Alex Mitchell’s WEEKLY NOTEBOOK – The irreplaceable nature of Edward Gough Whitlam

Everything that needed to be said about Gough Whitlam’s life has been said. And it has been done with a grandeur worthy of the man himself.
The Sydney Town Hall memorial service was an affirmation of the virtues of a political life spent in the service of people and not wealth.
All the speeches – by Graham Freudenberg, Cate Blanchett, Noel Pearson, John Faulkner and Tony Whitlam – were inspirational and quite magnificent.
It reminded everyone of the glories of the past but also underlined the poverty of the present.
Tony’s family tribute reminded us that the former MP for Grayndler was the prime minister we never had. The seat was taken from him by the NSW ALP right wing, in particular Paul Keating and “Leaping” Leo Macleay (who was installed in Grayndler in Tony’s place).
The generosity of the Whitlams to Keating never ceases to amaze me. PJ is a clever scheming political operator but he was always a “wide boy on the make”. And didn’t he make it!
He has received great accolades for his Redfern speech, but people forget that it was written by Don Watson.
Hawke and Keating served the business community and are now multi-millionaires. No such wealth ever interested Whitlam and he never acquired it.
Kerry O’Brien introduced Senator John Faulkner as “the Prime Minister we never had”. Faulkner is a good man and a decent man. He hasn’t chased a quid either.
He captains a cricket team called “The True Believers” but no one has ever worked out what he truly believes in. He’s the best of the bunch and faithfully served Kim Beazley, Simon Crean, Mark Latham, Beazley (again), Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Rudd (again).
When he leaves the Senate there will be another breach with “old-style” Labor of Curtin, Chifley and Whitlam.

Book antics

For his 28th book, Melbourne academic manqué Roland Perry has chosen the steaming sex life of Queen Victoria.
Most people, including scholars, historians and biographers, didn’t think she had one but publishers Allen & Unwin swooped on Perry’s manuscript.
The Queen, her Lover and the Most Notorious Spy in History has been published amid great media fanfare, including Phillip Adams’ cerebral programme on ABC Radio National, and it’s been treated as a major work of non-fiction.
The title is everything you would expect from notorious flim-flam artists flogging women’s magazines, not from a respected publisher. Is “The Queen” a reference to Australia’s head of state, Mrs Betty Windsor? No, it’s the malevolent old battle axe who spent the 19th century ruling the British Empire for whites-only exploitation, amassing enormous private wealth, gifts, property, titles, priceless art, jewellery and shares.
And the “Most Notorious Spy in History” turns out to be nothing of the kind. Not Philby or Sir Anthony Blunt but a degenerate aristo whose story has been told and retold dozens of times.
Perry is best remembered for his 1994 work in which he claimed to have unmasked the Fifth Man in the Philby, Burgess, Maclean, Blunt Cambridge spy ring.
He named Victor Rothschild, a friend of Philby’s from the 1930s who became MI5’s anti-sabotage expert in the fight against Nazism during World War Two for which was awarded the George Medal.
When Rothschild’s friendship with members of the Cambridge spy ring became public knowledge, he submitted to a lengthy interrogation which cleared his name and his honour.
In the 1970s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher appointed Rothschild to her “think tank” and he acted as her government’s most senior scientific adviser. The position required a watertight security clearance.
After Rothschild’s death on 20 March 1990 Perry regurgitated stories of his lordship’s alleged KGB treachery, a proposition which was greeted with howls of indignation from Rothschild’s family and friends and gales of laughter from experts in the field, including Australian journalist Phillip Knightley.
A word of advice: give his trawl through the love life of Victoria the widest berth. Note to Allen & Unwin: hang your heads in shame.

Come clean, Eddie

Eddie Obeid, the former NSW Labor powerbroker, is waiting to hear whether he will face criminal charges arising from the two-year inquiry by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Simultaneously, he and his family are being pursued by the Australian Taxation Office and his once very prosperous business empire has fallen apart.
To me, the time has come for Obeid to break his self-imposed silence and spill the beans.
The former Cabinet minister, Upper House MP and founder of the right-wing faction known as “The Terrigals”, knows where all the bodies are buried.
Why should the urgers, accomplices, lieutenants and feeble politicians who facilitated the Obeid project escape exposure?
Obeid, who has so far strenuously avoided naming names, appears to have a misplaced sense of loyalty. Perhaps it is deep in the tribal genes he inherited from his family in their village of Mitrite in Lebanon.
At present, the only narrative we have is that the primitive immigrant “took over” the 100-year-old NSW party and turned it into a scandal-ridden sump of corruption and cronyism. I don’t buy it.

Labor’s Zionists

A few days after Melissa Parke’s courageous speech in Federal Parliament condemning Israeli state terror, the McCarthyite Israeli lobby sprang into action.
West Australian Senator Glenn Sterle, supported by a claque of right-wing Labor senators, delivered a disgraceful speech attacking Ms Parke, the highly respected MP for Fremantle.
Sterle, a former furniture removalist who found his way to the Senate via the bureaucracy of the Transport Workers’ Union, called Ms Parke, a former senior UN diplomat, “ill-informed” and her comments on Israeli violence “simplistic” and “inflammatory”.
Framing his colleague with views she does not hold, Sterle told the Senate: “I am convinced that the Member for Fremantle would not like to live under sharia law where women’s rights are heavily constrained.”
Ms Parke has never suggested in any speech that she supports sharia law or that it be introduced in “Freo”. His deranged remarks are a good example of the scapegoating employed by Zionist apologists.
The Senate was virtually empty except for Sterle’s cheer squad: Helen Polley, Catryna Bilyk, Alex Gallacher, Joe Bollock, Jacinta Collins and Chris Ketter.
They warmly congratulated him and all left together. Isn’t it time that the ALP and the voters started dealing with these supporters of the Israeli apartheid state?
Sweden’s new government decided this week to recognise the Palestinian state and grant it full diplomatic status.
The decades of lies, propaganda, standover tactics, bribes and blackmail are nearly over. As Tracy Chapman sings: “Finally the tables have started to turn ….”


  1. This is the clearest writing I’ve read.
    Thankfully, at last the essence of Paul Keating is in print. It’s well past time for his shabby right wing marination to be highlighted.

    You are so correct to identify Don Watson’s Redfern Speech.

    Melissa Parke stands so tall above the many invertebrate Labor senators, a person of splendid moral stamina and conscience. I so admire her. People like Melissa and John Faulkner help me to retain my ALP membership.

    Alex, please take care of your health. Your presence and writing is vital to Australia looking at itself.

    Time we had a beer.

  2. Hi Alex:

    Did you see Bob Carr’s recreation as a patron the Palestinan people (Weekend Australian)?



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