will be finally remembered.

But none of the main actors in the Dismissal drama can have grounds for satisfaction; we were the sufferers, long-term.

Also, it slowly became clear that Sir John Kerr was in a sense set up, then scapegoated. Bill Hayden was right. The Left media of that day, by feeding Whitlam's vanity and encouraging a sense of omnipotence - even immortality - sent this hubristic Icarus on his path to the sun.

Among his flight companions were Don Quixote (my old mate Jim Cairns) - and a couple of clones of Squizzy Taylor and Snowy Cutmore.

After the inevitable meltdown and headlong descent had occurred, our moribund paparazzi have swung between saying "We wuz robbed" or, like old Kaspar in Robert Southey's poem, "But 'twas a famous victory".

But now they are cranking it up again, at the same time saying, "Read my latest book, just out in time for the anniversary - Through the Looking Glass: Icarus and I."

Drugs and getting on with our neighbours

Drug-sellers and drug lobbies never give up, and they aren't giving up here, despite all the evidence of the spread of hard drugs, affecting all ages - evidence which has become more and more inescapable.

The strategy of the pro-drug lobby which, like the industry itself, has a variety of international linkages, is now to smash the drug-sentencing measures and legal philosophies of our two most important neighbours.

The Australian attempt to have special exceptions made for Australian drug-couriers and pushers is an act of astonishing arrogance, designed to fray what were good and increasingly valuable relationships.

At the first stage, as federal Liberal politician Wilson Tuckey pointed out, the practice of removing the death sentence for Australians would lead to the use of Australian "mules", for the overall risk to them would be less. And, if our drug lobbyists could force Indonesia and Singapore to return these Australian criminals to Australia for trial or confinement, we know what a dream run they'd get here - backed to the hilt by our drug-promoting media.

In fact, if Indonesia and Singapore give way to our bullying - which masquerades as Christian mercy - then their domestic anti-drug policies will collapse, and their judicial systems be humiliated. They would then have the drugs problems that neighbouring countries already possess.

Orchestrated bathos campaign

The Singaporeans are adamant on this one, knowing the stakes; but they must be greatly disappointed at the pusillanimity of our Government in giving way to a continuous, orchestrated bathos campaign, especially from Channel Nine/PBL - that adjunct to the gambling industry, as journalist Terry McCrann recently observed (Channel Nine's Business Sunday program, November 6, 2005).

A tactic of the pro-drugs lobby - the usual mix of useful idiots, "recreational" users, true believers (in what?), and the ultimate financial beneficiaries - has been to try to force our Federal Police to give up collaborating with their opposite numbers in Indonesia and Singapore.

This collaboration, it should be emphasised, is a sine qua non for controlling drug-trafficking in the region, including Australia.

We should expect this moral blackmail to continue for so long as the blackmailers expect our Government's will to crack, and for it to abandon all those working so hard to protect us.

It's a question of ticker.

France's Muslims - and ours

The continuing rioting in Paris and other French cities were developments which many people have been expecting for years.

These Algerian ghettoes have long been centres of unemployment, hard drugs and havens for criminals. Some of them have been no-go zones for the French, and the police enter parts of these ghettoes with circumspection.

French politicians and the media are now locked into the usual debate which has paralysed action in France, and many other European countries, since these problems of unassimilated and rebellious migrants first arose.

One school says: "Confront the problem head on. Meet force with force. Isolate the leaders, punish them and deport them, where possible." Whereas the liberals say we must get at the underlying causes, as we should with terrorism and abortion.

The root cause, in fact, was to allow them over in the first place without any thought of, "Are there any jobs for them?", "Have they any skills or education?", "Is there suitable housing?", etc.

No. Like Australia - which brings in migrants in job lots and just dumps them here - the French gambled on everything working out alright. They haven't, nor have they in one country after another.

As jobs shrink, despite all this talk of job-creation, different layers of have-nots are going to challenge the existing order, whatever it is - either alone or in a coalition of destruction.

There is no evidence that this behaviour is a reflection of Islamic fundamentalism. The people running these enclaves are criminal bosses and major drug-dealers who stand over the majority - the respectable, but powerless.

Past French governments and the police have tended to leave them to it. Now, it's going to need more than Paris philosophers and civil rights virtuosi to fix this one.

The problems we have with the more threatening and abusive elements among our Muslims are of a quite different order.

We have no massive poverty among Muslims; drugs are not a big problem; and ghettoes, where they exist, are self-created.

Like the rest of us, our Muslims enjoy a degree of security that everyone else envies, especially those living in the countries from where our Muslim residents came. They have their own mosques and can have their own schools. In fact, they have little to complain of, and most of them know this.

Therefore, the rabble-rousing, seditious outbursts from power-seeking mullahs, as reported by our media, pose no moral problem for us. They can, and probably will be, dealt with under new laws if they reach a certain level of advocacy of violence or of terrorism.

Most people would support this silencing, although our rights lawyers and civil libertarians will doubtless take the side of whomsoever expresses hatred of the West, and keeps the money flowing - to them.

Varieties of bribery and corruption

A list of over 2,000 firms worldwide which traded illicitly with Saddam Hussein in the course of the oil-for-food scheme (described in News Weekly, November 5, 2005) has been released.

The Australian Wheat Board (AWB) is one of those mentioned. It appears to have virtually given the dictator as much as $250 million in toto. Board members deny knowing that these payments were being diverted in this way; but they would say that, wouldn't they?

And many people say that they knew all about these transactions.

This actually is par for the course. I remember, during the Vietnam War, when China was supposedly our enemy and we did not recognise Beijing, a substantial trade in wheat was conducted by our people via an office established in Hong Kong.

While the politicians insisted that China was a threat from the north - and they were certainly deeply involved in the region's revolutionary groups - our Department of Trade people and the wheat-growers sold, most lucratively, to the Threat.

Our Left, then, didn't crack a boo; for this was helping their friends and our official enemies. Nothing has changed there.

I'm glad these firms are being identified; but I'm concerned that this operation is being used to divert attention from the big bribe-takers at the United Nations and by the western and Arab politicians whose support was bought by Saddam.

Then there are the journalists who are of considerable interest. I'd like to see the list.

Distinction between business and bribery

A distinction should be drawn here between firms, or persons, who have to pay a bribe to a corrupt or tyrannical government in order to do business at all - or just to be allowed to keep operating there - and those who take money, especially from an enemy, in return for secret political favours.

We have had to accept that a great many governments and individuals in this world are corrupt or corruptible. It was assumed, not so very long ago, that there were many parts of the world where you had to bribe politicians, generals or bureaucrats to do business at all.

There still are such countries - try the eastern European and Muslim ex-communist states, or Africa, or South America, if you don't believe this.

This is abominable; but it is part of commercial and political life in many places. But offering bribes under duress is one thing. Accepting or soliciting bribes is quite another.

I'm tempted to make the distinction between venial and mortal sin here.

  • Max Teichmann

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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