Thursday, December 06, 2007

Gone - but the damage is done.

John Winston Howard.

He put selfish personal ambition above all else. Above his party, his country, the people.

He started by dragging his party to the far right, he ended by just about destroying it.

He made lying by public figures acceptable, he made it acceptable to take no responsibility, he made it acceptable to blame others, he led the charge in our plummeting standards of decency and honesty, he made it acceptable to claim credit for good things that in reality were beyond any ones person's control.

He encouraged a climate of selfishness, paranoia ('be alert not alarmed'...'we do not want these kind of people here'), of bigotry and racism.

He took the country to war against the wishes of the majority, he subjugated Australian policy to that of the far right administration in America.

What his admirers called his never-say-die attitude is correctly criticised in others as bull-headed stubborness.

He had no ideas of his own, his mindset being firmly stuck in the fifties. So he hijacked others' policies.

He gave us a thuggish, incompetent, mean-spirited cabinet.

He frittered away our money on vote-buying handouts while the country's infrastructure fell apart.

And his main claim to success, the economy and low interest rates, was almost entirely due to world events and nothing to do with Howard or Costello. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

What a legacy.

Personal ambition.

His fifties mindset took the conservative movement lurching to the far right - just as Thatcher did in Britain. After a brief period of flirting with that, the electorate came to its senses and moved back to the centre. His promises for an orderly hand-over of leadership were exposed by his refusal to step down and the disintegration of his party is the result. As with Thatcher's Tories it will take a long time for the party to recover from his excesses, unless Labor is so bad that the Coalition gets back in by default.

He needed to feel important, needed to play with the big boys on the world stage. A role in the South Pacific wasn't enough. He needed to be at 10 Downing Street, at BigW's ranch, at Buckingham Palace with the Queen. At the photo opportunities, who will ever forget his puffed out chest and schoolboy grin, like a groupie with a pop star.

Don't be fooled into thinking it was for the good of the country, it was all about John Howard and his selfish ambition.

The lies

The list is long. Never-ever a GST, children overboard, core and non-core promises, troops in Iraq while he was denying that a decision had been made to join the invasion forces. It goes on and on.

"I don't want people like that in Australia. Genuine refugees don't do that..."

The culture of a society is heavily influenced by its leader. JWH gave respectability to lying by public figures, by the peoples' elected representatives. He lied simply to gain votes - we're back at selfish ambition again. Say anything, fabricate anything to win a few more votes.

"Not me"

Lack of accountability, lack of responsibility, were made respectable by JWH and others followed his example. How many times did we hear 'no-one told me' from the PM and his ministers. How many times was a scapegoat from the public service sacrificed to protect them.

Plummeting standards

It started, I suppose, with the Miniserial Standards debacle - the much-touted set of required standards being gradually weakened to fit what was actually happening. It went on into the endless lies, the misrepresentation of facts, the blaming of someone else, the appeal to bigotry and racism in the hunt for extra votes, the mean-spirited attitude to others.

Claiming credit

His big claim of success was the economy - the good times were all thanks to Howard he claimed.

What arrant nonsense.

There is no argument that the good times started to roll at least two years before he came to power, thanks to the previous government's IR changes plus world economic events. It was in full swing by the time Howard took office.

An aside - who was it who largely broke the power of the unions? Hawke and Keating - remember the pilots strike? Remember the BLF? Howard's contribution, through Peter Reith, was black-clad, balaclava-hooded goons with German Shepherds against Aussie workers on the docks.

World interest rates were at all-time lows - zero percent in Japan, one and two percent elsewhere, and naturally our rates went down too. That was not the work of John Howard. Our rates were not as low as the others, but he never came clean that we still had higher rates than most countries.

He claimed credit for the mining boom in the run up to the 2007 election in a bid for important WA seats. In reality John Howard had nothing to do with it, the windfall was caused by China, and other countries such as India too, booming to a level never before seen.

Balance of trade deficits reached new records time after time. The key reason was that our exporters couldn't get the product out to people who wanted to buy it. The infrastructure of roads, rail, ports can't handle it, so exports are a fraction of what they should be. Where did Howard put our money? Not into infrastructure for the country's future but into small hand-outs to people to buy their votes and into the pork barrel.

For more than eleven years, John Howard led us on a voyage driven by greed and fear, into parochialism and paranoia, selfishness and racism, bigotry and corruption, and other dark places in the Australian psyche where we never should have gone. It was a mean and ugly trip and, as I've said before, history will judge him harshly.

Update at the end of 2010.
JWH has published his memoirs and he's still at it. There was never an agreement with Costello, he acted in the best interests of (not himself but) the country, the election loss was not his fault but others' and he was responsible for the good times we had (in reality living on credit with a bill to be paid eventually, as we've seen over the past couple of years). That the voters of Bennelong didn't even re-elect him as their MP was the fault of someone else too.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

More water than we need. But...

Hundreds of billions of litres of water all over the area and all but the tiny percentage that happened by chance to fall in the catchment areas will simply end up in the ocean.

We really do need to call our politicians to account for their appalling mismanagement and incompetence.

Central Coast dams 90% empty, yes 90%, and the water that we do receive is deliberately thrown away.

It's not that we don't actually collect a lot of it. All the rain that hits the roads, the roofs, the built-up areas has to be collected by guttering, down-pipes, drains. We get that bit right.

Then having collected it, what do we do? We put it all together and funnel it out to sea.

Meanwhile the fools blather on endlessly about new dams, about desalination.

COME ON!! We know the problem, we know how to fix it. Use the water we collect instead of sending it out to sea.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

THEY WANTED TO KEEP HIM???

I find it hard to believe my eyes.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald report:

"Outspoken Muslim leader Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly has stood down as Australia's Mufti.

The controversial Islamic cleric was reappointed mufti at a meeting of Muslim leaders in Melbourne today, but declined to accept the position.

Sheik al Hilaly was a surprising and controversial first choice for the Muslim leaders, who have come under intense pressure over the past year to sack the Mufti.

In a statement issued today, the council said Sheik al Hilaly had "gracefully declined'' to accept another term.


They wanted to re-appoint the man who has done as much as anyone to damage relations between Muslims and non-Muslims!

I'm almost speechless.

I hope immediate past president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Rehin Ghauri, is correct when he said:

"Most Australian Muslims would applaud his departure. The ordinary Muslims don't like to see him as mufti.''

It wouldn't be the first time that religious leaders have shown that they're out of touch with their followers. I really do hope there's some follow-up with a survey of 'ordinary Muslims' so that their feelings can be aired.


The Sydney Morning Herald report is here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Government Water Policy: 'Pray for Rain'.

If it wasn't so tragic, displaying such lack of vision, you'd have to laugh.

"I say without any hint of irony, you should all continue to pray for rain.
John Winston Howard.

In denial in the face of the evidence of global climate change, in denial that the endless drought, the empty dams, the year after year lack of rainfall could be the result of it.

Record windfall tax revenues from Australian companies. Record commodity prices, because of other countries' explosive development, not our government's policies.

But the well-being of Australia and our future is ignored in favour of self-interest, of buying the next election time after time, of retaining power with handouts. No investment in the creaking infrastructure that's hindering our exports. No investment in water management.

Keep spending the money to keep yourself in power and tell us to 'pray for rain'.

History will judge John Howard harshly.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

That'll have'em rolling in the aisles, John.

"We won't buy poll victory: Howard"
JOHN Howard says he will not recklessly spend his way out of electoral trouble to gain a boost in the polls, and had not expected an immediate boost in popularity from the recent budget.


So says the report in The Australian.

Well, the polls are saying we're going to take the money, but not thank you for it.

60% said it was a good budget, 11% were neutral, 17% uncommitted and only 12% said it was bad.

But on the two party preferred vote, it's 59% Labor, 41% Coalition.

So in spite of the transparent attempt to buy the election, in spite of the diversion of investment from creaking infrastructure, from the water crisis, from anything with vision, to vote-buying handouts - it seems to have failed.

And not surprisingly, JWH has the bare-faced nerve to tell us it was never intended as a vote-buying budget and he didn't expect a poll advantage.

Ho, ho, ho.

I wonder how that compares with the private conversations they've been having.

I'm pleased to say that it looks as though, whatever tricks he tries, the Australian people have had enough of John Winston Howard.

Stand by for some more dirty tricks - along the lines of previous ones - 'never ever be a GST' or 'children overboard' for example.

Newspoll is here.

The report is here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Praise the Lord - Vanstone's gone.

There are still far too many of JWH's dreadful favourites left in government, but at least we're free of Amanda Vanstone.

She deludes herself in believing she was unpopular because she made tough decisions that had to be made. She made the wrong decisions based on ideology and bigotry. Added to that is the utter incompetence and, in true Howard government style, the blaming of anyone other than herself for it.

Instead of the ignominy her record demands she's rewarded with the plum, enviable, cushy Ambassador to Italy job.

How better the country would be if the worst one of all, Ruddock, was also rewarded with a job somewhere far, far away.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Santo panto

So the pantomime involving Santo Santoro, Minister for Ageing, has concluded, with Santo exiting stage right.

I mentioned the issue a couple of posts ago, when JWH was upholding ministerial standards with his ususal response: 'He has my full support. He did nothing wrong.'

Less than a week ago, Our Great & Fearless Leader: "...has refused to sack Ageing Minister Santo Santoro over his apparent breach of ministerial guidelines on share ownership.

The Prime Minister said in Tokyo today that Senator Santoro’s breach, revealed in The Australian today, was inadvertent and did not result in personal profit.


Well, it's now revealed that in addition to that little inconsequential inadvertent forgetfulness, Mr Santoro also was 'negligent' in the reporting of 72 investments.

Oops.

It also turns out that bragging he'd donated the $6,000 profit on the original CBio shares to charity was another inadvertent slip of the memory.

...it was in fact a non-profit political lobby group that promoted pro-family, anti-abortion policies. The president of the group, Family Council of Queensland's Alan Baker, is the same man who offered him the financial advice to purchase the CBio shares.

Not surprisingly, JWH has now quickly decided to abandon Santo and act the wronged, righteous victim. He smells the political wind.

In another breathtaking piece of hypocrisy, Our G&FL said: There is no excuse for somebody not complying with the rules.

Yes folks, Mr Howard says: There is no excuse for somebody not complying with the rules.

"Believe me, I'm a politician."

The Australian has the story here.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Waste of time, waste of our money.

There's a story in Murdoch's tabloid rag about a racist attack in Campbelltown.

"A white supremacist gang is believed to be responsible for a brutal attack on students and teachers at a Campbelltown high school yesterday" it tells us.

Towards the end of the report these paragraphs caught my eye.





They raise a few questions in my mind.


If the gangs were clearly identified as long ago as 2003, why and how are they still operating? What have the police been doing?


If Taskforce Var was set up as long ago as 2002 to tackle gangs in schools, how and why do we continue to have attacks by intruders? And, for God's sake at a rate of more than one a day!

And last but not least, how much of our tax dollars went into these operations, which have obviously been an abject, total failure?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Standards? What standards?

Another in a seemingly endless supply of examples of the fall in standards led by JWH.

We're back with 'Ministerial Standards' - a misnomer if ever there was one. It's been well-documented that the standards have been watered down to fit the action each time a minister failed to comply with them.

Ministers must make a full declaration of share ownership - but of course if they 'inadvertantly forget' some that they own and fail to declare them, well, that's OK. Can't be helped. We all make mistakes.

Howard backs Santoro amid new ethics controversy
Matthew Franklin
March 13, 2007

JOHN Howard has refused to sack Ageing Minister Santo Santoro over his apparent breach of ministerial guidelines on share ownership.


The Prime Minister said in Tokyo today that Senator Santoro’s breach, revealed in The Australian today, was inadvertent and did not result in personal profit.

Senator Santoro told The Australian last night that he had forgotten to list shares he owned in unlisted biotechnology company CBio on his pecuniary interests register when he became a minister early in 2006.


The report is in The Australian, here





Monday, March 12, 2007

Breathtaking hypocrisy

John Howard lives in another world doesn't he.

Today's Sydney Morning Herald story about the latest opinion polls have Our Great & Fearless Leader at his hypocritical best:

"I can't ignore the fact that we've had quite a series of bad polls over the past few months and I ask myself why is it that the polls are so bad for the government at present?" Mr Howard said.

"I think one of the reasons is that the Labor Party has successfully created the impression that it doesn't matter who is in government, the economy will continue to grow."

The government would continue to attack Labor over the economy, industrial relations and personal accountability, he said.

"We'll be focusing on those things but we'll continue to hold the Labor Party and individuals in the Labor Party to account."


Breathtaking.

Attacking the opposition on IR and personal accountability - and this from John Howard, with his record!

I'm simply speechless.

As for "...the Labor Party has successfully created the impression that it doesn't matter who is in government, the economy will continue to grow.", well, it's more than an impression, it's largely true. It would take an almost unbelievably incompetent government and bureaucracy to foul up during a world-wide boom period.

When the world economy is bad, that's what causes Australia's woes..."It's all beyond our control." When the world economy is good it has no effect on Australia, our good times are all down to the PM!

JWH insists that he is totally responsible for the good times we've been going through. The facts show a totally different picture. His 'success' has been that was in the right place at the right time. Pure luck, nothing more.

It's universallly acknowledged that the boom started two years before Howard came to power. In other words, he jumped on the bandwagon started by Hawke & Keating.

His tenure coincided with a world boom, world-wide record low interest rates, with previously unseen amounts of money sloshing around looking for a home, with the incredible rise of China and India, and the development boom in the Arabian Gulf, that have sent prices rocketing.

In fact Australian interest rates have been consistently higher than other OECD countries. We have not attracted investment from the trillions looking for somewhere to go, they are going elsewhere. We are missing out on the demand for what we can dig out of the ground. Add to that the fact that we have a bad balance of payments account and the PM's claims are shown to be very hollow.

A Reuters report today highlights how we're missing out on the China boom. The last two paragraphs are particularly telling:

Australia faces commodity setback
Reuters

Sydney: It's long been accepted wisdom in Australia that a new golden age for commodity exports is just around the corner given the rise of China right on its doorstep.

Yet, new research by economists at UBS suggests the optimism may be misplaced.

"It was such an attractive, intuitive idea that the rise of China would inevitably lead to a surge in demand for our commodities," said Adam Carr, a senior econ-omist at UBS. "All we had to do was invest more to work out the supply kinks and Australia would enjoy an export bonanza."

"Well, it's been five years now and there's still no sign of the promised land," he argued. "And when you delve into the data the evidence suggests the consensus has been wrong all along."
If he's right, it will be a sore disappointment for policymakers who are counting on growth in export volumes to take over from domestic demand in driving the economy.

Just last week, Malcolm Edey, head of the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) economics department, painted a rosy outlook for global commodity demand, led by the economic boom in China which, he estimated, could last for several decades yet.

"What we can say with confidence is that the world is experiencing a very large increase in resources demand which is likely to go on for some time," said Edey.

The high level of global commodity prices has certainly been a boon to Australia's terms of trade - what it gets for its exports compared to what it pays for imports. Those terms have climbed more than 30 per cent in the past three years to hit highs not seen in half a century, delivering a windfall to incomes, company profits and tax revenues.

Yet, while prices have risen, the actual volume of exports has lagged far behind, so trade has been a drag on economic growth for almost all the past five years as imports have risen much faster.


Most worrying of all, I'm not sure that it's just politics, I think Mr Howard actually believes what he's saying.

Australia's future

How many times are we told that Australia's future is safe in the hands of our wonderful youth?

The trouble is, there are too many like this pair of mindless morons.

Duck killed, pigs hurt in attack

08Mar07

A DUCK was killed and two pigs were attacked with a shovel on Monday after two students broke into Brisbane Water Secondary College.

The pair, both aged 14, of Umina Beach and Ettalong Beach, climbed barbed wire fences to carry out the attack.

It is understood the students gained access to the college's animal enclosures sometime between 5.40pm and 7.15pm.

Once inside, the students allegedly killed a large white duck by stomping on its head.

They then used a shovel to attack a large Berkshire pig being groomed for this year's Royal Easter Show in Sydney.

It was expected to be put down this week if vets confirmed the animal had suffered a broken hip or left hind leg.

Another pig suffered eye injuries and cuts to its body.

Nesting ducks were chased and tormented in the raid with one being thrown into the pig enclosure.

Middle school Parents and Citizens president Bruce Graf said it was disturbing anyone would attack defenseless creatures.

"It's very disheartening because the students put so much time and effort into looking after the animals,'' he said.

Brisbane Water crime manager Chief-Insp Darren Bennett confirmed two young people had been identified in relation to an incident at the school.

He said they would be spoken to and allegations of animal cruelty would be dealt with under the Young Offenders Act.


Central Coast Express Advocate

Spoken too and dealt with under the Young Offenders Act? They need to be taken to with a shovel and have their heads stomped on.

Today it's defenceless animals, tomorrow defenceless people. Get these criminals off our streets now and punish them severely enough for them to be too terrified to continue their evil ways.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Why we love pollies.

Australian minister quits over row

Reuters

Sydney: Attacks by Australia's conservative government against its resurgent opposition over links to a corrupt state leader were turned on their head yesterday when a Cabinet minister quit amid the growing scandal.

In a blow to Prime Minister John Howard as he faces an election later this year, Human Services Minister Senator Ian Campbell quit Howard's Cabinet after it was revealed he met "corrupt" former Labor politician Brian Burke last year.

Attacks


Howard's government has ratcheted up attacks on new centre-left opposition Labor leader Kevin Rudd in the past week over three meetings he had with Burke in 2005 before he became Labor leader.

Treasurer Peter Costello launched volleys of criticism in parliament against Rudd for meeting a man he said was a convicted criminal and corrupt influence peddler. Costello said anyone who dealt with Burke was "morally and politically compromised".

Another senior government member, Tony Abbott, likened dealing with Burke to "supping with the devil".

Howard described Campbell's meeting as an error of judgment, even though it was within his portfolio duties as the then environment minister.

So we can now be confident that Howard will instruct his underlings to withdraw their remarks and replace them with accusations of errors of judgement?

Or are we to believe what we're told - when doing the same thing, the guvmint only has innocuous lapses of judgement while the opposition is morally and politically compromised by supping with the devil.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Praise the Lord!!

She's gone! Vanstone dumped.

"A very colourful person" according to Our Great & Fearless Leader.

Not quite how I'd put it.

Seems she could well be in line for a plum diplomatic post somewhere but who cares, at least she's out of our government.

Sadly there's no hint of Ruddock being dumped.

By the way, isn't it good to see that environmental matters will be under the direction of a highly qualified person, well prepared for the role in his career as a Merchant Banker.

The story is here: Vanstone dumped

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Drought? What drought?

The dams are at 13.5% capacity and heading rapidly emptier. The forecast is, surprise surprise, for below average rainfall.

But that doesn't change the visionary thinking of our policy-makers.

They have a cunning plan. Wait for rain.

Well done! Great strategy! That'll fix the problem.

Here's the story from the Central Coast Express Advocate:

Fight to stave off Level 5

16Jan07

WATER authorities are waging a last-ditch battle to stave off Level 5 water restrictions by March.

Water storage in Central Coast dams is only 13.5 per cent of capacity and has been dropping between 0.1 and 0.3 per cent each week.

With six weeks of summer left the coast is edging towards 12 per cent the trigger point for Level 5 restrictions. This would limit each resident to 130 litres of water a day.

But Gosford Wyong Councils Joint Water Authority hopes increased supply from the Hunter, along with underground pumping and lower than expected consumption, will see the coast `"squeeze through'' until rain arrives.

Rainfall over the dam catchment areas has been scarce this summer. Mangrove Creek Dam received just 4mm of rain last week compared to 24mm this time last year.

The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted "dryer than average rainfall conditions and warmer than average temperatures'' for the next three months.

The water authority was not expected to consider going to Level 5 restrictions at its monthly meeting at Wyong Council today but it will be on the agenda if dam levels continue to dwindle.
It was also expected to defer a decision to give the go-ahead for temporary desalination plant at Budgewoi Beach until February.

This was despite dire warnings in a report to be tabled at the meeting.

The report stated that surface water flows in the past 12 months were the lowest on record, rainfall had not altered the generally critical water situation and stream flows were at ``critically low'' levels.

At this stage the authority anticipates the first temporary desalination plant on Budgewoi Beach will need to be working by July.

But the authority won't have to give the go-ahead until February.

Authority guidelines state the trigger point for Level 5 restrictions will move to 10 per cent in March in anticipation of autumn rainfall.


Are our policy makers, at local, state and federal level, ever going to realise the seriousness of the situation?