Alex Mitchell’s Weekly Notebook – ABC presenter Amanda Vanstone, the Liberal Party and the Mafia

I trust someone will phone ABC Radio presenter Amanda Vanstone, the former Howard government immigration minister, and ask why she granted known Mafia figure Frank Madafferi a permanent visa.
Madafferi, a notorious Calabrian criminal, applied for permanent residence in July 1996 but his application was turned down by then immigration minister Philip Ruddock.
When Vanstone succeeded Ruddock in 2003, Madafferi’s lawyers stepped up their campaign to overturn the Immigration Department’s decision.
Large donations were made to the Liberal Party and Madafferi supported Liberal fund-raisers. According to Clive Small, the former NSW assistant police commissioner: “Overruling Ruddock’s decision and the advice of her department, Vanstone blocked Madafferi’s deportation and granted him a permanent visa.
“According to Vanstone, it was ‘a discretionary and humanitarian act to an individual with a genuine ongoing need’.” (Evil Life – The True Story of the Calabrian Mafia in Australia by Clive Small and Tom Gilling, Allen & Unwin 2016)
There is no evidence Vanstone, who then became Australian ambassador to Italy, knew anything about Madafferi’s donations to her party and she emphatically denies any knowledge of his largesse.
This week mob lawyer Joseph Acquaro was shot dead outside his gelato bar in Melbourne weeks after police warned him of a $200,000 contract on his head.
One of Acquaro’s former clients was convicted organised crime figure Frank Madafferi, the generous Liberal Party donor.
Amanda Eloise Vanstone, 63, has been paid from the public purse for most of her career, as a senator 1984-2007, ambassador to Rome 2007-2010 and now a fulltime ABC presenter. Can she explain the Madafferi affair to listeners … and who gave her a senior job at the ABC anyhow?

Celebrating Ireland

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin when Irish republicans staged an armed rebellion against the British military occupation and proclaimed an independent Irish republic.
It delivered a shattering blow to the “invincibility” of the British Empire and gave an example to independence fighters all over the world. Lenin’s Bolsheviks and later Gandhi’s masses, Nelson Mandela’s compatriots and Ho Chi Minh’s partisans were all inspired.
The retaliation by the London imperialists was swift and savage. It was meant to be a warning to republican-minded “natives” in other colonies.
The leaders, including Patrick Pearse, Joseph Plunkett and John MacBride, were captured and executed by firing squad. The seriously wounded James Connolly, a Scottish-born Marxist, was carried to the prison courtyard on a stretcher, strapped to a chair and shot.
More than 3,500 Irish citizens were arrested and interned; in England and Wales a further 1,400 men and women were locked up without trial under the notorious Defence of the Realm Act.
In recent years the memory of the Easter Rebellion – originally between 24-29 April 1916 – has been defiled by imperialist historians and Roman Catholic quacks. Its revolutionary content has been torn out and replaced by an aura of pessimism, sentimentality and martyrdom.
However, today’s Irish nationalists have an army of allies in Britain and Europe. As Karl Marx noted: “… the solution of the Irish question is the solution of the English, and the English is the solution of the European.”
Marx’s 19th century words have assumed an awesome relevance. Have you noticed how the House of Cards in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Rome and Athens is starting to show deep cracks?

The Rhodes affair

British television personality David Mitchell (no relation) has written a thoughtful article criticising the plan to remove the statue of imperialist/racist Cecil Rhodes from Oriel College at Oxford University.
While acknowledging Rhodes as a cruel plunderer, Mitchell believes that the statue should remain in place as a monument to Britain’s dark colonial past and a reminder of one of its principal villains.
“Personally, I find the arguments against the statue’s removal unanswerable,” wrote Mitchell, “even when they’re made by people – such as the former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott – who don’t seem to dislike Cecil Rhodes as much as I think they should.
“I know very little about the man (Abbott) but I’ve always assumed he was an arsehole. And I don’t much like the sound of Cecil Rhodes either.”
Mitchell said that Rhodes’ bloodsucking career in the South African goldfields might be a reason not to erect a statue to him, “but that doesn’t make it reason enough to tear one down – and, in so doing, destroy valuable evidence of his former veneration.”
It’s a complicated argument but I think that it has definite merit.
In his last will, Rhodes declared: “We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit cheap slave labour that is available from the natives in the colonies.” And so after South Africa, they came to Australia.

Sacking offence

On January 28, the blaring front-page headline in Brisbane’s Courier-Mail was: “ANIMAL – Grubby boozehound Pearce in shame after disgraceful dog act – Filthy Blues scandal”
It was similar stuff in the other Murdoch tabs – Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Melbourne’s Herald-Sun.
On website, reporter Debbie Schipp wrote: “We shouldn’t be debating if what Mitchell Pearce got up to on Australia Day is a sackable offence. Pearce’s career shouldn’t be in doubt. It shouldn’t be in limbo. Mitchell Pearce’s career should be over.”
Now their tune has changed – completely – and Murdoch’s tabs have been celebrating his return to the NRL.
On March 4, the Courier-Mail was at it again. “KICK HIM OUT – Border Force gunning for Cole Miller accused”.
Before any trial has taken place, the front page screamed: “A New Zealander charged with the one-punch death of Cole Miller is set to be booted out of Australia even if he is found not guilty over the sickening attack.”
In similar vein, Fairfax’s Joanna McCarthy has been in full throttle: “Cardinal George Pell has to resign. Before the week is out, and on the back of his evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the cardinal must go, and Pope Francis must be involved. Pope Francis must force Pell to resign or resign early.” (SMH, 3 March 2016).
What I prefer to call the “anti-social media” is full of hysterical, hateful voices calling for people to be pilloried, scapegoated or sacked.
Since when did reporters earn the authority to demand the sacking of anyone? In my day, sub-editors would use their red pencil to expunge such self-aggrandising drivel.

Quote of the Week

“Getting back to Trump. He passed close to me and for the first time I got a good look at his hairstyle. It is amazing. It’s not so much the colour; it’s the engineering. The hairs go one way, then reverse course, then reverse course again, forming a highly complex yet remarkable sturdy structure, like a beaver dam made from hair. It was definitely the highlight of the evening.”
– Dave Barry, Miami Herald

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