Rudd and the left

Gerard Henderson appears to think that what he might characterise as a marriage of convenience (or perhaps a civil union formalised by an election night ceremony?) between the left and the new ALP government is bound to break up. I’m not so sure, and I’ve put my case at New Matilda today.

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Posted in federal election '07, media, politics
53 comments on “Rudd and the left
  1. the nailgun says:

    “Henderson might be right that Labor will maintain policies such as mandatory detention and the Indigenous Intervention, but the meanness of spirit is gone, and we can be confident that there’ll be much tweaking of the policy detail in a humanitarian direction.”

    So some mere “tweaking” renders those policies humanitarian and purely by Howard leaving office the “meanness of spirit” evaporates?

    This puts the Left’s outrage over these policies in a new perspective. I don’t remember the Placards demanding Howard merely “tweak” the policy and all will be alright.

    Either those policies were/are fundamentally wrong and need to be scrapped and the Left has some integrity in its opposition or they were essentially pretty close to right and mere tweaking is all that was/is required and the Left’s opposition is now shown to be extreme hypocricy and political opportunism

  2. mbahnisch says:

    I’m totally opposed to mandatory detention and I think that the NT intervention ought to be directed towards raising health and living standards. However, in a democracy where you have to take the majority with you, you can’t always have what you want, and I’m comfortable with that because I like living in a democracy. I do think that changes to current policy settings in a more humanitarian direction are worth applauding, and also provide a basis for the argument to continue to be made to take us to where we’d like to be.

  3. Shaun says:

    Quote mining the left does not make convincing punditry. Hendo’s column was simply someone struggling with irrelevancy.

  4. Paul Burns says:

    Mark,
    Over at the Melbourne Herald Sun the Liberals are going insane about Rudd selling out on emissions targets last night. If you Google news you’ll see the link.
    As far as climate change is concerned I’m prepared to wait till Rudd has been to the Bali conference and got the report he commissioned before the election. If he doesn’t come up to scratch
    after that I’ll scream to high heaven.
    I know the left is very unhappy about Aussie troops in Afghanistan.
    I know the left is very concerned about the fact that Rudd will not roll back Workchoices completely. I suspect the bad behaviour of Telstra about Workchoices and strong union pressure may cause Labor to have a rethink here.I hope so.
    There is no way Labor can get away with not getting rid of mandatory detention of refugees, or not ameliorating Welfare to Work without copping very heavy opposition from the left, and I don’t mean just the far left. They will definitely have to do more than tweak. Similarly, they will have to get rid of the wholesale appropriation of Aboriginal land and property involved in the NT intervention.
    The fact that the Libs have put Abbott in as Minister of FACS indicates that they know there is going to be a blue over this.There are, I’m sure things going on behind the scenes we don’t know about.
    I’m still definitely glowing and so are all the members of Socialist Alliance I know around Australia and overseas. I was on the phone to some of them yesterday. But its a wait and see glow.We see our job as keeping the ALP true to its principles, and as you imply in New Matilda, there’s no real sign that Labor’s abandoned them – yet.
    Henderson is living in fantasy land. He’s a Liberal Party mischief maker trying to stir up trouble. People will continue to considder him to be a strange little man not to be taken too seriously.

  5. myriad says:

    But its a wait and see glow.

    What exactly does that look like? 😉

    I’ve got a bit of a green glow going myself, and a bit of red in the lower house. Very festive. And more suggestive that I ever meant it to be….

    I’m prepared to give Rudd time. I love playing the endless speculation game of a new government, but like you Paul, I think the couple of weeks we’ve had are a bit premature to judge whether the left should be worried/outraged etc. just yet.

  6. Chris says:

    “More broadly, Rudd is in the enviable position of being able to avoid some ideological choices because of the prosperity Australia enjoys. In education, for instance, he’s trying to defang the public versus private school wars by promising to lift all boats.”

    Deciding to lift all boats when it comes to education funding is an ideological choice in itself. There are many who believe there should be no, or at least less funding to private schools, not more.

  7. Paul Burns says:

    Chris,
    The funding to private schools was brought in by Menzies in 1962 in an attempt to get the Catholic vote, which, at the time was going mostly to Labor or the DLP.
    Its by-product was to get rid of decades of sectarianism that followed the Conscription debate during WW1. I think that’s right. Don’t have my 20 C Aus. history books here to check.
    We definitely do not want to go back to the bitterrness and folly of that religious divide.
    The current Islamophobia is bad enough.
    In any case, all kids deserve an equal education. Its up to Labor both Federal and state, to bring the state schools and poor private schools up to the highest private schools. And I think Rudd’s starting on that with his computer roll-out.It will take a long time because there’s been years of neglect, but it has to be done.

  8. Paul Burns says:

    myriad,
    the glow is red, green and black.
    Red for socialist, green for greenie and black for anarchist.

  9. Chris says:

    Paul – I happen to agree with you. Just was commenting that deciding to fund computers for rich private schools is taking an ideological stance. One which is contrary to a pretty popular belief that if you choose private school education you should not expect a government subsidy. Personally I believe that we should be funding based on the needs of the individual student not the school (eg poorer/disadvantged students should get more funding than those with rich and well educated parents no matter which school they go to) but thats a whole other big debate 😉

  10. mbahnisch says:

    I think it’s a reframing of the ideological choice. 😉

    I agree with Paul as well. I also suspect over time that the public school sector will do better comparatively, and that a new funding mechanism will be worked out.

    It’s an open secret that the delay to Rudd’s policy launch was caused by the final acceptance of the argument to go with the stop spendathon tactic, and what was slashed was systemic funding to education. Very heavy hints have been dropped by Rudd that schools and universities have a lot to look forward to in future budgets above and beyond the symbolic bells and whistles like the computers and the scholarships which were important in the context of the election.

  11. silkworm says:

    Does a computer for each child in years 9-12 extend to students attending Exclusive Brethren schools? Doesn’t Rudd’s inclusive computer policy clash with the EBs exclusive anti-computer policy?

  12. dj says:

    The EB will use their computers to play the Left Behind: Eternal Forces game.

  13. Sam Clifford says:

    Speaking of Henderson, the producer of Happy Feet has commented on the “culture wars” and how politicised our culture became under Howard.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/12/07/2112346.htm

    Thought you might be interested, Mark.

  14. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    If John Howard has deemed Gerry irrelvant (see my reasons and examples in “Nelson – the policy challenge”) then why should we take him seriously?

    I call upon the SMH to drop Hendo’s column like it did Paddy McGuinness’s.

  15. joe2 says:

    Indeed, Sir Henry that the ABC, R.N, in particular, should give this creepy man a regular position, every week, is beyond me.

    Give him the boot Aunty.
    Or at least provide one alternative commentator who is not Christian Kerr.

  16. Foucault A Go Go says:

    mark

    “Very heavy hints have been dropped by Rudd that schools and universities have a lot to look forward to in future budgets above and beyond the symbolic bells and whistles like the computers and the scholarships which were important in the context of the election.”

    Really? Do you have any links to these heavy hints as I have not seen even the slightest hint of this.

  17. joe2 says:

    My thinkin’ is, ‘Foucault A Go Go’, that we all have to crouch around the kids’ new laptop, while we all espouse finacial rectitude.

  18. Enemy Combatant says:

    Gerry is still hurting real bad after the “personal humiliation” that has befallen his former hero.
    I think we should wire Howard’s legacy to Gerry’s head in the manner that more isolated Appalacian farmers do to dogs who steal chickens. They use thin wire and bind the bird’s carcass tightly to the dog’s skull in a way that the hapless hound finds impossible to dislodge. After nature has taken its course over the ensuing months and the last of the avian remains have “dispersed”, the farmer mercifully cuts away the remaining strands of wire.

    Unsurprisingly, the treatment never has to be administered twice to the same dog.
    (from hst)

  19. philiptravers says:

    I feel I am on the Left somewhere and have protested physically addressed some problems of our society ,on and off over the years,and I dont think Labor is trustworthy at all,because I just hear cliches and people living in images that seem to have nothing to do with reality.Tonight I heard Roxon and the new era on health,what a lot of cowshit refined by selected common cliche.If you have to praise yourself as winners and the empowered,why do it like if you dont drop a cliche today you will be dead.I honestly think Labor doesnt know what it is doing yet.And if, that proves to become a actuality continuing we are in a deeper shithole.

  20. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    Yeah but dogs learn, EC.

  21. mbahnisch says:

    Really? Do you have any links to these heavy hints as I have not seen even the slightest hint of this.

    I’m sorry, but I can’t recall now – interviews he gave in the last week of the campaign but the exact date and venue escapes me a few weeks later. He made explicit statements that it was recognised that education needed much attention after years of neglect and damage and any available surplus would be directed there – within the bounds of fiscal rectitude etc… But it’s also the talk of several towns in ALP, journalistic and education circles as I understand it.

  22. mbahnisch says:

    Sam, thanks for the link.

  23. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    I shan’t spoil it for the Prodders not on Daylight Saving Time, but Grahame Morris on Lateline tonight has shown himself to be one of Australia’s funniest people. Here at Casingbroke Towers we went through a whole box of tissues and panty liners, just laughing ourselves silly. It was one cracking line after another. The guy’s a genius. One of the things he told an incredulous Trioli was that the Liberals just weren’t trying in scaring the voters with the spectre of Labor. Put simply, the campaign wasn’t negative enough. There was more…

  24. mbahnisch says:

    Looking forward to it. Is Trioli returning to Lateline next year? I believe she’s done her last Sydney radio gig.

  25. Shaun says:

    Trioli still has a week to go. She was complaining this morning that everyone thought today was her last day.

  26. Graham Bell says:

    Mark:
    Good article of yours in New Matilda.

    IMHO, we now have a conservative pro-business party in power. One that is probably more competent than the Howard circus and certainly better able to handle the impact on Australia of planetary heating and handle other issues reasonable well.
    It may even be able to ride out the storm of the SubPrime Depression. Though I don’t think it will be capable of dealing with an expanded war.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for lots of old-style Labor social justice and world-leading innovation [as Joh used to say, “Don’t you worry about that”]. We now have a tough new prime minister who will probably be no nicer than the previous one …. but at least we might be spared all the fully-imported ideological ratbaggery, all the senseless counter-productive bullying and all the ludicrous crawling to a foreign ruler we had to put up with under the previous regime.

  27. mbahnisch says:

    In some ways, Graham, the Hawke and Keating governments could have been described as a “conservative pro-business party in power”. I’m not sure what you expect from Rudd, but I don’t share the pessisimism that he “will probably be no nicer than the previous one”. As I said in the article, I don’t think anyone was expecting the socialist millennium, and they’d have been a fool if they were, but I don’t see any point in minimising the differences that do exist.

    For instance, as John Quiggin notes, the end of the “Pacific Solution”:

    Without a great deal of fanfare, the new government has ended the shameful ‘Pacific solution’ under which refugees were held in offshore camps, located on the territory of neighbouring countries which the Australian government bullied and bribed into hosting them. Most of the refugees held at the Nauru camp have been allowed to settle in Australia.

    Defenders of the Howard government can make whatever claims they like about this evil system, whether to say that it was justified by results or to claim that Labor’s policy isn’t really all that different. The fact remains that this was a cruel and brutal response to community panic; panic the government itself did a great deal to stir up, and even more to exploit politically. Those responsible, most notably Howard himself and Phillip Ruddock, will carry the stain of the Pacific solution to their graves and beyond.

    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2007/12/08/the-end-of-the-pacific-solution/

  28. Paul Burns says:

    Matk,
    I have circulated this wonderful news around Australia and the world, with the following comment.
    “Comrades,
    Rejoice! One of John Winston Howard’s great evils is no more!
    Comradely,
    PB.”
    I’m just about exploding with the glow right now.

  29. joe2 says:

    “The 10 children and six adults were rescued from their sinking boat 650 kilometres west of Darwin on November 20.

    Family members on the small island of Roti said they owed money to illegal fishing syndicate operators because Australian authorities had previously burnt their boats for illegally fishing in Australian waters.

    But the new Labor Government accepts the argument that such claims do not fit the internationally accepted refugee convention definition for people fleeing persecution for political, religious or social reasons.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/pacific-solution-ends-but-tough-stance-to-remain/2007/12/07/1196813021259.html

    Maybe we will see the end of this shameful boat burning for minor fishing rights breaches. It is so over the top to take away peoples means of making a living when they are such small time operators. We should be at least helping to provide replacement boats for the poor buggers.

    Just saying that, while thrilled to see the end of The Pacific Solution. Doesn’t the Quiggin put it well?

  30. clarencegirl says:

    “Hendo’s column was simply someone struggling with irrelevancy.”
    Amen to that, Shaun.

  31. mbahnisch says:

    Yep, eloquent words from Quiggin.

  32. murph the surf says:

    “Family members on the small island of Roti said they owed money to illegal fishing syndicate operators because Australian authorities had previously burnt their boats for illegally fishing in Australian waters.”

    The partner and I went to Roti for a month earlier this year. You see it has great surf and while it is crowded it lacks the aggro of the surf crowd in Bali.
    The locals explained the fishing business to us – the boats are owned by chinese families based in and operating out of Kupang. The boats are not leased , they are rented .
    No one seemed bothered by the possibility of the boats being impounded and burnt as they are very cheap – no navigation equipment , usually 2 old diesel motors and one person perpetually bailing water out with a small plastic bucket.

    “Maybe we will see the end of this shameful boat burning for minor fishing rights breaches. It is so over the top to take away peoples means of making a living when they are such small time operators. We should be at least helping to provide replacement boats for the poor buggers.”

    The people who own the boats may want their value replaced through labour and sharing in the boats catch . The actual owners aren’t fishing .
    If the government arranged for the fishermen to have access to capital to own their own boast then they probably would stay away from Australian waters – to preserve their equipment and they wouldn’t have to consider illegal fishing to service a debt which has usurious interest rates applied to them.

    People smuggling is big business for one well connected person in Kupang.
    He has , apparently ,arranged the boat loads of Iraqi regugees who arrived some years ago. The price for a passage is public knowledge as is the location of the office running this business. The fishermen are happy to ferry the refugees as the sentences for being caught aren’t viewed as a punishment.West Timor is a very poor part of Indonesia and Roti is about the poorest area in that province.

  33. Foucault A Go Go says:

    Mark

    I don’t know where you heard these things, but there has been not one iota of pro-university policy from Rudd. In fact, given how irrelevant the university sector was to Rudd’s victory, I imagine it will be top of his coming expenditure cuts. All of Rudd and Gillard’s education policy has been directed at schools, and largely aimed at side-lining the AEU. I have absolutely no confidence whatsoever in a university-friendly Rudd/Gillard first term.

  34. mbahnisch says:

    As I said, Rudd gave several interviews about it. Stephen Smith was also reported as “running around the sector” promising all manner of good things. Whether you believe it or not is up to you, but it’s a fact that Rudd and the relevant shadow minister were dropping very strong hints, as I said.

    The concentration on schools and thus the “missing chapter” of the education revolution is also explained by the cuts to spending just before the policy launch when the decision was taken – after somewhat vigorous discussion, I believe – to go with the “call a halt to the spendathon” tactic.

  35. Foucault A Go Go says:

    Well Mark, there is still not one iota of evidence of any positive intentions from the government on the universities. And schools are hardly “the missing chapter” in the propagandistic “education revolution.” A gift voucher to Harvey Norman for those Year 9 to Year 12 school kids who do not already have access to a computer, a “revolution” does not make.

    Given a choice of computer or no computer of course the former is preferable. But there are a whole lot of more pressing issues in school education than technology, which is always at most a mere enabling device.

    Beyond the Harvey Norman subsidy, the revolution fizzes. It is education itself that is the “missing chapter” in Rudd’s “education revolution.” Complacency at this early stage will send the wrong signals.

  36. mbahnisch says:

    I’m not being complacent but hopeful that the missing chapters are more than bells and whistles which were largely election winning gimmicks. But I certainly intend to keep pushing for the EdRev to be fleshed out.

    If you did care to google around for Rudd’s statements about his intention to devote future surpluses to education, though, you’d be able to find them. So I dispute that there’s not “one iota of evidence” – Smith’s private statements also count for something. But I’m afraid I’m a bit too weary today to go looking for them myself tonight. But you don’t need to take my word for it.

  37. tyro rex says:

    Labor has been saying it will abolish the Research Quality Framework the universities use to measure their output and replace it with a new scheme. Or at least this is apparently the impression of many senior academics who are concerned about implementing new schemes, but not so plenty of other academics who are disadvantaged by the workload of constant examination of their research “output” while getting larger and larger teaching and administrative loads.

    The RQF has strangled ‘teaching-and-research’ specialists between research-only post-docs and the idea of ‘teaching only’ positions – which is basically a recipe for sub-standard teachers who have no active connection to a research cohort (and I assume, research cohorts with no idea about teaching at a tertiary level).

    The dying days of the Howard regime was even sucking available funding out of research anyway – forget about applying for a ARC post-doc unless you are already widely published in a desirable area, even for Early Career Researchers. The success rate for ARC grant applications has plummeted in the last year.

    So killing off the RQF is a relatively good thing.

    The million-dollar question is whether the Metrics system that Labor is considering is any better, I suppose.

  38. Graham Bell says:

    Mark [on 27]:
    Intended to sound sober and realistic; not pessemistic or disillusioned.

    I would expect Rudd to be very tough but certainly neither spiteful nor just plain nasty; that would be a nice change after the last 11 years of stagnation and bullying dressed up as prosperity. I expect his government to be quite competent.

    Unfortunately, I also expect his government to do real harm a lot of ordinary people who don’t deserve to be hurt when his razor gangs start “saving money” whilst rorters and scoundrels will continue to be rewarded – by the efforts of the same razor gangs. There is nothing Labor has said prior to the election or since that gives me any confidence that this won’t happen.

    John Quiggen, whom you quoted, was right about the “Pacific Solution” being evil – moreso when you think of the absolutely pi**weak lack of interest in tackling the operators of the people-smuggling rackets. There should be a Royal Commission into who was responsible for putting all the effort into catching and mistreating illegal border-crossers and doing nothing about fighting the criminal operators of such rackets nor about improving the pathways for legal migration to Australia.

  39. mbahnisch says:

    Another take on all this from Guy Rundle at The Age:

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/lost-in-ideals-brace-for-ruddslide-on-liberty/2007/12/08/1196813079449.html

    The million-dollar question is whether the Metrics system that Labor is considering is any better, I suppose.

    The view of one of the speakers from the national NTEU at the death of humanities thing I went to at QUT, T Rex, was that it would be pretty much the same with similar flawed incentives and mountains of paperwork.

  40. Paul Burns says:

    First, I must tell you that what follows apart from the info in Afghanistan on todays Google News is highly speculative. I am not in any way suggesting there are particularly strong links between Rudd, the ALP and Socialist Alliance. Though my comrades and I are enjoying the glow of a Rudd victory as much as anybody else on the left.
    There is a report posted on Google News today (still haven’t mastered linking or I’d post it)
    that the ALP is definitely not considering keeping Australian troops in Afghanistan till 2010, as alleged in the Dutch Parliament. Labor has made no commitment beyond (i think) the end of 2008.
    Now comes the interesting bit. Directly after the election victory Socialist Alliance and other far left groups were lobbying for a meeting with Rudd about Australian troops in Afghanistan (I think. There was nothing secret about this.). I have heard nothing more as to whether such a meeting occurred or what were the results of it.But I think its interesting in light of today’s press report.Please note, this is purely speculative on my part.
    I do know that Rudd has read our paper Green Left Weekly at least once,(he was photographed) and being a politician who wants to keep informed of whats going on on the far left I would surmise he still reads it.
    That’s all I know.

  41. Paul Burns says:

    According to Ch. 10 News my speculation in #40 is entirely idle. Rudd it seems, intendfs to commit increased Aussie troops to Afghanistan in mid 2008, though there is still some confusion as to the end date – possibly August 2010, possibly not.Which, so long as there is not a high casualty rate, would, in the former case make sense because triios would be out before the 2010 election.
    In my defense, may I say, as an historian of high politics I find the conjunction of SA overtures and confusion about the extent of our cxommitment to Afghanistan, but I would require much more evidence before coming to any conclusions.

  42. Paul Burns says:

    #41.
    trioss = troops.

  43. Paul Burns says:

    #40
    Add fascinating , after commitment to Afhanistan.
    I’m watching Gilbert and Sullivan on the ABC, if that’s any excuse.

  44. Graham Bell says:

    Paul Burns [on 40 ~ 43]:
    Rudd is probably very tough. My own wild guess is that, like Curtin before him and perhaps unlike what Howard might have been, Rudd will not be influenced by heavy casualties alone. Of course there will be expressions of genuine sympathy for the families of the fallen but no wavering in purpose. [Wonder what the cut-off point will be for the Prime Minister ceasing to attend every military funeral or memorial service?]

    There is one dire possibility about Australian troops serving in Afghanistan that I will not raise in a public forum …. but concerning it, I am glad it is Rudd and not Howard or Costello who is our Prime Minister now.

  45. Paul Burns says:

    Graham,
    I agree with you about Rudd’s toughness. I also think he has the balance and commonsense if we do in fact have to have a wartime PM. He has an advantage over Curtin, perhaps, in that his health is better, though not perfect. He wouldn’t play the situation for purely political ends, or, I think, over-commit troops the way Howard or Costello might have done. If he is likely to pull out, it will I think be on moral grounds.Once you take Al-Quaeda out of the picture, the whole ME situation gets a bit murky. They claim they are no longer in Afghanistan, and on balance, that’s probably true, because all their earlier claims about their intentions seem to have been accurate, even allowing for propaganda.
    I think the main reason we mght be there now, given the compexities of the Taliban and the warlords, is to try and wipe out the heroin trade, but I can’t see anybody admitting that as the prime motive.

  46. Futt Bucker says:

    Wiping out or aiding the heroin trade? 😉

  47. Wouldn’t be difficult to improve on Curtin, as a wartime PM that is.

  48. Graham Bell says:

    Paul Burns [on 45]:
    Rudd would be a far more effective wartime Prime Minister for distant conflicts like Afghanistan and Iraq than anyone the Nationals or the moribund Liberals could put up.

    However, given the extermination of Australian manufacturing industry, the chronic demoralization of Australian research and and some serious weakening of the the Australian social fabric nowadays, I don’t think Rudd would be able to handle a general war right on our doorstep – regardless of how good his own personal talents may be.

    Futt Bucker [on 46]:
    Interesting point.

    [b.t.w., Before he picked up a string of unfortunate nicknames for his own blunders, a certain failed president, whose daddy had been a high-ranking wallah in some very murky intelligence deals, was sometimes known as “Son Of Drugs”; a nickname possibly inspired by “Son Of Sam” or somesuch].

  49. Paul Burns says:

    Futt-bucker, Graham,
    If the TV news is right, and I know we have no guarantee that it is, the present and only town held by the Taliban (Its name escapes me)is the centre of the Afghani terrorism trade. I have no doubt the Bush family were engaged in all kinds of shady business dealings and probaly still are. But so as the heroin trade is concerned, tha attackers of the town I referred to above are the Afghani army, assisted by the British.So GWB may not have it in his power to intefere.
    Re a general war. Curtin was in control of a country that had been devastated economically by the Great Depression. The first Menzies Government had gone some way to restoring business confidence with its policy of ‘business as usual’ but that became quite inappropriate as the possibility of a war with the Japanese loomed large. Much of Menzies’ time was taken up with trying to get fighter planes from Britain for Australia’s defence and with unsuccessful diplomatic efforts to get Churchill to pay attention to the dangerous situation in the South Pacicific/SE. Asian theatre prior to Pearl Harbour.It was not until later in WW2 that we began manufacturing our own planes.Certainly at the start of the war we were utterly unprepared for home defence, which was one of the charges that helped create the Brtsbane Line myth.
    The manufacturing industry was quite small. From memory the only stuff we were making of military use initially was small arms at Lithgow, though off the top of my head I’m not sure of the date and I don’t have my Hasluck here to check it.
    We relied on massive loans from the US through Lend-Lease, and imports of military equipment because not until quite late in the war did we have a reasonably effective manufacturing capacity of our own that would meet our needs. And we were the only country in the world that came out in the black on that little deal, thanks to Curtin’s and Chifley’s good financial masnagement I suspect. (Mostly Chif’s.)
    As for the weakening of Australia’s social fabric. The Depression did a pretty good job of that. It was the only time in our history since convict times we had private armies of the left and right ready to fight each other on the streets. The war ecame a unifying factor, especially after Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union for the Left, and nany of the mad Right were interned.We had continual serious industrial problems throughout the war. There is even some evidence to suggest that one of Menzies’ ministers might have been collaborating with the Nazis and the Japanese.
    So really, Rudd wouldn’t be facing that much of a different situation today, and I’m sure he’d deal with it all as well as Curtin.

  50. Paul Burns says:

    Meant Afghani heroin trade, not terrorism trade.

  51. Ambigulous says:

    Paul Burns: ah, heroin, terrorism

    they seem to go together: Afghanistan now, Burma now, the old “Golden Triangle” in the 1970’s….

    ya gotta have some sort of business to get the cash to buy the weapons!

    And then North Korea tried to sell some heroin into the Victorian market, dinghy washed up on the beach near Lorne, naval chase up the east coast… now there’s a real-life smugglers/Navy story !!

  52. Paul Burns says:

    Take your point. I think its probably, in the examples you’ve cited, more crime than terrorism. Though I recognise the deistinction between crime and terrorism is quite unclear nowadays, given the lengths terrorists have to go to to fund their organisation.
    Hate this concept of terrorism. Its so damned imprecise,like the idea of GWOT itself. Have trouble getting my head around exactly what I’m talking about.
    I mean, what do you call these CIA operatives who committed war crimes on tape torturing Muslim captives. They may not go as far as beheading people on camera, an extreme example, but they are behaving similarly.
    On another topic entirely, the left will no doubt be pleased Rudd will be introducing legislation into Parlt. for prison sentences for petrol companies and their executives caught and convicted of trying to rig petrol prices over holiday periods etc.

  53. Graham Bell says:

    Paul Burns [48]:
    Points taken. Major differences between 1942 and 2008 are that our remoteness has gone and events can now happen with incredible rapidity.

    Ambigulous [50]:
    That’s the one we found out about. Of far greater concern is the liklihood that crew-served weapons and other assorted nasty toys have already slipped though our poorly-resourced sea port screens and are warehoused somewhere awaiting a motley collection of odd-bods to suddenly coalesce into a highly disciplined military unit [or units] and cause us much mischief at a time when we can least afford distractions. [And no, I’ll give paranoia about young men of Middle-Eastern appearance a great big swerve, thanks all the same]

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