NYT on the election…

For your amusement, the “paper of record” manages to make a complete hash of its “analysis” of the Australian election.

Another potential fissure is over America’s military presence in Australia. An expansion of America’s forward basing abilities, which was part of the agenda of Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary, has gone on almost unnoticed in Australia’s vast Northern Territory. This is not likely to sit well with Labor’s left-wing base…

…Mr. Howard was often lampooned by his critics as being Bush’s poodle, a word which some also used to describe Mr. Blair. But a look at the record suggests that Australia did well out of the relationship. Tariffs were lifted on Australian steel, a free-trade agreement was signed, and Australia alone enjoys visa requirements for professionals that allow some 10,500 a year to enter the United States.

Yeah, so well we got a free trade agreement that, according to economic analyses at the time, gave us virtually nothing that we couldn’t have gotten by unilateral action. And concerns about US bases in northern Australia? Even the Greens, who remain opposed to those bases, didn’t campaign on the issue.

Posted in federal election '07, media
28 comments on “NYT on the election…
  1. Beppie says:

    Lol. “Look how lucky Australians are: We even let them come and live in the US!”

  2. Greg says:

    Nice cherry-pick.

  3. harry says:

    The visa issue is also a joke: I work for a US multinational in Australia, and Aussie staff here have constant problems getting US visas, particularly if family is accompanying them on a trip. Furthermore, my sister married a US citizen a few years ago and had a nightmare getting US residency and work clearance, particularly due to a backlog caused by the government of California being nearly bankrupt at the time. The US visa system is a joke on a par with nearly every other aspect of US government.

  4. Gary Lord says:

    To their credit, the NYT does highlight a near-forgotten war crime:

    In fact, Australia’s tough and highly trained special forces were secretly operating in western Iraq in advance of the American invasion.

    Less cogent analysis could be due to the reporter’s source: “a veteran Australian diplomat, who requested anonymity because he feared that Mr. Rudd would not look kindly on a public servant speaking out on foreign policy.” Sounds like another disgruntled Howard apparatchik to me.

  5. KoopaTroopa says:

    When Mr. Howard began to face domestic political pressure at home over the detention of two Australian citizens, Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks, at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, he appealed directly to Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and the two were released.

    *Head Explodes*

  6. Tony Healy says:

    What is really staggering is the complete omission of the role of Howard’s attack on workers and unions in destroying his government. The first NY Times report late Saturday night our time also omitted any reference to this.

    It’s hard to understand this omission, for Workchoices was more relevant than many of the other issues reported. I presume it was because the reports were prepared by overseas-based writers rather than local stringers, and their lack of local knowledge meant they simply researched angles they were familiar with from previous international stories.

    On the subject of the special E3 visas for Australians, that was indeed a special privilege granted to Australia. All other nations must compete for part of a quota. Whether it was generous enough to suit everyone is not the issue, and indeed, America’s granting of that privilege was part of an attack on their own workers.

  7. anthony says:

    In the big rock candy mountain…

  8. Paul Burns says:

    It doesn’t take long to make these neocon Americans paranoid, does it. Next thing you know we’ll be up there as Public Enemy No. 2 alongside Iran, just because we turfed GWB’s drinking buddy. I wonder if our ex-PM ever snorted any of George’s coke?

  9. Tony D says:

    “For the Bush administration, symbolism and gestures count in a war without much international support”

    Oh yes, don’t forget that there’s a war on. A symbolic one no less.

    Mr. Rudd, by contrast, is unlikely to offer public support for the war effort…”

    Let’s all just think about that statement for a brief second…

    “When President Hu Jintao of China was in Australia in September, Mr. Rudd spoke to him in Chinese.”

    Is it just me that finds that sentence slightly xenophobic?

    “A looming source of friction between the United States and Australia is over Australia’s uranium policy…”

    Like selling uranium to India like the yanks want us to? Oh, that’s right, if we sell to India it would be in violation of the NPT, a factoid not worth mentioning apparently. Pesky international treaties.

  10. zelta says:

    Yes the ‘free trade’ agreement with the US was a pathetic con, a preferential trade deal we could have got anyway, which has now made Australians subject to corrupt US copyright and patent laws.

    Not strictly on topic, but I’ve got to say this – I am FED UP with reading about Costello’s great economic management. I was at a business tax conference a few weeks ago and every person there when I mentioned Costello said he was a lazy treasurer who basically did nothing in the job, except to pass a budget drafted by advisers divvying out the minerals boom.

    He didn’t lift a finger to simplify our tax system, but a lazy media credited him as being a ‘great treasurer’ without looking at the facts. Good riddance.

  11. pre-dawn leftist says:

    Of course the Americans would never believe that an election in another country could be fought and won on a domestic agenda – the world revolves around the US, doesnt it?

  12. gandhi says:

    What is really staggering is the complete omission of the role of Howard’s attack on workers and unions…

    Not really – that would have been extremely confusing to a US audience. Surely anyone who attacks unions (aka Socialism, aka Communism) must be Good: therefore anyone who defeats them must be Bad.

  13. Actually, a lot of the big American political blogs (at least the left-leaning ones) got it right, for instance Glenn Greenwald

    There’s a tendency in the U.S. to view the elections in other countries based on the self-centered perspective that the result is always some sort of referendum on the U.S. Hence, all sorts of unwarranted conclusions are typically drawn whenever a pro-Bush foreign leader is defeated or re-elected.

    Like most foreign elections, the humiliating defeat of Australia’s Prime Minister, John Howard, was driven largely by their own domestic concerns, and it had little (though not nothing) to do with the U.S. Still, it is worth celebrating Howard’s defeat in light of how pernicious a presence he was, as one of the very few remaining world leaders who loyally supported the worst and most war-loving aspects of the Bush/Cheney foreign policy.

  14. Sam Clifford says:

    I’m reading “How to kill a country” at the moment and am even more firmly against AUSFTA than ever before. Seriously, the free trade fundamentalists make out how it’s such a great deal but Australian producers have had their tariff protection stripped away while American producers enjoy comfy tariff levels and subsidies. Everyone’s right, opening up the American steel industry to Australian imports didn’t need an FTA and the IP law (which is in fact the DMCA) is screwing us.

  15. Bill Posters says:

    But a look at the record suggests that Australia did well out of the relationship.

    I love this kind of patronising pat-on-the-head stuff. Lovely.

  16. Nabakov says:

    Our local pundits on the ground fucked up the call, you expect foreign pundits to do any better about “A Far Away Country of Which We Know Little”?

  17. Enemy Combatant says:

    Glenn Greenwald is one of America’s best political writers. His book “How Would A Patriot Act” hit No. 1 on Amazon within weeks of its release on the strength of Glenn’s untolled blog and his reputation in the blogosphere. Good to see he’s lost none of his form at Salon. Always nice to get it straight, rather than be compelled to negotiate the hazzards of their guest gateway.

  18. Jane says:

    The encouraging thing is that Australia can extricate itself from the FTA by giving six months’ notice of its intention to withdraw. I only hope that Rudd will take advantage of the get out of gaol free card and play it soon, before we’re full of fire blight, mealy worms and charming porcine diseases like post-weaning multi systemic wasting disease. This disease has no known cure or preventive vaccine and only Australia, Belgium and Finland are free of it.
    Quarantine standards have already been lowered leaving us open to new pests and diseases which will compromise our reputation as a clean green exporter. And the Howard government was complicit in this, giving the lie to their claims to have the country’s best interests at heart.
    The same goes for the PBS, which the big drug companies loathe. Ratty & Co did their level best to destroy it, but their problem was they couldn’t sneak it past the electorate.

  19. Nabakov: how long would it have taken an NYT journalist to do a search on “Rudd Labor United States” on Google News or Factiva? It’s not like we’re asking them to analyze the demographics in Bennelong, just figure out that Rudd, while perhaps not at the head of the conga line of suckholes, has been rather careful about seeking to ensure a good relationship with both sides of politics in the USA.

  20. gandhi says:

    Still on the MSM topic, LP readers might enjoy the comments directed at Ms Albrechtsen as she flies off to Paris, seemingly propelled by her own hot air.

    Shanahan was also recently flamed in the comments (till they pulled them). Time for Rupert’s flagship paper to get a few new deckhands, methinks… Aaargh!

  21. Katz says:

    Thanks for that ref Gandhi.

    Janet Albrechtsen would talk up Howard’s “triumphs”, wouldn’t she?

    She is most vehement in her assertion that Howard has shouldered “elite” progressivism out of its alleged monopoly control of opinion pages. I suppose in Albrechtsen’s world this is significant.

    But in the real world tides of opinion are changeable and evanescent.

    What really matters is the control of institutions and the constitutions under shich they operate.

    In that real world of power, Howard did have some impacts.

    1. The GST planted a government hand firmly in the pocket of every business. these businesses were forced to become tax collectors for the government. Government now controls more revenue flow than at any time in Australia’s history. Did Howard intend this result?

    2. Howard provoked the High Court to extend vastly its interpretation of Corporation powers. This is manna for big government. Did Howard intend this?

    Why doesn’t Albrechtsen talk about the important, long-lasting influence of Howard?

    The answer is clear: the reality contradicts conservatives’ fantasies about the impact and significance of Howard.

  22. Paul Burns says:

    Re Rudd and the FTA, Jane.
    Not meaning to be impolite, but the idea of Rudd reneging on that, despite the imported deisease danger is just as likely as pigs flying. We’re not even certain how much of Workchoices he’s going to repeal yet.

  23. Mark Hill says:

    You guys are right – preferential trade deals have no predictable outcome and need to be judged on a case by case basis. There was conflicting evidence on the FTA.

    The best and most simple solution is to unilaterally cut all trade and investment barriers. 90% of trade gains accrue through internal productivity changes anyway.

  24. Tony D says:

    So I take it you’re in favour of ‘dumping’ oz product onto foreign markets Mark Hill? Bet our trade partners would love that one…

    Of course, there is an argument that once the entire world joins the internationale then there would be no more trade or investment barriers as those barriers are put in place by competing nation states… which would no longer have to compete because they would all be part of the internaionale… or something… so they could be gotten rid of…

    Aahhhh, the Joys of Nationalism!

  25. j_p_z says:

    You’re not still taking the NYT seriously, are you? Paper of record, my eye. Maybe back when records were still made of vinyl. Or 78s, or something. (Nah, I don’t think this pun is working out very well, after all…)

    This sort of stuff is why I can pretty much no longer bear to read most newspapers, NYT included. Well, there’s plenty of other reasons, but this is one.

    Come on, bloggers, keep evolving, and turn into something that takes critters like the NYT back behind the barn…

  26. Jane says:

    I take your point, Paul, however I was actually expressing a wish, a hope and a desire, however ephemeral. In fact, no-one has even talked about this cursed FTA since Mark Vaile stood before assorted media hacks thumping his chest and waving that piece of lavatory paper in the air!

    As for WorklackofChoices, Rudd may be emboldened by the stance that business is currently taking and give it a decent savaging. Having said that, anything he attempts to do until after June, will be hampered by Coalition senators lurking in their subterranean bolt holes. He just may hold off until he sees what the composition of the Senate is. But whatever happens, he still has the moral high ground, because he can genuinely claim to have a mandate to get rid of this piece of anti-worker legislation.

    The position being taken by business is rather interesting, too. Where are the howls of outrage and the rending of garments? It sems even the most die-hard supporters are at least reserving judgment. Interesting too is the fact that only around 1 million are on AWAs at this time, giving the lie to the propaganda being spread around re their importance to the economy, productivity and such. The real test as to the true nature of this legislation is not in times of full or near-full employment, but when the economy slows for whatever reason. Then, employees on AWAs would really reap the dragon’s teeth.

    Having said all that, I don’t care if some people are happy to sign these contracts. They are obviously in a position to favourably negotiate their salary and conditions, but those who prefer collective bargaining should have that CHOICE. And that’s the thing which aggravates me most about so called WorkChoices-there is NO choice. Well, I suppose, strictly speaking there nis a choice, sign an AWA or don’t get the job. Hobson’s Choice, I would have thought.

  27. FTA = a way for the USA to fish in the other guy’s pond, with minimal reciprocal rights (if any).

    Jane, despite the resounding mandate against it last week, Workchoices isn’t all bad. There are some aspects of it which I don’t understand the reasoning for, eg;
    lockouts allowed but strikes not,
    collective bargaining not allowed,
    allowing of same work at reduced pay (although some creative accounting/represenatation can make this seem to have happened when it in fact has not)
    and some of the since removed provisions, among them the requirement for all (including those who are in effect self-employed sole traders) to keep a daily timesheet. (Which more than anything else calls into question the real-world experience of those who drafted Workchoices)

    However there are some significant benefits;
    the allowing of obsolete, unpopular, unfair or awkward award conditions to be scrapped,
    Allowing workplaces which are covered by a mulitude of awards & sub-awards to adopt a uniform set of pay and conditions for the same work in the same workplace,
    Allowing a better structure of reward for performance at shop floor level.
    And, (in what is more or less a separate issue) the removal of the unfair dismissal laws.

    Interesting to see big business now “dumping” on workchoices, hypocrites. Despite a lot of problems with Workchoices, I was a fan of it, as ANYTHING had to be an improvement on the state award system I was previously saddled with.

    (And despite the effective demise of the state award system, I may still be subject to it, as neither the Unions, the CCI, nor the Workchoices “help” desk are able to answer if I am supposed to be covered by it or not. In a blooper which was not foreseen by the same people who brought us the original BAS form, and the original draft of Workchoices, it seems the guidelines for who falls under Workchoices is not clear enough to indicate if [something like] 80% of small businesses are covered by Workchoices or not.)

  28. Jane says:

    I couldn’t agree more, steve at the pub. As I said, I really don’t have a problem with people signing AWAs if that’s what they want. And I agree that people in your situation need to know where they stand. These grey areas should be dealt with as a matter of urgency, or any future legislation will be meaningless. And it would be a boon to both workers and business to have a streamlined and easily understood set of pay and conditions.
    Unfair dismissal is another area which needs urgent attention. People shouldn’t lose their jobs on a whim or be given the flick after two weeks trial on no remuneration, for example. But if a business needs to shed staff for a good reason eg. a downturn in profit, then they shouldn’t be held to ransom.
    Mind you, cutting enormous executive salaries to a realistic level would also be a good way to cut wage costs. Sol Trujillo’s recent $11m pay hike is a case in point, along with the obscene salaries paid to a gaggle of Macquarie execs for starters. The savings would keep a lot of serfs in employment for some time. It makes my blood pressure rise when you listen to these overpaid spivs bleating about the high cost of wages. It would make sense to trim some of the corporate fat at the top, I reckon.

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