The Frog and the Scorpion


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull faces political death from the scorpion stings of Tony Abbott … Greyhound racing falsifies support … Demand Buck Palace releases Gough Whitlam dossier … Nobel Prize winners march for Palestine … My draft list of future plebiscites … George Brandis at Festival of Dangerous Ideas … Great Crashing Bores cont.

The Frog and the Scorpion: A timely fable

The scorpion asked the frog that was sitting on a riverbank: “Would you carry me to the other side?” The frog hesitated, afraid of being stung. But the scorpion countered: “Why would I sting you? We would both drown.” Satisfied with the scorpion’s argument, the frog allowed the scorpion to climb on his back and started to swim to the other bank. In mid-stream the scorpion suddenly stung the frog, dooming them both. “Why did you do that?” the frog gasped. “I’m a scorpion,” his killer passenger replied. “It’s what I do.” –  Old fable

If you imagine Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as the frog, and former prime minister Tony Abbott as the scorpion, then you have a reasonable understanding of current Australian politics. Abbott, aka the scorpion, is killing Turnbull, aka the frog, with death by a thousand poisoned pricks. And believe me, Abbott is a poisonous prick.

The modus operandi of Team Abbott is now well established. Rupert Murdoch’s Australian publishes a front-page leak from Team Abbott. On the inside pages fevered commentators take up the “exclusive” story and heap guano on Turnbull, blaming him for whatever’s happened.

Some days the target is Professor Gillian Trigg, then it might be Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson (now resigned), or Professor Tim Flannery, former head of the Climate Council (he resigned too), or refugee advocate Julian Burnside QC, or Australian of the Year David Morrison, former Chief of the Army and sex equality advocate. For the victims, it is liked being trolled. They are abused, hounded and bullied by a brace of over-paid and over-indulged idiots posing as commentators.

The real toxicity is that the “exclusives” in The Australian are recycled in Murdoch’s tabloid rags in Sydney (Daily Telegraph), Melbourne (Herald-Sun) and Brisbane (Courier-Mail) where they are invariably turned into front-page news.

Hey presto! Team Abbott and Murdoch’s dreadful sheets have set the news agenda once again. Not wanting to be left out in the cold, and not having two ideas to rub together, the ABC, Fairfax in Sydney and Melbourne, Bill Shorten’s Labor Party and Richard Di Natale’s Greens fall into line. Politicians queue up to comment and suddenly the day’s news agenda belongs again to Abbott because he has stolen it from the prime minister (the frog) by manufacturing “issues”.

How long can Turnbull survive this daily onslaught? His personal rating in Newspoll has fallen below 30% for the first time. It’s lower than Abbott’s bleakest figure before he was ousted in September 2015.

Turnbull survives because the joint party room doesn’t want Abbott back (at the moment) and Coalition MPs cannot agree on a successor.

Greyhound scare tactics

In the days before the ACT Legislative Assembly elections, voters were subjected to a fierce campaign spearheaded by the greyhound racing industry. The Canberra Greyhound Racing Club delivered 2,500 protest letters to the assembly supporting the industry. They were aimed at ACT Labor, the ruling party, which had decided to support the ban on greyhound racing recommended by Premier Mike Baird’s Coalition government in NSW.

The protest letters completely ignored any reference to the official report by former High Court judge Bruce McHugh showing that tens of thousands of dogs had been slaughtered in the past decade and “live baiting” remained widespread.

Now it has emerged that the industry exaggerated its level of support in the lead up to election day, October 22. Club members wrote multiple letters and only a fraction of them were ever delivered. Cindy Daley, co-founder of the Greyhound Rescue Support Network, told Canberra Times journalist Christopher Knaus she had always been sceptical of the club’s claim to have forwarded 2,500 protest letters.

It was “a public relations stunt”, Ms Daley said, and questioned how many of the authors were actually from the ACT, rather than NSW. Now, here’s the rub. The club hired a local public relations consultant to manage the pro-greyhound racing, anti-Labor and anti-Green campaign.

That would be Mr Kel Watt, an ALP member and party donor.

Mackerras poll-axed again

On the eve of the ACT poll, Canberrans anxiously awaited the forecast of the capital’s most learned election prophet, Malcolm Mackerras, visiting fellow at the Public Policy Institute of the Australian Catholic University. He predicted a Liberal win with the Greens winning five of the 25 seats up for grabs.

Unfortunately for the Catholic visionary he was way off the mark. Labor won an historic fifth term and the official result was Labor 12 seats, Liberal 11 and (Labor-supporting) Greens two.

Cambridge spy secrecy

British writer Andrew Lownie, author of Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess, has been told by the Foreign Office’s creepy-sounding Knowledge Management Department that two files marked “Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean: post disappearance papers” will not be released until January 2073.

Lownie has applied for a review of the decision to ban publication for 120 years after Burgess and Maclean fled to Moscow. But it doesn’t seem likely that his application will be granted. “The passage of time is not seen as a factor in favour of release,” according to the nameless FOI manager. “Disclosing information now, which may not have been known or shared with living relatives, many years after the event, may be highly distressing to said living relatives”.

Not as distressing, however, as the acute embarrassment which would be felt throughout the Foreign Office and the British spy agencies. Bumbling Tories in the Old Boys’ network allowed the Cambridge Soviet double agents to climb into the top echelons of Whitehall and then decamp to Moscow when the net was closing in.

Let’s hope that Melbourne historian Jenny Hocking and her supporters have better lucky chiselling official letters on Gough Whitlam’s 1975 Dismissal from the Windsor/Battenburg family at Buckingham Palace.

Professor Hocking has diligently researched the illegal and unconstitutional sacking of the elected PM and his government for several years. She has trashed the Liberal Party’s cover stories one by one and concluded that the Canberra coup was a planned ambush orchestrated by senior Liberals Malcolm Fraser and Senator Reg Withers, Governor-General Sir John Kerr, High Court judges including Sir Anthony Mason and Sir Garfield Barwick, and the royal family, including Mrs Betty Windsor Herself, aka QEII, and her eldest son, Charles.

Prof Hocking, supported by Whitlam’s son Tony Whitlam QC, a former federal court judge, and a host of other eminent citizens, is seeking the release of the “Palace Letters” to throw light on royal involvement in the PM’s overthrow. She believes the secret correspondence will show that the royals played a greater role than previously admitted and that they supported Whitlam’s unconstitutional removal against the express wishes of votes of confidence in the House of Representatives.

Mrs Windsor has used her royal prerogative to demand that the Whitlam dossier is not opened until 2027 – and then only with the permission of the current Governor-General and the monarch. Australian democrats can’t wait that long. It is 41 years since The Dismissal and the treacherous role of the British monarchy deserves to known and taught in our schools and universities.

When is Malcolm Turnbull, former head of the Australian Republican Movement, going to have the guts to demand the release of the dossier to the federal Parliament and the people of the Commonwealth?

In the meantime, buy a copy of Prof Hocking’s eye-opening book: The Dismissal Dossier – Updated Edition by Jenny Hocking. Melbourne University Press 2016.

Women march for Palestine

Two Nobel Peace Prize winners, Mairead Maguire, from the north of Ireland, and Leymah Gbowee, from Liberia, have participated in peace protests in support of Palestine.
img-march-in-jericho-1477320824Ms Maguire sailed with 13 other women from 13 countries in the peace ship which was detained in international waters by the Israeli army and brought to the Israeli port of Ashdod. They were refused permission to join the week-long “March for Hope” to Jerusalem.

Ms Gbowee spoke at the start of the march in northern Israel to a rally by more than 5,000 Jewish and Palestinian women. “You must reject the narrative that war is the destiny of our children,” she said. “War is easy, making peace is hard.”

Hamutal Gouri, a leader of the Women Wage Peace movement, said at the closing protest: “Motherhood is not the act of bearing and rearing our own children. Motherhood is a spiritual and ethical position of responsibility for the world and future generations.”

Draft list of plebiscites

The Liberal and National parties are demanding that gay marriage be put to a plebiscite and not decided by a free vote in the elected parliament. Since plebiscites have become all the rage in the reactionary Coalition, I’ve drawn up my own list of issues to be decided by plebiscites:

  1. Introduction of a law to legalise voluntary euthanasia with all the appropriate medical and family safeguards.
  2. A royal commission into the banking, insurance and finance industries.
  3. The withdrawal of Australia troops, warplanes and war ships from the Middle East.
  4. A ban on coal mining, dredging, oil and gas exploration and commercial shipping around the Great Barrier Reef.
  5. The abolition of negative gearing on all properties which are not the primary residence of the owner.
  6. Cancellation of the $50 billion submarine contract with France and split the money – 50% for university education and 50% on technical education at TAFE.
  7. Introduce a sugar tax on the major manufacturers of soft drinks, e.g. Coke, Pepsi etc., to step up the fight against obesity, heart and liver disease.
  8. Use all tax revenue from gaming to fund the arts – films, galleries, museums, playhouses, music education, ballet, opera and publishing.
  9. Prosecute major tax avoiders, money launderers and gun     importers. Allow their trials to be filmed, edited and shown on free-to-air television.
  10. Close Nauru and Manus Island detention centres and bring the refugees to the mainland.

This is just for starters. Readers may have other issues that they wish to vote on because elected MPs are too craven to act. Please send any suggestions. 

Festival of Dangerous Ideas – New series 4

A stellar evening of thought-provoking legal history by Attorney-General Sir George Brandis QC VC, Commander of the Golden Order of Jurisprudence of Hinze University Law School. Hear His Honour’s oration on the great influences on his legal career, including Vlad the Impaler, Attila the Hun and Queensland police officer Peter Dutton. Sponsored by the Lowy Institute, the Sydney Institute and News Limited. Early bird tickets on sale now.

Great Crashing Bores – 19*

Gimme a break. When is the so-called media going to leave George Pell alone? He’s working his arse off for Chrissakes in the Holy City and doing a terrific job. He’s now in charge of the Vatican treasury and when he’s finished the church will have more money to build more parishes around the world, especially in countries like the Philippines, Bali, Belize and Brazil where our missionaries will be able to help little boys – and some girls too – get a decent education and a place to sleep at night. The people who are making false allegations against him should be arrested and locked up. They should throw away the key and let George do god’s work as he was meant to. If he covered-up child sex crimes, so what? It was decades ago. Everyone should just get on with their lives – I have.

* Great Crashing Bores is a work of satirical fiction.

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  1. Thanks for the encouraging news about the Peace March to Jerusalem and thanks too for advance notice of tickets for the appearance of Bookshelves Brandis in his own Festival of Dangerous Ideas. At last an opportunity for the public to benefit from this inimitable intellect.

  2. Plebiscite additions …
    Medical Marijuana, Australia as a Republic, Politicians Entitlements, Politicians Pensions, Euthanasia, the whole tax debacle, superannuation, avoidance, trusts, offshore banking, negative gearing.

    Other than that I think you covered the situation rather well.


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