MPs take six-month holidays

Enticing menu of current affairs, independent and FREE of charge: MPs in Sydney and Canberra shut up shop; Getting to know Stig Abell; Hachette job on Woody Allen; Inside Pentecostalism; When the Pope met Boris Johnson; Don Watson’s Quote of the Week.

MPs close parliament and take six-month holidays

Federal MPs unanimously voted this week to shut down the Australian Parliament in Canberra for six months and MPs in Sydney voted unanimously to close the NSW Parliament for six months too.

Is this “wartime” leadership or they off on the longest paid holiday in Australian history? Are we “all in this together” or are there some exceptions, such as MPs?

Do politicians going on holiday for six months really care about the victims of coronavirus or are they looking after themselves? Which comes first? Their well-being or the lives of people who have contracted the killer virus?

Parliament shutting down

People are being asked to get behind Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s “war plan” against COVID-19 and the majority of people appear to be falling into line. But what about using some of your activism to fight for policies which will outlive today’s crisis? You can do both. Don’t be conned by the holidaying MPs.

I’m sick of hearing the “we-are-all-in-this-together” bullshit on the telly every day. Clearly, we’re not. Some are taking six-month holidays on full pay while many others have lost their jobs and are fighting to survive.

Is that a fair crack of the whip? Not in my language.


Memo to Hachette: “No” to book banning

Hachette is one of the world’s great brand names in publishing. It was founded in Paris in 1826 by Louis Hachette. Its mission was to educate, to stimulate reading and writing and to promote the values of the French Revolution and The Enlightenment.

Hachette’s early mission statements echoed with a celebration of freedom of speech and freedom of thought. Its first books, many translated from Russian, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and German, helped create an intelligentsia and a culture of immense vitality.

Hachette Books, the present-day American subsidiary, has trashed the company’s reputation. It has decided not to publish the memoir of famed film director Woody Allen entitled Apropos of Nothing.

Whichever way you look at it, the decision is reactionary and scandalous. The obvious question is: who will be next?

Woody Allen

If the New York opponents of Woody Allen find him so objectionable they can call in the police, stop going to his movies or boycott his biography if anyone else decides to publish it. There has to be a proper process for handling serious complaints about the personal conduct of writers; they should not be vilified publicly, condemned and unpublished on the say-so of people who have never read or seen the writer’s/painter’s/actor’s/singer’s work and whose motivation is generated by a family feud using online revenge.

My local library stocks books by Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin. I won’t read them and I won’t take them out, but I don’t object to them being there. In fact, I’m rather pleased.

All three dictators were book burners, but we are better than that. We don’t burn books, art or music.

American Pentecostalism: What is it?

Pastor Perry Stone is a far-right Pentecostalist preacher who is one of America’s richest TV evangelists. Stone is the man of god who told the congregation in his Cleveland, Tennessee church that coronavirus was a satanic plot to bring socialism to the US by killing off older people.

During the service, Stone said: “It’s almost like a spirit of Amalek [?] that is trying to attack our older people. Let me tell you why the enemy wants to get rid of our older people. They are the ones who are established in the Bible. They are the ones who know enough about the Word not to take the Mark of the Beast.”

For the initiated, Australia’s Prime Minister [Scott Morrison] is a Pentecostalist too. He is familiar with the teachings of Perry Stone and, according to ex-church members, they have met many times in the US and Sydney.

Right Wing Watch, an American group which tracks the weird life of Christian fundamentalists, revealed Stone’s madcap theory, and commented: “Perry is clearly a delusional idiot who is using coronavirus to promote his own ridiculous theory.”

America’s “Christian prophet” Cindy Jacobs has declared that coronavirus “will cease worldwide” because the virus is now “illegal” in the name of Jesus.

Meanwhile, telly evangelist Kenneth Copeland is claiming that pandemic victims can be “cured” if they touch his oily hands through their television sets during his televised ministry.

Perry Stone is a fourth-generation preacher. He joined the family business at 16 when he saw a business opportunity. He obtained a BA in theology from the Covenant Life Christian College in Tennessee, became an ordained bishop of the Church of God and quickly made himself a multi-millionaire as a God salesman.

Now 48, Perry Stone conducts revivalist sessions lasting up to seven weeks. Paying customers shell out top dollar for the course as they simultaneously give themselves to God and give their hard-earned coin to Perry.

Sometimes he holds Camp Meetings or conferences, depending on the weather, for between 4,000 and 5,000 customers at a time. They leave with stars in their eyes and empty wallets.

During his 30-year business career Stone has written over 40 books and produced over 100 videos and DVDs which are on sale at his church. It is not compulsory to buy any of them but having personal copies speeds up God’s presence in your life.

In 2000 he launched his own weekly TV programme called Manna-Fest which is watched in Tennessee and online around the world. He is a frequent visitor to Israel where Zionist Israelis celebrate his support for the military-backed settler movement which steals land and terrorises Palestinians. He is a hero in Tel Aviv where his pro-Zionism is worshipped by Likud and the far-right parties.

The truth about Stig

I almost had a coronary when someone said the other day: “I wish we had someone like Stig Abell on the ABC. I watch him on London Sky News all the time and he makes so much sense.”

I know Stig Abell and he is not what he appears to be.

Stephen Paul Abell was managing editor of Rupert Murdoch’s Sun from 2013 to 2016. He previously wrote reviews for the Tory magazine, The Spectator.

In 2015 he came to public notice when he wrote an article comparing migrants to “cockroaches”. A year later Murdoch selected him to be editor of The Times Literary Supplement (TLS). He succeeded Sir Peter Stothard, former editor of The Times, 1992-2002, who held the position for the previous 14 years.

Stig Abell: working on his image

Stig Abell was educated at Loughborough Grammar School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, founded in 1584. He co-hosts a radio programme for London Broadcasting and a TV show for Murdoch’s Sky News. His co-host on Murdoch’s Sky News is Kay Burley. He reviews the papers with a guest presenter while Ms Burley keeps guard of the programme’s editorial line.

He craves recognition, a knighthood or, better still, a peerage. His insatiable ambition is to trump Stothard’s knighthood.

Did you hear the one about the Pope and Boris Johnson?

Early this week, during the coronavirus crisis in Europe, a high-level strategy meeting was held in secret between French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Donald Trump and Pope Francis. A 10-year-old schoolgirl found herself sharing a ride on a specially chartered flight.

Half-way to their destination an emergency announcement told the eminent passengers that both engines had failed and they had to bail out. A quick search found only four parachutes on the plane.

Macron leapt to his feet declaring: “France is in crisis. I am essential to the salvation of our country.” He grabbed one of the parachutes and leapt through the open hatch to safety.

Boris Johnson rose sombrely. “As everyone knows, I am the most intelligent man in the United Kingdom. I am essential to the future of our kingdom.”

He strapped on a parachute and dived to safety.

Donald Trump stood to attention and declared: “I’m the man who made America great. And I will do so again after all this is over.”

He slipped on one of the remaining parachutes and disappeared through the hatch.

Time was now running short. Pope Francis turned the schoolgirl and said: “Little one, I am an old man. I have had a wonderful and fulfilling life. But the future rests with the young. Take the last parachute, and when this is all over devote your life to making the world a better place.”

The little girl gazed into the eyes of Pope Francis and said: “Don’t worry, Father. There are still two parachutes. The smartest man in the United Kingdom just jumped with my school back-pack.”

Quote of the Week

“At some point in any interview with the Prime Minister [Scott Morrison] one is likely to be reminded of a dung beetle: he starts with nothing much at all and by unstoppable single-minded exertion he pushes it through every interrogative thicket, every hurdle of logic and evidence until he’s created a ball of bullshit several times his own size.”

  • Don Watson, Melbourne writer, reporter, humourist, speech writer and traveller, writing in The Monthly


  1. The Boris Johnson joke & the Don Watson gem have both gladdened my heart & brightened my week!
    I’ve sent the whole newsletter on to both local friends & a couple in Trumpland & one who is currently “doing a Morris with Boris” Phillip Adams puts it when he’s introducing Bruce Shapiro!

    Thanks Alex… much appreciated!☘️💚🌹🎼🎶

  2. A comment I made on LinkedIn earlier to-day – seems to fit your assessment of Scott Morrison – perhaps?

    One thing I’d like to highlight is that having “on-water-matters” secrecy Scott Morrison front and centre in this emergency is so wrong. Every time he appears – I feel I am being shouted at – as he has now several times shouted at Andrew Probyn (ABC journo for whom so many of us have the utmost of respect) – by someone uncaring of teachers and young people (COVID-19 is NO respecter of age – as it turns out) and after watching his early fumbling efforts at trying to shake the hand of Gladys Berejiklian – which she so deftly avoided – and at which point on this matter my respect for her went up a notch – nothing he says/shouts in his swift flowing river of words – is labelled “trustworthy” I am afraid. Give us a government of Unity – across the three major parties (I am not including the National Party – they can remain a bit part of the LNP + the ALP + The Greens) but led or fronted by the best of the Medical and uncompromised Research community who know what they are talking about and not in any way shackled by behind-the-scenes “vested interests”. And keep the Murdoch fake news personnel well out of it. We trust the Australian broadcasting Corporation at 10 times the rate of Murdoch Media outlets – and that’s a fact! (A Get-Up research finding!)

  3. Alex…you must include a terrific joke each time you put out a blog. Make it a Rule!
    Elsewise – depending on when your print deadline for this issue of your celebrated ‘NoteBook’ – I would have thought, as a long-term committed Oz republican, you’d have seen some percentage in commenting on the
    monarch-in-waiting, Prince Charles, jumping the queue ahead of 100,000 fellow Britons to get himself tested [positively as it happened] for the wu-flu virus. I, for one, in The RPA’s UPcoming Campaign Bulletin #48 shall be highlighting how Chukka, even UNwittingly, has obviously further eroded the British nation’s collective respect for the aristocrats in Buck.Palace. I mean, these are War daze, after ALL!
    Best Regards, PETER CONSANDINE

  4. Thanks Alex,

    I to enjoyed the jokes, but of more moment are the actions of Hachette.

    I’ve enjoyed many of Woody Allen’s movies, and found quite a few of them underwhelming. Being no fan of the guru, of any calling, I very much doubt I’d have read Allen’s aut-biography, but for film makers and those very much into movies he doubtless has some interesting things to say, and thus publishing his memoirs is both relevant as well as a matter of free speech, the more so as I very much doubt Allen would preach any form of hatred.

    As you properly note, if people don’t like Allen for any perceived issues, then don’t buy the book and don’t watch his movies. Allen has not only not been convicted of any crime, to my knowledge he’s not been charged.

    Best wishes,


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