Malcolm Turnbull green lights war crimes in Syria and Iraq … Helping hand for Brexit Britain? No! … Sexual depravity in Murdoch land … Remembering Richard Neville … Nick Xenophon’s Party redacted … Great Crashing Bores continued …
When everything else fails, play the anti-terrorism card
Australia’s armed forces have been given an expanded “licensed to kill” authority in Iraq and Syria. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the new operational orders in federal parliament a week ago with the full agreement of Opposition leader Bill Shorten.
Under the proposed change, ISIS targets for assassination will be broadened from military combatants to civilian supporters. For concerned Australians, the scope for war crimes against civilians in Iraq and Syria has suddenly been amplified. In the past, Australian soldiers have been answerable to army legal code as well as Australian domestic law if they committed breaches of conduct which amounted to war crimes. Turnbull has lifted the war crimes provisions for Australian military operations in Iraq and Syria and given them the same amnesty currently applying to American and British soldiers. The amnesty from war crimes prosecution particularly relates to bombing missions by RAAF warplanes against “targets” supplied by the US military and its supporters in the Gulf states, Israel and the Kurdish Peshmerga militia. Because Australian war pilots have no idea of the authenticity of the targets, they have been demanding freedom from any future prosecution if it is established that they have killed innocent civilians in high-altitude raids. That is what Turnbull has now given them. He has acknowledged that the expanded war aim will increase terrorist threats against all Australians.
He told MPs: “As Daesh [IS] suffers military defeats, it is expanding its network into Europe and also into our region. It is quite possible that the next mass casualty attack on Australian victims will be somewhere in South-East Asia, where Daesh propaganda has galvanised existing networks of extremists and attracted new recruits. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Bangladesh have suffered terrorist attacks over the past year and many are expecting further attacks.”
It could not be clearer: Australians will be targeted in future IS terrorist attacks in either Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines or Bangladesh.
It took just one week for IS to respond to Turnbull’s enlarged war aims. An IS propaganda group threatened horrifying counter-attacks against Australian civilian targets at Bondi, the SCG and MCG and the Opera House. It is difficult to know who wrote the communiqué – IS, ASIS, the CIA? – but it was designed to terrorise Australians and bolster Turnbull’s scaremongering campaign. The Australian media duly sensationalised the report by accepting its authenticity and plastering all over the radio, television and the papers. More free publicity for IS: mission accomplished.
Naturally, any future victims won’t be politicians or their families but Australians at sports events, tourists abroad or aid workers. In the aftermath, government-funded funerals will be staged for them as well a National Remembrance Day. News Ltd papers will publish special memorial editions for “Our Heroes”. And, of course, it will go hand-in-hand with fresh calls for a political solution. And so it goes …
Trade deal with London? Why!!
There are many good reasons why Australians should reject attempts to reach a free trade agreement with “Brexit” Britain.
Today Australia is a Far East Asian power. Our cultural, economic and political future is bound up with our Asian neighbours: China, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
Our separation from the “Mother Country” began with the declaration of an independent Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
As Australia sought to carve out its own identity in a new century, our former colonial master dithered, buried itself in nostalgia, sucked up to Washington, insulted mainland Europeans, especially the French and Germans, and abandoned Commonwealth trade preferences.
Now, following the Brexit vote in July to leave the EU, the British Tories are desperate to gain a trade agreement with Turnbull’s Tories and maintain the ludicrous image that they still matter as a world power.
While Australia is a major trading nation, I can’t see any gain in giving a leg-up to London’s coupon clippers, tax dodgers and asset thieves.
Often accused of historical amnesia, Australians should consider the UK’s woeful legacy to our nation.
On 10 October 1835 the Colonial Office in London issued the proclamation declaring terra nullius and wiping out Aboriginal entitlement to the land where they had lived for thousands of years.
It proclaimed that “all people found occupying land without the authority of the government will be considered illegal trespassers” and banned the right of Aborigines to own, sell or assign land.
In those days the Britain Crown was the sole owner of 100% of Australian land and that lasted well into the 20th century. This week it was revealed British-based investors remain the largest owners of Australian farmland with American owners in second place. (China, which owned no Oz land in 1901, was sixth). UK owners use a sleight of hand to make their ownership look smaller than it is: over the decades they have established part- or fully-owned Australian subsidiaries to hold title to their rural land possessions so the real figure of UK ownership is likely to be double what is admitted by the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
Readers will also recall the cynical betrayal of the ANZACs at Gallipoli and again at Tobruk, the lunatic military adventure in Korea followed by the catastrophic savagery of the invasion of Iraq.
While “Independence Day” Brexiteers may now need a helping hand surely they should start by taking their hand out of everybody else’s pocket.
Turnbull should insist that any Canberra assistance will only be considered if the London Tory government guarantees political refugee Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuador Embassy for six years, is granted safe passage to Heathrow Airport and then home to his family in Melbourne.
He should also demand the Windsor family hand over the secret papers of its involvement in the illegal and unconstitutional dismissal of Gough Whitlam’s government in November 1975.
Depravity in Murdoch’s empire
Court actions against Roger Ailes, the former CEO of America’s Fox News network, have laid bare the sexual depravity at the heart of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
Plaintiff Gretchen Carlson has accepted a $25 million settlement after charging Ailes with sexual harassment
A plethora of sensational articles have appeared in recent weeks blasting Ailes out of Fox News and ending its undiluted support for Republican candidate Donald Trump. (Ailes has joined Team Trump as a campaign adviser and is tipped to play a central role if the real estate huckster launches Trump TV after the November election).
Another anti-Ailes plaintiff is former Fox anchor, Andrea Tantaros, whose law suit states that the network “masquerades as a defender of traditional family values”.
In fact, “behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fuelled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny”.
Ms Tantaros claimed that she was demoted and smeared in the press after rebuffing Ailes’s sexual advances.
What continues to baffle me is how high-profile US female executives rebelled against the company’s culture of sexism but it was never noticed in London or Sydney. Why?
Rebekah Brooks, the acquitted phone-hacker and former editor of The Sun and The News of the World, has never mentioned sexual harassment at the workplace. Nor has Michelle Guthrie, who laboured for 10 years as in-house legal counsel to Murdoch in Sydney, London, Singapore and Hong Kong. Ms Guthrie is now managing director of the ABC and widely regarded as a pro-Murdoch tool.
Remembering Richard Neville
As family and friends bid farewell to the late Richard Neville, co-founder of the Oz satirical magazine, there is grim irony in the fact that ABC TV is about to broadcast a documentary, Building Modern Australia, on the ghastly Robert Menzies presented by the equally ghastly John Howard.
If only Richard and Oz were alive today to make merry hell of two of the country’s great anachronisms – Menzies and Howard.
If truth be told, the birth of Oz magazine in April 1963 was a direct reaction to the stifling Menzies era when philistinism, racism, homophobia and apathy actively encouraged the censorship of books, film and art. A shoal of artists, film makers, writers and academics fled to London and Europe, including the painter Sid Nolan, who wrote: “Australians were very bored by the old paternalist-style government – 17 years of Menzies. They were bored. Now [under Gough Whitlam] they’re excited.”
Richard was born in Sydney in December 1941 and became a boarder at Knox Grammar, a private school at Wahroonga.
When I arrived in Sydney in 1963 to work on Rupert Murdoch’s Daily Mirror, I eagerly bought every fresh edition of Oz. It was outrageously irreverent, funny, brave and anti-cop.
When I travelled to London in 1967, Richard and his Oz team arrived soon after. They resurrected the same infectious satire in a London edition and quickly became causes célèbres in Fleet Street. Their hijinks during the Old Bailey obscenity trial made headlines and their brief incarceration and subsequent acquittal was covered across the world.
In 1971 Richard launched Ink magazine, an underground version of New York’s Village Voice, and I became its first editor. I lasted one edition before vanishing into the night, frustrated and disillusioned by “flower power”. Richard and the Oz crowd were brilliantly talented and they shot across the heavens like meteors. But when all was said and done, what were they doing with their lives? It was all too frivolous for me and smoking dope was a puny substitute for actively campaigning against the Vietnam war and becoming a socialist. I left the mainstream media and joined Workers Press, the daily newspaper of the Socialist Labour League, soon to become the Workers Revolutionary Party.
When the Sixties ended so did the relevance of Richard’s Play Power philosophy. By the 1990s he was back in Sydney on midday commercial television presenting life style stories and lame environment commentaries. It was dispiriting to watch this bold and creative man make peace with the gormless moneybags who owned TV networks.
Richard was bright, brave and clever. He was a warrior of the Sixties but its self-centred, hedonistic values ultimately arrested his intellectual progress.
For anyone interested, I’ve given a complete account of my exhilarating interaction with Richard and the Oz crowd in my memoir, Come The Revolution, published in 2011, and available from this website.
Nick Xenophon Party unredacted – Part V
Welcome to this meeting of candidates for Nick X’s party. You will appear before a selection panel to answer some simple questions and undergo a brief background check. I should explain at the beginning that every campaign will have to be self-financed. Any questions so far?
Bloke with beard: “I thought this was One Nation. Who’s Nick X?”
We’ll get to that in a few minutes. Now I want to tell you about our policies. Basically, we don’t have any. We don’t need them because we are not aiming to be in office. Our job is to keep the bastards honest. If anyone asks you what the party stands for, you say, ‘We’re here to keep the bastards honest.’ On no account commit yourself, or the party, to any policy. Remember, we don’t have any.
Lady in Balinese gown: “If we don’t have any policies, what’s the point? The Australian Democrats set out to keep the bastards honest, and look what happened to them. They don’t exist any more.”
That’s my point. They made the mistake of adopting a policy and they supported John Howard’s GST. If the Democrats had just stuck to their line of keeping the bastards honest, they’d still be around today.
Bloke with beard: “It makes sense to me.”
Of course it makes sense. If we don’t stand for anything, we can never be accused of selling out.
Bloke in light blue jacket and yellow tie: “What if there is a conscience vote in parliament. What do we do then?”
Very good point. Nick will call a meeting of all MPs and tell them how to vote. That way we build our party room solidarity and avoid any divisions over policy.
Lady in Balinese gown again: “If we have no policies and Mr X, or whatever his name is, tells us how to vote, I can’t see much point in standing for parliament.”
Well, you’d be wrong. Don’t you see? We’re keeping all the other bastards honest by being totally dishonest ourselves. It’s very simple: as an elected senator you earn $200,000 plus expenses for the next six years and retire with a Gold Pass, a parliamentary pension and about $1 million in super. Don’t forget to collect your free model submarine as you leave – a great present for the kiddies.
Great Crashing Bores – 12
I know it’s not a popular thing to say but I reckon they should free Roger Rogerson and dismiss the murder rap against him. After all, who was his victim? A druggie. Not even an Australian druggie. He was Chinese. Who is going to miss him? Nobody. Roger was cleaning up the garbage in our society, just like he’s always done. The Dodger should be given medals for his service. I reckon he should be made police commissioner. He’d be better than the hopeless lot we have now. The streets were clean when Roger and his mates from Darlo went on patrol. In the Philippines they have a new president who is doing exactly what Roger has always advocated – shoot the druggies and dump them out to sea as shark bait. What’s the difference between President Duterte and Roger anyway? We should get smart and set Roger free because he’s a good cop and a good Aussie. That’s what I think, anyway, and no one can stop me saying it. I agree with Senator Bernardi, it’s my right of free speech. Bernardi? Sounds like a dago name to me. I wonder if he’s the son of a whore?