Category Archives: Politics

Gerard Henderson shows why he should never be on TV

One of Australia’s self-styled conservatives, Gerard Henderson, is always whining about how people from his side of politics do not get a fair run on the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

On April 16, Henderson demonstrated clearly why he should be kept as far as possible from television. Appearing on a current affairs programme, Lateline, as a guest to talk about the resignation of the premier of NSW, Barry O’Farrell, Henderson displayed the churlishness and cant for which he is known, berating the other guest, journalist Kate McClymont of the Sydney Morning Herald, and trying to force his views on those present. He was obnoxious, rude, boorish, uncivilised, and intemperate.

Henderson is a former chief of staff to John Howard, and the self-styled executive director of The Sydney Institute – formerly known as the Institute of Public Affairs. This is an organisation that seeks to make money off corporations and individuals by championing certain right-wing causes and plugging them in the media. Strangely, Henderson has managed to get many lucrative media gigs and currently writes a column for The Australian.

One thing that Henderson refuses to do is disclose from where he gets his funding to run what he describes as a think-tank. It is one of these many factories for massaging public opinion and lobbying for conservative causes. Henderson has an obsession about a couple of things – Catholicism and the alleged lack of conservative presenters on the ABC – and he repeats himself ad infinitum about these any chance he gets. Information has leaked out that he is funded by the tobacco giant Philip Morris, the asbestos seller James Hardie and the Adler group.

O’Farrell resigned because he had been caught lying to the state’s Independent Commission Against Corruption – inadvertently, by his claims – over receiving a gift of a $3000 bottle of wine from the chief executive of a company that was looking to obtain business from a state-owned company. O’Farrell denied knowing anything about the wine and an associated telephone call on the 15th; the next day, when a note of thanks in his own handwriting for said bottle surfaced, he had no option but to wind up his term in office abruptly.

Henderson stoutly tried to defend O’Farrell; he did not wish to even hear what McClymont had to say – she had, by the way, been attending the ICAC hearings and was thus that bit better informed – but kept interrupting her and hectoring her to keep quiet. It showed everyone why Henderson should visit a psychiatrist to be treated for what my late father called the Sultan Complex – a mental disease.

Henderson averred that this was not the reason why the ICAC was set up; it was not meant to entrap politicians who had hardly put a foot wrong. But the ICAC has also entrapped a number of politicians like Eddie Obeid of the NSW Labor Party, who have been involved in large-scale corruption. Henderson’s claim was that the party itself had got rid of Obeid, hence the ICAC was not needed, something that was patently incorrect.

When the Lateline presenter Steve Canane asked Henderson why he had not thought of advancing these arguments about the ICAC in the last six months since the commission started its hearings, the 68-year-old came back with the petulant answer that he had not been invited to appear on the ABC for the last six months.

But this is no argument; Henderson has had a column in the Sydney Morning Herald for a long time and he switched to The Australian in December. He has always had a platform from which to spout his insidious views. Why did he not make these astute observations some time back?

Henderson contributed nothing of any value to this discussion. He was on his usual track – “I am right and the rest of the world must shut up and listen.” Why does the ABC invite idiots like him to participate when he clearly only wants to hear the sound of his own voice?

P.S. When it comes to TV, Henderson is so desperate to display his unsmiling visage, that he even accepts invitations from someone who once called him a smart arse.

Mandela is dead – as was the Freedom Charter

NELSON Mandela died today. There is much emotion about the place, in countries around the globe, as many regarded him as the freedom fighter’s freedom fighter.

The public tale about him is one of a man who fought to bring equality to a country which had, as its official policy, the doctrine that white was superior to black.

That much is true. But that is only part of the story.
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Suffer little children: Scott Morrison is an expert

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. – Gospel of St Matthew, Chapter 19, verse 14

NO DOUBT, this morning, two practising Christians will attend their respective churches and worship their God.

Tony Abbott, the prime minister of Australia, is a committed Catholic. Scott Morrison, his immigration minister, goes one step further – he is a committed Pentecostal born-again Christian.

Or so the pair claim.
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Elections: one mob is the same as the other

ON SEPTEMBER 7, Australia will vote in a new government. And it is increasingly likely that it will be the current opposition that gets the chance to rule for the next three years.

The opposition, a coalition of the Liberal and National parties, is not leading in the opinions polls because it is in any way superior to the current Labor government.

On the other hand, in many respects it is worse.
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Do we really need election campaigns?

AUSTRALIA is in the middle of an election campaign that will culminate in polls being held on September 7. By law after an election is called, there needs to be a minimum of 33 days before the poll itself. And the polling day has to be a Saturday.

Campaigns involve a lot of repetitious sloganeering and politicians from all sides of the spectrum promise this, that or the other. The major parties throw as much money as possible at various groups in order to literally buy their votes.

And this goes on and on and on. No-one stops to ask – do we really need such campaigns?
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Conflicted guests compromise the ABC’s standards

THE Australian Broadcasting Corporation is a government-funded entity which operates on the lines of the BBC. It provides some of the better media content in the country, but this is not surprising since the standards of the rest are abysmally low. Murdoch-owned media constitute about 70 per cent of the country’s industry – that should say it all.

Given that it lives off the taxpayer, the ABC has many rules and regulations that govern its operations. It is meant to be accountable. But, then politicians are also meant to be accountable. And both often get away with blue murder.

The ABC’s arrogance is visible on occasion, though for the most part it hides behind the weasel words that are so much a part of public life today. The following incident will illustrate the level of contempt the corporation – living off the public teat, in case one has forgotten – shows.
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Back to the good old Mubarak days in Egypt

SO Egypt’s mild flirtation with democracy a la West is over. And it is unlikely to ever return. It’s happened on a good day too – the US celebrates its independence day and Egypt celebrates military rule. What a coincidence!!!

The problem is that the West wants its own systems imposed on other countries – in order to benefit economically. The idea that one cannot bring in a Westminster system and superimpose it on a different model does not really register with people at the US state department.

Mohammed Mursi is from the Muslim Brotherhood. He may be less extreme in his thinking than others in the same movement. But, obviously, he has never been a candidate of choice for the folk in Washington.
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Australia: Muslims not welcome here

THE brilliant American comedian Dave Chappelle often refers to himself as a connoisseur of racism. A keen observer of the way in which people of colour are discriminated against in the US, Chappelle is quick to use his observations in his stand-up routines.

He would certainly find plenty of material in Australia. The rich vein of racism that flows through the country is for the most part unnoticed. It is considered normal, a part of everyday life. But from time to time, we are reassured that when it comes to racism, Australia is in the front ranks.

A day back, Australia’s first Muslim member of federal parliament, Ed Husic, was promoted to the front bench. He, naturally, took his oath of office on the book of his faith, the Quran. Only a rank idiot would expect him to swear on the Bible, or the Gita or the Torah, given that these texts have no significance to him.
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Gillard gets what she deserved

A LITTLE over three years after she knifed Kevin Rudd in the back, Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has fallen by the wayside. She came to office by the backdoor and has been seen off with a very public blood-letting.

Rudd did not scrape through; the leadership vote, foolishly called for by Gillard a day before Parliament rose for the winter, ended 57-45 in Rudd’s favour, much more than expected. Gillard thought she would ambush Rudd by not giving him enough time to marshal forces but her gambit failed.

There’s a lot of bleating going on about the first female prime minister being knifed and so on, but everyone fails to remember that Gillard was the cause of it all. She agreed to be put in the leadership position by the faceless men of the Labor party at a time when there was no need to change leaders.
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Countdown to the poll that counts

ONE hundred days from today, Australia will go to the hustings to elect a new federal government. The indications from opinion polls are that the incumbent Labor government will be reduced to a rump in parliament and that the Coalition – a grouping of the Liberal and National parties – will sweep back to power after six years in opposition.

It is not often that opinion polls are wrong these days; the most recent example of pollsters being off the mark that I can recall was in Britain in 1992 when all polls pointed to a Labor return to power. But the Conservatives, under John Major, triumphed and by a pretty big margin too.

But that cannot be counted on. For Labor, about the only thing that can reduce the margin of defeat would be a return to the leadership of Kevin Rudd, a man who is hated by most in the party. Yet polls indicate that the public likes Rudd.

But the Labor party is in suicide mode; the practical thing to do would be for the prime minister Julia Gillard to resign and for the party to elect Rudd as leader. But it appears that Labor politicians would rather lose their seats than take this option; it looks like the self-preservation instinct, that is a natural part of every human being, is not present in those individuals who represent Labor in parliament.

Labor has done a fair number of things while in power that have been good for the country but it appears unable to sell its message to the people. Gillard is not popular and her manner of speaking – strained and preachy, often patronising – does not go down well.

Why is not possible for Labor to hold their collective noses and put Rudd in charge again? After all, what is the point of being a politician who is not in power? Most Labor MPs will lose their seats and the party may be left with between 40 and 50 seats, down from 71 which it has at present.

For Gillard it is a matter of pride now and she is highly unlikely to step down. And Rudd has indicated that he will only take over if he is asked.

Hence the best thing for Australians to do is to get used to saying “Prime Minister Tony Abbott” and holding their noses thereafter.