Then … Now


THIS may be my last column. If you don’t see me again, you’ll know the Pinata Left has whacked me, too.

You see, Kevin Rudd’s victory has unleashed a horde of haters with sticks who are trying to sack conservative commentators and close down debate.

Their demands are simple. They won. So shut up. No more of these “culture wars”. No dissent.

Andrew Bolt, yesterday, toeing the “if I do get sacked it will be because Rupert Murdoch is a tool of the left” line first enunciated by Tom Switzer.


And The Age gives this woman [Tracee Hutchison] a platform. Has it no shame, or even a sense of self-preservation?

Andrew Bolt, today.

I suppose by The Hun’s standards, calling on the management of your major commercial rival to show some shame or even a sense of self-preservation and sack one of its columnists is a responsible, and proper exercise of free speech.

Posted in media
122 comments on “Then … Now
  1. philiptravers says:

    I dont know how both of them consider they are journalists,and I even heard Rudd and Swan describe the Party as middle,and I as a left-wing non-voting Democrat supporter find Bolts description of me,at least,very inaccurate,and going to a number of blogs,including this one…he is way off the mark.Still I suppose the proprietors may not be overly concerned about hiding behind his description of them via Switzer.They do love words and instant mash potato opinion,but both Hutchison and Bolt in print show so much arrogance,that, I would be embarassed by it.And isnt exactly left-wing and neither is my favoured influences on the Internet.I feel easy with that,they are honest human beings..which is not creating any problems for me.

  2. CK says:

    Oh dear. There are conservative heads exploding all over the place and it’s not a pretty sight. Perhaps Andrew should join his News stablemate Greg Sheridan and seek asylum in Israel.

    As for Christopher Pearson (you know, the homosexual) he appears to have been abducted by something called the Australian Christian Lobby and, deep in the throes of Stockholm syndrome, is now demanding that somebody be arrested for Teh Gay,25197,22924797-5013596,00.html

    All very deeply weird and troubling.

  3. gummotrotsky says:

    Also in the on-line pages of the OG, Keith Windschuttle sings the praises of Paddy McGuinness, Quadrant, and open debate (within the bounds set by defamation law, of course).

  4. Paul Burns says:

    Nice to see the Right paranoid for a change. Give them a taste of their own medicine. But really, in all seriousness, nobody’s going to shut down anybody.Right and Left wing intellectuals have always contended in this country. Menzies had a list of recommendations from the Commonwealth Literary Fund and a list from ASIO to compare when he was doleling out literary grants and if you were on the ASIO list you didn’t get one. This went on from 1949 til the old bugger retired. For all I know, Howard did the same thing.
    Neanjin v. Quadrant right through the fifties and sixties. The left and right are always taking pot shots at each other and always will. Sure, the left deserves some of the blame for taking on the stupidity of American political correctness the way it did. But Howard equally deserves blame for ramping it up and turning it into a culture war, with his mindless warriors of the right. Years ago a “historian” like Windscvhuttle would have got short shrift, not because of his views but because he was an abominably bad historian. The level of intellectual debate would never has sunk that low. The idiocy of some feminist debates – not all – probably also contributed to this, and I’m sure there are academics on both sides of the fence who are having conniptions at the directions Aboriginal Studies sometimes takes. (I quite enjoy it myself).Let a thousand flowers flourish. Then we’ll have kind of rigorous intellectual and political debate that can only do this country good.
    Though I must say I was a little stunned at the tenor of most of the comments on Bolts blog. Ah, well, it takes all types. Just lets be thankful they’re not running the country any more.

  5. via collins says:

    Pearson’s wildly odd article is accompanied by a picture of people “raving” somewhere, and it’s captioned “Some of these people at an Oxford St rave oughtn’t be there” of something to that effect. It certainly is the GG’s “op ed heads exploding” Xmas edition. Perhaps they’ll do it annually?

    And Bolta was a beauty y’day too. His development of the “pinata left” is topped only by his incisive dissection of “Finding Nemo” some years ago as a cultural signifier of extreme danger to Australia’s yoof.

  6. mbahnisch says:

    “Parties of hate” – it’s almost up there with “preacher teacher man” which is one of my all time fave Boltisms.

    Whoever said the right weren’t comedians?

  7. Katz says:

    Although Gould has spent his adult life as a doctrinaire leftist and was predictably hostile to our views, he did make one perceptive comment. He said if such a debate had been held in any city but Sydney, and had not been politically sanctioned by its staging at his shop, there would have been a riot and Paddy and I would have been torn limb from limb.

    Yeah, that’s right Windy. If you show your ugly bald mug down here in Melbourne, me and my latte-drinking mates (and matettes) will carry you bodily to the nearest espresso machine, stick the nozzle up your clacker and froth you to death.


  8. gummotrotsky says:

    If only lighting farts were an Olympic event.

  9. mbahnisch says:

    They’re out in force this weekend.

    Angela Shanahan – “Why Julia is a heroine to creaky feminist gorgons”.,25197,22924795-7583,00.html

  10. exilemerc says:

    Saying loudly “don’t sack me!” is a no-lose proposition for the right-wing ranters:

    a) If they get sacked, they gain credibility in the eyes of their barrackers.
    b) If they don’t get sacked, they gain credibility in the eyes of their barrackers.

    So why not say it?

    What they fail to understand is that if they’re sacked, it won’t be for their political views. It’ll be because they have no worthwhile contacts outside of the Liberal Party. No contacts = no stories = no job.

    Had they been a little more assiduous in cultivating good contacts from all sides of politics, they wouldn’t be in this pickle. But why look to themselves when they can always blame teh left?

  11. Paul Burns says:

    Re Angela Shanahan.
    I have not time for either mysandry or mysogony. If you meet some one of the opposite sex who doesn’t like you because of your gender, move on and find some-one who does. Its been years since I’ve met a creaky gorgon feminist, and among the probably many feminists I’ve met they’ve been few and far between.Most of this Shanahan rant is not even worth discussing, but I’d like to pick up on one point. The poor put-upon stay at home mum, and ask Angela just one question: Why then did John Howard persecute stay-at-home single mums if the right holds your attitudes?

  12. Katz says:

    I guess those creaky feminist gorgons don’t have names. Otherwise a journalist of Angela Shanahan’s obvious professionalism would have named them.

  13. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    What is it with those people? Do they all meet in some goddamn cellar? The Bolter’s line has already been aired by La Albrechtsen:

    Expect to see it flashed in various forms by Hendo, Sheehan, Shanahan, Pearson, and others. (Also, I’ve always wondered whether Harry Clarke is an associate member: he seems to get with the program very quickly indeed).

    Immediately post election the cellar clique were anxious and confused. Obviously, they must have cobbled these on the run: “This is a leap into the unknown” and “It is unprecedented to throw out a good government, we do not understand…”. But it all sounded a bit arrogant and patronising, even undemocratic. So shortly after, in bad grace, came this grudging, self-serving line: “The Rudd Government is actually a Clayton’s Howard government, the conservatives you have when you are not having conservatives. Ipso facto the outcome of the election was a victory for the conservatives. We won anyway.”

    But that was lame and logically unsustainable as the Ruddernaut gathered speed and seen by everyone to be moving quickly on the festering sores of the Rodent administration, among other things, climate change, relations with PNG and Timor-Leste, Japanese whaling “research”, hospitals waiting lists and schools. Just for starters.

    The meeting will come to order. The new line is “Rudd’s victory has emboldened the Left, whose instincts are always totalitarian. Calling for Right-wing columnists’ heads is a prime example. But this is only the start. The midnight knock is next.” Remember, our very existence is now at stake. This is a fight to the death. Eat the instructions before you leave. Thank you all for coming.

  14. Katz says:

    Why yes, Mark and Sir Hank.

    But hearteningly, these warriors of the right do appear to be defining the dimensions of the vast left-wing conspiracy that threatens to turn this once fair land into a totalitarian hell.

    You’ve gotta admire their courage. I can’t be easy filing copy of that kind in full knowledge of the fact that few people are paying any attention any more.

  15. Fark, Angela’s head really has exploded, hasn’t it: power and virtue are being constructed as a dichotomy and a Manichean one at that. Better give up your column in the national press instanter, Angela (you know, the one that gives you so much power, even though you only got in the first place because of who your husband is, since you sure can’t have got it on your writing and thinking skills), before someone accuses you by your own logic of not being virtuous.

    And now you must excuse me. I have to go and feed the snakes.


  16. silkworm says:

    “Like the Queenslanders Wayne Goss imagined waiting on their verandas with baseball bats to teach Paul Keating a lesson, they’d be implacable if Rudd doesn’t intervene.”

    Ah, yes, Christians with baseball bats.

    It reminds me of Jesus’ famous dictum: “I come not to bring peace, but a baseball bat.”

  17. gummotrotsky says:

    Just checked that Building Commission story on page 2 of the rainforest edition of The Age. Omitted from the Planet Janet version of events is that the Commission hauled him in because he walked past a building site at the wrong time and merely witnessed an altercation between a union official and a site manager:

    THE bystander was a mild- mannered academic from the University of Melbourne. Passing a building site on the Yarra’s south bank, he witnessed a confrontation between a union official and a building manager. The two men pushed each other and grabbed at each other’s shirts.

    Agents of the federal building industry watchdog tracked the witness down and hauled him in for several hours of secret questioning, under powers that rival those of Australia’s national security services.

    The man cannot be named and cannot discuss the details of his interrogation for fear of imprisonment…

  18. amused says:

    Angela Shanahan should be Deputy Prime Minister, because she is a suburban mum who is the same as every other ordinary bod; you know, the ones who write columns for a national daily, do policy work for federal Ministers, are married to senior journalists in the same rag they write for, and have 9 children.

    And if people aren’t like Angela, and think like Angela, they simply have no business to be in any position at all, because if they are, it just proves how underhanded, shifty and unwomanly they are, because if they did things the way Angela believes real women should do things, and if they adopted her priorities, then they wouldn’t be there, and that would be good, because it would show that doing things Angela’s way which is the right way because she says so, would mean that no woman would be more powerful or more popular than Angela. And that would be good.

  19. Katz says:

    Poor Janet! She cannot report simple facts accurately.

    But that’s proof positive of her beingzapped by Left Wing Mind Control Rays.

    She’s being martyred for her principles!

    Quick Janet. Put on your tinfoil helmet before it’s too late!

  20. Paul Burns says:

    Re Janet Albrechsen. (I presume that is the right spelling; I don’t care enough to get it right.)
    1. Ooh, the big bad unions!
    2. Who the f***k does she thinki Rudd is? Stalin?!
    These people are plain whooping crazy.
    And by the way, Howard did pass laws to take people away in the middle of the night and hold them for long periods without trial and with threat of imprisonment if they told anybody what happened.Is this a bit of reverse psychology, projecting onto Labor what she wanted the Libs to do? I reckon.

  21. Katz says:

    I notice that Janet Albrechtsen sontinues to announce her membersip of the Foreign Affairs Council. What is that, I here you ask:

    It’s this:

    Foreign Affairs Council

    Established in December 1997, the Foreign Affairs Council enables the Government, in developing foreign policy, to draw on the expertise and views of a range of individuals working in business, academia and the media. The Council is chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Alexander Downer MP, and meets approximately three times a year. The Council’s Secretariat is provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


    The Hon Alexander Downer MP


    Ms Janet Albrechtsen (Columnist for The Australian
    and Lawyer)

    [a whole load of buffers, businessmen and academics]


    Dr Gerard Henderson (Executive Director, The Sydney Institute)

    Mr Paul Kelly (Editor-at-Large, The Australian)

    Mr Christopher Pearson (Journalist)

    So Dolly had Planet and her chums from the GG down for a chinwag anda kneesup with the great and the good, where their “expertise” was “drawn on”.

    No wonder Janet etc., are weeping bitter tears. The new management has come in, padlocked the minibar and told Janet and her mates to bugger off.

  22. Paul Burns says:

    Oh, Katz, you’re not telling us Lexy was engaging in good old-fashioned cronyism? The Nats, maybe. Labor, certainly! But the Liberals, never!
    Every day the stench about the FORMER (love that, still) Howard Government gets stronger.

  23. Bernice says:

    Re Bolt & Co & the job hunting – I believe SBS is looking for people at the mo? But they have to be able to read…

  24. exilemerc says:

    Katz – well if that’s the freak show that’s had their hands up Downer’s backside animating him for the last decade, it sure explains a lot about some of the foreign policy directions Australia has moved in…

  25. Paul Burns says:

    Bolt on SBS – I’m sure the Muslim community would just love that.
    A curious question – will the varied representatives of this claque of neocons appear on next year’s Insiders, or with Albrechson and Windshuttle out of the way will the ABC go searching for a genuine right wing intellectual to commentate for the right, instead of the usual pack of media tarts? Any suggestions that could be passed on?

  26. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:


    The Foreign Affairs Council seemed like a good idea at the time of its formation in late 1997. It was constituted to advise the gumment on foreign affairs, with a special brief on the Asia-Pacific region. Most of the original members do indeed have strong claims of expertise in the area, the dead wood being just Hilmer, McGauchie and Hellicar. I don’t know what Kelly is doing there, but still, not bad:
    Fred Hilmer, Eric Jones, Geoff Allen, Di Bretherton, Paul Kelly, Hilary Charlesworth, Bill Maley, Robert Manne, James Cotton, Donald McGauchie, Paul Dibb, Teresa Morris-Suzuki, Rod Eddington, Tony Milner, Christopher Findlay, Merle Ricklefs, Stephen FitzGerald, Richard Robison, Ross Garnaut, William Tow, David Goodman, Stan Wallis, Stuart Harris, Meredith Hellicar, Cliff Walsh.

    How or when it got spiked with ideologues and shills I don’t know. Also, why. I mean, what’s the point? The “advice” you’d get would be very predictable and useless in terms of actual expert knowledge. With people like Hendo and Pearson especially: you don’t ask them, you tell them, that is what they are there for.

  27. Katz says:

    Yes, Sir Hank.

    A brains trust. Excellent idea. Diversification of opinion. Thinking outside the box. Challenging the dominant paragigm. Intelligence speaking truth to power. Should be more of it.

    However, the Foreign Affairs Council seems to have metastasized into a branch of the Gummint’s Media Unit. Infinity of mirrors. Groupthink. Confederacy of Dunces. Echo chamber. That sort of thing.

    But credit where credit’s due. They will constitute a large part of Planet’s, Hendo’s and Fat Chris’s Good Old days.

  28. Zarquon says:

    My kind of Gorgon

  29. John Greenfield says:

    Let us hope there is a lot of spring-cleaning at both Fairfax and News Ltd. I pray that somebody more contemporary and wise is given the Emeritus Phillip Adams News Ltd. Chair of 1970s Dreaming. I think it also Time that Kerry O’Brien took up a permament chair at the Mosman Rower’s and handed the 7.30 Report baton to somebody a bit “fresher;” perhaps Elanore Hall.

    Similarly, Gerard Henderson, Robert Manne, Adele Horin. Janet Albrechtsen, Piers Ackerman should say their last hurrahs….Personally, I think Andrew Bolt is far and away Australia’s best media columnist and should stay. And no, I am not “on his side” politically. He just performs the role of a newpaper columnist exceptionally well.

  30. John Greenfield says:

    Paul Burns

    Pray tell us what the hell Albrechtsen and Windschuttle have/had to do with “this claque of neocons” being on The Insiders or indeed anybody being on The Insiders? Newsflash, neith A nor W were producers. 😉

  31. joe2 says:

    Paul, I would not get too excited about possible changes to Insiders line up for next year. It is kind of meant to be a “media tart” exercise rather than a real bright thinkin kind of thang. How about the gall of this Bolt line, though?

    “I know: the ABC has in fact given conservatives as much air as a hamster’s breath, but some board members have wished for more.”

    Wouldn’t it just be a little bit nice if they even gave just one token lefty a regular go on that show? As far as a reasonable voice of the right goes I would love to see more of George Megalogenis.,25197,22342160-5013592,00.html

    And going back to your comments Re Angela Shanahan. George was The Australian journo who picked the fall of Howard on the basis of welfare to work bullying of single mothers. Something that seems to have gone well over our Angelas’ head. Though she seems to be number one supporter of the mothers important homely role.

  32. mbahnisch says:

    Janette played an important role in Howard’s defeat through staying at home Kirribilli.

  33. Jack Strocchi says:

    Gummo Trotsky says:

    I suppose by The Hun’s standards, calling on the management of your major commercial rival to show some shame or even a sense of self-preservation and sack one of its columnists is a responsible, and proper exercise of free speech.

    That is a demonstrable falsehood. Bolt did not call for Tracee Hutchinson to be “sacked”. He expressed dismay that this incompetent and embarrassing columnist is given a platform. The same emotion most contributors to this site display towards Bolt.

    But Bolt did not call for a purge of liberal-Left columnists from the MSM. Unlike Rundle, Manne and many on this site.

    The totalitarian mentality on the Cultural Left runs deep, springing from its boundless self-righteousness.

    Its a short step from intellectual imposture to moral posturing.

  34. joe2 says:

    So true Mark we can only thank our Hyacinth with a gladdy held high.
    The socialists have control of the ‘billi now and standards can only drop.
    Homeless shelter?

  35. Bernice says:

    “The totalitarian mentality on the Cultural Left runs deep, springing from its boundless self-righteousness.

    Its a short step from intellectual imposture to moral posturing.”

    Oh can I get that on a tshirt – with the front jacket of Windy’s Fabrication of Aboriginal History – of course.

  36. Andrew says:

    Jack Strocchi

    Are you saying that Bolt isn’t calling for her to be sacked, but is just expressing dismay that the Age continues to employ her as a columnist? Thats some impressive hairsplitting.

    On an unrelated note: are you the same Jack Strocchi that wrote an article in Spinach7 a few years ago about Mark Worth?

  37. Jack Strocchi says

    I’d just like to remind everyone that I’m monumentally obtuse and stupid.

    OK, so I paraphrased it.

  38. Paul Burns says:

    A &W are on the ABC Board, J.G. The ABC Board has stuffed ABC programming with boring business reports. Why wouldn’t they interfere in who should bhe the guests on Insiders.
    Joe2, I know Inbsiders is a clown show. I just wish some of the right wing clowns had some brains and weren’t so badmannered.

  39. joe2 says:

    “Saturday night and you’re still hangin’ around
    Tired of living in your one horse town
    you’d like to find a little hole in the ground,
    for awhile..

    So you go to the village in your tie dyed jeans
    And you stare at the junkies and the closet queens
    It’s like some pornographic magazine
    And you smile


    Captain Jack will get you high tonight
    And take you to your special island
    Captain Jack will get you by tonight
    Just a little push, and you’ll be smilin'”

    And thanks to Billy Joel and Mr Stroppi for providing the drug free mirth.

  40. Jack Strocchi says:

    Comment by Andrew — December 15, 2007 @ 7:31 pm

    Are you saying that Bolt isn’t calling for her to be sacked, but is just expressing dismay that the Age continues to employ her as a columnist? Thats some impressive hairsplitting.

    Yes. There is a fine line between calling for someones dismissal and expressing exasperation at someones poor job performance. Also, Bolt did not call for her to be replaced by a Rightwing columnist. Also, Bolt is not calling for a general purge of the News Ltd stable of conservative columnists, unlike quite a few triumphal Leftists.

    The Left’s cultural hegemony combined with its political correctness is unhealthy for democracy and impedes the growth of knowledge.

    Andrew says:

    On an unrelated note: are you the same Jack Strocchi that wrote an article in Spinach7 a few years ago about Mark Worth?

    Yes. I lived with Worthy for a year or so in a shared “Mens House” in Bondi, with Mark Davis and Ben Bohane. Worthy was Left wing alright, but not politically correct. A vanishing breed.

  41. Bernice says:

    Calling Dorothy Parker…Dorothy are you there?

    “Tonstant Weader fwowed up”

  42. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    Oh pleeze, JS. There’s Emperor Rupert up in the Colosseum waiting for hoi polloi to signal approbation for a thumb up or down. As if. Hey, I have an idea: we could call for a boycott of the product or service in the nearest display advertisement to a column that is so egregiously fascist that it demands a response. Nothing totalitarian about that. It’s free enterprise and competition.

  43. Andrew says:

    Jack Strocchi.

    Congrats. I really liked that article, and had never heard of Mark Worth before then (and I’m a big fan of Ben Bohane’s work). Spinach7 was one of my favorite magazines, pity there were only 5 of them 😦

    But back to Bolt: my point was that Bolt wasn’t simply expressing exasperation at her performance, poor or otherwise, but explicitly at the fact the Age continued to employ her in that role (giving her a platform). So while he may not have said “she should be sacked” he expressed dismay that she had not been sacked. Not very different.

    And true, Bolt did not call for her to be replaced with a rightwing columnist, but I don’t think Manne and co have called for conservatives to be replaced with leftwing columnists. The basic point of Gummo’s post was that Bolt was being hypocritical, which he demonstrated.

  44. Gaz says:

    The Left’s cultural hegemony combined with its political correctness is unhealthy for democracy and impedes the growth of knowledge.

    Jack you really do like to create an avenue for people to take the piss out of you.In fact you scream out for it,you really do think your shit doesn’t stink, and you are a towering intellect.Your as phoney as a nine bob note Jack.

    Sour grapes and introspection, is obviously something you need to study more deeply Jack,I know your hurt about the election result,but I’m sure in the fullness of time, just like your mentor and hero John Winston Howard, you’ll get over it.

  45. CK says:

    “The Left’s cultural hegemony combined with its political correctness …”

    Oh, this is good. Two for the price of one, apparently.

    Gaz, mate, when you’re eventually released by the aliens from Area 51, here’s a hint: Don’t wear the aluminium on your head. It’s a dead giveaway.

    And Bernice, I’m desperately scrambling around for the Dorothy Parker review. Have read numerous bios, and she was indeed very funny, especially re Kate Hepburn: “She ran the whole gamut of emotions from A to B”

    Just brilliant.

  46. CK, I think that Parker review is of The House at Pooh Corner. That or ‘When We Were Six.’

  47. Gaz says:

    “Gaz, mate, when you are eventually released by the aliens from Area 51, here’s a hint: Don’t wear the aluminium on your head. It’s a dead giveaway.”

    Hey there’s nothing wrong with aluminium, I have a forty foot cabin cruiser made from it.I will send you some pictures of me and the cheese and kisses motoring down the Swan river on it.

    My hat although some what tatty now, is made of Kevlar it will stop a plasma bolt from the star ship enterprise.It has a lovely motive of crossed anchors just above the peak..

    As for politically correct,wanting some arse wipe strung up for rape is just one of my funny traits.Of course most Australians suffer the same affliction.

  48. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    This is intriguing Jack. You wrote for Spinach7, a radical left-wing arts magazine? And you wrote in Spinach7 about Mark Worth, a filmmaker who devoted his life to the freedom from oppression of the people of West Papua? The Mark Worth who died in mysterious circumstances after the announcement that his film “Land of the Morning Star” would be shown on ABC TV? (See

    Are you a still, or have you ever been, a member of an anarcho-syndicalist commune, Jack Strocchi?

  49. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    Christine, when the play on which the movie Cabaret was based – I am a Camera, by Christopher Isherwood – Dorothy Parker gave it the shortest-ever review to appear in the New Yorker. I reproduce it below, in total:
    “No Leica”.

  50. anthony says:

    Who will rid me of this meddlesome columnist?

    And when I say ‘rid of’, I meant ‘express dismay at’.

  51. CK says:

    We should probably take this over to Saturday Salon, Sir Henry, but Isherwood’s book was actually “Goodbye To Berlin.”

    ‘I am a camera’ was, I recall, the first sentence. And no less brilliant for that. One of my favourite books, BTW.

    And as for Mrs Parker, how does anyone go past the following:

    “Brevity is the soul of lingerie.”

    “If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”

    “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” (On Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’)

    Which gets us back to these barking mad columnists in the OG. Leaving the quality of their arguments aside, none of their writing is worth a cracker.

    Paul Kelly in particular, who dispatches words as if they were artillery shells fired from giant bombadons on the Somme front, to much the same effect: i.e. the verbal equivalent of mud and death for a three yard advance.

    Hence the impenetrable nonsense of “The Defeat”,25197,22926587-12250,00.html

    The great story that wasn’t.

  52. You want proof that teh Left in Australia is just a bunch of evil Stalinists? Here it is!

    The ALP has promised that the ABC Act will be CHANGED! So the new chair will have BIPARTISAN SUPPORT! And members will be nominated by an INDEPENDENT COMMITTEE!

    It’s in their platform and everything.

    If that system has already been in place, our Janet and our Keith and our Ron and our Christopher would never have been appointed!


    These people are carrying on as if winning an election means they get to be the government. Phwoar, we’ll soon fix that.

  53. CK says:

    What is that horrible shambling mass lurking about the azaleas? Why, it’s Greg Sheridan, gardenologist:,25197,22907091-25377,00.html

    “…with exceptions, gardens figure much less in Australian literature. This is partly a sort of eco-green ideological “plant racism”. We celebrate the bush, we execrate suburban gardens. Most of our gardens have northern hemisphere plants and this is seen as a sign of the cultural cringe…”

    “I realise that in discovering the garden I am only stumbling across something three quarters of Australia knew already. But Australian high culture has been forever at war with the suburbs, and there is nothing more suburban than a suburban garden.”

    “The feeling of suburban solidarity and pride, that we mustn’t let the district down by looking shabby — a feeling so relentlessly mocked in a million epater le bourgeois passages — is entirely healthy. It’s a feeling of community.”

    “So much life, so many marriages, so many rituals of parenthood and family enterprise, take place in those gardens and yet you would hardly know they existed if you read Australian novels, watched Australian film, even examined Australian paintings.”

    “But one of Australia’s great joys is its millions of splendid gardens, a vernacular secret, hidden in plain sight like so much else from the intellectual classes by the great mass of good people.”

    What a fuckwit.

  54. Su says:

    “plant racism”

    He has to be deranged.

  55. gummotrotsky says:

    … gardens are universal and eclectic. They represent nature, but nature working with man, a synthesis.

    So what does the gormless one put in his new garden:

    A few weeks ago I planted 12 rose bushes, three azaleas and a Japanese maple tree.

    I’ll stick with me potted callistemon – it’s coming along nicely, despite occasional periods of neglect and it’s the only thing in the “garden” that I’ll be able to take away with me if I have to move. No messing around with grey water either.

  56. CK says:

    Plant racist!

  57. Katz says:

    Has Tom Switzer informed Greg Sheridan that he should expect to do a lot more gardening in the future?

  58. gummotrotsky says:

    No doubt Greg went for a massed planting of Nancy Reagans, Barbara Bushes and Billy Grahams around that Japanes maple (which really should have been a hickory tree when you think about it).

    Or perhaps he went with a geopolitical theme – a mass planting of Peace ( or Desert Peace) with Honor.

  59. John Greenfield says:

    Excuse the phucked italicising, Oxford STreet Bars were EXTREMELY generous with their nips, last night. hic. Oh, ho, the Nips are getting better! hic.

  60. Pavlov's Cat says:

    ‘So much life, so many marriages, so many rituals of parenthood and family enterprise, take place in those gardens and yet you would hardly know they existed if you read Australian novels, watched Australian film, even examined Australian paintings … But Australian high culture has been forever at war with the suburbs’.

    That’s just rubbish, actually. (Besides, one of his fellow right-wing culture warriors was utterly trashing some friends of mine who have been doing academic work on gardens in Australian writing only a few weeks back in one of the usual ‘waste of taxpayers’ money’ rants. Make up yer minds, dudes.)

    I think he might be thinking of a particular made-up suburb called Sarsaparilla in Patrick White, which may be all he’s read, and even that is more equivocal a portrait than is generally assumed. What about Summer of the Seventeenth Doll? Lantana? City Homicide? The Children’s Bach? Cloudstreet? Look Both Ways? The Watcher on the Cast-Iron Balcony? Howard Arkley, Grace Cossington-Smith, Dorrit Black, Clarice Beckett, Sali Herman?


  61. John Greenfield says:

    And let’s not forget Puberty Blues, which I have read 14 times and shall be buying for my god-daughter’s topping Year 7 English this year!

  62. joe2 says:

    Like his political commentary he knows bugger all about gardening. Planting trees or shrubs so close to summer, in Melbourne, is a recipe for plant murder.

    And anyone using grey water of the washing machine variety for anything other than carefully washing the car is not thinking. It will very likely ruin your soil.

  63. Paul Burns says:

    CK at 52.
    Re Kelly’s account. I have to disagree with you.I don’t know if you are familiar with the historiographical tradition of high politics. Namier fits loosely into this framework but its foremost exponent is Maurice Cowling, a consewrvative British historian who wrote some masterly histories about the politics behind the 1832 Reform Bill and about the politics of Chamberlain-Hitler negotiations at Munich.He has also written a rheoretical book, “The Limits of Politics’.
    As much as I dislike the ideology of some of the columnists at the OG, there is no doubt that Paul Kelly, ever since he wrote The Dismissal is one o9f this countries’ foremost exponents of political history.
    One of the major historiographical problems with writing a history of high politics, for which here, Kelly is providing a basic primary source, is the immense mass of detail you have to write about, and the significant problems historians have in shaping that detail, since in a complete history of, say, the Howard era, it would embrace pollies of all parties, their public and private records, their families where they had input in shaping political decision, business, the media players, the military, probably even the bloggocracy.It has been likened by critics of the methodology to dealing with ants on an ant hill, and trying to trace the liufe path of each ant, and their various interractions..But done well, it can result in rivetting political history. Kelly, in my opinion, works in this tradition, and he, like the rest of us who have done so, has to work his way through its limitations.

  64. Paul Burns says:

    Shanahan on horticulture. Sounds a bit like Dame Edna Everidge taking herself seriously.

  65. Pavlov's Cat says:

    And Paul Burns’ mention of horticulture leads us very neatly back again to Dorothy Parker: “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.”

  66. joe2 says:

    The Cat been waiting to pounce with that one.

  67. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    Actually, Berlin Stories. Review also attributed to Walter Kerr. You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think, CK.

  68. Paul Burns says:

    Sir Henrt,
    More info on I am a Camera.
    I am a Camera was a play by John Van Druten based on Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, first staged, I think, in the 1940s.
    His two other best known plays are a comedy about witchcraft, Bell, Book and Candle and Voice of the Turtle.
    He is better known for his screenplays, notably Raffles, and Gaslight, for which he won an Academy Award nomination in 1944. He flourished in the 1930s and 40s.
    I came across him in drama school and had to workshop in scenes from I am a Camera and Bell, Book and Candle, which is why I know so much about him.

  69. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    Paul Burns at 63. At 5000 words, this piece is somewhat overwritten. I reckon subbed down to about 800 words it could be a nice bit of weekend “colour”, placed somewhere down the book with some pretty pictures.

    Let’s face it, Kelly is a second-rate analyst and not much of a journalist. Retailing unattributed gossip and cynically planted scuttlebutt is in the worst category of journalism. At least Alan Ramsay is kept to a format, just once a week instead of being given licence to pop up all over the place and at any time. As primary-source history Kelly’s work will be seen as as Alan Reid’s is now – big at the time, worthless and self-servingly partisan today, with ersatz insight.

    Kelly is no George Packer, a Seymour Hersh, an Izzy Stone, a Mary Holland, a Molly Ivins, a Sid Blumental. It’s a shame. The turgid and bloated writing of the pompous, smug, self-admiring, oh-so pontifical Paul Kelly is the best we can do in political reporting in this country, is it?

  70. Mercurius says:

    I guess that’s the first sacking. Greg Sheridan’s on gardening leave…

  71. gummotrotsky says:

    Bet Greg would like one of these to go in the middle of that mass planting of Peace with Honor.

  72. Paul Burns says:

    Sir Henry,
    I don’t think Kelly’s at all bad in his best historical work. He does get very boring when he raves on about economics, as he did a lot in his book in Hawke.
    Re the content of this piece – looking at it as an historian I find it fascinating.The Cabinet locked themselves into a room to discuss what to do about Howard’s leadership and got very drunk and stressed out and made a decision that may have been good or bad for the party -we’ll never know – but what it comes down to is it was a decision that was disastrously fuelled by alcohol, in the same way that the decisions the British Cabinet decisions around the beginning of the American Revolution were fuelled by vast quantities of port.
    Howard was losing it, and despite what Kelly says, I don’t think he ever got it back together. The elephant in the room was Keating’s taunt of political cowardice.
    The end result of all this was that the Libs went into the election convinced they weould lose, excessively emotionally distraught, incapable of making sound decisions, and with some of them at each other’s throats. They remained emotionally crippled at least till election night and because of that they couldn’t cope with the ALP’s apparently tight campaign. We know from another source that Howard was paranoid about Labor getting the jump on him over tax. We know from his political history in the Peacock Howard era that when he got like this, he couldn’t function. It probably wasn’t the only time during the campasign he was unstable, especially with McKew breathing down his neck.
    It might be rotten political journalism, but its gold to a political historian who works at the level I do.
    Alan Reid by the way, is quite a good source for his period, whatever his shortcomings. You’d be surprised how much junk historians have to sort through. Its not the junk that is the historian’s “problem”, it how one uses it.

  73. CK says:

    “Paul Burns at 63. At 5000 words, this piece is somewhat overwritten. I reckon subbed down to about 800 words it could be a nice bit of weekend “colour”, placed somewhere down the book with some pretty pictures.”

    Well that was precisely my point Sir H. Compare it with the snap-crackle-and-pop must read of Annabell Crabb’s piece on Queen Maxine in yesterday’s Fairfax:

    If Kelly wants to be a historian, then fine, let him get a professoriate at ANU.

    As for the tension and drama of politics, he simply dumps a concrete-mixer of verbal porridge over the pages of the National Organ, which Teh Murdoch happily regurgitates in the apparent delusion that it gives Teh Murdoch influence.

    It’s all about telling a story, people. One you can read.

    Goodness knows what’s going to happen to this mob of has-beens when Hillary claims the White House.

    Rocket to Mars, perhaps?

  74. Jack Strocchi says:

    Comment by Sir Henry Casingbroke — December 15, 2007 @ 10:59 pm

    You wrote for Spinach7, a radical left-wing arts magazine? And you wrote in Spinach7 about Mark Worth, a filmmaker who devoted his life to the freedom from oppression of the people of West Papua? The Mark Worth who died in mysterious circumstances after the announcement that his film “Land of the Morning Star” would be shown on ABC TV?

    Worthy was a complex character who defied shallow and simplistic ideological classification. But was prepared to go down with the Irianjayan ship. There were many rumours surrounding his death. But I dont think he was knocked by the Korpassus or anything like that. The Spinach article was a tribute to a great man who died in his vocation: living dangerously

    Most of my paid journalism has been technical, for sci-tech, industrial or engineering media. Or for foaming at the mouth right wing magazines, such as the irredeemable American Conservative. I dont have any absolute ideological beliefs or unconditional institutional commitments. Its not scientific or a useful deployment of scarce resources.

    Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    Are you a still, or have you ever been, a member of an anarcho-syndicalist commune, Jack Strocchi?

    No, but I have undoubtedly known someone who was.

  75. paul walter says:

    I had a look at the pap described earlier from Overington, Sheridan, the Pearson brothers, Windprattle, Albrechtsen and the rest after reading Miranda Devine’s latest, sensing that Trotsky had not kidding in pointing out the Right’s collective losing of its marbles.
    I knew that already, from early times, especially since the election. But the breathtaking scope of this flight, or collapse, of the Reason, sees that the claque’s combined reason has slumped well below “Dreams of Gerontius” proportions.
    A mental picture of Frank Devine, Fat Paddy, Gerald and Dame Kramer daddling about the garden like a scene out of “Lear” is a fitting thought- emblem for this wholesale disintegrating of grey matter.
    Ps, loved the story elsewhere about Howard promising $200,000 for some worthy cause involving the poor to a kid during the election campaign, then reneging in the wake of his defeat.

  76. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    Paul, I would like to agree with you, but if you look at the Kelly piece you can see that it is a pastiche of what one or two of the players have told him, albeit it looks like most of this report was dictated by Downer, which Kelly breathlessly brings back as reportage without leavening it with even a touch of irony.

    As a senior political writer it is Kelly’s responsibility to deconstruct the self-serving spin he’s been fed. The contrast with George Megalogenis could not be more stark.

    Here is the evidence. Most of this “history” comes courtesy of Downer, who clearly has his own agenda – history and/or possibly another tilt at the leadership down the track. Plus barefaced cheek.

    Alex is very keen to make himself look the honest broker as well as generous to a fault: “He noted they ordered a lot of grog and it went on his bill.” Alex is a Man of Refinement and Taste who stays in a suite at the Quay Grand when in Sydney. He is also a man of decision and leadership: “Downer’s opening brief was decisive.”

    To spin the common apprehension that he has been a gutless cypher and Howard’s stalking-horse in all this, now that history has turned over a few clicks, Downer tells Kelly (and Kelly accepts at face value) that he stood up to Howard when the latter chided him for being overly pessimistic in presenting Howard’s position to the other members of the cabinet. Kelly reports Downer saying that Howard said to Downer: “My best judgment is that we will lose the election and I’ll lose my seat of Bennelong as well”. Kelly then does a bit of deep analysis on the strength of this: “Howard had not forsaken all hope but, as a realist, he was deeply pessimistic.”

    Naturally, Downer is hurt by later accusations by Howard that he is being a touch disloyal because he told the crew at the Quay Grand piss-up that Howard fessed up to being rooted. So, Kelly tells us that “Downer had been Howard’s champion for the entire period” just in case we think Alex is some sort of sly opportunist. See? Not only that, but Howard was being a bit unreasonable with the accusation – after all, Alex, ever the pro, “was true to Howard’s mood” and not only that, he quotes Alex that “as foreign minister he had much experience in a rapporteur role. He has tried to capture Howard’s feelings in his presentation.”

    I prefer the other Paul Kelly’s writing. It’s succinct and to the point: “Before too long/He who is nothing/Will suddenly come into view”.

  77. philiptravers says:

    And CK is like a good introduction for me,as strange hints here,may have established me in the fair dinkum conspirator endive onion socket backhand Echelon squeakbox inheritance Men in Black Brigade.There was once this bloke from Armidale who wrote in a magazine I was reading how unusual material things came and went,disappeared like children,and showed up again in unusual places.Like reruns of homicide the Police series when nothing else happens in mind when you are just about to squash a snail.I am not talking experience here,because I have nt been beamed up to meet Scotty of any persuasion.But it seems in passing today I had a rare insight, a sort of Men in Black experience.I had visited an artist,a computer artist by the name of Bill Ralph,a erstwhile professional academic with plenty of exercise with those mathematical symbols,and some of his art hangs out at a Rodham place,whereas he is a Brock University.So I types in my slow and slow witted response in the visitor stuff,and I try to leave after submitting,and up comes the error brigade after submit.So I tried valiantly to find how come I made the error.Then reducing the work load on the computer,it seems to have found me e-mailing a, which I reduced down by subtracting the a after another to a a.jones online or authorjones online by webbing it up.Bang!Alex Jones of became my spider feed as he stuck there as my C.I.A. Operative.,and a site that watches all the religious and C.I.A. hairball down the throat stuff came up.Well I think they have got him,which means a bit of a shock I suppose amongst those who are looking out for connections between the C.I.A. and Catholics etc.Now, that wasnt surprising to me a bit,because I had already been to sites dismissing this Jones man,and may have repeated what I had last done when visiting Bill Ralph.The buggers set it up to test my memory and to add another dimension to spiders and flies.And Geo.W.Bush on Alexs telephone recorder.Texans will be Texans.AND Telstra is awaiting me to pay my Bill.

  78. philiptravers says:

    And if it is a automatic process or the gremlins having a change of heart..the red stuff printed in my last post up seconds ago wasnt my doing!

  79. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    And Jack’s article “Art of Darkness” can be found here:

  80. Ag says:

    Shorter Paul Kelly from his last paragraph in yesterday’s OG:

    ‘His [Howard’s]defeat proves Howard should have resigned in 2006 or early 2007.’

    Yep. If you’re not leader when your side loses then you don’t lose. Simple really.

    The subtext of Kelly’s long-winded postscript to a political tragedy (Kelly’s preferred narrative form for his histories)is that after the missed opportunity for resignation, Howard’s political acumen and courage are to be lauded in the face of certain defeat. Whatever.

    Can Kelly write another ‘End of Certainty’ with its end of ideology, inevitable breaking of the Australian-Deakinite Settlement, grand narrative structuring its detailed realism of the Howard-era? Ol’ Paul’s got a bit of competition from George Megalogenis, who sees the Keating-Howard period as ‘The longest decade’. Paul needs a periodisation, and gossip-columns for the vanquished and bitter that focus on the time of chairs being folded and stacked away are hardly the stuff of dramatic tragedy.
    I’ve become fairly convinced that Coalition lost government because they lost the public debate, especially concerning the distinction between the formal economy (growing, prosperous and secure) and the lived economy(precarious, and indebted). Kelly won’t talk about this, because his historiography is shaped by his neo-liberal beliefs.

  81. Jack Strocchi says:

    Comment by Francis de Groot — December 16, 2007 @ 4:10 am

    These people are carrying on as if winning an election means they get to be the government. How TOTALITARIAN IS THAT!

    Bolt’s criticism was directed more against Left cultural elite rather than the Left political elite. The Left political elite have to remain accountable to the populus and include a fair number of well-grounded individuals from the trade union move as well as an obviously capable leader.

    The Left cultural elite, by contrast, have done their level best to escape public accountability by networking control of cultural institutions in academia and media. They have also drawn a shroud of political correctness over a large swathe of cultural matters eg the purge of Fraser here or Watson in the US. These actions are purportedly taken in order to better “manage diversity”.

    Rundle & Hutchinson’s immediate call to sack conservatives from the metro media shows that they are not really interested in diversity, either ethnological or ideological. just better job prospects for their political cronies. The Left cultural elite really excel at personal political endeavors ie rewarding friends and punishing enemies. The most likely time Australian literature makes the news is over some literary hoax or a squabble over a grant.

    “Totalitarian” is too strong a word to describe this, so I withdraw. In the great Australian bludging tradition the Left cultural elite just want a media and academia closed-shop to distribute institutional spoils to bored white middle class intellectuals who cant make it in the Northern Oceanic metropolises.

    The same message is coming loud and clear from younger Cultural Leftists such as the lesser Mark Davis & the unmentionable Ryan Heath.

    No doubt the Right cultural elite, such as it is, plays the same game. But they are no match for the Left cultural elite. Most of the talent in the Right goes into professional, rather than political, endeavours. The Right want to land that nice terrace near an APS by the time they are 35. Which means 24/7 commitment to the market as soon as they leave uni.

  82. Paul Burns says:

    Sir Henry,
    enjoyed your admirable analysis of the Kelly piece. You’re almost certainly right. And when historians come to write the history of the Howard era in 30 years time, unless Dolly reads this cdomment, there’s sure to be something in his papers at the NLA which will bolster the inferences you’ve made.(He’d be vain enough to write everything down, and keep it. Jeannette will have destroyed anything derogatory in the Howard papers, if JWH hasn’t already shredded it himself.) Probably something in Kelly’s papers too, which I’m sure he’ll also lodge at the NLA.
    Kelly’s piece will provide a clue to any historian of the period who will have first spent a few months going through eleven years of newspapers so he/she can get bits of the narrative they haven’t been able to find in contemporaneous published histories, memoirs,diaries, letters stc.

  83. murph the surf says:

    Ryan sounds like just the person to get on on the jobs soon on offer at the GG.

    From a blurb about his book “Ryan says Australia is moribund and stultified with superannuated leaders arguing over outdated orthodoxies while business, media, culture and political parties sag under the weight of tired methods and ideas recycled from the 70s and 80s.

    According to Ryan Heath, Australian public life has ignored the energy and ideas of younger people leading to mediocrity and decline here, and an exodus of hundreds of thousands of talented young people like himself to take up opportunities overseas, where younger people are given positions of responsibility, and where generations share more fairly.

    Ryan Heath has been involved in grass roots campaigns (the Republic, refugees, end to student fees), and has worked for ALP politicians and is now working as a public servant. He lives in London.”

  84. CK says:

    So clearly the question is: Can the National Organ! quietly, and without embarrassment, quietly divest itself of this vast stable of self-serving, pathetic, partisan hacks over Christmas, and replace them with people who can write, and offer genuine insights into the exercise of government?

    I certainly hope so, but on current form it doesn’t look like it. The rag’s beyond redemption.

    As things stand I’m just buying it for the sheer unintended comedy (bearing in mind that I live in Perth. The alternative daily being far, far worse). Which, for a mere $1.20, is pretty good value for a daily dose of hilarity.

    Maybe Rupe could take The NO! to its logical extent and just turn it into a comedy series on the ABC?

    The role of Paul Kelly being taken up by John Clark, of course.

  85. Mind you, Hutchison isn’t exactly my favourite columnist either.

    Lots of emotion, not much reasoned analysis.

  86. True Rob. Must get around to reading her article later.

    If it weren’t for the fact that Bolt and Hutchison both appear in the dead-tree media, you might mistake the whole Bolt/Hutchison thing for cross-blog shit fight.

  87. CK says:

    “Lots of emotion, not much reasoned analysis.”

    Robert, please read Greg Sheridan on gardenology,25197,22907091-25377,00.html

    He leaves Tracey in the shade.

  88. Simon Musgrave says:

    For my money, Christopher Pearson should be sacked by any decent journal for using (inventing?) the word ‘credally’. OK, the OED allows ‘credal/creedal’, but WTF – don’t his sub-editors have ears?

  89. mbahnisch says:

    Possibly they don’t read his columns…

  90. paul walter says:

    Sir Henry, thanks.
    My sentiments entirely.
    Now to Jack Strocchi, # 83. You aren’t really serious with that stuff you wrote, dominated by the straw person nonsense purporting to “original” astonishing intellectual differentiation between a “cultural left” and a “political left”, were you?
    The one that starts with the hommage to that New Guard idiot De Groot; comrade of some of Howard’s older rellies in the Sydney fascist movement of the ‘twenties and ‘thirties.
    Every where plots!
    The idiot McCarthyism of Paddy, Flint, Angela Shanahan and Windprattle to the fore, for want of a bit of imagination and brainpower applied to what has really happened this year in politics.
    I know you write better stuff than this because of I’ve read some it here. Even compared to my stuff it’s long, but there is usually a brainpower attempt to deal with a given issue within a real frame of reference, to uncover some new point to an issue.
    But 83 is a dud. Believe me, I know what a dud is, if only because I write so many of them myself. Besides, I’m a nobody and have never proclaimed the sort of intellectual distinction the Rightist always claim for themselves. So, I know a dud, and 83 is devoid of merit and just sounds a rehash of the rubbish the Right has writen since it fell into a blue funk after losing the election ( any excuse will do ). So, in spite of the hindsight offered thru the rebutted rubbish of your idols, you continue to peddle the same conspiracy theories, word for word. Is the Right in total sleepwalker mode?
    A De Groot moment:
    “A conservative never forgets
    and never learns”.

  91. Katz says:

    If agree with Paul Burns that CK and Sir Hank have been a bit tough on Paul Kelly’s “The Defeat”.

    The article does identify the major players in the backroom and boudoir psychodrama that was the effort to remove Howard from the leadership of the Liberal Party.

    Certainly, Dolly was Kelly’s major mouthpiece in the world of formal power.

    But there were some telling quotes from Brough, who comes out of the story as the most grounded of all of the cabinet.

    On the other side, we hear Janette hissing in Ratty’s ear, “You’re no quitter”, the words that sealed Howard’s personal debacle.

    And we hear Howard reformulating his conditions for relinquishment of the leadership. “I’ll bare my chest to the blade, but you have to be courageous enough to knife me.” Creepy, dramatic stuff.

    The story reminded me of the night Prince Yussupov and his epicene mates decided to do for Rasputin. They were a pack of nancy boys who botched it terribly. But when the poison didn’t work at least they had the gumption to shoot Rasputin and then to bludgeon him to death.

    Dolly is shown up by Yussupov to be wanting in the grit department.

    Finally, the dog that doesn’t bark is Costello. Can we really believe that Costello knew nothing about the epoch-making events unfolding around Dolly’s hotel minibar?

  92. Ambigulous says:

    Katz, I agree – found the article absorbing; but how long before we get the FULL story? I think $weetie may well not have been told of the meeting beforehand, as
    i) he appears not to have been well-liked or trusted
    ii) many were unsure he could do any better than Honest John
    iii) he had botched his (apparent) attempt to seize the crown, mid-2006
    iv) others – Viscount Turnbull? Monsignor Tony? Bishop Julie? may have preferred themselves as Leader


  93. Ambigulous says:

    Pavlov’s @ 66

    Wonderful!! 😉

  94. Ben Eltham says:

    More priceless thoughts in the OG from Kevin Andrews today. No mealy-mouthed backsliding from our Kevin, he’s not for turning.

    The Labor Party has the right to put its proposals to the parliament and have them debated. Equally, the parliament has the duty to scrutinise carefully any such proposals. And the Coalition has the responsibility to the people of Australia to continue to argue for those policies it believes will enhance the prosperity of this nation.

    If Brendan Nelson decides to vote for Gillard’s IR bill, will Kevin Andrews cross the floor? Maybe he will!

  95. Paul Burns says:

    Ben Eltham,
    The implied threat by Andrews is worrying. Hopefully he’s urinating in the wind, and he has been relegated to the back-bench.Though the influence of the Haowardistas can never be under-estimated in this broken Liberal Party.
    My fear is that we’ll see a repeat of 1973/75.It doesn’t matter what side of politics you’re on, this would be disastrous for the country. Though undoubtedly there would be right wing zealots inside and outside the Parliament who would thrive on the diviseiveness, as they did when Howard was PM.

  96. gummotrotsky says:

    The OG also has a warning for Kevin Rudd and (via OLO, here’s the view from Balliol College, Oxford.

    The Great Conservative Whinge of 2007 continues. I could run a sweep on how long it takes them to get over it. Difficult to judge though.

  97. Jack Robertson says:

    To watch the vanquished Howardistas throw together evermore contrived explications of Australia’s rejection of JH, with the sole aim now of avoiding having also to reject the concomitant Op Ed narratives to which they’ve devoted a decade of career-making toil and hubbub, is to visit the Zeppelin design labs the day after Kittyhawk.

  98. gummotrotsky says:

    Kittyhawk, Jack? I hope not – that would mean we’ll have to wait another 33 years for the maiden flight of their Hindenburg.

  99. Paul Burns says:

    have checked out those links. Some responses.First – the warning to Kevin Rudd.Most Australians couldn’t care less what goes on with the ACT Government unless they live there. Most Australians couldn’t care less if some-one is gay or lesbian, so long as, if they’re straight, no-one makes a pass at them. The very vast majority of gays and lesbians, in my experience, don’t make passes at straight people. Probably more Australians than less think gays and lesbians think G/L should have equal civil rights and think its unfair they don’t have them.Finally, I know there’s Hillsong and the Exclusive Brethren – but what Bible Belt? This is Australia, not the good ole USA.Now, I know most of the Xtans I know are left wing, but their religious beliefs certainly don’t stop them from having a good time, or allowing other people to have a good time. They shy a bit at things like Tarot Cards, but even then if you want to read them or have them read that’s youir business. Nominally we might be a Xtan country, but we’re predominantly secular humanist in our attitudes even when we’re Xtan.Its a carry over from suspicion of the Church as an arm of State authority that carries over from convict times, still.
    As for the bloke from Balliol, well, that was the Australia I was living in for the past eleven years, but not the one I’ve been living in since the election. He’s talking through his hat.

  100. Jack Robertson says:

    “Kittyhawk, Jack? I hope not – that would mean we’ll have to wait another 33 years for the maiden flight of their Hindenburg.”


    Then again, some of them puffier old Op Ed Blimps prob’ly have got enough hot air left to fly on for a good few years yet…titty-boom!

    *Continues mining un-cutting-edge airship riff of slightly-stale righty-bashing jokes for some considerable time…*

  101. BearCave says:

    I’ve kept an article on file from 2004, in which The Australian’s Errol Simper writes:

    “Anyone who has read Alan Bullock’s esteemed history, ‘Parallel Lives’ –
    meticulous portraits of Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin – would be aware of
    how the extreme political left can so easily enmesh with the extreme Right.
    The political spectrum isn’t linear, it’s circular.”

    It’s a great quote because it makes clear that neither side of politics – left or right – has a clean record in the history books.

    Such a quote also serves well to prevent revisionists from trying to place BOTH Stalin and Hitler on the same side of a political spectrum between left and right.

    George Orwell’s Animal Farm explains what happens when one concentration of power is gradually replaced with another: a “fine line difference” between the past and the present – the effect being circular, not linear.

    Dissent itself therefore also needs a circular effect, which is a respect for dissent to exist on both sides of politics.

    To highlight the need for dissent to exist on both sides of politics, Norman Abjorensen writes in The Age today:

    “While it is fashionable to dismiss the old terms of “left” and “right” as no longer having any clear political meaning, to deny them any valid usage is to miss a point always in need of making — who is for and who opposes the existing power balance.”

    For this reason, our so-called “cultural elites” on both sides of the political spectrum should drop the holier-than-thou shrillness now on display and consider the following two concessions:

    1. Janet Albrechtsen ought to accept the mistakes of the Right’s pre-election “verging on propaganda” approach, and

    2. Guy Rundle ought to accept Albrechtsen’s most valid point:

    “To argue, as Robert Manne does in The Monthly, that the culture wars are over is fallacious. We are talking not about a war where one side declares victory, but about a continuing debate. Nothing more, nothing less.”

    What these concessions achieve is clarifying the conditions of argument (the “war” in culture war). This makes it easier to understand my next point – the questionable use of the word “culture” by our elites (the “culture” in culture war).

    Norman Abjorensen writes in The Age:

    “Ideologically, the sides have converged: the argument is not so much about supplanting or defending capitalism and its inevitable inequalities as better managing it; it is no longer the ends that are disputed but the means.

    The political and social divide separating these (disputed) positions is wide; the contest between these competing ideas is what that often mystifying term, the culture wars, is all about.”

    If the end (the goal) is no longer disputed, but the means (the strategy) remains in dispute, then why not call this debate “the strategy war”?

    If, as Abjorensen describes, a conservative is “someone bent on preserving the existing social hierarchy”, yet at the same time Labor is “more conservative than ever”, then what implication does this have for our exact understanding of “means to an end” (something done – strategy – to achieve something else – goal)?

    With culture “merely being one consideration” in a social or organisational hierarchy, just why is it that a “often mystifying term” like “culture war” is substituting a much clearer and more sensible word like “strategy”?

    A word that in my opinion serves to better balance those lofty big picture visions with the everyday detail of life?

    Can all you smarties actually answer this question – or is it more like it is “deliberately and conveniently” a mystery?

    A major Victorian poet called Matthew Arnold said that “Culture is properly defined as the LOVE of perfection”.

    So when I read about a “culture WAR”, since having learnt of the Matthew Arnold quote, I now imagine seeing lofty elites engaged in debate inside some Orwellian titled think tank called “The Ministry of Love”.

    …From Justin

  102. Ambigulous says:

    Thank you Justin,

    Good to see someone rise above the name-calling tit-for-tat, mud chucking. I distinctly recall, in the last two weeks or so, various bloggers here calling for a cleanout of all columnists at “The Australian”. Harrrumph!!

    I couldn’t care less: I just want to have available, whether through “The Age”, “The Australian”, “The Monthly”, “Quadrant”, or LP and other blogs: a WIDE range of informed opinion, well-argued and provocative.

    For what it’s worth, here are MHO of the last ten years…

    Robert Manne can be simplistic and unfair.
    Phillip Adams is better on radio than in print- verging on the paranoid at times in “The Oz”.
    Tracie Hutchison isn’t much more convincing. that Catherine Deveney (hysterical in the emotional sense, not the comical).
    Pamela Bone went awry on the Muslim women’s headgear “issue”.
    Kenneth Davidson is an old statist centraliser but he seems to understand balance sheets.
    Tony Wright is deft.
    Tim Colebatch can be interesting.
    Michelle Grattan is overly cautious but calm.

    The recent article (Saturday 15th Dec) about “the culture wars” in “The Age” was a pathetic travesty, in its sneering at anyone who Professor MacIntyre disagrees with [e.g. labelling Windschuttle an ex-Marxist but not labelling MacIntyre an ex-communist]

    Paul Kelly is ponderous.
    Janet and Miranda are too narrow in their foci.
    Angela Shanahan was so superior towards “ordinary women” – but so are the Press Gallery ‘en masse’ – in her whinge about beiong an overworked housewife.

    I want to see more debate, many more viewpoints. I don’t want to see people sacked because of their OPINIONS. That’d be like Robert Menzies literary grants being restricted to non-CPA members, would it not? Thought Police, loss of income, etc.

    I hate (mis)quoting the Butcher of Beijing, Mao, but “Let a hundred flowers bloom. Let a bloody great whopping number of schools of thought contend!” … without the crackdown on heretics that Mao later ordered: People’s China, 1950’s.


  103. joe2 says:

    “IN his suite at the Quay Grand late on the night of September 6, Downer convened the meeting of cabinet ministers. He noted they ordered a lot of grog and it went on his bill. But Downer felt it was a good meeting, held in good but depressing spirits.”

    Just reading between the lines here, but does this indicate, since it was on the Dolly tab, that Downer had cheaped out and only provided Corio Whiskey, for instance?

    The Paul Kelly link is below (I love providing extras if it has not already been added ) and provides, at least, a reasonable primary source document for historians on the battle of ’07 and suggests far too close an involvement by a senior journalist with one side of politics. And is such a long breathless read I am now ready for my afternoon nap.,25197,22926587-5013947,00.html

  104. Paul Burns says:

    Bear Cave,
    i think the term atose out of the place themes of race, gender, class, the environment and so on had in academic studies, and of the application of a variety of postmodernist theories. Of the latter I don’t have much to say as I’ve only dipped into the New Historicism and the idea of Post-Colonialism.(Ithink that’s what its called.)
    Various disciplines started applying Marxist or Feminist paradigms to their area of study. In History the consequence of this was the growth of Women’s History as well as Feminist History (they are separate) and much research on Aboriginal History, which, quite simply had never been done before. Labor History also flourished, though not necesarily from a Marxist perspective (you have to remember here, that apart from being a revolutionary theorist, Marx was, and still is one of our foremost philosophers of history). The ALP has always been historically minded and in the history stakes it and the Communist Party of Australia were well ahead in the history stakes, compared to the Libral Party at the time, though the Libs did catch up, though they’d never admit it – it goes against their right wing critique of academe.Anyway these avenues of inquiry, which were also taking place to some extent in literature, (I can’t speak for other disciplines such as sociology as my study of them is sparse)were developing along similar lines in the US and over there they morphed into a kind of left-wing cultural ‘fascism’that came to be labelled as Political Correctness. In my experience in the 1980s it didn’t really take on that much in Australian Universities, or at least not as much as the media claimed. There were some very heated debates about race and immigration, but political correctness or no political correctness, I think they would have happened anyway, given the relative strength of the left in the student population (which was a very small group – most students weren’t interested – the far right, including some very loopy Liberals, strengthened in the very late 80s. So far as I know, PC never took off in the UK or Europe. It was a weird Anglo-Saxon phenomenon on the edges of the Commonwealth, partly born out of legacies of the past. It came to be used as a weapon by the far right.

  105. amused says:

    joe2 @104 has it.

    Kelly is not just close to his sources, he makes himself part of the story. His whole approach is to be ‘first’ – as in the ‘first draft of history’, but in essence, he is always merely the microphone-in this case to Downer, who has cleverly managed to get his version out first. He is neither a talented or skilled journalist, able to winkle out and research the ‘what really happened’-since he just goes out to lunch with the powerful, and then tells us what he is permitted to say, and neither is he a talented analyst, shrewed in the ways of those who wield power, able to ‘parse’ the press releases, bon mots and BS for the time poor but interested reader.

    He is a shill, but not just anybody’s shill. Only the most powerful, those who are the closest to the real thing, will do for our Paul. And that’s what he sells essentially.

  106. Ambigulous says:

    Paul Burns,

    that may be a fair summary, but I do recall during a student sit-in at Monash circa 1969, Dave Nadel speaking to the hundreds; as he finished, he said, “But perhaps [what I just said] isn’t ‘correct line’!” and looked across at Albert Langer or one of the other senior Maoists in attendance.

    So they were echoing the old Communist Party terminology of ‘correct line’, ‘incorrect opinions’, etc with correctness pronounced upon by Party luminaries. That style dates from 1930’s, 1940’s in Australia; later in China, doesn’t it?

    “Political correctness” seems to me a direct descendant. I could be wrong.

    “PC”, even as a phrase, is enough to send shivers up the spine of any liberal or democrat, should he/she possess one, IMHO. I think that’s sufficient to explain the rhetorical power of exposing instances of PC to public gaze. That, and the intellectual vacuity of its (serious) proponents.

    Satire stood aside, temporarily redundant.

  107. Ambigulous says:

    amused – Paul Kelly doesn’t seem very shrewd… but could he be Shrewed? I thought she had been Tamed.

  108. Paul Burns says:

    Ambigulous, re 1969.
    The Communist Party was still flourishing in Oz in 1969, albeit splitting into various branches – CPA, Stalinist-Leninisy, Maoisat etc. The idea of the party line, evident in the 40s and 50s was still a major factor. I’m not sure, but I think at that time we were only starting to be exposed to the welcoming winds of change coming out of Eurocommunism and had hardly began to imbibe the weird and wonderful politics of the global counterculture.And the Party was in disarray over the suppression of the 1969 Velvet Revolution. So I’m not surprised David Nadel referred to the ‘correct line’. So far as I’m aware it was still very much part of Australian Communism.

  109. Katz says:

    My fear is that we’ll see a repeat of 1973/75.It doesn’t matter what side of politics you’re on, this would be disastrous for the country. Though undoubtedly there would be right wing zealots inside and outside the Parliament who would thrive on the diviseiveness, as they did when Howard was PM.

    I think it highly unlikely that we’ll see another dismissal.

    1. You need a very special sort of megalomaniac as GG to intrude into political life in that way. Jeffery isn’t that guy. However if I were rudd, I wouldn’t want Bob Hawke as GG.

    2. As an economic conservative, Rudd will not give the Libs the pretext to delay or to deny supply.

    3. For the foreseable future, the Greens will hold the B of P in the Senate. I can’t see them lining up with the Tories to kibosh aRudd government.

    4. Casual vacancies in the Senate are filled by the government of that state. There is no Joh Bjelke Petersen in Australian politics these days willing and able to foice an Albie Fields on the Senate.

    (PS I’m amazed that Google kicks up only two references to Albert Fields in relation to Whitlam. What has happened to discussion of one of the most dramtic incidents in Australian history?)

  110. Klaus K says:

    I thought PC began on campuses in the US as an ironic response by academics to initiatives made to reform academic and administrative language and conduct. Those academics would have been well aware of the genealogy of similar totalitarian concepts.

  111. Paul Burns says:

    #109 . Correction – Prague Spring and I think the date was 1968. I get a bit lost in @)c apart from between 1929-1949.
    You’ve re-assured me about a repeat of 1975.
    Re lack of discussion of it. In the mid 80s I was criticised in poetry by another poet for reading out a poem about 1975 at a poetry reading – and he was a leftie. I think people are embarrassed about it. As for the ALP, after Hawke, not so much Keating, they don’t want to examine it too much. It might remind them of how much they’ve sold out. I’ve reminded more than one Labor person in the Hawke years that Curtin and Chifley would be turning in their graves. I don’t think this applies so much to Keating and Rudd. They were/are more true Labor men than not, I think.
    Don’t start me on Hawkie. I might get moderated out of existence.Let’s just say I’m definitely not a fan.

  112. joe2 says:

    “3. For the foreseable future, the Greens will hold the B of P in the Senate. I can’t see them lining up with the Tories to kibosh aRudd government.”

    I was under the impression that come July the most likely scenario,(and similarly bad before then), in the senate, was that Labor would need to either rely on the coalition OR Greens plus Nick Xenophon plus Fielding. With a Barnaby Joyce, wildcard.

    Not a particularly stable arrangement for a new government to introduce “reform”, reform. Please tell me I am wrong.

  113. Ambigulous says:


    was he Albert Field (rather than Fields?) Just asking.

    Thanks Paul Burns. PC on American campuses WAS meant without irony by its original proponents, wasn’t it? Then pilloried by moderates as well as right-wingers. My guess is it may have arisen from marxoid groupings or tendencies in leftist circles, feministas, radical greens, etc; leftovers from the 1970’s on their ‘long march through the insitutions’….. but as always perhaps I’m mistaken.

    Once something becomes embarrassing, it’s fine to claim one was merely attempting irony and was misunderstood; but such a claim merits scrutiny. The claimant may be bullsh*tting.

    Yep, Prague Spring August 1968: Alexander Dubcek and the rolling tanks. A friend said, “Jeez, with friends like the Russians, you wouldn’t need enemies!” At least the Czechs didn’t expect NATO to come to their aid, unlike those Hungarians who had hoped the Americans might help them in ’56.

    Paul, nostalgia just ain’t what it used to be…..

  114. Klaus K says:

    “PC on American campuses WAS meant without irony by its original proponents, wasn’t it? Then pilloried by moderates as well as right-wingers. My guess is it may have arisen from marxoid groupings or tendencies in leftist circles, feministas, radical greens, etc; leftovers from the 1970’s on their ‘long march through the insitutions’….. but as always perhaps I’m mistaken.”

    It was never a positive concept – ie supposed to refer to an actual phenomenon worthy of concern – until taken up outside the academy. On campus it was simply a joke concept that signaled the overt silliness of some of the changes being made, but those changes were understood by those who joked about them to be in some ways important and worthwhile. Further proof, if any were needed, that we should take great care when making fun that lesser minds don’t assume seriousness.

  115. Paul Burns says:

    Ambigulous,Klaus K,
    Re PC in the States. The reports I got about it were from Australian academics who had come back from study tours in the US, circa 1980s. I didn’t even know what it meant. PC was in full flight in the States at the time and American academics were losing jobs for expressing unpopular opinions. My Australian colleagues, who were probably centre leaning in politics, were shocked by what was going on over there. I never really encountered it here.
    The onl thing that ever came close to it was in an Archaeology tutorial, when I made some comment or other and was praised for being “ideologically sound”.The same tutor, a feminist who developed an unsavory reputation at another university in later times, also told me I was a fascist because I liked Leonard Cohen. Needless to say, I didn’t continue with archeology but went back to history, where you didn’t cop that sort of nonsense.

  116. Katz says:


    Good get Ambigulous.

    Still fewer than 800 Google cross-references to Whitlam. Is that fewer than expected?

  117. Klaus K says:

    “Re PC in the States. The reports I got about it were from Australian academics who had come back from study tours in the US, circa 1980s. I didn’t even know what it meant. PC was in full flight in the States at the time and American academics were losing jobs for expressing unpopular opinions. My Australian colleagues, who were probably centre leaning in politics, were shocked by what was going on over there. I never really encountered it here.”

    I’m certainly prepared to concede that it did come to refer to a phenomenon, but the phrase itself begins as a joke. The other thing that is glossed over when the term is used is that administrative decisions and academic dispute don’t amount to the same thing. And the ‘witch hunt’ is a feature of US culture that can appear in all its institutions, not just universities.

    Also, Leonard Cohen appreciation is greatly encouraged in my tutorials, so it mustn’t have stuck.

  118. amused says:

    Oops. Yes ambigulous-he may be ‘shrewed’ for all I know but he lacks the shrewdness of the hungry and curious because he is too well fed (at every level) and when you know everything, what’s to be curious about?

  119. Ambigulous says:

    Katz, no wuzz, happy to assist.
    1975 – what a year, Cyclone Tracey then major storms over Canberra. Joh, Jimmy Cairns, Terrigal; Vietnam cables, “I don’t want any f***ing Vietnamese Balts!”, Lance Barnard, some loans guy – Khemlani – you wouldn’t buy a bag of pistachios from him in a pink fit; Phnomh Penh falls to Khmer Rouge, Saigon falls to NVA/Viet Cong, Norman Gunstone, Junie, Cairns fils, Harris of Carlton, Junie, Lionel Murphy, Junie, Bill Hayden, Gough, Bass byelection, Clyde Cameron, Rex Connor, Junie, forged ‘documents’, Supply stalled, Supply denied, rallies by Liberals, But who let their house out to a CIA officer?, Pine Gap, the Petrov Papers, Bill Hartley, Iraqi emissaries, Junie, threat of intelligence cutoff from USA, Governor-General sits for portrait by Clifton Pugh, IOU scheme for public servants – Bill Hayden; dismissal – Gough tucks into a steak lunch, ALP Senators assume Liberals have caved in and pass Supply; “the Proclamation you have just heard read by the Governor-General’s Secretary was countersigned by Mr Fraser….. who will go down from Remembrance Day 1975 as Kerr’s cur!”; Norman Gunstone on the Parliament House steps; election, Junie, Gough re-elected Leader.

    Not bad for a sleepy little antipodean backwater. Did I mention Miss Morosi?


  120. Ambigulous says:

    amused – yes, you’re right: well fed but lazy. Other journalists are fed tidbits but go around to check other sources then muster up some deeper analysis.

    (BTW the article by Russell Skelton in “The Age” Sat 15th Dec was of that ilk: info seemed to have come from Professor MacIntyre – nothing wrtong with that – but whole tone slanted to fit the Professor’s viewpoint. Lazy. Less informative than it might have been.)

    Awww shucks, we can all be lazy at times – but then we may expect NOT to be published!

  121. gummotrotsky says:

    I think it’s time for discussion of the Kulturkampf to move on.

    Thread closed.

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