March 18th 2006

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: AUSTRALIAN EXPORTS: Why we need a single desk for wheat

EDITORIAL: Net foreign debt soars towards $500 billion!

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Talentless, faction-torn Labor on the skids

TAXATION REFORM: Governments not facing the important issues

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Australian Democrats, Greens move to restrict religion

SCHOOLS: Science teaching turned upside-down

STRAWS IN THE WIND: The future-eaters / Still more Turkish delight / Paul the train-wrecker is back

POLITICAL IDEAS: The new dark ages that are already upon us

CULTURE AND CIVILISATION: Perils of banishing religion from society

CULTURE: Hollywood, religion and C.S. Lewis

RUSSIA: Russia's population implosion

OPINION: AMA and RANZCOG taken to task over RU-486

Attorney-General's 'grave concerns' over national security breach (letter)

Labor's Kevin Rudd on abortion drug (letter)

Anti-life politicians 'a useless commodity' (letter)

Capitalism raises living standards (letter)

BOOKS: SOCIAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT: An Introduction, by C.J. Barrow

BOOKS: Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day 1918, by Joseph E. Persico

Books promotion page

The future-eaters / Still more Turkish delight / Paul the train-wrecker is back

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, March 18, 2006
The future-eaters

Mark Latham's analysis of the woes and the likely future of the ALP just won't go away. Thus, we have now received a restatement of much of what he said from none other than Barry Jones - recent past ALP President.

In an interview with Mary Kostakidis at the end of SBS television's World News (February 24, 2006), Jones denounced the ALP factional system, which has lost all ideological or political foundations.

"The factions have become ends in themselves," he said. "They really have become trading companies. The factions represent the privatisation of the party and they are not about ideology any more. Once the differences between left and right might have been ideological; now they are about places, they are about placement, they're about preferment, they're about patronage, and that kills the heart and soul of the party."

This critique, of course, is completely devastating, and Latham couldn't have put the matter more bluntly. There is very, very little left of the old Labor Party, which had made such an important, indeed crucial, contribution to the creation of Australia, morally and quite often, intellectually. Gone. All gone. Very sad.

This explosion by Jones - sedulously ignored by most of the media - occurred when the two main factions moved to eliminate independent, non-aligned MPs - including Simon Crean. That is, MPs who were not the creatures of one wing or another of this poor man's cosa nostra.

As Jones said in this interview, federal Opposition leader Kim Beazley assured him there were five splendid independents and they weren't under threat. So Jones's earlier expressions of concern at a National Press Club meeting were unnecessary. Now these MPs, containing a fair measure of the political experience which federal Labor so grievously lacks, are being targeted in preselection processes that are as rotten as Labor transactions habitually are.

Jones expected Beazley to intervene to protect these people, on the grounds of their value to the party. Thus, one Bob Sercombe had been described by Kim as "brilliant" when shadow minister for our external territories. But Beazley hasn't been moving to protect him from a union putsch on behalf of influential union leader Bill Shorten. Jones describes this as payback time, with Crean's main offence being that he opposed Beazley in the contest for the leadership, and, most recently, had given his support to Mark Latham in that politician's quest for the top party office.

The picture promoted of Kim as avuncular, warm and principled does not appear to entirely add up, whereas Latham's description of him as spiteful and vengeful is gaining in plausibility. Personally, I can't see any sunshine in prospect for Labor, who just have to hope for the conservatives to fall over; and while Howard remains, that seems unlikely.

In sum, seeing that it is now de rigueur to draw upon nature and anthropomorphise the creatures of creation in delineating total reality, contemporary Labor resemble a crowd of three-legged hyenas, stomping around looking for a lion. There are none - anymore than there are any grown ups: only suburban slickers, and infantile communists.


Still more Turkish delight

The Germans have awoken with a massive headache: contemplating the great success of "a virulently anti-Semitic film about the Iraq war", according to the UK Telegraph (February 26, 2006).

The 2.5 million-strong Turkish community in Germany is over the moon with Valley of the Wolves, which has demented American GIs slaughtering guests at a wedding party, and "scenes in which a Jewish surgeon removes organs from Iraqi prisoners in a style reminiscent of the Nazi death camp doctor, Joseph Mengele".

The film opened in Turkey to great acclaim, with the Turkish Prime Minister's wife attending the gala.

Going on to general release in Germany, the film has been drawing full houses, with 130,000 people, mainly young Turkish men, lining up in the first five days.

They cheer when the US commander's building in northern Iraq is blown up by the hero. And, when he plunges a dagger into the heart of a US commander at the close, the audience stand up and shout "Allah is great!"

Shooting the mesengers

The Germans now have a problem, about which they were warned years ago, but which they sedulously ignored, while shooting the messengers. The same head-in-the-sand denial has been practised in many countries, including our own. In many of these countries - Germany and France for example - the problem is probably insoluble and will surely grow worse.

The technique, to date, has been to insist that those stereotypical views of murderous anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism have only been held by a small minority. The majority of the diaspora Muslims don't support such extravagant scenarios. So said the PR.

I don't think the Germans believe this anymore. Nor do the French after their long experience of rioting and senseless destruction. Nor do the Dutch or Scandinavians.

The communal leaders who insist their flock are peace-loving and patriotic are usually not trying to deceive their hosts, but, they are often deceiving themselves - as has just emerged in Germany and, dare I whisper it, at least in parts of Britain. Naturally, we all want to believe the soothing assurances of our Muslim friends, but ... the prognosis overseas is bad.

Australia, however, is a society different from any other I know. I suspect the hardcore haters of Australia, and the West, are old Australians, viz., our lamentable New Class, who neither toil nor do they spin, but won't vacate the kitchen. Our Muslims run a very poor second to them, if indeed they are even in the race.


Paul the train-wrecker is back

Paul Keating, taking full advantage of an invitation to speak at Sydney University on urban renewal, said that, with the exceptions of the Opera House, the Rocks and the Queen Victoria Building, the best way to start renewal was to raze Sydney's central business district. Nothing of aesthetic value would be lost. (The Australian, March 4, 2006).

Now Paul is absolutely right, and he could have given the same speech with Melbourne's CBD in his sights.

He said that Sydney was being ruined by "greedy developers and a 'rotten' local government system", and that the NSW State Government should act.

Those of us who have followed Australian urban history from the First Fleet on, know that greedy, destructive developers and sweetheart-deal councillors have operated in our society from the time there was something to develop, and since colonial people were first allowed to elect their first councils. A whole stream of books on Melbourne - from Michael Cannon's books, e.g., The Land Boomers: The Complete Illustrated History (1986), up to the recent Robyn Annear's A City Lost and Found: Whelan the Wrecker's Melbourne (2005) - tell the same story, and identify the same greedy vandals.

The only checks upon Keating's developers and "their millions" and a profoundly dysfunctional local government system "inherited from the English", was and is, a central government, a governor (backed by London in the early days), and then a state government.

So, Paul said, the Morris Iemma Government of NSW must wade in, clean up the mess and insist on accountability. Keating is probably right: ordinary people, local protest groups, are no match for collusion between "developers' millions", sympathetic councils and regulatory bodies that seem strangely dilatory or just invisible.

But sometimes state governments have been prime movers in the exploitation and degradation of their capital city, working with the very people whom Keating is excoriating.

Those periods of a city's measured growth, successful preservation, and development, with everything in the public view, have coincided with an honest and visionary government and impartial regulators with adequate power.

Sydneysiders, and Melbournians, have had periods of such government; but, as millionaires become multi-millionaires, even governments are for sale. And that last bulwark against public and private corruption and misbehaviour, the media, are now too compromised by their closeness to corporate capitalism, or to parties - Labor and conservative - who are economic activists.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia executive director, David Poole, said that "Mr Keating's performance as a proponent of 'Zegna-suited Woollahra-focused elitism' showed why the Australian people had hated him so much".

"In the Paul Keating urban utopia," said Dr Poole, "every part of Sydney would look like Paris."

Captain Wacky must have been delighted. Come south, hombre, and we will run you for mayor.



News Weekly has long argued the merits and advantages of closer ties with India - one of the very few genuine and long-standing democracies in our Indo-Pacific region - and, indeed, the prospects for closer ties are falling into place.

It has taken Washington and their now extremely important alliance to break the ice-pack which has kept Australia from fully engaging with Delhi. The main impediment, at least in recent years, has been our China lobby, with their total absorption with the Chinese market. Two-way trade with mainland China is far, far greater than with contemporary India, but the die is cast and we will be following Washington.

America doesn't see China as a friend but as a particularly slippery rival - with whom, conceivably, she could, one day, be embroiled in armed conflict. India may feel rather the same way.

China is pressing down on India from Tibet via Nepal, has Burma in her pocket, and, until Musharref turned to America after September 11, was Pakistan's sub-continental ally and arms supplier - including the provision of nuclear know-how. All this so as to perform a pincer movement on India.

Only a bullet away

Now Washington can't rely upon Pakistan as a long-term ally - for she is still only a bullet away from becoming a virulently anti-American régime. But we, in engaging with India, now have the chance to greatly augment our wealth and strengthen our political position, while moving away from over-dependence on the China market, and an alarming recent tendency to be subservient to Beijing's wishes.

We happen to possess 40 per cent of the world's uranium. The price of oil, and the kind of people who control it, virtually dictate a global move to other forms of energy. Nuclear energy far surpasses other alternatives for mass industrial activity.

We are uniquely placed to sell uranium to India, the users of which have a real chance of being monitored. This degree of compliance is not something we can expect from many other potential recipients. Over its history, India has not been a warlike nation, an expansionist nation or an interventionist.

India is not driven by ideology nor, for the greater part, religious fanaticism. So she is an ideal partner for the US to help balance our region - and an ideal market for the US and for us.

  • 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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